Amid growing concern over the use of drone warfare, the award-winning UK documentary series ‘Dispatches’ has turned its attention the US targeted killing regime. The film, “America’s Secret Killers”, is available online for UK users via the Channel 4 website. Interspersed with embedded reporting, it interviews Taliban leaders, US Army representatives (among them NATO and US Commander David Petraeus), and counter-terrorism experts. The result is a sobering analysis of what one Pentagon adviser calls an ‘industrial scale counter-terrorism killing machine’. Journalist Stephen Grey, who led the exploration, described the films worrying conclusions in a recent article:
According to Petraeus and his advisers, the medicine is starting to work. The Taliban is on the run and getting desperate.
But is the Kill Capture campaign hitting the right targets? And with British and American troops now approaching almost 10 years of fighting in Afghanistan, how much does it really help in winning the war?
When Dispatches examined the case of one killing – a military assassination by airstrike of an alleged senior Taliban leader – we found disturbing evidence that JSOC may have killed completely the wrong man.
Whether on target or not, some critics also question if killing the Taliban’s top leaders may simply cede power to new generation of extremists who will kill more innocents – and will have no interest in finally agreeing to make peace and end this long-running war.
Filming in northern Afghanistan, where US special forces have wiped out a succession of top Taliban leaders, our team set out to meet some of their replacements. We found the Taliban there under extreme pressure, but also confident in their own resilience. ‘This war has become like delicious food for us,’ one leader tells us. ‘When a day passes without fighting, we get restless.’
The film comes highly recommended as preparation for Panel 3′s discussion of targeted killing. If you’ve seen the film (or if you have any recommendations of other documentaries exploring issues relating to the conference) please post your thoughts and comments below.