Iraq for Sale: The Greedy War Profiteers Robert Greenwald argues that the Iraq war is not a patriotic war or even a rescue war, but rather it is a profit war. And a war that probably began and definitely continues based on greed. Documentary filmmaker, Robert Greenwald, in his documentary film, “Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers” presents an expose of billion dollar profits by private U.S. corporations in Iraq. These profits come from over charging U.S. taxpayers for substandard services and supplies that endanger our troop’s health and safety without accountability. Good examples are sewage water instead of potable water and moldy tents instead of healthy living quarters. As depicted in this cinema vente; the health and lives of American soldiers and civilian employees seem to be expendable when they interfere with profits. This paper reviews Greenwald’s evidence. Who are these private contractors, a.k.a. war profiteers who are making billions of dollars of unwarranted profits? The infamous list of exposed perpetrators consists of; Blackwater, Titan, CACI, and Halliburton/Kelly, Brown, and Root (KBR). Greenwald organized this film by contractor saving the most unscrupulous for last. We will now review these companies. Greenwald shows Blackwater’s company logo, their mercenary soldiers in action, and their multi-million dollar contract awards. The costly hiring of these mercenaries is justified by low enlistment of armed forces. The viewer then learns of their actions. Blackwater, a private army, murdered even innocents in Iraq. They are blamed for the Fallujah massacre with incendiary bombs and other banned chemical weapons used against Iraqis, including women and children. These mercenaries “get away with murder” without accountability or justification. Bereaved family members were interviewed about the disregard Blackwater had for life of even their own private soldiers (Greenwald). Former employees testify that Titan provided “untrained” interrogators and translators at the Abu Ghraib prison. The Titan interrogators took part in and, at times, directed the torturing of prisoners. The Titan translators were never tested, trained, or evaluated for accuracy of translation ability and/or integrity. The integrity of a translator is imperative. Interestingly, Titan did not require a resume, fingerprints, or criminal background check, much less security clearance as they were desperate for Arabic translators or they would lose their contract for multimillions of dollars (Greenwald). Photographs and testimonies depict CACI as another firm that contracted with the U.S. to furnish untrained and incompetent translators and interrogators. They provided outsourced torture primarily covered-up by CACI after media exposure. One prisoner, Shereef Alfered testified against CACI and Titan interrogators stating he was stripped nude along with other prisoners. Their penises were tied together, cutting off circulation. The prisoners were then pushed causing them agonizing pain and damage when they fell. Two types of men mocked and participated in this insane humiliation and abuse; those in military dress and those in civilian clothing of CACI and Titan (Greenwald). Personal testimony by “scapegoat” Janis Karpinski, Brigadier General in charge of the military operations of Abu Ghraib blames Titan and CACI for her reprimand. Karpinski felt most of the abuse came from the civilian contractors who had no chain of command to report to and were never held accountable for their actions (Greenwald). Now to discuss the “War Profiteer” Greenwald considered the most corrupt; Haliburton/KBR (KBR). One depressed soldier in this film complained of sleeping in KBR-supplied moldy tents that made the soldiers sick while KBR private contractors stayed in lavish resort accommodations. Another soldier, Geoff Millard, Sergeant, U.S. National Guard, complained of the U.S. being charge $99 for one bag of incompetently washed laundry. Why did the laundry come back dirty? The KBR-provided water used for laundry, showering, washing hands and faces, brushing teeth, and making coffee was found to be concentrated sewage water! Yet, KBR received 425 million dollars a month to provide clean water. Ben Carter, water specialist, tested the water and found E-coli and Coli-form and other contaminants capable of causing cholera, dysentery, hepatitis A, jaundice, and typhoid. Also, cryptosporidium and giardia parasites and staphylococcus, streptococcus, and flesh-eating bacteria were found in samples. Even when confronted with the dangers of carbon filtration of sewage water, which just concentrates the toxins, KBR said the water was “adequate.” The good news is that soldiers can drink carbonated beverages produced in Iraq by KBR at the cost of $80 a can (Greenwald). Shane Ratliff, a KBR truck driver was interviewed by Greenwald. He reported $80,000 new trucks being ordered burned by our military when KBR lacked a spare tire or an oil filter. This destruction allowed KBR to order new vehicles. Including Hummers, SUVs, and Cadillac Escalades leased at $7,000 a month costing $250,000 for a vehicle that is never owned. And the insanity continues! Burn pits are used for new merchandise, such as computers or wrong orders so that KBR can reorder and charge our government more money. “Cost Plus” contracts encourage waste because the more is spent, the greater the profit! (Greenwald).
KBR saves money by having set hours for meal times even when it means unprotected soldiers standing in line for food for over an hour while expecting to be bombed since Insurgents know the meal times. KBR former employee, Ratliff cried over the fate of our soldiers in Iraq and their abuse by KBR. Greenwald included many testimonies of disabled KBR truck drivers and families of deceased truckers. They wept that precautions to protect employees were not taken; gaining KBR a reputation for “killing, bagging, and replacing people” in the name of profits. Many truckers died when empty truck cargos were ordered into unsafe conditions to enhance billing (Greenwald).
Greenwald includes footage of a Democrat in a Congressional Hearing pleading for reform and accuses KBR as being a corrupt “sacred cow.” KBR is known as a “sacred cow” due to such high political connections that they are “untouchable” and literally above the law! Greenwald included this important Congressional footage so viewers see how KBR is perceived in Washington D.C. Graphic displays showed influential names and positions with arrows showing the connections. Vice President Dick Cheney is a former CEO for KBR. Is this why KBR is untouchable while being paid billions for corrupt practices? Does Cheney still have stock in this company? Graphs depicted their rising stock values. The present CEO of Halliburton/KBR makes 42 million a year and KBR has made billions without any government oversight. And the corruption is immense (Greenwald).
Unfortunately, our government knows exactly what is going on as evidenced by a series of Congressional Hearings imploring the Senate and the House to pass bills which would allow an oversight committee to hold private contractors responsible for overbilling, incompetence, and abuse. Film footage of these congressional hearings is included in the DVD “Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers.” Time after time, this author watched Democrats emphatically plead for passage of bills that would curtail this corruption. Time after time the bills were defeated by the Republicans. One bill simply asked that private contractors found by an oversight committee to overcharge the government more than $100 million dollars be rejected for future contracts. Incredibly, the Republicans refused to pass this bill!
This causes viewer to ask, “Who is buying them off?” and “How much money are they making with every soldier that dies?” “Is this the reason for the extension of the war, to make as much money as possible before the public finds out and demands accountability and restitution?” “Who are all of the players getting rich off of the increased stocks and profits of these ‘War Profiteers’?” And here, many Americans had thought this was a patriotic war to free an oppressed people, while others presumed the war, initiated by fraudulent claims, was just about Iraq’s oil. Oh, the ignorance of the uninformed!
Greenfield is shown on film with assistants repeatedly contacting these War Profiteers for explanations. The viewers heard the excuses and even apparent lies from company representatives protecting their superiors. Greenfield tried to be unbiased and have the other side of the story heard. Ignore the opposition seemed to be the strategy they encountered (Greenwald). In conclusion, Greenfield captured the emotional testimonies of soldiers and civilians. The authentic film footage lent credibility. And the weariness of defeated Democrats showed the supporters of corruption. Again, we reiterate; what are we doing in Iraq? Was this war initiated and prolonged due to profit with pay-offs to lawmakers? Are the law makers merely greedy stockholders looking the other way? This film documented over charging, and abuse by the “War Profiteers” based on greed over patriotism. There was no regard for our soldiers or American tax payers. This injustice needs to be known. And yet, a short eight-minute presentation was banned from being shown in Congress! While the people sleep in ignorance, the absolute power corrupts absolutely. This was a documentary that prompted action. The emotional appeal is evident throughout. This author cried and then wrote to a Democrat Congressman who tried so hard to pass bills to stop the corruption and to support our troops. It is time for the truth to be known!
Side Note: (I call a spade a spade in commending the good Democrat Congressman! Further research on voting records, however, shows that both parties have displayed signs of corruption. Power corrupts!).
Greenwald, Robert. Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers. Brave New Films. DVD. 2006. 7 Feb 2009 .
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