Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Some good details in this lengthy interview about recruiting Iraqi scientists after 9/11


Even getting things like cars from Halliburton was difficult: they had a rule at the time that you had to drive around white unarmoured Suburbans with Texas plates that had to be washed every week. And that was just insane because that was the surest way to get killed. So we went out to the open car market. 


We bought a car and decorated with local style. We put on stickers that said, “I love Iraq,” put on the air freshener with the plastic half pulled off, and started working on figuring out who the scientists were and who we were supposed to work with.


I was flying back to the embassy in Kuwait, filling up a backpack with $20, $30, $50 thousand in cash, signing for it personally, and then flying to Iraq and running this $2 million program, entirely in cash.


I found out that a group of female librarians actually put their lives at stake to defend this library and prevent the looters from going in and destroying and carting off the books. 

Some clever bureaucratic jujitsu described, too.