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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

President Obama: Please see this movie!

Brave New Films
The title is Unmasked: America's Drone Wars, and it tell the heartbreaking stories of Pakistani citizens whose lives have been forever changed by death and dismemberment of hundreds of Pakistani civilians caused by U.S. drone strikes, which the CIA and the White House deny or say is "lawful."

At the American premiere at Busboys and Poets on Fifth Street Monday night, about 100 crowded a screening room to watch the documentary and afterwards, hear three injured survivors, a schoolteacher and his two children, talk through an interpreter about the death of their mother and grandmother, tending vegetables in a field and blasted by a drone strike which injured six more children.

Film director and producer Robert Greenwald, left, poses questions to Rafiq ur Rehman, second from right, and his two children, Nabila, second from left, and Zubair, middle, at the screening of Unmasked: America's Drone Wars at Busboys and Poets. An interpreter is at right/Patricia Leslie

Nabila ur Rehman, left, describes with the assistance of an interpreter, the horror of her grandmother's death caused by a U.S. drone strike which targeted her grandmother out in a field while tending vegetables. The film,    Unmasked: America's Drone Wars, which documents multiple drone strikes and civilian deaths in Pakistan, was screened at Busboys and Poets where Nabila, her brother, Zubair, standing behind her, and her father, Rafiq ur Rahman, described the devastation to their lives and fear caused by drone strikes/Patricia Leslie

Rafiq ur Rahman, the father and teacher who also appears in the film, described the shock and sorrow of finding his mother's shoe in the field and his neighbors holding him back while they placed her body parts in a box. His mother, Mamana Bibi, was a midwife.

Mr. President, if you didn't know the NSA is spying on world leaders, why would you know that the CIA is killing civilians in Pakistan? After all, if the National Intelligence Director, James Clapper lied to Congress while under oath, why wouldn't the CIA lie to you?

Who's in charge of this house?

We treat convicted killers on Death Row better than the innocents in Pakistan who have no opportunities to present their cases in courtrooms for judges and juries to hear.

In grim detail with many photos of dead children and women, the film outlines the cavalier attacks upon Pakistanis while the U.S. military seeks to stop terrorists. A man talks about touching the skin of his dead father, taken out by a drone: "His skin broke like ashes."

The film begins with statements by a former Air Force drone operator, Brandon Bryant, who tells the anguish and turmoil he experienced after training to kill people with the push of a button.

From thousands of miles away "you can see the license tag on a car." He is quoted throughout the movie, along with attorneys, journalists, professors, a former ambassador to the U.K. from Pakistan, and Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff for Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Rather than al-Qaeda recruiting terrorists the drones are doing it for them, said one Pakistani leader. Rather than educating its young, the people are afraid to send their children to school, fearing a drone attack, said another.

The film quotes a Pakistani leader: The U.S. goes around the world and decides who to assassinate.

Killings should be the exception and not the rule.

Where is the accountability for all these deaths? someone asks. There is no investigation.

One victim was 16-year-old Tariq Aziz, on his way to play soccer, the target of a drone strike and likely fingered by an enemy who wanted the money the U.S. government offers informers whether they tell the truth or not.

Much like the fruit vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, whose self-immolation touched off the Tunisian revolution in 2010, and Khaled Mohamed Saeed, whose beaten and disfigured face by police in 2011 launched the Egyptian revolution, the face of Tariq Aziz is the symbol of the stop drone strikes movement.

Who stands to benefit from drone production and who is lobbying Congress? No surprises: Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon are a few.

Beginning today the film will be available at no charge for all to see. 

After the screening, Robert Greenwald, the film's producer and director, said: "Technology has made it easy to kill. There is no democratic process." These deaths warrant no investigations by the U.S.  There is "no transparency."

Brave New Films, which Greenwald founded, produced Outfoxed, Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, and Koch Brothers Exposed.

Rafiq ur Rahman and his children were headed to Congress today for a briefing called by Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL). The film is set for screening at the United Nations and then, the British Parliament. Islamabad was the site last Saturday night of the world premiere, and Unmasked is scheduled for broadcast on Pakistani television.

It's time to stand up, brothers and sisters, since the media is again asleep at the switch while our government allows Big Business to operate the controls.

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