Washington Bureau

10.30.13

U.S. Embassy In Australia Promotes Anti Drone Movie

Do you want to see Dirty Wars, the movie exposing and criticizing U.S. drone policy and secret military operations around the world? If so, the American Embassy in Australia has got you covered with some free tickets.

“We're so excited for this weekend! Join us for a whole raft of critically acclaimed American films at the Canberra International Film Festival! We have double passes to Our Nixon, Dirty Wars, Kill Your Darlings, Blackfish (pictured), John Dies At The End and Any Day Now,” the embassy’s Facebook page announced on October 28.

The next day the embassy’s Twitter feed announced “Would you like FREE tickets to Blackfish or Dirty Wars at the @CIFF_Canberra this weekend? Get in touch!,” Dirty Wars is currently scheduled for a November. 3 screening at the Canberra International Film Festival (CIFF).

The film is a documentary based on the book of the same name by journalist Jeremy Scahill of The Nation, which documents in detail secret operations conducted by Navy SEALs, Delta Force, former Blackwater and other private security contractors, the CIA’s Special Activities Division and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). The book also details the targeting of an American citizen for death by the U.S. government.

Scahill, who recently announced he is joining Glenn Greenwald in a new journalism enterprise, told The Daily Beast he hoped the embassy’s promotion of the movie indicated some internal angst over the administration secret policies.

“If the US embassy staff in Canberra is promoting Dirty Wars based on serious concerns among its personnel over the global US "targeted killing" program, this is a most welcome development. My sense is that there is a much more vibrant debate going on in US intelligence and military circles over the counter-productive nature of what is called US ‘counter-terrorism’ policy than we are led to believe in public or through leaks from anonymous US officials,” he said.  Maybe the embassy is just giving away the tickets because it is an American film. Who knows? But my hope is that it is based on concerns about US policies and that other US embassies follow suit and offer free tickets to Dirty Wars screenings around the world.”

Marie Harf, a State Department spokeswoman, dashed Scahill’s hopes in a statement given to The Daily Beast. She said there was no political motivation behind the move.

“U.S. Mission Australia’s public diplomacy outreach programs include supporting and promoting both U.S. independent and Hollywood films in AustraliaFor several years, the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Australia have issued small grants to the major film festivals in Australia, with the goal of engaging Australian audiences through the diversity of U.S. film culture, and American values such as public debate and freedom of speech,” she said. “Dirty Wars is one of 16 U.S. films that will be screened at the Canberra International Film Festival (CIFF) this year. For its support, the Embassy was allocated tickets to give away to the public (via social media platforms) for seven of the American films screened at the Festival.”