Fiscal Conservatism in the Bush Years, Part MCXII

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Q: Sure, the occupation of Iraq isn't going well, but what about all those hospitals and police stations and schools we've built?
A: Um.

A $75 million project to build the largest police academy in Iraq has been so grossly mismanaged that the campus now poses health risks to recruits and might need to be partially demolished, U.S. investigators have found.

The Baghdad Police College, hailed as crucial to U.S. efforts to prepare Iraqis to take control of the country's security, was so poorly constructed that feces and urine rained from the ceilings in student barracks. Floors heaved inches off the ground and cracked apart. Water dripped so profusely in one room that it was dubbed "the rain forest."

As Iraqis stand up, we will stand down; presuming they stand up in one of the places that isn't getting soaked by a shit drop.

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  1. Weigel has gone from Walker/Sullum/Cavanaugh witty ironic smartass to just plain nasty…

    Personally, I like nasty.

  2. You mean the U.S. got ripped off by a construction contractor? Wow that has never happened to anyone before.

    Same monkees different trees. Someone points to some place in Iraq where things are going swimmingly and says “see we are winning”. Weigal points to a building where the toilets don’t work and does a happy dance at the thought of the U.S. loosing. Neither examples says much one way or another. Since all wars these days must involve fewer than 20 casualties and be won in 100 hours or less, Weigal’s makes a better sound bit.

  3. Ah, the sweet smell of democracy!

  4. I love John’s logic. Even when things are going badly, only someone blinded by partisanship would take that to mean things are going badly!

  5. Weigal points to a building where the toilets don’t work and does a happy dance at the thought of the U.S. loosing.

    Weigel never said anything about losing. My guess is that he’s rather dismayed to hear about the problems facing the Iraqi police.

    And this isn’t just any old construction problem. This construction problem is causing problems for a vital institution in building Iraq’s security infrastructure. Surely you should be able to appreciate that fact, and be at least as concerned as Weigel.

  6. Yes Thoreau,

    I appreciate that fact and know full well how impossible it is to get anything built in that country. I just like to gratuitously take as many cheap shots at Weigal as possible, since he seems to joy in doing the same in most of his posts.

  7. And I like to take cheap shots at your inability to spell “Weigel”.

  8. What they need are more central planners. That’s what everyone needs.

  9. I just want to point out that shit and piss soaking through floors and dripping from ceilings goes a bit beyond your garden-variety “it’s hard to find good construction help these days” complaints.

  10. John is apparently at a loss for examples of “places in Iraq where things are going swimmingly.”

  11. “places in Iraq where things are going swimmingly.”

    Well, you can swim in the police academy dorms, but you might get sick from doing so.

  12. You know, they wouldn’t have had this problem with the construction if they’d just hired those guys idly standing around the far corner of the Home Depot parking lot.

  13. I just want to point out that shit and piss soaking through floors and dripping from ceilings goes a bit beyond your garden-variety “it’s hard to find good construction help these days” complaints.

    Yeah, I agree. It would be kinda embarrassing having to explain it to the plumber.

    ‘Ok, well, you see that turd on the floor. Well the dog didn’t do it. My husband did. And he IS house trained it’s just that our logs fall through the ceiling. Chocolate pennies from heaven if you like. Cup of tea?’

  14. The question becomes, just how many projects must Parsons totally screw up before we quit giving them contracts?

    We’ve seen them screw us on a $243 million contract for construction of 150 health clinics. (we ended up with only 20), then they went on to get a $99 million dollar contract to build a prison which ran into cost over runs and finally had to be cancelled all together, and now this.

    Maybe their plan is this. If we screw up the police acadamy they’ll train no police. With no police they won’t have a need for the prison we couldn’t build, and with no one getting incarcerated for violent crimes people will be murdered before they have a chance to get sick so we won’t need all those clinics.

  15. “…the inspector general’s findings raise serious questions about whether the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has failed to exercise effective oversight….”

    And will any (significant) disciplinary action be taken? Or will it be promotions all ’round, a hearty handclasp, and a fond farewell? And a nice big office at Parsons Corp…

  16. Something about the standard egregious misspelling of “loosing” in connection with this particular post is . . . just gross.

  17. John, Why do you keep misspelling David’s last name despite the fact that Thoreau corrected you many times?

    Another question John. If it was the French or, god forbid, the UN who built this facility would you take the same position?

  18. On the other hand: A shower of fecal matter in Iraq is bad, but you gotta come back to the good old U S of A to die while driving through a just completed public works project….

  19. Another question John. If it was the French or, god forbid, the UN who built this facility would you take the same position?

    I second that question.

  20. If the Germans built had built it, I guarantee the toilets would work.

  21. I just read that 40% of Iraq doesn’t have adequate sanitation facilities. Do you think they had them before the war to begin with?

  22. “[John’s] …inability to spell “Weigel”.”

    You don’t suppose “-gal” could be John’s idea of a surreptitious psychosexual slur, do you?

  23. Wouldn’t graduating from the Iraqi Police Acadamy be the biggest health risk of all?

  24. AcadEmy, acadEmy, acadEmy. Sigh.

  25. John writes: “I appreciate that fact and know full well how impossible it is to get anything built in that country”

    No, John, this was due to old-fashioned home-grown American incompetence and corruption.

    Things can and do get built in Iraq, but not by American contractors.

  26. This reminds me of something I read a few years ago about why the Iraqi people in general distrust our motives. After living under Saddam, who seemed omnipotent to them, impervious to coup attempts, with secret police everywhere, they simply didn’t believe that a military with the power to overthrow him couldn’t manage to control petty crime in the streets. Many of the Iraqis interviewed believed that the Americans were allowing their society to fall apart on purpose, or even encouraging the crime.

    I’m sure they’ll have the same questions about how we can overthrow Saddam yet can’t build a building with working toilets.

  27. They should call it Tha PoFece Academy BAH-ZING!

  28. Stay the course!!!

  29. No, John, this was due to old-fashioned home-grown American incompetence and corruption.

    They should have known better than to hire Iraqis for the construction:

    Article:
    “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.”

  30. All it takes is for one toilet drain pipe to break and you will have “shit and piss falling from the ceilings”. I’m no supporter of the Iraq war, but let’s not jump to conclusions and assume from this story (as Weigel does) that every building that was ever built in Iraq by the U.S. is raining piss and shit from the ceilings. More and more, I’m beginning to think the name of this website should be changed from reason.com to know-it-all.com.

  31. Why is 75 million being spent on a police college? That is an absurd amount of money for a training facility regardless of who pays for it.

    Why do we immediately accept this story as fact and immediately dismiss any story about all those hospitals and police stations and schools we’ve built as false?

    The main thing here is that Parson’s can be fired or otherwise held accountable. That may not happen, but you can’t hold any government agency accountable for anything.

  32. Here is an example of where things are going swimmingly in Iraq: Kurdish Iraq in the north, roughly 1/3 of the country has been truly liberated by the toppling of Saddam. It is peaceful, properous, and very very happy to be out from under the thumb of “Arab” Iraq.

    Doing construction in a war zone is difficult, what with people trying to murder you, and extort you, and blow up what you just built. The prime contractor on the project is pretty much a bunch of crooks to boot.

  33. Why do we immediately accept this story as fact and immediately dismiss any story about all those hospitals and police stations and schools we’ve built as false?

    So you think this police academy is a rare example of incompetence in an otherwise successful exercise in nation-building?

  34. Consider the source of the article: The Washington Post, a muck raking publication with a political and philosophical ax to grind.

    I would like to point out that the Baghdad Police Academy has graduated at least two classes of policeman, with something like 4,000 graduates per class despite the shortcomings in the plumbing there. Work is moving forward to fix the problems.

    So there was poor performance on a construction project during a war? Wow, now there is a surprise.

  35. When reading such stories, I find myself questioning assessments that suggest that we have trained nearly 300,000 Iraqi troops. Here’s the problem. If we began our occupation of Iraq with less than 200,000 American soldiers and no Iraqi security forces and we now have nearly 300,000 Iraqi troops along with over 140,000 U.S. soldiers, why can’t we seem to bring order to the country and why does the death toll continue to alarm? Perhaps this story about the police academy, coupled with other failures, provides the answer to my question.

    The Bush administration, under the guidance of Donald Rumsfeld, continues to ignore the realities being voiced by numerous former military officers and countless other war critics. It takes minimal analysis to posit that the lack of sufficient forces in the region also translates into a lack of supervision and oversight which then leads to these colossal failures.

    Look, the reality is obvious…we have an administration that has miscalculated and mismanaged the Iraq war from the outset. There were no WMD’s, we were not greeted as liberators, we didn’t have a plan for securing the country once Hussein was toppled, we didn’t have enough troops to achieve our objectives, we are in the midst of a civil war, and we are fomenting more extremism. Sadly, the only constant remains the unequivocal denial exhibited by our President and his assemblage of neocon associates.

    Read more here:

    http://www.thoughttheater.com

  36. wayne,

    “Here is an example of where things are going swimmingly in Iraq: Kurdish Iraq in the north, roughly 1/3 of the country has been truly liberated by the toppling of Saddam. It is peaceful, properous, and very very happy to be out from under the thumb of “Arab” Iraq.”

    In other words, it’s just like it was before the invasion, but with more terrorist bombings. THAT is the shining example you could come up with.

    Mission Accomplished!

  37. “So there was poor performance on a construction project during a war? Wow, now there is a surprise.”

    Wait a second, I thought 3/4 of Iraq was peaceful.

  38. “”Sadly, the only constant remains the unequivocal denial exhibited by our President and his assemblage of neocon associates.””

    Don’t for get the 45% percent of those that think Bush is doing a good job.

  39. I can say that the conditions of traning facilites matter much per se. But if you want to discuss the quality of those “300,000” Iraqi police officers and if they can make a difference, read this article.
    http://news.yahoo.com/fc/world/iraq

  40. Having supervised a few construction projects in Iraq, I’m amazed that anything in that country stays standing.

    Even the palaces are a pile of badly-mortared crap with a nice veneer of marble over the top.

  41. Halliburton has over 500 job openning in Iraq, many are for plumbers.

    http://kbrcareers.webrecruiter.com/pls/kbr/maine.d?s=1E91CB6AB05928BAE0440003BA74E87F

    I have looked at Halliburton’s job openning a few times over the last couple of years. There always over 500 jobs available.

  42. “In other words, it’s just like it was before the invasion, but with more terrorist bombings. THAT is the shining example you could come up with.”

    Yeah, Kurdish Iraq, the same place where Saddam used poison gas to kill nearly an entire village. Yeah, that seems to me to be a pretty good example of “success” in Iraq. If Saddam were still in power and there were no troubling western forces checking his power, then the Kurds would be filleted and on a spit. The Kurds are EXTREMELY grateful for the American intervention, invasion, and overthrow of the brutes in the Bathe regime.

    Joe, has ANYTHING been done by Republicans that you like, and approve of?

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