mark hertsgaard

Independent Journalist & Author


Iraq’s Missing Billions


Welcome to Spotlight, Link TV’s weekly series of investigative reports from around the world. I’m Mark Hertsgaard in San Francisco.


In this episode the spotlight is on war profiteering in Iraq.

Sad to say, war profiteering is nothing new.

During World War II, Harry Truman, the Missouri Senator and future president, uncovered $160 billion of fraud by corporate contractors.

In Iraq, the focus has been on Halliburton, the company vice president Cheney headed before joining the Bush administration.

Before the war even started, Halliburton was granted a no-bid contract to rebuild Iraq’s oil infrastructure.

The Pentagon expected no problems, an internal email said, because the issue had been, quote, coordinated with the vice president’s office.

But when word leaked out, Congress was furious and forced the contract to be competitively bid.

Nevertheless, profiteering has continued to plague both the war and the reconstruction effort in Iraq.

And as independent Iraqi journalist and physician Ali Fadhil reveals in the film you’re about to see, the consequences for the people and especially the children of Iraq have been catastrophic.

Mr. Fadhil won the Rory Peck Sony Impact Award for this film.

Here at Spotlight, we are proud to present the US premiere, from the BBC in
Great Britain, of “Iraq’s Missing Billions,” on Link TV, your connection to the world.


You’re watching Spotlight on Link TV. I’m Mark Hertsgaard.

The scenes you just saw of Iraqi babies dying because of inadequate incubators shows the human cost of war profiteering.

They also recall one of the key propaganda claims made by the first President Bush to justify his invasion of Iraq back in 1991.

Saddam Hussein’s soldiers, the first president Bush said, were ripping babies out of incubators in Kuwait and leaving them to die.
That claim turned out to be false. Alas, this time around, the story seems to be true.

And bear in mind: the $20 billion of diverted Iraqi funds you just heard about wasn’t the only money to go missing in this war.

US taxpayers also contributed to the reconstruction of Iraq.

The first installment was $22 billion. Much of that also was misspent.
According to an expose
by the Center for Investigative Reporting once again, Halliburton was at the center of the action.

For example, the Halliburton subsidiary KBR charged the Pentagon twice the going rate for millions of gallons of gasoline.

Democrats tried to impose oversight, with Senator Patrick Leahy pushing for criminal penalties.

But instead, oversight was contracted out-to none other than other Iraqi war contractors such as Parsons Corporation.

The White House even got Congressional Republicans to de-fund the federal agency that uncovered much of the war profiteering.

But after Republicans lost the 2006 elections, a bi-partisan group of lawmakers pledged to restore the agency.

Spotlight is proud to bring this film, “Iraq’s missing Billions” to an American audience for the first time.

And if you want to find out more about Iraqi war profiteering, you can check out the resources listed at the end of this program.

You can also find those resources at our website,

Following those listings you’ll see a clip from next week’s program. Until then, this is Mark Hertsgaard in San Francisco for Spotlight. Thanks for joining us.



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About Mark

Independent journalist Mark Hertsgaard is the author of seven books that have been translated into sixteen languages, including Bravehearts: Whistle Blowing in the Age of Snowden; HOT: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth; and A Day in the Life: The Music and Artistry of the Beatles. He has reported from twenty-five countries about politics, culture and the environment for leading outlets, including The Guardian, Der Spiegel, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Time, Mother Jones, NPR, the BBC and The Nation, where is the environment correspondent. He lives in San Francisco.