Reporters on the Job

Laundry to Go: While working on Monday's story about reconstruction spending in Iraq (page 1), staff writer Dan Murphy was reminded of how much money was being spent, without landing in many Iraqi pockets. Isam al-Khafaji, a former Iraqi adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority who now runs a nonprofit called Iraq Revenue Watch, told Dan that in the early days of the Iraqi occupation, CPA staff laundry was sent out of the country by plane to Kuwait.

For much of the occupation, other menial jobs were also taken by foreigners (often for security purposes) in a country with rampant unemployment.

When Dan first started coming to Iraq in September, the free bus inside the CPA's huge Green Zone on the grounds of Saddam Hussein's main palace in Baghdad, was driven by an American with a handlebar moustache and badge that identified him as a Halliburton employee. "Given that the average Iraqi salary is about $150 a month, it seems a shame that were paying Americans so much money to do those types of jobs," says Dan. But he noticed that change is coming. "I rode the same bus a few days ago, and it had an Iraqi driver."

David Clark Scott
World editor

Cultural snapshot

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