new film - Dirty Wars: Hidden truth of Covert US warfare


Padawan Learner
[Apologies if this has been shared elsewhere on the forum, I couldn't see it]

Just been made aware of a new film:

Dirty Wars: Jeremy Scahill and Rick Rowley’s New Film Exposes Hidden Truths of Covert U.S. Warfare

Not seen the film yet but watched this interview with the makers, Jeremy Scahill and Rick Rowley. Tremendous stuff

They talk about the black ops that operate in the US government - top level CIA agencies who carry out assassinations from "kill lists" - the people behind the Osama take out. They actually go into territories that hardly any other journalists go, and conduct their own research as to what went down.

Someone needs to make a similar film about Britain.

As far I’m concerned, it’s not even conspiracy – it’s just fact. See what you think.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Yeah, looks like an interesting film and hope that it is playing in my city when it opens. If not, I plan to buy it. Also in April a book titled 'Dirty Wars' by one of the creators is coming out written from the four years of research that went into making the film.


FOTCM Member
That last comment from Scahill says it all: former members of the Bush gang are now responding to accusations of torturing people by pointing out that they at least kept them alive in one location... whereas under Obama, US Special Forces are just going into any home in any country they like and are shooting everyone on sight. 30,000 raids across Afghanistan alone.

As Scahill said: "William McRaven, commander of US Special Forces is THE most powerful figure in the US military. He is in charge of the most elite force the US has ever produced and he has been given carte blanche to do what he believes is right around the world, empowered much more under President Obama than they were under President Bush."

Remember the days when Cheney had his itsy-bitsy Executive Assassination Ring?... Team Obama gets together every Tuesday (referred internally as 'Terror Tuesday') to pass around specially-made baseball cards depicting 'terror suspects' that are picked out from a list of THOUSANDS of people who are marked for elimination.


Padawan Learner
That's right, Kniall. The makers really do say so much about so little.

I'm currently massively interested in the CIA and it's operations. In conjunction with Fletcher Prouty, somebody recently turned me on to Operation Gladio. By doing some research I came across this:

There's also a BBC 1 documentary about Operation Gladio, on youtube, from about 1992. Secrets Operations often become declassified when it is deemed that nobody really cares, or the current population don't know what to do with the knowledge.


Dagobah Resident
I watched this 83 minute DVD "Dirty Wars" last night and thought it was very good.

Before "Dirty Wars", Jeremy Scahill came into the media spotlight for exposing the extent of the use of private Blackwater operations in Iraq. He mentions how he found the media talkshow following his reporting on Blackwater to be more like a boxing match than a revealing of the truth.

In "Dirty Wars", he visits a small Afghan village outside the relatively safe "green zone", to try and do some "real journalism" rather than remaining as an embedded journalist and passing on the stories handed-out to embedded journalists by the military.

In the village, he talks to an Afghan family who were attacked by US special forces (JSOC), killing one man and three women. The family had video footage of their domestic life the night of the attack, where they had been having a late night celebrating something and doing traditional dancing. Then later that night when they heard a disturbance, the man who had been dancing went out the door to see what it was and was shot.

Scahill's documentary footage humanizes the populations that are being attacked, showing that they are real human families and not just statistics of collateral damage.

One of his themes is how the war on terror is a self-fulfilling prophecy. You might start with a deck of 52 cards of targets, but every time you mistakenly kill an innocent family, you expand the number of your enemies so that by the time you are halfway through the deck of cards, you now have a kill list of 3000 names.

Another example of the self-fulfilling nature is the American born muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in Yemen by a US drone strike, and then shortly afterwards his 16 year old son was also killed. Scahill talks with al-Awlaki's father in Yemen while Anwar al-Awlaki is still alive. The father is about the issue of whether it is Constitutional to assassinate US citizens without trial for views they are expressing when they are not operationally involved in terrorism. Scahill also outlines, using recorded footage of Anwar al-Awlaki in America, the path taken from all-American kid (with photos at Disneyland), to a moderate Muslim cleric living in the USA, who outspoken against any kind of life-for-life retaliation against Americans after 9/11, to an Osama bin Laden like promoter of Jihad.

Also while in Yemen, Scahill goes to a Bedouin camp that was targeted by a US cruise missile. The initial media reporting of this incident was that it was an Al Quaeda training camp that had been attacked by Yemeni government forces. A Yemeni reporter who went to the site shortly after the attack reported that it was a Bedouin camp that had been attacked by the US. He was imprisoned by the Yemeni authorities the next day. There were protests by Yemeni against his imprisonment and campaigns for his release. The Yemeni leader (king?) was going to release the journalist, but then received word from President Obama advising against releasing him. Scahill tracks down this Presidential memo.

The US special forces JSOC have had their funding increased by several billion dollars under the Obama administration. One anonymous Special Forces operative interviewed made a comment that JSOC was like a giant hammer, and as long as that hammer existed, it was always going to be looking for a nail.

I thought Scahill made a bit much of JSOC being mysterious and unknown until the alleged killing of Osama Bin Laden was announced to be a JSOC operation. Robert Kaplan's 2005 book Imperial Grunts: The American Military on the Ground describes similar Special Operations forces of in Afghanistan, although they are described as JSOTF (Joint Special Operations Task Force) rather than JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command).

In contrast to Scahill's film, Kaplan's book is more of an admiring look at the Special Operations forces, and how innovative their use is in difficult circumstances. Here is a quote from Kaplan's book:

Maj. Holiday smiled, deliberately rubbing his chin. [. . .] "Afghanistan is not like other countries. It's a throwback. You've got to compromise and go a little native. Another thing," he went on, "ever since 5th Group was here in '01, Afghans have learned not to tangle with the bearded Americans. Afghanistan needs more SF, less conventional troops, but it's not that easy because SF is already overstretched in its deployments."

Holiday had a tough, lonely job. He was the middleman between the firebase and Bagram. Bagram wanted no beads, no alcohol, no porn, no pets, and very safe, well-thought-out missions. The guys here wanted to go wild and crazy, breaking all the rules just as 5th Group had done in the early days of the War on Terrorism, before the CJTF-180 was stood up; before the Big Army entered the picture, with its love of regulations and hatred of dynamic risk.
-Kaplan, Robert Imperial Grunts(NY: Random House, 2005) page 210.

Scahill also mentions how he received a phone call advising him against releasing a story several hours before he was about to release it, and how his computer was hacked and part of his hard-drive copies.

The extra on the DVD goes into the process of how difficult it is for an embedded journalist to take the extra step to get an independent viewpoint. From being in a position where you are fed stories daily, accompanied by all the visual and video footage you need, you have to ring your producer, tell them you are going to need extra money to go out on your own, as you will need to hire some extra guides, who will want to be paid. Also you will have to tell your producer you won't be able to send in daily stories anymore, but possibly you might come up with a story at some unknown point in time, which might or might not attract much attention, or alternatively you might be killed, for which the producer might then be held partly liable also.


FOTCM Member
I watched it recently, it was quite depressing to see how they can just kill innocent civilians and get away with it. The guy who contacted Scahill to offer more information about JSOC said "We're now seeing the effects of covert interventions in countries on multiple continents without any thought of future repercussions and it's radically expanded. At one point it was 40 countries, it has now expanded to 75 and there are dozens if not hundreds of current operations." The number of countries and operations is probably much higher now.

The part about 'Special Forces' killing several Afghan civilians, who were celebrating the naming of a newborn son in their home, was heartbreaking. There is a recent article by Scahill on this:

Death squads: Pentagon investigation finds 2010 Afghan raid that killed pregnant women and ripped bullets out of their bodies was "appropriate use of force"

You can see how they try to come up with different narratives as to what happened. It's insane that the US soldiers used a knife to take out the bullets, trying to remove evidence that way.

How can they not know that these people were not terrorists? Were these innocent civilians deliberately attacked or is their method of tracking terrorists (that they trained and funded themselves) incredibly (or deliberately) ineffective? They just kill "for the fun of it", to create more chaos, insecurity and fear among the people? These kind of night raids happen frequently, with many innocent people being killed.

Then there was the drone attack in Yemen that you mentioned Mal7, in a remote area, with all the evidence still on the ground that it was a US drone attack. And Obama personally called the president to not release the journalist who was ready to expose this. Sad and horrible to see how little the PTB care about anyone on this planet.

Approaching Infinity

FOTCM Member
FYI, another perspective on the film:

Dirty Wars is the title of a new fluff documentary film released earlier this month, claiming to document the covert US actions in Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and elsewhere in the name of the phoney “War on Terror.”

The documentary has already won raves, predictably enough, from Scahill's colleagues at the Nation and Democracy Now, as well as other sympathetic mainstream “progressive” outlets. It has even brought Scahill himself a certain level of celebrity in mainstream circles. His mainstream pop culture icon status was cemented during his recent appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

But is Scahill's documentary worthy of the endless praise that is being heaped on it? Is mainstream media’s new favorite, Scahill, deliberately dumbing down the movie? What is Scahill aiming at by focusing on interminable close-ups of himself and using emotional manipulation to “grip” the audience, pretending to not know about the existence of JSOC? Why does the CIA—the organization that has been the lynchpin of all such operations in the past and has a documented history of military assets for plausible deniability in denying involvement in such actions—get off scot-free in this 90 minute “exposé” of the war on terror?

Audio of the interview:

And link to Douglas Valentine's article:


FOTCM Member
Thanks AI. I think Douglas makes some good points, Scahill definitely didn't mention everything; financing and training of terrorists by the West, reasons for invasion and occupation or meddling in affairs (access to natural resources, Russia), how Congress is involved, CIA's operations and he didn't mention many other (covert) attacks by the US in other countries. Maybe he didn't know about these things or maybe he deliberately left these things out.

But, TBH, I don't know much about him and learned about the film only recently, but the overall message I got from his film is that there are western organisations that participate in 'operations' abroad with many civilians dying as a result. There were a lot of close-ups and there could be some self-indulgence involved, but I do think he made some interesting points in that film that I think the majority of the people on this planet probably don't know about, so in that sense, I think it's good. (I didn't know about JSOC :-[)


Using the material gathered by Starkey (whom he eventually acknowledges), JS shows that in February 2010, American soldiers murdered five people in Gardez, including two pregnant women, and tried to cover it up by digging the bullets out of the targeted man’s body. He interviews the surviving family members. They weep. Violin music plays. They seem more like props than human beings.

B-take of JS sipping tea thoughtfully. He’s going to talk to the most powerful man in South Yemen. We view of scene of a drone strike: 46 killed, including five pregnant women. A woman in a black veil says her entire family, save one daughter, were wiped out. Violin music.

Okay, they may have been used as props. But to be honest, there are a lot of people who are murdered this way and never are mentioned. Look at the recent terrorist attacks in Europe, after each attack an article pops up with the names of the people who had died. People don't know who dies in countries abroad, and rarely do they find any justice. So the people in Gardez were offered a sheep, a sheep is not going to bring back their family members; others rarely get an apology; most don't even make the news. In this case, whether the family members were used or not, their story got out and it gives a bit more awareness that these things happen (or so I hope!). I know that if I were in their shoes, I would want the people to know what their governments are doing (if only for their protection).

I don't know a lot myself and I could be biased, but that's my current take on it, FWIW!


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
[quote author= Oxajil]At one point it was 40 countries, it has now expanded to 75 and there are dozens if not hundreds of current operations." The number of countries and operations is probably much higher now.[/quote]

That number is just staggering. There are around 200 countries in the world. The US murders in almost half of them indiscriminately, if not more. You could call that a world war in a sense that the US is waging against the world.
Top Bottom