Playing out like a modern day ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN, the uncovering of a secret war is disturbing yet fascinating. Unfortunately DIRTY WARS succeeds more so due to its content than its somewhat slapdash execution. 

Investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill has been a war correspondent for over a decade covering the Middle East when he discovers a series of night raids being perpetuated by American soldiers where innocent civilians are being killed. 

One in particular in Gardez ended with the death of a US trained Police Commander and members of his family including 2 pregnant women. All were innocent. 

As he begins to unpeel the onion, the true story becomes even more disconcerting. Not only have there been numerous raids but the soldiers involved, have been covering them up. 

This leads Jeremy at great personal risk to uncover a special military force known as JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command). Lead by Commander William Mcraven, they are tasked with carrying out covert operations and answer directly to the President. 

Scahill attempts to expose this secretive military unit with little success, but much to his surprise, the U.S. government soon reveals JSOC to the public when they succeed at killing Osama Bin Laden. They are also tied to an assassination mission to take out Anwar al-Awlaki, a Yemeni-American U.S. citizen, who was eventually killed in 2011by a drone attack. In the weeks following his 16-year-old son was killed as well. 

What Scahill ultimately reveals is a hidden war going on behind the scenes where JSOC operations are being conducted in over 70 countries. Many of these countries, the U.S. is not in a declared war with. This is troubling on so many levels and says a lot about the true nature of America’s foreign policy. 

As a documentary, the information is compelling, but regrettably it could have been presented better. The progression of information is edited more for dramatic effect than for proper linear storytelling with lapses of proper connective tissue. But it’s a minor complaint, because at the end of the day, DIRTY WARS delivers on revealing a compelling quagmire of ethics and morality.


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FEBRUARY 19, 2014