Bill Moyers: The Rise of Private Armies -- Mercenaries, Murder and Corruption in Iraq and Afghanistan
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Scahill: This is perhaps one of the greatest corporate scandals of the past decade. The fact that this Halliburton corporation, which was once headed by former Vice President Dick Cheney, was essentially given keys to the city of U.S. foreign policy. And allowed to do things that were dangerous for U.S. troops. Provide then with unclean drinking water. They were the premier company responsible for servicing the US military occupation of Iraq. In fact, they were deployed alongside the U.S. military in the build up to the war. This was a politically connected company that won its contracts because of its political connections. And the fact is that it was a behemoth that was there. It was it was the girl at the dance, and they danced with her.
Moyers: Yeah. The Army hired a master electrician, I read, in some congressional testimony, to review electrical work in Iraq. He's now told congress that KBR's work in Iraq was, quote, "The most hazardous, worst quality work he'd ever seen." And that his own investigation, this is not a journalist, this is an employee of the Army, had found improper wiring in every building that KBR had wired in Iraq.
Scahill: Right. And we're talking about thousands of buildings. And so we've had, U.S. troops that have died from electrocution in Iraq as a result of the faulty work of KBR. This should be an utter scandal that should outrage every single person in this country. And, yet, you find almost no mention of this in the corporate media.
Moyers: Do you get discouraged writing about corruption that never gets cured?
Scahill: Well, I don't believe that it necessarily doesn't get cured. I think that I'm very heartened by the fact that we have a very vibrant independent media landscape that's developing right now. You know, to me, I once put on the tagline of an article that I wrote early on in the Obama administration that I pledge to be the same journalist under Barack Obama that I was under President Bush. And the reason I felt that it was necessary to say that is that I feel like we have a sort of blue-state-Fox culture in the media. Where people are willing to go above and beyond the call of partisan politics to give Obama the benefit of the doubt. This is a man- it's time to take off the Obama t-shirts. This is a man who's in charge of the most powerful country on earth. The media in this country, we have an obligation to treat him the way we treated Bush in terms of being critical of him. And, yet, I feel like many Democrats have had their spines surgically removed these days, as have a lot of journalists. The fact is that this man is governing over a policy that is killing a tremendous number of civilians.
Moyers: You mentioned you mentioned drones a moment ago. I was impressed to hear our new commander of our troops in Afghanistan admit this week that the United States cannot go on killing civilians. He said, in fact, this is creating a dangerous situation for our own country.
Scahill: Well, that that I mean, on the one hand, that those words are true. I think that the fact is that, when you are killing civilians, in what is perceived to be an indiscriminate way certainly by the people of Pakistan you're going to give rise to more people that want to attack the United States. They view themselves as fighting a defensive war. But never are the statistics cited that come out of Pakistan. 687 people are documented to have been killed. That the Pakistani authorities say are civilians since 2006. In the first 99 days of this year over 100 people were killed. And the fact is…