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Fact checking: what is the source of your information?

Reader comment on item: White Elephant in Baghdad

Submitted by Eunice (United States), May 15, 2010 at 17:03

While I agree, in general, with your opinion about the U.S. Embassy Baghdad, I take issue with many of your "facts." As one of the individuals who served at the embassy for one year, I am in a position to offer a first-hand account and offer corrections. My opposition is not to Dr. Pipes perspective, but rather to the spread of misinformation.

To wit: A mini-city unto itself, its 21 (correction: 27 buildings) buildings include stores (correction: 1 post-exchange store'), restaurants (correction: walk-up counters for Subway, Green Beans Coffee, Pizza, that have a shared open seating; correction 2: there are 2 contractor-operated DFACs - dining facilities, similar to the DFACs on all of the military bases throughout Iraq), schools (correction: 1 school was built in anticipation of diplomats one day being able to bring their families to post - a long way from reality - and is used as an administrative building, cramped with several hundred American civilian workers), a movie theater (correction: there is no dedicated movie theater; a community space is depending on the day and time, a bar and dance floor, movie theater, town hall meeting space, or chapel), fire station, and facilities for athletics, electricity, telecommunications, water, and wastewater. Fifteen-foot thick (correction: this is bogus; the walls may be 15' high, and are no more than a few feet thick, if that) walls protect the complex. Some 5,500 (correction: that's a wildly inflated figure; with the addition of the military personnel housed on the grounds, about 1,500 staff live there) staff live there. The annual embassy budget comes to about $1.5 billion.

The complex has suffered from cost overruns, delays, and shoddy construction. Projected to cost $592 million and open in 2007, it actually cost $700 million and opened in 2009 (correction: staff began residing on the grounds May, 2008, with nearly 1,000 on site by Dec. 2008; the grounds were dedicated on January 5, 2009).

I reiterate: please double check your sources so that you do not contribute to erroneous information taken by others as fact.

Respectfully submitted.


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Daniel Pipes replies:

I have not been in Baghdad since 2003, so if there are errors in my article, they reflect errors in the reporting on the embassy in major media and I am glad to have them corrected.

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