(Look On! takes occasional note of noteworthy films.) Want to put in context recent headlines respecting 1 of the several private military contracting companies at work in Iraq; that is, "State Dept. renews Blackwater contract" and "Iraq Contractor in Shooting Case Makes Comeback" and "Blackwater’s Impunity"?
Then try to view the documentary "Iraq for Sale."
Though released 2 years ago, the film tells a story that remains fresh to this day. The 75-minute film is circulating widely now, not only via DVD sales and organized screenings, but also via some cable companies' "on demand" movie feature.
Thought I knew lots about the workings of these companies. The role that private contracting played in abuse at Abu Ghraib, for instance, a shameful episode that indeed is stressed in this film. But the film makes sadly clear that Abu Ghraib is only 1 of many stories to be told. Also aired are allegations that CACI hired translators who couldn't translate, that KBR supplied soldiers contaminated water, that Blackwater knowingly led unknowing civilian truckers into a combat zone where many died. More gripping than the allegations is the anguish of surviving former employees and of the survivors of those who died. A translator says people died because of bad translations. A purification specialist is visibly sickened when talking of the GIs who go home not realizing they have waterborne illnesses. The voices of the surviving truckers, big men, crack when they recall their friends' death under fire.
One of those interviewed puts it all in perspective: A true patriot, he says, would demand that these companies, and the officials who hired them, be held fully accountable.