Black Money (Full Version)

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In Black Money, Frontline correspondent Lowell Bergman investigates this shadowy side of international business, shedding light on multinational companies that have routinely made secret payments — often referred to as “black money” — to win billions in business. “The thing about black money is you can claim it’s being used for all kinds of things,” the British reporter David Leigh tells Bergman. “You get pots of black money that nobody sees, nobody has to account for, … you can do anything you like with. Mostly what happens with black money is people steal it because they can.”

Leigh knows. In his groundbreaking reporting for The Guardian newspaper, he helped uncover one of the biggest and most complicated cases currently under investigation — a story involving a British aerospace giant, the Saudi royal family, and an $80 billion international arms deal known as Al Yamamah, or “The Dove” in Arabic. “If there was one person who was the main man behind this arms deal, it turned out it was the U.S. ambassador, Prince Bandar bin Sultan,” says Leigh.

It all started back in 1985, when the charismatic Prince Bandar was put in charge of acquiring new fighter jets for the Saudi Arabian air force. The Israeli lobby in Congress reportedly stood in the way of the United States making a deal with the Saudis, so President Ronald Reagan sent Bandar to the British. The prince approached a willing Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and they sealed the massive deal between the United Kingdom, BAE Systems (formerly British Aerospace) and the Royal Saudi Air Force.

Rumors swirled that billions in bribes had changed hands to secure the deal, but British officials denied wrongdoing. “Of course there is suspicion, and of course people are entitled to be suspicious,” says Lord Timothy Bell, who was involved in the deal from the beginning on behalf of the Thatcher government. “But as far as I’m concerned, if the British government … and the Saudi government reached a sovereign agreement over an arms contract that resulted in a tremendous number of jobs in Britain, a great deal of wealth creation in Britain, … and enabled Saudi Arabians to defend themselves, … I think that’s a jolly good contract.”

 

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Dispatches - Iraq's Secret War Files - U.S. Killing Innocent People (Full Version), 4.7 out of 5 based on 12 ratings
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Dispatches – Iraq’s Secret War Files – U.S. Killing Innocent People (Full Version)

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2010 – Dispatches exposes the full and unreported horror of the Iraqi conflict and its aftermath. The program reveals the true scale of civilian casualties, and allegations that after the scandal of Abu Ghraib, American soldiers continued to abuse prisoners; and that US forces did not systematically intervene in the torture and murder of detainees by the Iraqi security services.

The program also features previously unreported material of insurgents being killed while trying to surrender.

Channel 4 is the only UK broadcaster to have been given access to nearly 400,000 secret military significant activities reports (SIGACTS) logged by the US military in Iraq between 2004 and 2009. These reports tell the story of the war and occupation which the US military did not want the world to know.

Initially, the Americans claimed that they were not recording casualty figures and President Bush stated that America would do its utmost to avoid civilian casualties. In the files, Dispatches found details of over 109,000 deaths; 66,000 of these were civilians; 176,000 civilians and others were reported as wounded.

Under rules of engagement, known as escalation of force, anyone approaching the US military was warned to slow down and stop. The analysis reveals more than 800 people were killed in escalation of force incidents: 681 (80%) of these were civilians; a further 2,200 were wounded. Thirteen coalition troops were killed during these incidents. Dispatches found 30 children had been killed when shots were fired near civilians by US troops at checkpoints.

Over a six-year period, the data records the imprisonment of 180,000 Iraqis: one in 50 of the adult male population. Dispatches found more than 300 reports alleging abuse by US forces on Iraqi prisoners after April 2004.

The Americans effectively ignored the torture and murder of many detainees by Iraqi security forces. Dispatches has found evidence of more than 1,300 individual cases of the torture and abuse of Iraqi prisoners by Iraqis in police stations and army bases: witnessed or reported on by American troops. Dispatches reveals that US troops were ordered not to investigate Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence.

The data shows that the Americans were aware of the horrific level of violence inflicted by Iraqi sectarian militias: over 32,500 murders; more than 10,000 shot in the head; nearly 450 decapitated; over 160 were children.

One of the reasons given for the invasion of Iraq was the suggestion of links between Iraq and Al Qaeda. The US told the UN Security Council in 2003 that Iraq ‘harbored’ the terrorist network. However, in the leaked data there are only seven reports mentioning Al Qaeda in 2004, and none of these refer to Al Qaeda killing anyone. By 2008, there are 8,208 reports mentioning Al Qaeda attributing to it the deaths of 45 coalition soldiers, 486 members of the Iraqi Security Services and 1,291 civilians.
 

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