By Greg Bellavia | November 17, 2004

Patriotism. Ever since the events of September 11th 2001 the word seems to have been thrown around a lot, but as shown in Robert Greenwald’s documentary “Uncovered: The War on Iraq” the true definition of patriotism may be harder to define than more people think. Using twenty talking head interviews Greenwald works to show that the current Iraqi war is a sham for dubious overall motivation and the Bush administration’s continued practice of manufacturing evidence. While at first the concept sounds like the stuff of conspiracy theory this notion is quickly dispelled upon viewing the many interviewees all of whom possess distinguished backgrounds. With contributors ranging from Mel Goodman a 20 year senior CIA analyst to Joe Wilson a US Ambassador to Scott Ritter a former Iraq weapons inspector to name a few, Greenwald has compiled a who’s who of government insiders who all agree on one point: The reasons used to draw our country into Iraq were distorted.

Take into account the story of Joe Wilson, asked by the CIA to investigate a possible connection between Iraq and uranium being sold from Africa, Wilson reported back that whatever information the CIA had regarding this connection was false. When a little while later during the state of the union the President stressed such a connection in order to appeal to American’s to back his going to war, Wilson was outraged. Speaking out in both the New York Times and Meet the Press, Wilson reported his findings and said the Presidents information was incorrect. Soon after Wilson was involved in a nationwide scandal as his wife, a CIA operative, had her identity revealed to the press by the White House; an action that not only threatened her career but also her life. Making matters even worse was the admission that the documents the CIA were operating from that “proved” an Iraqi/African connection were shown to be false by having dates not matching the days the documents were signed, misspellings and in the most glaring error of all a signature from an official from Nigeria…who had been out of office for ten years by the time the document was supposedly signed.

Scott Ritter was also victimized from the press for what he did not find. Saying time and again on major news sources that as a weapons inspector he saw no reason Iraq should have been considered an imminent threat, Ritter was branded unpatriotic and even ridiculed by Paula Zahn as having been tricked by Hussein. Similar instances of repression or twisting of facts fill the documentary and all provide many important points to consider.

Many of those interviewed in this documentary have appeared across the country in print and on television saying exactly what they are saying here. They are not conspiracy nuts but instead trusted government employees, many of which served the United States for over twenty years. By assembling such a varied group, all speaking from different perspectives regarding what they found suspicious about the war, the documentary has an undeniable power.

The strength to a piece such as this is the questions it raises. Why push the Iraq/Africa connection after Wilson’s report? Who manufactured the fake African documents? Who leaked Wilson’s wife’s information? Why was a connection between Hussein and Bin Laden created when it was well known they opposed one another? Did Colin Powell know his address to the UN was riddled with holes? Is there truly a connection between our involvement in Iraq and a long maligned program entitled “Project for the New American Century”? To dismiss these issues as Democratic propaganda would be missing the point. Many of the people interviewed were Republicans, and some of these issues (most notably the Wilson angle) have been national news and to this day have not been addressed. Those interviewed have been labeled unpatriotic despite the fact they seem to have the nation’s interests at heart. Maybe there are answers that make the war and the treatment of these men and women seem justifiable but these speakers and Greenwald are still waiting for them.

This is actually a longer version of Robert Greenwald’s “Uncovered: the Whole Truth about the Iraq War” a less detailed look into similar issues which garnered such a good word of mouth Cinema Libre Studios offered to help expand the concept. What makes “Uncovered” such a success is the diversity of the interviewees and the steady tone. Famed director Billy Wilder always practiced restraint in his films, forsaking elaborate camera set-ups and tricks in order to keep the audience in the story and not distract them. It is this simple approach provided by Greenwald of showing stock footage from an event such as President Bush’s state of the union address and allowing his analysts to respond to the footage pointing out glaring inaccuracies that makes the logic of the piece hard to argue with. Contrast this quiet approach with the muckraking of Michael Moore and this pill is much easier to swallow. This is not to say “Fahrenheit 9/11” is any less accurate or not, only that many people found Moore’s tone a major source of contention and such an antagonizing force is not present here. Perhaps most amazing of all is such restraint is shown by the same director who made the 1980 fantasy musical classic “Xanadu” starring Olivia Newton-John as a muse sent by Zeus to Earth to help start a roller disco (I couldn’t make this stuff up people). Whereas fiction may not be Greenwald’s strong suit his mature handling of startling revelations is refreshing and most effective.

While it may sound like a film only for Democrats “Uncovered” is a film for all American’s who care about their nation and will have you talking long after it is over.

Also included on the disc is the David O. Russell short film “Soldier’s Pay”. The short is interesting not only for the soldiers perspective that helps to reinforce the issues addressed in “Uncovered” but also as an eerie companion piece to Russell’s feature film “Three Kings”.

There are two other films by Greenwald that accompany Uncovered which are Unprecedented (which examines Florida and the 2000 election) and Unconstitutional (which explores the restriction of civil liberties).

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