Starring: Jeremy Scahill, Adbul Ghafoor Mohamed, Raouf Hikal
Directed by: Rick Rowley (“Zapatista”)
Written by: Jeremy Scahill (debut) and David Riker (“The Girl”)
The U.S. needs more investigative journalists like Jeremy Scahill and Rick Rowley. In their hard-hitting and shocking documentary “Dirty Wars,” the two whistleblowers uncover a long history of covert night raids the U.S. military executes under the command of the JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command). Most Americans now know that SEAL Team Six, the operatives who killed Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011, is under the JSOC umbrella. While the heroic story of SEAL Team Six has not gone unnoticed, many times other similar special missions end with the killing of innocent women and children. Obviously, that isn’t a narrative the U.S. government wants people to know about. With “Dirty Wars,” Scahill and Rowley drag the military out from the shadows and argue that these type of top-secret attacks in the dead of night (and many times performed with bad intelligence) should be public information, especially since no one is being held accountable when the mission fails and innocent lives are lost.
Best known for exposing the controversial actions of the private military contractor Blackwater in his 2007 bestselling book Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, Scahill finds a new target in the JSOC. The film starts with him investigating the deaths of two pregnant women and a U.S. military-trained senior police commander in Afghanistan. The JSOC soldiers (referred to as American Taliban by the Afghans) who killed the women and officer, thought they were infiltrating a house filled with terrorists.
While Scahill testified in front of the U.S. Congress about the event, it seemed like politicians found it easier to explain the deaths as being in the “wrong place, wrong time.” Congress wasn’t interested in knowing where the ball was dropped and there was no investigation. Scahill, however, knew this was not an isolated incident. He finds out – in any given year – there are over 1,700 night raids in Afghanistan alone. Not to mention, a list of the people killed during these raids is impossible to find. Scahill and Rowley want to know what JSOC has to hide.
“Dirty Wars” is fascinating in its presentation of facts and chilling footage. When Scahill and Rowley hit the ground in Yemen to ask questions about American terrorist Anwar Al-Awlaki and the death of his 16-year-old son, who had no ties to terrorism, you know they will be stonewalled, but hope there is a way they can find some answers. Dead Afghan babies shouldn’t be considered collateral damage. Scahill and Rowely want the U.S. government to know that just because something is out of sight like covert night raids, doesn’t mean it’s out of mind. With “Dirty Wars” they’ve definitely forced people to step back and take notice.