Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield
Directed by Richard Rowley (2013)
In this highly troubling documentary (based on Cahill’s book by the same name), investigative journalist Jeremy Cahill describes how he first learned about the Joint Special Operations Campaign (JSOC). He describes in detail how all extrajudicial raids and killings increased substantially under Barack Obama (and Joe Biden, who directed his foreign policy), who used JSOC as their own private assassination squads.
Cahill first crossed paths with JSOC while investigating 2010 night raids killing Afghan civilians in rural areas under Taliban control. He was particularly concerned about a raid that occurred at Gardez, in which a police commander trained by the US and two pregnant women were killed. Surviving families referred to the bearded gunmen (with no apparent link to official US occupying forces) as the American Taliban. The Obama administration totally denied involvement in the Gardez massacre – until a cellphone video surfaced showing bearded English-speaking Americans searching and rearranging the bodies. At this point JSOC admitted responsibility and offered survivors a sacrificial goat as compensation.
During the period Cahill covered Afghanistan, JSOC undertook roughly 1700 night raids a month.
Cahill would go on to investigate similar JSOC night raids in Iraq, as well as illegal US drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen. The latter occurred well before US ally Saudi Arabia declared war on Yemen in 2015. The prominent Yemeni reporter Abdulelah Haider Shaye was arrested and imprisoned for exposing the U.S. cruise missile attack on the Yemeni village of al-Majalah that killed 41 people, including 14 women and 21 children in December 2009. Then Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh announced his intention to pardon Shaye. However he changed his mind after a personal phone call from Obama.
Scahill published a number of articles in the Nation and elsewhere about illegal CIA and special forces activities in Yemen, especially after the father of US citizen Anwar Alawki filed a 2010 lawsuit (with ACLU support) to stop Obama (who had placed him on the kill list) from assassinating him. Despite the suit and the publicity it generated (and a congressional bill seeking to ban extrajudicial assassinations of US citizens), Obama had no qualms about using JSOC to murder Alawki in with a drone strike September 2011 . Two years later, the president would also kill Alawki’s 16 year old son in a drone strike.
For me, the final section of the film was the most interesting. It begins by tracing Alawki’s history as an extremely popular imam in San Diego. Following 9-11, he and hundreds of other US Muslims faced growing harassment and persecution by the US government. In 2006, at the direction of the US government, Yemeni authorities imprisoned Alawki for 1 1/2 years.
Public library patrons can view the full film free at Beamafield.