New Iraq policy prompts angry words at the State Department

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Calling it "a potential death sentence," several hundred diplomats expressed their resentment Wednesday over a new State Department policy that could force them to serve in Iraq or risk losing their jobs.

Some diplomats may be forced to serve in the new U.S. embassy complex under construction in Baghdad, Iraq.

Some at the hourlong town hall-style meeting questioned why they were not told of the policy change directly, learning about it instead from news organizations last week.

Others pointed out the risks of such a rule, considering the dangers of a war zone, lack of security and regular rocket attacks on U.S. personnel.

One State Department worker complained she was not provided medical treatment for her post-traumatic stress disorder after she voluntarily served in Iraq.

The session was marked by angry exchanges, according to an audio recording of the meeting held at the State Department.

The sharpest comments came from Jack Croddy, a 36-year veteran of the Foreign Service.

To loud applause from his fellow workers, he asked how the State Department could protect people in Baghdad or the Iraq countryside when "incoming is coming in every day. Rockets are hitting the Green Zone."

No votes yet

I wonder if any of these diplomats complained when the National Guard was sent to Iraq or when the guard's tours of duty were repeatedly extended. Oh well, they can always hire Blackweter to protect them...oh wait, I forgot, they only protect the important people.

at $144 mil and counting, I'm sure the U.S. government could guarantee their employees' safety. Yep, I'm sure of it...

Oh, that's $144 mil more than budgeted for. Let's see...$144 mil on top of $592 mil equals...oh, never mind...

And yet there is grumbling about a partition of the country now known as Iraq which was also known as Mesopotamia and was cobbled together by another foreign power, Britain.

Funny how things come full circle.

That's almost $1 billion !! Just for an embassy?? Obviously, we plan to take this money out of our HUGE cash reserves. Yeah, right! We have lost our minds!!


this sentence from the Post story could pretty much be used to summarize how the entire debacle, not just concerning the embassy, has played out:

Lantos said he had been told by a top State Department official that during a recent test of the embassy sprinkler system, "everything blew up."

I ask What's the difference? Look at the number of embassies that have been attacked in the last 15 years. They are in the same amount of danger in Iraq as they are out of Iraq. The people who are actively aiming to kill Americans don't care what country they do it in they only care about getting it done.



I have no sympathy for these officials. They seem to have no problem sending our sons and daughters in harms way.

... they can resign, and go into private enterprise. The military is stuck in their assignments until they are rotated home, and finish their enlistments (or the military accepts the resignation of its officers). I assume that swearing an oath still allows a civilian to resign.

Old South End Broadway

You mentioned Iran and the post was mainly about the past with Iran.

The embassy in Iraq is subject to mortar shelling on a daily basis and if the country is more safe and secure why then would U.S. diplomats balk at serving there.

Maybe they know something we should also know.

Here's an great idea on ending this quagmire of a war: ALL the bureaucrats resign. The administration doesn't give a rat's ass about the populace or popularity. But if it had nobody left to carry out its directives, it would fold in an instant.

I won't hold my breath.

... do they do it at random times throughout the day, or only when the attacks can occur on the evening news? If they are out in the late afternoons (when no attacks should occur because it won't be on the "big 3" networks, although I watch CNN myself which is 24 hours) is it just a waste of time since the terrorists are home sleeping? Maybe we ought to do our opertions strictly at night since the terrorists won't respond because it won't be on the evening news.

Old South End Broadway

"I wonder if any of these diplomats complained when the National Guard was sent to Iraq or when the guard's tours of duty were repeatedly extended."

It doesn't matter. The National Guard and the diplomats both swear an oath to this country. The oath does not include the phrase "... or in cases where I only see fit to serve"




Out of all the U.S. embassies in the world, you don't think the one in Iraq is in the greatest amount of danger?

I doubt if any other 'new' embasseys being built, if there even are any, are coming in with a close-to-a-billion dollar price tag.

Do you think perhaps the embassey in Iraq is in the greatest amount of danger, and thus the hefty price tag....because we invaded their country?

LOL, I sure do.

McCaskey asked if I thought that the Iraq embassy was dangerous because we invaded. The only reason I mentioned Iran was to show that a similar embassy in a very similar country in terms of population, size, and ethnic backgrounds can produce a similar threat.



On 6 of Past 7 Days, Rockets or Shells Have Hit Sector That Includes U.S. Embassy

By Karin Brulliard and Robin Wright
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, March 29, 2007; Page A15

BAGHDAD, March 29 -- Iraqi insurgents are increasingly hitting Baghdad's fortresslike Green Zone with rockets and mortar shells, officials said Wednesday.

Insurgents have struck inside the Green Zone, which includes the U.S. Embassy, on six of the past seven days, once with deadly consequences. A U.S. soldier and a U.S. government contractor were killed Tuesday night by a rocket attack that also seriously wounded a civilian, military and embassy officials said. One soldier and at least three other civilians received minor injuries, U.S. Embassy spokesman Lou Fintor said.

The attack stunned a workforce normally blase about Baghdad's habitual wartime booms and blasts.

A State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, also said, "There are increasing attacks on the embassy."

The article is a bit dated but it kinda makes one wonder about why the State Department personal are now so concerned about serving there if things were better and safer.

Or is like shooting at ducks in a barrel now.

"Out of all the U.S. embassies in the world, you don't think the one in Iraq is in the greatest amount of danger?"

Yes I do however my point was that every US embassy is a target for Islama-facists to attack so either way just by being a diplomat you are going to be a potential target.

Besides with each passing month the "death toll" in Iraq both for Iraqis and US service members drops. And these are people not behind the large barriers of the Green Zone.

"I doubt if any other 'new' embasseys being built, if there even are any, are coming in with a close-to-a-billion dollar price tag." I do too. However every embassy has stepped up security measures. Plus I'd say embassies outside of Iraq are more prone to complacancy by security officials. Complacancy kills. Complacancy is the reason why American airport security screeners are missing bombs in mock drills. In Iraq this is less apt to happen.

"Do you think perhaps the embassey in Iraq is in the greatest amount of danger, and thus the hefty price tag....because we invaded their country?"

I think despite the invasion the US embassy in Iraq would have been a major target because of Iraq's continued hostility toward the US before the war. In 1979 we didn't invade Iran yet they saw fit to attack the embassy and hold our diplomats and Marines hostages.



With the saber rattling the similarity might be more than we thought.

Just waiting for the trigger event.


"On December 31, 1977, in the banquet room of Tehran's Niavaran Palace, the president and the first lady of the United States attended a dinner hosted in their honor by the shah and the shahbanou of Iran. An hour and a half before the New Year, Jimmy Carter proposed a toast. "Iran," he said, "because of the great leadership of the Shah, is an island of stability in one of the more troubled areas of the world. This is a great tribute to you, Your Majesty, and to your leadership, and to the respect and the admiration and love which your people give to you."[1]

The waves of mass demonstrations that would culminate in the shah's downfall began less than a week after Carter's visit; barely a year after he raised his glass, the shah and the shahbanou fled Iran. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran's first and future supreme leader, returned from exile just over two weeks later. Carter's ambassador to the UN, Andrew Young, welcomed the chaos with words both comforting and delusional--an augury of the approach taken by later administrations. "I would be willing to bet," Young said, "that in another year or so... Khomeini will be [seen as] some kind of saint when we finally get over the panic of what is happening there."[2]

Within months, members of Carter's National Security Council (NSC)--which had been the main promoter of "the Pahlavi supremacy premise," the idea that the shah would continue to rule--were meeting with Muhammad Reza Pahlavi's successors. On November 1, 1979, at a 25th anniversary commemoration of the Algerian revolution, Iran's new prime minister, foreign minister, and minister of defense hosted Carter's national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, in the suite of their Algiers hotel.[3] Accompanying Brzezinski as a note-taker was a promising young NSC staff member, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. The Iranians demanded that the terminally ill shah, who had been brought to the United States the week before, be turned over to them for trial. Brzezinski--who had fought Secretary of State Cyrus Vance to permit the shah's entry to the United States--refused. "To return the Shah to you," he said, "would be incompatible with our national honor."[4]

Three days later, the U.S. embassy in Tehran was seized. Carter responded with attempts at conciliation, another tactic that would be employed, in extremis, by his successors. Yet his letter to Khomeini ("from one believer to a man of God"), seemed only to reinforce the supreme leader's oft repeated conviction that "America cannot do a damn thing." "

Why did the U.S. continue to support the regime of the Shah with its secret police, torture and so on?

From the Post story:

The cafeteria was originally designed for the light duty expected at a typical embassy, where people live in their own apartments and eat only lunch on the job. But now it is being redesigned, at a cost of $27.9 million, to provide three meals a day -- and to be rocket-, bomb- and mortar-proof.

This place is a fortress, not just an embassy, because we're seen as invaders. Which, of course, we are.

Neighborhood the implication was the embassy in Iraq is only under attack because of the war. I would say it's under attack more because of the war but it's not the reason for the attack.

Is it more dangerous because of the war? Yes. But that doesn't mean it wouldn't be dangerous anywhere else.

The diplomats have sworn an oath and they should uphold it.



I would bet the cafeteria is so heavily armored is because of the attack last year in the Anbar Province where we lost a lot of young men and women when the chow hall was attacked.

The military right now is very big on "lessons learned" and towards adapting towards past problems. I would guess this is a part of that.

"because we're seen as invaders. Which, of course, we are." BTW are you familiar that there are virtually no attacks anywhere in Iraq after noon their time?

The reason this is is because the insurgents know that if they attack after noon they've missed the evening news in the US and their attack will go unreported.

This opens up their mindset to me and that's why I don't feel attacks are because we're viewed as "invaders" but rather a propaganda tool for them to broadcast a culturally skewed message.



"This place is a fortress, not just an embassy, because we're seen as invaders. Which, of course, we are."

If this were true then the presence of more troops would give the insurgents more opportunities to kill Americans and the numbers of attacks would increase.

This graph shows it's not happening. I like this graph because it also highlights Ramadan which is a time when attacks are more culturally significant.



You're way off base here, Mikey. The reason fewer bombs go off in the afternoon is because there are very few people out in the afternoon. The bombers have fewer targets. I've lived in the Mediterranean and experienced the very hot afternoons, which is when most people go home and spend time with their families. They come out again in the evening after it cools down.

The reason this is is because the insurgents know that if they attack after noon they've missed the evening news in the US and their attack will go unreported.

Now, this is starting to sound like the 'media is complicit with the terrorists' line of thinking. Reporting on attacks on troops is only giving aid and comfort to the enemy, that sort of logic.

Virtually nobody even watches 'the evening news' anymore, and even if they did, they'd find isolated troop attacks aren't even mentioned unless they involve multiple causualties. I realize attacks involving multiple causualties aren't what some folks want mentioned, sort of like not showing flag-draped caskets returning to Dover Air Base, but sorry, this does qualify as news.

Actually, the media in general has given fairly prominent play to the fact that troop deaths and civilian casualties are down over the last few months. I trust nobody in the administration has a problem with this sort of reporting.

The imperial, embassy...being constructed to the tune of almost a billion dollars, will cost another estimated 1.2 billion--a year--to maintain, with a crew of 1,000 officials assigned to it and a support staff of several thousand more (source:

All this in a land where we are not seen as occupiers? Why would there be such a hue and cry to begin with from diplomatic personnel about having to serve in such an enviornment? I'd think it'd be such a 'plum' assignment, they'd be scrambling over each others' backs to get to serve there.

After all, what's a few mortar shells lobbed over the embassy walls from such a populace so content with our presence there.

shows a steady rise in attacks for the better part of three years, and has only come done in the last few months. I'd say the jury is still out on this issue.

We're thought of as invaders, or occupiers, I'm guessing by virtually every Iraqi except those who might be involved, and thus benefitting, in the unparalled defraudment of the American taxpayer.

Note the number of times the word 'occupier' is mentioned in this story:

And not mortar shelling or other forms of ordinances used to injure and kill others.

IED's are but one of the many forms used.

"You're way off base here, Mikey."

Ha ha thanks for the good laugh.

The Iraqi work day is nothing unlike ours. In fact Baghdad has 6 million people whereas New York has 8 million. That's a lot of commuters who make an afternoon commute during their work day.

Oddly enough the attacks mainly come during the morning commute. Nice try to spin a fact but once the truth shines through.



the media doesn't have to be complicit in order for any person or entity to take advantage of the timing ... our local candidates do it all the time - why do you think most press conferences are held at 10 a.m.?

I think both are right ... timed for maximum exposure and maximum damage.

"shows a steady rise in attacks for the better part of three years, and has only come done in the last few months. I'd say the jury is still out on this issue."

The graph shows that the level of violence is dipping to a October '04 low (during the holy month of Ramadan). This was a time when the insurgency was really starting to take hold through the civilian populace. Prior to that much of the violence was contained in Fallujah. Only after the battle of Fallujah did the violence spread throughout Iraq.

and the story you show has this insert:

"It is the occupying forces who are creating problems for the Mahdi Army," he adds in reference to the radical Shiite leader's powerful militia.

"But we will confront them in a peaceful manner. We are going to organise demonstrations to highlight the American abuses against the Iraqi people," says this father of nine and grandfather of two.

"The occupying forces do not respect Iraqi sovereignty, and we call on the government to end this state of affairs," he adds with a tone of defiance."

Ok there are multiple problems with that. First off he's a representative of Sadr City which has always been known as a slum of Baghdad so it's not an indicator of most Iraqis.

Secondly he's talking about the Mahdi Army which is a terrorist Shiite Militia who's leader has fought the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police while it's leader, Moqtada Al Sadr (who is mentioned as an aquaintence) gives direction from outside of the slums (it's been believed he's fled to Iran).

I wouldn't say his links to a group who has consistently caused sectarian violence would denounce his credibility.

and neighborhood... IED's have been the most effective attack on US and coalition troops. Their drop IS an indicator of violence decreasing.

BTW sorry for no posts for a few days I've been out of town.



I cannot parse what you mean by "The Iraqi work day is nothing unlike ours" (does that mean it IS like ours?). But let me explain to you during what times people are out of the home in these climates. A typical day begins at 7 am and goes until 11 am or so, and most people are at work, shopping, doing whatever at that time. People then go home, eat, and relax with their families. The temperature in Iraq in the summertime afternoon can hit 120 degrees and it would be suicidal to be out in that heat.

About 5 pm, people go out again and do their business. If a bomber wants to kill a lot of people, he would do it in the morning when MOST people would be out on the streets. Morning bombings have nothing to do with the urban legend tale that you heard as a war story from a returning soldier that they want to get on our nightly news. Yes, they DO want to get on our nightly news, but that's not the reason the bombings occur in the morning. This is not spin. It's a fact. Anything else I can explain to you, Mikey?


Terrorist attacks are done to force political changes. These are done through 1. propaganda tools and 2. inflicting damage.

The best time to inflict damage is during high times of traffic. Highest times of traffic are at the begining and end of the work day.

Propaganda is best spread through mass media.

In the morning there is the chance to both create and spread propaganda and inflict damage. In the afternoon the propaganda is not present.

If the goal were to just inflict damage then there would still be attacks. However there are no attacks in the afternoon. It completely stops. Yet there is still a lot of people commuting. The only other thing missing is the propaganda paradigm.



Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.