No one's surprised that Saddam Hussein paid cronies to do fake work so that billions of dollars earmarked for humanitarian purposes instead went into private bank accounts. And no one's surprised that he and his cronies are now in jail, wading through a trial. But what shocked the hell out of me was seeing the early research in Robert Greenwald's new film, Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers http://www.iraqforsale.org. George Bush et al are paying cronies to do fake work in Iraq so that billions of dollars earmarked for humanitarian purposes instead goes to private bank accounts. And they are not on trial. In fact, most people don't even know it's happening.
The New York Times front page story Tuesday highlighted a $75 million no bid job to Halliburton to restore a vital Iraqi oil pipeline. The only problem is that Halliburton knew that the way they were trying to restore the pipeline absolutely would not work. Even Halliburton has to surrender to geology. So they dug to get money, not from the ground, but from you. $75 million later and we don't have a pipeline, but we do have record gasoline prices at home. Funny how that works.
Here's why it all matters now. We have a real chance to change the balance of power in Washington. We can elect progressives who favor a sane, serious national security policy starting with Iraq, progressives who will demand inquiries into corruption, who will right our listing ship of state. Progressives can take back the House in 2006. The Senate looks much tougher, but even that is possible.
History is our guide. Richard Nixon won in a landslide in 1972 by telling the American people that he had a secret plan to make us safer, to end the war in Viet Nam. In 1974, the American public saw largely because of Congressional hearings that Richard Nixon had lied about nearly everything, thus forcing him from office. Nixon's cronies joined him in retirement from Congress, replaced by one of the most progressive classes of Representatives in decades. This tidal wave swept through state houses as well. The American people, once sufficiently armed with facts and enraged by lies, will act. And the way we act is to vote for change.
That's what Bush and Rove most fear. They want to change the subject, not be the subject of change. They want to tell us that we can only be safe if we fight on in Iraq or that Iran has the bomb or that gas prices will go down if we lower taxes.
But here's what we must do. Tell the story of the corruption in Iraq that makes our soldiers less safe, not more. Tell the story of Bush's crony capitalists using our money to line their pockets in the name of rebuilding Iraq when instead the lack of real work builds greater hatred toward us and our soldiers every day. Tell the story that will make Americans demand change in Washington by voting out crony politicians and voting in fresh faces, untainted by scandal.
A well told story that demonstrates clearly the ethos of profits over patriotism will change minds. That in turn will change votes. And that finally will bring sanity back to Washington.
Over a thousand people have given $50 or more each to help get this film made. They understand leverage and populism. If you want to join them, go to http://www.iraqforsale.org