The U.S. embassy in Baghdad Leila Fadel, Knight Ridder Newspapers (May 19)
...it's hard keeping a 104-acre complex rising on the banks of the Tigris River hidden. Anyone who cares to know can easily see four giant construction cranes towering over the river at the largest such project ever undertaken by the United States - a symbol of American presence that will last well into the future.
When the complex is completed by June 2007 - this one apparently is on schedule, unlike most construction projects here - it will be an American oasis in the heavily fortified Green Zone, away from the fear and lack of services that permeate the rest of Baghdad. Among the 21 buildings will be a recreation center to rival any in the United States with, among other amenities, a pool, gym, food court, beauty salon and, of course, the American Club.
Baghdad may have little potable water and only a few hours of electricity a day, but the embassy complex will have its own water treatment facilities and electricity generator.
But little else can be gleaned about the expansive complex, which will sit on some of central Baghdad's most desirable real estate and will, when finished, dominate the view of anyone standing on the other side of the river.