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His Fans Greenlight the Project

To make his latest documentary,
To make his latest documentary, "Iraq for Sale," Robert Greenwald e-mailed those likely to be sympathetic to the project. Thousands responded, providing $267,892 in 10 days. (By Jonathan Alcorn For The Washington Post)

The point, Gilliam says, is not just to sell DVDs. In appeals for donations for the new Iraq film, the Greenwald team wrote, "This film will nationalize the Congressional election and assure that Bush cannot change the subject, but is instead the subject of change."

Will it? A still unfinished 70-minute version of "Iraq for Sale," shown to a reporter recently, asserted that the U.S. government had recklessly transferred duties in Iraq from the military to defense companies and contractors whose motives were driven not by patriotism (or even a desire to win the war) but by profit.

The documentary attempts to show that not only are some of these companies (whose boards and corporate officers are filled with former government and military officials) taking the taxpayers to the cleaners ($45 for a six-pack of Coke), but operating in ways that endanger Iraqis, the troops and their own employees.

The film, in three parts, focuses on Blackwater Security Consulting, which has a small army of bodyguards in Iraq; on Halliburton's KBR, which supplies American troops with everything from fuel to food to latrines; and on CACI International, which had employees at the Abu Ghraib prison.

The movie features interviews with Col. Janis Karpinski, former head of Abu Ghraib, translators and interrogators as well as survivors of personnel killed by Iraqi insurgents, including the contractors dragged through the streets of Fallujah and hanged from the bridge there in the spring of 2004. Some of these families are now involved in lawsuits against the companies.

When the movie is finished and released, there may be plenty of debate -- a back-and-forth that is largely missing from the current version. There are no rebuttals -- on or off camera -- in the documentary from its corporate subjects. Greenwald says they refused to cooperate.

Melissa Norcross, a spokeswoman for Halliburton, said in a statement, "Contrary to his claims, we personally provided Mr. Greenwald and his production staff detailed information about KBR's work in Iraq and additional information is available on the company's Web site. It may be that Mr. Greenwald chose not to include this information because the facts did not support his thesis. Halliburton supports an individual's right to free speech -- even when he doesn't have the facts right."

J. William Koegel Jr., a lawyer for CACI, stated that no one at the company has seen the movie. "The Web site trailer, however, suggests a hatchet job." Koegel added that "any suggestion that the use of civilian contractors as interrogators contributed to the detainee abuse is simply wrong" and that "no CACI employee has been charged with any misconduct in connection with interrogation work," and no CACI workers appear in any of the notorious Abu Ghraib photographs. Telephone inquires to the spokemsan for Blackwater were not returned.

One of Greenwald's story producers, Amanda Spain, says she called the companies so often she felt she was harassing them, but couldn't get them to appear in the film. "It was kind of a bummer, I'm not going to lie. I wanted them to respond, and they will, once the movie comes out."


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