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High-End Shopping in a War Zone

Stop-lossed Austin soldier's latest video shows the other way contractors make money out of troops in Iraq

By Richard Whittaker, 12:06PM, Wed. Nov. 19, 2008

Psst. Wanna buy a flat-screen TV? Or a muscle car? Just try joining the Army and go to Iraq.

Austinite and videographer U.S. Army Spc. Casey Porter has already gained a national reputation for his mini-documentaries exposing the insanities, inanities and mismanagement of the war in Iraq. His latest has just hit YouTube, and it's a doozy.

What Porter shows is the post exchange or camp store at Camp Taji, a forward firebase in Iraq. Don't expect some small stack of essentials: This 29,000 square foot emporium is like Best Buy with incoming shells. Yes, come straight off a patrol and drop your salary on Guitar Hero or a pair of $900 sunglasses. Don't think that's insane enough? At 4:58 on the video, check out the poster for limited edition Pizza Hut Iraq collectibles.

Porter explains, "We were talking about these younger soldiers, about how they're being taken advantage of and don't have quality leadership."

What's worrying is that the same big military contractors that have been raising eyebrows about appropriations get slots in these stores. The big question Porter raises: Why is the U.S. Military putting overpriced toys in front of stressed, frazzled and underpaid troops in a combat zone?

Not that Porter doesn't have his own self-indulgences: Over the summer he picked up Law & Order Special Victims Unit season 6 on DVD. Not that he's turned his back on core Law & Order: His favorite episode is the one where "The impossibly beautiful DA serves a subpoena on Donald Rumsfeld."

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