Dirty Wars

June 30, 2013 at 6:50 pm | Posted in 2013 | Leave a comment
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This sober documentary examines our government’s on-going redefinition of “war.”  Perpetually melancholy journalist, Jeremy Scahill, seems to be the perfect narrator to take the audience down the rabbit hole and into the dark world of 21st Century warfare.  Starting with an American massacre of Afghani citizens, including two pregnant women, Scahill follows a trail of breadcrumbs in what is a surprisingly suspenseful narrative as he tries to uncover who was behind the massacre and why.  What he discovers is a military task force called The Joint Special Operations Command, or J-SOC, that bypasses the whole military command structure and reports directly to the president.  Under his direct command (it is assumed), J-SOC violates all existing laws of war, carrying out assassinations when and where it wants, including in countries with whom we are not at war.  Scahill cleverly ups the ante with each revelation, creating an effective narrative of an American Executive with immense power to kill at will.  He concluded with the deaths of Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16 year old son, both American citizens, assassinated without trial and without the U.S. Government providing any evidence of guilt to anything.  Al-Awlaki was guilty of speaking out against the U.S., this we do know, but if there is any proof of a capital crime, the government isn’t sharing.  And it is hard to imagine what his son, who was killed a couple of weeks later, could possibly be guilty of.  Where in this country is it legal to give the death penalty to a 16 year old?  And yet, J-SOC (presumably with the president’s approval) murdered a 16 year old U.S. citizen without a trial.  None of this is denied by the government, by the way.  J-SOC and it’s killings of al-Awlaki and his son are publicly acknowledged.   Scahill prompts us to reflect on the long-term implications of this approach and the possibility of being in a state of perpetual war.  The implications are deeply troubling.

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