TSR: "It's an obscenity -- abuse of contract workers in Iraq."
An incredible piece -- more than 1,000 men who were brought to Iraq for promised jobs with KBR have been quite literally warehoused at a compound at the Baghdad airport. Stranded, unable to leave, forgotten by everyone, these men are (as Michael says) the poorest of the poor, and have been victimized by companies who charged them large amounts of money for the 'opportunity.' It is an important issue that desperately needed to be brought to the public's attention.
WOLF BLITZER: A violent day in Iraq today. At least 22 people killed, including two U.S. soldiers. They're dead after a string of bombings. Nearly 200 others were wounded.
The deadliest strikes happened in the city of Fallujah, where two suicide bombers rammed oil tankers into Iraqi police posts, damaging a nearby school in the process. Many people are believed to be trapped in the rubble.
Meanwhile, CNN's Michael Ware is digging into the story about a Defense Department subcontractor confining laborers in rather terrible conditions for months on end. He's joining us now -- Michael, what's going on here, because this is pretty shocking stuff?
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. This is an appalling story. And it's unfolding still, even as I stand here, in the middle of the Iraqi night. What we have is about a thousand Asian contract laborers who are being all but confined here in the midst of a war zone by a Kuwaiti company subcontracted to the American KBR conglomerate. Here's their story.
WARE (voice-over): They say they feel like prisoners -- locked in a derelict warehouse for months on end, no salaries, poor food, and armed security guards prowling the fences. It's an obscenity -- abuse of contract workers in Iraq.
From India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Uganda, more than 1,000 men are penned here, lured to Baghdad with promises of jobs that did not exist. Even crueler, most paid for the privilege to come, selling farms or anything of value, told they had jobs waiting with American giant KBR.
All through Najlaa Catering Services, a Kuwaiti company whose officials in Iraq refused to comment, the Kuwaiti office saying only that the situation was under control and being dealt with. KBR says it abhors unethical behavior, insisting its contractors abide by its code of conduct and it alerts authorities when contractors do not.
But the Kuwaiti company who received these men from the recruiters shoved them in here -- a compound within Baghdad's airport, with showers without water and taps that are useless. Six hundred men who had hoped to send money to their families piled in one room -- as many as four to a bed -- and apparently all forgotten, a nuisance no one wanted to address.
Unable to stay without visas, they're unable to go without money.
(on camera): Is your government helping you? Is anybody helping you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing. Nothing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We didn't get anything.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing.
WARE (voice-over): And when they protested, the guards fired above to silence them. These Ugandans say Iraqi police handcuffed and beat them, though the police refused to comment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They said, okay, if you say you are here because of USA influence, we are going to show the difference between the Iraqi government and the U.S. government. We're going to -- let's see if the U.S. is going to help you.
WARE: And as they spoke to me, the manager who interns them locked them out for talking.
(on camera): Will you let these men back in?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
WARE: You will not let these men back in?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. No. I give them -- I give them two minutes. If not come back inside, that's it.
WARE: But if they talk to us, you won't let them in?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
WARE: That's not -- that's not right.
(voice-over): Other workers, duped by different agents, don't have a camp at all. These men shelter by this airport road in a wasteland -- living off food donated by Iraqi workers. The men who brought them here have disappeared. Their immigration status is in disarray -- passports taken or pages with visas torn out. They're stranded, forsaken.
The U.N. has visited and it says it's trying to help. But all are in limbo. The U.S. military says it takes human rights abuses seriously and is looking into the matter. The Iraqi government has just confiscated one of the company's official's passport until a solution is found. Until then, the world needs to be watching so they're not forgotten again.
WARE: And, Wolf, what we've just learned is that this scrutiny that the company is now under has provoked some action. What we hear from one of the workers in the camp tonight is that as many as four buses have appeared at the compound. And workers are being told to get on the buses to get out of the country. Indeed, this worker who we spoke to said that they've even been told that Iraqi police may be standing by with tear gas.
Now, these men are some of the poorest of the poor. They gave out money to come here and now, after months and months of internment, they may be forced out even poorer than when they arrived. We'll have to see if any of these companies can right any of the wrongs inflicted on these Asian workers -- Wolf.
BLITZER: We'll keep a spotlight on this story. It is shocking, indeed. And thank you, Michael, for doing that story for us. Michael Ware is our reporter in Baghdad.
Let's go to Jack Cafferty in New York. He's a great reporter and he's doing -- he's doing important work, showing the world what's going on.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: That's very, very sad. I -- you know, we've got some tough economic conditions in this country, but we are so, so well-off by comparison to almost every place else in the world. What a shame.