The largest dam in Iraq is in serious danger of an imminent collapse that could unleash a trillion-gallon wave of water, possibly killing thousands of people and flooding two of the largest cities in the country, according to new assessments by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other U.S. officials.

Even in a country gripped by daily bloodshed, the possibility of a catastrophic failure of the Mosul Dam has alarmed American officials, who have concluded that it could lead to as many as 500,000 civilian deaths by drowning Mosul under 65 feet of water and parts of Baghdad under 15 feet, said Abdulkhalik Thanoon Ayoub, the dam manager. “The Mosul dam is judged to have an unacceptable annual failure probability,” in the dry wording of an Army Corps of Engineers draft report.

And then, no surprise, of course:

At the same time, a U.S. reconstruction project to help shore up the dam in northern Iraq has been marred by incompetence and mismanagement, according to Iraqi officials and a report by a U.S. oversight agency to be released Tuesday.

According to this WaPo article, the collapse of the dam could happen any day now. So this is the Bush administration, right? They were warned well ahead of time about the fragile state of the levees by officials both inside and outside the federal government. And a massive humanitarian disaster was…not…averted. This sounds like a disaster on a scale that would give that nasty old bizzatch Katrina nightmares. Wonder how well the Bush administration is dealing with this? What’s the status of security for the dam in case some crazy insurgents try to blow it up? How’s the contingency and relief planning — in case the worst happens (which, since Iraq is basically worst case scenario central right this minute, seems reasonable) going?

How many brown people are maybe about to die needlessly under the less than watchful, less than interested eye of George Bush and cronies this time, if forfend, the Mosul dam breaks? What terrifying, heartless face will “compassionate conservatism” manifest this time?

I’m confident that there is a lot more backstory to this article than meets the eye. And like the checkered, racist history of the levees and the continuing failure to protect New Orleans from the next hurricane, it probably wouldn’t make me feel better about the situation.

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