My daily outrage today, other than Mitt Romney endorsing John McCain in Arizona is U.S. plans for a $1 billion embassy in Britain. It's a high-security embassy, dontcha know - and it's the most expensive EVAH BUILT! This embassy will have its own moat, bomb-resistant glazing...somewhere, and a rolling parkscape. It is a part of the FY 2010 Budget named "A New Era of Responsibility: Renewing America's Promise.
The State Department sought to play down the cost of security measures, noting the expense of London building work. But the price puts the London embassy above the US’s most fortified missions, including the Baghdad embassy, which cost $600 million (£390 million) but required a further $100 million of work on air conditioning, and the Islamabad embassy, still under construction, which has cost more than $850 million.
It also does not include the 17.5 per cent VAT demanded by the Treasury on all buildings in Britain and which the US has refused to pay.
About that moat. I'm feeling better now. The Australian reports that the moat is designed to foil bombers. Our diplomats fly in private aircraft and stash themselves safely behind moats and all that, and we commoners stand in line in airports with passengers we know should be profiled, but are not. Sometimes those passengers try to light their underpants. We need a moat for protection - over there - because London is crawling with Islamic extremists. By comparison, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq cost $700 million.
Caption under a Reuters photo: The design for the new US Embassy in London includes an earth bank, a semicircular moat and bomb-resistant glazingThe existing U.S. Embassy has been sold to Qatar, who plans to turn the facility into a luxury hotel. The current Embassy sold for $1 billion, but would we be naive to think that the sales price will pay for the new Embassy? Do we really think the Embassy cost, which starts at $1 billion, will stay anywhere close to $1 billion? No, we know better.
Hillary Clinton's 2010 State Department Budget, totals $16.389 billion, an increase of $1.885 billion over FY 2009. In FY 2010, which runs from October 2009 through September 2010, I see $1.815 billion for Embassy Security, Construction and Maintenance, so maybe these are the funds paying for the new U.K. Embassy. In fiscal 2008, the Bush administration budget for the same was $1.5 billion. The Obama fiscal 2009 budget was $2.6 billion, and then of course, the savings of -$831.5 million decrease in the fiscal 2010 budget to $1.815 billion.
The State Department is adding 700 additional Foreign Service staff in FY 2010 - 700 more bureaucrats in these times of economic hardship.
Forty-five positions are being added to "support" the Department's Border Security Program. These additional personnel will not be on the border looking for encroachers. They will "adjudicate passport and visa applications."
The moat, the park, the Crystalline Cube and the bomb-resistant glaze are all subject to a 17.5 percent VAT (value added tax). In the past, the U.S. has refused to pay the VAT to the UK, but Obama's Ambassador to Britain, Louis Susman, says he intends "to do what is appropriate." President Obama is fond of VATs. He has one planned for you and me.