The Dark Side [home]
  • home
  • interviews
  • analysis
  • discussion

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,

I wish I could comment on the content of last night's broadcast of "The Dark Side," but unfortunately our local PBS affiliate (WXEL) aired the program @ 1am & 4am last night (& I don't have Tivo or other means of recording it). I have written to this PBS station outraged @ their poor judgment for keeping so many residents of S. Florida from watching your important program. I hope to either rent it or see it by some other means in the future. Thanks for your excellent journalism-

Robin Bennett

FRONTLINE's editors respond:

You will be able to watch "The Dark Side" on the FRONTLINE Web site starting 5 PM EST Thursday, June 22.


A great presentation of facts leading to the US war in Iraq. I would have to agree that the title may be a bit off-putting, but remember it was taken directly from a quote by Dick Cheney. For those who found the broadcast to be slanted and biased, I pose this: Why was the American public not fully informed of more concrete reasons for war? First it was WMDs, next it was Sadam is an evil man, finally it was to prevent terrorism. I would have a bit more respect for the administration had they been more honest in their reasons for this war. I believe it has already been accepted as fact that a) Iraq was in no way involved with 9/11 b)while there may have been WMDs in Iraq, clearly there were none during the run up to this war and c)the US is clearly not much safer now than it was pre-9/11.

Hunter Clary
Washington, DC


Great program, as usual. To the contributor who listed what the program failed to show, I would point out that his four points should/would/or have been covered by other programs. I'm fairly certain PBS has aired programs, before 9/11 even, that detailed just how depraved Saddam's regime was. As for the contributor's point that Frontline failed to show the detrimental effects of allowing Saddam's regime to continue, well, that is for another program. It was a 90 minute program with a clear stated topic. Perhaps the contributor might wish to peruse the PBS website to look for previously shown programs that address his four bones of contention.

Victoria Clark
Philadelphia, PA


I don't understand the title "The Dark Side." The title implies something sinister was going on. While the show was very well done, all I saw was a lot of people caught up in group think and then getting frustrated that the CIA could not find the evidence for what everyone believed was the case.

Leaders, even great ones, make bad strategic decisions on how to fight wars all the time. Churchill was convinced we needed to invade Italy to win WWII and even over ruled the military planners who saw it as unnecessary (and a long, bloody, and mostly fruitless campaign followed). A bad idea? Yes. But sinister or "dark?" Of course not.

Similarly, Bush, Cheney, et. al. went where they all thought the threat was from day one. Bad judgement, to be sure, but not "dark."

Vern Imrich
Reading, MA

FRONTLINE's editors respond:

The phrase "the dark side" was used by Vice President Cheney when, in an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," he talked about what it will take to fight terrorism. Read the "Introduction" section of this site that gives further details.


Trading integrity for access. That line says it all. George Tenet sold his soul. His soul was in Dick Cheney's back pocket, now it's in the gutter.Dick Cheney is one hell of a chess player. With the CIA director 'thrown under the bus' he was free to make his moves.If there is such an animal as the anti-Christ, Dick Cheney scores....slam dunk!Thank you for superb journalism. Good night and good luck.

Sherry Garbarini
Fernandina Beach, Florida


Enjoyed watching this program. I agree w/Joe Falk though. Unfortunately, you only interviewed critics. If I was Dick C. or George T. I would have declined an interview too. All the pictures and underlying message had an agenda, slam and smear Dick Cheney. What's interesting is I expect this from Frontline. Frontline is not unbiased journalism. It is progressive or politically left journalism, always.

Matt Ellis
Damascus, Oregon


Nothing in this program even remotely could point to a bias toward the right or the left. Facts were given, people spoke, others were given the opportunity to do so and refused. Those that did not speak up are those that have the most to hide.

My concern is the George Tenet did not and has not spoken on this issue. He should have tossed his Medal of Freedom on the floor. I certainly don't have much admiration for him rigt now. He is just as guilty as the rest of them for not speaking up when he KNEW that he should have.. The same can be said for General Powell.Until these two speak up and say "Enough is Enough", they will always be, at least in my eyes, members of the "Dark Side".

Dan Delaney
Tiverton, RI



I was riveted by last night's broadcast of "The Darkside," which the program makes clear using Vice President's own words was his characterization of how the U.S. would respond in the post-Sept. 11th world, by operating on "the darkside." what I find profoundly disturbing is the fact that seasoned public policy professionals like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld could seemingly be so completely ignorant of the geopolitical history of Iraq and, presumably, the rest of the Middle East. You can excuse to some extent and just for a moment the fact that George W. Bush is as ignorant of history as he is with other matters on the public agenda, as well as the younger neocon proteges, but how could Cheney & Rumsfeld get this so wrong, so often?

Then there is the matter of the almost total lack of personal integrity on the part of people entrusted to make the hard decisions on matters as serious as war and peace. In this regard, Colin Powell, George Tenet, Condoleezza Rice, and many of the foreign polcy and intelligence experts -- people who knew or should have known better -- interviewed for the program let the American people down in a manner not seen since the Vietnam debacle.

Where was the leadership and the resignations on matters of principle?

Let's not also forget the fact that the U.S. Congress was as complicit with this wrong-headed scheme that took us into a war of choice, whether or not they shared the same "intelligence" about Iraq, etc. as members of the Bush administration (which we know was not the case).

Finally, there is the president, who as Commander-in-Chief bears ultimate responsibility for this disaster. No amount of sugarcoating by the Karl Rove propaganda machine will conceal nor spare George W. Bush from the harsh judgment of history.

Keep up the good work, Frontline! This program and others like it is journalism at its finest.

James Peeples
Falls Church, Virginia


Some of your viewers assert that your report is implausible, citing that it would require widespread collusion and suppression of speech. Not so. It only requires government workers not wanting to rock the boat, politicians not wanting to be painted as unpatriotic, and a news media not paying attention. Toss in a national crisis--9/11--that resulted in a nation gripped with fear. Cheney and his lot found themselves in the center of the perfect storm and took full advantage of their position.

Meg Galipault
Mt. Vernon, OH


Thank you for a long past due look at who is really running the show in Washington. I have always refered to Dick Cheney as president Cheney with Bush as his puppet.What was done to Colin Powell was reprehensible; here was a man trying to do his job as well as cooperating with the decision makers planning the war in Iraq and while he was giving his ill gotten information on yellow cake and WMD's in Iraq at the UN, George Tenet is sitting behind him looking anything but comfortable knowing that Powell's info is shaky and faky to say the least.This was a much needed report and should be followed up with more like it as the American people cannot get the truth from the mainline news channels.The long politcal past between Cheney and Rumsfeld was very revealing and interesting.Perhaps a future show could take a look at the Israeli connection to decisions of U.S. foreign policy and war.

jean sedlak
Meadville, Pa.


Cheney & Rumsfeld, along with President Bush, generally shield themselves from criticism by attending carefully constructed forums. Your piece on the media manipulation of the aluminum tubes story illustrated that they are adept at such things. I think it's disgusting, but not surprising.

One needs only to review the list of signatories on the `Statement of Principles'(June 3,1997) and the `Letter to President Clinton on Iraq, January..., 1998' on the Project for the New American Century's website. We are living in the future they advocated nearly 10 years ago. You'll find that Cheney, Rumsfeld, Libby, Wolfowitz, Bolton, Perle, Khalilzad, among others, shared a common vision that would lead to the destruction of the regime of Saddam Hussein by military force. It's chilling to read it now.

The lessons to be learned is that Cheney is the de facto, yet unelected, commander-in-chief and we need to preserve the balance of powers that has served us well for over 200 years. We also should be mindful of the administration's `activist lawyers' and their efforts to reinterpret our Bill of Rights. It's not surprising that the NSA eavesdrops on Americans and the police can barge into your home unannounced. This is what the stain of Guantanimo is all about. This is why we demonize illegal immigrants rather than the illegal employment that perpetuates it. This is what happens when absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Dee Aiche
Phoenix, Arizona


The "Dark Side" is an excellent presentation of the facts that lead us to the Iraqi situation. While the right wing will rage against the facts, you actually stayed away from left wing suspected motives for Chaney-Rumsfield promoting the war. For my part, I will grudgingly accept that they may have just been simply mistaken and blinded by prior failures of the CIA and not further motivated by greed and revenge.

But the facts remain. Chaney-Rumsfield won a debate within the White House with disastrous results. Ben Laden is still at large, we have created a new and more dangerous breeding ground for terrorist, and we are caught in an Iraqi civil war. Yes, the French and the most of the world were right.

Now you should turn your attention to a presentation of ways to extricate ourselves from this situation. Not only is there the issue of how and when to leave Iraq, there are unaddressed issues of what we can do reduce the threat now in Iraq other than with the use of force. For example, how can we expect Iraqi governmental infrastructure to function well when we have so severely damaged their economic infrastructure. Do we not have some obligation to do something like a Marshall plan for them?

Again, good job. Keep up the good work.

John Swan
Alexandria, Virginia


Your documentary, "The Dark Side" is typical PBS, Main Stream Media crap. Thank you for the marvelous example.

Every administration does what it believes is best for the country. Every political party and every politician has allies and friends who have similar views. What Frontline thinks is a "secret cabal" is just normal operating procedure in every administration.

What Frontline failed to show was:

1.) What the geo-political implication would have been if Saddam's regime wasn't over-thrown.

2.) What caused the UN Security Council to issue Resolution 1441 which called (unanimously) for Saddam to cooperate with the UN or face "serious consequences".

3.) What havoc Saddam caused the region and his own country for the past 3.5 decades while he was in power.

4.) How this all fit in with the War on Terror.

Chalk this up to another case of "Bush Derangement Syndrome" in the Main Stream Media.

Joe Falk


Thank you Frontline this shocking examination of the swindle and mess we are in today. I am not surprised by the partisan responses. How else can anyone defend or explain fact after fact presented tonight without either being in complete denial or resorting partisan rhetoric? If we had all been doing our jobs and asking the tough questions and reading the facts, Congress, the FBI, the CIA, the networks, and the voters on both sides this could not have happened. The shameful truth is that it did, as exposed most painfully and commercial-free tonight for all to pick apart. Whether it was true deceit or incompetence, neither is and excuse. Each more horrifying and disgusting than the other. Our military trusts that they will be deployed for just purposes. I saw a young Marine the other day trying to workout in the gym on base. Maybe 20, 21 tops. No hands and one arm gone to the elbow. We owe him and the thousands of other military and their families better than this.

Paul Farris
San Diego, CA


Some of your viewers assert your program was biased and one-sided. Well, these viewers should consider that you stated that Cheney and Tenet declined your invitation to be interviewed. The conflict was between the policy makers and the career CIA staffers. Its hard to give both sides when one side does not show up.

Steve Larson
Fremont, CA


home + introduction + interviews + analysis + discussion + readings & links
cheney's network + cia's realignment + paths to power + producer's chat + site map + dvd/vhs & transcript
press reaction + credits + privacy policy + FRONTLINE series home + wgbh + pbs

posted june 20, 2006

FRONTLINE is a registered trademark of wgbh educational foundation.
cheney background photo copyright © corbis
web site copyright 1995-2014 WGBH educational foundation