Truman for Today
By Richard Jacobs

History will explain Iraq, but one thing is clear: the rapacious profiteering that has occurred as a result of Bush Administration policies offering up no-bid, unsupervised contracts to a small group of well connected American corporations has alienated Iraqis, killed American soldiers and contractors and damaged American credibility more than the war itself. American companies have made literally billions of dollars in profits taking on jobs that in the past the military would have conducted on its own. That the Pentagon sought out help from the private sector is not new. What is new is that depth and breadth of that “help” and the total lack of oversight.

Even during World War II, hardly a war of choice as was Iraq, Democratic Senator Harry Truman convened a special Senate committee that met over 1,000 times all over the country to investigate allegations of price gouging and profiteering. Yes, a Democrat questioned the contracts that had been let by a Democratic president (Franklin Roosevelt). The Truman Commission, as it came to be known, uncovered some $160 billion (in today’s dollars) of profiteering that resulted in contracts being revoked and criminal charges. Senator Truman believed that the fighting men and women of America were owed the same patriotism from corporate America that they offered themselves.

Brave New Films' Jim Miller, Tracy Fleischman and Richard Jacobs

Yet on numerous occasions, Senators have asked for Truman Commission style hearings to find out why Halliburton “lost” $9 billion in cash, could not provide sanitary water for our soldiers, housed its executives in five star hotels while soldiers languished in tents, burned perfectly good cars and trucks simply to buy more new ones. Why did Blackwater, a private army that masquerades as a security company, cut corners and send four of its own men to death in Falluja two years ago, the result of which was a turning point in the occupation of Iraq that has today contributed mightily to the civil war in that country? Why have CACI and Titan, companies of which virtually no one in America has heard, sent in untrained and nearly useless translators and guards, who brought about the tragedies of torture, humiliation and national disgrace that are now known as Abu Ghraib?

Where was the oversight?

Once we are in a military action, the executive branch must lead, but the Congress must oversee. That’s what the separation of powers in the Constitution demands. Yet, for the past four years, the Congress has refused even to look, to ask questions, to demand answers. This happens to have occurred largely on party lines, meaning that Democrats have tried over and over to bring up the subject. Republicans have simply said no.

Why?

Who has what to hide?

Who wins and who loses with these contracts?

I come from a corporate and financial background. I believe firmly in capitalism. But I am appalled and nauseated by the lives that Halliburton, Blackwater, CACI and Titan have traded for money.

For the past seven months, I have worked with politicians and groups all over the country trying to get the message of this film out, namely that we have to ask questions, to demand that Congress does its job. It appears that to do that, we need to make some serious changes in Washington. I hope and expect that the American public will look at this film and demand change. Patriots seek justice. Without justice, America folds.

This has been and is a mission and labor of passion. The harder Robert Greenwald has worked, which is pretty damned hard by any standards, the more I have wanted to do. Rarely do we have heroes today. Robert is mine. Let’s work to make our politicians into heroes again, into the people who give voice to democracy in the most troubled of times.

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