It was inevitable that the politically astute filmmaker who created edgy documentaries about the 2000 Presidential election, “The Whole Truth About the Iraq War,” the Koch brothers and “The War on Whistle Blowers,” next would choose what he regards as the most scandalous government secret du jour:
“Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars.”
At an intimate inaugural screening last Thursday evening in Santa Monica, Robert Greenwald’s ardently compelling 64-minute film achieved his objective of unmasking Washington’s current lie du jour.
In his 40-year career where the 70-year-old Mr. Greenwald has earned 25 Emmy nominations, he has become masterful at adroitly playing off hero against villain without affecting the underlying tempo.
Drones have become President Obama’s favorite wartime playtoy. Repeatedly Mr. Obama has sworn – on ineradicable videotape – that drones are as safe as a handful of cheese, as a precise as a shotgun at two paces.
Deftly intersplicing Mr. Obama’s screechingly false claims with appalling human evidence to the contrary, will help convert skeptics. Blown-apart teenagers, pieces of their bodies strewn about the fields where they were working. Struck sloppily by supposedly inerrant missiles, the film seeks to show how they are then labeled in Washington as “terrorist casualties.”
Mr. Greenwald, whose Brave New Foundation is quartered on Culver Boulevard, traveled to the equally exotic and mysterious land of Pakistan – preferred target of most U.S. deadly drone attacks – to graphically relate the riveting, skin-peeling stories of child victims of drones.
To skid past the absurd, of course there are blameless civilian victims in every conflict. “Collateral damage,” as soulless wise guys in the media have come to abstractly relate such aching mass losses of human lives.
A profound value to be derived from “Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars,” is that Mr. Greenwald repeatedly demonstrates, by film and by first-person testimony, that the drone missiles are as fully reliable as a drunk driver careening down a narrow, crowded wending hill.
The raw numbers of victims will not impress long-since desensitized American cynics who shrug off less than gargantuan loss of human lives.
Mr. Greenwald’s documentary, which officially debuts in Manhattan in 48 hours, arrived in the same week that Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch also attempted to awaken, but not impress, a snoring world that has heavily ignored the drone wars.
They peg the number of civilian fatalities in Pakistan between 153 and 926.
Two days before last Thursday’s private screening in Santa Monica, White House spokesman Jay Carney told the loyal and silent media at his daily conference:
“U.S. counterterrorism operations are precise, they are lawful and they are effective.”
“A lie,” said Mr. Greenwood.
Where does the truth lie?
“Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars” will be available online. For information, see www.bravenewfoundation.org