|Highly placed intelligence official Ray McGovern calls Secretary of State Colin Powell's February presentation to the United Nations "an embarrassment."|
"Uncovered: The Whole Truth about the Iraq War" is a whole new film phenomenon an instant documentary burned to DVD and sent to thousands of homes with its message challenging the Bush administration's untenable case against Iraq.
By JOSHUA TANZER
(Originally reviewed prior to MoveOn.org DVD house parties in December 2003.)
Before getting to what "Uncovered: The Whole Truth about the Iraq War" has to say, the most singular thing about this hourlong documentary is how, in almost real time, it got from the filmmakers to you.
Quickly assembled in response to current events (the most recent piece of information shown onscreen dates from October, just a month before the film's public premiere) and given a few one-time screenings last month in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, the film has now been burned onto thousands of DVDs and mailed out to citizens nationwide. In an effort organized by the innovative political Web site MoveOn.org, it will be shown at house parties around the country this Sunday, Dec. 7. This is not just a documentary it's a technological phenomenon that was never possible before. It's both a movie and a movement.
|UNCOVERED: THE WHOLE TRUTH ABOUT THE IRAQ WAR|
|Researcher/associate producer: Jim Gilliam.|
Editor/associate producer: Chris Gordon.
Lead editor: Kimberly Ray.
Directed by: Robert Greenwald.
Produced by: Robert Greenwald, Kate McArdle, Devin Smith.
Featuring: David Albright, Robert Baer, Milt Bearden, Rand Beers, Bill Christison, Kathleen McGrath Christison, David Corn, Philip Coyle, John Dean, Patrick Eddington, Chas Freeman, Graham Fuller, Mel Goodman, John Brady Kiesling, Karen Kwiatkowski, Patrick Lang, Dr. David C. MacMichael, Ray McGovern, Scott Ritter, The Rt Honorable Clare Short, Stansfield Turner, The Honorable Henry Waxman, Thomas E. White, Joe Wilson, Colonel Mary Ann Wright, Peter Zimmerman.
Researcher/associate producer: Jim Gilliam.
Editor/associate producer: Chris Gordon.
Lead editor: Kimberly Ray.
Related links: Official site | MoveOn.org
|Angelika Film Center
18 West Houston at Mercer St.|
(For a location near you, you can click here.)
So you sit down with your beer and lasagna and friends. The people you are about to hear from are no anti-Bush radicals. "Uncovered" starts out by letting 25 of its main sources introduce themselves on camera, and they include former intelligence analysts, diplomatic officers, weapons inspectors, congressional staff members, a U.S. representative, a former CIA director, a former Army secretary, and former members of Tony Blair's cabinet and the highest levels of U.S. government. These are people who know about the intelligence business in detail.
They all have one thing to tell you: the government has been lying to you from start to finish about Iraq. And they explain, item by item.
|For a brief, artlessly spliced series of talking-head quotes, this documentary gives a remarkably thorough demolition of the Bush administration's concocted case against Iraq.|| |
For a brief, artlessly spliced series of talking-head quotes, this documentary gives a remarkably thorough demolition of the Bush administration's concocted case against Iraq. Much of this information should have been obvious to any careful newspaper reader, even as the press acclaimed Secretary of State Colin Powell's flimsy presentation to the U.N. in February and President Bush's bandying of empty innuendos before Congress in January and March. In each case, what should have been clear was the administration's lack of concrete information and, judging by the well-publicized dissension in the intelligence agencies, the lack of confidence in the information being put forth.
And yet, Americans are still misinformed about basic, undisputed facts about the Iraq War. Even leading Democrats such as John Kerry who as a once-brave Vietnam War hero/dissident should have recognized presidential duplicity when he heard it still try to excuse their votes for the war with the complaint that they were lied to. So the information in this film clearly bears repeating.
Moreover, it does the country a huge service by holding administration officials' statements up to reality checks by intelligence and foreign-service professionals with decades of experience. Untruths that may have gone unchallenged on the nightly news are effectively disposed of here. Among the things you should know about the administration's claims:
|Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, arms inspector Scott Ritter, President Bush, dissident British cabinet minister Clare Short, Vice President Dick Cheney, CIA veteran Mel Goodman.|
Many of the claims about chemical and biological weapons were based on decade-old information from the first Gulf War, but almost all of the stocks that existed then appear to have been destroyed under the early-1990s inspections system, according to sources in the film. The inspection process maligned by war-hungry Bushies actually worked, they say.
Any stockpiles that weren't destroyed would now be a decade past their use-by date. Biological weapons have a useful life of only a few years, says weapons inspector Scott Ritter. And chemical weapons keep for only a few months. "If you made it 12 years ago and it had a shelf life of two months, it may not be safe to drink, but it isn't Sarin nerve gas any longer," says Peter Zimmerman, former chief scientist of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "And there's no way the agency could not have known that."
Allegations about Iraq's nuclear weapons program were based on false or out-of-date information and forged documents. A source interviewed for the film is former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who personally debunked some of the information on a mission from the Bush team, and recently became the target of retaliation by the administration.
Satellite photos that Powell identified as a chemical weapons depot being hastily cleaned up never showed any signs of weapons. No professional analyst would have let Powell make that claim, says Ray McGovern, formerly a leading intelligence official responsible for the president's daily brief. "Colin Powell's debut as an imagery analyst ... was highly embarrassing for those of us who know something about the business," he adds.
Stories of mobile bio labs and nuclear centrifuge tubes have long since been debunked and get a quick dismissal here.
There's also a telling little sequence of administration officials' statements at the 34-minute mark that bears watching closely. "Everyone knows that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction," Powell says vaguely. "We know where they are," Defense Secretary Rumsfeld boasts at one point, but he later says, "This is a process that will take some time and it will ebb and flow. ... I think what will happen is we will discover people who will tell us where to go find it."
What alert news followers will have noticed during the buildup to the war was that administration officials steadily backed off its claims. The proof that they initially claimed to have, they later said they would produce after invading the country a giveaway that they really didn't have evidence before declaring war. When nothing turned up even after the invasion, they said they hoped to find "evidence of programs" rather than any actual weapons. And in the absence of even that, they have now switched tactics, attacking their critics and hoping for something to turn up. "We won't be proven wrong," the president says emptily in the film.
| ||Robert Greenwald and his team have assembled a lot of good, important information, tapped an electronic network of people who care, and gotten their work out to the public in almost no time at all.|
Lest you think the movie is all serious, there is a lighthearted moment for you to share with your compatriots at whichever house party you're able to attend. That's the clip of the evil dictator Saddam Hussein warmly shaking the hand of his close arms-supplying friend um, is that Donald Rumsfeld? Why, yes it is.
"Uncovered" is not the height of documentary filmmaking, but it is an exciting innovation in film. On, I suspect, almost no budget, Robert Greenwald and his team have assembled a lot of good, important information, tapped an electronic network of people who care, and gotten their work out to the public in almost no time at all. Even as MoveOn and the Howard Dean campaign revolutionize the use of technology in politics by organizing ordinary citizens in new, more powerful ways, this movie is creating its own pipeline from the filmmaker to the public. It's part of a groundbreaking election year that could change the country and the culture.
|DECEMBER 2, 2003|
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