24 March 2005 | stp43
Uncovered: Robert Greenwald's Lies About Iraq
The second of his two documentaries on the 2003-4 Iraq war, Robert Greenwald continues pushing a case against that war by claiming to expose the "truth" about that war, a case that has become gospel among liberal circles but which is not aging very well.
The film centers on two myths about the Iraq war that fall apart upon close scrutiny. The first is on Iraq's building of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. Much is made about how "no stockpiles of Iraqi WMDs (weapons of mass destruction, a curious holdover term used by Soviet Russia) were found." To buttress this argument, Greenwald uses David Kay, a chief investigator of Iraq's unconventional weapons programs after the fall of Saddam Hussein, and Scott Ritter, a longtime UN weapons inspector who has been loud and lengthy in attacking the war by claiming Iraq had destroyed its programs in the mid-1990s under UN pressure.
This case, though, falls apart when one examines what the US actually found in Iraq - over 500 tons of weapons grade uranium, the beginnings of a nuclear centrifuge buried in the desert, chemical weapons labs, chemical weapons, missile testing sites, missiles, and voluminous documentation on these programs, documentation that Kay himself has admitted proves that Iraq was building WMDs. Indeed, a major point that Kay and others consistently missed (as does the film) was how Iraq was covering its tracks by streamlining its WMD programs away from big centralized programs to decentralized systems that were much easier to hide - Kay for his part stated that Iraq had built "deception and denial" throughout its WMD programs.
So this case against the war made by the film collapses. Next is Iraq's support of international terrorism in general and Al Qaida in particular. To argue that Iraq did not back Al Qaida, the film must ignore the voluminous documentation unearthed in Iraq (to be fair, most of it has yet to be declassified) showing that Iraq not only worked with Al Qaida, it showed the two to be closer allies than most could reasonably believe years earlier.
The film, like Greenwald's other work, strives to make an argument that can only be made by skillful manipulation of the truth, an argument that time is steadily discrediting the more Iraq recovers from the imperial past of Saddam Hussein.