In this documentary feature, filmmaker Robert Greenwald chronicles the Bush Administration's case to invade Iraq following the events of Sept. 11, 2001. The film examines the administration's argument for war through interviews with U.S intelligence and defense officials, foreign service experts and U.N. weapons inspectors -- including a former CIA director, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia and even President Bush's Secretary of the Army. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
This film is an extended version of Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War, a 56-minute video documentary that became a grassroots hit in 2003. Because of its popularity, producer/director Robert Greenwald expanded and updated the film for the 2004 Cannes Film Festival and it was subsequently picked up for theatrical distribution by Cinema Libre Studio. See more »
In the wake of "Fahrenheit 9/11"s phenomenal box office success, a flurry of similarly-themed documentaries hit movie theatres in late 2004, all making the case that the Bush administration's war against Iraq was ill-advised, opportunistic and based on intelligence and evidence that turned out to be, at best, faulty, and, at worst, deceptive and manipulated. "Uncovered: The War on Iraq," produced by the liberal organization MoveOn.org., is one such documentary. The preposition used in the title - "on" as opposed to "in" - reveals right up front the political leanings of those who made the movie.
The basic thesis of the film is that the neo-cons in the Bush administration had decided, even before 9/11, that the U.S. would eventually have go to war against Iraq to overthrow the Saddam Hussein regime. 9/11 merely provided them with the pretext they needed to sell the idea to the American public. By painting Iraq as a viable terrorist threat, the Bush administration was able to win over Congress and the nation's people to their cause, resulting in a war that is entering its third year now, having already cost us thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars.
The film does an impressive job of what opponents would call "Monday morning quarterbacking," juxtaposing comments made by members of the Bush administration before the war with current statements by mainly key CIA and former CIA officials about what we know now. Through a series of largely familiar news clips, we see Bush, Condaleeza Rice, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and others all lining up to present the case for war against Iraq by arguing that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, harbored terrorists within his nation's borders, and had known links with the Al Qaeda operatives who perpetrated the attacks on 9/11 - all "facts" we now know to have been either woefully unsubstantiated or completely fabricated. The movie includes interviews with Joe Wilson, the ambassador whose wife was "outed" as a CIA operative by a member of the Bush administration when Wilson publicly questioned the validity of some of the "evidence" being touted around town that Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons. Another key figure in the movie is weapons inspector David Kay, who is given ample screen time to declare his mea culpas for initially supporting the Bush administration's assertions that WMD's would ultimately be found once U.S. forces had invaded and subdued the country.
The film also takes aim at the American news media for allowing itself to be essentially co-opted by the neo-cons in the run-up to the war. Rather than challenging the White House's spin as it should have, the media, according to the filmmakers, simply went along with what it was being told by the Bush administration, thereby failing to fulfill its function as the independent Fourth Estate. It became, essentially, complicit in misleading the American public - a scandalous dereliction of duty which should concern patriotic citizens on both sides of the political spectrum.
"Uncovered" doesn't pretend to offer a "fair and balanced" view of the events leading up to the Iraq War; it doesn't offer opposing viewpoints or interview people from the other side of the political equation. As a result, it opens itself up to charges from the Right that it is every bit as propagandistic as the administration it is attacking. Yet, the fact remains that those on the Left, who opposed the war and questioned the administration's motives even before the conflict started, turned out to be largely correct in their assessment of the facts. And the film makes a compelling case that the people who were labeled "unpatriotic" and "un-American" before the war for daring to raise these objections may actually have been the most patriotic and pro-American people of all.
"Uncovered" is, essentially, a talking heads documentary, but one that will have you shaking your own head (or pulling your hair out) in dismay and frustration - especially when one considers how astonishingly blasé and indifferent the American public seems to be about the whole thing.
Barbara Tuchman, in her book "The March of Folly," writes that, "Wooden headedness, the source of self deception, is a factor that plays a remarkably large role in government. It consists in assessing a situation in terms of preconceived fixed notions while ignoring any contrary signs. It is acting according to wish while not allowing oneself to be deflected by the facts. It is epitomized in a historian's statement about Phillip II of Spain, the surpassing woodenheaded of all sovereigns: 'No experience of the failure of his policy could shake his belief in its essential excellence.'" In the case of the Bush administration and the Iraq War, truer words were never spoken.
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