Tuesday, November 07, 2006

the film 'iraq for sale'

left: Edward Sanchez

The newly-released documentary film “Iraq for Sale: the War Profiteers” highlights the way in which a handful of well-connected US corporations have made a fortune from the Iraq war, to the detriment of both Iraqis and US nationals.

The well-researched documentary was shown at the Frontline Club in London last week. Made by Brave New Films, it is directed by Robert Greenwald. According to Rick Jacobs, the chair of Brave New Films, Iraq war profiteering has “alienated Iraqis, killed American soldiers and contractors and damaged American credibility more than the war itself.”

Greenwald examines how the Bush administration has offered no-bid unsupervised Iraq contracts to a small group of US corporations, earning them billions of dollars. He takes the viewer inside the lives of soldiers, truck drivers, widows, children and Iraqi torture victims who have been affected.

His film uncovers the connections between private corporations which have profited, and the decision makers who have allowed them to do so. Greenwald says that before he started working on the film, he was aware that corporations were making enormous profits from the war. “What I didn’t know was the amount of graft and corruption and cheating that was going on. And the big shocker was the fact that corporations, in doing what they do, cutting corners to increase profits, were resulting in people being killed. That was an eye opener to all of us.”

The incidents covered by the film include the killing and mutilation of four Blackwater contractors in Falluja in March 2004, for which the contractors’ families blame Blackwater. Private contractors played a role in the torture at Abu Ghraib prison. An Arab-American former translator for the Titan Corporation, Marwan Mawiri, witnessed “institutionalized waste, lack of employee supervision, incompetence and unethical management of employees.”

In April 2004 several KBR/Halliburton drivers were killed, and many others wounded, when they were sent by KBR into a volatile part of Baghdad. One driver, Edward Sanchez, says the massacre was “totally preventable. There was absolutely no reason for us to be there.” His colleague Bill Peterson says: “We were told repeatedly we were not soldiers, we were noncombatants, not to do anything that made us appear as soldiers or military personnel. And that we would not be sent into any areas of known danger.”

A former KBR water purification specialist, Ben Carter, says that from his first day in Iraq “I started to see just incredible waste and compromised safety standards.” A radio mechanic and former US soldier, David Mann, found that he and hundreds of other soldiers trained to provide logistical support were charged with training KRB contractors. “We shouldn’t have to train them how to do their job,” he says.

Rick Jacobs says he has worked with politicians and groups all over the US trying to promote the message of the film: “That we have to ask questions, to demand that Congress does its job. It appears that to do that, we need to make some serious changes in Washington. I hope and expect that the American public will look at this film and demand change.”

Susannah Tarbush, Saudi Gazette 10 October 2006

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