Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers
Directed byRobert Greenwald
Produced byRobert Greenwald
Sarah Feeley
Jim Gilliam
Devin Smith
StarringBud Conyers
Janis Karpinski
James Logsdon
Bill Peterson
Shane Ratliff
Edward Sanchez
CinematographyNick Higgins
Edited byCarla Gutierrez
Sally Rubin
Music byTree Adams
Distributed byBrave New Films
Release date
  • September 1, 2006 (2006-09-01)
Running time
75 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish

Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers is a 2006 documentary film made by Robert Greenwald and Brave New Films. Produced while the Iraq War was in full swing, the film deals with the alleged war profiteering and negligence of private contractors and consultants who went to Iraq as part of the US war effort.[1]

Specifically, the film claims four major contractors - Blackwater, K.B.R.-Halliburton, CACI and Titan [2] - were over-billing the U.S. government and doing substandard work while endangering the lives of American soldiers, Iraqi civilians, and their own employees.[1] These corporations were tasked with “virtually everything except the actual killing,”[3] including food, laundry, housing, security, intelligence gathering and interrogation.[4]

Synopsis

The film starts with the events of March 2004 in Fallujah, where four Blackwater contractors were ambushed, set afire, their burned corpses dragged through the streets and then finally displayed hanging from a bridge.[5] In interviews, two of the contractors’ families contend that Blackwater, in search of higher profit, neglected to provide proper support and protection to their employees,[5] including maps, decent translators, an armored vehicle, and sufficient security personnel (their convoy was short a machine gunner).[5][6] The families contend that with such support, their loved ones might be alive today.[6]

Iraq for Sale then takes contractors Titan and CACI to task for providing “interrogation support” for the notorious Abu Ghraib prison. These civilian contractors were outside the chain of military command, and were never held accountable for the amply documented, unsupervised torture they initiated.[3]

According to interviews with survivors, Halliburton subsidiary KBR was responsible for the “Good Friday Massacre” deaths of six drivers who the corporation irresponsibly put into dangerous zones - zones which were supposed to be off limits to civilians.[7] Also, in interviews, Halliburton’s former employees charge that while the company had a sole contract to provide purified water for US troops, they actually distributed contaminated drinking water.[5]

Greenwald and Brave New Films document that at the time of production, the corporations in question had made more than tens of billions of dollars from their contracts in Iraq.[6] In part this was because the companies were working under “cost-plus” contracts, which reimbursed whatever they spent in expenses, plus extra, for profit.[3] This means that they actually made more money when they destroyed expensive equipment and machinery, rather than repairing it.[1] The film features footage of a burning $80,000 truck (whose only problem was a blown tire) that Halliburton had set afire on the side of the road rather than replacing the tire.[3]

Some of the other allegations brought up in the film include:

Production and Distribution

This was the first film to raise substantial production funds from small donations online: $267,892 from 3,000 people in 10 days.[8] The film had a limited theatrical release.[6] It was simultaneously released on DVD and shown nationwide at thousands of Brave New Films’ hallmark “house parties.”[3]

Reception

Iraq for Sale is among the best-reviewed of Brave New Films’ filmography, earning 100% approval from critics aggregated by Rotten Tomatoes.[9] The New York Times called it “a horrifying catalog of greed, corruption and incompetence among private contractors in Iraq,”[10] adding the film is “extremely effective.”[10] Salon says it was “dogged and impressive investigative reporting,”[3] and the Village Voice called it “a much needed reminder of the criminal negligence of those who lead the troops into this mess and those who have gotten rich off of it.”[11] Conservative press has been less charitable, saying the film “go[es] primarily on emotion and political posturing.”[2]

Contractor’s response

Greenwald attempted to interview representatives of the companies in question for the film, to no avail.[3] Halliburton contends the film is "yet another rehash of inaccurate, recycled information."[12] Eric Prince, founder of Blackwater, dismissed the film as “election year left-wing politics.”[13] On their website’s FAQ, CACI says it would be a “maliciously false accusation” to call them war profiteers.[14]

Participants

References

  1. ^ a b c d Doctorow, Cory (24 September 2006). "Iraq For Sale: documentary about profiteering contractors". BoingBoing.
  2. ^ a b "Movie Review: 'Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers'". Business and Media Institute. 20 September 2006.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h O’Hehir, Andrew (28 September 2006). "Beyond the Multiplex". Salon.
  4. ^ Fox, Ken (September 2006). "Iraq For Sale: The War Profiteers". TV Guide.
  5. ^ a b c d e Brooks, Susan (Sep 2006). "Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers". Being There Magazine. Archived from the original on 2014-03-18.
  6. ^ a b c d e Turan, Kenneth (8 September 2006). "Iraq for Sale". LA Times. Archived from the original on 8 March 2008.
  7. ^ Steffy, Loren (1 June 2008). "KBR workers caught up in Quagmire". Chron.
  8. ^ Booth, William (20 August 2006). "His Fans Greenlight the Project". Washington Post.
  9. ^ "Iraq for Sale: War Profiteers". Rotten Tomatoes.
  10. ^ a b Catsoulis, Jeannette (8 September 2006). "Deep Pockets in Iraq". New York Times.
  11. ^ Tillman, Drew (29 August 2006). "Iraq for Sale". The Village Voice.
  12. ^ Harris, Dan (4 September 2006). "Documentary Slams U.S. Companies Working in Iraq". ABC.
  13. ^ Greenwald, Robert (25 September 2006). "Erik Prince, Blackwater War Profiteer, Attacks Iraq for Sale". Huffington Post.
  14. ^ "CACI in Iraq: Frequently Asked Questions". CACI International.