Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I've Got Pictures Of A U.S. Government Facility (Including Security Countermeasures!)

Yeah, I've got them right here on the internet.

But I'm not violating the prohibition against posting pictures of U.S. Government facilities because my pictures are of the remains of the former U.S. embassy in Kuwait City.

That's the embassy that was attacked by a suicide bomber in 1983, and was later placed under siege when Saddam Hussein invaded and annexed Kuwait in 1990. The embassy moved to a nice new compound a few years later after the Gulf War, leaving nothing but rubble behind at the old site.

I find it irresistible to poke around in places that are rich in memories, so I dropped by the former embassy location. It's an empty lot today, with one lonely palm tree growing there amid the debris of the former chancery, administrative annex, pool, Marine House, and Ambassador's residence.

The Kuwait Tower - those three spires that were seemingly in every CNN camera shot during the Gulf War - are located just up the street.

The rubble piles contain remnants of the buildings that stood there from around 1960 to 1995. Lots of little bits of marble, red octagonal terrazzo tiles, water pipes, bricks, rebars, power conduits, and so on. The detritus of a diplomatic facility.

Local employees who remember the old embassy immediately identified the different bits by their color and finish. 'This was from the wall in the Ambassador's residence' or 'this was the floor in the Marine House,' etc.

Pieces of door sill and concrete flooring. Exciting, no? Maybe just to me.

Large concrete planters still line the sidewalk where the embassy perimeter wall was located.

The only intact structure on the site is this sheet metal shed.

This Jersey barrier is the only other part of the old embassy that is still upright.

The most striking thing to happen at the old embassy was the suicide bombing that occurred on December 12, 1983, one of the first such attacks in modern history. A truck laden with gas cylinders and plastic explosives broke through the front gates of the embassy and exploded against the administrative annex building. The blast killed five people and wounded over 80. Greater loss of life was averted because the explosive device only partially detonated, and because the driver hit the annex and not the more heavily populated chancery building.

This plaque is not located at the former embassy. It reads:

In memory of our colleagues who gave their lives in the tragic events of December 12, 1983

Ahmad Samarra
Mufeed Al-Hakeem
Ali Al-Jamal


Anonymous said...

That's great reporting TSB: I can't find any good pictures of the current embassy but is the water any good? embassy food?
and do they keep the pool cool enough to enjoy? I didn't know that one of the big towers is for water storage. gwb

Anonymous said...

This is great. Good job.

A Daring Adventure said...

LOVE the title! But, then again, you knew I would.

TSB said...

ADA, the title jumped right into my mind as soon as I saw the old embassy site.

GWB, there might be photos of the new (new in 1995) embassy on its Facebook page and/or website. The pool looked good (but I didn't have a chance) and the cafeteria is outsourced to Ruby Tuesdays, so the food is pretty good.

Anonymous said...

TSB: "Whitey" update! plus some great photos. Can you believe the FBI had a great tip 3 years ago when Whitey was spotted on the Santa Monica pier but they ignored it! So that guy doesn't get the $2 million. gwb

Anonymous said...

TSB: You aren't missing much politically, except Harry Reid has endorsed a radical new plan to get us off foreign oil. Obama will hopefully endorse this too! gwb "I got up this morning really early, and went out and did my exercise. I'm not exaggerating--scores!--at least 30 or 40 bikes--so scores may be a slight exaggeration--of people, not just for exercise, traveling to work. Backpacks on--they are going to work. That's what bike paths are all about!" (Harry Reid)

Anonymous said...

TSB: If you have some down time on the C-130 coming home (wouldn't that be something?) check out my post on how Hillary defeated Spiderman. gwb

OSB said...

Tut tut. Your FAM reference doesn't apply; it only applies to State Department websites and not personal sites. There are other regulations for that.

TSB said...


You're right, thanks. I edited that to remove the reference.

It was really an in-joke, since one of my blogger friends was recently harassed for posting a photo of the couch in an embassy apartment. A DS agent described that as a photo of an 'official USG installation,' which I thought was going overboard.

OSB said...

I was just poking fun :-P