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Iraq for Sale | The Nation

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Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Politics, current affairs and riffs and reflections on the news.

Iraq for Sale

The Bush administration's approach to Iraq reconstruction is about the same as its approach to everything else – greed, cronyism and corruption.

Now, an important new documentary reveals more about the waste, war profiteering and lives wrecked by corporations and this administration in our name. Iraq for Sale, directed by Robert Greenwald (Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, Outfoxed and Uncovered), reveals the impact of this criminal and moral corruption on the lives of soldiers, whistleblowers, survivors and ordinary Americans back home.

Greenwald's film exposes the long-time personal connections between this administration and the profiteers and investigates Blackwater Security Consulting, Halliburton subsidiary, KBR, and CACI International, finding such travesties as truck drivers – told they would be kept out of harm's way – forced to drive into battle zones unprotected; mercenaries used for combat operations and interrogations and soldiers training civilians to, ultimately, outsource their own jobs at much higher salaries so that friends of the administration can rake in obscene profits.

Iraq for Sale demonstrates, once again, the urgent need for an independent war profiteering commission modeled after the fearless work of the Truman Commission during World War II.

We need a public platform where whistleblowers, military families, and veterans who are both victims and witnesses can expose these acts of betrayal. Otherwise, this administration and its cronies will get away with inflated no-bid contracts. Hundreds of millions of dollars in overcharges. Billions of dollars gone missing. Backlash and whitewashing of whistleblowers. Alleged bribes to win reconstruction deals. And a lack of accountability for poor or even criminal performance.

Legislation towards achieving justice has been introduced by Senators Patrick Leahy and Byron Dorgan, and Representatives Henry Waxman, and Jan Schakowsky. Leahy's War Profiteering Act would make overcharges a felony punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment. Dorgan would create a special Senate committee to investigate contracting in Afghanistan and Iraq. Waxman has repeatedly called for Congressional oversight of the "mismanagement, lack of transparency, and potential corruption…." Rep. Schakowsky has called for an end to "US-hired paramilitaries and mercenaries in an interrogation cell" and also introduced legislation requiring that Congress receive copies of contracts in Iraq worth more than $1 million. (It's worth mentioning that Schakowsky has praised Jeremy Scahill's reporting on Blackwater in The Nation, saying that "many, many here in Congress read these reports," including Republicans – and that the magazine has had a "significant impact" in fostering the debate and discussions on the issue of mercenaries).

Only a complicit Republican majority stands in the way of real investigations with teeth. That might change come November in the House, Senate, or both. If the House goes Democratic, this administration will finally be held accountable and we can close one chapter in its corrupt history.

Postcript: There is already wide grassroots support of Iraq for Sale – in fact, over 3,000 people donated $367,892 to get the film made. During the week of October 8, individuals and organizations across the nation will host screenings in residences, union halls, theatres and other venues. The Nation will be encouraging its readers to take part. Check out screenings or find out how to host your own by clicking here. As the Republicans spin their failures and faux-patriotism just in time for the mid-term elections, these gatherings are a critical part of setting the record straight.

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