My guest today is The PEN, activist and policy
advocate. Welcome back to OpEdNews, PEN.
JB: When we spoke back in January, 2012, we discussed The Last War Crime, the film you made about indicting Dick Cheney for torture. There are many people who are not aware of your film's existence, let alone its contents. Can you fill us in?
PEN: Sure, so nice speaking with you again, Joan. As usual, you are right on top of things. At that point, we were working hard literally around the clock to finish up the post production for the movie. And we didn't stop. And we are just now at a point where we are ready to make available a limited edition of what people call a "screener" DVD. Our plan at this point is to empower people to organize their own home and community screenings, and to get word out about the completion of this project that way. If someone wants to obtain a copy of the screener, we are asking them to commit to doing such a local screening, and they can do so at this link.
Our goal for the The Last War Crime film project was, in the first instance, to tell the true story of how we were misled into an attack and invasion of Iraq, which now even the neocons have been forced to admit has been a strategic catastrophe. But they have also tried to revise history as if they could not have known that the intelligence was bad, when in fact they knew (or should have known) all along that the intelligence and war sales pitch were garbage (a polite word). And how could they have known that? Because they got that "intelligence" from torturing people, notorious throughout history for being used to obtain false confessions.
So, the first third of the film recreates in docudrama style the historical events from the morning of 9/11 to the Colin Powell UN speech. But we also wanted to imagine what it would have been like if some courageous U.S. attorney had uncovered evidence of the war crimes committed by Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, and done something to hold people accountable while they were still in office. This is not that farfetched if you remember the U.S. attorney firings and the scandal about that because they would not politicize their jobs.
JB: Yes, I remember that well.
PEN: And the rest of the film tells an entertaining dramatic story around such a fictional vision. Call it a political fantasy fulfillment film if you like.
When we last spoke about the progress of the getting out word of The Last War Crime film, we talked about how YouTube had banned one of our preview clips, for completely bogus reasons, and how MTV/Viacom had refused to run an ad for the movie on their Times Square jumbotron. Despite over 12,000 protest messages we were able to mobilize about that, Viacom just ignored us and I had suggested to you that we were considering some kind of federal lawsuit as a recourse.
PEN: After that, the same thing basically happened again when we tried to submit an ad for The Last War Crime movie to the top political news/talk radio station in Washington, DC. The excuse there for rejecting an ad for our film was that it was too "controversial."
And judging that was our best test case, representing ourselves we did in fact file a federal lawsuit in the DC federal district court captioned a "Complaint for Political Speech Discrimination." That was in November of 2012, against that radio station and their parent corporation, the second largest radio station conglomerate in the country.
Not surprisingly, defendants' counsel, one of the top 50 law firms in the country, quickly filed an obligatory motion to dismiss, which I think we brushed aside quite effectively with the opposition we filed. The way these court procedures work: the side that files a motion has a automatic opportunity to file a reply to our opposition, but they are not supposed to bring up new issues in that reply, that we would not have had a fair chance to respond to in writing. But, fearing they were losing the argument we think, that's exactly what the other side tried to do, even to the point of making, in our view, serious misrepresentations about the contents of legal precedents.
We hit the law library again and researched what the appropriate legal reaction should be in such a situation, and then filed our own motion to ask permission to file what is called a surreply, a rare procedural remedy that the Court has discretion to grant or not, and which is generally not favored. Defendants opposed our surreply request motion, we exercised our right to reply to that, and that last filing took us to the end of January, earlier this year.