Frontline World


Iraq, Truth and Lies in Baghdad, November, 2002



Read through archived FRONTLINE/World conversations around this story, including responses from the reporter.

FRONTLINE/World note:
Dear viewers/Web visitors,

Many of you have inquired about reporter Sam Kiley and his background. For further information about Kiley, please visit our online interview with him. And for those of you concerned with the impact of sanctions on Iraq, please view our Web section on the debate over sanctions.

Tina Burr - Foster City, California
I was extremely impressed as well with Sam Kiley's reporting. This piece has opened my eyes and I'm sure those of many others regarding the oppressive and hideous conditions the people of Iraq are subjected to. Sam Kiley's direct approach with questions and his honest responses left his viewers with a much bigger picture than had he taken the usual reporter's style of long winded debating.I have much respect for this reporter and look forward to future stories by him.

Mark - Westborough, Massachusetts
Thank you Frontline/World for a very powerful story. In addition, these postings are stimulating both the rants and the carefully considered. I do not know how the repression of Saddam compares to repression in other parts of the World. But Frontline/World is to be applauded for shining some light on this mostly neglected topic. It would be interesting to create a repression scale and grade the countries of the world.

Eddie Curran - Mobile, Alabama
I turned the program on hoping to learn about the situation in Iraq. Instead, I learned a lot about Sam Kiley, the reporter. Why did the camera spend so much time on him, and not his surroundings? Did the person whose arm he threatened to break even understand English, and if not, was this merely a tough guy threat meant for the viewers? As one of those viewers, I already know that Iraq is repressive. I wish that Kiley had interviewed more Iraqis about their lives, rather than focusing on the beheadings which hardly seems that surprising anyway. Sure, they would have lied and praised Saddam, but viewers are smart enough to figure that out.

In the first Iraq war, NBC had the Scud Stud (can't remember the guy's name.) This time around, PBS has the Baghdad Badass.

Reporter Sam Kiley responds:
Fair enough, though I'm not sure I'd want to be remembered as a "Badass" (we say "Badarse" over here). I didn't know when the camera was on me and when it was not. More in-depth interviews with Iraqis would have been very difficult to get. The beheadings was what we set out to investigate, so of course we focused on them, and through this "conceit" I think we revealed something about the nature of Iraq.


David Paul - Seattle, Washington
Sam Kiley's report from Baghdad was a disappoint. What did we learn from it? That President Hussein is a bad man. That there are, or may be, acts of horrible violence taking place. That the government didn't want Kiley and his team snooping around. In other words, not one thing that we didn't all know before. I applaud Kiley for a good try, but if I were a Front Line poducer, I would have killed the story. It was a waste of viewers' time.

Sam Kiley had a great show on Iraq. The inspectors should see his show, before they go in to inspect. Sam should have the inspectors check out the rooms where the people were doing experiments.

Honolulu, Hawaii
What right do you or anyone other Americans including Pres. Bush, have in determining the politics of a foreign country you know absolutely nothing about. In Iraq, Pres. Bush is known as the Devil in the eyes of the Iraqi people. Do they have a right to say he should be removed from power so that Americans can set up their own form of government? The answer to both questions is an unequivocal "No."

St. Louis, Missouri
Good job Mr. Kiley.

After reading many of the other views here I observed that most of the negative comments seem to want to point to sanctions as being the root of Iraq's problem.

I can't help be think that they are forgetting who brought these sanctions to Iraq.

It was -not- the USA. It was Saddam with his outrageous antics.

Some of the commenting viewers appear to have a selective perception to reality.

Ask this, who can put an end to sanctions? Saddam!

John Marsh - Houston, Texas
Lies, lies and lies once again. You became a propaganda war machine in 1991 before the first US-Iraq war and now you are doing the same again - spending your journalistic resources for building up war support - a war that has already killed 500,000 Iraqi children under 5 (UNICEF report 1999). Your so-called unbiased objective journalism is as good as the objective reports of BBC - sold out to corporate warlords. Shame on you guys - expected much better from PBS at least - or are you as scared as the Democrats who can't stand up to the Republican hawkishness and sell out (no wonder Democrats lost - I am more afraid of the loss of free speech in this once great country).


Keith Allred - Ogden, Utah
I see no sense in continuing sanctions against Iraq. Appearantly it has no effect on Saddam other than making him stronger and it gives the average Iraqi citizen a focus for hatred. I don't see where bombing them is going to help either. I am all for deposing Saddam but I think it will be really ugly and will just cause more unrest and terror attacks. I see deceptions on both sides and know of no easy way to deal with this explosive situation. Possibly a just God could intervene.

Juanita Wood - Wanatchie, Washington
I am not impressed with the quality of reporting demonstrated by this new show. In addition,the judgement demonstrated by the producers in leaving out salient facts regarding the 'Baghdad story' leads one to suspect the reporter and producer's motives. I am disapointed by the subtle bias revealed in the story. I expect more from a show with a tag line indicating it is associated with Frontline. This show was not in Frontline tradition. That tradition gives me the information only. All the information. I will give one example. The reporter was in the hospital asking questions regarding the reason why the children were ill. His lack of compassion was striking. He was more interested in drugs, and the lack of them. Furthermore, the reporter quickly glossed over the fact of contaminated water. Why didn't the reporter mention that the infrastructure of Iraq was destroyed in the Gulf war? Why didn't the reporter mention that the US bombed non-military targets in violation of the Geneva convention in the Gulf War? [This information is in a UN report. A good reporter ought to know this information.] Please do not argue that Saddam could have rebuilt the infrastructure instead of palaces. Of course he could have! However, tyrants do not act in the manner best suited to help the population. This does not let the US off the hook. We played right into the dictator's hands in 1991. Nearly half of the children are ill with preventable disease (diarrhea from contaminated water is one simple disease}. Educational institutions are in ruins. Thus, the population is far less able to cope with abstract ideas. The people are far more easily manipulated and terrorized. I could go on and on. We have made it harder for the Iraqi people to save themselves. I feel these premise's support my argument. Lack of time and space prevents further presentation of support for my argument at this time. This will probably suffice anyway. Get it together! By the way; who funds this new show? Who are the sponsors? Where is the reporter from? What are his credentials? What other stories has he written? Who does he write for?

Reporter Sam Kiley responds:
I have written a response on the children and the hospital which is also posted here. I am sorry I appeared callous, but I have seen a great deal of real famine and human suffering - including the grotesque effects of sanctions on Iraq in 1998 when, you rightly observe, children were dying in criminal numbers.

I have no desire to serve Bush's war agenda. There is a good film to be made and many articles to write about the failures of US foreign policy in the Middle East, the role of Big Oil and so on. But that doesn't mean one should ignore what is going on Iraq.

My background? I'm 38, married, two kids. I was on The Times for 13 years based in LA, Nairobi, Johannesburg, and Jerusalem. I have covered conflicts and humanitarian disasters all over Africa, the Balkans and the Middle East and was stupid enough to get shot and wounded in Africa in 1998.

PS - Oh, and I went to Oxford.

Pat Donnelly - Star, Idaho
I enjoyed the show; but was concerned about the overall impression it may leave. Iraq is a bad place to live; but how bad and compared to what other countries. In any country where the leaders are not elected by the citizens, I don't think you will find many people who will come forward to speak against the regime in power. Hey, even in America we are executing men and women; Texas executes a lot of people. Let's compare Iraq to all the other countries in the whole world in terms of number of executions, numbers in prison, food calories per citizen, doctors per citizen, clean water per citizen, oil reserves, nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, biological weapons, farmland per person, number of citizens, type of government, human rights abuses, and etc. I think we should be more quantitative and look at the whole earth. Based on the data, I am still trying to figure out why Iraq is more of a threat than North Korea. I bet you couldn't even get into North Korea to do a similar show.

James Gowin - Ohio
Concerning a US invasion of Iraq, I hope the Iraqi people have a viable alternative to Saddam, otherwise we will be stuck there for a long enough time for the love of democracy to take root. Who knows how long that could take? Perhaps their culture is not predisposed to democratic ideologies.

Also, did anyone else notice the family connections? Wife and first cousin...etc.? That makes for some questionable genetics, doesn't it? And how about Saddam's son getting drunk and killing people at parties. Isn't drinking alcohol forbidden in Islam? What about killing people, isn't that forbidden too?

If Saddam Hussein is this hypocritical in his own religious convictions, he has no integrity. Why should he be believed in anything else, especially in whether he is developing weapons of mass destruction? Assuming the horror stories that we have all heard about Saddam Hussein are true, What is the alternative to regime change?

Costa Mesa, California
I am still in shock from the depth of despair the camera showed me. Iraq must be freed from the terrorism that has become a way of life for these people. I pray George Bush can accomplish this mission.

Laura Betterton - Pelham, New York
I found the story on Iraq both fascinating and disturbing. I think it only goes to show how much Saddam Hussein is an insane dictator who has to be removed from power and let the people of Iraq form a democracy.

Snaju Nath - Baltimore, Maryland
Dear Sir/Madam,

Your program was very much successful in showing only the lies in Baghdad. The truth in Baghdad was never show on this program. I have several friends who are in US now whose families are still in Iraq and from whom I have heard the truth. Your programs will be more appreciated if you bring out the real truth. Thanks.

Nick Cockcroft, San Francisco, California
Watched this gripping piece last night. While I hate Saddam as much as you do, I was in Amman 3 weeks ago and shared a taxi with another woman, also from the Bay Area. She was risking jail time by transporting chemotherapy treatments to needy Iraqi patients in her luggage from the States. Seems they haven't had any there since 1991. So apparently contrary to your story not all medicine is available there now.

Tucson, Arizona
While Iraq is a repressive society, it is still a second-rate country which poses no real threat to the U.S. We are reacting aggressively to Iraq and Saddam precisely because we know they no match for us. We didn't react to the USSR like this and they HAD nuclear weapons. The Iraqi military was surrendering to reporters during the Gulf war... Why have we shifted our focus from Al Qaeda to Iraq? We should NOT have a conflict with Iraq without the rest of the world supporting us. During the presidential debates, Bush stated that he was not interested in "nation building" but here we are!

Jesse Greene - Waco, Texas
I watched Truth and Lies in Baghdad last night and was extremely impressed. I've always said Frontline is, by far, the best investigative news program on television. Now, I'm convinced Sam Kiley is the best investigative reporter. He represents everything that makes Frontline great with his back-down from no one, pull no punches, take no b.s. approach to journalism. I've never seen a reporter so persistent or so adept at pointing out discrepancies in the answers he receives. I've certainly never seen a reporter with the guts to threaten he'll break someone's arm if they push him. I hope to see more of him on Frontline in the future. Keep up the good work Sam!

Miami, Florida
I found Mr. Kiley rude and condescending and would suggest his bravado be tested with a visit to Israel to expose the realities of the dehumanization of the Palestinians. Let us see if he will be embraced with open arms by Israel, allowed to travel freely and roam and mix with these sorry souls in the refugee camps and Arab towns. Let us see if he and his camera will be allowed at the Border Patrols, Pill Boxes or to witness what a collective curfew on an entire village looks and feels like; WITH HIM INSIDE AND LOCKED IN. Let us see if Mr. Kiley will show us the forcible idleness imposed on these people with no school for the children, no opportunity whatsoever and yes, let us see if will point to the Israeli soldier and say; " if you butt your rifle in my face one more time. I'll break your hand"!

Tina Burr - Foster City, California
Sam Kiley has done MANY reports regarding the Palestinian-Israel conflict. I suggest you type in "Sam Kiley" in a net search. You'll find a couple hundred links to various reports he has written (and risked his life to cover, I might add!).

We're lucky there are those like Mr. Kiley willing to cover stories from places that most of us wouldn't dream of sending our worst enemies.

Tina Burr

Lee Risley - Dayton, Ohio
Admittedly our intrepid (!) journalist was hamstrung by the restrictions placed by the Iraqi government, but he seemed bent on finding info about the women's executions and showing how ridiculous it was to go along on the government's sight-seeing tours for foreign journalists.

But what about those infants in the hospital? A brusque "they're not starving, their (dumb?) mothers just mixed baby formula with impure water." Why would the mothers do that? Our journalist seems to have his questions already posed and can't add to the list. Just how common is impure water in Iraq these days? (Have they repaired all the damage to the water system that was inflicted by the airplanes in 1991?) Why don't the mothers simply breast-feed? --I'll bet there is a reason and our journalist should have gotten to the bottom of it.

Honest, I want to learn about Iraq, and I think I did somewhat, but this Frontline piece could in some ways be interpreted as a propaganda piece for the Bush administration. Even under the restrictions imposed, Kiley should have created a more meaningful story than the one we saw last night.

Reporter Sam Kiley responds:
Your correspondence is quite right to pick up on what might have appeared to have been a rather glib dismissal of an important part of the Iraqi story - the issue of the effects of sanctions. We were not making a documentary on this subject, so we had to truncate our script. When I said that the children were suffering as a result of being fed baby formula made with contaminated water, I did so because that is what the doctors on the scene said. I did speak to the women, none of whom were malnourished. They all said that they had enough to eat at home.

I have covered humanitarian disasters all over the world, including several famines. When children are starving, so are their mothers. If the children are malnourished but the mothers healthy, then they are lacking food for a medical reason (assuming there is no child abuse).

So, although Iraq's water purity has greatly improved under the oil for food programme and UN aid efforts, it is not perfect (and never has been). The women in the hospital came from traditional Bedouin communities who would not have access to purified city water anyway. Unfortunately the Iraqi government includes baby formula in its ration packs - which UNICEF is trying to stop - with the result that many mothers give up breast-feeding. They are not properly trained in how to give formula and seldom boil the water used in its preparation - so the children often get sick, and lose weight. Once in hospital they quickly recover given the correct treatment.

It is a pity that this film could be used by those in the Bush administration who are beating the drums of war. I have my own severe reservations about the US policy in the Middle East in general over the last 20 years and this administration's motives for attacking Afghanistan and Iraq in particular. But that is another film or another story. I also can't help it if Saddam runs a vile and destructive dictatorship.

Best wishes,

E. Benner - Princeton, IL
Why must we have our intelligence insulted by documentaries on PBS such as the current one, "Truth and Lies In Baghdad" which seem to support current right-wing Republican agenda? Aren't at least three major US networks already saturated with this nonsense? Kiley could have included more balance in his report by reminding viewers that it was the US in the first place who supplied this Iraqi tyrant with all the arms and military support to carry out his abuses. Kiley also seems to neglect to give adequate credit to the various private humanitarian organizations which have been the most responsible for helping with food and medicine for Iraqi civilians. What happened to Frontline's more balanced, objective reporting?

FRONTLINE/World Responds:
Thank you for writing about our segment on Iraq, "Truth and Lies in Baghdad."

As to correspondent Sam Kiley's intentions, I refer you to our web interview with him in which he says, "I have very strong reservations about the whole American foreign policy in the Middle East. You know, I'm not interested in feeding a war machine. But one can't pull one's punches just because you think that wrong-headed people are going to use your information. I have mixed views about whether or not it's a good idea [to invade Iraq]. Yes, it would be great for the people of Iraq to get rid of Saddam. It'd also be nice to have democracy in Saudi Arabia...But in a sense that's not my problem. My problem is to try and do justice to the story."

Several previous FRONTLINE documentaries, to which we link, have reported the by now widely known fact that Western countries, including the United States, have in the past allied themselves with and armed Saddam Hussein. This is certainly a vivid instance of "blowback".


Lakewood, Ohio
I am from Iraq and I just want to say thank you so much because for the first time on TV someone was able to say the truth and the reality of what is happening. and yet that is not all what the story is about, there is more and more I lived 24 years of my life in Iraq and I know what is going on very well.

thanks again that was great,

thank you so much,

take care.

Cincinnati, Ohio
It was a very sketchy & superficial report & just did not give a clear picture. Obviously the Iraqis were highly suspicious of camera touting foreign journalists. Their suspicions have a basis since western media has time & again turned truth on its head to pander to US/UK policy towards Iraq.

There was no evidence re Iraq developing WMD. The reporter tried to sensationalize Saddam's record on human rights & repression through following a few stories on public beheadings. OK, the Iraqi people have a repressive leader. Does that justify US invasion.

There is little basis for US claims of Saddam's development of weapons of mass destruction. Read this transcript of NPR's interview with former UN chief weapons inspector.

There are many other countries with highly repressive regimes. Is the US going to take on each one of them.

Burlington, Vermont
This was one of the worst Frontline episodes I have seen: The New York Times becomes The Sun. It was totally cheesy. The idea of asking Iraqis anywhere in the Middle East how they feel about Saddam, thus putting them at risk, was so disturbing. There are many outstanding examples of British TV journalism on PBS, But this was certainly not one of them. Surely you can do better.

J. Hammad - Skillman, New Jersey
Sam Kiley's reportage was bold and refreshing. I hope you'll have him do more stories for Frontline. Although the subject matter was horrifying, I really enjoyed Mr. Kiley's style.

Yardley, Pennsylvania
Riveting program. Saddam is a frightening man and I thank Kiley for his bravery in exposing this story.

Dave Flook - London, Ontario, Canada
Hi, I just watched Truth and Lies and I was moved. Sam Kiley and his crew did a fantastic job at revealing the corruption and politics in Iraq. It is rare to find anything that truly captivates you on television. This video has made me think. Which I assume was the intention. Keep making good quality vid's. Thanks.

Michael Wolff - San Diego, CA
Pathetic. Absolutely pathetic. I could go down the street and take pictures of homeless people and talk about how the U.S. government executes its own citizens and how inmates are raped in prison and how millions of women are brutalized by their spouses, but would that be an accurate representation of America? This was a demonization piece, pure and simple. You ought to be ashamed of yourself. I've been to Iraq. I know the truth of what's happening there. There are problems, but every society has problems. Your piece was an obscenity. It was propaganda designed to demonize the country on the eve of war. You should be ashamed of yourselves.

Oliver Herold - New York, New York
Regarding Mr. Wolff's do you compare a dictator and WMD with American societal homelessness and sodomy in prisons as a subject matter? U.S. government executes it's own citizens...huh? you must be referring to capital punishment. What is your point?

Okri Edward - Cliffside Park, New Jersey
Did I hear correctly? Did Sam Kiley say to an Iraqi on Camera, during the visit to the factory that quote: "...If you touch me, I'll break your arm...". Is this guy a thug? Or better yet an enforcer for the 'Soprano family'. It is unbelievable; Sam Kiley sets out to show Iraqi "bad behavior" but only end's up showing the world his 'inferior' up bringing.

Ron Campbell - Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
After watching Sam Kiley's incisive report from Iraq and the repression there, reading the interview with him on this site, and then considering the Bush policy of 'regime change', I still cannot see a moral justification for a U.S.-British invasion under the rules of the current world order, which for centuries now has asserted the inviolable sovereignty of the nation state as long as it respects that of other nation states. Iraq has been keeping the peace and staying within its own borders now for 11 years since its defeat in the Gulf War. It is not militarily capable of doing damage and a good part of its territory -- the 'no-fly zone' -- has been firmly under U.S.-British control for many years. The country is basically impotent militarily, unlike Germany pre-1939, which by that year had already begun invading and annexing its neighbors contrary to the Versailles Treaty, while continuing to build a huge war machine. If that were the case with Iraq, there would indeed be justification for a pre-emptive Revolution is preferable to war in such cases, and the Kurds of Iraq tried that once in the '90s, after the U.S. promised to back them. The Americans reneged on that pledge and left the Kurds twisting in the wind -- or dying in Saddam's lethal gas attacks. The problem now for Bush is that he has made bringing down Saddam the centerpiece of his current foreign policy, and if he does not accomplish that before the November 2004 presidential vote, he's going to lose face and appear like a whipped commander-in-chief. In that respect, he's locked himself in politically and is thus bound to attack Iraq. That's unfortunate, to say the least.

Terry Sherman - Burlington, Washington
I want to thank you people, and of course, this awesome reporter, for an education on a very, very tough subject. My questions about Iraq have been answered as well as they can be I'm sure. However, there is one question that remains in my mind after viewing this. From what I can see, The people of Iraq are starving for knowledge, like any human being. Their minds are not allowed free thought, and in their hearts, they know this. FEAR for one's life and family is ever-present. SO.... How does this change without a war? Without a revolution? I don't want to hear any bleeding-heart crap. I just want to know the bottom line. And so do the people of Iraq.

Pacifica, California
What was the point of your story? We all know that Saddam is a despicable character. The CIA installed him in 1958 and treated him as a valued ally until the Gulf War. You've presented nothing new in your report. What you failed to do is show what 800 tons of depleted uranium has done to Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. You also failed to show what it has done to over 200,000 American troops that fought in the Gulf War... as well as the 10,000 who have died due to Uranium poisoning since serving their country.

Is the fact that Saddam is a bad apple reason enough to go back into Iraq and murder an entire people to get to someone who will prove as elusive as Osama? Is it worth poisoning the entire country with countless tons of additional U-238 (depleted uranium) under the guise of eliminating someone who is no threat to his neighbors... let alone the US? Did you once mention in your program that this war is all about oil? Do you care?

It's sad that you have become a mouthpiece for the neo conservatives led by chicken hawks who are just itching to take over the entire middle east so some Americans can fuel their grotesque SUV's with their little tattered American Flags tied to their antennas. Shame on you, PBS. You had a chance to show Americans that this war is an ill conceived idea which is guaranteed to produce unlimited anti-American hatred... and you have chosen to cloud the issue with your canard about the tyrant we installed in Baghdad going bad. You have lost your way and have become a pathetic excuse for objective journalism.

FRONTLINE/World Responds:
Thank you for writing about our segment on Iraq, "Truth and Lies in Baghdad."

The point of our story is that Saddam Hussein is a "despicable character," as you say, and that his regime has terrorized the Iraqi people. But since, as you mention, many people already know that, we focused our story on how difficult it is for Western reporters to do their job in Iraq, when they are constantly "minded" by the government, intimidated, censored and expelled. We think that is a story worth telling.

As reporter Sam Kiley tells us in his web interview, "I'm not interested in feeding a war machine. But one can't pull one's punches just because you think that wrong-headed people are going to use your information." There are many people who despise Saddam Hussein, but still oppose a unilateral U.S. invasion of Iraq.

There does seem to be growing support for sending United Nations weapons inspectors back into Iraq, following the unanimous UN Security Council vote and endorsement by the Arab League.


Pedro - San Francisco, CA
It is a sad state of affairs when this week's South Park episode captures the essence of the latest USA-Iraq standoff better than a Frontline documentary.

Sam Kiley's "Truth and Lies in Baghdad" is biased and irrelevant. More than 500 thousand children have died in Iraq because of common bacteria found in contaminated water. The US is directly responsible for this. First they bombed water purification systems during the Gulf War and later they banned Iraq from importing chlorine to sterilize the water. Yet this detail fails to capture the reporter's attention even as he is confronted with sick children whose mothers have no access to clean water.

Instead, he prefers to dwell on the "beheadings". Never mind that Iraq is not the only country in the world that executes its citizens, including the USA. Never mind that the USA has strongly supported murderous regimes, in no way different from Saddam's, in the past. We now know what side of the Propaganda War Mr. Kiley has chosen.

Donald Swearingen - San Francisco, CA
I just finished watching "Iraq, Truth and Lies in Baghdad". It would seem that, indeed, public executions by beheading have been carried out in Iraq. And yes, this is a ghastly practice (as are many of the punishments of Islamic law, as reported in the Western press). The question is, is this a justification for invading Iraq, or not?

Just as a check, I went to the Google search engine on the Internet and entered "Public Executions Saudi Arabia". I received over 9,000 responses. Among the most prominent was the Amnesty International Web Site, which informed me that: "Two people will probably be executed in Saudi Arabia the week you read this document, if the rate of recorded executions in 1999 continues. Most of those who are executed are beheaded in public."

"Saudi Arabia has one of the highest rates of executions in the world in both absolute numbers and per capita. The death penalty applies to a wide range of non-violent activities such as apostasy and åwitchcraft', åsexual offences', acts deemed to amount to åcorruption on earth', and crimes such as drug dealing."

So, it would seem that one of our closest "allies" in the Middle East is among the world's greatest practitioners of intimidation by public decapitation. But none among our "leaders" is shouting at the top of his lungs that we should bring down the Saudi regime, nor has any suggested that the Saudis are "evil".

All of which leads me to wonder just whose propaganda campaign PBS and, regrettably, my local PBS affiliate KQED, are supporting?

Charlottesville, Virginia
The reporter seems to discredit the malnutrition among children, suggesting it is because the mothers are using infant formula and are unaware of how to prepare it properly. During the 1990-1992 Gulf War, the infrastructure of services, including water, was hit. The water infrastructure has not been rebuilt; hence, the lack of potable water, even for infant formulas. This issue was not given the priority or clarity it deserved.

Naples, Florida
Dear PBS:

My hat is off to Sam Kiley. Bravery and class! I'm a Gulf War Vet, and found myself in a US Army military intelligence platoon nestled amongst the tanks of the third armored cavalry regiment in Iraq, where we stopped roughly 30 km from Basra, and were told to go back. I understand why we couldn't do what we should have, but now I hope that Mr. Kiley has given enough people of conscience ample reason to support President Bush's and PM Blair's efforts to get rid of this atrocity once and for all. At the time we had Republic Guard prisoners who were grateful to be rescued by us, and told us stories of how saddam's (small s) henchmen would assure good Old Glory-burning turnouts. They would go building to building telling ALL residents that, for instance, at 2:00 p.m. there will be an anti-American protest and all must attend. While the protest was underway, they would go around the buildings to make sure nobody remained...if someone was, they would execute all tenants to show surviving neighbors that burn. What's more, I lived a number of years in the Czech Republic, and I can't count the stories from a lovely people of what it is like to live under a repressive regime. Why don't we have a right to set the Iraqis free? Why won't the Europeans offer us full backing?. Short memories? No backbones? Shame on the Europeans (save the Brits). We're talking about doing good, freeing peoples and setting precedents more than immediate threats to national security. As we knew over two hundred years ago that united we stand, divided we fall, the same context might well apply to the modern global community. Innocent people will continue to be slaughtered if we don't take a common moral stand. Europeans not backing us is a slap in the face and a cold shoulder towards laying foundations to human rights. Just like Yugoslavia, they choose to criticize us but yet turn around and demand human rights around the world while doing squat. Not all countries, but they know who they are (ex. this means you, FRANCE!)...Most perplexing is the Russian mentality that experiences such horror just two weeks ago, yet will not back us now...don't they understand that all their business agreements will work better after saddam's in hell???

Manuel Vargas - Burleson, Texas
Frontline continues to impress me. TRUTH AND LIES IN BAGHDAD is a short, but powerful piece on the timebomb that is Iraq. One of the most interesting points I heard made from the journalist was regarding the way he felt. He had almost every single, what I believe to be, human right violated during his "stay" in Iraq. When he left, he spoke of looking over his shoulder for a few days afterward. As he said, the people of Iraq must live in a constant state of oppression fueled by propaganda and fear. I am not politically active, nor will I ever be. However, I do not understand the individuals in this country, or others, that do not recognize Saddam is slightly further than left field and simply must be removed from power, forcefully if necessary. "Disarming" him only provides the feeling of temporary security; removing him will free a people. Nice work Frontline.

I watched the show- and how long has Frontline been part of the propaganda machine of the Bush administration? This so-called "journalism" is appalling. If ever there was a conclusion in search of support, this was it. Uninformative, statements of dubious truth value (the cause of sick babies), so much made of the inconveniences of the annoying "journalist" host, my God... The cost of sanctions against Iraq has been well-documented; but since this doesn't fit with the preconceived conclusion, this also is dismissed. And possible execution of innocent persons in Iraq? Thank God such a thing would never happen in the good old US of A! Let's get the bombs flying! I'll never trust Frontline again...

Kim Corey - Hampden, Maine
If I didn't know better I would have thought that the Muslim woman in Thursday night's "World Frontline" agreed with her husband that beheading prostates in the street in Baghdad was okay. In fact she may have but I don't think that the film clip reflected this conclusively and I'll tell you why. Having spent two and half years in Japan as an English teacher in both rural and large cities I know that most women do not speak English or else will certainly not try to use the little they know if their husbands are present(or even without their husbands-lacking confidence). The husbands always have priority when it comes to having the chance to speak to English speakers and do not see it as important for the wives to speak(after all what will they do with what they learn, they only have to make three meals and all the rest). I also spent a month in Egypt and became frighteningly aware of just how inaccessible women are at all...

Thomas Parsons - Dripping Springs, TX
We heard a lot about supposed lies in Iraq, but nothing about the monstrous propaganda machine of the U.S. Knowing our government has lied in the past (the baby incubator incident) and supports covert ops and disinformation. campaigns, how are we intelligently not to question the veracity of Mr. Kiley's entire documentary?

Madison, Wisconsin
I am sure that George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, and Dick Cheney highly approve of this program, if they didn't produce it themselves. I still feel that bombing a city of five million people to get at one man, or a relative handful of his followers, is not right. The Gulf War, Serbia, and Afghanistan have proved that smart bombs are not smart. We know that Cruise missiles can be knocked off course by anti-aircraft fire - of which we saw a lot in the Gulf. War. I knew Iraqi students many years ago when I was in school. Iraqi people are not abstractions to me. Let the CIA deal with the problem - they are very good at taking out leaders the USA doesn't like. Don't bomb the Iraqi people!!

Siobhan Hansen - New York, New York
The story of one journalist's journey inside Iraq. Is just that. It falls far short of an investigative report uncovering the truth about Saddam's weapons programs or the impact of UN sanctions on Iraqi civilians. He does provide a lot of circumstantial evidence of human rights violations by the Iraqi regime, which has been well established by human rights groups like Amnesty International for many years. In fact long before it was convenient for President Bush to use the human rights issue in Iraq as a propaganda tool. To sell this story as an unbiased expose of the Iraqi regime, is shameful. It is way below the level of quality reporting that I have always expected from PBS and Frontline.

Bob - Rochester, New York
Hard to tell, as long as Saddam continues to hide lie and deceive. In the end, It is he who hurts Iraq. Your program has finally provided solid evidence that substantiates the White House's accusations. This is excellent, journalism, with a relentless search for the truth. A terrific, horrific look inside Iraq.

Greenfield, Ohio
Your story on Iraq had me scared and fearful for the lives of those involved in the filming and the interviews with the people. This is purely a primitive country. your reporters are very brave souls. Thank you.

Brooklyn, New York
That was not a reporter you filmed in Iraq he arrived with a biased point and was out to prove his point that Iraq is a criminal nation and deserves to be destroyed again. it was as if a foreign journalist arrived in the us and asked officials about the numerous police killings of young black men or asked to interview some of the hundreds of political prisoners in us prisons (see amnesty intl.)This was not a example of journalism but u.s. gov't propaganda. I'm disappointed in frontline.

Don Zook-Slagel, Waldoboro, Maine
The reporter's point of view, his general attitude to superiority give me pause. Obviously, he is not beholden to Iraq, but given his machismo and his chutzpah, I wonder to whom he is beholden.. In an era when everything smells of something else, I too have a right to be suspicious. I would appreciate knowing the purpose behind broadcasting something we already know.

FRONTLINE/World Responds:
Thank you for writing about our segment on Iraq, "Truth and Lies in Baghdad."

Reporter Sam Kiley is beholden to us, the editors of FRONTLINE/World. Whether you like his aggressive and sometimes sarcastic style of reporting seems to be, in part, a matter of taste. We did the story, in large part, to reveal the severe difficulties of reporting from inside Iraq.


New York, New York
I was watching the program on Iraq. I thought it gave me a lot more insight into this part of the world. I feel very badly for the people of Iraq. They are intelligent people and given the murderous control of Saddam, these people are forced to live in fear. I was horrified by the stories of the beheading. The part of the story on Uday and the Fedayeen were so frightening. When the training portion came on. I had to turn away. I was getting ill just seeing what pure evil is like. These people are truly animals and have a true evil soul. The sanctions are a part of controlling the Evil one (Saddam). Oil for food program should be working for the people. This has been taken by Saddam. His people suffer by his actions not by the US. I believe the sanctions should remain, however after periods of time. They should be reviewed and eventually less restraining on the people of Iraq.

Gary Hall - Los Angeles, California
RE: Are sanctions helping or hurting Iraq?

Of course they are hurting Iraq. And the people of Iraq. Not a very thought provoking question.

However, maybe we should talk about how much it is hurting the people of IAA, or if the sanctions are having the desired effect on the leadership of Iraq.

On the effect on the people. In your show, it is evident that there is disagreement among even the doctors as to whether there is a shortage of medicine. It is interesting to ponder why in 1998, the past administration and human rights groups touted a number that stated that the sanctions had caused the deaths of 500,000 children. Today, 4 years later, that same number is used. Was there a change in the estimate? Would the number be even higher without sanctions, if Saddam were left to do his dirty laundry. Without sanctions and the fear of outside intervention, he may have had all the children of certain ethnic groups cleansed by now.

I do not know the answer to these questions. They do need to be addressed, however.

Joe Lapsley - Chicago, Illinois
According to the accounts I have heard, your story omitted the effects of sanctions as well as the U.S. bombing of the water supply system. I would like to see that reported debate Kathy Kelley of Voices in The Wilderness ( She has spent a long time in Iraq since the Gulf war and compared to her accounts your show sounded like U.S. propaganda.