uesday's episode of the PBS public affairs series
Frontline will probe the battle between Vice President Dick
Cheney and the CIA to control the 'dark side,' according to a press
release for the show.
"Amid daily revelations about prewar intelligence
and a growing scandal surrounding the indictment of the vice
president's chief of staff and presidential adviser, Lewis "Scooter"
Libby, FRONTLINE goes behind the headlines to investigate the
internal war that was waged between the intelligence community and
Richard Bruce Cheney, the most powerful vice president in the
nation's history," says the press release.
The title for the show is derived from a
television interview Cheney gave five days after September 11, 2001,
when asked how the government might respond to the terrorist attacks
by NBC's Tim Russert.
"I'm going to be careful here, Tim, because
I--clearly it would be inappropriate for me to talk about
operational matters, specific options or the kinds of activities we
might undertake going forward," Cheney
said. "We do, indeed, though, have, obviously, the world's
finest military - they've got a broad range of capabilities - and
they may well be given missions in connection with this overall task
"We also have to work, though, sort of the dark
side, if you will," Cheney added. "We've got to spend time in the
shadows in the intelligence world."
"A lot of what needs to be done here will have to
be done quietly, without any discussion, using sources and methods
that are available to our intelligence agencies, if we're going to
be successful," Cheney continued. "That's the world these folks
operate in, and so it's going to be vital for us to use any means at
our disposal, basically, to achieve our objective."
Cheney also told Russert that he envisioned a
"very thorough sort of reassessment of how we operate and the kinds
of people we deal with," and that the "mean, nasty, dangerous dirty
business out there" neccessitated putting "some very unsavory
characters" on the payroll.
According to the PBS press release, "The Dark
Side" draws from "more than 40 interviews and thousands of
documents," providing "a step-by-step examination of what happened
inside the councils of war." Michael Kirk served as producer, writer
and director while Jim Gilmore co-produced.
A brief trailer for the episode can be viewed at
Excerpts from the PBS press release:
After the attacks on 9/11, Cheney seized the
initiative and pushed for expanding presidential power, transforming
America's intelligence agencies, and bringing the war on terror to
Iraq. Cheney's primary ally in this effort was Secretary of Defense
"You have this wiring diagram that we all know of
about national security, but now there's a new line on it. There's a
line from the vice president directly to the secretary of defense,
and it's as though there's a private line, private communication
between those two," former National Security Council staffer Richard
Clarke tells FRONTLINE.
In the initial stages of the war on terror,
Tenet's CIA was rising to prominence as the lead agency in the
Afghanistan war. But when Tenet insisted in his personal meetings
with the president that there was no connection between Al Qaeda and
Iraq, Cheney and Rumsfeld initiated a secret program to re-examine
the evidence and marginalize the agency and Tenet. Through
interviews with DoD staffers who sifted through mountains of raw
intelligence, FRONTLINE tells the story of how questionable
intelligence was "stovepiped" to the vice president and presented to
From stories of Niger yellowcake to claims that
9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta had met with Iraqi agents in Prague, The
Dark Side dissects the now-familiar assertions that led the nation
to war. The film also examines how that stovepiped intelligence was
used by the vice president in unprecedented visits to the CIA, where
he questioned mid-level analysts on their conclusions. CIA officers
who were there at the time say the message was clear: Cheney wanted
evidence that Iraq was a threat.
At the center of the administration's case for
war was a classified October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate
that found evidence of an Iraqi weapons of mass destruction program.
But Paul Pillar, one of the report's principal authors, now admits
to FRONTLINE that the NIE was written quickly in a highly
politicized environment, one in which the decision to go to war had
already been made. Pillar also reveals that he regrets participating
in writing a subsequent public white paper on Iraqi WMD. "What was
the purpose of it? The purpose was to strengthen the case for going
to war with the American public. Is it proper for the intelligence
community to publish