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Dirty Wars
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Dirty Wars (2013) More at IMDbPro »

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Dirty Wars -- It’s the dirty little secret of the War on Terror: all bets are off, and almost anything goes. We have fundamentally changed the rules of the game and the rules of engagement. Today drone strikes, night raids, and U.S. government–condoned torture occur in corners across the globe, generating unprecedented civilian casualties. Investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill traces the rise of the Joint Special Operations Command, the most secret fighting force in U.S. history, exposing operations carried out by men who do not exist on paper and will never appear before Congress. No target is off-limits for the JSOC “kill list,” even a U.S. citizen. Director Richard Rowley takes us on a chilling ride with whistle-blower Scahill. Dirty Wars is a battle cry for the soul and conscience of an America few of us know exists.


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Down 4% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
David Riker (writer)
Jeremy Scahill (writer)
View company contact information for Dirty Wars on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
18 October 2013 (Spain) See more »
A secret army. A war without end. A journalist determined to uncover the truth.
Investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill is pulled into an unexpected journey as he chases down the hidden truth behind America's expanding covert wars. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Nominated for Oscar. Another 10 wins & 5 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Just when you thought oil alone was filthy See more (48 total) »


Nasser Al Aulaqi ... Himself - Interviewee
Saleha Al Aulaqi ... Herself - Interviewee
Muqbal Al Kazemi ... Himself - Interviewee
Abdul Rahman Barman ... Himself - Interviewee
Saleh Bin Fareed ... Himself - Interviewee (as Sheikh Saleh Bin Fareed)
Andrew Exum ... Himself - Interviewee
Abdul Ghafoor ... Himself - Interviewee
Philip Giraldi ... Himself - Interviewee
Matthew Hoh ... Himself - Interviewee
Patrick Lang ... Himself - Interviewee

John McCain ... Himself (archive footage)
William McRaven ... Himself (archive footage)
Emile Nakhleh ... Himself - Interviewee
Malcolm Nance ... Himself - Interviewee

Barack Obama ... Himself (archive footage)
Mohamed Qanyare ... Himself - Interviewee
Mohammed Sabir ... Himself - Interviewee

Jeremy Scahill ... Himself
Anthony Allen Shaffer ... Himself - Interviewee (as Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer)
Hajji Sharabuddin ... Himself - Interviewee
Abdulelah Haider Shaye ... Himself - Interviewee
Hugh Shelton ... Himself - Interviewee
Yusuf Mohamed Siad ... Himself - Interviewee
Jerome Starkey ... Himself - Interviewee
Mohammed Tahir ... Himself - Interviewee
Ron Wyden ... Himself - Interviewee

Directed by
Rick Rowley 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
David Riker  writer
Jeremy Scahill  writer

Produced by
Anthony Arnove .... producer
Brenda Coughlin .... producer
Scott Roth .... executive producer
Jeremy Scahill .... producer
Jess Search .... executive producer
Jacqueline Soohen .... associate producer
Lauren Sutherland .... assistant producer
Randall Wallace .... executive producer
Sandra Whipham .... executive producer
Original Music by
David Harrington 
Cinematography by
Rick Rowley 
Film Editing by
David Riker 
Rick Rowley 
Art Department
James Franklin .... graphic designer
Sound Department
Julie Alexander .... audio transcriptions
Christopher Barnett .... sound designer
Christopher Barnett .... sound re-recording mixer
Christopher Barnett .... supervising sound editor
Danny Caccavo .... sound editorial support
Ryan J. Frias .... sound editorial support
Paul Frye .... adr recordist
Dmitri Makarov .... sound editorial support
Brandon Proctor .... sound re-recording mixer
Ric Schnupp .... adr mixer
Cathy Shirk .... post-production sound accountant
Visual Effects by
David Rowley .... digital intermediate technical direction and finishing
Editorial Department
Elizabeth Press .... additional editing
David Rowley .... colorist
Jacqueline Soohen .... assistant editor
Music Department
Laura Dean .... music recording engineer
Hank Dutt .... musician: viola
David Harrington .... music supervisor
David Harrington .... musician: violin
Kronos Quartet .... performed by
John Sherba .... musician: violin
Vân-Ánh Vanessa Võ .... musician
Terri Winston .... music recording engineer
Jeffrey Zeigler .... musician: cello
Other crew
Ryan Bishara .... intern
Josh Braun .... distribution advisor
Frank Dehn .... legal counsel
Ryan Devereaux .... additional research
Devon Landes .... archive
David Rice .... archive
Said Rifai .... production accountant
David Rowley .... graphic design & titles
David Rowley .... title design
Lauren Sutherland .... researcher
Fabien Westerhoff .... director of sales & distribution (hanway films )
Fabien Westerhoff .... worldwide sales: Hanway Films
Nancy Willen .... publicist
Spencer Ackerman .... thanks
Stephanie Ahn .... thanks
Matthieu Aikins .... thanks
Ashley Akunna .... thanks
Ammar Al Aulaqi .... thanks
Nasser Al Aulaqi .... thanks (as Abir Nasser Al Aulaqi)
Omar Al Aulaqi .... thanks
Mohammed Al Basha .... thanks
Claire and Rennie Alba .... thanks
Mohammed Albasha .... thanks
Brendan Allen .... thanks
Marc Ambinder .... thanks
Kellan Anderson .... thanks
Iris Andrews .... thanks
Shani Ankori .... special thanks: IFC Films / Sundance Selects
Nathan Appel .... thanks
Alexandra Avakian .... thanks
Daniel Avery .... thanks
Neal Baer .... thanks
Haykal Bafana .... thanks
Geoff Bailey .... thanks
Ben Baker .... thanks
Ruth Baldwin .... thanks
Amir Bar-Lev .... thanks
Allison Barlow .... thanks
Joslyn Barnes .... special thanks
Elizabeth Benjamin .... thanks
Medea Benjamin .... thanks
Terry Bennett .... thanks
Phil Benson .... thanks
Suzan Beraza .... thanks
Sean Berney .... special thanks: IFC Films / Sundance Selects
Geoff Betts .... thanks
Andy Bichlbaum .... thanks
David Bither .... thanks
Drew Blasingame .... thanks
Arianna Bocco .... special thanks: IFC Films / Sundance Selects
Ron Bochar .... thanks
Boikutt .... thanks
Mark Boxer .... special thanks: IFC Films / Sundance Selects
Elizabeth Brambilla .... special thanks: IFC Films / Sundance Selects
Brandon Bussinger .... thanks
Nick Camacho .... special thanks: IFC Films / Sundance Selects
Bonni Cohen .... special thanks
Harbor Picture Company .... thanks
John Cooper .... thanks
David Courier .... thanks
Kristin Feeley .... special thanks
Greg Fornero .... thanks
Isabel Freer .... thanks
Howard Gertler .... special thanks
Trevor Groth .... thanks
Isaac Guenard .... thanks
Matthew Hamachek .... thanks
Joe Hobaica .... thanks
Joy Holloway-D'Avilar .... thanks
Jameel Jaffer .... special thanks
Sam Jaspersohn .... thanks
Sanjay Kak .... thanks
Kim Kalyka .... special thanks: IFC Films / Sundance Selects
Pardiss Kebriaei .... special thanks
Huma Khan .... special thanks: IFC Films / Sundance Selects
Caroline Libresco .... thanks
Rebecca Lichtenfeld .... special thanks
Mary Martin .... thanks
Leslie Mayer .... thanks
David Menschel .... special thanks
Cara Mertes .... special thanks
Michael Moore .... special thanks
Frank Moshier .... special thanks: IFC Films / Sundance Selects
Benny Mouthon .... thanks
Sheloa Nichols .... thanks
Larry Oatfield .... thanks (as E. Larry Oatfield)
Brian Reali .... thanks
Jennifer Robinson .... special thanks
Betsy Rodgers .... special thanks: IFC Films / Sundance Selects
Talia Rubino .... thanks
Wade Rudolph .... thanks
James Schamus .... special thanks
Lauren Schwartz .... special thanks: IFC Films / Sundance Selects
Liliana Segura .... special thanks
Jonathan Sehring .... special thanks: IFC Films / Sundance Selects
Hina Shamsi .... special thanks
Lisa Smith-Reed .... special thanks (as Lisa Smith)
Glenn Snyder .... thanks
Neil Strumingher .... thanks
Dan Summer .... thanks
Justin Szalczyk .... special thanks: IFC Films / Sundance Selects
Tony Tabatznik .... special thanks
Mary Tackett .... thanks
Technicolor .... thanks
Randy Thom .... thanks
John Vanco .... special thanks: IFC Films / Sundance Selects
Michael Watt .... special thanks
Ryan Werner .... special thanks: IFC Films / Sundance Selects

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Additional Details

Also Known As:
87 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »

Did You Know?

Miscellaneous: The clock on the wall of the home video was earlier during the party, NOT at the moment the house was attacked.See more »
Jeremy Scahill:How does a war like this ever end?See more »
Movie Connections:


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12 out of 16 people found the following review useful.
Just when you thought oil alone was filthy, 28 January 2014
Author: Steve Pulaski from United States

Investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill was on Real Time With Bill Maher a few months ago and when he was explaining to Maher how baffled he was that President Barack Obama could "sell" conservative ideas of drones to liberals is when I knew I wanted to know more about his methods and his thinking. He perfectly articulates a point that is worth questioning on why Obama would claim to want the people to have a transparent government when methods and legislation on things like drones are so shady and gray. But Scahill's documentary Dirty Wars doesn't explore this idea but puts a magnifying glass on the ambiguous term the "War on Terror," which Americans are constantly told is the third war they are fighting. It's hard to follow the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq with the abundance of confusion, misinformation, and disorganization that has come in the way of reporting them, so how difficult is it to follow one that really doesn't have a specific enemy.

A little footnote: my generation has lived two-thirds where war, conflict, and high-level recruitment are prominent aspects of our society. With the War on Terror, however, Scahill illustrates how the United States has effectively worked themselves into a war that may never end. It has gotten to the point where there is no such thing as "declaring war" anymore, at least for the United States. We simply act with impunity, utilize unmanned drones to spy and attack suspicious countries, and act with a deplorable sense of recklessness. The War on Terror element of American foreign policy is the equivalent of a knee-jerk reaction and placing a lever that can launch bombs, deploy drones, and attack countries in the hand of someone with a violent and unpredictable arm-spasm.

What happened? How did it get like this? How did the United States, the country that believes it should be looked up to by other countries, get like this and become this controlling and involved? Scahill attempts to provide not really answers but temporary responses to these questions as he explores the land of Kabul, Afghanistan, investigating a raid in a village known as Khataba where five innocent civilians, two of them pregnant women, were killed by the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). Scahill talks with JSOC, who have been given an immense amount of power under Obama, and is even lucky enough to speak with a specific member of the command who's voice and image is disguised to obviously protect identity. When Scahill asks if they were given more power Obama, for confirmation of his beliefs, the man replies, "we were permitted to attack harder, faster, and quicker with the full support of the White House." Also attempted to piece together is the reason President Obama authorized the killing of American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen, which also prompted attacks on a poor village in Yemen, as if skipping the step of declaring and diving right in to the act of war.

Dirty Wars is only eighty-two minutes long, but stuffs so much information, details, and insider information into its time-frame that it could almost be an hour longer. In efforts to try and coherently illustrate how the War on Terror effects other countries, Scahill sort of takes us on the exhausting and tireless journey of what it means to be an investigative journalists. Not only is it about asking tough questions, but it's about piecing the information together yourself. We see long stretches of day and night are spent with Scahill, by himself, drawing a cohesive timeline of events and piecing together exactly what it means to be on the frontlines of danger.

Because of this, Dirty Wars is edited together to be reminiscent of an espionage or a large-scale thriller, with familiar music cues, scenes capturing the intensity of a certain situations, and the globe-trotting aspect conducted with dramatic effect. This would be an issue if working in Afghanistan and traveling to countries like Iraq, Somalia, and Yemen weren't so similar to that of a thriller. The slickness of the editing and the espionage-undertones work in the films favor because they are only making the sequences out to be a bit more suspenseful than they already are. The scenes are inherently suspenseful and to capture them in this way doesn't seem so much as an attempt to sensationalize that but just provide a touch of emphasis on their behalf. Even early on, Scahill tells us through narration that the roads in Afghanistan are marked by color. Green is a safe zone, red is a danger zone, and with black, "don't even try it," he states. Going on to say how "the Taliban rule the night in Afghanistan," you tell me, is it so bad that Dirty Wars plays itself a bit like a thriller? Dirty Wars is a strong work of investigative journalism not because it focuses on a person with the title but because in addition to shedding light (or at least trying to erase some of the grayness) on the War on Terror aspect of American foreign policy it shows the methods investigative journalists take in order to get their information released to the public. It's a constant grind from beginning-to-end, that comes with the soul-crushing and frustrating conclusion that you can work for years and still never get a clear answer or even an explanation as to why this kind of thing happens.

Starring: Jeremy Scahill. Directed by: Richard Rowley.

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Recent Posts (updated daily)User
Awful work! MagicDick
This film wins the award for most dishonest title ever. bryanmillsfist
Obama won his Nobel Peace Prize for what exactly? Buckster69
Al-Awlaki financed the terror attacks in France last week nickrock23
When does a war on terror end = 8 joelgibbo7
A question about Scahill's discovery of JSOC evenpimpscry
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