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The Boston Globe Sam Allis

"'Private Warriors' is the closest thing to must-see TV that 'Frontline' has uncorked in ages. … a devastating look at the rodeo of private contractors working for the U.S. government there that should trouble all of us.

"And let it be noted that in doing their jobs in Iraq, [producer Martin Smith], coproducer Marcela Gaviria, and crew display uncommon bravery that only hints at what reporters stationed there must marshal every day. …

"'Private Warriors' injects yet more concern about the prosecution of this war, and of others to come. With the smarts and the moxie of a pro, Smith documents something worse than corruption: chaos."

The New York Times Ned Martel

"… Rarely … do you see the car chase put to such good use as in the 'Frontline' season-ender, as it drives home a few illuminating points on the otherwise dull topic of outsourcing in the armed services.

"In 'Private Warriors,' 'Frontline' takes a full hour tonight to look at the street-level mayhem in Baghdad and the life-and-death stakes for private security firms, which the United States military employs as protectors and shuttlers in the war zone. The result is appropriately, engagingly upsetting.

"… The American presence in Iraq may be an exacerbating force or a mitigating one, depending on one's political perspective, but 'Frontline' tries to make it clear to all partisans that there is a huge deployment of expensive, extra-military manpower over there. …

"The 'Frontline' reporter strikes that same respectful but grateful tone that we tend to hear from reporters living behind the armor of those they are attempting to examine. Occasionally the report takes a wider view, leaving the streets for a helicopter ride over the basic Baghdad topography, which is never quite so clear in three-minute television news dispatches or detailed maps in print. …"

The Gazette (Montreal) Alex Strachan

"… a fascinating white-knuckle view of the occupation resistance in Iraq as seen through the eyes of a handful of the 20,000 private-sector security enforcers who live and work there.

"Unlike national newscasts that claim to tell you everything you need to know about Iraq from the comfort of their Washington bureaus of a studio in Toronto, Frontline shows us the view through the shattered, blood-stained windshields of the SUVs that tear along 'Route Irish,' an insanely dangerous 15-kilometre stretch between the Baghdad airport and the so-called Green Zone in the city's centre.

"There is some gut-wrenching footage here- much of it shot by resistance fighters themselves as trophy videos- of ambushes, and, in one terrifying incident, the summary execution of a downed Bulgarian copter pilot.

"This remarkable documentary goes behind the scenes to show the training, such as it is, of drivers and guards for the private security firms. …"

The Philadelphia Inquirer Jonathan Storm

"… Smith goes on the ground, harrowingly, to illuminate the dilemma on his fourth visit to Iraq…

"Supported by private security guards, Smith's rides through Baghdad seem like something out of a summertime feature-film blockbuster…

"In an hour stuffed with solid reporting, Smith opens viewers' eyes to terrible shortcomings half a world away, providing perspective and information in a dynamic package unavailable anywhere else. He speaks to the military men and civilian analysts. His report is remarkable for its thoroughness and even-handedness. …"

Newsday Noel Holston

"… 'Private Warriors' is the most extensive report to date by any network, broadcast or cable, about the private companies that are providing everything from bodyguards to catering in Iraq. …

"If this report doesn't make you angry, it should at least make you squint, scowl, and go, 'Huh?'…"

The Kansas City Star Aaron Barnhart

"… a tough-minded look at the role of private contractors in Iraq. …

"'Frontline's' report gets not just both sides but several sides of this complex story. …"

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posted june 21, 2005

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