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join the discussion: What are your  thoughts on the struggle between Vice President Cheney and the CIA over prewar intelligence?  How do you view  CIA Director George Tenet's actions and judgment during this period?

photograph of donald rumsfeld, vice president richard cheney and president george w. bushphotograph of a soldier in afghanistanphotograph of colin powell presenting the case for war at the u.n.

Dear FRONTLINE,

At the beginning of the video, The Dark Side, there is a clip of a large body jet. Are we being told this is footage of Flight 77?

If this is Flight 77, then the program should have stipulated to the fact. The way the clip is structured in the piece leaves the viewer with the impression that this is Flight 77 on its approach (to attacking) the Pentagon; if this is not the case then the point needs to be publicly acknowledged.

Brian C.

FRONTLINE's editors respond:

We did not intend to suggest that the shot of the plane seen near the beginning of our program was Flight 77. We used it to illustrate the vice president's remarks that "they had received a report that an airplane was headed for the White House." However, since the next shot is the explosion at the Pentagon, it is possible that some viewers could have been confused on this point. If so, we regret the confusion and are replacing the shot in the streamed program on this web site and will do the same for future broadcasts and distribution of this program. Thank you for bringing the matter to our attention.

Dear FRONTLINE,

You broadcast Mr. Vincent CANNISTRARO saying, "Curveball was a relative of a senior official of the INC, the Iraqi National Congress headed by Ahmad Chalabi."This is false statement for which there is no evidence and Mr. CANNISTRARO is simply speculating. We point you to the Robb-Silberman WMD report (page 108) which conclusively states there is no connection between Curveball and the INC as well as a correction published by the New York Times on July 17, 2004 which states the same thing.You did not contact the INC for a response to this allegation. We ask you to correct the record and remove this false statement by Mr. CANNISTRARO from your film.Sincerely,Ahmed AllawiIraqi National Congress

Ahmed Allawi
Baghdad, Iraq

FRONTLINE's editors respond:

FRONTLINE contacted Vincent Cannistraro regarding Mr. Allawi's comments. Mr. Cannistraro stands by his statement, based on his own intelligence sources. Further, the claim that a relative of Curveball worked for the INC has been reported in various forms in several media outlets, from the Los Angeles Times to the New Yorker.
FRONTLINE's discussion of Curveball and his family ties to the INC was meant not to implicate the INC but to demonstrate the lapses in vetting Curveball and his information. At no point does Mr. Cannistraro or the FRONTLINE report claim that the INC introduced Curveball to western intelligence or influenced him, claims which, as Mr. Allawi correctly notes, the New York Times made and later retracted.
Finally, while it is true that the Silberman-Robb report found no evidence that the INC introduced Curveball to western intelligence or coached him, that same report also noted that "the October 2002 NIE relied on reporting from two INC sources, both of whom were later deemed to be fabricators."

Dear FRONTLINE,

Dear Frontline,

I think your recent program "The Dark Side" did a good job pointing out the lack of intelligence linking Iraq with either 9/11 or Al Qaeda, but it seems that some of your viewers still believe this to be true. There are plenty of public sources, including the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on pre-war U.S. intelligence on Iraq, led by a Republican chairman by the way, that show that there was no credible intelligence from not just the CIA, but the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), ran out of the Pentagon under Rumsfeld, and Richard Clarke's anti-terrorist group within the NSC, that showed a relationship between Iraq and Islamist groups such as Bin Laden's. This view was also shared by our closest ally in the Iraq war England. As the secret Downing Street memos from 2002 reveal, Tony Blair's cabinet, including his intelligence chief and top foreign policy advisors, did not believe that there was a connection. A 3/22/02 Downing Street memo says, "US scrambling to establish a link between Iraq and Al Aaida is so far frankly unconvincing." That's followed by another on 3/25/02 in which British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw states, "In addition, there has been no credible evidence to link Iraq with UBL [bin Laden] and Al Qaida."

After the invasion no evidence was found either of a connection. The same Senate Intelligence Committee Report, the 9/11 Commission, and subsequent investigations found nothing. Iraq had not been involved in any anti-Western terrorism since 1993.

The Bush administration was fully aware of this as it received approximately 30 intelligence reports and briefings, some from U.S. intelligence agencies, some from foreign governments, and some even initiated by neoconservatives within the Pentagon, stating that there was no Iraq-Al Qaeda alliance. The Bush administration decided to ignore this intelligence and go with their own beliefs, instead of facts. Only 2 groups fed them anything to support their views, the Pentagon's own Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group, which was highlighted in "The Dark Side," that was not staffed by intelligence officials, but rather neoconservative political appointees, and Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress that wanted was also pro-war.

All of this information is readily available to the public. I suggest your viewers read the Senate Intelligence Committee's report as its available over the internet as a starting point.

Joel Wing
Berkeley, CA

FRONTLINE's editors respond:

Visit our "Readings and Links" section of the Web site for links to the Senate Select Intelligence Committee's report, the "Silberman/Robb" report on the same matter and a page that collects original documents on Iraqi WMD programs.

Dear FRONTLINE,

It's sad that the Vice-President felt he needed to become judge, jury, and executor to deliver a reckoning for the events of 9/11. Coupled with his views on Executive powers, the Vice-President set a horrific plan in motion, one with even greater implications lying just below the surface. As soon Congress authorized the War, the administration would be in the position to trump all the other branches of government.

The interview excerpts sprinkled through the program exposes the awful truth behind the reasons for going to war and to illustrate that the administration will use anyone to further their goals. It's a shame that Secretary of State, General Colin Powell was allowed to continue his speech to the United Nations with such tenuous documentation.

Jon-Paul Ward
Seattle, WA

Dear FRONTLINE,

Best reporting I've seen on the subject.I was disappointed in not seeing anything about Israel and it's influence on our foreign policy in the Middle East ---to me, a story about the role played by that nation's Washington lobby will be the story of the century.

It was interesting to observe the internal problems and personalities within the executive branch of our government. Our president is apparently faced with a most challenging problem , "how history will remember him". He has two years and 5 � months in which to rehabilitate his public image.

How will he use this time to repair the damage done by 5 � years of mistakes made under the influence of his cabinet ?? Will he do a 180 and separate himself from the " industrial military" complex and try to gain a favorable place in history ??---The rest of this story will be interesting,

Chris Christie
scio, oregon

Dear FRONTLINE,

Excellent journalism. I admire the courage of Frontline and the integrity of the investigators and producers who presented this horribly fascinating and starkly revealing look at the Bush administration. However, I cannot say that I enjoyed this piece. In fact, it made me mad as hell. Why was none of this being reported in the mainstream press as it was happening? And now that we all know what has gone down in this administration, what next?

Maria Jaramillo
cedar falls, ia

Dear FRONTLINE,

for all you out there feeling you finally got the 'truth' i'm sorry for you. you will not get the truth from television however 'liberal'. but the truth is out there on-line (that's why there's so much talk about restricting the internet). please, if you're really curious about the current state of affairs in america, research on-line.

nommo lucas
somewhere, washington

Dear FRONTLINE,

I am appalled to have advised friends that Frontline "is the greatest show on television." This episode marks a low point for the program. While not a supporter of the policies of the Bush administration, I am at least an objective reader of the available information in 2006 regarding Saddam Hussein's Irag and the danger it posed to the civilized world.The focus on partisans from the CIA, which you all but briefly mentioned had missed every significant policy event in the last 20 years, Michael Scheur, Richard Clarke, and the detestable Joseph Wilson, provides the ignorant among us with the political ammuntion to look no further for the truth.I commend to those who would seek the truth the writings of Stephen F. Hayes of the Weekly Standard and the public utterances of the men and women in power in the United States prior to September 11, 2001. The former speaks to the evidence obtained post invasion, the latter to the intelligence and the environment which to led war.The problem as most of us outside the Beltway's stunted confines see it is that most Americans who loathe this administration (and this includes the producers of this awful episode) do not believe that we are in an actual fight for survival. To my great dismay, I believe that the country will not coalesce around the prospect of survival warfare until another great catastrophe should befall us. And it will.

Michael Lill
Warrenton, Virginia

Dear FRONTLINE,

I am grateful but puzzled over the exacting details recorded in your program. While we certainly need (but will we benefit?) from the exposure of misguided leadership, the focus on interpersonal relationships and loyalties overlooked the strategic geopolitical economics of contemporary Western Power(s). Reporting links between key players and corporate profits in oil, strategic minerals and weapons technology would clarify why we continue to choose aggression, war, terror over cooperation, "peaceful coexistence" and healthy human societies.

This is the real story to identify, track and discuss. Media leadership in this direction could inspire participation in "enlightened side" politics, rather than anger, despair and distraction from human violence...the "dark side". No truer words were ever spoken than "follow the money"!

JoAnne VanDatta
Eugene, OR

Dear FRONTLINE,

There's nothing surprising in your presentation, except the fact you didn't even make a token effort to present a counterpoint to your premise. For this reason, your presentation cannot be viewed as journalism. It is rather advocacy, something akin to a right wing political talk show.

It is to be expected in every administration that there will be turf battles. In attempting to elevate this to the level of sinister, you have in fact made yourself humorous. Maybe next time you can pencil in fangs and a black cape on Cheney. The capstone of all this is your inclusion of Joe Wilson, someone who has already been castigated before Congress for lying, as a credible source regarding uranium mining. Your inclusion of him insured that I couldn't take this presentation seriously.

Had I been an impressionable youth, without a critical and discerning mind, I would have unhesitatingly accepted this homogenized presentation. However, as in baseball, one learns to swing the bat differently when the pitcher throws a curveball, I have learned how to read between the lines of blantant political advocacy such as this. This presentation is one of the reasons that your public funding should be reduced or elimintated altogether.

Robert Stein
Warwick, New York

Dear FRONTLINE,

I'm amused that so many respondents are indignant that "both sides" weren't presented. Excuse me, what specifically do you contest? Should we really regard truth as relative, with all opinions equally valid? I'm also amused that lacking specific information that refutes any of the facts any analysis presented, respondents fall back on ad hominem attacks

Cindy Ross
Mesa, AZ

Dear FRONTLINE,

Frontline

It took courage to air a program like this in this political climate, especially when the president's party is again attempting to limit PBS and NPR funding. In addition, it was true to the spirit and vision of the founders of public broadcasting in the United States. Keep it up! Don't compromise to either political party, any administration, or commercial interest!

Bill Manatt
Mount Vernon, WA

Dear FRONTLINE,

As usual, a very fine show. However, I would argue that in many ways you walk the viewers to the edge and just leave them there. Your historical premise is very accurate: the struggle between Cheney/Tenet and the White House/CIA is several decades in the making. However your recent episode tends to downplay one important actor: Congress.

The Church Commission in the mid-1970s strongly advocated the curtailing of the CIA's ability (and by extension, the president's ability) to take covert action abroad. The chief concern were the illegal paramilitary action (such as the CIA/La Cosa Nostra bid to kill Castro, among other things). Congress clear has been crushed in this contest (which I would argue began with the illegal, US-back actions in Central America during the 1980). If we add Congress into the picture you paint on your recent show, one could ask a very disturbing question: Does the most democratic organ in the US government play any role in the implementation and contestation of policy? There answer appears to be no.

Ryan Gingras
New York , NY

Dear FRONTLINE,

I've never felt so frightened watching a report, nor felt so powerless. Where are you (and all the investigative media) when these events are happening? Why do you not report these events until years afterward, when it's too late to prevent more damage? What is happening right now that I'll regret not knowing about until it's too late?

I am deeply saddened by what has happened to a country I once loved, America.

Angela Keith

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you Frontline Freedom of Speech is alive!

Watch the first 5 minutes of Chapter 3 online to hear who the

Real Heros are! Our FEW Courageous military men! Listen to

the next 2 minutes to hear why we are at this point in the war

now. The rest is just details. Simple and Clear.

"When men on the chessboard get up and tell you where to go"Lyrics of Go Ask Alice by Jefferson Airplane.

Patricia Clark
Louisville, Kentucky

Dear FRONTLINE,

PBS has been, and continues to be, my favorite source for objective reporting. Unlike some "fair and balanced", or other purportedly objective sources (conservative and liberal), who begin their reporting with inferrences, your reports are typically characterized by the topical subject matter and what you are able to discover/uncover regarding it.

Of course, when a story covers a topic that is of interest to people with sharply defined and polarized perspectives, it is inevitable that armchair quarterbacks will defend what they feel is implicitly (or explicitly for that matter) attacked, including complaints on what information and whose interviews are not included.

For me, the measure of the quality of a piece such as this is simple - when I read comments from both sides criticizing what you did and didn't do with the piece, with some praise from both sides, you have done a damn good job. You stayed on topic, and I believe that you made a sincere effort to include comments from the different players' perspectives.

Great job! Please keep it up.

Don Warner
Maumee, OH

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posted june 20, 2006

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