Dirty Wars (2013)
Muqbal Al Kazemi - Interviewee: If children are terrorists then we are all terrorists.
Mohamed Qanyare - Interviewee: America knows war. They are war masters.
Jeremy Scahill: What happens to us when we finally see what is hidden in plain sight?
Mohammed Sabir - Interviewee: The Americans will say anything. Everyone knows that.
Ron Wyden - Interviewee: It's important for the American people to know when the president can kill an American citizen and when they can't.
Jeremy Scahill: This is a story about the seen and the unseen, and about things hidden in plain sight.
Yusuf Mohamed Siad - Interviewee: When you are fighting the enemy, any option is open.
Jeremy Scahill: Kabul, Afghanistan, four in the morning. As an American jounalist I was used to finding stories in the middle of the night. But there is always something eerie, driving through the deserted streets. A city of three million, barely a streetlight on. There was a familiar routine, waiting for the crew to light up the next set so that you could see something in the background. But what could we really see?
Jeremy Scahill: No one at NATO would give us anything more than a list of night-time raids. No one even seemed to know who was doing the raids. And I wasn't going to find out if I kept staying in Kabul.
Mohammed Sabir - Interviewee: [speaks Pashto, translation reads] They killed three women along with Zahir. My wife, my sister, and my niece. Look at these patched bullet holes.
Mohammed Sabir - Interviewee: [speaks Pashto, translation reads] The American forces came between 3:30 and 4:00 am. Daoud went to see what was happening. He thought the Taliban had come. They were already on the roof. They shot Daoud as soon as he stepped outside.
Jeremy Scahill: Was Mr. Daoud killed immediately, or did he live a while after he was shot?
Mohammed Sabir - Interviewee: [speaks Pashto, translation reads] Daoud and my sister-in-law were alive until 7:00 am. They didn't let us take them to the hospital. The Americans used knives to dig the bullets out of their bodies.
Jeremy Scahill: *You saw* the US forces take the bullets out of the body?
Mohammed Sabir - Interviewee: [translation] Yes.
Jeremy Scahill: There was little official record. But JSOC was formed in 1980, after the failed hostage-rescue mission in Iran. It was designed as the most covert unit in the military, and the only one that reports directly to the White House.
Jeremy Scahill: The Joint Specials Operations Command had never numbered more than a few thousand. But under William McRaven Afghanistan had become JSOC's war. How had such a small covert unit taken over the largest conventional war on the planet?
Jeremy Scahill: I discovered that over the past decade a series of secret presidential orders had given JSOC unprecedented authority. The battlefield was expanded, and JSOC could now hit at will in countries beyond Iraq and Afghanistan.
Scheich Saleh Bin Farid (Leader al-Aulaq Tribe): [describing effects of the strike at al-Majalah, Yemen, December 17, 2009] We saw what happened. I mean, if somebody had a bad heart, he would collapse. You see goats and sheep. The heads and parts. You see children... and you cannot tell if this meat belongs to animals or to human beings. Why did they do this? There is no stores. There is no field for training,. There is nobody except a very poor tribe, one of the poorest tribes in the south.
Jeremy Scahill: The one local reporter investigating the bombing had disappeared. Abduleah Haider Shaye had travelled to al-Majalah immediately after the strike, and his reporting sparked national outrage. Soon after, his house was raided by Yemen's US-trained 'counter-terrorism' forces. Abduleah was thrown into prison.
Jeremy Scahill: Explain what JSOC is.
unnamed ex-JSOC operative: [voice distorted] The Joint Special Operations Command handles all the sensitive covert missions as the US government directs, and over time that was perverted into doing things that are far beyond its mandate.
Jeremy Scahill: What has JSOC been doing in Yemen?
unnamed ex-JSOC operative: [voice distorted] Airstrikes. Targeted killings.
Jeremy Scahill: Targeted killings inside the borders of Yemen?
unnamed ex-JSOC operative: [voice distorted] Correct.
unnamed ex-JSOC operative: [voice distorted] The world is a battlefield and we are at war. Therefore the Joint Special Operations Command can go wherever they please and do whatever it is that they want to do in order to achieve the national security objectives of whichever administration happens to be in power.
unnamed ex-JSOC operative: [voice distorted] The president has made the political and military calculation to let the Joint Special Operations Command run wild.
Jeremy Scahill: Do you think JSOC is able to hit harder under President Obama than they were under President Bush?
unnamed ex-JSOC operative: [voice distorted] Harder, faster, quicker, and with the full support of the White House.
Jeremy Scahill: A bill was introduced in Congress to ban the extrajudicial assassination of Americans. But only six Congressmen signed on.
Jeremy Scahill: Somehow, in front of our eyes, undeclared wars have been launched in countries across the globe. Foreigners and citizens alike assassinated by presidential decree. The 'War on Terror' transformed into a self-fulfilling prophesy. - How does a war like this ever end? - And what happens to us, when we finally see what's hidden in plain sight?