Sunday, February 23, 2014

DIRTY WARS - 1 nomination


Documentary Feature - Richard Rowley and Jeremy Scahill

The Joint Special Operation Command is the focus of an investigation being conducted by Jeremy Scahill, war correspondent.  In the film, we learn that the JSOC is a division of the American military that conducts its work in secret and apparently, without limitations or oversight.  The film is a condemnation of this kind of work, and especially when it follows the murders of members of a family of bystanders who seemingly have no connection to terror activities.

From what we can tell, the work seems amoral, without reason and too secretive to have integrity.  The notion of a "kill list" which not only includes foreigners but Americans, as well, is almost too cinematic to be real.  There are several former military talking heads in the film who confirm that the JSOC does indeed have a wide berth in which they are allowed to operate and make secret decisions, and it isn't clear whether those choices are taken to any sort of military chain of command, including the Commander-in-Chief.  (spoiler alert - neither Democrats nor Republicans have the moral high ground here - these operations have been taking place for decades covering Presidents from both sides of the aisle, so please save your commentary along these political lines for someone else's, or your own, blog)

It would be simplistic to condemn these actions and fall down the rabbit hole with Scahill as though there isn't a very real war on terrorism abroad, particularly in the countries where the majority of the operations have been carried out.  This film is important because of this dilemma - we know that there are people who are targeting America and Americans, we know that there are terrorists in the world, and we know that not everyone being targeted is indeed a terrorist.  So we must try to figure out what's moral, what's important, and what's legitimate use of force, and we must do that while we know full well that we can't ever know what the decision-makers know without levels of government clearance that most of us will never have.

For me, the documentary failed to acknowledge that there are things that we don't know, and that some of those things are critical for evaluating the actions of the JSOC, but it is hard to escape the eerie sense that there are people who are over empowered to do what they like, potentially without justification or rationality.

Haven't seen the film?
Watch the Dirty Wars Movie Trailer

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