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Oscar- and Emmy-winning documentarian Alex Gibney will team up with Amblin Television to develop both scripted and nonfiction series based on a Washington Post investigation into the war in Afghanistan.
Gibney’s Jigsaw Productions and Amblin will work to develop both a limited scripted series and a docuseries based on At War With the Truth, a three-year Post investigation and legal battle to have secret government documents known as “The Afghanistan Papers” released under the Freedom of Information Act. The documents show that U.S. officials “failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable,” as the story’s opening line put it.
Amblin and Jigsaw will have access to Post research and materials obtained in the investigation and will work with reporter Craig Whitlock, who uncovered the story, as they develop the TV projects. The twin projects do not yet have an outlet attached but discussions with potential distributors have begun.
Gibney (Going Clear, Taxi to the Dark Side) will executive produce the two projects with Jigsaw’s Stacey Offman and Richard Perello and Amblin TV co-presidents Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank. Amblin is no stranger to The Washington Post; founder Steven Spielberg directed the 2017 feature film The Post, based in part on the newspaper’s Pentagon Papers reporting in the early 1970s.
“The opportunity to definitively tell this extraordinary and important story is an exciting one,” said Falvey and Frank. “Thanks to the efforts of Craig Whitlock and all the journalists at The Washington Post, the public finally learned the truth about what has been going on behind closed doors in Washington as it relates to the war in Afghanistan — which has spanned almost two decades, three administrations and cost trillions of taxpayer dollars. Alex, Stacey and the team at Jigsaw are the very best at what they do, and we can imagine no better partner to work with in bringing this story to television audiences.”
Added Post executive editor Martin Baron, “When Post reporter Craig Whitlock became aware that senior U.S. officials had given confidential interviews about the war in Afghanistan, we knew it was imperative to examine them. When the government sought to maintain secrecy, The Post felt it had to challenge a policy of concealment. The public had a right to a full accounting of why this war has been the nation’s longest, with such a heavy cost in lives, injuries and money. Central to journalism’s role in a democracy is holding government accountable and giving citizens the information they need and deserve to know. In documenting how the public was misled about the war, we believe this work was faithful to that mission.”
The Afghanistan Papers project is the third collaboration between Jigsaw Productions and Amblin TV. They previously co-produced Discovery’s docuseries Why We Hate, which aired in fall 2019, and music documentary Laurel Canyon, which will debut on Epix on May 31.
The Afghanistan project “is a vital story at a critical moment,” said Gibney. “For once we will hear an honest, intimate account from insiders of the epic tale of the forever war. Politicians regale us with victory speeches while day by day, casualties mount and the battle for hearts and minds are lost. Why? Because no one bothered to wonder why we are there.”
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