In May 2010, we issued an extensive report, Tragedy on the Horizon, in which we surveyed the history of withdrawal, paying particular attention to the fate of those who aided the departing power. It is not a pretty history.
That report triggered Congressional hearings and legislation, which instructed the Obama Administration to conduct contingency planning in order to ensure that, as America withdrew from Iraq, we do not repeat the bloody mistakes of the past and abandon the thousands of Iraqis who are still working for us. Many thousands more are stuck in a labyrinthine bureaucratic process which has only gotten worse since we issued our report.
But despite our best efforts, the Executive Branch ignored our calls for contingency planning, adopting a policy of wishful thinking.
Since the war ended, Iraqi employees of the U.S. Government have been hunted and murdered. The process by which an Iraqi ally applies for a visa has slowed down to such an extent that it can take two years before they receive an invitation for an initial interview. Nearly every day, we receive worrying news from U.S.-affiliated Iraqis.
Update: Please see this incredible website assembled by This American Life, using the emails supplied by the List Project between “Omar,” an Iraqi forklift operator who worked for the U.S. Army, and the State Department.
They were able to powerfully demonstrate how robotic and unthinking the process is: Omar was beheaded in the summer of 2012, after a desperate year of appeals to our government for a lifeline. His story and the emails are also featured in To Be a Friend is Fatal.
We have decided to start making this intelligence public – all while protecting the identity of those who have shared it with us, of course, since many of them are in hiding as a result of their service to America.
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