Presenting scathing testimony from Iraq War vets and a palpable anger about the plight of American service people, “The Ground Truth: After the Killing Ends” will likely have difficulty securing a broadcast or cable niche. Look for limited theatrical and a vigorous life on DVD, especially if producer director Patricia Foulkrod follows the Robert Greenwald model of political niche marketing.
“Ground Truth” asserts that the U.S. military, in an era of cuts in manpower, equipment and health care, has neither the interest nor inclination to deal with the human wreckage it creates — and that Iraq is creating more volatile wreckage than any war in our history.
As one of the pic’s subjects explains, the U.S. military’s aim with new recruits is to make them capable of taking human life when they’re “not in a state of rage.” And that psychological manipulation, along with the number of civilians killed by U.S. forces, is making the post-traumatic stress aspect of the Iraq War more severe than ever.
Foulkrod has astounding footage, the most disturbing of which she says she gleaned from the Internet, and from soldiers who wanted to share it: A cluster of computer images, for example, each represents Iraqi civilians blown to bits via a remote rocket launch.
A soldier tells his first-hand story of killing an Iraqi woman who was approaching a tank, only to find later she was carrying a white flag. The remorse felt by Foulkrod’s subjects is palpable. Had she obtained some counterarguments from the military, the film would have had more balance and more heft.
Among other aspects that hamper the pic are the musical interludes, which trivialize the grave mood, and several interviews that reiterate points already made.
But the substance of the movie is potent, and so powerfully presented by those who have fought and are still fighting a controversial war, that the message of “Ground Truth” cannot be dismissed.