Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Rowley/Riker/Scahill documentary DIRTY WARS indicts America's covert, illegal actions

What a surprise and something of a joy it is -- despite the subject at hand -- to see some real investigative reporting hit the screen again. We've had plenty of decent documentaries of late that have tried to ferret out the truth on all sorts of subjects. But TrustMovies surmises that journalist Jeremy Scahill must come from a background of, and thus care deeply about, good solid reporting skills. Watching and listening to the movie DIRTY WARS (based on Scahill's book of  the same name), co-written by Scahill and David Riker and directed by Rick Rowley, is an invigorating experience because of the enormous ground it manages to cover in but 87 minutes, and how Scahill and his crew connect the dots, dot their i's and cross their t's, in the process allowing us discover, just as Scahill did, what is going on -- torture, murder, drone strikes that wipe out families by accident and are then "covered up" -- in places/nations with whom we, the United States of America, are supposedly not at war.

The film-making trio (Scahill is shown above, right, with Riker at left and Rowley, center) take us to various spots where these covert wars are occurring -- Afghanistan (weren't we finished there?), Yemen, Somalia -- during which we watch as our government targets an American citizen and kills him, and then later kills his teen-age son. Yes, this guy was a Muslim cleric who was saying some very anti-American things (hey, so do I, just in case this turns out to be my good-bye). But his teen-age son? Prior to the killing, the man's father tried suing our government to make it stop the "hit." Seeing the grandfather speak now with Scahill should make you not just sad but damned angry.

Scahill (above) understands how to delve. He uncovers evidence of our cover-ups, as well as evidence that wasn't ever bothered to be covered-up, so secure were the assassins in their sense of entitlement, as well as the fact that, well, nobody really cares.

We learn of a formerly secret and still all-powerful group called the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) along with the fellow who leads it. Scahill weaves this together particularly well, as the leader appears first here, then there, and finally... well, you'll see and understand. The film, were it not so filled with events that should make you thoroughly disgusted, has enough elements of a mystery thriller to hold you pretty much spellbound.

Viewing and hearing of some of the innocent families (above and below) who've been destroyed -- let's hope purely by accident -- it is quite easy to believe that, as one of the few family members left alive explains, with this behavior, the U.S. is simply breeding new terrorists. I would suggest that this seems to be what we want. We'll need plenty of new ones in order to justify our military/industrial complex's continued demand for constant war, stemming from our need to control ever more natural resources. President Eisenhower would be appalled, while offering an I told you so.

There is so much more to this fine and important film than I have begun to cover here. That's because I am currently away and working remotely and left all my notes from viewing Dirty Wars at home. Apologies. But I hope I've told you enough to entice you to view. It's so easy, too, as the film -- from Sundance Selects -- is now available via Netflix streaming (and elsewhere). If you don't have Netflix streaming, the documentary will be coming back to theaters for a week's run at the Maysles Cinema in Harlem, beginning Wednesday, November 20, through Thursday, November 26, each evening at 7:30. Click here for details.

Photos above are from the film itself, with the exception 
of that of the filmmakers, which is by Natalie Cass 
and comes courtesy of

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