Seattle Times Kay McFadden
"... The 'Frontline' documentary 'The War Behind Closed Doors" ... offers something besides another one-sentence sound bite about how we've gotten to the brink. ...
"More than anything, 'The War Behind Closed Doors' is a grounding experience. It banishes shadowy gossip, pop psychology and conspiracy theory to the rafters where they belong.
"In their place is hard, factual analysis based on a battle of ideas whose roots reach back to the origins of this country. The range of interviewing is extensive.
"Those who consider time of the essence -- and appreciate what's essential -- should make this 'Frontline' production a top choice tonight."
The Orlando Sentinel Hal Boedeker
"... The smartly produced hour transforms talking-head television into a gripping history lesson, one filled with behind-the-scenes intrigue. ...
"The program explains the crucial debate in clear, concise terms and notes the irony that Powell would present the tougher stance to the United Nations after all the private arguments.
"Certainly, Frontline offers a lot more to contemplate than the changes in Michael Jackson's face. The documentary won't do record ratings, but it could be the most important program this month."
The Boston Globe Sam Allis
"... The timing couldn't be better, given the whiff of imminent bloodshed.
"Yet there is no blockbuster news here, nothing to make viewers issue a collective 'wow.' Rather, this is a contextual story that adds background to the knowledge -- familiar to anyone who has read a newspaper -- that the split in the Bush administration over how to proceed against Iraq and beyond is profound. ... Yawn. ...
"The lasting value of tonight's piece is the timeline it builds from the end of the Gulf War in 1991, when a group of hawks in the administration of Bush the elder had already dismissed containment in favor of a more aggressive policy, to the emergence after Sept. 11 of preemption as a formal doctrine that shapes America's global sense of national security. ..."
The New York Times Alessandra Stanley
"... 'The War Behind Closed Doors' is best suited to connoisseurs of the psycho-drama behind foreign policy debates. This documentary focuses on the battle for President Bush's mind waged between Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, tracing how and why Mr. Powell's policy of containment was supplanted by Mr. Wolfowitz's more hawkish doctrine of pre-emptive strike. ..."