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Turn Congress Blue to Crackdown on War Profiteers


A couple weeks ago, I was able to watch an advance copy of documentarian filmmaker Robert Greenwald’s latest, Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers. This summer, I blogged a bit for Brave New Films regarding Erik Prince, CEO and founder of Blackwater USA, a "private security firm" based in North Carolina.

The film covers a wide swath of companies that are raking in millions, even billions, of U.S. taxpayer money, accountability-free.

Former employees and their families tell their stories , from water contamination to convoys of flatbeds "without as much as a bandaid" on them. All to maximize profits in a war zone and squeeze every last dollar out of a federal treasury that has been ransacked for the last three-and-a-half years.

The filmmaker, Robert Green-wald, has produced previous hard-hitting films on Wal-Mart and Fox News. In "Iraq for Sale" he accuses Blackwater and other companies of pocketing unconscionable profits in Iraq while putting their workers at risk of injury and death.

The film traces Blackwater’s hundreds of millions of dollars in federal security contracts and presents emotional scenes of the families left behind by four Blackwater contractors killed and mutilated at a bridge in Fallujah in March 2004.

The film’s critics attacked the timing of the documentary’s release as election-year politics. Greenwald noted that the campaign season is the best time to raise such important issues. He also asks the money question that voters should be putting to their elected leaders and their challengers:

Greenwald makes no apology for his film’s political content – or its timing, coming out just two months before the mid-term congressional elections.

"That’s when issues get discussed in our country," he said. "This is a very important issue. I hope people will ask their senator or their member of the House, ‘What do you think about profiteering? What are you doing to stop it?’ "

Survey says: Nothing.

Since April, I have written extensively about the corruption, the revolving doors, the outrageous business practices of these companies in Iraq. Democratic members of Congress, notably Senator Byron Dorgan (North Dakota) and Rep. Henry Waxman (30th-California), have held numerous hearings and released many findings that have been chronicled in this series.

Iraq for Sale puts a name and face on the profiteering executives at Halliburton, CACI, Blackwater USA (among many others), and reveals an incestuous relationship between the defense industry and the highest levels of government, as featured in this Countdown with Keith Olbermann clip from Greenwald’s appearance earlier this week.

A senator named Harry Truman made a name for himself investigating just such misconduct during World War II. General Marshall later told him that his committee was worth two divisions to the war effort. Back then, war profiteers were run out of town. Today, it appears they run the town.

And run the town they do — "protected" by their "networks" of former government officials, as Greenwald notes. (And the Do-Nothing Republican Congress that refuses to investigate them.)

I strongly urge all Americans to see the film. In Northern California alone, there are over three dozen free screenings (or small donations to organizations). And then, light up the phone lines in Washington D.C. demanding action.

But as you and I are well aware, it will take a Democratic Congress to do it. The first step is to turn the House blue and hand over subpeona power to the Democrats.

This rubberstamping Republican Congress cannot be trusted to competently crackdown on flagrant profiteering. Hell, even if they tried, somehow these profiteers would end up with medals, tax breaks, and your kitchen sink.

Related Harper’s: PMCs in Iraq reaching "alarming proportions" (h/t: Nicole @ Crooks & Liars)

News Houston federal judge tosses out lawsuit against Halliburton filed by former truck drivers and their families.

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