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Uncovered: DVD reveals changing "truth" about Iraq

By Rene Tony Donnes, staff writer

In November 2003, producer/director Robert Greenwald, in cooperation with and the Center for American Progress, came out with their documentary Uncovered: The Whole Truth about the Iraq War. The movie has caused quite a sensation in Democratic circles, yet despite its success, has yet to be noticed by the mainstream press.

Since its release, this documentary which has become a progressive zeitgeist, has sold more than 50,000 copies on DVD and VHS—all without the luxury of a having a major distributor. Interest has so far peaked since Dec. 3 when, in a coordinated effort by and the Center for American Progress, Uncovered was shown nationwide, through a series of “house parties” in more than 2,000 homes, churches, and community centers. The movie continues to be screened locally in scattered locations.

Greenwald’s documentary impresses and persuades because it uses the Bush administration’s own words against them, and purposely avoids using “talking head” commentators to spin their words to the Left. Furthermore, Greenwald and his producers have taken the difficult route of interviewing key people involved, from analysts who know the research firsthand, to the people who briefed the administration on policy decisions.

Greenwald has woven two stories into one: The first is footage chronicling the changing rhetoric that the Bush administration—including the president, vice president, Condoleezza Rice, Paul Wolfowitz, and Donald Rumsfeld—used to justify the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq to America and the world. Some examples include the change from the search for actual weapons of mass destruction, to a search for evidence of programs for WMDs, and from estimates of what the Iraqi War would cost to later learning those were gross underestimates.

The second story, woven in with the first, consists of highly credible experts commenting on the arguments of Bush officials. Sources include former CIA analysts, Pentagon officials, and members of the diplomatic corps. Uncovered’s thesis is that the intelligence agencies did their job correctly, but that it was the administration that manipulated the intelligence to suit its own agenda—thereby deceiving us all.

This film is powerful for two reasons. First is the compressed time in which you hear members of the Bush administration make their points and then later double back, or waffle. Greenwald and his crew have compressed the various minute, semantic changes that happened over the course of a year, into about 30 minutes of footage separated by commentary. Archival footage was taken from public speeches, Congressional hearings, stump speeches, and Sunday morning talk shows.

The movie and its “experts,” as they are called, waste no time in making their points. In the span of about one hour, Uncovered takes the audience methodically from one topic to another, including:

• The quality of the intelligence, including testimony of Iraqi defectors,

• Iraq’s “reconstitution” of weapons programs,

• Iraq’s “imminent” nuclear capabilities,

• Links between Iraq and Al Qaeda,

• The 16 Words: Bush’s 2003 State of the Union Address, referencing the Niger uranium deal, and

• Powell’s UN speech.

Second is the quality of the interviewees. The people Greenwald has assembled are 1) articulate, 2) intelligent, and 3) speak with conviction.

Interviewees are not mouthpieces who come and go every four or eight years as fashion (or votes) dictate. These are career diplomats, State Department officials, and CIA officers and analysts. They have been affiliated with their respective organizations for decades and feel betrayed by the Bush administration misused intelligence sources.

Most impressive is Ambassador Joe Wilson, who negotiated with Saddam Hussein in the days preceding the first Gulf War, and who more recently was asked by Vice President Cheney to investigate the now famous Niger documents. These are the same documents President Bush used as support for his claim that Saddam Hussein was actively developing WMDs. Wilson says:

“ I spent eight days [in Niger] drinking mint tea and talking to everybody there was to talk to who knew anything about the subject matter… and I came back persuaded that it could not have happened. One, from a business perspective, because of the way the consortium was structured, you just couldn’t do it without a lot of people knowing. And two, the way the government bureaucracy was structured, you could not make the decision without a lot of people knowing. And if you made the decision, the decision would be reflected in a series of documents, uh, signatures on the documents, and if the documents did not contain those signatures, they could not be authentic, government of Niger documents.”

The problem with Uncovered, and any movie like it, is that only “true believers” will see it, which is ironic because it’s power lies in its ability to persuade people who may have originally supported the war. Uncovered must be shown to a wider audience, if not to convince people that the war with Iraq was wrong, and its rationales irrational, then at least, to stimulate dialog.

This shortcoming is no fault of its own and can be overcome. In my interview with Greenwald, he mentions that a cable deal for the movie is in the works, and that it has been submitted to several film festivals. Both of these actions give the movie additional legs on which to stand, and increase the chances that people who may not have otherwise seen it will. It’s sad that a documentary such as this, on a topic so vital to democracy, does not have a mainstream avenue of distribution.
Uncovered can be purchased online for $14.95, postage included, from




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