THE BLOG

Testifying to Congress on War Profiteering

As I walked down the very big, very impressive halls of Congress yesterday, the reality started to dawn on me that the idea of making a film about war profiteering had actually led to a hearing in Congress in front of the people who can make a difference on the issue -- the people who write the legislation.

As I continued down that very long, very marble hall I began to have flashbacks about the road that had gotten me here. It started when we began work on Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers in January 2006.

I thought of the call I received from Bob Borosage at Campaign for America¹s Future, when­ he said Brave New Films had to do a film about the war profiteering occurring in Iraq. I remember my visceral response when I first heard the term war profiteering -- this was a subject we should definitely take on.

As I walked down the hall, I thought of the 3006 people who donated $25 and $50 apiece to help us get started on production of the film. We had had trouble raising funds in the timeframe we needed to work within, and the amazing people who had supported Brave New Film's past work chipped in to get our production started.

I thought of our wonderful Executive Producer Dal LaMagna who invested in the film so we could complete it. He's a wonderful humanitarian and said to me, "Stop trying to raise more money, here, go finish the movie and tell the world what is happening."

I thought of the soldiers, and of the families of contractors who appear in the film -- their courage continues to motivate and inspire all of us at Brave New Films.

I flashed back to the thousands of screenings of Iraq for Sale that occurred across the country and around the world. Made possible and driven by the extraordinary activists who were using the film to open eyes, to energize, to teach and to help people connect the dots and take action.

And then, I realized I was there, at the entrance to the hearing room about to speak to the House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Defense about war profiteering.

Jeremy Scahill, the brilliant author of Blackwater was with me. I listened as he gave his remarks to the committee. He detailed research from his book that even members of Congress did not know. When my time came to speak, I told stories about the people I got to know while making Iraq for Sale. I was not allowed to show clips from the film, so I explained the stories of how private corporations are making a killing in Iraq.

When the time came for questioning, Jack Kingston, (R-GA) began to attack Jeremy and me. His attacks were beyond weak. His attempts to smear and attack us were lame and kind of sad. I got a warm fuzzy feeling thinking about the fact that truth was on my side, while Kingston simply had feeble rhetoric. Jeremy and I went on the offensive back against Kingston, He was quickly diminished.

Then things became serious and substantive. It was clear that others on the Committee were listening, thinking, and probably forming solutions.

This next step of taking the ideas of the film, the issues raised and turning them into very specific legislative solutions is not going to be easy. But together we have taken a big big step. It's been a hell of a ride from last January to now.