PRODUCED AND REPORTED BY
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
Pres. GEORGE W. BUSH: Today our way of life, our very freedom came under attack.
ANNOUNCER: It is the war that defined a presidency-
DANIEL BENJAMIN, Natl. Security Council, 1994-'99: A trauma like 9/11 clears the stage.
ANNOUNCER: -and a plan to respond-
JAMES BAMFORD, Author, A Pretext for War: We've got to see how we could bring Saddam Hussein into this.
ANNOUNCER: -that became a war about a war.
BOB WOODWARD, Author, Bush at War: The president asked Rumsfeld, "What war plans do you have for Iraq?"
Pres. GEORGE W. BUSH: If we know Saddam Hussein has dangerous weapons today, does it make any sense for the world to wait?
ANNOUNCER: Tonight, the inside story of those epic battles.
Gen. MICHAEL DELONG (Ret.), Dpty. Cmdr., CENTCOM, 2000-'03: The tensions were really high.
NABIL MUSAWI, Iraqi National Congress: The whole government turned into two camps.
KAREN DeYOUNG, Author, Soldier: The Life of Colin Powell: He said, "Iraq is like a piece of crystal. You're going to shatter it."
MICHAEL GORDON, The New York Times: Rumsfeld understood information is power. He intended to keep it to himself.
RICHARD ARMITAGE, Dpty. Secy. of State, 2001-'05: When somebody hijacks the system, just like a hijacked airplane, very often, no good comes out of it.
ANNOUNCER: The first night of a special two-part FRONTLINE series.
Pres. GEORGE W. BUSH: My fellow citizens, the events in Iraq have now reached the final days of decision.
ANNOUNCER: Bush's War.
911 OPERATOR: Where is the emergency?
WOMAN'S VOICE: Help!
911 OPERATOR: Ma'am, stay calm. Ma'am?
WOMAN'S VOICE: Help!
DISPATCHER: Fire Department 408. Where's the fire?
911 OPERATOR: This is another call in regards to the World Trade Center.
Vice Pres. DICK CHENEY: ["Meet the Press," September 16, 2001] So we turned on the television and actually saw the second plane hit.
WOMAN'S VOICE: I'm going to die, aren't I!
911 OPERATOR: No, no, no, no, no!
WOMAN'S VOICE: I'm going to die!
911 OPERATOR: Ma'am, ma'am-ma'am, say your prayers!
MAN'S VOICE: We're not ready to die, but it's getting bad! Oh, God! Oh!
Vice Pres. DICK CHENEY: My Secret Service agents came in and said, "Sir, we have to leave immediately," and grabbed me and hoisted me up and moved me very rapidly down into an underground facility under the White House.
NEWSCASTER: It's so difficult at the moment in all this confusion to sort out-
NARRATOR: While they waited for secure communications to come on line, the vice president was in lockdown, watching the news.
NEWSCASTER: -from Long Boat Key, Florida-
NEWSCASTER: -first from Florida, stopped in a military installation in Louisiana. He was briefed-
NARRATOR: The Secret Service kept the president in continuous motion.
NEWSCASTER: -Louisiana to Nebraska-
NEWSCASTER: The president, as we have reported, is now at a military installation in-
NARRATOR: In Washington, Dick Cheney was in charge.
ELISABETH BUMILLER, Rice Biographer, An American Life: Condi Rice sat next to him at this table and they watched the World Trade Center collapse on the television down there. And it was this horrible moment. There was silence.
NARRATOR: A number of unidentified airplanes were still in the sky over the capital.
Vice Pres. DICK CHENEY: ["Meet the Press," September 16, 2001] The Secret Service had received a report that an airplane was headed for the White House.
NEWSCASTER: Oh, my goodness! There is smoke pouring out of the Pentagon!
Vice Pres. DICK CHENEY: Within short order, we had word the Pentagon's been hit. We had reports that there were six airplanes that might have been hijacked, and that's what we started working off of, was that list of six.
NARRATOR: They scrambled the Air Force. The vice president said he was authorized to order them to shoot down commercial airliners. Richard Clarke was in the bunkers.
RICHARD CLARKE, Dir., NSC Counterterrorism, 1998-'01: He had recommended that we use force to shoot down passenger aircraft, if those passenger aircraft were hijacked and if it looked like they were about to take out a significant target, like the White House or the Capitol.
NARRATOR: Not far away, one plane looked particularly threatening.
ELISABETH BUMILLER: And Cheney gave an order to shoot it down. And they didn't know what had happened. It disappeared from the radar screen and they thought perhaps they had shot it down. And then they got word that there was a plane down in this field in Pennsylvania. And there was this horror that went through the room because they thought, "Oh my God," they'd shot the plane down.
NARRATOR: It was United Airlines flight 93. Cheney mistakenly believed he was responsible for shooting it down.
CAPITOL POLICE OFFICER: Please! Everybody, run!
NARRATOR: The White House was evacuated. Washington was in chaos.
SECRET SERVICE AGENT: This is not the place to be!
NARRATOR: Over at the State department, they thought they were next.
RICHARD ARMITAGE, Dpty. Secy. of State, 2001-'05: We got a phone call saying State's going to be a target. There's another plane up there.
NEWSCASTER: A car bomb has exploded outside the State Department.
NEWSCASTER: But apparently, we've gotten a report that now a car bomb has exploded outside-
RICHARD ARMITAGE: And just at that moment, there was loud noise out in the streets, and CNN started reporting there had been a car bomb outside the State Department. It turned out all to be false.
NARRATOR: The secretary of state was out of the country.
COLIN POWELL, Secretary of State: [Interviewed by Brook Lapping, 2001] I was in Lima, Peru. And suddenly, my assistant came in and handed me a note. And the note said that a plane had gone into the World Trade Center. I immediately turned and said, "Get the plane. We've got to go home."
NARRATOR: John Bolton was an undersecretary of state.
Amb. JOHN BOLTON, Undersecy. of State, 2001-'05: I spent the day at the State Department in the operations center, trying to get Secretary Powell back from Peru.
NARRATOR: Powell was completely out of the loop. It would take hours to get back to Washington.
KAREN DeYOUNG, Author, Soldier: The Life of Colin Powell: Powell had very little information, and they just couldn't get through. Everything was jammed.
NARRATOR: Powell's second in command, Richard Armitage, was in charge of the State Department.
RICHARD ARMITAGE: It was another day at the office for me. I'd done six years in Vietnam. And this was a problem. It just had to be resolved.
NARRATOR: In Langley, Virginia, even the CIA was evacuated. Those who remained were already preparing the counterattack.
GARY SCHROEN, CIA, 1970-'02: There were, like, 30 of us standing around, and as soon as the second aircraft smashed into the second tower, everyone said, "Bin Laden. It was bin Laden."
NARRATOR: At the CIA, revenge was in the air.
JOHN McLAUGHLIN, Dpty. Director, CIA, 2000-'04: We were fighting these guys. And they won a huge victory on that day and it was a huge defeat for us.
NARRATOR: George Tenet, the director of Central Intelligence, spread the word: It was Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, National Security Adviser: [Interviewed by Brook Lapping, 2001] Everybody assumed that it was al Qaeda because the operation looked like al Qaeda, quacked like al Qaeda, seemed like al Qaeda.
NARRATOR: Condoleezza Rice was the national security adviser. Much of the communication traffic flowed through her. In the early afternoon, she talked to the British ambassador.
Sir CHRISTOPHER MEYER, U.K. Ambassador to U.S., 1997-'03: By then, I think it was fairly obvious it was al Qaeda. And she said as much over the phone.
NARRATOR: But Rice was also picking up on another idea already moving through back channels, something the ambassador hadn't considered.
Sir CHRISTOPHER MEYER: She said, "Well, one thing we need to look into is to see whether Iraq's had anything to do with this."
NARRATOR: In fact, blaming Saddam Hussein for the attacks already had powerful advocates at the Pentagon.
JAMES BAMFORD, Author, A Pretext for War: On the afternoon of September 11th, the Pentagon is still smoking, Donald Rumsfeld dictates to one of his aides, "We've got to see, somehow, how we could bring Saddam Hussein into this."
[Dept. of Defense notes, 9/11/01, 2:40 PM "Judge whether hit SH [Saddam Hussein] at the same time. Not only UBL [Usama bin Laden]."]
NARRATOR: Later, Rumsfeld's deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, on a conference call with the vice president, suggested a retaliatory attack on Iraq.
DANIEL BENJAMIN, Natl. Security Council, 1994-'99: A trauma like 9/11 clears the stage. And because the neoconservatives had their vision already sketched out, you know, they seized- they seized the center.
NARRATOR: And on the telephone with the president, Cheney and Rumsfeld argued for retaliation against nations that may have helped al Qaeda, nations like Iraq.
MICHAEL SCHEUER, CIA, 1982-'04: Mr. Wolfowitz, Mr. Rumsfeld and Mr. Cheney all cut their teeth in the cold war, in the contest between nation-states. They're not comfortable with thinking that the world's greatest power can be threatened by a couple of Arabs with long beards, squatting around a desert campfire in Afghanistan. It doesn't register.
NARRATOR: Also that afternoon, defense policy adviser Richard Perle made a call to White House speech writer David Frum.
DAVID FRUM, White House speechwriter, 2001-'02: He and I had a long conversation about what things the president might want to say in his speech to the nation over the coming days.
NARRATOR: Perle pushed Frum to include language that would allow action against Iraq.
RICHARD PERLE, Chmn,, DoD Policy Board, 2001-'03: I said that we are not going to deal effectively with global terrorism if states can support and sponsor and harbor terrorists without penalty.
NARRATOR: Perle had one state sponsor in mind, Iraq.
DAN BALZ, The Washington Post: When Bush finally got back to the White House at about 7:00 o'clock that night, there was a draft of the speech available.
NARRATOR: The speech included Perle's line about targeting state sponsors.
DAN BALZ: The president had a short meeting that included Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser. And she said to him, "Do you want to say this tonight?" And he said to her, "What do you think?" She said, "First moments matter most. I think we ought to keep it in."
Pres. GEORGE W. BUSH: [September 11, 2001] Good evening. Today our very freedom came under attack. We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.
RICHARD PERLE: The president made what I think is probably the most important statement in all the statements that have been made by him and others, and that was that we would not distinguish between the terrorists and the countries that harbor them.
NARRATOR: At that moment, the group that would be known publicly as the neocons had been given enough to mount a campaign.
DAVID FRUM: When he laid down those principles, I don't know whether he foresaw all of their implications, how far they would take him. I don't know if he understood fully and foresaw fully the true radicalism of what he had just said.
Pres. GEORGE W. BUSH: We go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world. Thank you, good night, and God bless America.
NARRATOR: At dusk, Secretary of State Colin Powell finally arrived in Washington.
KAREN DeYOUNG, Author, Soldier: The Life of Colin Powell: As they flew into Washington, they circled around, could see all the smoke coming from the Pentagon.
COLIN POWELL, Secretary of State, 2001-'05: I had all that time to think about what had happened and what it was going to mean. Clearly, America was under assault, serious assault.
RICHARD ARMITAGE: He came right to the department just to swing by to have a quick word with me. I went downstairs and saw him outside the department in the evening. The streets were completely deserted. The only lights you saw at all were police cars. And then he rushed over for the meeting with the president.
NARRATOR: Powell missed the president's speech but did make it in time for the first meeting of the war cabinet.
COLIN POWELL: I suggested to the president and my other colleagues that this was an opportunity to begin pulling together a worldwide coalition.
[www.pbs.org: Read Powell's interview]
NARRATOR: But building coalitions wasn't on Donald Rumsfeld's mind. He raised the idea of invading Iraq.
BOB WOODWARD: The night of 9/11, at a small group meeting of the principals, Rumsfeld actually puts Iraq on the table and says, "Part of our response maybe should be attacking Iraq. It's an opportunity."
KAREN DeYOUNG: As far as Powell was concerned, the enemy was al Qaeda. And as he said at the time, we know where they live. We know where Osama bin Laden lives. And that was the attack that had to be organized.
NARRATOR: The next morning, Powell began pushing the president to build a coalition. His first call was to Tony Blair.
Pres. GEORGE W. BUSH: Good morning, Tony. How are ya?
NARRATOR: The British were worried about how the new president would react.
Sir CHRISTOPHER MEYER: I think the concern in London, the initial concern in London was there should be no sort of knee-jerk cowboy instant reaction to this without a bit of forethought about what ought to be done.
Pres. GEORGE W. BUSH: My customary habit is to check in with my friend in Great Britain, so I'm glad-
TONY BLAIR, Prime Minister U.K.: [Interviewed by Brook Lapping, 2001] I remember he was very calm in the conversation. He said immediately, "There is no point in some instant response that means nothing. So we've got to think this thing through and make sure that we go after these people in a way that's going to be effective and that is going to eradicate them."
[www.pbs.org: Read Blair's interview]
NARRATOR: Blair signed on.
Sir CHRISTOPHER MEYER: There was going to be no sort of wild overreaction, and that this was going to take some thought and that the proper thing to do would be done after due deliberation.
NARRATOR: And at CIA headquarters that night, that's exactly what they were doing.
J. COFER BLACK, CIA, 1974-'02: We had been working on this for years. Where everybody else is looking for their maps on Afghanistan, we're ready to rock, ready to roll. And it really took momentum. And George Tenet said, "OK, update the plan and have it ready by tomorrow."
RON SUSKIND, Author, The One Percent Doctrine: They come blazing forward with a fully architected plan. "We are going to spread this over 80 countries. We are going to go at it with this eight-pronged attack."
NARRATOR: Cofer Black ran the CIA's counterterrorism center.
DANA PRIEST, The Washington Post: Cofer Black was an evangelical on the war on terror, as it was defined by the president. And he wasn't going to let anybody stand in his way. And actually, either was George Tenet.
NARRATOR: Tenet and Cofer Black vividly delivered the message.
MICHAEL SCHEUER, CIA, 1982-'04: Cofer Black, who was the Chief of CTC, said, you know, "We're going to put their heads on pikes, and we want flies crossing- you know, crawling across their dead eyes," and that kind of- kind of headquarters hero talk.
RON SUSKIND: You know, the president loves operational guys. Black does a great presentation. You know, Black has been waiting his whole life for this, basically. He's very theatrical.
COFER BLACK: This is serious business. We've been attacked. This is war. People are going to die. And my guys are going to die.
RON SUSKIND: He can talk the talk of blood lust. You know, he's very vivid. The president loves this.
NARRATOR: But Tenet had a competitor in the room. Dick Cheney deeply distrusted the CIA. He wanted his oldest political ally, Don Rumsfeld, and the Pentagon to take the lead.
MELVIN GOODMAN, Fmr. CIA Officer: You haven't had that kind of strong relationship between a vice president and a secretary of defense. We've never had a vice president as powerful as Dick Cheney, and we've never had a secretary of defense who probably is feared as much as Donald Rumsfeld.
NARRATOR: Once, nearly 40 years ago, Cheney had worked for Rumsfeld. They would be closely linked for more than three decades as formidable bureaucratic infighters.
[www.pbs.org: A chart of their intertwined careers]
JAMES MANN, Author, Rise of the Vulcans: The difference between these two people, Rumsfeld and Cheney-Rumsfeld will come right at you. There's nothing indirect about him. Cheney tends to be very low-keyed. It's just a difference in style between the two guys. Politically, they're really-their views of the world and their views of government are very similar.
NARRATOR: Cheney wanted Rumsfeld to come up with a plan for attacking al Qaeda in Afghanistan, but the military was caught flat-footed.
Gen. MICHAEL DELONG (Ret.), Dpty. Cmdr., CENTCOM, 2000-'03: We had no plan. I mean, to be honest, you have operational plans for different parts of the world. There was none for Afghanistan.
THOMAS RICKS: The regular U.S. military looks at Afghanistan and all it sees is the Soviet experience. This is where superpowers go to be humiliated and so probably feels there's been a bit of foot dragging there.
NARRATOR: Rumsfeld was angry. He wanted quick action with a small force, and he didn't mince words with the lead general, Tommy Franks, about it.
Gen. MICHAEL DELONG: The tensions were really high, and Franks was not getting any more sleep than I was. And by the way, he drinks maybe 15 cups of coffee a day, smokes two packs of cigarettes, cigars, and chews. So he's running on adrenalin and caffeine and nicotine. And so it doesn't take much to scratch that line, and he and Rumsfeld went at it.
NARRATOR: Rumsfeld scrambled, but Tenet and his counterterror teams were way ahead of him.
DANA PRIEST: So George Tenet for a while gets the upper hand, and I think that bothers Rumsfeld a lot.
NEWSCASTER: President Bush today met with his national security advisers-
NEWSCASTER: President Bush will spend today at Camp David with his-
NEWSCASTER: Today President Bush will focus on military strategy in meetings with his national-
NARRATOR: That first weekend, as Rumsfeld and his generals were struggling to put together a plan-
NEWSCASTER: -whatever it takes to win the war against those responsible.
NARRATOR: -the war cabinet gathered at Camp David.
COLIN POWELL: By the time the meeting took place on Saturday morning at Camp David, where we assembled to look at military options and exactly what we were going to do as we moved forward, it had all begun to sink in, the extent of this problem.
NARRATOR: Colin Powell was unaware that attacking Iraq was on the minds of many in this room.
Pres. GEORGE W. BUSH: I've asked the highest levels of our government to come to discuss the current tragedy that has so deeply affected our nation.
NARRATOR: The CIA offered its plan to take on al Qaeda in Afghanistan. But then Paul Wolfowitz spoke.
JOHN McLAUGHLIN, Dpty. Director, CIA, 2000-'04: There was discussion of Iraq and whether Iraq was behind this and whether Iraq should be included in any targeting.
KENNETH POLLACK, Natl. Security Council, 1999-'01: They made Saddam Hussein out to be the greatest threat to the United States and the source of all evil, if not in the world, then certainly in the Middle East.
COLIN POWELL: And Paul put a case forward that, ultimately, Iraq would have to be dealt with.
JOHN McLAUGHLIN: That discussion went back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. The agency argued that that was not appropriate, not the right conclusion to draw at this point.
DAN BALZ: Powell's reaction was that Wolfowitz was fixated on Iraq, that they were looking for kind of any excuse to bring Iraq into this.
JOHN McLAUGHLIN: At the end of all this deliberation, the president says, "Thank you all very much. This has been a very good discussion. I'm going to think about all of this on Sunday, and I'll call you together Monday and tell you what I've concluded."
NARRATOR: As the president returned to the White House, it was clear to insiders that Afghanistan would have to be job one. The lingering question was who would take the lead, the Pentagon or the CIA. The stakes for Cheney and Rumsfeld were high. If the CIA prevailed, they could lose control of how and where the war on terror would be fought, and Iraq would almost certainly not be a high priority.
JOHN McLAUGHLIN: And Monday, we all assembled in the cabinet room. And the president lays down about 12 decisions, just like that, machine gun fashion.
INTERVIEWER: What did he say?
JOHN McLAUGHLIN: Well, of course, the thing that stands out in my memory, because it hit me vividly, was he said, "I want CIA in there first."
NARRATOR: It was a body blow to Cheney and Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld's military machine would be taking a back seat to the CIA and George Tenet.
RON SUSKIND: And I think that's a bitter pill for the Pentagon. This great historical moment. They are public servants, after all. In some ways, they wait their whole life to be called to duty at a moment like this. And the Pentagon is largely on the sidelines, watching-and watching, of all people, the CIA.
NARRATOR: But the vice president was already focusing on a different dimension of the war on terror. He wanted to push the intelligence agencies to fight from the shadows, from a place he called "the dark side."
Vice Pres. DICK CHENEY: ["Meet the Press," September 16, 2001] We also have to work, though, sort of 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, if we're going to be successful.
NEWSCASTER: The United States is in hot pursuit of those who planned the suicide attacks on New York City and Washington.
NEWSCASTER: The massive investigation into last week's attacks continues to widen.
NARRATOR: The intelligence agencies responded in kind, ramping up their rhetoric.
J. COFER BLACK, CIA, 1974-'02: [congressional hearing] This is a very highly classified area, but I have to say that all you need to know is that there was a before 9/11 and there was an after 9/11. After 9/11, the gloves come off.
NARRATOR: Taking the gloves off meant they would have to do things they hadn't done in decades.
DANA PRIEST, The Washington Post: The dark side after 9/11 has to do with finding and killing or capturing people. And then you have to question them. And then you have to keep them. And they had nothing set up with that in mind.
NARRATOR: From that first morning in the bunker, Cheney understood he would have to start the process to provide the president unprecedented legal authority to go to the dark side. His lawyer, David Addington, set the wheels in motion.
BARTON GELLMAN, The Washington Post: So on the very morning of 9/11, Dick Cheney is turning to his lawyer and saying, "What extraordinary powers is the president going to need to meet this threat?"
NARRATOR: Addington called the Justice Department. He reached John Yoo, a 34-year-old lawyer at the Office of Legal Counsel, the OLC.
JAMES RISEN, The New York Times: John Yoo very quickly begins to be the go-to guy at Justice who is willing to say yes to everything that the vice president and Addington are asking him to do.
JACK GOLDSMITH, Asst. Atty. General, OLC, 2003-'04: He had views about legal issues that they found congenial. And he was very, very knowledgeable and he was very fast. So I think he was a very important player.
NARRATOR: At the OLC, John Yoo, with the input of Addington and the White House counsel's office, drafted his first piece of legislation.
JOHN YOO, Office of Legal Counsel, 2001-'03: It's an extremely broad statute, and it says use all necessary means to stop future terrorist attacks and to, you know, find those responsible for the past attacks.
NEWSCASTER: This has to be a disappointment for the Bush administration, and it's providing fuel to administration critics.
NARRATOR: On Friday, September 14, with John Yoo's proposed legislation in hand, the administration asked Congress to approve the measure.
JANE MAYER, The New Yorker: The White House tries to see if they can get Congress to go along with giving them complete power to wage the war on terror globally against anybody that they deem to be a terrorist.
RON SUSKIND: And the key area that they want is that the president can use wartime authority, very, very broadly constructed, in the United States.
NARRATOR: But the Democrats weren't disposed to grant such sweeping presidential authority, and they controlled the Senate.
JANE MAYER: And Congress rejects this and says, "No, we're not going to go quite that far."
RON SUSKIND: And so Cheney and Addington and others sit down after that and say, "Well, we shouldn't have to go to them. We're in a state of emergency. We need to do what's needed."
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, Newsweek: The White House then secretly asked the Justice Department for another legal memo.
JOHN YOO: The Justice Department had long thought that Congress cannot limit the commander-in-chief power, that Congress cannot tell the president how to exercise his judgment as commander-in-chief.
NARRATOR: The secret memo was officially signed by John Yoo 11 days later.
["The president has broad constitutional power to use military force."]
JOHN YOO: The laws as they were written and the Constitution that we have gives the president a lot of power in wartime. The president is the commander-in-chief.
["These decisions, under our Constitution, are for the president alone to make."]
JACK GOLDSMITH: The truly remarkable thing about the opinion, it went beyond the idea that the president didn't need Congress's authorization and said that there was nothing the Congress could do to stop the president from doing these things. That was the remarkable part of the opinion.
JANE MAYER: So what Congress took away, the Justice Department gave.
NARRATOR: The president was told he now had the authority to use virtually any means necessary anywhere, against any enemy, as long as the nation was at war.
BRADFORD BERENSON, White House lawyer, 2001-'03: If you were president of the United States, I think you personally would want to make certain that you had done everything you could to prevent another catastrophic act of terrorism.
NARRATOR: That view was certainly held by the top civilians at the Pentagon. The president's statement on the night of 9/11 was now being used publicly to make the case for war against Saddam Hussein.
PAUL WOLFOWITZ, Dpty. Secretary of Defense, 2001-'05: Well, I think the president's words are pretty good, so let me say it's not just simply a matter of capturing people and holding them accountable but removing the sanctuaries, removing the support systems, ending states who sponsor terrorism. And that's why it has to be a broad and sustained campaign. It's not-
DAN BALZ: And that was taken by everybody to be a sign that he felt that, at this point, we should go after Iraq. And it alarmed Powell and the people in the State Department, who again felt it was inflaming the situation, taking their eye off the real ball, which was to go after al Qaeda and Afghanistan.
REPORTER: Are we really after ending regimes, or are we simply going to try to change-
COLIN POWELL: We're after ending terrorism. And if there are states and regimes, nations that support terrorism, we hope to persuade them that it is in their interest to stop doing that. But I think ending terrorism is where I would like to leave it, and let Mr. Wolfowitz speak for himself.
NARRATOR: This was not the first time Powell and the Pentagon had found themselves at odds. For many insiders, the argument began the first day of the Bush administration.
JAMES MANN, Author, Rise of the Vulcans: Bush wants to send out a message to the country. It's a message of national unity, you know, the Florida dispute, the election is over, let's all come together.
Pres. GEORGE W. BUSH: [December 16, 2000] We must conduct our foreign policy in the spirit of national unity and bipartisanship-
JAMES MANN: His way of doing that is to announce his first cabinet appointment, Colin Powell as secretary of state.
Pres. GEORGE W. BUSH: Today it is my privilege to ask him to become the 65th secretary of state of the United States of America.
THOMAS RICKS, The Washington Post: People are saying, "Wow! Colin Powell is going to be huge in this administration." Here's a guy who's been a national security advisor, a four-star general, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, knows all the players, and now he's secretary of state. And his approval rating is higher than the president's. This is a guy Americans know and think they love.
COLIN POWELL: It is absolutely a given-
JAMES MANN: Powell has a very expansive press conference.
COLIN POWELL: America will remain very much engaged in the Middle East. We will defend our interests from a position of strength.
JAMES MANN: He talks about all kinds of things. He also mentions defense issues.
COLIN POWELL: Our armed forces are stretched rather thin, and there is a limit to how many of these deployments we can sustain.
JAMES MANN: The more he talks, he begins to create concern that he's not only going to be the secretary of state, that he will have considerable influence over the Pentagon, too.
COLIN POWELL: And I think a national missile defense is an essential part of our overall strategic force posture.
JAMES MANN: After all, this is a secretary of state who's been chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who knows military issues well.
Pres. GEORGE W. BUSH: Thank you all for having us. God bless.
NARRATOR: But appearances can be deceiving. Powell made the president's conservative supporters uneasy, and there had always been friction with Vice President Cheney.
JAMES MANN: And you begin to get a very quiet groundswell, "We need a strong secretary of defense who will keep Colin Powell in check and make sure he's not running the Pentagon, as well as the State Department."
NARRATOR: Cheney had in mind Donald Rumsfeld as secretary of defense, a 68-year-old veteran of the Republican ideological wars. The president agreed.
Pres. GEORGE W. BUSH: Today it is my honor to announce that I am submitting the name of Donald Rumsfled to be secretary of defense-
NARRATOR: Now the hawks had their man.
THOMAS RICKS: I think these guys have rubbed each other wrong for a long time.
Pres. GEORGE W. BUSH: His record of service to the country is extraordinary.
THOMAS RICKS: It's a different outlook, a different history, just a different approach.
DANA PRIEST, The Washington Post: Powell's vision of the world was not, as we see, the one shared by the other alpha males in the Cabinet. And there are a group of them that are really formidable- George Tenet, Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld. They're all such dominant characters.
NARRATOR: Inside the administration, Powell was isolated. But he did have a powerful ally in Prime Minister Tony Blair. In late September, Blair came to Washington.
Sir CHRISTOPHER MEYER, U.K. Ambassador to U.S., 1997-'03: We arrived at the White House in time for supper before the speech the president was going to deliver.
NARRATOR: Blair wanted to meet with the president in person. He was worried Bush was gunning for Saddam Hussein. Privately, the president told Blair Afghanistan was his top priority. He had tabled Iraq.
Sir CHRISTOPHER MEYER: The president had himself taken that decision over the weekend, that whatever might follow, the primary target was al Qaeda. So by the time Blair came to Washington to have his talks with the president, he found himself pushing at an open door.
NARRATOR: That evening, Blair was the president's honored guest.
Pres. GEORGE W. BUSH: [September 20, 2001] America has no truer friend than Great Britain.
Sir CHRISTOPHER MEYER: I felt that sometimes that the Number 10 team found it exhilarating, almost intoxicating, to find themselves in a situation where, with the president of the world's only superpower, they could actually shift the pieces to change the international geopolitic, if you like. So all this was an intoxicating brew. An intoxicating brew.
[www.pbs.org: Read Meyer's interview]
Pres. GEORGE W. BUSH: And tonight, the United States of America makes the following demands on the Taliban. Deliver to United States authorities all the leaders of al Qaeda who hide in your land.
NARRATOR: The war with Afghanistan was now in motion. The president had been fine tuning the CIA war plan for days.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, Natl. Security Advisor, 2001-'05: When we put the map out on the table- and you look at the map and you look at Afghanistan and you look where it is- and I think the color kind of drained from everybody's faces.
NARRATOR: But the plan was fresh and daring, an unconventional force with paramilitary officers linking up with anti-Taliban guerillas.
GARY SCHROEN, CIA, 1970-'02: My team of- there were seven officers, including myself and three air crew-flew in on the 26th of September. When I began to distribute money- $200,000 dollars here, $250,000 for this- I think that the Afghans were convinced that we were sincere.
NARRATOR: It would be a new kind of war against an invisible enemy.
CARL W. FORD, Jr., Dir., State Dept. Intel., 2001-'03: You read the stories about what these people did on the ground in Afghanistan, and it's like you could make movies out of it, it's so fantastic.
NARRATOR: The plan was all about size and speed and using just the right CIA officers.
GARY BERNTSEN, CIA, 1982-'05: And they had to be guys that we knew that we could trust. Cofer Black told me, "One third of your men will die. Be prepared for that. I accept it. You need to accept it and proceed aggressively. I want you killing the enemy in 48 hours. Find them and destroy them."
NARRATOR: They would spend millions to buy the support of the Northern Alliance, ragtag fighters led by brutal warlords.
J. COFER BLACK, CIA, 1974-'02: It's going to be a multi-pronged threat attack where we work with locals. We compromised enemies. We used cash. We provided humanitarian aid.
NARRATOR: But once the covert side of the CIA plan was finished in late September, they needed the U.S. military, Don Rumsfeld's military. But they didn't come. The CIA would wait and wait for almost a month.
GARY SCHROEN: We were there for just about a month by ourselves in the valley. We were the only Americans in country for almost a month.
NEWSCASTER: The leader of the ruling Taliban again refused to hand over bin Laden-
NARRATOR: There was a fiery National Security Council meeting. The CIA complained Rumsfeld was dragging his feet in Afghanistan. Rumsfeld didn't like taking orders from the CIA.
RICHARD ARMITAGE, Dpty. Secy. of State, 2001-'05: We're briefing the president about Afghanistan operations. And Mr. Tenet briefed and Mr. Rumsfeld briefed. And the president saw me looking a little quizzical and said, "What's the matter, Rich? What's your problem?" And I said, "Mr. President, this sounds FUBAR to me." And he said- he was a little annoyed, and he said, "Really? What?" And I said, "I don't know who's in charge here. And it's not- you got to have someone in charge."
JAMES BAMFORD, Author, A Pretext for War: There was a lot of jealousy that Tenet had a leg up and Rumsfeld was about three yards back.
Gen. MICHAEL DELONG (Ret.), CENTCOM, 2000-'03: Rumsfeld went to the president and said, "The CIA has to work for me or this isn't going to work."
DAVID KAY, Iraq Weapons Expert: I've got a lot of respect for Rumsfeld as a bureaucratic infighter. He never loses a battle because if he loses a battle, he'll re-fight it the next morning.
RICHARD ARMITAGE: Later, Mr. Bush told Dr. Rice, the national security adviser, that Armitage was right. "Fix this. Get somebody in charge."
NARRATOR: Rumsfeld would now be in charge.
MICHAEL DELONG: That's what happened. The CIA works for Rumsfeld.
NARRATOR: The CIA had waited a month. Soon Army special ops teams were airlifted to Afghanistan and the military side of "Operation Jawbreaker" could begin in earnest.
GARY SCHROEN: And it wasn't until the night of the 19th of October or the morning of the 20th that the first Special Forces A-team came in.
NARRATOR: The Northern Alliance on horseback, the special ops teams with global positioning devices calling in air strikes made short work of the Taliban forces. It didn't take long for the capital, Kabul, to fall.
[www.pbs.org: War stories from Afghanistan]
GARY SCHROEN: I was absolutely convinced that that would happen and that the Taliban would break quickly. That could have happened in October, early October.
NARRATOR: Rumsfeld's push for control of the war in Afghanistan had worked. Now he was the public face of the war.
DONALD RUMSFELD, Defense Secretary: All together now, "quagmire"!
NARRATOR: And his popularity soared.
REPORTER: You'll have to excuse me. I'm a little nervous being in the presence of a TV star this morning.
DONALD RUMSFELD: Come on, now! Don't give me that stuff!
REPORTER: But anyway-
JAMES MANN, Author, Rise of the Vulcans: He proves he's just a great public spokesman. I mean, he manages to take the Defense Department podium and he's the center of it.
DONALD RUMSFELD: Nothing in the defense establishment, nothing you own in your homes is perfect. Your cars aren't perfect. Your bikes aren't perfect. Our eyeglasses aren't perfect.
First of all, you're- you're beginning with an illogical premise and proceeding perfectly logically to an illogical conclusion.
Lt. Col. ANDREW KREPINEVICH (Ret.), DoD Consultant: Nothing succeeds like success, and the American military was succeeding remarkably well in Afghanistan. And a lot of people knew that Don Rumsfeld had a lot to do with that.
NARRATOR: That wasn't the way the CIA saw it. It was their view that they had been responsible for the success in Afghanistan.
COFER BLACK: We'd like the survivors of 9/11 to know that those of us in the business consider it the CIA's finest hour. We went in to kick ass, and we did.
NARRATOR: There was unfinished business in Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden was still on the run.
GARY BERNTSEN: I'm looking for bin Laden right away. I want to start killing him and his people immediately.
GARY SCHROEN: We had intelligence that continued to develop that bin Laden and Zawahiri were in Afghanistan, probably in the eastern areas, hiding out there.
NARRATOR: The CIA tried to put together a team to chase bin Laden. It wasn't easy.
GARY BERNTSEN: I asked Army Special Forces if they'll send people in. They say, "No, we're not going down there. It's not stable. You don't have a reliable ally."
STEVE COLL, Author, Ghost Wars: The conditions for al Qaeda's retreat were quite favorable, and the United States did not do the one thing that the Pentagon had within its power to do, which was to move regular U.S. troops into a blocking position behind these mountains.
GARY SCHROEN: We could come from the north, west and south, but we couldn't block the east. It's rugged, rugged terrain. And we didn't have enough U.S. troops.
Gen. MICHAEL DELONG (Ret.), CENTCOM, 2000-'03: How do you block this entire mountain line? It's like blocking the border of New Mexico from Mexico and hoping you can keep people from going both ways, with tunnels underneath, hundreds of them.
RICHARD CLARKE, Dir., NSC Counterterrorism, 1998-'01: We could all feel it slipping away, as week after week after week went by, and the U.S. had no military units on the ground, except a few Special Forces.
NARRATOR: So on his own and without the permission of the Defense Department, CIA officer Berntsen sent a small group to Nangahar province.
GARY BERNTSEN: Based on intelligence that we have that bin Laden has fallen back with about a thousand people. And then we come upon his camp at Melowah.
NARRATOR: The CIA urgently called the Pentagon. They were given air support, but not the Army Rangers.
GARY BERNTSEN: And then four guys, two CIA officers and two JSOC, with about ten Afghan guards, call in the first 56 hours of air strikes against the motherlode of al Qaeda down below them. It was a nice beginning to what would be about a 16-day battle.
GARY SCHROEN: We actually, I'm convinced, wounded him. He was there at Tora Bora. I don't think there's any question now that bin Laden was at Tora Bora and was wounded in some way.
NARRATOR: In the end, the United States military would not or could not close the border to Pakistan. Bin Laden escaped.
NEWSCASTER: Anti-Taliban forces are now believed to hold thousands of prisoners.
NEWSCASTER: There are 2,000 men and women jailed here.
NEWSCASTER: -large numbers of Taliban prisoners still held in an Afghan jail.
NEWSCASTER: -president says six detainees died in American custody.
NARRATOR: Meanwhile, a new problem- handling the thousands of prisoners that had been taken off the battlefields.
JOHN YOO, Office of Legal Counsel, 2001-'03: We started thinking about, "Well, what happens when we catch other al Qaeda members? What happens- do we try them? Do we detain them? Where can we detain them?"
BRADFORD BERENSON, White House lawyer, 2001-'03: You can't kill him. You can't let him go because he's far too dangerous and potentially far too valuable as a source of intelligence. And you can't try him in the ordinary civilian court system. So what do you do with this person?
NARRATOR: The vice president had a plan. At their weekly lunch on November 13th, 2001, in a small dining room just off the Oval Office, he delivered a four-page document to the president.
BRADFORD BERENSEN: We know from witnesses that Cheney walks in the room with a document. We know he carries it back out with him afterward. We know that it then changes hands four times around the West Wing of the White House.
NARRATOR: Within an hour, the document was ready for the president's signature.
BRADFORD BERENSON: What I remember is standing in the staff secretary's office in the West Wing with Stuart Bowen, with final copies of the military order for the president to sign and being aware that he was about to leave the West Wing for some trip. In fact, I think we could hear the helicopter landing on the lawn as we approached the Oval Office.
BARTON GELLMAN, The Washington Post: And Bowen says, "That's not the way it works around here. The way it works around here is that every single person with the rank of assistant to the president, every one of them gets to look at this thing first, make their comments, sign off, then it goes to the president".
Bowen gets told, "This can't wait. This is urgent. This is secret. The president's waiting for it. He already knows it's coming."
NARRATOR: The document was an authorization that would keep detainees out of civilian courts and allow military trials under special rules set by Donald Rumsfeld.
JANE MAYER, The New Yorker: They basically thought that the military commissions were a way for the president to both bring the charges and do the trial and then sentence the person, do every single aspect of it.
NARRATOR: At the State Department, there were almost two dozen lawyers who had been studying the issue for weeks. Colin Powell's war crimes ambassador, Pierre-Richard Prosper, led the group.
Amb. PIERRE-RICHARD PROSPER, State Department, 2001-'05: I put the problem on the table. How are we going to deal with them? How can we prosecute them? What can we prosecute them for? And ultimately, where will they be detained?
NARRATOR: But Powell and Prosper did not know about the vice president's secret plan, which was delivered to the president by White House lawyer Brad Berensen.
BRADFORD BERENSON: The people involved in this did not want to wait for the president to get back from whatever one or two-day trip he was going on. They felt it was important that the authority to create these commissions exist immediately. And so Stuart and I went into the Oval Office, brought the order to the president. He quickly reviewed it and put his signature on it, and then headed off down the hallway with Andy Card and a couple of others to get on the helicopter.
[www.pbs.org: Read Berenson's interview]
NEWSCASTER: President Bush has signed an order approving the use of a special military tribunal-
NEWSCASTER: And it was only the latest of a series of dramatic changes-
NEWSCASTER: The White House is defending President Bush's-
EVAN THOMAS, Newsweek: It's really to end-run this process. They don't even tell the lawyer from the National Security staff, John Bellinger. He finds out about it after the president has signed the document. And Bellinger comes bursting into Gonzales's office, saying, "What is this? I mean, you didn't even tell me about an essential document of-that's really going to govern national security strategy after 9/11."
NEWSCASTER: President Bush signed an order to allow special military tribunals-
BARTON GELLMAN: The news breaks on cable television. Colin Powell happens to be watching. He's astonished by what he's just seen. He picks up the phone to Prosper and he says, "What the hell just happened?"
PIERRE-RICHARD PROSPER: We did have a conversation, and I let him know I was in the dark.
NARRATOR: Secretary of State Colin Powell, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and their lawyers had been kept out of the loop.
In Afghanistan, the Taliban was broken, al Qaeda was hiding in the mountains, and the military had lots of prisoners on their hands.
COFER BLACK: In Afghanistan, the al Qaeda who refused to surrender have been killed. The hunt is on. Nearly 3,000 al Qaeda and their supporters have been arrested or detained.
NARRATOR: Afghan warlords were paid tens of thousands of dollars to deliver prisoners to the Americans. Once they were turned over, the gloves were definitely off.
BARTON GELLMAN: Local commanders were making their own decisions about where to draw lines based on a general atmosphere that, "We're taking off the gloves." I've talked to members of some of these teams, and they made sure that the person got roughed up pretty well in the course of the capture.
NARRATOR: A few of them were called HVTs, high value terrorists. One HVT was Ibn al Sheik al Libi.
JANE MAYER: Ibn al Sheikh al Libi was the head of the Khaldun terrorist training camp in Afghanistan. He was one of the earliest al Qaeda figures to be given into U.S. custody.
NARRATOR: The FBI wanted to interrogate al Libi and bring him to justice in the United States.
JOHN CLOONAN, FBI Special Agent, 1977-'02: Al Libi is identified as a pretty good target because he's an emir. He's a leader of a training camp.
NARRATOR: The FBI had al Libi, but the CIA, determined to gather as much battlefield intelligence as quickly as possible, took him away.
JOHN CLOONAN: They duct-taped him. They deny putting him in a box in the back of a truck. My guys that were there saw what they did.
NARRATOR: Al Libi was one of dozens of HVTs whisked from one foreign country to another in a policy that was known as extraordinary rendition.
VINCENT CANNISTRARO, Fmr. CIA Officer: He's carried off to Egypt, who torture him. And we know that he's going to be tortured. Anyone who's worked on Egypt, has worked on other countries in the Middle East, knows that. Egyptians torture him, and he provides a lot of information.
NARRATOR: For the next 14 months, the information extracted from al Libi would quietly move through the American intelligence network.
NEWSCASTER: President Bush is about to hold a news conference on the latest developments in the war against terrorism.
NEWSCASTER: The president will speak to Americans, as well as people listening and watching around the world.
NEWSCASTER: Let's go to President Bush right now.
NARRATOR: In mid-October, the president held his first primetime news conference. His approval ratings were at an astonishing 90 percent, and Iraq was put back on the table.
HELEN THOMAS, White House Correspondent: We understand you have advisers who are urging you to go after Iraq. Do you really think that the American people will tolerate you widening the war beyond Afghanistan?
NARRATOR: Washington insiders listened very closely as the president considered his answer.
Pres. GEORGE W. BUSH: As I mentioned, Helen, this is a long war against terrorist activity. There's no question that the leader of Iraq is an evil man. After all, he gassed his own people. We know he's been developing weapons of mass destruction.
NARRATOR: A carefully crafted phrase had just made its debut.
Pres. GEORGE W. BUSH: And so we're watching him carefully. We're watching him carefully.
NARRATOR: That answer seemed to be a signal.
KAREN DEYOUNG, Author, Soldier: The Life of Colin Powell: Condi Rice describes it almost as a lightbulb going off inside the president's head. "Oh, Iraq. Now it's time to turn back to Iraq."
NARRATOR: The president and his inner circle had been subjected to an intense behind-closed-doors campaign from Paul Wolfowitz and his ally, the Iraqi exile Ahmad Chalabi.
AHMAD CHALABI, Iraqi National Congress: Well, I did. I worked very hard because I came to the conclusion very early on that if the U.S. is not heavily involved in helping the Iraqi people get rid of Saddam, Saddam is going to stay and his sons are going to come after.
NARRATOR: The issue of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and the argument that there was a link between al Qaeda and the Iraqi government was first raised by Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress, the INC.
FRANCIS BROOKE, Spokesman, Iraqi Natl. Congress: It was clear that two hot button issues were terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. We have consistently talked about Saddam's support for terrorism. We have consistently linked him to Osama bin Laden for years.
MARK GARLASCO, Defense Intel. Agency, 1997-'03: At that time, we had INC constantly shoving crap at us. You know, they were providing information that they thought that we wanted to hear. They were feeding the beast.
VINCENT CANNISTRARO: The Defense Department was paying millions of dollars a month to the INC to collect intelligence. Of course, the INC itself was an advocacy organization that advocated the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and his replacement by a government in which they would play a major part.
MARTIN SMITH, FRONTLINE: You have strong evidence that there's links between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein?
AHMAD CHALABI: Yes. You see, the point is that U.S.- U.S.-
MARTIN SMITH: Where are these- where is- where is this evidence, though?
AHMAD CHALABI: In U.S. hands. We gave the names of the people. There were visits of al Qaeda here, and there was money that changed hands.
MARTIN SMITH: Do you have any documentary evidence of any kind?
AHMAD CHALABI: Yes, there is such a document.
MARTIN SMITH: That is a document that you could show us?
AHMAD CHALABI: Well, I've seen it, but I don't have it in my possession. They could show it to you, I think.
NARRATOR: The document was never revealed. As much as the Defense Department supported Chalabi and the INC, the CIA felt otherwise. They distrusted Chalabi personally and did not believe his evidence.
JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, Dpty. Director, CIA, 2000-'04: We said in that timeframe that we had no evidence linking Iraq to al Qaeda and to those attacks.
NARRATOR: George Tenet had even ordered a massive agency search for any connection.
MICHAEL SCHEUER, CIA, 1982-'04: Tenet, to his credit, had us go back 10 years in the agency's records and look and see what we knew about Iraq and al Qaeda. And I was available at the time and I led the effort. And we went back 20 years. We examined about 20,000 documents, probably something along the line of 75,000 pages of information. And there was no connection between Iraq and Saddam.
NARRATOR: Tenet delivered the message to the president.
Gen. MICHAEL DELONG (Ret.), CENTCOM, 2000'-03: He saw it as his job, and he told the president, "Here's what I think." And the president didn't like it, fine. But I never saw him hold back on what I knew. He told him- everything that I knew, he told the president.
INTERVIEWER: Like what?
Gen. MICHAEL DELONG: Oh, things that were going on. Here's- it's the al Qaeda in Afghanistan. It's not the Iraqis. It's not the Iranians. If they do have something to do with it, it'll be a side issue, but that's not the main issue now. Boom, just like that.
INTERVIEWER: So from the very beginning, he was saying it's al Qaeda.
Gen. MICHAEL DELONG: It's al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
INTERVIEWER: And Bush is hearing that.
Gen. MICHAEL DELONG: Yeah.
INTERVIEWER: He was hearing that?
Gen. MICHAEL DELONG: Colonel Mustard in the library with the candlestick. I mean, that- here it is. Yeah.
NARRATOR: But one member of the inner circle disagreed. His opinion mattered because everyone knew after Tenet left his morning presidential briefing, Dick Cheney would still be there.
THOMAS RICKS, The Washington Post: Dick Cheney is the Moby-Dick of the Bush administration. And it's all very mysterious and it only occurs between him and President Bush, but you get a sense that as soon as the meeting's over, he sits down with the president and says, "OK, here's what you need to take away from this."
NARRATOR: For decades, the vice president had been wary of the CIA's intelligence.
DAVID KAY, Iraq Weapons Expert: I think there's one thing that influences him, at least in my conversations. He remembered as clearly as I remembered how wrong intelligence had been in 1991.
NARRATOR: It started back in the 1980s, when Congressman Dick Cheney had been frustrated to learn the CIA had been wrong about the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Iranian revolution.
Vice Pres. DICK CHENEY: I must admit to a certain amount of ambivalence to all of these proceedings.
NARRATOR: After he became secretary of defense, he would see firsthand the CIA'S failure to predict Saddam's invasion of Kuwait. And then something he would never forget.
RICHARD CLARKE, Dir., NSC Counterterrorism, 1998-'01: There was a massive nuclear program in Iraq, nuclear weapons development program, that was probably 9 to 18 months away from having its first nuclear weapon detonation, and that CIA had totally missed it. We had bombed everything we could bomb in Iraq but missed an enormous nuclear weapons development facility-didn't know it was there, never dropped one bomb on it.
DAVID KAY: That's at the forefront, at least in my conversations with him, about Iraq. You know, they were wrong before. They didn't get the evidence. How do we know what they know now?
RICHARD CLARKE: There's no doubt that the Dick Cheney who comes back into office eight years later, nine years later, has that as one of the things burned into his memory, that Iraq wants a nuclear weapon, Iraq was that close to getting a nuclear weapon, and CIA hadn't a clue.
NARRATOR: So during regular CIA briefings, Cheney was skeptical.
JAMES BAMFORD, Author, A Pretext for War: Every morning, the presidential Daily Brief, the PDB, will be given. It'll be given both to the president and the vice president. And Cheney complained numerous times that the information coming from the CIA was not very good.
NARRATOR: Cheney was looking for information that linked Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.
JAMES BAMFORD: But they weren't getting that information from the CIA. And so he put pressure, I think, on Rumsfeld and on the Pentagon to come up with their own estimates.
NARRATOR: Rumsfeld saw an opportunity for the civilians in the Department of Defense to finally get in the intelligence business. Inside the Pentagon bureaucracy, he could easily and quietly grow a nearly invisible operation.
MELVIN GOODMAN, Fmr. CIA Officer: They needed an office that would produce the intelligence that the CIA wouldn't produce. Rumsfeld said, "I can solve your problem," and he put Douglas Feith on that issue. And they created the Office of Special Plans.
DANIEL BENJAMIN, Natl. Security Council, 1994-'99: So they're going to do their own analysis. They're going to show what the CIA's been missing all along about the true relationship between Saddam and al Qaeda.
NARRATOR: They needed people with experience in the world of intelligence, but they hired politically connected policy analysts.
MICHAEL MALOOF, DoD, 1982-'04: I got a phone call. The next thing I know, I'm being detailed on over to Doug Feith's office, and that I would be joined by Dave Wurmser, who today works in the office of the vice president.
NARRATOR: They worked in a vault deep inside the Pentagon. They had what is known as "all source clearances," total access to intelligence information.
MICHAEL MALOOF: I went into the system, our classified system, to see what do we know about terrorist groups and the relationships, as well as their connection, associations with not only al Qaeda, but also with state sponsors.
NARRATOR: The system yielded what appeared to be a bombshell. It came from Ibn Sheik al Libi, the man the CIA sent to Egypt and who had provided the information after being tortured.
VINCENT CANNISTRARO, Fmr. CIA Officer: And it says that Saddam Hussein provided training in chemical weapons to al Qaeda.
NARRATOR: In the Pentagon's secret intelligence shop, the information was just what they were looking for.
MICHAEL MALOOF: Well, that information turned out to be correct. I heard it not only from al Libi, but we heard it from some people from the INC, the Iraqi National Congress. And then we take their information and put it back into the intelligence system.
[www.pbs.org: Read Maloof's interview]
NARRATOR: It was moved directly to the secretary of defense and the vice president himself.
VINCENT CANNISTRARO: A lot of that information is funneled in the form of intelligence reports to the vice president, to the secretary of defense, in fact, to the entire administration.
NARRATOR: Then another revelation. The Pentagon intelligence group heard that the 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta had met with an Iraqi agent in Prague, proof, they said, of a Saddam/Osama connection.
MICHAEL MALOOF: We were looking for connections, and that was one of them. And then sub- and then I did some additional research in talking to people who were in touch with the Czechs.
NARRATOR: As usual, they sent it up to the vice president's office.
Vice Pres. DICK CHENEY: ["Meet the Press," December 9, 2001] It's been pretty well confirmed that he did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi Intelligence Service.
JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, Dpty. Director, CIA, 2000-'04: We came to a different conclusion. We went over that every which way from Sunday. I mean, we looked at it from every conceivable angle. We peeled open the source and examined the chain of acquisition. We looked at photographs. We looked at timetables. We looked at who was where when.
MICHAEL MALOOF: I believe something did occur for two reasons. Number one, I think it's the prime minister who has always refuted the allegation that it was made up.
VINCENT CANNISTRARO: Very early on, both CIA and FBI knew it wasn't true because the FBI had Atta in Florida at the time.
MICHAEL MALOOF: And number two, I'm told there was a photograph of the meeting.
NARRATOR: No photograph of such a meeting has ever been discovered.
Vice Pres. DICK CHENEY: ["Meet the Press," September 8, 2002] I want to be very careful about how I say this-
NARRATOR: And despite the CIA's conclusion that the story wasn't true-
Vice Pres. DICK CHENEY: -Mohammed Atta, who was the lead hijacker-
NARRATOR: -the vice president continued to tell it.
Vice Pres. DICK CHENEY: -did apparently travel to Prague-
NARRATOR: He would repeat it regularly for the next two years.
Vice Pres. DICK CHENEY: ["Meet the Press," September 14, 2003] The Czechs alleged that Mohammed Atta, the lead attacker, met in Prague with a senior Iraqi intelligence official five months before the attack, but we've never been able to develop any more of that yet.
RICHARD CLARKE: I remember vividly, in the driveway outside of the West Wing, Scooter Libby grabbing me - from the vice president's office - and saying, "I hear you don't believe this report that Mohammed Atta was talking to Iraqi people in Prague." And I said, "I don't believe it because it's not true." And he said, "You're wrong. You know you're wrong. Go back and find out. Look at the rest of the reports and find out that you're wrong."
And I understood what he was saying, which was, "This is a report that we want to believe, and stop saying it's not true. It's a real problem for the vice president's office that you, the counterterrorism coordinator, are walking around saying that this isn't a true report. Shut up!" That's what I was being told.
NARRATOR: War had broken out between the competing intelligence operations. The Pentagon was pushing information up the chain to Cheney. The CIA was backfilling with the president. It was inevitable that there would finally be a showdown between Tenet and Rumsfeld.
JOHN BRENNAN, Dpty. Exec. Director, CIA, 2001-'03: I've been in meetings where the two of them were engaged in some animated discussions. Secretary Rumsfeld is a very formidable interlocutor on a lot of these issues, and will make his feelings known. And he is a very smart individual. But George was willing to, you know, sort of stand up and go toe to toe at times.
NARRATOR: In the high-stakes bureaucratic knife fights, Tenet often needed an ally. Colin Powell was made to order, and Richard Armitage was a close friend of Tenet's.
RICHARD ARMITAGE, Dpty. Secy. of State, 2001-'05: I talk to George Tenet all the time, as he would tell you. And we're friends, as well. And I'm proud of it.
VINCENT CANNISTRARO: They're under attack from Cheney's office and from Rumsfeld and all the people that work for Rumsfeld.
RICHARD ARMITAGE: And every time he'd come up and say, "No, I can't connect the dots there," there'd be some static in the system from the vice president or from certain parts of the Pentagon, who were running their own intelligence gathering operation, trying to connect dots which were unconnectable.
[www.pbs.org: Read Armitage's interview]
NARRATOR: For George Tenet, it soon got worse. The CIA's newly won resources to fight al Qaeda began to disappear. They first saw it on the ground in Afghanistan.
GARY SCHROEN, CIA, 1970-'02: Well, you could see changes being made in the U.S. military staffing in Afghanistan, that the Green Beret units, the 5th Special Forces group, for the most part, were being pulled out to refit and get ready for Iraq. And it was clear that the kind of guys that I think a lot of us believed were essential U.S. military personnel with special operations capabilities were being pulled away.
MICHAEL SCHEUER, CIA, 1982-'04: It was almost taken for granted that we were going to go to war with Iraq. It was a nightmare, and I know Tenet was briefed repeatedly by the head of the bin Laden department that any invasion of Iraq would break the back of our counterterrorism program.
STEVE COLL, The New Yorker: Among some, not all, but many al Qaeda specialists, was a sense of dismay. "Wait a second, this isn't the enemy. The enemy is over here. Saddam may be a bad guy, but that's not who attacked us on September 11th, and we're not done getting after these guys."
NARRATOR: The struggle with the vice president and secretary of defense left many in the CIA wondering what was going to happen to George Tenet. He could fight the White House, he could join them, or he could retire.
JOHN BRENNAN: I think it was a very personal and pensive time for George. I think he asked himself whether or not he wanted to continue on that road and to be part of it. So I think he had some sort of long nights.
STEVE COLL: Tenet had an opportunity after the Afghan war to declare victory and go home. He didn't take that opportunity. I would imagine that he regrets it.
NARRATOR: Tenet and the president met nearly every morning, Tenet personally delivering the presidential daily brief, the PDB. They had become friends.
DAVID KAY, Iraq Weapons Expert: He's a very gregarious, enjoyable friend to have. He wraps his hand around you, chewing on an unlit cigar. He loves to talk sports. He's a man's man.
STEVE COLL: It's very easy to see how Tenet and George W. Bush would have gotten along well. They're both men who aren't going to spend a lot of time pulling apart nuances of international relations. They're interested in short, sharp facts, a clear sense of direction. Tenet, like the president, is casual in his demeanor. It's easy to imagine at these briefings that two men who didn't know each other at all discovered that they were similar personalities.
[www.pbs.org: Analysis of Tenet as CIA director]
NARRATOR: Some worried that Tenet had become just a little too close the president.
DAVID KAY: It's a Faustian bargain because, ultimately, anyone who heads an intelligence agency has got to speak, if he's serving the interest, truth to power.
LAWRENCE WILKERSON, Chief of Staff, State Dept., 2002-'05 : You're committed. You're committed. And every day that you go, you're committed more.
RICHARD KERR, Fmr. Deputy Director, CIA: I think you have to be independent enough and distant enough that you can say, "Mr. President, that's not the way we see it," or, "Mr. Vice President or Mr. Secretary, that's not our view of it," and then follow up with why that's not our view.
NARRATOR: In the end, Tenet decided not to resign. But over the next few months, the agency would carefully watch what he would say.
Over at the State Department, Colin Powell was involved in his own battle. It began over the Geneva Conventions.
KAREN DeYOUNG, Author, Soldier:The Life of Colin Powell: Powell goes off on a trip to Pakistan and India. While he's gone, Will Taft calls him up and says, "You won't believe what's happened."
WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT IV, Legal Advisor to Secy. of State, 2001-'05: We were told that the president had been advised that the Geneva Conventions did not apply.
KAREN DeYOUNG: Powell gets on the phone, calls Condi Rice, says, "You can't do this. You cannot just write off the Geneva Conventions. Don't you understand we have allies? Don't you understand we have obligations under international treaties? I want to see the president when I come back."
NARRATOR: The decision was delayed long enough for Powell to get back to Washington. He had been cut out of the military commissions decision. This time, he was determined to weigh in. The secretary made his arguments to the president.
WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT IV: Secretary Powell's view was that if we were to depart from the Geneva Conventions, we would be exposing our troops, perhaps in this conflict but perhaps in future conflicts, to the possibility that they would be deprived of the benefits of the convention if they were captured by the enemy, and we had never done that.
NARRATOR: But that weekend, as Powell waited for his meeting with the president, a surprise.
KAREN DeYOUNG: Powell wakes up to see on the front page of The Washington Times a memo from Gonzales that actually had been written by David Addington, Cheney's counsel, dismissing all of his arguments.
["Administration sources last night expressed anger at Mr. Powell, whom they accused of bowing to pressure from the political left."]
BARTON GELLMAN, The Washington Post: This was written explicitly with the intention of heading off Colin Powell at the pass because Powell is about to come to the White House and to tell the president it's a big mistake.
Addington writes this memo that tells the president, "You said this was going to be a new kind of war. There are people going to come to you with old thinking and to tell you you have to apply a law that was written decades ago for a very different kind of war." And he describes famously the Geneva Conventions as "quaint."
[www.pbs.org: More on a new kind of war]
KAREN DeYOUNG: Powell was furious, felt like this had been done just to undercut him before there was a meeting where these issues could be aired. They go into the meeting. He makes his argument. Bush says he'll think about it. And then, of course, not very long afterwards, Bush makes public, a decision, "We'll sort of halfway respect the Geneva Conventions." This was written about at the time as a victory, at least a half victory, for Powell, but he knew very well it wasn't a victory at all.
NARRATOR: Once again, Powell had lost. In the aftermath, Secretary Rumsfeld acted. The scene was Afghanistan. The issue, those detainees. Early on, the CIA had taken away the high value terrorists. Rumsfeld wanted the military to take the rest and get what intelligence they could.
DONALD RUMSFELD: The president has, as you know, now determined that the Geneva Convention does not apply to the conflict with al Qaeda, whether in Afghanistan or elsewhere.
NARRATOR: Secretary Rumsfeld called the prisoners he held "the worst of the worst." They would no longer be protected by the Geneva Conventions. They could be subjected to military commissions. And Rumsfeld would decide where their interrogations would take place. They would be held far away from the battlefield, on the backwater naval station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Officially, it was GTM0, "Gitmo" for short.
Lt. Cmdr. CHARLES SWIFT (Ret.), Detainee Lawyer, U.S. Navy: Guantanamo Bay appeared to be the ideal place. Cuba had no control over it. You would not be subject to a local government's interference, nor would you be subject to the federal courts' interference.
NARRATOR: On January 11th, 2002, the first planeload was sent to Gitmo. The prisoners were strapped to the floor of a C-17 for 20 hours. Shackled and handcuffed, they wore goggles covered with black tape and ear cups. The military called it "packaging."
Gen. RICK BACCUS, Prison Commander, GTMO, 2002: It'd be a very excruciating situation. Many of them thought they were going to their deaths before they got here and were very thankful that they were not killed when they got off the airplane.
NARRATOR: They were taken from the airport into the heart of the base, to a place called Camp X-Ray.
MICHAEL RATNER, Pres., Center for Constitutional Rights: In the early days, they got put into what essentially are dog cages or dog runs. They were these sort of open, chain-linked fences, that have concrete floors.
MARK JACOBSON, Fmr. DoD Special Asst. for Policy: First thing you notice is the smell. You're not talking about closed toilets. You're talking about a lot of human smells. It's raw human beings down there.
DONALD RUMSFELD: Guantanamo Bay's climate is different than Afghanistan. To be in an 8-by-8 cell in beautiful, sunny Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is not an inhumane treatment.
Gen. RICK BACCUS: Camp X-Ray didn't have any internal facilities at all- no bathrooms, no source of water. So any of the detainees kept at X-Ray had to be given everything to them. And if they wanted to go to the bathroom, the MPs were required to go in and shackle them and then move them to a port-a-john to have them go to the bathroom, and take them back again. So it was a very manpower-intensive situation.
NARRATOR: From the beginning, it did not go well at Camp X-Ray. Just the logistics of interrogation proved difficult. The MPs first shackled, then rolled the detainees down this path to these interrogation buildings.
Gen. RICK BACCUS: It was a very intensive process to carry detainees from the cell block into the interrogation rooms, bring them back, and so on.
NARRATOR: And once they arrived, the young and inexperienced interrogators had trouble extracting any information.
Gen. RICK BACCUS: The interrogators were a combination of active duty reservists, people who, you know, were trained in the bare bones of interrogation, didn't have any experience because we hadn't been in this kind of a situation since 1991 from the Gulf war.
NARRATOR: They did not get the actionable intelligence Rumsfeld wanted. When the word filtered to the White House that things weren't working out at Gitmo, Condoleezza Rice got involved. She initiated an investigation. But Rumsfeld refused to cooperate.
Rice had never had much success dealing with any of the heavy hitters in the inner circle.
ELISABETH BUMILLER, Rice Biographer, An American Life: She saw herself, as national security advisor, as a super-duper staff member, and the problem she had was that she was in charge of coordinating the elephants in the room.
ANTHONY CORDESMAN, Ctr. for Strategic and Intl. Studies: She came to this position with a remarkably strong outside group of leaders-Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Cheney. I don't think there have been many national security advisers in recent memory who had so many countervailing leading forces.
RICHARD CLARKE , Dir., NSC Counterterrorism, 1998-'01: Then you combine the fact that the vice president is really personally close to the secretary of defense, that they've been working together, playing together for decades, and you have the secretary of defense ignoring the national security adviser, not taking advice, not taking suggestions, because he talks to the White House at a higher level. That made it difficult for Dr. Rice, too.
NARRATOR: Insiders say Rumsfeld didn't respect her.
ELISABETH BUMILLER: Well, he viewed her as a glorified Russian studies graduate student. He was condescending to almost everyone.
NARRATOR: And to hear them tell it, he took on the staff, too.
RICHARD ARMITAGE, Dpty. Secy. of State, 2001-'05: Oh, just kind of pissin' on the hydrants and making sure that everybody knows that he's who he is, etcetera, just a way to intimidate folks. It was unnecessary, and I thought it was seen-in my own view, it was a rather laughable and kind of a bullying technique.
NARRATOR: The skirmishes were often about matters of grave consequence.
MICHAEL GORDON, The New York Times: Defense Secretary Rumsfeld understood information is power. He intended to keep it to himself. There's an episode once where Defense Secretary Rumsfeld told Frank Miller, the top defense staffer on the national Security Council, not to take notes.
ELISABETH BUMILLER: It was Rumsfeld who really was withholding major war planning information. Condi Rice is the national security adviser of the United States, and she had to basically employ spies on her staff to go over and ferret information out of the Pentagon. You know, one of her staff members would put on his military uniform and go over and pretend to be visiting friends and to pull out information she needed on troop strength.
[www.pbs.org: Read Bumiller's interview]
NARRATOR: It was closely guarded information, and had been since a meeting at the White House between Rumsfeld and Bush months earlier.
BOB WOODWARD, Author, Bush At War: The president, after a routine NSC meeting, took Rumsfeld aside and they went into a little cubbyhole off the Situation Room. And the president closed the door and asked Rumsfeld, "What war plans do you have for Iraq?"
NARRATOR: Rumsfeld believed all the Pentagon's war plans were cumbersome and outdated.
BOB WOODWARD: The president said, well, he wanted to examine those, specifically for Iraq, and that Rumsfeld was not to talk to anyone else, including the CIA director.
NARRATOR: Rumsfeld knew the Army would resist designing new and innovative war plans. He forcefully ordered them anyway. The responsibility fell to four-star general Tommy Franks.
Gen. MICHAEL DELONG (Ret.), Gen. Franks Deputy: General Franks likes margaritas, and I've got a margarita recipe that- of course, and I'm a tequila connoisseur. And so we sat down and had some margaritas and tequila and walked through, "Is this the right thing to do for us, for the country? Can we look our troops in the eyes and say, `You're going to die tomorrow and here's why'?" And the answer was yes. So after that, no misgivings whatsoever.
NARRATOR: Franks, very much a believer in the doctrine of overwhelming force, and Rumsfeld, the champion of light and nimble warfare, went at it. The existing Iraq war plan, based on the success of Desert Storm, called for weeks of heavy air bombardment and seven months advance warning.
JAMES FALLOWS, Author, Blind Into Baghdad: Rumsfeld initially proposed something like 75,000 U.S. troops for the invasion force. The Army had in mind something closer to 400,000.
NARRATOR: And the more the generals dug in, the harder Rumsfeld pushed.
THOMAS RICKS, Author, Fiasco: I've heard stories again and again of Rumsfeld actually crossing off individual units from deployment plans, saying, "You really don't need this. You don't need this."
NARRATOR: Finally, after a few months, Rumsfeld's persistence began to pay off. Franks was wearing down.
THOMAS RICKS: The Army looks upon this process, I think, with a little bit of horror during that period of war plan formation. I remember one day the general said to me, "Tommy's drunk the Kool-Aid." And that meant, yeah, Franks had gone over to kind of the belief in a smaller, narrower force.
NARRATOR: But Rumsfeld had also modified his position in the back-and-forth. So after 10 months in development, the new Iraq war plan called for 140,000 men, a rolling start in Kuwait, rapid deployment to Baghdad. It was neither Rumsfeld's plan nor the Army's.
BOB WOODWARD: It was a hybrid. It was a lot of the old and some of the new, probably more of the old than Rumsfeld would like to acknowledge.
NARRATOR: At the same time he was fighting with his generals over plans for the war, Rumsfeld and Colin Powell were at odds over planning for the aftermath of the war.
RICHARD BOUCHER, State Dept. Spokesman: We've organized the Future of Iraq project to draw upon both independent Iraqis and representatives of political groups, in order to plan for-
NARRATOR: The State Department invited Iraqi exiles to think through post-war problems-law and order, basic issues of food, fuel and infrastructure.
Amb. EDWARD WALKER, Jr., State Dept., 1967-'01: It involved an awful lot of very bright people, many of whom have the credentials in economics and banking and agriculture, and so on, that-
MARTIN SMITH, FRONTLINE: This was a real effort-
Amb. EDWARD WALKER: This was a real effort to-
MARTIN SMITH: -to plan.
Amb. EDWARD WALKER: Right, to be there on the ground the day after and ready to go.
LAITH KUBBA, Iraqi Opposition Leader: Everybody agreed that Saddam should go. Everybody would like to have democracy afterwards. Nobody had a clue what the challenges are ahead. So for the State Department to have started to gather Iraqis, 200 of them in 15 working groups, was a good step.
NARRATOR: But some Iraqi exiles, especially supporters of Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress, the INC, were less enthusiastic.
KANAN MAKIYA, Adviser, Iraqi Natl. Congress: The State Department wanted to talk about how best we can collect garbage in the streets the day after liberation, or how can we recruit a thousand health workers to go to this or that area the day after. And I said I didn't have anything to contribute to such questions.
NARRATOR: At the Department of Defense, they had a different idea about how things would go. They expected quick decapitation of Saddam's regime and then a handoff to the INC's Ahmad Chalabi.
KAREN DeYOUNG, The Washington Post: It was primarily Wolfowitz who was in charge of the INC and Chalabi. Their idea was that Chalabi would go in and set up an interim government for Iraq. In fact, Wolfowitz had gone over to Crystal City, which is a suburb on the other side of the river from Washington, and set up an alternative Iraqi government with people in offices, ministers appointed, doing work planning for the new Iraq.
NARRATOR: At the State Department, they did not share Wolfowitz's enthusiasm for Chalabi.
RICHARD ARMITAGE, Dpty. Secy. of State, 2001-'05: When I got into the Department of State and I saw that we were required by congressional action to actually fund the INC, I started to look into his activities. I looked into trying to get some receipts, as a steward of the national funds, from him, not down to the penny, not down to the dollar, not even down to the hundred dollar. I just wanted to an idea of where the money was going. And when I couldn't get it, I couldn't get any receipts from him and he seemed upset about this, I no longer had the State Department fund him. The funding went to the Department of Defense. So it didn't take me long to come to the belief that Mr. Chalabi was a charlatan.
INTERVIEWER: But he had real believers over at the Defense Department.
RICHARD ARMITAGE: Yes, he certainly did, and in the vice president's office.
RICHARD ARMITAGE: I don't- well, he was very charming and smart. This was one smart cookie.
INTERVIEWER: He just convinced them that this was the answer they wanted to hear, I gather.
RICHARD ARMITAGE: Well, perhaps, when you're telling people what they want to hear, and that you'll recognize Israel and you can have bases in Iraq and this will be the new democratic bastion in the Middle East which can change the whole picture of the Middle East, maybe there's a bit of a siren song there.
KAREN DeYOUNG: Powell thought this was craziness, that these people did not represent anybody inside Iraq.
NARRATOR: The clash over Chalabi then became bitter.
RICHARD ARMITAGE: It was a policy dispute, and it became, unfortunately, quite personal.
INTERVIEWER: In what sense?
RICHARD ARMITAGE: Well, friendships were dashed, etcetera, I mean, long-standing, 20-year, 25-year friendships.
INTERVIEWER: You and who?
RICHARD ARMITAGE: Me and Wolfowitz, for instance. We'd worked together handsomely for years and years. And unfortunately, our friendship has soured over this.
NABIL MUSAWI, Iraqi National Congress: The whole government turned into two camps. One of them is totally opposed to Chalabi, and the other one was so pro-Chalabi.
MARTIN SMITH, FRONTLINE: What should have they been thinking about?
NABIL MUSAWI: Iraq!
MARTIN SMITH: So much time has been wasted over who to support, Chalabi or not Chalabi.
RICHARD PERLE, Chmn., DoD Policy Board, 2001-'03: That's quite right. There's been a debilitating and I think wasteful and damaging quarrel over Ahmad Chalabi.
MARTIN SMITH: So why have you clung to Ahmad Chalabi? Why not just find somebody else that's acceptable to both sides?
RICHARD PERLE: No one else has been proposed who's acceptable to both sides. And the arguments against Chalabi have been without substance. He is far and away the most effective individual that we could have hoped would emerge in Iraq.
MARTIN SMITH: This schism within the U.S. government, a lot of it's centered on you, rightly or wrongly. Yet a lot of it came down to people's evaluation of you. The CIA and State after '96 and onwards reviled you.
AHMAD CHALABI, Iraqi National Congress: Yes.
MARTIN SMITH: And this became all-consuming.
AHMAD CHALABI: Yes, but you see, this is a very curious situation. I believe that the people who did not want to do anything against Saddam took up- took me up as the bete noir of this, thinking that I was an easy target to discredit the entire policy.
MARTIN SMITH: You became an extremely divisive character.
AHMAD CHALABI: Yes. Well, they made me so, not I.
NARRATOR: The struggle between the State Department and the Pentagon for control of post-war Iraq was settled in the Oval Office when Rumsfeld had a meeting with the president.
JOHN HAMRE, Dpty. Secy. of Defense, 1997-'99: This is typical Don Rumsfeld. He said, "You can hold me 100 percent accountable for this, but you have to give me 100 percent of the responsibility, as well. Let me run the thing, and you can hold me completely accountable." And I think the president likes that kind of a stand-up guy.
NEWSCASTER: With more than 5,000 U.S. troops still committed to the war in Afghanistan, the Pentagon is already beginning to reposition its forces.
NEWSCASTER: The U.S. military could be ready to invade Iraq within 90 days.
NARRATOR: As the public debate about the war began building in Washington, the vice president began to make a new argument for taking down Saddam Hussein.
Vice Pres. DICK CHENEY: ["Meet the Press," March 24, 2002] The evidence is overwhelming. And one of the things-
NARRATOR: -weapons of mass destruction.
Vice Pres. DICK CHENEY: He continues to aggressively pursue the development of a nuclear weapon.
NARRATOR: Cheney's newest justification for war seemed to resonate.
Vice Pres. DICK CHENEY: One of the things we need do is to make the case, lay it out there- "This is the evidence, this is what he's done"-
NARRATOR: The case for war was gaining momentum.
Vice Pres. DICK CHENEY: ["Meet the Press," September 16, 2001] -the United States and our friends around the world-
NARRATOR: Colin Powell didn't seem to believe war was on the horizon.
KAREN DeYOUNG: I think Powell is a bit later than some people to come to this realization. There were people in the State Department, people who worked for him, who came to him and said- in the summer of 2002, and said, "Look, they're thinking really of doing this."
Vice Pres. DICK CHENEY: [CNN "Late Edition"] This is a man of great evil. He knows we're deadly serious. Our friends and allies in the region know we're deadly serious and that we do need to find a way to address this problem.
NARRATOR: In Britain, Prime Minister Tony Blair was beginning to be concerned about whether the U.S. was preparing for war. Sir Richard Dearlove, Blair's director of intelligence, attended meetings with senior officials, including George Tenet.
VINCENT CANNISTRARO, Fmr. CIA Officer: George Tenet puts a fine edge on it by explaining the political realities in Washington to Sir Richard Dearlove.
JAMES BAMFORD, Author, A Pretext for War: And went back to brief his prime minister and told his prime minister exactly what was taking place in the U.S. And that was that the plan was for the United States was to wrap the intelligence around the policy, which is the complete reverse of the way you're supposed to do it in the intelligence community.
[U.K. government memo, July 23, 2002, "Military action was now seen as inevitable ... the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."]
NARRATOR: Tony Blair now knew the administration was headed for war in Iraq. And as the summer of 2002 wore on, Colin Powell also finally began to realize what was happening.
KAREN DeYOUNG: Powell felt, as Armitage kept telling him, that Rumsfeld had access to the president that he didn't have. Powell really blamed Rice for this, that she did not do what the first duty he felt of a national security advisor would be, which is to make sure that the president gets a wide range of views from his cabinet.
NARRATOR: In August, the war over the war heated up. The foreign policy moderates that had surrounded the president's father started to speak out. Brent Scowcroft, his father's national security adviser, wrote an op-ed piece in The Washington Post.
Amb. DENNIS ROSS, Dir., Policy Planning, State Dept., 1989-'93: The Scowcroft article suddenly created a kind of momentum behind those who were saying, "We don't understand where you're going. And you look like you're going without having made a case. And you look like you're going on your own. Where's the international support?" And suddenly, the administration was on the defensive.
NARRATOR: Powell seized the moment. Hoping to get a meeting with the president, he called Rice.
ELISABETH BUMILLER, Rice Biographer, An American Life: He said, "I need to see the president." And she said, "I think that's a good idea." Obviously, the depressing thing for Powell is that he has to call the national security adviser to get an appointment with the president. He's secretary of state. You think he could call himself, but that's not how it worked in the first term for him. And so she says, "Come by." And they have dinner.
RICHARD ARMITAGE: I think he wanted take the temperature of the president, find out, you know, were the war drums beating faster than we thought they should?
NARRATOR: They met for dinner at the White House, just Bush, Powell and Rice.
BOB WOODWARD, The Washington Post: And his essential argument got down to what he called the "Pottery Barn rule"- you invade, you break it, you own it.
KAREN DeYOUNG: He said, "Iraq is like a piece of crystal. You're going to shatter it. And it's going to be in pieces all over the place. And you're going to have to put it together. And you're going to need help to do that." Bush said, "Well, what do you recommend? What do you think I should do?" And Powell said, "Take it to the United Nations. You've got to go to the United Nations."
RICHARD ARMITAGE: There were others in the administration who didn't want to do that, fearful that it would allow Saddam Hussein off the hook, if he took us up on our offer. And Secretary Powell was very clear with the president on that, that if inspectors were allowed back in, if Saddam Hussein did everything we wanted, this would mean no war.
KAREN DeYOUNG: Well, Powell left the meeting feeling quite pleased with himself, feeling like he'd made points, that Bush had listened and that he'd gained some headway. Condi Rice called him the next morning and said, "Really good, you made your points, I think you really made an impression on the president."
NARRATOR: But it wouldn't last. The vice president was bitterly opposed to Powell's idea of a new U.N. resolution, and said so.
KAREN DeYOUNG: All of a sudden, the end of August, Cheney gets up and makes a speech in front of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Vice Pres. DICK CHENEY: [August 26, 2002] Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.
KAREN DeYOUNG: He says that there's no point in having weapons inspectors go back to Iraq because they're not going to find anything. Saddam Hussein has lied before and he will lie again.
Vice Pres. DICK CHENEY: Saddam has perfected the game of cheat and retreat and is very skilled in the art of denial.
NARRATOR: Powell was furious. Cheney's speech sounded like an official declaration of war.
Vice Pres. DICK CHENEY: We will not simply look away, hope for the best, and leave the matter for some future administration to resolve.
NARRATOR: In September 2002, the war cabinet gathered at Camp David. The matter of whether to ask for a new U.N. resolution still had not been settled. Colin Powell was pushing hard, and now he had an ally. Tony Blair joined the debate.
Sir CHRISTOPHER MEYER, U.K. Ambassador to U.S., 1997-'03: Blair came to Camp David to try to nail the president down to go through the U.N., and so to announce in his speech at the opening of the U.N. General Assembly a few days later.
KAREN DeYOUNG: When Blair went in to meet with Bush alone, Cheney was there, which sort of surprised him. They were kind of flummoxed by the role of the vice president.
Sir CHRISTOPHER MEYER: That finally revealed the full extent of the man's influence on the planning for Iraq. And from that moment onwards, we marked him and his staff very, very closely indeed.
NARRATOR: Bush listened to Blair make his case, but then he asked for something in exchange, a pledge that if diplomacy failed, Blair would nevertheless join the U.S. in war.
Sir CHRISTOPHER MEYER: Of course, the corollary was, "If we exhaust the U.N. process and it doesn't work, you're going to be with me, aren't you, Tony, when we go to war?"
NARRATOR: In the end, Blair agreed to stand by the president. But some on Blair's staff believed he had just blundered badly.
Sir CHRISTOPHER MEYER: If you say to the United States, "Whatever you choose to do, I'm with you," in a flash, your leverage is gone.
NARRATOR: Powell thought he had won, but Cheney wasn't done yet. On a visit to the office of the vice president at the Old Executive Office Building, the British ambassador met Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby.
Sir CHRISTOPHER MEYER: I went to see Scooter. And I said, you know, "What do you think of the resolution, the draft resolution?" And he was absolutely plain. He said, "I don't- we don't think there should be another resolution at all. How many more resolutions do you want on Iraq? We've already had 14, 15, 16, or whatever it is, since 1991. Do we really need another resolution to demonstrate that Saddam Hussein is a bad man who should be removed?"
So he wasn't even into discussing. And I said to him, "Well, what do you think of this text?" And he said, "I haven't looked at this text. Why do I want to look at this text? This whole thing is a waste of time."
NARRATOR: As Bush left for the U.N., two teams were still writing his speech. The Defense Department took Cheney's view. State pushed Powell and Blair's position. Even on the day the president arrived at the U.N., the speech was still in flux. If the president called for a U.N. resolution, Powell and Blair would know they had won.
RICHARD ARMITAGE: The secretary called me on his cell phone and said, "I'm here with the president, and it's in. The line is in the speech." And I said, "That's wonderful news." The president says, "Who's on the phone, Colin?" And he said, "Well, it's Rich." And he- the president- I heard him in the background yell, "Hey, Tiny." I told the secretary, "Tell the president good luck," and then I hung up and I watched the speech.
NARRATOR: The president made the decision to ask for a resolution at the last minute, so late that the words had not been loaded into the president's teleprompter.
Pres. GEORGE W. BUSH: [Sept. 12, 2002] My nation will work with the U.N. Security Council to meet our common challenge. If Iraq's regime defies us again-
RICHARD ARMITAGE: And the president went past the place in the speech where the line had been inserted. The president, realizing that he'd gone past it and not inserted it, then ad-libbed it, and you can tell in the speech where he did.
Pres. GEORGE W. BUSH: We will work with the U.N. Security Council for the necessary resolutions, but the purposes of the United States should not be doubted.
RICHARD ARMITAGE: And when I picked myself up off the floor, I was mightily relieved.
NARRATOR: The pundits and press believed the president asking for a resolution represented a victory for Powell. The neocons didn't think so.
WILLIAM KRISTOL, The Weekly Standard: I think Powell wins a lot of tactical arguments because he's the one that talks to all the allies, and you've got to care about those if you're president of the United States. But I would still say it's ultimately Powell's tactics in the service of Bush's and Cheney's and Rumsfeld's and Wolfowitz's ends.
NEWSCASTER: The whereabouts of Osama bin Laden himself remain unclear.
NEWSCASTER: Bin Laden is more than likely still alive.
NARRATOR: Osama bin Laden had begun to send out videotapes challenging his enemies and rallying supporters.
NEWSCASTER: -the whereabouts of bin Laden and other al Qaeda members-
NARRATOR: Meanwhile, hundreds of his foot soldiers captured in Afghanistan were still imprisoned in Cuba at Gitmo. One detainee in particular would get the treatment. His prison ID number was 063. The insiders called him "the 20th hijacker." His name was Mohammed al Qahtani.
JANE MAYER, The New Yorker: He had to urinate on himself. He was deprived of sleep for days on end. He was deprived of food.
NARRATOR: They brought in a dog to terrorize him. He was forced to wear a woman's bra and had a thong placed on his head. They put on a dog leash and made him do animal tricks. He was called a homosexual, and a female interrogator straddled him.
DANA PRIEST, The Washington Post: We know now that they ended up using women interrogators to try to use sexual innuendo and touching and- to make a devout Muslim feel ashamed of himself. And I remember speaking to a Pentagon official, who said, you know, "Yeah, we had to give- we gave them latitude." You know, "We wanted them to be creative."
NARRATOR: Rumsfeld had been increasingly unhappy about the lack of actionable intelligence from Gitmo.
Gen. PAUL KERN (Ret.), U.S. Army, 1967-'04: They weren't getting any intelligence, and so it all added up to taking a lot of detainees, putting them on Guantanamo, and nothing was working right.
Gen. JACK KEANE (Ret.), Army Vice Chief of Staff, 1999-'04: The feedback that I was getting was that the information initially wasn't as valuable as it could be and we just had to get better organized for that.
DONALD RUMSFELD: These are among the most dangerous, best trained, vicious killers on the face of the earth.
THOMAS WHITE, Secy. of the Army, 2001-'03: He's in it daily. They're meeting on this every day. He's directly involved in it. He's very hands-on. He's not one to not make it very clear to people that he is unhappy.
NARRATOR: There was a new facility. Camp X-Ray had given way to Camp Delta. Fourteen hundred military police and intelligence officers were handling 625 inmates.
MARK JACOBSON, Fmr. DoD Special Asst. for Policy: We were discovering that more individuals were trained to resist interrogation, that they were specifically trained how to deal with American approaches to interrogation.
NARRATOR: So Secretary Rumsfeld authorized much tougher interrogation techniques, the harshest techniques ever authorized for use by American soldiers.
JANE MAYER: This whole process is taking place completely in the dark, outside of the view of the American public. So there are several months here in which there are just extremely coercive methods being used on detainees in Guantanamo Bay, but nobody really knew that.
NARRATOR: Now they could legally use isolation facilities, deprivation of light, 20-hour interrogations. They could remove religious items and clothing, exploit detainees' individual phobias, such as the fear of dogs, stress positions, like standing for a maximum of four hours.
ERIC LEWIS, Attorney for U.K. Guantanamo Detainees: One of the things he authorizes is shackling in stress positions for up to four hours a day.
NARRATOR: Rumsfeld works at a standing desk.
ERIC LEWIS: And Secretary Rumsfeld writes in his own hand, "I stand eight to 10 hours a day. Why only four?"
MARK DANNER, Author, The Secret Way to War: When you read the documents, the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, was involved very personally in approving procedures that went beyond the line of what is allowed in military law, and for that matter, in civilian law, when it comes to what can be done to prisoners.
NARRATOR: The tough new interrogation techniques had been approved by the lawyers-Cheney's lawyer, Addington, Bush's lawyer, Gonzalez, and the Justice Department's John Yoo.
BARTON GELLMAN, The Washington Post: A delegation from the CIA and the military and a few other agencies bring in John Yoo to the White House. And Addington is there, Gonzales is there. And the question is, what are going to be the limits, legally, on interrogation in this new kind of war that the president has declared?
JOHN YOO, Office of Legal Counsel, 2001-'03: It's the CIA who was asking because they're the ones who have high-value detainees, you know, people like Abu Zubaida and-you know, who's the number three person in al Qaeda.
NARRATOR: The new definition of torture was so narrow that it was almost impossible to commit the crime.
JANE MAYER: What that memo did was it defined torture down, so that the only thing that really winds up being torture is inflicting pain on someone of an order that would be equivalent to organ failure. And it has to be the intentional infliction of pain because you could always argue, "Oh, I didn't really mean for it to be so painful."
[www.pbs.org: Read the "torture memos"]
NARRATOR: The document, known as the Bybee memo, said the president could authorize whatever techniques were necessary to fight the war on terror.
The president went looking for congressional authorization to wage war in Iraq.
Vice Pres. DICK CHENEY: Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons-
NARRATOR: Much of what Congress knew came from Cheney on television. To find out what the administration really knew, they brought in George Tenet.
Sen. BOB GRAHAM (D-FL), Select Cmte. on Intel., 2001-'03: We had a meeting of the Senate Intelligence Committee, a closed meeting, with Director Tenet. And several of us ask him, "What did the National Intelligence Estimate say about this issue?"
NARRATOR: The National Intelligence Estimate, the NIE, is the highest-level document generated by the intelligence agencies.
W. PATRICK LANG, Fmr. Defense. Intel. Agency Officer: The National Intelligence Estimate becomes the truth accepted by the United States government. They hold this thing up, the NIE, and they say, "On page 6, it says so and so," and that is an irrefutable truth.
Sen. BOB GRAHAM: The answer that we got from Director Tenet is, "We've never done a National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, including its weapons of mass destruction." Stunning. We do these on almost every significant activity, much less significant than getting ready to go to war. We were flying blind.
MELVIN GOODMAN, Fmr. CIA Officer: The fact of the matter is, the CIA didn't want to produce one. The White House didn't want one because they didn't want to allow any venting of whatever opposition there was to what they wanted to be the conventional wisdom on weapons of mass destruction.
NARRATOR: And Tenet said the CIA was too busy fighting al Qaeda.
JOHN BRENNAN, Dpty. Exec. Director, CIA 2001-'03: There were a lot of things on George's plate. And he was working, you know, from sun-up to sundown and past that, seven days a week.
Sen. BOB GRAHAM: We said, "We don't care. This is the most important decision that we, as members of Congress, and that the people of America are likely to make in the foreseeable future. We want to have the best understanding of what it is we're about to get involved with."
NARRATOR: Tenet had to provide a tough-minded analysis of the WMD allegations in a hurry. A process that ordinarily takes months or years would be reduced to just over two weeks.
DANIEL BENJAMIN, Natl. Security Council, 1994-'99: I know some of the people who did that, and it's, you know, a mind-boggling task to have to put together an NIE in that amount of time, and particularly in those kinds of very charged circumstances.
NARRATOR: To some in the CIA, it looked like the vice president himself was determined to control the content of the NIE. Both Cheney and Scooter Libby had made about 10 trips to CIA headquarters, where they personally questioned analysts.
MELVIN GOODMAN: I was at the CIA for 24 years. The only time a vice president came to the CIA building was for a ceremony, to cut a ribbon, to stand on the stage, but not to harangue analysts about finished intelligence.
W. PATRICK LANG: Many, many of them have told me they were pressured. And there are a lot of ways. Pressure takes a lot of forms.
PAUL PILLAR, National Intel. Officer, 2000-'05: The questions every morning, the tasks, the requests to look into this angle one more time, turn over that rock again. If you didn't find anything last week, look again to see if there's something there for that-about that connection.
VINCENT CANNISTRARO, Fmr. CIA Officer: So you start looking very hard for anything at all that will support that answer that the vice president wants, that the Defense Department wants.
NEWSCASTER: From NBC News in Washington, this is Meet the Press.
NEWSCASTER: Today on Face the Nation, Condoleezza Rice on Iraq and Iran and-
NEWSCASTER: From Washington, This Week with ABC News chief-
NARRATOR: The administration would also use the media to promote its case. September 8, 2002, was the kickoff. It began with a New York Times story.
["Iraq has sought to buy thousands of specially designed aluminum tubes, which American officials believe were intended as components of centrifuges to enrich uranium."]
NARRATOR: The source of the story had been the administration itself.
TOM ROSENSTIEL, Dir., Project for Excellence in Journalism: We now know that you had people on the vice president's staff talking to key reporters doing these stories for The Times.
NARRATOR: The same day the story broke in the newspaper, the vice president and others referenced it on television.
CONDOLEEZA RICE, National Security Adviser: [CNN "Late Edition," September 8, 2002] Iraq- for instance, of aluminum tubes that really are only-
TOM ROSENSTIEL: Those stories would appear, and then they would reference the very material that they'd given them and say, "See? This is coming from The New York Times, not just us."
Vice Pres. DICK CHENEY: ["Meet the Press," September 8, 2002] -tubes. There's a story in The New York Times this morning- this is- and I want to attribute The Times. I don't want to talk about-
TOM ROSENSTIEL: It had an echo effect. It had an echo effect that the administration was conscious of, and employed.
NARRATOR: The allegation that Saddam Hussein had a nuclear program would become a part of the public debate.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE: [CNN "Late Edition," September 8, 2002] We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.
DONALD RUMSFELD, Defense Secretary: [CBS "Face the Nation," September 8, 2002] "Smoking gun" is an interesting phrase. It implies that-
NARRATOR: The media blitz, the visits by the vice president and his chief of staff- some in the CIA say it was all a kind of subtle arm-twisting. Later, a divided Senate commission would say that it did not constitute undue pressure. But at the CIA, some said it did.
PAUL PILLAR: Politicization, real politicization, rarely works that way- that is to say, you know, blatant, crude, arm-twisting. It's always far more subtle.
NARRATOR: And so under intense political pressure both from the Congress and the administration, the CIA developed the NIE. In early October, Tenet delivered it. Much of it was outdated, from the 1990s. There were four or five new allegations- the aluminum tubes, mobile biological, chemical and nuclear programs. But buried inside the documents' footnotes were the State Department's doubts.
CARL W. FORD, Jr., Dir., State Dept. Intel., 2001-'03: If you read the footnotes closely, we said, "You don't have the evidence for that. It may be true, but if it is, there ought to be a way to show that that's the truth. And based on what you've shown us, we don't buy it."
NARRATOR: A case in point: One footnote was about uranium, "yellowcake."
["A foreign government service reported that as of early 2001, Niger planned to send several tons of pure uranium, probably yellowcake, to Iraq."]
NARRATOR: The State Department called it highly dubious. And so did some at the CIA.
VINCENT CANNISTRARO: No one is endorsing it. Everyone is saying it really does sound implausible.
TYLER DRUMHELLER, Chief, CIA European Div., 2001-'05: We never took it seriously. I mean, we looked at it, but there was never any real substance to it.
NARRATOR: But the vice president had received a Defense Intelligence Agency report about yellowcake.
CARL W. FORD, Jr.: He said, "This is important. This is interesting to me. Tell me about it."
Amb. JOSEPH WILSON, State Dept., 1976-'98: I was briefed that an allegation had reached the office of the vice president, and the office of the vice president had asked the CIA to look into it. I knew a lot about uranium mining. I knew a lot about Niger.
NARRATOR: The CIA sent Wilson to Niger. He found no evidence of a yellowcake sale and reported that to the CIA. Yet somehow, the discredited story was put in the NIE. Some at the CIA blame the vice president.
VINCENT CANNISTRARO: The CIA's assessment was sheep-herded by a national intelligence officer who works very closely with the vice president's office. It's a flawed- fatally flawed document, and it should never had seen the light of day.
NARRATOR: The secret NIE was kept in a locked room where Congress could read it, but few did.
George Tenet had tried to walk a line between the White House and the Congress. In the end, some thought he had harmed his own reputation.
Sen. BOB GRAHAM: Well, I thought that this wasn't a man who was strong enough to stand up to the president of the United States and say, "Mr. President, you are about to make a very serious mistake."
NARRATOR: But one week later, Tenet surprised his critics by standing up to the White House. The occasion was a presidential speech in Cincinnati.
Pres. GEORGE W. BUSH: [October 7, 2002] The threat comes from Iraq. It possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons.
NARRATOR: Designed to be the equivalent of a declaration of war, the speech was supposed to include a passage about yellowcake. Tenet lobbied for it to be removed.
JAMES BAMFORD, Author, A Pretext for War: George Tenet actually went out of his way to put some pressure on the National Security Council to have them take that out of the- out of the speech.
MELVIN GOODMAN, Fmr. CIA Officer: I would assume that Dick Cheney was furious that this was pulled out of the October speech because, again, this is the key to the "The smoking gun shouldn't be a mushroom cloud." That's what all of this was about. And the emphasis on the Niger documents was about relevance to make the case to go to war.
NARRATOR: But after this moment, Tenet seems to have backed away from the battle.
JAMES BAMFORD: But that was the very last time George Tenet ever fought a battle to have something taken out of a speech at the White House.
NARRATOR: Amidst a clamor to release the classified NIE, Tenet had passed out a sanitized version known as "the white paper."
Sen. BOB GRAHAM (D-FL), Select Cmte. on Intel., 2001-'03: And one of the surprising things about it was it was of a very high production level- graphs, photographs in color. It was an advocacy piece.
INTERVIEWER: What does it say to you?
Sen. BOB GRAHAM: Oh, it says to me that the decision had been made that we're going to go to war with Iraq, all of this other was just window dressing, and that the intelligence community was being used as almost a public relations operation to validate the war against Saddam Hussein.
NARRATOR: Paul Pillar, a veteran high-ranking CIA analyst, was one of the primary authors of the white paper. He now disavows it.
PAUL PILLAR: It was clearly requested and published for policy advocacy purposes. This was not informing a decision. What was the purpose of it? The purpose was to strengthen the case for going to war with the American public. Is it proper for the intelligence community to publish papers with that purpose? I don't think so. And I regret having had a role in that.
MICHAEL SCHEUER, CIA, 1982-'04: Paul Pillar is a man that I have tremendous respect for and who I think is an ideal intelligence officer. If there were pressures that resulted in Mr. Pillar not being happy with what he finally authored, I can only imagine those pressures must have been extraordinary because he is a man that I would want my son to model himself after. So to me, that says the pressure from the White House through Mr. Tenet on professional CIA officers was nearly overwhelming.
SENATE OFFICER: A joint resolution to authorize the use of United State's armed forces against Iraq-
NARRATOR: And in mid-October, Congress voted on the war resolution.
Sen. BOB GRAHAM: It wasn't coincidental that the vote on authorization to go to war against Iraq occurred in October of 2002 because there was something getting ready to happen in November of 2002, which was the congressional elections.
NARRATOR: The president's inner circle knew there would be substantial pressure on Democrats to support the war.
SENATE OFFICER: The ayes are 77.
NARRATOR: They voted overwhelmingly in favor of the resolution.
SENATE OFFICER: The nays are 23. The joint resolution is passed.
Sen. BOB GRAHAM: At this point, the Democrats had a majority of the Senate. I think in large part because of all the emotion that was generated in the weeks before the 2002 election, the Republicans took enough seats to regain control of the Senate.
NEWSCASTER: There is new evidence the Iraqi leader is actively and aggressively trying to build-
NARRATOR: Now the war rhetoric was at full volume.
NEWSCASTER: The initial reluctance of some U.S. allies to go to war against Iraq appears to be breaking down tonight.
DONALD RUMSFELD: We know they have weapons of mass destruction. We know they have active programs.
Pres. GEORGE W. BUSH: If we know Saddam Hussein has dangerous weapons today, does it make any sense for the world to wait?
NEWSCASTER: Top intelligence officials say they have much more than a hunch that Saddam is up to no good.
NARRATOR: And George Tenet was about to join the chorus. The occasion was a December meeting in the Oval Office, where the president was evaluating the case against Saddam Hussein.
CARL W. FORD, Jr., Dir., State Dept. Intel., 2001-'03: The president had said, "Is this all we got?" And the answer should have been, "Yes, sir. Unfortunately, that's all we got." His instincts were right. He saw that there wasn't a lot there. But I guarantee you, that's everything we had. We gave him our best shot, and the president said, "I don't-is that all you got?"
INTERVIEWER: And what did Tenet say?
CARL W. FORD, Jr.: "Slam dunk." That was the slam dunk conversation.
DAVID KAY, Iraq Weapons expert: He certainly knew it wasn't a slam dunk. He knew and would have had to know that the data was not of a character that one could describe, even in a loose manner, and certainly not in the Oval Office of the president, who has expressed doubt about the presentation he's just heard, "Don't worry, Mr. President, that's a slam dunk." The data was not that solid.
CARL W. FORD, Jr.: Then they said, "Well, if that's true, George, if this is right, and this is- we're going to have to say it differently. You're going to have to come up with different ways of saying this because a normal person is going to look at this and say, `Is that all you got?' "
DAVID KAY: Quite frankly, the thing that I find hardest to understand in this entire story- where was the national security adviser, Condi Rice? She should immediately have said to the- any DCI, not just George Tenet, anyone who did that in the Oval Office, "No, you go back and you come back with a better case. Here are the doubts the president's expressed. Let's see what's there." But it was allowed to slide.
NARRATOR: Rice, like many others in the war cabinet, had already made up her mind.
ELISABETH BUMILLER, Rice Biographer, An American Life: The important thing to remember about Condi Rice is that in December of 2002, Bush called her into the Oval Office and asked her, point blank, "Do you think we should do this?" And he meant war with Iraq. And she said, "Yes." And so in December of 2002, it was decided.
NARRATOR: A month later, the president essentially declared war on IRAQ.
Pres. GEORGE W. BUSH: [January 28, 2003] Saddam Hussein has gone to elaborate lengths, spent enormous sums, taken great risks to build and keep weapons of mass destruction.
NARRATOR: It was all there, especially the allegations of a nuclear threat.
Pres. GEORGE W. BUSH: Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production.
NARRATOR: And then for some, a surprise, that controversial assertion about yellowcake that would become known as "the 16 words."
Pres. GEORGE W. BUSH: The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.
NARRATOR: How yellowcake found its way into the speech was a mystery to many in the intelligence community.
PAUL PILLAR, National Intel. Officer, 2000-'05: There were serious questions raised about yellowcake, and that's why the people in the intelligence community advised the White House not to use it publicly. And that's why it was not used in the intelligence community's own unclassified product, because there were doubts about the credibility of the report that's turned out to be fabricated.
NARRATOR: George Tenet would later admit he was not aware of the 16 words because he had not read the president's speech in advance.
RON SUSKIND, Author, The One Percent Doctrine: I know, personally, when I listened to that State of the Union speech and I heard about uranium and yellowcake, I turned to the people I was with, my family, and said, "We are going to war in Iraq."
Pres. GEORGE W. BUSH: May God continue to bless the United States of America.
[www.pbs.org: Watch this program again on line]
NARRATOR: The vice president had been the driving force to this moment. Now Colin Powell's diplomatic effort was the remaining obstacle, and it was about to be undone.
The scene was the United Nations. The French called a meeting of the Security Council to discuss terrorism. Colin Powell attended. What he did not know was that the French were about to try to prevent any military action against Iraq.
Sir CHRISTOPHER MEYER, U.K. Ambassador to U.S., 1997-'03: And Colin Powell was fed up because it was Martin Luther King Day and the French were insisting on having this debate on international terrorism, I think it was, in New York.
KAREN DeYOUNG: The French were going to have a lunch for all the ministers. And de Villepin, the French foreign minister, didn't show up for about 45 minutes at his own lunch. Nobody knew quite where he was.
NARRATOR: As Powell ate, de Villepin was at a press conference, going on record saying France would not support the war.
DOMINIQUE DE VILLEPIN, French Foreign Minister: Since we can disarm Iraq through peaceful means, we should not take the risk to endanger the lives of innocent civilians or soldiers, to jeopardize the stability of the region and further widen the gap between our people and our cultures.
Sir CHRISTOPHER MEYER: Which is interpreted as a real stab in the back, particularly to the United States, particularly to Colin Powell.
NARRATOR: Inside, Powell was finishing his lunch.
KAREN DeYOUNG: His cell phone rings and it's Condoleezza Rice on the phone. And she says, "What are you going to do about what he said?" He said, "What do you mean, what he said?"
NARRATOR: Powell had been blind-sided. And when de Villepin finally arrived, Powell had to be cajoled by the press to shake hands.
REPORTER: Could you shake hands, please? Shake hands.
Sir JEREMY GREENSTOCK, U.K. Ambassador to U.N., 1998-'03: There was clearly bad blood, and that was when, in personal chemistry terms, things began to be more difficult between those two senior politicians.
Sir CHRISTOPHER MEYER: I went into the State Department to see actually Rich Armitage that week, without fully understanding the flavor of what had happened in New York. And the air was blue. The air was blue. There was a smell of cordite in the deputy secretary of state's room. And I went in. He took me in to see the secretary, and the air was even bluer there. And I suddenly realized how badly, how badly the French had played their hand on that.
NARRATOR: But the effect on Powell was even more profound.
KAREN DEYOUNG, Author, Soldier:The Life of Colin Powell: The administration said, "You've been- you've been skunked by them. You've been- you've had the wool pulled over your eyes." You know, "They've made you look foolish." There were those in the White House that wanted to make him look bad, wanted to make it look like diplomacy was not an answer, that in fact, the French had betrayed him.
NARRATOR: Powell had lost face inside the administration. And then as a final insult, Donald Rumsfeld stepped into Powell's diplomatic province.
DONALD RUMSFELD: You're thinking of Europe as Germany and France. I don't. I think that's old Europe. If you look at the entire NATO Europe today, the center of gravity is shifting to the east.
NARRATOR: With that, the American diplomatic effort was in shambles. There were those who quietly suggested to Powell that if he wanted to stop the rush to war, resignation was now his only option.
KAREN DeYOUNG: Part of him said, "Well, if I leave, I leave the field to them. I leave the field to Cheney and Rumsfeld." It would have been an admission of defeat. It would have said, "OK, I give up. I'm out of here." And he just couldn't bring himself to do that.
NARRATOR: There was another casualty of the United Nations debacle, Tony Blair. Like his ally, Colin Powell, he'd been counting on that U.N. resolution. His government was on the precipice.
Sir CHRISTOPHER MEYER: And I kept on saying to people in Washington, "Look, if he loses a vote in the House of Commons, the very first example of regime change that you will experience will be in London."
Prof. TONY JUDT, New York University: Blair was too optimistic, too naive, too idealistic, too self-confident. He has failed heroically. And there's no question that anything that happens now is not what he wanted.
NEWSCASTER: Around the world, millions of demonstrators turned out-
NEWSCASTER: -the massive outpouring or anti-war sentiment-
NARRATOR: Blair would keep his promise to Bush. The British would join what was being called "the coalition of the willing," a coalition the president insisted Colin Powell continue to build. He would instruct Powell to return to the United Nations to deliver the case against Saddam.
ELISABETH BUMILLER, The New York Times: This was the big production. This was the big show. And Powell had to present it. He was the most credible member of the administration around the world, and they were going to use Powell's-Powell's credibility to sell this.
LAWRENCE WILKERSON, Chief of Staff, State Dept., 2002-'05: The first thing we asked ourselves as a group is why is the secretary of state doing this and not John Negroponte, our ambassador to the U.N.? John's perfectly capable of doing this. Adlai Stevenson did it. So why is- well we didn't have to ask ourselves that question very long, about nine nanoseconds, and we all said the only member of this administration with credibility with the American people, Mother Teresa ratings, 80 percent in the polls, Colin Powell. Of course. That's why he's going. We didn't have any trouble answering that question. Can you imagine Dick Cheney going to the United Nations and presenting? Dick Cheney only speaks in front of military audiences.
NARRATOR: But at the vice president's office, they decided to write the speech Powell would deliver.
RICHARD CLARKE, Dir., NSC Counterterrorism, 1998-'01: Powell gets a speech, written by Scooter Libby, sent to him. And he's told, "This is the kind of speech we would like you to give at the U.N." It's very strange for the vice president's senior adviser to be writing the speech and saying to the secretary of state, "This is what you should be saying."
NARRATOR: Powell was skeptical of Libby's speech.
CARL W. FORD, Jr., Dir., State Dept. Intel., 2001-'03: He took the initiative to tell his staff, INR and CIA, "We're going to have to go through this. I don't like this." So his mind was already attuned to the fact that he wanted to make it better than he saw it.
LAWRENCE WILKERSON: Secretary Powell was not reluctant at all to throw things out completely. We threw the meeting between Mohammad Atta and Iraqi intelligence operatives in Prague out.
ELISABETH BUMILLER: He felt it was so full of half-baked truths and allegations that couldn't be backed up, and so hysterical, he had gone over to the CIA to try and get the bad stuff out and make sure it stood up factually.
KAREN DeYOUNG: Cheney's office has sent over his own people, John Hanna, who was his Middle East- special Middle East advisor, who also had participated in the writing. Every paragraph, they say, "Where did you get this fact? Where did this come from?" Hanna goes through his clipboard and says, "Oh, that's from here. That's from there." Some of it just came from newspaper articles.
RICHARD ARMITAGE, Dpty. Secy. of State, 2001-'05: He'd been out there four days or so. He called me up- the secretary called me on a Saturday and said, "What are you doing tomorrow?" And I said, "Well, I'll just be in the office." He said, "Can you come with me to the agency?" And I said, "Sure." So I went to his house and we spent Sunday out there. And I felt he was getting a little fatigued at having to knock down all these specious allegations and he wanted a little reinforcement, so I went out and reinforced him for that day.
NARRATOR: Rebutting Cheney's version of the speech was taking too long. The U.N. presentation was only days away.
KAREN DeYOUNG: They throw out the version that's been prepared by the vice president's office after they realize they're never going to be able to get it finished. They go back to the National Intelligence Estimate that the CIA had come up with several months earlier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. They use that for their template.
NARRATOR: Powell insisted his friend, George Tenet, attend the sessions and vouch for the speech.
LARRY WILKERSON: I sat in the room, looking into his eyes, as did the secretary of state, and heard with the firmness that only George could give it- and I don't mean terminology like "slam dunk," although he was a basketball afficionado and used that kind of terminology a lot- but I mean eyeball-to-eyeball contact between two of the most powerful men in the administration, Colin Powell and George Tenet, and George Tenet assuring Colin Powell that the information he was presenting at the U.N. was ironclad.
NARRATOR: Tenet denied FRONTLINE's request for an interview. However, in his autobiography, he said, "Never did I give policy makers information that I knew to be bad. We said what we said about WMD because we believed it." But even at that time, inside the CIA there were serious doubts about the accuracy of a central part of Powell's speech. It, too, had come from the NIE.
["Baghdad has mobile facilities for producing bacterial and toxin BW agents. These facilities can evade detection and are highly survivable."]
NARRATOR: The source for this information was code-named "Curveball."
VINCENT CANNISTRARO, Fmr. CIA Officer: Curveball was a relative of a senior official of the INC, the Iraqi National Congress, headed by Ahmad Chalabi.
DAVID KAY, Iraq Weapons Expert: Curveball claimed that he was an engineer, a young engineer out of the University of Baghdad. And among the things he had designed, helped design, were this trailer, which was to be a mobile biological production facility.
NARRATOR: His story had been given to the American intelligence network by the Germans, but they could not verify the accuracy of his claims.
TYLER DRUMHELLER, Chief, CIA European Div., 2001-'05: For a service to say, "We have this source, and here's what he reports but we can't vouch for it one way or another," that's a little- you know, that should be a flag right there.
NARRATOR: But as Curveball's allegations became a crucial part of the NIE, what few knew, including Secretary Powell, was that Curveball was the sole source for most of the information.
DAVID KAY: He was not told the truth when he was at the agency. When he was going over the data, he was told this was based on not one source but multiple sources. One of the sources he was told it was based on was already known to be a fabricator. He was not told that the Germans had denied the U.S. access to it. He was not told that there had been warnings from the Germans that this guy was, to say the least, undependable, alcoholic. So all the- all the fine-grained stuff that might have caused him even then not to use it, he wasn't given an opportunity to hear firsthand.
NEWSCASTER: Powell will show the Security Council a mass of evidence in a presentation-
NEWSCASTER: The secretary of state as prosecutor today-
NEWSCASTER: -for what promises to be a turning point in-
NARRATOR: In February of 2003, at the White House, the president and Condoleezza Rice sat down to watch Colin Powell put his personal prestige on the line.
ELISABETH BUMILLER: The big day finally arrives. And Condi Rice and the president and some other staff members were watching around lunchtime in the small dining room off of the Oval Office. And the president's eating cheese and crackers and drinking a Diet Coke. And it's almost like they're watching a- a show.
COLIN POWELL: [February 5, 2003] Let me turn now to nuclear weapons-
NARRATOR: Powell insisted George Tenet sit in camera range right behind him. The usual allegations were made.
COLIN POWELL: Saddam Hussein is determined to get his hands on a nuclear bomb-
NARRATOR: Aluminum tubes.
COLIN POWELL: -that he has made repeated covert attempts to acquire high-specification aluminum tubes-
DAVID KAY: I think the- on the aluminum tubes, that test data was cooked, and it was portrayed upward in a very dishonest fashion.
COLIN POWELL: We have firsthand descriptions of biological weapons factories on wheels and on rails. The source was an eyewitness, an Iraqi chemical engineer who supervised one of these facilities. He actually was present during-
DAVID KAY: George Tenet knew we had no agents inside Iraq. George Tenet knew that on the case of Curveball, no American had ever talked to Curveball directly. No American had been given his name by the Germans. And you go down the line, he knew the holes in the data.
NARRATOR: And Powell used that information from Sheik al Libi, who was rendered and tortured in Egypt.
COLIN POWELL: I can trace the story of a senior terrorist operative telling how Iraq provided training in these weapons to al Qaeda. Fortunately, this operative is now detained and he has told his story.
NARRATOR: But this information had been coerced out of al Libi. Eventually, he would recant and admit he had made it up.
COLIN POWELL: Leaving Saddam Hussein in possession of weapons of mass destruction for a few more months or years is not an option, not in a post-September 11th world.
NARRATOR: And then, just three weeks before the invasion of Iraq was to begin, Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki took the Army's internal fight with Secretary Rumsfeld public.
Sen. CARL LEVIN (D), Michigan: [February 25, 2003] General Shinseki, could you give us some idea as to the magnitude of the Army's force requirement for an occupation of Iraq, following a successful completion of the war?
Gen. ERIC SHINSEKI, Army Chief of Staff: In specific numbers, I would have to rely on combatant commanders' exact requirements, but I think-
Sen. CARL LEVIN: How about a range?
Gen. ERIC SHINSEKI: I would say that what's been mobilized to this point, something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers are probably, you know, a figure that would be required. We're talking about post-hostilities control over a piece of geography that's fairly significant, with the kinds of ethnic tensions that could lead to other problems. And so it takes a significant ground force presence.
THOMAS WHITE, Secy. of the Army, 2001-'03: So the next morning, I get a call from Wolfowitz, who is upset that Shinseki would give this number. And I forget exactly what I said, but I said, "Well, he's an expert. He was asked. He has a fundamental responsibility to answer the questions and offer his professional opinion, which he did. And there was some basis to the opinion because he is a relative expert on the subject." So a week later-
INTERVIEWER: So what does Wolfowitz say when you say that? I mean, that's-
THOMAS WHITE: Well, he's- he's- they're mad. They're upset.
REPORTER: [February 27, 2003] Army chief of staff General Shinseki said it would take several hundred thousand troops on the ground-
DONALD RUMSFELD: There's so many variables that it is not knowable. It is- however, I will say this. What is, I think, reasonably certain is the idea that it would take several hundred thousand U.S. forces I think is far from the mark.
PAUL WOLFOWITZ, Dpty. Secretary of Defense, 2001-'05: [February 27, 2003] It's hard to conceive that it would take more forces to provide stability in post-Saddam Iraq than it would take to conduct the war itself and to secure the surrender of Saddam's security forces and his army. Hard to imagine.
THOMAS WHITE: All of us in the Army felt just the opposite, that there was a long history of that being absolutely true, that the defeat of the Iraqi military would be a relatively straightforward operation of fairly short duration, but that the securing of the peace and the security of a country of 25 million people spread out over an enormous geographic area would be a tremendous challenge that would take a lot of people, a lot of labor, to be done right.
PAUL WOLFOWITZ: In short, we don't know what the requirement will be, but we can say with reasonable confidence that the notion of hundreds of thousands of American troops is way off the mark.
THOMAS WHITE: So they discredit Shinseki. Then a week later, I get in front of the same committee. I get asked- I see Senator Levin before the hearing starts, and he says, "I'm going to ask you the same question." I said, "Good." I said, "You're going to get the same answer." And so he asked me the question, and I- exactly the same answer. And you know, and at that point, Shinseki and White are not on the team, right? We don't get it. We don't understand this thing, and we are not on the team. And therefore, you know, actions are going to be taken.
Pres. GEORGE W. BUSH: My fellow citizens, events in Iraq have now reached-
NARRATOR: On March 17th, the president delivered his final ultimatum.
Pres. GEORGE W. BUSH: Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours. Their refusal to do so will result in military conflict commenced at a time of our choosing.
NARRATOR: On the morning of March 19th, with 12 hours to go, the president initiated the sequence of events necessary to start hostilities.
ELISABETH BUMILLER, The New York Times,: On March 19th, they're all in the Situation Room in the morning-the president, the vice president, the secretary of defense. The commanders in Iraq are up on the big screens in the Situation Room. And the president goes around and asks each- each general and commander, "Are you ready? Do you have everything you need?" And they all assure him, "Yes, Mr. President, we're ready."
NARRATOR: The president then authorized the commencement of hostilities to begin at 8:00 in the evening Washington time.
ELISABETH BUMILLER: But Rice at that point goes back to her office because when this happens, there's not a whole lot to do at the White House.
NARRATOR: George Tenet at the CIA was also waiting. Then his phone rang.
TODD PURDUM, Author, A Time of Our Choosing: George Tenet of the CIA got an extraordinary tip. He thought he knew where Saddam Hussein would be that very night. And he rushed in his car down the Potomac, across to the White House, and he met with President Bush and the other members of the national security team for several hours.
ELISABETH BUMILLER: Condi Rice was summoned quickly into the Oval Office because Tenet's got a- sort of a crude, hand-drawn map. And he's telling the president that, "We think that Saddam Hussein is in this bunker," at a place called Dora Farm in Baghdad, and they think they've got him there. They've gotten some very good intelligence.
NARRATOR: There was confusion, uncertainty and a heated debate. Tenet talked to Tommy Franks.
Gen. MICHAEL DELONG (Ret.), Gen. Franks Deputy: You know, we are sitting around getting ready to go to war, but then Tenet calls Franks. And of course, I'm on the other phone. And he said, "Here's what we have. Uncorroborated, but I think it's a good target." Well, first of all, we got nothing set to do this. Of course, the expletives are rolling out of Franks like crazy right now. [laughs] So they talk about it, get a brief together, go to the president. The president said, "Didn't you guys hear what I said?" He said, "I gave him 48 hours. That's my word." And they go, "Well, he may not be there then."
ELISABETH BUMILLER: The president asked all of his senior advisers what they thought. But at the end, he kicked everybody out and sat alone with Cheney. And Powell later remarked that he thought it was quite interesting that at the end of the day, Cheney had the last word.
NARRATOR: General Franks ordered two Stealth bombers to hit Tenet's new target. The attack would commence just minutes after the deadline expired.
Lt. Col. DAVID TOOMEY, U.S. Air Force: We knew that it was a high-priority mission with someone on the ground or somebody, some group of people on the ground. But we didn't know who it was. We attacked the city with one coming in from the east, one coming in from the west, and we dropped simultaneously on the target just to the side of the river there.
MARK GARLASCO, Defense Intel. Agency, 1997-'03: The first thing I did when I got into the Pentagon was I picked up the phone and called my counterpart over at the CIA. And I said, like, "Dude, what'd you get? What happened?" And he's, like, "We got him. The war is over, Mark. Pack it in. You don't have to worry about it. You can go home right now." And I said, "All right, what have you got?" And he's, like, "Well, I can't go into the details, but we have an unimpeachable source, and this is it. So it will take us a little while to check on things, but you got nothing to worry about. Saddam is dead."
Pres. GEORGE W. BUSH: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. The tyrant has fallen and Iraq is free.
ANNOUNCER: In Part II, the war that defines a presidency.
ANTHONY CORDESMAN, Ctr. for Strategic and Intl. Studies: All of a sudden, the Iraqi people started looting.
Col. THOMAS M. GROSS (Ret.), Office of Humanitarian Assistance: And it's been downhill from there.
ANNOUNCER: The inside story of the war that no one expected.
Col. DOUGLAS MacGREGOR (Ret.), Military Strategist: You've got chaos in the country.
DEXTER FILKINS, The New York Times: There's so many different ways to die there.
Pres. GEORGE W. BUSH: My answer is bring 'em on.'
ANNOUNCER: And no one planned for.
Gen. JACK KEANE (Ret.), Army Vice Chief of Staff, 1999-'04: Nowhere in there is a plan to defeat the insurgency. So we had no military strategy to defeat the insurgency.
RICHARD ARMITAGE, Dpty. Secy. of State, 2001-'05: There needed to be some changes.
MiCHAEL GORDON, Co-Author, Cobra II: We're moving in precisely the opposite direction.
ANNOUNCER: Tomorrow night, the conclusion.
Pres. GEORGE W. BUSH: [March 21, 2006] Americans have never retreated in the face of thugs and assassins, and we will not begin now.
ANNOUNCER: Bush's War
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