Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Run Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes, Not Rated
Written by David Riker, Jeremy Scahill
Directed by Rick Rowley (Black & Gold, The Fourth World War)
Jeremy Scahill is the kind of investigative journalist that we need to have more of. The National Security Correspondent for "The Nation" magazine, Scahill reports on important topics outside of the controlled net of most mainstream media sources. He is featured in the new documentary, Dirty Wars (opening today, a film co-written by Scahill), where his investigation deep inside Afghanistan reveals a covert war being waged by America, one that will leave you shocked.
Investigating a night raid on a small Afghan village that resulted in the death of a man and two pregnant women, Scahill follows the trail to discover that the raid was only one of a series, all that were kept out of the main press releases of military activity in the region. Turns out, there is a secret squad of the U.S. military that has little to no oversight, that has the authority to kill specific individuals suspected of terrorism or other crimes.
As if this wasn't bad enough, Scahill eventually learns that Anwar al-Awlaki is on the "kill list." The significance? Although he became popular with anti-American rhetoric, he was an American citizen. So without a trial, without going through the proper procedures of the law, an American citizen was targeted and assassinated.
Complicating public perception, the same elite force that Scahill alleges of being responsible for several of these secret strikes, ends up being praised when they are the same force that ends up raiding and killing Osama bin Laden.
Dirty Wars is refreshingly unbiased as far as "left" or "right" leanings. It does play out like an elongated Nightlinefeature, with Scahill immersing himself directly into the story. But it is fascinating. Nobody comes out clean or heroic in this film, perhaps besides Scahill himself.
It does bring about some mixed feelings. On one hand, you are left with the feeling that a man like Scahill is just not big enough to fight the mainstream media or the government, who are intent on these kinds of stories being spun or ignored completely. But on the other hand, Scahill fills us with hope. His existence and pertinence as a "progressive" journalist confirms that there are still journalists out there who haven't been bought and sold, who are willing to stand up to the powers-that-be.
Dirty Wars as a film is very compelling and at times saddening, but it's even more commendable as an example of good and focused journalism.
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