I spent much of this year working with Brave New Films providing research assistance for "Iraq for Sale", and excellent film that shows exactly what the Bush Administration is allowing corporations and contactors to get away with in Iraq.
Throughout the research stage, one name continuously popped up - someone that was striving to make sure these contractors were held accountable for putting our soldiers in harm's way: Senator Patrick Leahy (D - VT). During the 109th Congress, Leahy attempted to introduce legislation to provide oversight and strict penalties for contractors in Iraq that are ripping off the American people, while hurting the troops. The Republican controlled Congress shot him down more than once.
With the Democratic majority taking over Congress last week, Patrick Leahy, now head of the Senate Judiciary Committee introduced the "War Profiteering Prevention Act of 2007":
"Many Democratic Senators joined Leahy in reintroducing a bill creating criminal penalties for war profiteers and cheats who would exploit taxpayer-funded efforts in Iraq and elsewhere around the world. The War Profiteering Prevention Act of 2007 builds on earlier efforts by Leahy, who is also a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, to crack down on this type of rampant fraud and abuse. It is similar to legislation Leahy introduced in 2003, that was subsequently passed by the Senate as part of an appropriations bill but later torpedoed by the White House and the House Republican leadership, which stripped out the Leahy provision."
According to a press release issued by Leahy, the bill will include the following provisions:
"§ Criminalizes war profiteering, which is defined as materially overvaluing any good or service with the specific intent to excessively profit from the war and relief or reconstruction activities
§ Statute would strengthen the tools available to federal prosecutors to combat war profiteering by providing clear authority for the Government to seek criminal penalties and to recover excessive profits for war profiteering overseas.
§ Prohibits any fraud against the United States, Iraq, or any other foreign country involving a contract for the provision of any goods or services in connection with a war, military action, or relief or reconstruction activities.
§ Subjects violators to up to 20 years imprisonment and a fine not to exceed the greater of $1,000,000 or twice the amount of any illegal gross profits, or both.
§ Prohibits making a false statement in any matter involving a contract for the provision of any goods or services in connection with a war, military action, or relief or reconstruction activities.
§ Subjects violators of this provision to up to 10 years imprisonment and a fine not to exceed the greater of $1,000,000, or twice the amount of any illegal gross profits, or both.
§ Creates extraterritorial jurisdiction over offenses committed overseas, and covers any person in the United States or abroad who violates its provisions."
After a year of reading stories about what these contractors did to our troops and our nation, it's an amazing feeling to finally see something done about it. Director Robert Greenwald and Brave New Films are owed a huge debt for getting this story out to the American people, and making it an issue everyone can understand and relate to.
As for Leahy, after his 2004 dust up with Vice President and Halliburton lover, Dick Cheney, he can finally respond back with the same phrase used by Cheney, "go fuck yourself!"