Scahill powerfully and chillingly didn’t answer why the War on Terror has become a self-fulfilling prophecy, a war without end. I was waiting for answers. Waiting for him to tell me why the village in Yemen was attacked. Why Daud was killed with two other pregnant women. Why the warlords in Somalia were financed. I wanted answers.
But Scahill left us. And as he continues his investigative journalism, he provocatively refuses to perform what we expect of him as a journalist. Throughout the documentary, Scahill reveals secrets that aren’t hidden. He simply goes where no one is looking. While I was watching, I was so frustrated. Where are the journalists? Why haven’t we seen coverage of this? The media is nothing but propaganda! But I think Scahill didn’t intend to agitate journalists into delivering their job to get us the facts.
He was showing us how complicit we have become that we have lived with a 12 year war in the background without rage, without protest, without demanding accountability. His ethic as a journalist is clear: the burden of responsibility should lie with the US government to explain its actions. But who has the burden to accuse? To account? Who, if we have turned a blind eye to the outrage of Afghans, to the horror of Yemenis, to the heart-ache of Somalis?
Scahill showed us photos, mobile-shot videos, he introduced us to citizens on the receiving end of the war. Now what? We know that Osama bin Laden was killed by secret operatives. We know that they operate outside the formal, constitutionally recognised arms of government. We know that drone attacks are launched as if the whole world is a battlefield. Scahill left us with information, with in your face here’s the proof that this is a dirty war evidence. His task is complete. But what about ours? Are we part of the self-fulfilling prophecy? People around the world will be angry at the start, but that will diffuse, assumed the US government under Bush. And now Obama tells his aides that he’s really good at killing people, and hardly anyone is tuned in.
As a Muslim who grew up in the West, I want to thank Scahill from my most sincere heart for his dignifying account of Anwar Al Awlaki. I cannot explain the agony I feel at his loss, not only through his death, but more so through, as Scahill illustrates, his transformation from an active, engaged leader, to a man betrayed and wounded by what he had been a believer in. Muslims in the West were placed under interrogation post September 11, all terrorists by association.
Scahill argues that this form of labelling in effect created the terrorist from individuals who were on the opposite end. Label them as terrorists, and then add them to the hit list when you see what they have become. The war isn’t only dirty through its night raids and drones. It is filthy in the way it creates the enemy, and then exploits them to continue its operations.
Anwar’s son was sentenced even before his prophecy was actualised. But I wonder, why does the US government with all its empire and might, go to such extents to silence men who voice their anti-US views on youtube? Scahill left us wondering why the US wants a war without end. Why it killed a 16 year old boy at a cafe with is friends. Why the list of senseless night raids keeps growing.
Scahill believes in his potential influence as an investigative journalist, and I feel his most powerful message is in directing us, as citizens, towards what answers lie outside the documentary for us to grab and work with. The question is, do we believe in our power to bring this dirty war to an end that is accounted?