truth, war & consequences
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join the discussion: Was the U.S. justified in going to war to topple Saddam Hussein?  And what price should Americans be willing to pay for a successful  transition to democracy in Iraq?

Dear FRONTLINE,

I supported the overthrow of Hussein's regime, and the general notion that the U.S. needed to make a statement about terrorism and the Hussein regime.

The fact that many Americans are experiencing "buyer's remorse" does not mean the U.S. did not do the right thing by overthrowing Hussein. Alot of people accept this, but what is hard to excuse is having the White House "oversell" the product in the first place, and then "out" ex-Ambassador Wilson's CIA wife for his speaking out about the "sales pitch."

Bottom line: the Bush Administration made the "sale," and the military did its job superbly in terms of what they are trained to do. As far as the White House though, misleading the nation for a good cause might be forgiven, but then then neglecting the solicited advice on how best to manage the immediate aftermath of military victory is not. Clearly, it's time for the United States to find new management and leadership in 2004.

Keith Krueger
San Francisco, CA

Dear FRONTLINE,

As for some of your responders who mention the humanitarian atrocities that Saddam committed, not a single person denies that Saddam was a brutal dictator, but humanitarian reasons is not what the Bush administration pushed for selling the war. The threat of WMD, and Iraq's alleged ties to al Qaeda, is the primary reasons the Bush administration used to justify the war.

I encourage everyone to go back and read the speeches made by George W along with the various statements made by administration officials. The Frontline program highlighted some of these statements and showed that no credible evidence has yet been provided to support the statements.

It is sad that some viewers criticize the program as "anti-American." If I remember correctly, providing a critical view of government policies is protected by the First Amendment and completely "pro-American." If the media always took the role of trusting what the government says and rallied behind government policies, we'd still be in Vietnam. Dissent is essential to democracy, and the founders realized this, especially with respect to the executive branch because of its similiarities to a monarchy and tendency towards imperialism.

Earl Hood
Murphy, Texas

Dear FRONTLINE,

Dear Frontline:

As I was watching your "expose'" on the Bush Administration last night, I was very disappointed at the angle of your interviewer. The American people are in desperate need of truly non-partisan information. Many believe your network to be the deliverer of such. Sadly to say you have once again proven to provide biased at best and sarcastic and cynical at worst propoganda. The beliefs and bias of your organization come to light more and more, it is just too bad you do such a wonderful job of casting the light of ultimate truth on yourselves. Practice makes perfect, I guess.

Kelli Baines
Sparks, NV

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you for presenting the facts on the different forces that were at play on the buildup to war in Iraq.

Some of your viewers Iím sorry to say seem to want to stay in a fairytale land where America is always right. They want positive stories about America and its leaders.
For those people all I can say is there is nothing more American than questioning our leaders as to what they are doing in our name.

The Iran Contra affair was not very pretty nor was the Pentagon Papers when they were exposed and we learned about the Gulf of Tonkin. Our leaders have lied to us throughout our history. Why does this idea offend us now? When they have lied it has always been at the expense of our sonís and daughterís and the sons and daughters and mothers and fathers of all the faceless people of our supposed enemy. Ask yourself, how many dead Iraqis did you see on the nightly news? Has your government given you a count of the number of dead Iraqi civilians produced from this conflict? The ìENEMYî, was contrived by lies, enforced by a complacent, duplicitous and/or lazy media, and swallowed by and electorate both too busy and too lazy to educate themselves about what was really going on.

Walter Purvis
Lake Worth, Fl

Dear FRONTLINE,

Wow, what a show. It surely casts doubt on the wisdom and truth that our leaders used to coerce the country into war. The most painful part of the program for me was the way our young troops treated the taxi driver after he and some friends were caught looting some firewood. Anybody who could watch that and not feel bad for our country has lost touch with what our country is really about. No wonder they are continuing to resist. Hopefully someone in the army watched the show. The way we treat Iraqi's must change if we are to be successful helping them transition into a democracy. Great show. TY

tony yvanovich
aptos, ca

Dear FRONTLINE,

Regardless of whether one agrees with the Bush administrationís justification for invading and occupying Iraq, the fact is weíre there now. For better or worse, we broke it, and itís our obligation to fix it.

Frontline presented a compelling case showing intelligence was routinely manipulated or cherry-picked during the runup to invasion in order to bolster the administrationís case. Whatís needed now is much less ideology and a great deal more pragmatism.

The Bush administration is at a crossroad. If all they do is continue to manipulate, cherry-pick and spin, our situation in Iraq will continue to deteriorate. But if they can set aside all the ideological arrogance and bluster, seriously assess the weaknesses of our current Iraq policy, and reengage the international community as well as Iraqis themselves, there may yet be a chance for a new, democratic Iraq to emerge.

If it requires getting rid of a few ideological hardliners in the administration, it would be better for Bush to get rid of them now. The fog of war wonít dissipate until the fog of ideology does.

Richard Page
New Orleans, LA

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you for your excellent effort in reiterating the mess we are in. No matter how many P/R speeches Bush sends Powell, Rice or Cheney to make, they are spinning their wheels so fast in reverse they're leaving tire marks on the walls. No credibility.

Barbra Stickler

Dear FRONTLINE,

Last night's "Frontline" program, "Truth, War and Consequences," wasn't as perfectly biased as programs Bill Moyers is actively involved in; but it was still an excellent example of amoral liberal idiocy. While the show was dressed up with some token appearances by conservatives, it was a slick, distorted, anti-war, anti-Bush campaign commercial.

I find it hilarious that PBS has the brass balls to broadcast pledge drives. PBS already usurps my tax dollars to produce the liberal screeds it airs as "Frontline." If PBS needs more money, it should look to the Democratic National Committee.

Eric Friedemann
Glendale Heights, Illinois

Dear FRONTLINE,

THANK YOU for what was the most balanced perspective on the Iraq war and its aftermath that I have seen to date. A journalist's first loyalty should not be to either side in a war, but to the truth, and your excellent program reflected that wonderfully.

I'm sure many will brand you "anti-American," and others will hold your piece up as support for their anti-war views. I think your piece was neither -- it was an attempt to understand what has happened, and why. And you succeeded.

Max Robinson
Durham, NC

Dear FRONTLINE,

Frontline,

This was an exelent program!! Very enlightening and not surprising. Many americans were probally disturbed by what was shown. This program should be replayed and updated with time.

Dan D.

Daniel Dougherty
Glenside, PA

Dear FRONTLINE,

I think it is important that those posters who are criticizing the program focus on the subject of the piece. It did not debate whether we SHOULD have gone to war, rather it questioned WHY we went to war. Removing a dictator who brutally repressed his own people may well be a good reason to go to war; had that been the Administration's stated objective before the war began, the American people could have debated the merits of such a goal. But instead, we were told about Weapons of Mass Destruction, and yellowcake, and terrorists, all while our leaders were quietly adopting the neocon's long-held agenda for Iraq and the entire region.

Karen Roth
Dunn Loring, VA

Dear FRONTLINE,

I have been a fan of Frontline for years and years. In the past you have always done a very good job of making an "executive summary" of your topics. Especially regarding science and technology issues. Unfortunately after viewing "Truth, War, and Consequences" all I can say is: "What a stinker!"

It was a patent political indoctrination film that could have been produced by Al Jezerra. It was an hour and a half of carefully edited slant, spin and inference to create a hatchet job on the INC, the U.S. administration, and U.S. armed forces.

What your reporter overlooked was the real story. What happened in the lead up to the war was the president was faced with a terrorist enemy who had shown the will to attack us on a massive scale. What they lacked was the effective "means" beyond hijacked planes. They needed chemical, biologic, or nuclear arms. Sadam Hussein was a known producer,user, and or seeker of these weapons. He is also a maniac who invaded Iran, Kuwait, gassed the Kurds, paid Palistanian bombers families, filled mass graves with his own people. Every country on the U.N. Security Council agreed that he had stockpiles of some, and had programs for the others. This was COMMON KNOWLEDGE before the war. Even our worst critics like the French, Germans, and Russians all conceded this point.

The U.S. military to their great credit fought a short war that decapitated the enemy. Then they started to look for the weapons...no WMD. Where are The WMDs? Maybe they are yet to be found, maybe not. But what is certain: Saddam Hussein won't be manufacturing any in the future. What's also known by the other leaders in the area who have radical Islamists in their country is that: "You could be next if you help these people."

The president rightly reacted to our generation's Pearl Harbor by "draining the swamp" to prevent another. Letting the world know that we will defend ourselves keeps us secure.

Unfortunately your story doesn't give credit where credit is due. A sad day for PBS. You should be ashamed.

A. Koskela
Phoenix, AZ

Dear FRONTLINE,

Frontline continues to be, hands down, one of the best long-form news programs there is.

Months ago before the war, which I was opposed to, you ran a story concerning Saddam's atrocities. The show covered material I was familiar with but in such a gripping, illustrative manner I became much more sympathetic to the "human rights" argument for going to war. My basic position stayed the same, but I could see how, within certain contexts, a war could bring positive change.

But of course the war was not sold simply as one of liberation, nor was it fought as one, nor is the aftermath being handled as such. Last night's episode, presented quite dispassionately, would serve as a stark, shameful reminder of just how we were pulled into this mess to anyone with even an ounce of intellectual honesty.

For months we were told, against all that was known, against all that was logical, that the US was directly threatened by a small country half the world away. Evidence was fabricated, exaggerated, and sold to us wrapped up in our worst fears. What you so perfectly illustrated was nothing more than history, nothing more than what actually happened.

I assume you simply do the best you can do and ignore charges of "bias", if so that is exactly what you should be doing. Anyone who didn't like what they saw simply has a problem with confronting reality.

For all the soccer fields that are opened or other positive things in Iraq, what's most important to remember, dispassionately, is how we got there exactly and the consequences of those actions.

You do good work. And what's best is you do it self-consciously. Everytime I watch Frontline I'm left with the impression that you did the best you could do to tell as much as the story as possible. One hour and-a-half episode can't contain everything of course, but it's worth 6 weeks of any network or cable news. Thanks.

Tim Rosenstein
Los Angeles, CA

Dear FRONTLINE,

I see a few posts here that accuse "Truth, War and Consequences" of being biased and one sided, with the obligatory Public Television bashing compulsively thrown in.
Of course, Martin Smith felt he had a story. Millions of Americans have had the same questions about the Iraq war. Smith is a man with considerable knowledge and experience in this arena, and has spoken at length with many of the key players over many years. He saw the discrepancies and measured the results.

His work should be considered quite seriously, not fobbed off as one side's bias.
It is very interesting that the war's most ardent supporters in Washington declined to speak to Smith for this program. It is interesting that Chalibi claims to hold a document that would be one of the most important pieces of the puzzle, indeed it would be an important document in American history, and then he delivered the most pathetic excuse imaginable for not being able to verify its existence. These are the people who asked so much of our country to commit to this long, arduous, expensive task, yet they haven't the time or courage to speak to Americans directly about these problems.

I wish that every eligible voter in America could see this program.

Lee Wallace
Greensboro, NC

Dear FRONTLINE,

Truth, war and consequences needs to be aired again and again and again. This program is the only one of its kind that is telling the truth to the American public. The interviews and reporting revealed much of what I have suspected and so much more I did not know. If you do not repeat this program people will continue to believe what they see on the cable and network news programs which are biased, deceiving, and do not tell the whole truth. Please air this again. People need to know.

kimberly ennis

FRONTLINE's editors respond:

The full program can be viewed online in Windows Media and RealPlayer formats here.

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posted october 9, 2003

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