Dirty Wars

Synopsis: Dirty Wars follows investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill, author of the international bestseller Blackwater, into the hidden world of America's covert wars, from Afghanistan to Yemen, Somalia, and beyond. Part action film and part detective story, Dirty Wars is a gripping journey into one of the most important and underreported stories of our time. What begins as a report on a deadly U.S. night raid in a remote corner of Afghanistan quickly turns into a global investigation of the secretive and powerful Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). As Scahill digs deeper into the activities of JSOC, he is pulled into a world of covert operations unknown to the public and carried out across the globe by men who do not exist on paper and will never appear before Congress. In military jargon, JSOC teams "find, fix, and finish" their targets, who are selected through a secret process. No target is off limits for the "kill list," including U.S. citizens.
Director(s): Rick Rowley
Production: IFC Films
  Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 10 wins & 6 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
87 min

Dirty Wars 2013

Kabul, Afghanistan,

00 in the morning.

As an American journalist,

I was used to filing stories

in the middle of the night.

But there's always

something eerie

driving through the

deserted streets.

A city of 3 million-

barely a streetlight on.

It was a familiar routine:

Waiting for the crew to

light up the night sky

so you could see something

in the background.

But could we really see?

Well, Keith, greetings

from Kabul, Afghanistan,

where the U.S. Ambassador

Karl Eikenberry...

This is a story about the seen

and the unseen...

And about things

hidden in plain sight.

It's hard to say when

this story began.

I'd been working

as a war reporter

for more than a decade

in Yugoslavia, Iraq,

and now Afghanistan.

After nearly ten years,

the war here wasn't

exactly breaking news.

I think there's, like-

there's, like, eight rakes.

One, two, three...

We haven't been out here.

What's the name of

this village out here?

Oh, I have no idea.

They all blend in for me.


What's the focus of

your campaign here?

In southern Nangarhar,

we're dealing with the Ashkar-


uh, Asherkeil tribe.

You know, the wording,

uh, I'll get right

probably when we leave

next year, but...

This was supposed to

be the front line

in the war on terror.

From Kabul out on an

exercise with the military

and back to Kabul,

the Afghan Press Corps

was locked in a bubble.

We were told that the

battle for hearts and minds

was being won

as soldiers dug wells

or drank tea with tribal elders.

But I knew I was

missing the story.

There was another war,

hinted at in press conferences

and detailed in each

morning's press release.

December 14th, Zabul Province,

a night raid.

Four Taliban killed,

three detained for questioning.

No civilians injured.

No one at NATO would

give us anything more

than the lists of

nighttime raids.

No one even seemed to know

who was doing the raids.

And I wasn't going to find

out if I stayed in Kabul.



This is the third raid in my district.

13 or 14 people

have been killed in all.

They were innocent people.

So what you're saying

is that the Americans

will come into a district

where you're the

police commander,

and they won't inform you

that they're gonna carry out

this kind of action

in your district.

I've asked the American

soldiers that come to my district.

But even the main

NATO base here says

they don't know

anything about the raids.

The troops came

from another base.

So there's the two-

the two men in the guesthouse

were the first people killed.

And then...

The farmer from here.

- Yeah.

- And then another farmer.


Two of his sons.


- Mm-hmm.

- Two of his sons.

So there's, I think-

so seven.

Or two-

- Two, two... four.

One farmer... five.

Two these...



The Americans will say anything.

The Americans will say anything,

everyone knows that.

If the Americans do this again,

we are ready to shed

our blood fighting them.

We would rather die than

sit by and do nothing.

The list of raids from

NATO press releases

read like a map of a hidden war.

The military divided the roads

in Afghanistan by color.

Green was safe.

Red was dangerous.

And black?

Don't even try it.

Most of the raids were happening

far beyond the green zone

in what the military

called "denied areas"...

Places where journalists

never show up

to ask questions.

NATO, the U.S. Embassy,

and my own better judgment

all advised against

traveling there.

But I'd read about

a raid in Gardez,

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David Riker

David Riker is an American screenwriter and film director. He is best known for his award-winning film The City (La Ciudad), a neo-realist film about the plight of Latin American immigrants living in New York City. Riker is also the writer and director of The Girl (2012), and the co-writer of the films Sleep Dealer (2008) and Dirty Wars (2013). Born in Boston, Riker moved to Brussels, Belgium, at the age of five, where he attended a French-speaking school. In 1973 his family moved to London, where he studied at The American School.Riker is a graduate of New York University's Graduate Film School where, in 1992, he made his first fictional film, The City (which became "The Puppeteer" story in the feature The City (La Ciudad) (1998)). The short received critical acclaim and, among other accolades, won the Gold Medal for Dramatic Film at the Student Academy Awards and the Student Film Award from the Directors Guild of America. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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