Documentary portraying the actions of U.S. corporate contractors in the U.S.-Iraq war. Interviews with employees and former employees of such companies as Halliburton, CACI, and KBR suggest that government cronyism is behind apparent "sweetheart" deals that give such contractors enormous freedom to profit from supplying support and material to American troops while providing little oversight. Survivors of employees who were killed discuss the claim that the companies cared more for profit than for the welfare of their own workers, and soldiers indicate that the quality of services provided is sub-standard and severely in contradiction to the comparatively huge profits being generated. Also depicted are the unsuccessful attempts by the filmmakers to get company spokesmen to respond to the charges made by the interviewees. Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
a too-short yet concise took at the factual and emotional sides of private contractors
Robert Greenwald is a filmmaker I'm familiar with well from his very prolific output of politically charged documentaries (with one regular dramatic feature also) from the past several years, my favorite being Outfoxed. Now he comes with Iraq for Sale, a documentary aimed at exposing one of the gravest injustices to come out of the invasion of Iraq. The contractors who have been given carte-blanche (primarily Haliburton aka KBR) to take control of how the military is taken care of and that just to turn a profit (albeit a major, huge one) people who didn't sign up to fight for the USA die off. Greenwald, as in other docs, takes on the subject matter from two angles- the emotional side, where those close to those who died air their grievances and outrage at losing members of their family and friends; and the factual side, where it's laid out pretty plainly the message- something very, very corrupt and fascist is going on in both the so-called protection of the soldiers and in the Abu-Gharib scandal.
Greenwald's film-making style isn't too bad at all, and is held back from being flashy with the usage of graphics and charts and such when interviewing his subjects. And a lot of the archival footage and testimonies do all add up to something that leaves one with a feeling of near hopelessness (saying near because there should still be hope that this can change). But at the same time I also felt that Greenwald could only go for so much in the 70 minute running time. He un-earths a couple of things I didn't know of, such as the corporations Caci and Titan, one of which was partly responsible for the torture in the prisons (half in military get-up, half in just regular attire, all torturing mostly random civilians). The numbers are also pretty staggering at times, though at this point with the practically one-party rule in the country- where corporate interests go hand in pocketed hand with lobbyists and firms- things shouldn't be surprising at this point. But that it feels a little rushed at times too is my only real complaint overall about the picture.
It's really worth a viewing though, regardless of political affiliation (even as the Right would get uncomfortable and have to take their views into account when seeing Bush and Rumsfeld on screen). It deals with things that should be of consequence to all Americans, who are the ones paying out their tax dollars to intolerable problems in monopolized power structures. It almost comes off towards the last part, in discussing Halburton, like watching something out of a ice-cold communist structure where people in high places getting paid a lot give menial, awful conditions to those who are technically those to take care of. As Greenwald shows to his most prominent point, absolute power corrupts absolutely, and in this case during this 'war on terror' going on in Iraq.
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