the invasion of iraq
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Dear FRONTLINE,

It is amazing how, if you live long enough, you end up pirouetting many times in your view point. I used to hate FRONTLINE as a "lefty" thing. But I came to view it as America's best eye on reality and had to re-examine past programs in light of this. The two programs on the Iraq War and after closed all doors for scoundrals trying to hide behind "secret." I need not incriminate my sources anymore. Your exceptional journalism says it all!

I would recommend a study of whether we needed a war at all to end Saddam's reign and to really liberate the Iraqis. Between the work of our Special-ops operatives and the maneuvers of our troops in the Kuweity Desert, Saddam was ready to break and offered us his regime on a silver platter. Between Cheney as the ventriloquist for the dummy Bush-- to whose 2000 election I was so devoted-- and the neoconservatives in search of admiration as "mensch" in Israel from Likud, our chance for a peaceful solution was destroyed. Rumsfeld's ambition was also exploited; the neocons promised him massive support for the presidency should Bush flop. In the end, Rumsfeld sent our heroic volunteers to war-- like McNamara, disregarding the Joint Chiefs' views-- and then turned into a scoudral accountant, trying to do it on the cheap. So much was classified that the "documents" will be quoted by historians no less than 50 years from now. But your shows cut through the lies, exposed the avarice and imbecility, just in time so that none of us enter the voting booth this November as fools.

So, let me thank you and ask you: Given Israeli intelligence officer, (ret.) Gen. Brom's article on how the Israeli Mossad misread Iraq and, given David Kay's claim before Congress that our "intelligence failure" was in part due to our dependence on foreign services on the ground, what can we expect from the Cheney-Sharon alliance in the Middle East should Bush be re-elected?

Daniel Teodoru
New York, New York

Dear FRONTLINE,

It is disappointing that this Frontline is not being made available on-line as other frontlines have. I would be interested to know what goes into a decision to make this particular Frontline episode unavailable to watch online.

David Ferguson
Champaign, IL

FRONTLINE's editors respond:

Unfortunately, rights to the war combat footage were not able to be cleared for internet streaming.

Dear FRONTLINE,

We are doing so much more good their than bad and your program failed to show that. If freedom was left to the liberals and Bush haters to defend we would all be speaking German now. Yes some innocent life was lost, but how many people died under Saddam's rule. Sometimes death is necessary to gain good. The world will no longer have to suffer the possiblility that a drug crazed lunitic will give weapons of mass destruciton to a terrorist organization. For those of you who beleive that Septemeber 11, 2001 was terrible, wait until what comes next, these people want to destroy us. What we did in Iraq made the world safer.

Matthew Roche

Dear FRONTLINE,


I usually enjoy the balanced reporting that FRONTLINE prides itself upon. However your latest report on the Iraq war was biased in the extreme and has tarnished your sterling reputation in many eyes.

Unlike everyday life which has its daily regimens of basic predictibility, combat tends to incorporate two basic problems which you have glossed over, those being unpredictibilty and danger. By concentrateing on some obviously poor decisions made during the fog of war, you ignore many good decisions.

This is like ridiculing a quarterback for two fumbles in a game that his team won 40-0!

It is too bad that some innocent Iraqi families lost their lives. But your program showed no footage on the lives of the soldiers killed in suicide attacks. Your report glossed over the fact that an Iraqi army general abandoned his men in the middle of a battle. Try some balance next time!

Another interesting statistic you glossed over was the total Iraqi civilian population death total. Before your report, I thought it would be in the realm of 100,000 deaths. As you reported, it is much lower.

And would you please get over the fact that the President landed on an aircraft carrier and looked mighty presidential doing so. Envy does not become you. And neither does hatred.

You have to do better next time.

Christopher Davitt
Lake Forest, Illinois

Dear FRONTLINE,

Hatchet job. That's what it was. Why didn't you just come right out and tell everybody that you used British journalists? They made the Brits look good and the US military as murderously incompetent. You magnified every US mistake and downplayed every US sucess. You magnamously called the Iraqis "professional soldiers" who "just went home instead of surrendering". Like they are going to surrender and be sent sent to POW camps? No, they stripped off their uniforms and scurried home like any sane man who just met the most powerful military in the world. Even when the US Army wiped out the most fanatical Iraqi resisters, you called that as what happens when "a street gang goes up against soldiers". Goes up against the best trained and best equipped "professional soldiers" in the world, I might add. Ever asked the Russians how they are doing in Chechnya?

Why didn't you tell everybody you used Brit journo's and their biased views? No, you really outdid yourself this time. You damned the US military with faint praise over a political hack job. I could care less about Bush's chances for re-election, but by God, you could of left the US military out of it when you turned the foreigners lose on the president. And to show how stupid your foreign dog and pony show was, they didn't even know enough to ask why Tommy Franks turned the top job in the US Army down when it was offered to him and retired. Not a word. So much for you guy's "in depth investigation".

Turner Jones
Houston, Texas

Dear FRONTLINE,

I know this will not be the last Frontline to deal with this conflict. We have a long way to go and it won't be easy. I hope when all the smoke settles and democracy takes hold in Iraq Frontline will be there to report that America has truly accomplished the mission.

Great job in bringing this war to my television like no other news source out there.

Donovan Hart
Guyton, GA

Dear FRONTLINE,


I use numerous news sources to follow the Iraq war. I've seen or read about most of what was on your show, but seeing it all pieced together so well with the interviews you conducted, brought the severity of it home to me. I'm going to buy the CD and send it to all my friends.

But I must say, the only thing that bothers me more than our new policy of pre-emption, is the callous belittlement some of your respondents voiced towards collateral damage. Pre-emption of war and collateral damage are not policies that I subscribe to. I voted for this administration because I'm a Republican, but I'm sorry I did.

Casey Keenan
Charlottesville, Virginia

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you for a powerful, informative, and moving narration of those
critical six weeks last year.

As a US citizen in Canada, where the media has been a lot more critical and inquisitive than what most of my family, friends, and colleagues have seen in the US, I found the Frontline series moving and responsible and a reminder that a key pillar of US democracy: a free and critical press, is still alive and well.

I admire the Army officials who warned of the problems and dangers to come, and hope that in future those who know what war is, and what it leaves in its wake, will be able to weigh in more on such far-reaching decisions as the invasion of Iraq.

Laurie King-Irani
Victoria, , British Columbia

Dear FRONTLINE,

An investigative news program should strive for more balance. Where were the pro-administration responses; where were the interviews with civilians that were greatful for the American liberation; did you interview the families of american soldiers who were killed by Iraqi's dressed in uniform garb; where were the segments on inroads that American military and civilian forces have made in restoring the Iraqi infrastructure?

Could Thomas White explain how the American press, the EU, and Middle Eastern nations would respond to an oppressive, hugely expensive 400,000 man invasion and occupation of Iraq? There would be no end to the condemnation and the Iraqi's would be exponentially more hostile to US forces. Would double the force have resulted in fewer civilian casualties and fewer coalition deaths? I find that hard to accept.

Of course mistakes were made on all fronts; the most glaring (which I was suprised to find out the program did not touch on) is the lack of WMDs. This is by far the most important criticism that the Bush administration should face. Thank God American's learn and grow from their past mistakes. How truely unimportant is debating whether Bush should have landed on an aircraft carrier or if we should have prematurely declared military options at an end? These are talking points that belong in anti-Bush chatrooms, for they have no bearing on our efforts in Iraq.

Our military succeded beyond all expectations. They were not bogged down in a quagmire within the City of Iraq; they limited civilian casualties to levels never before attained in military battle (I don't recall seeing the Frontline piece on civilian casualties during the Kosovo air campaign); and they have made exceptional progress in returning Iraq to an autonomous state (should I point out, coalition forces are still policing that fabuously successful Kosovo operation?).

The program was still informative, as I do believe the public should see first hand the horrors, blunders and successes of war. Just reach for a touch more balance next time; everything is not doom and gloom!

Brad Ferris
Huntington Beach, CA

Dear FRONTLINE,

I enjoyed your program, and thought it was fair and thought-provoking.

Reading the comments, I could not help noticing that most comments in support of the war seemed to come from people who had never seen combat. On the other hand, most of the comments from combat veterans seemed to be favorable to the program and its coverage of the war.

I would like to see all of the blood and gore of war in TV news reports, and would like to see everything the US/British/Iraqi soldiers and Iraqi civilians saw, without any filtration or censorship at all. When this happens, then we can have truly intelligent debate about whether to go to war. Not just this war, but any war.

Only when you are fully aware of the human consequences of modern warfare, and see things as the men and women in the field see them, are you fit to make the hard political decisions. There is no such thing as a G-rated war.

That need to know the consequences should outweigh someone's fear of their children seeing the blood and horror in the living room, or upsetting their dinner meal. I'd suggest that the uncensored footage run after 11PM so that we can all make our own judgements, and draw our own conclusions.

Paul Denlinger

Dear FRONTLINE,

I think the 0 for 50 stat {failed attempts during the war to assassinate Saddam and top gov't leaders] is a metaphor for this whole conflict... first of all, US Intelligence is clearly not fit to act (militarily) upon. In each case, the target locations were spectacularly and fully destroyed, but the targets themselves were not there. Much like the WMD's, right?

And then there is the killing associated with these failed attempts. Innocent people were being blown up. The military will tell you that in Combat, people lose their lives. But most of the world (and most of the US) believes that this invasion was unwarranted. So, if the combat itself is unjustified, how can you say that it is acceptable to lose some innocent lives in combat? The US Gov't did a lot worse than 0 for 50... and it is my sincere hope that America's future leaders will have the good sense to step out of the hornet's nest.

Jude Popp
Vancouver, BC

Dear FRONTLINE,

I want to congratulate you on you excellent piece on the invasion of Iraq. Your report brought to light some incredible footage and interviews. The piece also brings into stark relief the overall failure of the American press to cover the war accurately and in-depth. Comparing your story with those told by the "embedded" journalists proves that most Americans were given an exclusionary and distorted depiction of the war.

The report also made clear that an incredible amount of research and reportage went into this story, and everyone involved should be very proud of the result. Thanks for your insightful coverage and excellent work.

Erik Rhey
Brooklyn, NY

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thanks for your informative program. As a former Marine infantryman I wasnt surprised how awful the intelligence was. Nor was I surprised that after Hussein slaughtered tens of thousands in the 1991 post war uprising that the Iraqi people didnt help us, or trust us.

Obviously the force we sent in, albeit with some good luck, was able to do the job. What does bother me is the lack of forces we have in there now for the occupation. It seems reasonable to me the sooner we secure Iraq (by taking out the garbage), the sooner we can leave, which is what everyone wants. I would like to know why administration is dragging its feet on this, although I would guess because its an election year.


I supported the war, and still do, without regrets. We had to do something after 9/11 to change the situation in the Middle-East. I had no illusions about the tragedies that would be visited on civilians. For all the costs, on both sides, I still think it was worth it. For me the best use of your program is as a teaching tool for our next action, the first draft of history as it were.
Thanks again.

Tim Foley
Ann Arbor, MI

Dear FRONTLINE,

I beleive Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz need to do some explaining. If their own generals told them they needed more 'boots on the ground' then why did they over rule them?
It is obvious that, even from an occupation stand point, they were going to need far more troops to occupy Iraq than invade to invade it if their purpose was to create a democratic Iraq.

Rick Dimont
Silver Spring, MD

Dear FRONTLINE,

I watched an encore presentation of the Invasion of Iraq and will leave the unavoidable resulting political argument to others. For the record, I voted for Bush and have been a passive supporter of this war effort. I felt compelled to comment, however, on the poignant portrayal of the Iraqi father who lost his wife and three children to a misguided attack designed to kill top Iraqi leadership. The thought of the man having to comb through the rubble of his home to find his dead children and wife, and then having to bury them himself, kept me up most of the night. I kept asking myself "I wonder how "liberated" this man feels?"

No doubt this man's impression of America is shared by many others Iraqis and regardless of our best efforts to make up for the mistakes we made and continue to make, that impression will likely never change. I'll never be able to communicate to him my sorrow at his loss or my desire to make things right and so I am resigned to working through those emotions without him. Perhaps we would all be better off if we remembered the plight of this Iraqi father before we complained of just how hard we have to struggle to "make ends meet." He struggles more in a week than we will know in a lifetime.

Brad Wright
Grand Junction, Colorado

Dear FRONTLINE,

You did an excellent job in a two hour piece. I arrived in Baghdad on 5 May 2003 as part of a civilian team with the Army Corps of Engineers involved with the reconstruction efforts. The buildings were still burning when we arrived and the US government was not ready for that reconstruction task. The planning and funding was just not there early on when it could have made the most positive effect.

Your show filled in a lot of the blanks for me and scared my wife concerning my presence in Baghdad. (The additional background material on your web site is a great asset as well.)

Thank you.

Ed Andrews
Los Angeles, CA

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posted february 26, 2004

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