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A $736-Million Symbol of Progress | The Nation

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Christopher Hayes

Christopher Hayes

Nation editor-at-large and host of MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes.

A $736-Million Symbol of Progress

When the U.S. embassy in Iraq is built, it will be a $736-million gargantuan complex, the biggest U.S. diplomatic facility in the world. (For Sim-style renderings of the planned azure pool and adjacent gardens, see here.) But over eight months since its projected opening date, the project has sputtered under charges of slap-dash construction and multiple criminal investigations facing State Department employees.

Now, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-California) is losing patience with Condoleeza Rice, accusing her of withholding information from Congress about not only the US embassy's construction, but also Iraqi corruption. Last April, Prime Minister Maliki issued a secret order immunizing top Iraqi officials from any potential corruption charges (which Rice hasn't acknowledged). Last week, USAID announced plans to further minimize oversight in Iraq by reducing the number of its Baghdad-based auditors (which the State Department won't discuss).

Meanwhile as Rice continues to stonewall, the unfinished American embassy remains an ongoing symbol for the U.S. mission in Iraq. Fittingly for an administration that nearly five years ago declared "Mission Accomplished" in a war venture that continues to drag on, last December, the U.S. State Department certified the embassy as 'substantially completed'--even as it continues to lack basic infrastructure, remain uninhabitable and bleed taxpayer funds.

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