A Review of Jeremy Scahill's "Dirty Wars"

A Review of Jeremy Scahill's "Dirty Wars"

Image source: geographicalimaginations.com
Image source: geographicalimaginations.com

I had the pleasure of watching the documentary, "Dirty Wars," by Jeremy Scahill. The film, in my view, affirms the conclusion that if the U.S. continues to fight this "war on terrorism" with its own acts of terrorism, then the security of the American public will remained threatened. We should take note of a natural human response to violence: revenge. When a person is killed, whether its a soldier or an innocent civilian, often there is a family member or friend who wishes death upon the responsible party. As Scahill points out in the documentary, the Obama administration has generated a "targeted kill list" that grew from a few names to hundreds of names and now thousands of names. The more people killed the more people who will be willing to spare their lives for revenge. There is a vicious cycle that even if the "war on terror" ends today, the effects of the U.S. government's violent acts will be felt for a long time.

Scahill focuses on a few events out of thousands of attacks that resulted in civilian casualties committed by the Obama Administration. The attacks were quick, without mercy, and intentionally covered up. Several witnesses of one attack described the soldiers as "muscular men and with beards" and witnessed how they dug the bullets out of the bodies of their victims with knives and then disappeared. It was later discovered that the soldiers were from a covert military operation organized by "JSOC," which stands for Joint Special Operations Command. JSOC is essentially the White House's own paramilitary organization, which operates without Congressional oversite.

Throughout Scahill's investigations, he begins to notice a commonality with many attacks. These clandestine attacks were undocumented by NATO and seemed to be committed by a ghost force. The documentary covers the case of the  Yemeni investigative journalist,  Abdulelah Haider Shaye, who reported the innocent civilians deaths from an attack in Majala, Yemen. It as later discovered that it was carried out by JSOC. Shaye was determined to expose Washington's reckless and gruesome operation. During the attack there were 14 innocent women and 21 innocent children were killed. About 7 months after exposing the culprit to several media outlets, Shaye was kidnapped and detained and sentenced to 5 years in jail in Yemen. There is strong evidence that indicates that Obama pressured Yemeni officials to remain in jail.
 
Another target on the administration's "kill list" was the American citizen, Anwar-al-Awlaki. Al-Awlaki was a muslim leader in the U.S. who was very sympathetic to the victims of the 9/11 attacks. But after the 9/11 attacks his feelings about America began to change and he became very critical of the treatment of muslims, U.S. foreign policy and the casualties committed by the U.S. military. The Obama administration considered him a threat to national security and so wanted him dead. Al-Awlaki went into hiding in the mountains of Yemen and was eventually killed by a drone attack. Two weeks after al-Awlaki's death, his 16 year old son, also an American citizen, was killed in another strike. This appears to have been a "pre-emptive" strike.

Unless the U.S. government and people take a good look in the mirror, there will never be an end to this "war on terror." It's perpetuation is a real "national security" threat. I encourage Americans to watch this film, to pay attention to the families whose loved ones have died and who live in constant fear of attacks or drone strikes, and to put yourself in their shoes. After the movie, two women from Code Pink, a peace organization fighting the U.S. drone program, spoke about how their families in Pakistan and Yemen live under the constant threat of drones flying over their neighborhoods. They asked the audience to try and imagine what it's like living under this threat. They encouraged us to get involved in the fight against U.S. dirty wars.

Andy Ford is a Baltimore resident and medical professional. Ford grew up in Arbutus, just outside of West Baltimore.