Iraq -- the reign (or is it rain) of shit

In February, 2004, the Secretary of War, Donald Rumsfeld, visited the Baghdad Police Academy and gave a truly inspiring speech to the recruits. According to the State Department release, he said, "I know that you're all volunteers. Each of you have raised your hand and said you want to help your country."

In the distant future, he said, Iraqis will look back at the police during the current period, "and know in their hearts that what you've done is to help build a new Iraq, an Iraq that's free, an Iraq that's whole, an Iraq that's at peace, an Iraq that is a friend to its neighbors."

Rumsfeld also thanked the academy instructors, many of whom came from countries making up the Coalition Provisional Authority.

"They've come halfway around the world to be here with you and to work with you and I appreciate it and the American people appreciate it," he said.

Then, in March of 2004, Reuters issued a news story that must have warmed many pro-war hearts. In spite of the naysayers, not only was the war going fabulously, but America was taking revenge on the countries that did us wrong – Europe, you know. And doing good at the same time! That was the month that Parsons construction was awarded nine hundred million dollars in contracts from the Pentagon:

“California's Parsons Corp., one of the most active U.S. companies in Iraq, said on Tuesday it won a contract worth up to $900 million from the U.S. military for security and justice work in Iraq. The privately-owned engineering and construction company said the latest deal includes the restoration and construction of bases for the Iraqi security forces, police stations, border control stations, fire stations, courthouses and prisons. The project for two years with three one-year options has a potential value of $900 million and is the second contract the Pentagon has awarded Parsons in a batch of $5 billion worth of heavy construction contracts funded by $18.6 billion appropriated by Congress to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure. Last week the Pentagon awarded a $500 million contract to Parsons for the construction and renovation of public buildings in the war-torn country.”

Deep in the story, two other paragraphs signaled that we, as a country, may be fair, but we won’t be pushed around:

“Other lucrative Iraq business includes building military bases as well as a $1.5 billion contract Parsons obtained with the U.S. military for construction and engineering work in Iraq and other hot spots where the military is active.

"Bidding for the latest batch of heavy-duty construction contracts was restricted to companies from nations that supported the U.S.-led effort to overthrow former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.”

If you will remember, it was important to the heartland out there, looking for the good news out of Iraq, that we not allow Old Europe, that insufferable peanut gallery, to profit from our sweat and blood. Ours – because symbolically we were the men and women in Iraq. It was a good symbolism, and shouldn’t be taken to mean that these recruits, the economic casualties of the greatest boom in history, should expect us to do anything for them. On the other hand, Parsons execs – well, let’s just say their patriotism paid off in spades. A great Republic deserves great Republicans getting greatly greased in the Pig Trough!

As we know, to supervise the work of great companies like Parsons, we had great, recently graduated sons and daughters of Republican donors and honchos in D.C., sent over selflessly so that they could campaign for the president, take in some of that vibe in the green zone, hang out, chill, and lower taxes and stuff. Then they could come home and write for the Corner. Patriotism, ideology and featherbedding -- the D.C. way.

If you’ll remember, 2004 was the year stories started appearing about how childlike the Iraqis were. Why, they didn’t know nothing about modern policing! and soldierin’! and democracy! they were children, warmhearted but needing a guiding adult hand – an American hand. And American hands meant private American companies. In November of 2004, after our fine Rebel in Chief won again – proving conclusively, in D.C. circles, that he is a genius and a watershed – the Police Academy was again gifted by a company named… oh wait for it …. FATS:

“FATS, Inc. has been awarded a contract valued at approximately $1.7 million from the U.S. Government to deliver law enforcement training systems to the Baghdad Police Academy.

"This contract provides significant support for the U.S. Mission in Iraq," said Ron Mohling, FATS Inc. chairman and chief executive officer. "The success of Operation Iraqi Freedom hinges on the ability of Iraqis to provide their own internal security. FATS understands the challenge of getting new recruits up to speed quickly and our products are ideal for this situation."
The contract calls for the provision of sophisticated police training systems with multi-user configurations and judgmental scenarios for training Iraqi security forces. The system has the ability to monitor weapon diagnostics for instructional feedback. FATS BLUEFIRE(TM) Glock 17 - - the first sensored, patented, wireless firearm simulator - - is also included in the contract.”

Life, by this time, was so unbearably good for the Iraqis, what with the shit we were raining down upon their child-like heads, that Americans had to take a break and waste a city. So we ended the year with an R and R war crime, the razing of Fallujah, and life was sweeter and sweeter as the Purple Revolution took hold. Carol Williams, a Los Angeles Times Reporter, on June 25th, 2004, for example, found the Iraqis taking control of their own lives as Americans were winning the war, and the terrorist insurgents were in their death throes:

“A new willingness of Iraqis to cooperate with authorities has enabled police to gain some ground on violent extremists. At least six car bombs have been found and defused this month because of timely reports from the public, said the bomb squad's deputy director, Mustafah Ahmad.

Authorities have no comparative statistics for the time when U.S. officials were in charge, but they say Iraqis are far more eager to cooperate with fellow Iraqis than they were with the occupiers.

"They've become much more willing, and as a result we've become much more effective," Mouwafak Rabii, Iraq's national security adviser, said of Iraqis tipping off police to militant actions aimed at undermining the new leadership. Pointing to the discovery of a car-bomb factory in Baghdad this month, Rabii said the informant was "an ordinary peasant."

Officials attribute the surge in information to growing public trust in and respect for the Iraqi Police Service, made up of new recruits and retrained remnants of the force that served former President Saddam Hussein. As the number trained in special weapons and explosives demolition rises, Iraqis are seeing their countrymen tackling threats to peace, which boosts their confidence in domestic forces' ability to protect them, Aziz said.

Iraq's security formally remains a responsibility of the 160,000- member U.S.-led multinational force in the nation, but Baghdad street patrols are almost exclusively the domain of the 15,000 Iraqi beat cops on duty. By year's end, 20,000 police recruits are to finish specialized training in Jordan or at the Baghdad Police Academy, funded by a $3.2-billion U.S. budget outlay for Iraqi security improvements.

The image of Iraqis handling their own security matters has vastly improved police abilities to get people to play a role in their own protection, officers said.

In addition to the expanded and better-equipped bomb squad, the police have recently added a major-crimes unit, a crime-scene investigation force and a national emergency-response team. The last is being formed to combat terrorism and wide-scale civil unrest.”

As we know, life in Iraq -- good news Iraq, the Iraq covered by patriots like Glenn Reynolds -- achieved a quality rarely seen outside the Garden of Eden. This was all due to the superpowers of the Rebel in Chief himself. However, there were a few flies in the ointment. There’s a story in today’s Washington Post about the Parsons special, the very building in which Rumsfeld gave his heartwarming talk. Apparently, to use a Rumsfeldian expression, the policemen are in deep doo doo:

“As top U.S. military commanders declared 2006 "the year of the police," in an acknowledgment of their critical role in allowing for any withdrawal of American troops, officials highlighted the Baghdad Police College as one of their success stories.

"This facility has definitely been a top priority," Lt. Col. Joel Holtrop of the Corps of Engineers' Gulf Region Division Project and Contracting Office said in a July news release. "It's a very exciting time as the cadets move into the new structures."

Complaints about the new facilities, however, began pouring in two weeks after the recruits arrived at the end of May, a Corps of Engineers official said.

The most serious problem was substandard plumbing that caused waste from toilets on the second and third floors to cascade throughout the building. A light fixture in one room stopped working because it was filled with urine and fecal matter. The waste threatened the integrity of load-bearing slabs, federal investigators concluded.”

Ah, and that is not all. Parsons management should be mighty proud of their stock options this year – they cut costs to the bone:

“Phillip A. Galeoto, director of the Baghdad Police College, wrote an Aug. 16 memo that catalogued at least 20 problems: shower and bathroom fixtures that leaked from the first day of occupancy, concrete and tile floors that heaved more than two inches off the ground, water rushing down hallways and stairwells because of improper slopes or drains in bathrooms, classroom buildings with foundation problems that caused structures to sink.

Galeoto noted that one entire building and five floors in others had to be shuttered for repairs, limiting the capacity of the college by up to 800 recruits. His memo, too, pointed out that the urine and feces flowed throughout the building and, sometimes, onto occupants of the barracks.”

The American people, as the Sec of War said, appreciate the, well, heck of a job the Pentagon’s contractors have done for the police who Americans are training to get blown up in the streets of Baghdad.

“The Parsons contract, which eventually totaled at least $75 million, was terminated May 31 "due to cost overruns, schedule slippage, and sub-standard quality," according to a Sept. 4 internal military memo. But rather than fire the Pasadena, Calif.-based company for cause, the contract was halted for "the government's convenience."

Col. Michael Herman -- deputy commander of the Gulf Region Division of the Corps of Engineers, which was supposed to oversee the project -- said the Iraqi subcontractors hired by Parsons were being forced to fix the building problems as part of their warranty work, at no cost to taxpayers. He said four of the eight barracks have been repaired.

The U.S. military initially agreed to take a Washington Post reporter on a tour of the facility Wednesday to examine the construction issues, but the trip was postponed Tuesday night. Federal investigators who visited the academy last week, though, expressed concerns about the structural integrity of the buildings and worries that fecal residue could cause a typhoid outbreak or other health crisis.”

Iraq – overthrowing a tyrant, instituting a rain of shit. Literally. Is it any wonder that America is so popular in the Middle East?