Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Watch (Or Record) Frontline Tonight...

From WKNO's program description:

“The Dark Side” reports on Vice President Cheney's involvement with the war on terror and the Iraq War. Included: his working relationships with former CIA director George Tenet and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld; steps leading to the Iraq War.

I was already pretty interested in it and programmed my DVR to record it. Then I saw this in the Boston Globe:

To many, Cheney is the dark side of the Bush administration, and this program will only cement that judgment. ``Frontline" chronicles the brutal campaign by two consummate political in-fighters -- Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld -- to decimate the CIA, politically emasculate Secretary of State Colin Powell, and construct a near-limitless concept of executive power during war. While many of these strands are familiar, they have not been assembled as effectively before on television to present a coherent picture of what happened after 9/11.
Cheney didn't trust the CIA after it missed the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Iranian revolution, and Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, so he created through Rumsfeld's Pentagon his own intelligence network to suit his agenda. Powell and former CIA director George Tenet were no match for this pair, who have known each other for three decades. By the time that Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis ``Scooter" Libby, was indicted last fall, Powell and Tenet were long gone and the CIA was in shambles.
Tenet leaves as a thoroughly compromised man who first opposes some of Cheney's intelligence conclusions and then caves. He receives from Bush the Medal of Freedom -- the highest honor the president can bestow -- as he is pushed out. ``You've seen this episode of `I, Claudius,' you know?" says Steve Coll of the New Yorker. ``You put the knife in one side and the medal on the other side and that's politics."
``The Dark Side" is, in a sense, CIA payback for its treatment. The program is dominated by legions of former CIA officers, some of whom left over the agency's treatment by the White House, and they detail what they view as Cheney's efforts to find the intelligence to fit the war he wanted against Saddam. Virtually no one, in contrast, appears from the Cheney-Rumsfeld camp to defend the two men's actions.
The talking heads are excellent. Most of the ex-spooks are strong, as is David Kay, leader of the failed attempt to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So are intelligence experts Ron Suskind and James Bamford and the inevitable Bob Woodward.
``Frontline" walks us through the bad intelligence that Cheney spouted in public, even after the CIA had challenged it, like an Al Qaeda -Saddam connection and Saddam's supposed purchase of enriched uranium from Niger. We hear that the president's first reaction to the WMD evidence was, ``Is that all we got?"


Brassmask said...

Watched it. Better than I thought it would be.

Some of the stuff people were saying was stuff that two to three years ago, most Americans would have deemed the stories of addled minds.

autoegocrat said...

I missed it, but you can watch all of the old Frontline episodes on their website for free. Be sure and see "Rumsfeld's War" if you haven't seen it already.

Freedonian said...

Man, I love Frontline... I haven't had a chance to watch this one yet, but I've got it stored on my DVR, so I definitely will today.

Brassmask, I absolutely believe that. Once upon a time, even I thought this war was borne out of incompetence. Turns out there was something a little more.

Autoegocrat, thanks for the tip on "Rumsfeld's War". I must have missed that one when it first came on.

They ran a really great one a few months ago that I think everyone should see. It was a piece about women in former Soviet states that are often kidnapped, sometimes tricked, and sometimes sold outright into prostitution. A particularly heartbreaking segment showed a young woman who had been liberated... And was going back voluntarily because it was the only way to pay the medical bills for her family, all of whom had serious Chernobyl-related health issues.