Huffpost Politics

US Diplomats In Iraq Required To Carry Weapon At All Times, Even At The Pool

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WASHINGTON — Trying to escape Baghdad's sweltering summer with a quick Green Zone dip? Don't forget your poolside weapons etiquette if you work at the U.S. Embassy there.

Despite previous appeals, embassy employees with permission to carry guns are apparently not heeding strict rules that require arms to be within their reach or with a designated person at all times, even at the pool, The Associated Press has learned. And if you're packing heat, forget about a beer to beat it.

It's not clear how widespread the problem is, but an embassy security notice issued this week and obtained by The AP suggests that more than a few armed civilian and military staff need a refresher course on the "Mission Firearms Policy."

"Weapons are continuing to be left unattended throughout the embassy compound," says the unclassified internal memo. "The improper handling of weapons has legal and political implications."

Though it doesn't mention the potential lethal implications of the improper handling of weapons, the notice reminds employees that their guns will be confiscated and they may be subject to "additional disciplinary action" if they don't follow the rules.

The rules say:

- Weapons will remain within arms reach of the owner or a designated individual. If using the embassy pool, you must designate a gear guard.

- No weapons will be left unattended in a vehicle _ even locked vehicles.

- No weapon will be carried while drinking alcoholic beverages.

Those whose guns are confiscated by security officers can get their weapon back only by bringing a signed note on official letterhead from their supervisor certifying "that they have been counseled on proper weapons retention," it says. But don't dawdle, seized weapons "will be considered abandoned" and destroyed if they're not picked up within 60 days.