Saturday, March 8, 2008

A Day With Iraqi Customs

An Iraqi mother hustles her children along as they walk past a media team filming on the street. I hadn't seen the fear in the children's faces until I edited this shot much later.

I spent the day with Iraqi Customs trying to claim a very expensive piece of equipment that we had shipped to Baghdad. I’ve been all over the world in my lifetime and I’ve never seen a organization that is so wantonly corrupt as the Iraqi government in general and specifically Iraqi Customs.

In order to claim our property we had to go through three separate government ministries to receive signed letters of “permission” to import our cargo. Those letters were then presented to Iraqi Customs who then made us go around and collect nine separate signatures all from within the same Customs office. At each and every stop some official attempted to extort large sums of money from us for their time and effort. I’ll stop at that description alone. Functionaries sat behind cheap desks and clacked away on old typewriters with single fingers, or sat forcing us to watch them eat their lunch before they would attend to us.

It is absolutely scandalous what is going on within the Government of Iraq, and from what little I saw today every single person that we dealt with, bar none, deserved to be in jail. I shudder to think how many hundreds of millions of U.S. taxpayers’ dollars have lined the pockets of corrupt Iraqi government “officials”. Consider that the next time the U.S. Government wants to raise your taxes.

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