Skip

corporate profiting in Iraq
May 13, 2007 3:52 PM   Subscribe

"On May 10th, 2007, this video was banned in Congress" - Filmmaker, Robert Greenwald, wanted to show a four minute clip of his film when testifying to Congress, but Republicans disallowed it. This is the clip from his excellent movie now available on Google Video, Iraq for Sale.
posted by nickyskye (52 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Since Robert Greenwald's home site is under construction at the moment, a little about him from Wikipedia and on IMDB.
posted by nickyskye at 3:57 PM on May 13, 2007


Surely this!
posted by rxrfrx at 4:06 PM on May 13, 2007


It's a pity his site is down. I'd like to hear the story of why the Republicans didn't want this clip shown. Actually, it's pretty obvious why, but it'd be interesting to know how, as the minority party, they were able to get their way in this.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:08 PM on May 13, 2007




Maddening. I watched the movie online last week, and it apalls me that the Republicans disallowed a four minute clip as testimony. The people interviewed in the film- military and civilians- deserve to be heard. That's why the damn film was made. The thing is, it's not a great documentary in a structural sense, but as testimony it makes it's point about the hellish wastefullness of contracting companies in Iraq, and this would have been the perfect forum for it. If only a large part of the audience hadn't been so complicit, I guess.
posted by maryh at 4:27 PM on May 13, 2007


Banned? Really?
posted by wemayfreeze at 4:29 PM on May 13, 2007


George-

I helped produce the film, and put these clips online. Sorry about the site being down, we are moving servers right now.. it'll be back within a half hour or so.

When we first found out that we wouldn't be able to show the clips, I asked this same question. How could Republicans have blocked it when Democrats control the committee, AND we'd gotten explicit permission from them to show (and distribute to each member) four minutes of clips?

We basically couldn't get a straight answer out of the Dems because they didn't want a big stink. It appears that Republicans balked when they found out about the clips, and Democratic staffers said "okay" without really fighting for it.

It was quite a bummer, because, while Robert Greenwald did read into the record what the soldiers said in the clips, it's not nearly the same as seeing it yourself.

In the end though, we were just pleased Robert got a chance to testify.

Oh, and the testimony itself was quite a show. Rep. Jack Kingston (R) from Georgia started personally attacking Robert. You can watch it here.
posted by jgilliam at 4:31 PM on May 13, 2007 [16 favorites]


Did they say it was hearsay or something? Does that rule apply to congress?
posted by delmoi at 4:36 PM on May 13, 2007


thanks for the link jgilliam, I was trying to get the CSPAN stream, it's not working for me right now...
posted by acro at 4:36 PM on May 13, 2007


Rep. Jack Kingston (R) from Georgia started personally attacking Robert. You can watch it here.

That was spectacular. Kingston argued, "Ball-players make more than the President of the United States, starting with Babe Ruth..." Rep. Kingston & Babe Ruth argument FTW!
posted by mullacc at 4:55 PM on May 13, 2007


Looks like they're back. Thanks, jgilliam.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:10 PM on May 13, 2007


jgilliam - Did Robert ever go with the smug congressman to talk to the troops?
posted by gminks at 5:10 PM on May 13, 2007


qminks-

They are going to schedule a time. The hearing just happened on Thursday.
posted by jgilliam at 5:12 PM on May 13, 2007


Thanks for the post, nickyskye.

I've thought for a long time now that the Iraq war is essentially Halliburton's war. That an enormous windfall for Halliburton is reason number one for the presence of US soldiers in Iraq. It really is about "profits, big money, at the cost of human life".

I addressed this issue (profiteering as the root cause of the war) in the form of a song, posted a while back to MeFi Music. The song is called Undefined, and if anyone wants to hear it, it's here.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:19 PM on May 13, 2007


Note to self:
Do not take Halliburton my laundry.
posted by PHINC at 5:23 PM on May 13, 2007


jgilliam, I would like to see that. You guys are doing a very good thing.

My brother was in the Army, and is now in Iraq as a contractor. I am scared the contractors will get left in Iraq, just like my uncle got left in Vietnam.

I actually try not to think about it at all.
posted by gminks at 5:25 PM on May 13, 2007


The local SDS group organised a screening back when this hit DVD. I usually go to their screenings (9/11 conspiracy bullshit aside), and this one had twice the turnout as normal- and none of the usual "you guys are assholes!" hurled at the organisers. This is a really powerful, sad, enraging film.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:46 PM on May 13, 2007


i was hearing on npr sometime last week that this war is the 2nd most expensive war in american history, ww2 being first

i guess i know why now
posted by pyramid termite at 5:57 PM on May 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Jack Kingston needs to slowest, most imaginative curb job ever.
Maybe even right in Congress.
I can watch it live on CSPAN.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 6:01 PM on May 13, 2007




jgilliam, thanks for putting this together and putting it online.

My guess as to why this wasn't allowed to be shown is that the film is worse than hearsay. If Robert testified about what people told him halliburton was doing, that would be hearsay (but it don't think hearsay rules apply in factifindings before congrees but I might be wrong.)

The real problem is that no one in the film is under oath, and they aren't available for examination by members of congress. What they say in the film isn't even hearsay (which is a kind of evidence), becasue they aren't witnesses. It's equivalent to saying "Hey some guy on the street told me Halliburton kills puppies, so you guys should investigate." Robert's journalistic ethics aside, the film is evidence of nothing. It might be a summary of evidence, it might include people talking about facts or circumstances that could be evidence, but it isn't evidence itself.

An analogy would be showing the film "9-11: Loose Change" to the 9-11 committee as proof of something.

The thing to do would have been for Robert to pick one of his more damning interviewees, and bring them along with him to Congress to testify. That way two purposes are served: (1) The person's story is put into the record while they are under oath, and (2) the fact the person repeats the same story under oath as on film suggests that the entire film is credible (although logically this is not necessarily the case).
posted by Pastabagel at 6:09 PM on May 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


pastabagel, i happen to feel that "no one in the film is under oath" is a pretty questionable reason from a party whose president refused to allow his staff to testify under oath or be on written record when congress wanted to ask them about the firing of u s attorneys

if that's republican reasoning on not showing the film, then it's hypocritical
posted by pyramid termite at 6:15 PM on May 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's rare that I find myself coming down on Pastabagel's side (probably a first, actually) but I think his points are valid. As pyramid termite maintains, the Republican reasoning may well be hypocritical, but that in itself is not reason enough, IMO, to justify the screening of this (or any) film in the context of a Congressional hearing. Even though in this case I'm sympathetic to the message of the filmmaker. But I can easily imagine another scenario, where, for example, anti-abortion activists want to screen 4 minutes of their shock video clips of aborted fetuses and such. And I wouldn't think that should be allowed either.

"The thing to do would have been for Robert to pick one of his more damning interviewees, and bring them along with him to Congress to testify. "

Agreed. Might've been difficult or impossible to do that, though.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:27 PM on May 13, 2007


"Ball-players make more than the President of the United States, starting with Babe Ruth..."

Gooden's law?
posted by Chuckles at 6:37 PM on May 13, 2007


Pastabagel is WRONG, at least under NYS law. Motion pictures are generally held admissible after a proper foundation has been laid. (Capara v Chrysler 423 NYS2d 694). Hence, if evidence or testimony is presented to show that war profiteering exists, then a motion picture dramatizing those same facts for effect is admissible. So, even under the strict rules of evidence in a criminal case in NYS, such a film may well be admissible.

Besides that, Congressional hearings are not subject to the strict rules of evidence found in courts of law.
posted by Flood at 7:05 PM on May 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


jgilliam, Pleased you joined this thread and proud of the work you've done on this and other Robert Greenwald films. I'm grateful for the insights and information in the film. Thanks also for the link to the disturbingly hilarious Rep. Jack Kingston (R) part of the testimony.

Reading the "About me" page from your website, it sounds like you've accomplished a lot in your 28 years. You and I share the surviving cancer thing. My sincere wishes that your recent lung transplant is successful and goes as smoothly as possible for you. Glad you're here at MetaFilter.
posted by nickyskye at 7:06 PM on May 13, 2007


Thanks for your comment, Flood. I was thinking about asking, in my above comment, if anyone knew of any precedents for the screening of films in hearings like the one we're discussing here, but then figured someone would more than likely bring it up eventually anyway.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:13 PM on May 13, 2007


Thanks for this post, nickskye and jgilliam.
posted by homunculus at 7:29 PM on May 13, 2007


thanks for putting this up, nickyskye - I didn't know the entire film was accessible online ... I had seen it but have many people I would like to pass it on to. Besides being totally outrageous, this is freaking frightening and insidious stuff.

If there were any justice in the world...

jgilliam, it's an honor to have you join us. Thank you and Robert Greenwald for your films and your dedication to truth. I look forward to your future films and will do what I can to support them.
posted by madamjujujive at 8:23 PM on May 13, 2007


Jack Kingston needs an ass-kicking.
posted by pruner at 8:29 PM on May 13, 2007


Wow. Watching Jack Kingston's attack was so telling. First he tried to deflect the blame back on Greenwald, and when he couldn't he tried to blame all of Hollywood of profiteering. What the shit? I wish someone, anyone, would have stood up and asked what that had to do with the topic at hand? At least Greenwald seemed to hold his own and continue to fluster Kingston by not giving him the answer he wanted.

But really, someone voted for that twat? A majority did?
posted by [insert clever name here] at 8:29 PM on May 13, 2007


But really, someone voted for that twat? A majority did?

these days you've gotta wonder how many of these guys actually do win the majority and i mean either side of the aisle.
posted by andywolf at 8:40 PM on May 13, 2007


Greenwald does a nice job of not letting Kingston bait him or hijack the dialogue with irrelevant garbage about the sanctity of the free market and "Hollywood profits". Bravo, jgilliam, for the commitment and guts to make this film.
posted by Skygazer at 8:47 PM on May 13, 2007


i don't like the republicans either, but the democrats are now the majority in congress, and blocking any testimony or evidence before a congressional committee now absolutely requires democratic complicity. this is why we need an authentic two-party system.
posted by bruce at 9:36 PM on May 13, 2007




The gap in intelligence on display between Greenwald and Kingston is so astronomically vast that my already universal spite for the House of Representatives has reached unparralleled new levels.

Seriously.

If I were a Representative, I'd ban Greenwald himself from Congress in fear that his testimony might reveal to the public that its elected government was simply, intellectually incapable of solving the problem or, in a larger sense, ceasing the self consumption of its corpse.

Modesty, of course, is not their strong suit.
posted by pokermonk at 11:02 PM on May 13, 2007


Pastabagel's point is valid, except that I don't believe that judicial rules of evidence apply to Congressional committees. It's more likely that the minority could use various procedural, parliamentary maneuvers such as taking the whole thing into executive session and otherwise raising hell that it would interfere with the overall plan for testimony, delay proceedings until certain people might have to leave Washington, and so forth. That's the only real power the minority has right now.
posted by dhartung at 11:35 PM on May 13, 2007


pyramid termite: if that's republican reasoning on not showing the film, then it's hypocritical

You forget, we live in a dictatorship.
'Reasoning' is irrelevant.
posted by vhsiv at 11:47 PM on May 13, 2007


i don't like the republicans either, but the democrats are now the majority in congress, and blocking any testimony or evidence before a congressional committee now absolutely requires democratic complicity. this is why we need an authentic two-party system.

I think two parties is not enough, and that the two-party system has contributed immensely to the American government's problems. It's a lot simpler to purchase the allegiance of two groups of Rich Old White Dudes than it would be to buy a bunch of less-entrenched groups who aren't so invested in the status quo. The ROWDs are highly predictable and $-tropic, to a ridiculous degree. That they have held power for so long is a testament to the voting public's inability to identify its own best interests.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:48 AM on May 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


and blocking any testimony or evidence before a congressional committee now absolutely requires democratic complicity. this is why we need an authentic two-party system.

I know! It's only authentic if both parties disagree on everything. Dems = cat people, Reps = dog people. Dems from Mars, Reps from Venus. Dems like ketchup on hot dogs, Reps only use mustard.
posted by smackfu at 6:32 AM on May 14, 2007


Kingston....wow. I'm having trouble remembering the last time I watched a Congresscritter work so hard at missing the fscking point.
posted by pax digita at 8:36 AM on May 14, 2007


jgilliam, thank you for dropping by and for the additional information. There are people who appreciate what you and Robert are doing.

That clip (of Greenwald speaking on Congress) was barely watchable--I was burning with anger--and yet Greenwald was not only competent and measured in his response, he remained calm in the face of sheer, unforgiving idiocy. How frustrating it must have been for him to sit there, on the floor of Congress, realizing the true meaning of "democracy."

Watching that clip reminded me of the sickening descent that congress has taken over the past twenty years into a playground shouting match that has little to do with the issues and more to do with who has the final word and has "made his point" at the end of the day--never mind what the fucking point is anyway, as long as you can slander your opponent and save some face.

Makes my blood boil. Jesus.
posted by dead_ at 8:59 AM on May 14, 2007


I need to find a yellow-ribbon appliqué that says "Support KBR and Halliburton" to put on my car's rear bumper.
posted by pax digita at 9:14 AM on May 14, 2007




Actually, if someone could just give me a P.O. Box or something, I'm glad to save the government the trouble and expenditure of collecting the money, by sending what I owe KBR/Halliburton directly. I mean, why not cut out the middleman as apparently somewhere in the laws of this country, it must state that its people guarantee KBR/Halliburton a certain amount of their income. Yeah?

(!)


*Take deep breath hold for a count of eight, release slowly on a count of 4, 3, 2, 1 - repeat 4x until heart rate slows*
posted by Skygazer at 9:30 AM on May 14, 2007


Jeremy Scahill testifies before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense (transcript and video).
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:38 AM on May 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


pax digita, here you go.
posted by acro at 12:21 PM on May 14, 2007


Significantly underreported IMHO is the role of contractors in Afghanistan, especially in NATO member countries (Hello Canadian media).
posted by acro at 12:24 PM on May 14, 2007


Juan Cole: The simple fact is that Wolfowitz has throughout his entire career demonstrated a penchant for cronyism and for smearing and marginalizing perceived rivals as tactics for getting his way. He has been arrogant and highhanded in dismissing the views of wiser and more informed experts, exhibiting a narcissism that is also apparent in his personal life. Indeed, these tactics are typical of what might be called the "neoconservative style."
posted by acro at 12:58 PM on May 14, 2007


Jack Kingston is a smacked ass.

What does Paul Bremer have to say these days?
Today's online Washington Post chat.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:06 PM on May 14, 2007


Well that was pretty crazy. This shit needs to be on TV.
posted by chunking express at 3:17 PM on May 14, 2007


The battle for the mind of North America will be fought in the video arena: the Videodrome. The television screen is the retina of the mind's eye. Therefore, the television screen is part of the physical structure of the brain. Therefore, whatever appears on the television screen emerges as raw experience for those who watch it. Therefore, television is reality, and reality is less than television.
-Brian Oblivion in Videodrome (1983)
posted by Area Control at 3:29 PM on May 14, 2007


« Older Hope me!   |   The Vimeo Prank War Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post