I've just watched Robert "Outfoxed" Greenwald's new documentary, "Iraq For Sale," which documents the disgraceful profiteering of private contractors in Iraq, like Halliburton, CACI and Titan.
Greenwald's film talks with military personnel, past employees of military contractors, and the families of contractors who were killed in Iraq. He builds a compelling, damning case that the use of these contractors is putting American soldiers in harm's way, hurting US military effectiveness in Iraq, bilking the US taxpayer out of billions, and endangering the lives of the ex-military personnel who sign on with contractors on the promise of higher wages than those paid by the US military.
From charging the US military $100 to ineptly wash a bag of laundry (and getting officers to reprimand soldiers who do their own laundry in the sink) to overseeing interrogation at Abu Ghraib, these military contractors are wasteful, undertrained, and grotesquely expensive. Greenwald's film features footage of bonfires built to destroy improperly ordered vehicles, computers and other equipment that the contractors purchased at taxpayer expense -- since these contractors are compensated on a "cost-plus" basis, they get paid more for wasting money than saving it.
Another are where they scrimp is on the safety and training of their own personnel. They hire inept translators who give bad intelligence to the military. They send their front-line workers -- such as truckers recruited from the US -- into battle-zones without military escorts or armor. Meanwhile, the "savings" realized by putting untrained people in charge of interrogation at Abu Ghraib (Greenwald shows a single-page "interrogation manual" that consists of little cartoons with a short sentence under each) are not used to provide better equipment for US soldiers -- they sleep in infectious tents, drink untreated toxic water, and eat improperly prepared food, thanks to the likes of Halliburton, whose stock doubles and redoubles every year the Iraq war goes on.
The frustration of the soldiers is palpable and heartbreaking. From those who bemoan that their comrades get sucked into working for the profiteers by the high salaries, only to be killed in action to the soldiers who are required to train contractors to do their jobs, then are relegated to scut-work while all the skilled labor is taken over by the contractors they trained.
Greenwald is encouraging people to host screenings of Iraq For Sale in their homes, inviting over friends and neighbors to see the movie and discuss the film's content. The site has a list of upcoming screenings around the world, hosted by people, clubs, companies and schools.
"Will things go wrong? Sure they willl, it's a war zone. But when they do, we'll fix it, we always have -- for 60 years, for both political parties."
- David J. Lesar, CEO, Halliburton