Iraq For Sale: The War Profiteers (2006)

 “Why do they have Cadillac Escalades in Iraq?”

While American and Iraqi families continue to bury their dead and comfort their wounded, the HUGE companies who continue to profit from the extended fiasco in Iraq are laughing all the way to the bank. Yes, those bank deposits in the billions keep rolling in, and shares in companies such as Halliburton and KBR keep skyrocketing. It’s odd, isn’t it, that one slice of the American population (i.e. those in the military) are told to continue to sacrifice, while the CEOs take home fat multi million dollars salaries. Robert Greenwald’s documentary, Iraq For Sale: The War Profiteers makes it clear exactly who is cashing in on the slaughter, maiming, and destruction, and it isn’t pretty.

iraq for saleA large portion of the film takes a look at the relatively lowly civilian contractors employed by various companies in Iraq, and then interviews the families of those killed over there. The survivors of those killed–and injured–in Iraq–are understandably bitter as they argue that their loved ones were knowingly placed in dangerous situations by Halliburton, for example. Too large a portion of the film focuses on this aspect of things, and that was unfortunate.

Another section of the film focuses on the civilian contractors employed to interrogate–which is a euphemism for torture–prisoners at Abu Ghraib. While several low-ranking soldiers have been court-martialed for the treatment of Iraqi prisoners, the film reveals that there’s NO accountability for contractors who “interrogate” and kill in the process. They simply walk away from the situation. Various interrogators are interviewed–as well a translator who argues that the translators employed are often not proficient in the language, but that there’s no evaluation of language skills.

The very best–and strongest part of the film focuses on the nitty-gritty details of some of the financial abuse taking place in Iraq. One civilian who was employed by Halliburton breaks down when he explains that contaminated water (tested for malaria, typhus, and giardia) is knowingly given to the troops. Another soldier explains how Halliburton charges $99 for washing a bag full of dirty clothes. And details are given of the burning and destruction of $80,000 vehicles that lack a spare tyre or an oil filter, for example. No oil filter–no problem–just destroy the old vehicle and bill the taxpayers for a new one! Apparently, the system of “cost plus” encourages these companies to run amok with expenses. And that’s underscored by the luxuries the executives of these companies reward themselves with every chance they get.

The documentary also traces the crony system that thrives between the politicians and the companies who are reaping billions off the blood of others. Dollar amounts running into the billions flash on the screen as company after company rake in the profits. This is beyond scandalous–it’s downright criminal. When is someone going to pull the plug on this thievery? And I’ll add my own experience of bills from the war–a friend’s unit stationed in Iraq was given a satellite phone and guess who is going to get the 4 million dollar phone bill?

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Filed under (Anti) War, Documentary, Political/social films

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