- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 19, 2004

With a title like “Uncovered: The War on Iraq,” you would think you’re in for a scintillating, Seymour Hersh-style expose.

Press materials are dressed in a provocative picture of a White House foreground covered in shell casings. An American flag is hung like a curtain, and drawing it to the side is a human hand with the words “Do you really know the truth?” printed on it.

“Uncovered,” the latest insta-documentary from director Robert Greenwald (his anti-Fox News Channel movie, “Outfoxed,” came out five minutes ago), doesn’t live up to that billing. One doesn’t need to be Sy Hersh to “uncover” what’s presented here; all one needs is an Internet connection and a library card.

One of its principal talking heads, in fact, will tell you: If you want to know the truth about the Iraq war, just dial up the Web site of the Project for the New American Century (www.newamericancentury.org), the neoconservative think tank founded by William Kristol.

It’s a clever sound bite. And the lefty activists at MoveOn.org, who are co-presenting the documentary, may actually believe there’s a shadowy syndicate of neocons who convinced their presidential puppet to wage war in Iraq.

But truth be told “Uncovered,” which opens at Landmark’s E Street Cinema today, is more analytically sober than that. Mr. Greenwald presents a lengthy hit parade of Central Intelligence Agency spooks, Foreign Service officers, diplomats and weapons inspectors such as David Kay to unweave, thread by thread, the case for war made by President Bush, Secretary of State Colin Powell and other administration officials.

You never see or hear Mr. Greenwald; there are no doctored newspaper headlines; no mentions of the Carlyle Group or an oil pipeline through the Caucasus; no voyeuristic manipulations of grieving families; no — OK, you know where I’m going.

“Uncovered” is everything that Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11” was not: sane, patient, unsexy, even persuasive at times.

The argument, in a tidy arc, goes like this: The neocons (Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, former Pentagon policy adviser Richard Perle and on down the line) believe they ended the Cold War early by siccing President Reagan on the Soviets.

They think they can do the same thing in the Middle East — “drain the swamp” of Arab nationalists, radical Islamists and assorted terrorists and reorient the region toward friendly relations with the West.

September 11 arrives and — bingo — the neocons have their chance. “Uncovered” argues they spruce up a lot of old intelligence on Iraq’s illegal weapons programs, some of it dating as far back as the end of the first Gulf war, and make a misleading case for ousting Saddam Hussein and ratcheting up what the neocons such as Norman Podhoretz are fond of calling World War IV.

Again, that’s the tidy version. The movie boils down to: “Containment was working.” That position, of course, is the default worldview of folks at the State Department (former Ambassador Joe Wilson sure gets around) and the CIA, whom Mr. Greenwald relies on almost exclusively.

One can argue about the wisdom of their Kissingerian, balance-of-power, don’t-rock-the-boat school of foreign policy. I laughed out loud when Milt Bearden, an ex-CIA honcho, said such thinking has served the world pretty well since the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia (the end of the Thirty Years’ War). Mr. Bearden must have slept through the 20th century.

Also, I thought Robert Baer, another CIA dude, bordered on anti-Semitism with his snide little remark about how the neocons have never set foot in the Middle East, save for Tel Aviv — meaning they’re all Jews.

But overall, “Uncovered” had me thinking. “Fahrenheit 9/11” had me seething. That’s progress. I’m guessing, though, that the Howard Deans and Michael Moores of the world have so poisoned the political atmosphere that revisionist thinking on the war is near impossible.

You’re either for it or you’re against it and, in the end, Mr. Greenwald will smoke few out of their respective caves.

***

TITLE: “Uncovered: The War on Iraq”

RATING: No MPAA rating (Contains scenes of war casualties).

CREDITS: Produced and directed by Robert Greenwald. Co-produced by Kate McArdle and Devin Smith.

RUNNING TIME: 83 minutes.

WEB SITE: www.truthuncovered.com

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS


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