Frontline offers some hope for the mainstream media. Last night PBS showed the program "Darkside" which describes Vice-President Cheney's effective takeover of the federal government and the politics of lies and misrepresentations that took America to the war in Iraq.
The material in the show will not surprise people who have been reading the blogs on-line, but this is the first time it has all been pulled together in the public statements of the main participants and presented as a single narrative. It's all there. The weak and poorly supported effort to get the al Qaeda in Afghanistan with Gary Berntsen's story of how General Tommy Franks failed to provide needed military to block the escape of bin Laden from Tora Bora, together with the fact that even then (December 2001) Franks was already pulling forces out of Afghanistan for the planned attack on Iraq.
There was clear coverage of the way that Dick Cheney and his cadre fought against the DIA and CIA because they felt those agencies were opposing the planned war against Iraq. This resulted in the creation of the Pentagon's special Intelligence evaluation group under Douglas Feith to stove-pipe unevaluated snippets of faulty Intelligence to the Office of the Vice President (OVP). This resulted in such items being repeatedly speaking publicly of the "proven" connection between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden over the next two years as well as the publicly stated "clear knowledge" that Saddam had nuclear weapons.
The famous "16 words" presented in the State of the Union Speech (SotU) indicating that Saddam Hussein had supposedly tried to buy yellow-cake uranium ore from Niger is there. That was based on what we now know were forged documents from the Italian Secret Service. George Tenet, CIA Director, had fought to keep it out of published Intelligence, but the OVP got it included in the SotU Speech anyway. This led Ambassador Joe Wilson's editorial in the New York Times that caused the OVP to tell reporters that Joe's wife, Valerie Plame, was an officer of the CIA. This caused the CIA to request an investigation and ultimately caused the appointment of a Special Prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald.
It was material from this "stove-piped" but unvetted Intelligence that "Scooter" Libby packaged into a speech he wrote and sent to Secretary of State Colin Powell to present to the UN. Colin Powell looked at it, it did not pass the "smell test" and he went to the CIA to evaluate the material he was given. Powell threw out the Niger yellow-cake assertions and several other things, but based on assurances by George Tenet that it was well supported left in the false information (from Iraqi National Congress (INC) asset "Curveball") that the Iraqis had mobile laboratories to create poison gas. This was from an alcoholic who could not have knows what he said he did, was not confirmed and later proven false, but George Temet assured Powell that it was independently confirmed.
Powell also was assured by Tenet that Mohammed Atta had met with Iraqi Intelligence personnel in Czechoslovakia. The CIA had already determined this was impossible because Atta was in Florida at that time as confirmed by the FBI.
There is a great deal more. The show is available on-line at PBS.
My opinion on Iraq and the so-called War on Terror.
Iraq is Dick Cheney's war. This Frontline show clearly proves his responsibility and his methods of achieving the war. He wanted it from September 11, 2001 and he lied, cheated and manipulated people to get his war.
Cheney conducted the politics to get the war started, and Rumsfeld was joined at the hip with Cheney. Bush is the front man and the man in the ultimate position of responsibility. This Frontline show clearly lays out the government decision process that has led to the deaths of over 2500 American Soldiers and Marines and nearly 17,000 casualties. Estimates of Iraqi deaths range from 30,000 to over 100,000, and the has left Baghdad as the center of a civil war mixed with a cesspool of violent crime.
The connection between the war in Iraq and bin Laden is the same as the connection between a football game and a football commenter. Bin Laden and his version of al Qaeda are outsiders commenting on the war in Iraq but having little or no real connection to it.
Our government, led by Office of the Vice President built up the reputation of a Jordanian thug called Zarqawi so that they could claim that the war in Iraq is a theater of the war on Terrorism. Now that Zarqawi is dead, there is a need for OVP to create some new entity in Iraq called "al Qaeda", but it is entirely a public relations effort.
The war in Iraq is Dick Cheney's ego-trip, initiated by the unrelated al Qaeda attack on September 11, 2001 and Dick Cheney's fraud. The invasion and occupation were poorly planned and the occupation in particular has been incompetently conducted. Cheney's ego trip has resulted in the destruction of the nation of Iraq, a real recruiting tool and possibly training ground for al Qaeda and other Jihadists, the expansion of the power of Iran in the Middle East, and the effective destruction of American military ground forces. America is less secure as a result of this unjustified war.
The Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld is to "stay the course." Whatever that is, as our military gets ground down and Iraq driven closer to civil war and anarchy on a daily basis. Somehow the creation of an Iraqi government that governs nothing outside the Green Zone is somehow magicly going to allow us to win the war.
Bush has already stated that getting out of Iraq will be the responsibility of whoever follows him in office. In the meantime America's ground forces are ground down to impotence and the Iraqis are thrown at each other's throats while outsiders cheer and boo.
America needs to commit to leaving Iraq and begin planning for it. Conditions on the ground will determine when and how we actually pull out, so that no "date certain" can be planned. But at least the process needs to be initiated.
The essential question is "How many people will die for Dick Cheney's bloody ego trip?" We need to end it somehow.