Diane Shortland

Freelance Writer

Reviews (Broadsheet)

IRAQ FOR SALE: THE WAR PROFITEERS

Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers has something to say and it says it fast and hard. American taxpayer’s money is being squandered as the US Government hire privately owned companies to provide services to the military. These major corporations are using forms of ‘insider trading’ to legally steal from the American people by over-billing the Government. Plus their lack of interest in doing a good job is endangering lives. This documentary investigates four major companies: Blackwater, KBR Halliburton, Titan and CACI.

With Robert Greenwald as director, this was never going to be objective. He is a political activist as well as film maker, and co-founder of ‘Artists for Winning Without War.’ But the facts and evidence here speak for themselves. There is little room for doubt as continuous hard hitting stories of corruption and careless management are presented. The human toll of this neglect is shown through moving interviews with former employees and families of victims, all of which waste no time in cutting straight to the chase. Crusaders with a cause. The sheer magnitude of findings here is enough to make you sick.

Each company is investigated in turn as the structured feature unfolds, revealing the realities behind such news incidents as the ‘Good Friday Massacre’. We watch horror stories of a cost-plus system that puts lives at risk for empty cargo convoys and ‘burn-pits’ where wrong goods are ordered simply to be destroyed and claimed as losses.

Greenwald is no newcomer to ‘uncover’ style documentaries knowing how to evoke emotion and fire up his audience. Whilst production quality is at times poor, with an obvious bias of harsh editing for a hard hitting campaign, his use of artistic shots are very effective. The overlapping images of burning vehicles with endless lines of graves, certainly brings home the messages that are forcefully delivered by interviewees. Such willing whistle blowers as Ben Carter pull the heart strings as he fails to control his emotions when describing how military plants were exposing troops to contaminated water. Graphs pack a heavy punch, showing the sheer amount of money involved - we are talking billions here.

Since these companies are made up of ex-military and ex-government workers, contracts are unethically sought, often in no-bid situations, and kept without any risk of amendments being passed against them. This raises the issue of accountability, a strong theme in the documentary. With frequent stills of Washington DC, there is no doubt in Greenwald’s mind of who is ultimately to blame. This is a film that wants action. Scenes of everyday life are cleverly used in the closing moments to urge all Americans, regardless of political orientation, to take a stand and do the right thing. “This greed goes against our grain”.

Greenwald successfully brings in the bulldozer of doubt and slams home reality with sledgehammer force. In doing so it makes you want to make a change. Not only that, it leads you to believe you can. Well made documentaries such as this were undoubtedly responsible for a sea change in political opinion that allowed Obama to begin to withdraw troops from Iraq.