Rick Rowley’s “Dirty Wars” begins like a film noir piece. Journalist Jeremy Scahill’s (author of “Blackwater: the rise of the world’s most powerful mercenary army”) driving around the pitch-black deserted streets of Kabul at 4 a.m.
“A city of three million. Barely a streetlight on,” Scahill says.
Scahill’s investigating a series of night raids throughout the Middle East. They all had a similar modus operandi: Americans with muscles and beards would swarm into poor villages, wounding and killing men, women and children — including pregnant women with children.
“We called them the American Taliban,” someone says.
Directed and filmed by Rowley, the Academy Award-nominated documentary gives insight on a frightening operation, which Scahill describes as a “global stop and frisk program.” Essentially, a secretive U.S. government organization called the Joint Special Operations Command is given free reign to enact a global “Project Oversight.”
One of the victims was Mohammed Daoud, an Afghanistan police commander who trained under the U.S. and fought against the Taliban. The Americans killed his wife, sister and niece.
“I didn’t want to live anymore,” Daoud says to Scahill after the incident. “I wanted to wear a suicide jacket and bomb the Americans, but my father and brother won’t let me. I wanted jihad against the Americans.”
American forces disguised some of these attacks. NATO claimed they were the result of Taliban “honor killings”; the women and children were just accidental casualties, they said.
This, says Scahill, is the secret war on terror — the “dirty war.” The war’s so dirty that in a WIN/Gallup International poll, the U.S. was declared the No. 1 threat to world peace.
This dirty war continues with today’s targeted airstrikes against ISIS groups in Iraq. It’s a formality that journalist Glenn Greenwald describes as “prettily packaged under humanitarianism.”
“It is simply mystifying how anyone can look at U.S. actions in the Middle East and still believe that the goal of its military deployments is humanitarianism,” Greenwald writes in The Intercept. “The U.S. government does not oppose tyranny and violent oppression in the Middle East. To the contrary, it is and long has been American policy to do everything possible to subjugate the populations of that region with brutal force – as conclusively demonstrated by stalwart U.S. support for the region’s worst oppressors.”
After all, America’s been funding war, supplying weapons to both sides of conflicts.
Rowley’s documentary raises disturbing questions about the U.S. military agenda. Questions that Scahill voices and broadcasts.
“As an investigative reporter, you rarely have people’s attention,” says Scahill. “More often than not, you work alone. And the stories you labor over fall on deaf years.”
But every once in a while, someone listens.
“Dirty Wars” was directed by Rick Rowley and written by Jeremy Scahill and David Riker. “Dirty Wars” was nominated for Best Documentary in the 2014 Academy Awards.