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Film Review: John Pilger Examines War on Terror

Film Review: John Pilger Examines War on Terror

By Sonia Nettnin

Order The Film Online – Bullfrog Films

''Breaking the Silence: Truth and Lies in the War on Terror,'' is a film about the history of recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In this special report, award-winning journalist and filmmaker, John Pilger, explores the postwar living conditions of the Afghan and Iraqi people. Pilger investigates the Bush Administration’s statements for waging war and he provides background information not presented in U.S. mainstream media.

Many Afghan civilians lost family members and they suffered the destruction of their homes. Orifa, an Afghan woman, lost her husband and some of her children.

“We don’t have a house…or a life. Nothing,” she said. Orifa found one of her daughters almost headless. After her tragic discovery, she gathered her daughters’ scattered flesh into plastic bags. “For us, day and night are the same, full of sorrow.”

Many unexploded cluster bombs sit in the broken buildings of Kabul…children play in this stone rubble.

Out of the $10 billion U.S. dollars allocated for Afghanistan, the Afghan Ministry received $300 million for reconstruction. Pilger presents the U.S.’ Operation Enduring Freedom from the viewpoint not covered in U.S. media.

Despite the overthrow of Taliban Regime, warlords control the country. The opium trade is alive again and the warlords burn girls’ schools to the ground. They kidnap and rape women; and they rob families into destitution.

If an unmarried is with a man, she is subject to a chastity test. People are questioned randomly, including married couples.

For the last, 20 years, the U.S. government funded the warlords, according to Pilger. He presents documents, assesses his findings and conducts interviews with U.S. government officials. He interviews members of human rights’ organizations also. He intersperses peoples’ statements and conclusions with sound bites from: President George W. Bush; Prime Minister Tony Blair; National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice; and Secretary of State Colin Powell.

For example, Bush talked about “agents of terror” and “hostile regimes.” Then, Pilger shows an Amnesty International Report that explains U.S. gave safe haven to 1,000 torturers. This vis-à-vis compare demonstrates that words contradicts actions.

Although the Bush Administration condemned the torture in Abu Ghraib prison after it leaked to the media, sources state Guantanemo-Bay-prisoners sit in eight-by-seven cages. A light shines on them 24-hours a day.

Pilger interviews the U.S. Army about their detention facilities in Afghanistan. He talks with Colonel Rod Davis about the allegations of torture, along with prisoner’s inaccessibility to legal representation.

Davis said there is no abuse or torture inside the prisons and that the “people are fed and looked after.”

Pilger touches on the history of torture taught in the School of the Americas in Georgia. People from El Salvador, Honduras and Panama learned torture techniques at this school. He did not mention who taught torture to the U.S.

Although the U.S. based the war against Iraq on the WMD argument, in July 2001, Rice stated “we are able to keep arms from him.” In February 2001, Powell made similar comments.

Pilger uncovered this interesting fact: Tuesday, October 27, 1992, the U.S. approved a sale of weapons to Iraq. He showed the record he found in the U.S. Library of Congress.

When Pilger asked U.S. Under Secretary of State, Douglas Feith, about the 10,000 Iraqi civilians who died in the attack, a U.S. official stopped the interview.

Pilger’s research shines in his refined presentation of information. His narration is a golden thread that guides his findings for viewer comprehension. This film is another Pilger gem.


Pilger won the gold award in the political category at the 2004 WorldMedia Festival. It is a Bullfrog Film.


Sonia Nettnin is a freelance writer. Her articles and reviews demonstrate civic journalism, with a focus on international social, economic, humanitarian, gender, and political issues. Media coverage of conflicts from these perspectives develops awareness in public opinion.

Nettnin received her bachelor's degree in English literature and writing. She did master's work in journalism. Moreover, Nettnin approaches her writing from a working woman's perspective, since working began for her at an early age.

She is a poet, a violinist and she studied professional dance. As a writer, the arts are an integral part of her sensibility. Her work has been published in the Palestine Chronicle, Scoop Media and the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. She lives in Chicago.

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