Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Frontline: Inside The Dark Side

I already set me Replay to record this tonight @ 10pm on the local PBS channel WPBA 16 here in Atlanta. I guess it because of stories like this the Bush administration wants to disable PBS and NPR.

"Dark Side" Sheds light on Cheney

By Sam Allis, Globe Staff | June 20, 2006

"Frontline" delivers a devastating look tonight at the efforts of Vice President Dick Cheney to gain control of the war on terror after 9/11. In doing so, the show purports, he compromised the integrity of America's intelligence system.

"The Dark Side" is riveting television, heavily reported, that exemplifies what "Frontline" does best: go inside a major story and give us context. The title is a ripe double-entendre that applies both to Cheney and the turf on which the war against terrorists is fought. "We have to work the dark side, if you will," we hear Cheney say. "Spend time in the shadows of the intelligence world."

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?"

We hear that Powell was not told the truth about the provenance of facts on which he based his disastrous speech at the United Nations, and that Cheney and Libby made 10 trips to the CIA -- unheard of by the White House -- to push analysts on data.

Paul Pillar, a respected former CIA officer, was a principal author of a signal report on WMDs in Iraq that proved so wrong. ``The purpose was to strengthen the case for going to war with the American public," he says. ``Is it proper for the intelligence community to publish papers for that purpose? I don't think so, and I regret having had a role in it."

1 comment:

REB 84 said...

Making the World Safe for Hypocrisy

Why are we in Iraq? First we were told it was because Saddam had WMD and we could expect mushroom clouds over American cities if he were allowed to stay in power; then the goal was getting rid of a brutal dictator who gassed his own people and by the way has a "blood feud" with America; the latest rationale is that we are bringing democracy to a troubled part of the world.

The rad-con democracy domino theory is that Iraq will become a shining example of representative democracy in the Middle East that all its neighbors will desire to emulate. Yet, despite a couple of elections; this utopia seems further away than ever.

Meanwhile, back here in the USA, the Bush administration is quietly choking off funding to the primary organizations that are actually training Iraqis on how to set up and run democratic political parties, elections, and governments. Is this hypocrisy?

"The commitment to what the president of the United States will say every single day of the week is his number one priority in Iraq, when it's translated into action, looks very tiny," said Les Campbell, who runs programs in the Middle East for the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, known as NDI.(see link to story in title) Apparently, there has been no response to these reports from the White House.

It appears that military and security spending is cutting back the only legitimate pro-democracy efforts America is conducting in Iraq. This is just the latest example of the Bush administration's failure to put the money where its mouth is. If we really want to know what politicians value, we need to find out what programs they fund and which they cut.


posted by REB 84 at 4/06/2006

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