by David Phinney
Thursday May 23rd 2024



Soon to be a Major Motion Picture

Story pitch from May, 2006 made to all major US networks and BBC:
LOCATION IN GREEN ZONE: The nut of the story is that the contractor now building the US embassy has been repeatedly accused of forcing low-wage Asian laborers to work in Iraq against their will.
The question is how could a company with this kind of reputation receive a $592 million contract to build the most visible and lasting monument to the US invasion, liberation and occupation of Iraq?
INTERVIEW IN PHILIPPINES: We will visit Filipino workers who had their passports taken and were threatened with arrest by First Kuwaiti Trading and Construction (FKTC) if they refused to work in Iraq under US contracts. We will hear them talk about the pitiful living conditions, broken promises on salaries, long hours, crammed housing, and food unfit for rats in the Iraq labor camps.
LOCATION IN KUWAIT: A source in Kuwait assures me we can visit the holding areas for these workers that FKTC uses for its workers. The same area where the Filipinos claim that they were threatened with arrest by FKTC managers if they did not go to Iraq.
INTERVIEW IN KUWAIT: In 2003, FKTC was valued at $35 million. Today the politically-connected firm is a $2 billion company based largely on US funded contracts in Iraq. We will attempt to interview FKTC general manager Wadih al Absi about the allegations of worker abuse and labor trafficking. He will deny it.
POSSIBLE INTERVIEW IN NEPAL: We will then hear that the Filipinos are not alone in their complaints – The Kathmandu Post reported similar allegations for Nepalese workers, which have since been reiterated by The Los Angeles Times and The Chicago Tribune. We can tape those workers in Nepal, as well, or reference other reporting. Former Halliburton managers in Texas who witnessed abuse could add boilerplate.
INTERVIEW IN WASHINGTON, DC: Kuwait is a top offender in labor trafficking, according to the US State Department. State Department gets opportunity to comment on First Kuwaiti reputation and the Filipino interview transcripts that were provided to the State Department in months ago.
PENTAGON REFERENCE: After inquires since last August, the only official recognition of labor trafficking and poor labor conditions was a recent directive that requires all contractors in Iraq to return passports to workers by May 1 and provide a minimum living space of 50 square feet to workers.
BACK TO EMBASSY PROJECT: But it is unclear if conditions have improved. There are now reports of Typhoid fever in First Kuwaiti’s labor camp.
Elements described to Major networks and BBC in June 2006
Here are the elements now available:
1) A contractor who will go on camera to say the $592 million embassy project in Baghdad was rigged.
2) South Asian laborers who will say they were forced to work in Iraq by embassy contractor.
3) Hidden camera access to contractors office where low-paid Asian workers clamor to be paid.
4) Hidden camera of remote basement where laborers are confined before being shipped to Iraq.
5) Possible hidden camera access to embassy project.
6) Possible interview with embassy worker complaining about bad working conditions, low pay, and labor trafficking.
7) Witness claiming to have seen 50 workers smuggled into Iraq by embassy contractor.
8) Photographs by witness of workers being smuggled.
9) Medical report recommending that worker clinics be shut down because of unsanitary conditions.
10) Reports of worker deaths at embassy.
11) Former Halliburton managers complaining about treatment of South Asian laborers at military camps.
Frankly, I think that a package on the US embassy project opens the door to a larger discussion of labor trafficking under US contracts in Iraq.
The US State Department recently acknowledged the problem of trafficking:
Also, this April, the Defense Department required that all contractors return passports to their laborers and provide a minimum of 50 square feet living space per worker.
Here is a recent story of mine:


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