Dumping Bush: PBS Frontline exposes neocon lies


Richard Moore

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"Frontline" documentary makes case that Cheney used 9/11 to go to war

By Mark Rahner
Seattle Times staff reporter
Tuesday, June 20, 2006 - 12:00 AM

Last week's grim milestone of 2,500 American 
military deaths in Iraq will look even grimmer 
after tonight's "Frontline" documentary, "The 
Dark Side."

The damning 90-minute exposé (10 p.m. PBS) stops 
short of laying those bodies at Vice President 
Dick Cheney's feet. But it does finger Cheney and 
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld - through more 
than 40 interviews with CIA veterans, 
journalists, politicians and others - as the ones 
who ignored, suppressed and manipulated 
intelligence after the 9/11 attacks to lead us 
into war with a country that had nothing to do 
with our attackers.

And you wonder why the GOP hasn't exactly been a 
sugar daddy for public television.

Comedians have made countless Darth Vader jokes 
about Cheney, but the film's title is no joke 
about The Force. It's from Cheney's own words 
about America's response to terrorists: "We have 
to work the dark side, if you will. We've got to 
spend time in the shadows in the intelligence 
world. A lot of what needs to be done here will 
have to be done quietly without any discussion, 
using sources and methods that are available to 
our intelligence agencies."

But apparently he didn't use the actual intelligence from the agencies.

The CIA and its then-director, George Tenet, knew 
immediately that al-Qaida in Afghanistan was 
responsible for the 9/11 attacks and said so. But 
author James Bamford says that while the Pentagon 
was still smoking, Rumsfeld said, "We've got to 
see, somehow, how we can bring Saddam Hussein 
into this."

"The Dark Side" claims that 9/11 provided Cheney 
and Rumsfeld with a pretext for achieving their 
longstanding ambition to go after the Iraqi 
dictator and to boost executive power that they'd 
seen diminish ever since their days as allies in 
Nixon's administration. As consummate political 
infighters, they resented and continually 
undermined Tenet - a sports-loving man's man who 
had become pally with George W. Bush.

The CIA repeatedly insisted that there was no 
connection between Saddam and al-Qaida, and Tenet 
explicitly warned that invading Iraq would "break 
the back" of our counterterrorism effort. Tenet 
even ordered the agency's records scoured 10 
years back for links. CIA vet Michael Scheuer, 
who led that effort, says, "There was no 
connection between al-Qaida and Saddam."

But Cheney, the chief architect of the war on 
terror and the most powerful vice president in 
U.S. history, had made up his mind, according to 
"The Dark Side." CIA vets say Cheney and his 
now-indicted chief of staff, Scooter Libby, made 
unprecedented trips to CIA headquarters to 
pressure and "harangue" analysts who were 
compiling the National Intelligence Estimate. 
Analyst Paul Pillar, one of its primary authors, 
says he regrets his role in the hastily prepared, 
fatally flawed document, which was "clearly 
requested and published for policy-advocacy 
purposes ... to strengthen the case for going to 
war with the American public."

The apparent circularity of the pro-war 
machinations is especially disturbing. Then-New 
York Times reporter Judith Miller would get 
off-the-record info from the White House about 
weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, print the 
claims in Sunday's paper, and then Cheney, 
Condoleezza Rice and others would cite the 
articles as evidence on the Sunday talk shows to 
justify the invasion.

While Tenet and Secretary of State Colin Powell 
had strong reservations about Iraq, sources 
quoted in "The Dark Side" say the two eventually 
caved in. Tenet, says former weapons inspector 
David Kay, "traded integrity for access" to 
power, while Powell was ultimately a team player.

"The Dark Side" is especially timely in light of 
those who persisted in equating the Iraq war with 
the fight against terrorism in the debate leading 
to last Friday's pro-war House resolution.

These are the guys who want our phone records 
now. If "The Dark Side" is as credible as it 
looks - and it's no cheap Michael Moore job - 
they can't even be trusted to go after the right 
bad guys when they've got the right intelligence 
handed to them on a platter.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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