Backstabbing for Beginners (2018) Script


My name is Michael Sullivan and I have a story I think you're gonna wanna hear.

Michael Sullivan?

How long have you been in the lobbyist at Belasquian Banks?

Uh, two years.

A lot of strategy, research and support.


That's a good job.

You're not happy there?

No, I just... I don't want to wake up when I'm forty and discover the only thing I've contributed to the world is tax shelters, sweatshops and holes in the ozone.

You're an idealist?

You know for as long as I can remember I've wanted to be a diplomat.

I want to make a difference in the world.

Your father was a diplomat.

Uh, yeah, U.S. State Department, he...

Lebanon. 1983.

I'm sorry for your loss.

My father passed away when I was little.

He was killed in the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut when I was 5 years old.

One of my earliest memories is my father telling stories about the founding of the United Nations.

We'll find a way to end war.

Made it sound like modern day Knights sitting around the Round Table.

I wanted to follow in his footsteps.

By the fall of 2002 I had applied for a job at the United Nations four times.

(cab drives off)


Uncle Michael!

My sister says it's because Foreign Service is in our family legacy.

Hey little brother, how are ya?

Hey, good. Sorry I'm late.

You look good.

And just like my mother, she married a guy she met while interning at the U.N.

So I got you something small, but something else is on it's way, okay?

Hey, Trevor.


Nice cake Lily, got enough Danish flags?

Yeah, yeah.

Well, did you hear anything?

Uh, no.

I'll hear tomorrow.

But how'd it feel?


No, I was too nervous.

Oh well, it's their loss.

I'm sure you'll get it, you've been working so hard for this!


And it's somebody's birthday, so should we do cake?


♪ Happy Birthday to you! ♪

♪ Happy birthday to you! ♪

♪ Happy birthday dear Kate ♪

(distant sirens)

Best candidates keep getting hired away by fucking hedge funds.

Michael Sullivan.

I knew his father.

Danish passport.

His mother's side, but he's only 24 years old.

He'll do.

I thought I would start with some entry-level assignment, instead I got a dream job.

Special assistant to the under secretary general.

Running the largest humanitarian program in the United Nations history.

I couldn't believe my luck.

All I kept thinking was, "Don't fuck this up."

The program is called, "Oil For Food."

It's created in 1995.

By Security Council resolution 986, which has stated that the UN would manage the sale of Iraqi oil and use the profits to provide humanitarian relief in the country to alleviate the hardship.

Which basically means that our office is in charge of trying to feed an entire nation, over 20 million people.

You have a little reading to catch up on.

We are woefully behind schedule on our funding status report to the Security Council;

Your immediate task will be to help facilitate its completion.

Your predecessor was due to brief the undersecretary tomorrow.


What happened to him?

A car accident in Iraq.

(distant yelling)


(car rapidly approaching)


Jesus Christ!

Is he alright?

No, he didn't make it.

A bullet-point summary will do.

Pasha will be in his office at nine.

Got a couple of minutes, Michael?

Justin Cutter, Central Intelligence.


Yeah, we come in all shapes and sizes.

Okay, can I help you with something?

Listen, we think Oil for Food is being gamed for private gain by a bad guy or bad guys unknown.

Possibly with help from the inside, which is where you are, so...

Look I-I just got this job.

I'm not gonna- I'm not gonna spy for you.

Oh God, no.

No, no, leave that to the professionals.

I don't want you to do anything that makes you uncomfortable, Michael.

Just keep your eyes and ears open, that's all.

For God and Country.

Michael: I was aware going in that the Oil for Food program had become something of a political football.

The program budget was 10 billon dollars a year.

The entire rest of the UN operational budget was only two.

There was crazy money to be had.

Special interest circling like buzzards.

The program was simple.

Because of the economic sanctions imposed against Saddam Hussein after the first Gulf War, Iraq's economy had crashed.

People were starving and dying from lack of basic medicine and staples.

The Oil for Food program was designed to provide Iraqi citizens with what they needed to survive.

While at the same time, preventing Saddam from developing his alleged weapons of mass destruction.

Under UN supervision, Iraqi oil was being sold at market prices to pay for humanitarian aid.

Our job was to keep it funded by making sure everything went by the book.

I'm here to present the summary.

He'll be with you in a minute.

...This fucking regime!


Yes, I sorted it as always, a solution.

Now we-we charted a load of taxis, filled them, that should last the outlying villages till we get the trucks back.

You call this a summary?

Fucking war and peace.

Sorry sir, I was trying to be thorough.


Yes, sir.


Well, just give me the highlights kid, otherwise we'll be here till spring thaw.

Yes we have uhh, decreased the malnutrition rate, reduced child mortality, we've also uhh, made big strides in access to water and electricity.

There are however some umm, systemic distribution failures particularly in the North.

The Kurds are getting shorted uhh, wheat, milk, diesel fuel to the benefit of Tikrit, who are getting seemingly more than their fair share.

Saddam's hometown, what a surprise?


There are also all these after service fees uhh, in the contracts.

I'm pretty sure they're kick-backs.

If you wanna take a look, I uhh, highlighted and aggregated them on page 26 to 29.

It's a lot of money, sir.

In some places it's as much as 30 percent.

(paper shreds in machine)




Sit down.

The first rule of diplomacy is that the truth is not a matter of fact, it's a matter of consensus, now consensus right now is that sanctions are here to stay.

The Americans and The British will never lift them, which means that if you want the people of Iraq to survive, we have to keep Oil for Food running.

Even with all it's warts and flaws.

Sir, you do not need to...

The second rule is to keep your mouth shut and listen.

Then if it suits, you can talk.

With discretion.

Otherwise, keep your cards, close to your vest.


Your father was a good man.

You should be so lucky as to have his heart.

Yeah, so I've been told.

We crossed paths a couple of times.

Must have been 79', 80'.

What a tragedy.


Fuck, I'm sorry.

That must have been hard, a boy growing up without a father.

It was my normal.

I had my cry.


Fix your summary.

Go home and pack.

We leave for Baghdad on the red-eye.


What? You have other plans?

No, I don't.

Of course not.

Thank you.

(helicopters whirring)

Michael: I was swept up in the romance of it, I mean, this is what I wanted.

High adventure and a worthy cause.

It's like Baghdad was my Casablanca.

More or less sketchy, crazy dangerous and stranger than I could've ever imagined.

The country lived in a state of permanent self-occupation.

Our Baghdad office is going to present a problem.


We can't let this director sabotage the report.

Why-why would he sabotage his own report?


So the Security Council will be forced to lift the sanctions, and everybody can cash in on the deals they made with Saddam back before he rolled into Kuwait and pissed off the world.

Jesus H. Christ, kid.

Gonna have to fucking teach you everything from scratch.

Every six months we have to justify our continued existence.

Our job right now is to write a report for the Security Council emphasizing all the good in the Oil for Food program whilst minimizing the challenges.

Not to lie.

No, never lie, but to choose our facts or truths with the utmost care.


Can I trust you to do that?

Yes. Absolutely.

There she is.

Madame Dupre.

Trying to backstab us.


(Speaking French)

Hassan Ghazarian.

Hey, Michael Sullivan.

Nice to meet you.

Nice to meet you.

(Speaking French)

(camera shutter clicks)

Did you get the documents I sent you?

I did, I've even printed them up for you.

Oh great.

You write well.

Pasha: 60 percent of the Iraqi people are solely dependent upon our suppliers for survival.

Wheat, grain, milk, medicine, essential infrastructure.

During our last ten months, we have decreased malnutrition rate amongst children in Iraq by 50 percent, thereby reduced child mortality significantly.

Okay, thank you very much, photographers come through.

We're gonna have a photo opportunity with Madame Dupre.

Michael: It's hard to overstate how badly Saddam was abusing his people.

Friends of the regime could get easy access to the medicine.

Others less fortunate were left to die from even the simplest of diseases.

(Speaking foreign language)

They send bad drugs.

(Speaking foreign language)

Dump on us their out-of-date prescriptions.

Thank him for uhh, bringing this to me and tell him I will definitely look into it.

(Speaking foreign language)

He says there's at black market with Oil for Food pills.

(Speaking foreign language)

Or this innocent child: Please explain to her why she cannot have the stem cell therapy that could cure her.

Why she has to suffer because the West begrudges Iraq, it's dignity.


(camera shutter clicks)

That I can't explain, no.

(Speaking foreign language)

(ventilator pumping air)

(camera shutter clicks)

(Speaking foreign language)

Nashim: She asks why you are crying?

(ventilator pumping air)

I promise I will do anything I can to help your child.

(Camera shutter clicks)

(Speaking foreign language)

It sickens me to have to stand there and listen to your lies.

It's P.R., Christina, everyone in the field is working so hard.

Well, my reporter for The Security Council is going to tell the truth.

Just so you know.

Your report.

The program is a failure.

The sanctions aren't working.

How is the program failing?

Medicine is getting through!

At what cost!?

People are getting basic staples.

At what cost?

Everybody is grifting the system.

Corruption grows like a cancer.

It'll never be perfect and surely, it's better than doing nothing.

Michael, what's the delay?

Uhh, sorry, there's a small security issue.

We'll be on our way in a few moments.

I know what you're doing.

You want me to sign off on your moral relativism so you can throw me under the bus when it all unravels.

You are mistaken.

I'm just trying to feed a country.

Enough spin, Costa, enough!

The facts will speak for themselves.

My report with The Security Council is going to tell the truth.

(car starts)

Pasha: Baghdad is the centre of the universe now, kid.

And this, Al Rasheed is ground zero.

Boiler room of diplomacy.

(indistinct chatter)


Nice to see you again.

Mr. Mohammed, my assistant.

Michael Sullivan.

Count your fingers after you shake hands with this one.

Pasha: All major intelligence agencies are here, and all rooms are bugged.

Everyone trying to barter in their secrets and their services.

Information is everything; the currency, the power.

Look. Listen. Learn.

Everyone has their own agenda, huh?

Baby Bush thinks Saddam disrespected his papa.

American neocons?

They're convinced democracy will bloom here like a fucking flower

...good luck with that.

Putin wants Bush to fail, China wants the new markets, half of Europe couldn't care less whether Saddam gasses civilians or builds a bomb Big Oil simply wants an end to the sanctions so they can suck at the Iraqi teat.

So, about what the doctor told me today.

The grifted medicine, missing supplies.

I smell a setup.

It didn't really feel like a setup.

More nonsense from Madame.

She's not just ineffective, she's actively inventing proof of the program's failings.

If we don't do something, this reports gonna be a disaster.

Don't you get the final say?

Sadly, no.

UN protocol requires the regional director sign off on the report.

And what's our agenda?

Our agenda?

That little girl.

At the hospital.

God help anyone who gets in our way.


I had a son once.

Died of the flu, just a baby.

Can you believe that?

And my wife, we couldn't make another.


Thirty years ago.

How did you put it?

I had my cry.


You tired?




You know, for someone who speaks for other people for a living, you don't talk much.

I couldn't help but notice you were not surprised when the doctor spoke of black market medicine.

No I wasn't.

(men laughing)

Will you tell your boss?

Yeah, we already know there's some corruption in the program.

Outside Baghdad it's much worse.

Rations diverted, power cut off.

Extortion, bribes.

I'll uhh, make sure Pasha knows that too.

You have something you want to ask me?

Is it about Madame?

That your boss wants you to find the secret button he can push to bend her to his will?

I can tell you: it does not exist.

I'm just trying to do my job.

But your predecessor Abhek...

His car accident was not an accident.

That's a pretty big accusation to make.

Why are you telling me this?

He was murdered because of something he uncovered.

Something in Oil for Food?

I don't know.


He was fearful of someone inside United Nations.

A facilitator of corruption.

You need to be very, very careful.

(elevator dings)

(door scanner beeps)

Good evening.


The Mukhabarat, you see, were concerned to inspect your sleeping chambers for the existence of any surveillance device.

This as a courtesy, for your security, of course.

Why don't you start by telling me who you are?

Are you enjoying your visit to Mesopotamia, Mr. Sullivan?

(door scanner beeps)

First one, if I'm not mistaken yes?

Such a difficult, stressful time for everyone here.

The Great Satan keeps threatening to bomb the city meanwhile, the sanctions cut deep.

Baghdad puts...

Why don't you get to the point?

You will find on the bureau behind me an envelope containing a small honorarium.

We greatly admire the work you are doing for the Iraqi...

It's late.

I'd like you to leave, please.

No disrespect was meant by it.

Don't forget your envelope.

(door closes)

Can't blame them for trying, it's nothing.

You handled it perfectly.

What about what the interpreter said about Abhek?

I don't believe it.

Maybe she's a spy for Saddam sent to rattle us.

You look like shit, kid.

Fuck, eat something.

(overlapping chatter)

I'm sorry.

(chatter continues)

Excuse me?

(chatter continues)

Michael: I'd been warned, but I was still shocked by the criticism from UN staff against the sanctions.

Pasha was right, every department had an agenda.

They were working across purposes.

They played right into Madame Dupre's hands.

(chatter grows louder)

(shoe bangs loudly)

Shut up!

(chatter stops)

You sound like Saddam's puppets all of you.

Do I need to point out the serious fucking consequences to the Iraqi people, if we fail to continue...

You violated...

(shoe bangs on table)

Are you fucking kidding me!?

It's not our place to question the decisions of The Security Council.

We implement them.

Absent of all politics.

And yes, it's a hard fucking job sometimes.

But if you can't do it, I suggest you turn in your fucking credentials and go home.


Michael: I knew from my research that our biggest worry was Kurdistan.

As long as Saddam was in power it was gonna take all of Pasha's considerable diplomatic skills to keep the Kurd's from undermining the report.

The rations, when they come, are always half what was promised.

The North is a protectorate, so unfortunately...

Michael: They had been hurt harder under the sanctions than any other region and while Oil for Food was providing some relief, it had helped sustain the very regime that oppressed them.

The Kurds have plenty of money to buy their own food, from that black market oil.

Minister, if you would allow me...

Michael: The Kurdish conflict with Iraq goes back nearly a century.

Saddam Hussein took it to a whole new level.

Forced displacement, mass detention and torture.

And then, when that didn't work, he resorted to landmines and cluster bombs, sarin gas and nerve agents Killing tens of thousands and crippling tens of thousands more.

A reign of terror that included the worst single act of chemical genocide ever committed against a civilian population.

Kurds are dying for simply being Kurdish.

Michael: And in a shuttle diplomacy between two sworn enemies, I watched Pasha work his magic.

...About how the most beloved food to Allah, is that which is touched by many hands.


This is all I need.

The Kurdish Minister's right though, from what I've been told, they're getting completely screwed.

I know he's right.

It's in the fucking field reports, but we have to keep a lid on it.

The choice can't be to feed everyone or feed no one.

It has to be to feed as many as possible.

(car starts)

Pasha: I have to go back to New York tomorrow.

I need you to stay focused.

Michael: Of course.

Here's your travel itinerary.

You are connected to Kuwait, you land in JFK at 5 PM.

Dupre is going to freeze you out for the final report.

Her opus indictment of Oil for Food.

Okay, then why am I staying here then?

In a few days, you'll receive some photographs.

You'll want Hassan to see them because you won't understand what they could mean.

Your task is to make sure he shows them to Dupre by insisting he shouldn't.

You're asking me if I'll...

A trap, yes.

She'll fall into it, and we'll be rid of her.

Kid, it's diplomacy, which sometimes requires removing obstacles that stand in the way of successful outcome.

Can I trust you again with this one?

I mean, how big of a lie am I gonna be telling?

Not lie.

Just the opportunity to draw a wrong conclusion.


Just so you know, Madame says you won't be reading the report until it's finished and she sign off on it.

Well, Pasha said he wants me to help.

People in hell want ice water.

We're just ponds in a bigger game, you and me.

Sorry, Michael.


At least you can help me arrange an interpreter for a field trip.

I wanna open one of these boxes and check the expiration dates.

(Speaking in foreign language)

He says he's the company representative.

Tell him I wanna open one of these boxes.

(Speaking in foreign language)

These pills expired in 1999.

Sick people will get sicker or die because of these.

(Speaking in foreign language)

Every box needs to be checked, the out of date medicine needs to be destroyed and the manufacture will have to replace it at their own expense.

I should warn you, everyone here thinks I'm your prostitute.

Well, I guess we should split the check then.

You can't really just have a date with an un-chaperoned woman in Iraq.

There are rituals and traditions.

Do you wanna call it off then?

Did you tell your boss what I said about Ahbek?

Yeah I did, he uhh...

He thinks you might be a government spy.

So are you? A spy?

Is that a serious question?

Well, that's a pretty evasive answer.


Now it's my turn to ask you.


What are you doing here?

Well umm, I'm doing a status report for the Oil for Food program and then I'm gonna...

(clicks tongue)

I mean today, with the spoiled medicine.

What you did had nothing to do with writing your report.

You took action.

It was risky and rather brave.

Was that just to impress me?

I'm not here to just be a functionary.

I took this job for a reason because I wanna help people and I wanna make a difference.

Make a difference?


I'll drink to that.

(glasses clink)


They're not gonna bomb Baghdad, not without getting The UN staffers out first.

Mr. Sullivan?


This has come for you.


Lil, I gotta go.

Who sent this?

It was left on the night desk, sir.

Are those Oil for Food trucks?

Yeah, but I don't know the source of them.

If they're real, they're proof that we're being gamed by Saddam's regime.

Yeah, If, I still don't think we should trust them.

Using our trucks to deliver weapons, I mean, what the fuck?

I'm just gonna pack them up into a courier pouch, see what Pasha says.

No, no, no.

Let me show Christina first.

No, no, no chance.

It's okay, what do you call it?

"Chain of command."




I need to show you something.


They are friends.


So, this place isn't here, officially.

These are the graves of Kurdish civilians that Saddam Hussein one day decided no longer needed to live.

Gas, Sarin, Tabun, VX.

The smell of sweet apples.

He doesn't care about your sanctions or resolutions.

He's the Angel of Death... Azrael.

You're Kurdish.

My parents were intellectuals, active in PUK.

Killed in Halabdja.

I'm sorry.

Nobody in Baghdad knows I'm Kurdish, Michael.

If Saddam's police find out.

They will disappear me.

My friends, they helped Ahbek uncover a criminal conspiracy Saddam is using to skim billions of dollars from Oil for Food.

Ahbek claimed there is a whole system of corruption that reaches to the highest levels of the same Western government that supports sanctions.

Okay, how did Ahbek know this?

There is a rumor of a list.

A list that contains names of people and organizations all over the world who are all getting paid off by Saddam to keep this system running.

And Ahbek had seen it.

Did you bring it?


Nashim: May have had it on his computer.

You sure nobody saw you?

The office was empty, everyone had gone home.

Ahbek, what's going on with you?

I'm going North across the border.

It's not safe for me here.

(car pulls up)

(engine accelerates)

He made a back up.

But it's encrypted.

We don't have the resources to decipher it.

Why didn't you take it to someone more senior in The UN?

I mean, anyone.

Madame Dupre?

Nobody would listen to her.

It's important who delivers the list.

No one can accuse you of being Partisan or of having any agenda but the truth.

I'm not gonna front this, Nashim.

I'm not gonna do that.

No, I don't want that.

I just want you to take it back with you and find someone who can break the encryption.

Then, together we can decide what to do.


It's the Mukhabarat.

Are you fucking kidding me, Jesus!

(Speaking in foreign language)

(engine halts)

(door opens and closes)

There must be a mistake, I'm a UN official.

The young diplomat.

You know it's very dangerous for you to be in this god forsaken desert unescorted.

The Mukhabarat were concerned that you might have been kidnapped by nefarious individuals.

Consider this a courtesy.

Your Papers.

I tell you this, with all humility, Mr. Sullivan because I'm sure it won't happen again.

Your recent visit to the pharmaceutical distribution service that was unnecessarily provocative, yes?

It would be in everyone's best interest, in the future, were to decide such inspections were no longer necessary.

(gunshots firing)

(Nashim shouting in foreign language)

She is my interpreter alright! I told you!

(gunshot fires)

(Nashim shouts)

Go! Now.

Before they change their minds.

Get in the car.

(car speeds off)

He kept my papers.

It's only a question of time now before they find out who I am.

(Speaking in Foreign language)

Nashim Huesseni.

Where is the girl? What girl?

The Kurdish girl?

I don't know what you're talking about. You're lying!

I-I don't know what you're talking about! Don't lie!

I don't know where she is.

We saw you with her!

Yeah, I know, but I don't know where she is, okay.

Let me just... Let me just make a call.

I don't know where she is.

Get out!

You have no jurisdiction here!


It's Michael Sullivan with The Baghdad Oil for Food office.



I need to arrange a UNLP for one of our staffers.


And the name is Nashim Huesseni.


I took all I could carry.

This will get you into the U.S.

The High Commission for Refugees will help you get a visa.

I don't know.

I can go to Kurdish part of Turkey.

I have some friends there.

No, you'll be safer in New York.

We'll get you to The U.S. then we de-encrypt the list together.

(car approaching)

Go, you cannot be seen with me.

Whatever happens...

Just promise me you'll let me know.

Whatever happens, happens.


Thank you.

Thank you.

(car drives off)

Would you please come to my office?


Did you really expect me to fall for these...

These, I don't even know what to call them.


What was the plan?

Trick me into releasing them?

And then force me out when the evidence comes that it's false?

I'm at a loss to even know what you're talking about.

Madame, I was sent some documents and Hassam wanted to show them to you, that's it.

You are finished in the UN, do you hear me?

Your career is over!

What would you have him do?

He got some photos...

Christina: Shame on you.

Shame on both of you!

The report is finished.

It tells the truth about the failure of Oil For Food.

The files are digital, watermarked, time, date and I have secure copies so you can't change anything when it goes to New York.

The battle is over, Costa, and you have lost.

The Security Council will make their decision based on the facts.

(Speaking French)

Michael: She's not budging.

Well, fuck.

Nothing more for you to do there, kid.

Take the next UN flight and come home.

Don't worry about it.

(plane descends)

Excuse me sir, can I see your passport?

Uh, yeah sure.

(clears throat)

Mr. Sullivan?

I'm gonna need you to come with us.

Michael, how're you doing?

I have nothing for you.

No, that's okay, I got something for you.

Christina Dupre is dead.

They found her a few hours ago alone at home.

Heart attack.

At least that's what they're saying.

Wait, w-what do you mean, "That's what they're saying?"

What do you think happened, Mike?

I-I-I don't... I have no idea.

How would I...?

Your boss, what does he think?

If you have questions for Pasha, you should just ask him yourself.

Did he ever mention anything about a list?

No. Why?

Michael, is there anything you wanna tell me right now?



(phone rings)


Pasha: You're home.

Yeah, yeah I just got in.

Did you hear about Madame?




We had our disagreements, but...

This just breaks my heart.

And, uh...

And the report?

Hassan assures me that he doesn't share Madame's determination to blow up the program.

He'll sign off... her successor, on whatever we need to get re-funded.

Madame was wrong.

Being fucking dead doesn't change that.

You've got two days to clean this up.

What-what do you mean I've got two days to clean this up?

I've been thinking I might need you to present the oral summary.


You want me to present the report?

To the whole fucking Security Council.

Isn't that breach of protocol, Pasha?


I can do what I like.

Besides, they should be hearing from somebody close to the ground, and whom else can I trust to do it?

Okay, yeah.


Are you kidding me?

This is such a big deal.

For somebody at your pay grade to stand before The Security Council?

Yeah, no I know, it's a great opportunity.


Where did you get this?

A friend in Baghdad.

Uh no, I mean I can't crack this.

Do you know anyone who can?

Do you even know what's on the drive?

Uh, no.

Do you know anyone who can crack it?

I'll give it a try.

Do you mind if I hold onto this?

Yeah, keep it.

Hi, yeah I was given this as a possible contact number for her.

Yeah, exactly, Michael Sullivan.

No, I understand, yeah.

Just the number I gave you, if you could make sure you or one of your colleagues gets, uh, gets back to me if you hear anything at all.

Michael: Madame Dupre's death hung over Oil For Food like a cloud.

But Pasha had a clear path to what he wanted.

I focused on writing the report.

I didn't want anyone to doubt that I deserved to be in that room.

I couldn't help thinking about my father.

Whether he had stood before the council like I would.

Whether he would think that what I was doing was right.

You okay?

I'm okay now.



(heavy breathing)

(heavy breathing)


(heavy breathing)

They have 100 percent fucking certainty WMD's in Iraq, and zero percent certainty where they are?

Let me call you back.


Pending your review and Hassan's sign-off.

That's my boy.

Good work.

I got a call from oversight about your UNLP request for our sexy little translator.

They asked me to look into it.

I believe she's in New York now.


She's Kurdish.

She needs asylum.

The D-4 were after her.

They killed two of her countrymen.

Kurds don't have a country.

She makes friends like you everywhere.

Oldest trick in the book.

The honeypot...

CIA calls it the "dangle" now.

Seduce the mark, tell him fairy tales.

It's not the Russians, notice: CIA, MI5, Interpol...

Girl has a big following.

Pashmerga sent her to school in England, got her phony papers and a job at The Baghdad UN.

What did she want you to do?


I bet she's highly skilled in the soft arts.

What you did is stupid and illegal.

I'll make it go away.

But in future, if you're gonna do these things, you've got to come to me first.

Who gave you this?

It doesn't matter.

You've been using me.



You said you wanted to help.

Our meeting wasn't like that, I really...

Fucking bullshit, Nashim.

I know how this works.

Do you?


Yes, okay, I am guilty of taking a job in Baghdad and trying to find a way to help my people get free of a dictator who wants to exterminate us.

And yes, I talked with men who might be of help, but I didn't sleep with any of them, okay?

I didn't have to.

Nashim, you have asked me to risk my life for a list that I don't even know where the fuck it came from.

This is...


I'm sorry, but this is who I am.

Do you want me to leave?

(shower running)

(shower running)

(shower running)



Came to wish you luck.

Hey, man.

Knock 'em dead.

Thank you.

Pasha: Michael.



You'll do great.



News Reporter: In an unusual move at todays United Nations Oil For Food vote Under-secretary General Costa Passaris yielded his chair to his Executive Assistant, Michael Sullivan to present the report on the status of the program.

The uh, Oil For Food program continues to achieve it's core mission of providing humanitarian relief.

Reporter: The request for continued funding comes in the wake of the sudden death of Baghdad field director, Christina Dupre who was a vocal critic of the program.

And against the backdrop of intensified efforts to find Saddam Hussein's suspected caches of weapons of mass destruction.

Continuing resolution 986, the council has voted unanimously to extend funding for another 180 days.

Reporter: Michael Sullivan addressed the press after The Security Council vote.

I don't understand why he would want to invite me.

I know.

Me neither.

Let's get a drink, okay?

Pasha: Here you are.

My protégé.

Michael Sullivan.

Timur Rasnetsov.

Costa insists you are the hero of Oil For Food.

And here is Nashim.


Welcome to the USA.

Thank you.

Where is your drink?

I think we even have some Arak tucked away.

So how have you been?

Fine, thank you.


Well, enjoy your evening.

You must be the young diplomat, Michael Sullivan my husband is always talking about.

Nice to meet you, pleasure.

I'm Melina, Pasha's wife.

Ah, of course, yes, yes.

Pasha gushes about you, and Pasha doesn't gush about anyone.

Well he certainly taught me a lot.

It can never work.

Is that a proud papa over protecting his surrogate son?

Don't patronize me.

Is it so unthinkable that I could be in love with him?

You are what you are.

You cannot fool me.

You gave him the file on me.


If you do anything to compromise the kid or hurt him, I will have you deported so fast your hijab will spin.

You know what, I have to um, I have to go.

My apologies, I have to deal with something.

How-how long have you known that guy for?

He came with a delegation, we just met.


He was the one that tried to bribe me in my hotel in Baghdad.


Apparently he's very well connected.

Could be useful.

I gotta go.

What the fuck was that man doing at the party?

I don't know.

What did Pasha want?

He threatened me.

Your boss threatened me.

(phone rings)


Trevor: Michael, my guy came through.

You better come see this.

Uh, you're not gonna believe this.

Um, Saddam has been selling oil vouchers at a discount to people who turn around, resell the vouchers at the going oil peak rate for a huge profit.

Saddam gets a kickback, a share of the difference between his discount and the going rate.

How much did he make?

Could be over a billion dollars.

Jesus Christ.

Do we know if these are real?

They look real.

And it looks like a system.

There's a list of all the major players... politicians, businessmen, bankers, we're talking highly-placed people at the very heart of most first world governments, and they are taking millions of dollars in bribes.

This is real.

Of course, it's real.

Well, to prove it you're gonna need records of the actual transactions.

You need to give this to Pasha.

This is a UN internal matter.

You do not want to be left holding the bag on this.

Amongst the encrypted documents I found this video codec.

How long does it run for?

71 minutes.

71 minutes is a strange time.

I started to scroll through it, but it's all pretty much the same.

Zoom in.

Scroll back.

I knew it.

I fuckin' knew it.

I knew...

I knew that he was involved.

We need to make the list public.

We can't do that.

They'll just deny it.

And then all we do is destroy The UN.

We need to find someone to start asking questions.

The media, your congress.

The truth will come out.

Look, all these powerful interests at play... they will decide what the truth is.

Pasha will be the sacrificial lamb and my career is over.

You're not part of this.

Of course I'm fucking part of this.

I just gave a speech about the integrity of Oil For Food.

What are you saying?

Do nothing?

I don't know what I'm saying.

(Michael grunting)

(tires screech)

What's going on?

(Michael grunting)

Michael! Stop it!


(tires screech, car zooms off)

Hey man, you okay?

Yeah, yeah.

You need me to call 911?

Where is she?

I don't know.

Call your friend, tell him I will trade what he wants for Nashim.

He's not my friend.

Pasha, I have a video of you taking a fucking bribe from him.

You gonna come inside kid, or do we have to do this out here?

We're gonna do this out here.

I take a cut, sure.

Why not?

Everyone else has.

I put my whole career on the line for this mission, every fucking day.

Come inside kid, it's cold.

Rasnetsov is a fixer.

He's a very dangerous man.

Nothing in Iraq runs, nothing without him.

And who runs him?

Highest bidder.

Moscow, Beijing, Saddam, Hedge funds, mafia, greed.

Rasnetsov is the bridge between politics and reality.

And whose side are you on, Pasha?

Ah, I thought I heard you come in.

Sit down Michael, please.

I'll make the call.


Uh, yeah, thanks.

Did you enjoy the party last night?

Yeah we had a great time, thank you.

You left so early.

I wondered.

Uh, yeah, my friend, uh... she wasn't feeling too well.

It's flu season.


Well, I'll leave you to it.

They've handed her over to immigration.

Okay, well she has papers.

I think you'll find they're missing.

She's become an irritation.

If she gets deported to Iraq they will execute her for treason.

They'll send her back to Baghdad where I still have some sway...

No, you call him back and tell him I'm not gonna give up the list until Nashim is set free.

That's not how it works.

You need to trust me.

I did trust you, Pasha.

I trusted you and you fucked me at every turn.

Look where we are.

Committing crimes and taking bribes.

The crime would have been to do nothing.

To watch innocents suffer and die.

What about Dupre?

What about Abhek?

What was the justification for that?

We didn't make the storm.

And we can't control the storm.

All we can do is plot our course, set our sails, and try to do our best.

As we did, and we do.

Best for who, Pasha?

Best for you.

Not best for Nashim.

Not best for her people.

Ah, look, maybe you love this spy, fuck.

Who am I to argue with the heart?

Don't let her get you killed.

We can help her people, but we have to do it our way.

Bush's Coalition of The Willing is going to Invade Iraq in a matter of days now.

Consensus is changing, and the new truth is Saddam is history, and Oil For Food can be successful framework for rebuilding of a new free Iraq in which The United Nations, not the carpetbaggers and craven governments who created this nightmare...

The UN can take the lead fucking role.

You and me, kid.

We can save the world and save your girl.

Trust me.

My fellow citizens, at this hour American in Coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free it's people and to defend the world from grave danger.

Reporter: Over the next 24 to 48 hours perhaps as many as 3000.

3000 tomahawk cruise missiles, satellite guided precision bombs, laser guided bombs would be dropped on various targets.

Not only in Baghdad... among Baghdad, but elsewhere around the...

(helicopter whirring)

Michael: Six weeks after the invasion I was back in Baghdad to work on Pasha's plan to put The UN in charge of rebuilding the new Iraq.

The sanctions were lifted.

The free market would power the country.

Free elections would give every citizen a voice, and oil would pay the bills.

Pasha still had strong connections.

And he kept his promise to me.

Nashim Husseini.

(door opens)

It's nice when we're together.

Blank pages.

I missed you.

I have something for you.

A new passport and a visa so here.

You can stay as long as you want.

And what about the list?

I gave it to Pasha.

You traded the list for me?



I didn't exactly have a choice.

I made a judgment call, okay?

And what do you think is going to happen with Pasha now?

Pasha can still do a lot of good in The UN.

You are dreaming.

I'm not dreaming.

I'm not dreaming, I'm not, okay?

Consensus has changed, and with Saddam gone we can actually do a lot of good.


Just by thinking you can work with the criminals to take what you want you are lost.

Well, it wasn't exactly a fight we were gonna win, was it?

I put all my fucking life on this.

Who are you to decide that for me?

You said it yourself.

It's very, very fucking complicated.

No, not this part.

This part is very simple.

I don't wanna be a part of this.

I can't.

Nashim, Nashim, wait, wait, wait.


I'm told you aren't answering your phone.

What the fuck?

Yeah, I've been busy.


I heard.

Your Kurd took a walk.

Relationships are a train wreck.

Come on, kid.

You wanted a career in diplomacy.

Well, you're missing your golden moment.

See you at the office.

Pasha I have those medical contracts for you to...

I was on my way out.



It's good to see you again, Michael.

You think I like it?

He's got the world in his pocket, kid.

All the major fucking players in the reconstruction.

I don't understand.

When did he get back into this?

He never left, he just moved into the shadows, as the stakes got higher.

There's no one else.

We've been through this, Michael.

I'm not gonna fucking deal with him.


This is how it works.

Michael: The optimism of liberation was short lived.

It turned out nobody had made plans for what to do after Saddam was gone.

The Americans had purged everyone who had been loyal to the regime, which meant there wasn't anybody left who knew how to run the country.

Renetsov and all the other fixtures like him filled that vacuum of power, and out to control the game again.

Iraq spiraled into anarchy, chaos, and terror.

All those countries that had been scamming Oil For Food before the war, well, they got ready to carve Iraq up.

Like it was one big pie.

And me?

I was going through the motions.

I'd lost my faith in it.

(phone rings)


It's Nashim.


You okay?

I need to see you.

Can you come downstairs?


Michael, good to see you.


I got someone you gotta meet.

We need your help, Michael.

Michael Sullivan, Mr. Shaswar Rauf.

Yeah, we met before.

He will play a central role in a New Iraq.

You ever heard of a guy named Resnetsov?


Yeah? You ever met him?

A few times, uh, before the invasion.

How 'bout after?

No I didn't.

Well now him and his criminal gang from Oil For Food are back, and they're creating a mess in Iraq.


You know there was a list of, uh, individuals and organizations that were helping Saddam fleece Oil For Food.

You guys know about that, don't you?

Yeah, but there was no way to prove what was on it.

No, proof was in the Iraq Oil Ministry.

Official files that were taken by the US troops after the government fell.

Proof that is probably still in the basement of the UN somewhere if anyone cared to look.

Look, forget about the list.

We don't want the list anymore.

You don't want the list.

Too many powerful people.

Too political.

It's a coalition of the fucking greedy.

No one gives a shit about Iraq.

Everyone just wants the money and the crude.

Yeah, and that's why we need to stop Resnetsov.

And Pasha can give him to us.

Michael we have strong Intel that your boss is involved.

Pasha's never gonna help you.

Well maybe he just needs a little push.

And we're hoping that maybe you can convince him.

You think I can convince Pasha?

Pasha's never gonna do it, he's never gonna listen to you.

We can protect the UN from any unpleasant blow-back.




Something Pasha said to me once.

So now you're the one working with the criminals.

It's not the same.

Why isn't it the same?

We have the momentum now.

The Kurds are going to be an important part of making...

Kurds have been fighting the same war for pretty much 7000 years.

You really think this is gonna change anything?

Who can say?

But for sure it's not up to you to decide that for us.

Come with me.

I can't.

Neonatal medicine.

Yeah, they're new vendors.

French Canadians.

They want exclusive rights to the whole of The Northern Region.

That's fairly greedy, especially for the Canadian's.

Well I can...

They'll need to be willing to pay a hundred grand to make it happen.

You, um, do the legwork with the Kurds and the Provisional Authority, I'll handle the rat, we split fifty-fifty.

Fifty thousand dollar pay off?

No, shekels.

Christ, of course dollars.

What the fuck?

Thank you.

Pleasure to see you again, sir.

And so much more favorable circumstances.


Ah, you must be one of the Canadians.

Uh, Cutter, sir.


Ah, American.

I wasn't, um... you didn't tell me the Provisional Authorities would be sending someone for such a routine agreement.

They didn't.

We're not exactly here about medicine, Mr. Passaris.

(recording plays)

They'll need to be willing to pay a hundred grand to make it happen.

You, um, do the legwork with the Kurds and the Provisional Authority, I'll handle the rat, we'll split fifty-fifty.

Oh, kid.

Fifty thousand dollar pay off?

No, shekels.

Christ, of course dollars.

What the fuck?

It's like a surprise party without the cake.

What do you want?

Give us Timur Rasnetsov, and resign your job.

Or we'll have to drag you and the United Nations through a scandal of historic proportion.

This happens with or without you, with or without me.

Rasnetsov is protected by multinational companies who have governments who protect them... same people who just brought Saddam to his knees and put you here... holding court, judging me.

You think your place at the table now was not bought and paid for?

We paid with our lives.

If that's what you mean.

What you call corruption is simply the growing pains of a new democracy.

And you are indeed fools if you think you can put the brakes on it now.

Let's let the politicians worry about that.

We will settle for the rat.

You want me to commit suicide.

We can protect you.

You know that's not true.

Well, just set up a meeting.

Give him the envelope for the Canadian deal.

We'll catch him red-handed.

What the hell?

Not bad, kid.

Well played.

He's late.



(phone rings)


Fucking country.

Is it okay if I join you?

I'll be stepping down, going home.

I've lost my taste for it.

I wanted you to hear it from me.

I've recommended you for a position in UNESCO.

Special Assistant.

You'll be the youngest one in the whole UN.

Did you know?

Oh kid.

How can even you think that?

These fucking lunatics, they're killing each other every day.

That's the truth of it.

That's your truth, Pasha.

And I'm not part of it anymore.


Don't do anything dumb.

You can't fight the storm.

Michael: I realized everybody knew about the corruption.

They just didn't want it exposed.

Every permanent member of The Security Council had something to lose, someone on the list who could embarrass them.

It would all be covered up.

But the UN couldn't survive these lies.

I had to do something.

Risk something to make a change.

If I tried to list his accomplishments we would be here into tomorrow, but in his forty years of service to the cause of world peace and our humanitarian mission, the crowning achievement would have to be his successful implementation and operation of Oil For Food.

Hi. I'm Trevor Owen from Oversight.

I spoke to John earlier.

Saddam's Palace Files.

Right, yeah.

Which boxes?

All of them.

They're sealed to the public, but as you're from oversight, and as long as you don't take anything with you...

...go crazy.

Thank you.

Mr. Passaris.

Job well done.

Thank you.


Where's Michael?

He's cleared his desk, sir.

I think I found it.

You know what we're gonna have to do?

Fuckin' family.

(shredder shredding papers)

My name is Michael Sullivan, and I have a story I think you're gonna wanna hear.

These are the raw numbers for how much money was involved, and that is billions, not millions.


And this is a list of everyone who received vouchers there, bribes and kickbacks.

You can corroborate the names with the deposit records right here with the list of contracts on file.

This is massive, Jesse.

You realize the minute this breaks you'll have a lot of enemies.

Yeah, I know.

We, uh, we could protect you, cite you as a confidential source.

No, anonymity is part of the problem.

If nobody takes responsibility for the truth then we are leaving it up to consensus I have to own it.

We begin this evening with the United Nations, the Oil For Food controversy, and scandal.

And the call on the part of the United States senator for the resignation of Kofi Annan.

Obviously these are serious allegations, which we take seriously.

The UN secretary general today ordered an investigation of Costa Passaris.

The former undersecretary who a whistleblower claims was behind the Oil For Food scandal that has rocked the United Nations, and implicated a long list of prominent businessmen, and political figures across the world.

Incompetent and corrupt.

Weaknesses in the Oil For Food program raises serious questions about the United Nations' ability to enforce sanctions and administer a humanitarian aid program in the future.

The documents The Telegraph have come up with were reportedly found in Iraq's foreign Ministry in the anarchic days after the US lead invasion.

The Wall Street Journal reports having documentation of kickbacks and bribes in the form of oil vouchers worth billions of dollars.

But according to federal authorities, Passaris himself has fled the country.




I'm with The Wall Street Journal.

We're doing a follow up on the Oil For Food scandal.

I've come to get your side of the story.

I don't have a side.

And it's the kid's fucking story.

I'm not running away, okay?

Make sure you write that.

Not hiding from anybody.

And yet here you are in a place without extradition.

It was difficult.

Write that.


Messy with Saddam's ugly nonsense and the usual first world duplicity, but we did more good than bad.

I don't care what anybody fucking says.

And the kid did great.

Michael: The choice as I see it is between cynicism and candor.

You know if everyone cared so much about Iraq as they said, then this story would have been celebrated as a conspiracy of saints.

But the truth...

the truth isn't about the lies we told each other.

It's about the lies we told ourselves.

Michael: More than two thousand companies from fifty-six different countries took bribes or paid kickbacks to Saddam Hussein.

Over twenty billion dollars got diverted from the Oil For Food Program.

Implicated were some of the most prestigious corporations in the world.

One hundred and seventy two organizations and individuals highly placed in their governments received bribes.

My name is Michael Sullivan.

My father was a diplomat.

I tried to follow in his footsteps.