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Frontline: The Dark Side

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  • Frontline: The Dark Side

    At the risk of becoming TG's posterboy for the PBS series 'Frontline,' I have to recommend this new release, 'The Dark Side.' I realize some may politically wince at its presentation of Dick Cheney, but I found much of this documentary to be truthful, well documented and very insightful with regard to how some of the White House inner circle (Tenet, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell) operated with regard to war and intelligence between 9/11 and 2004.

    Main page, viewable on-line this Thursday - check PBS listings for airtime this week.

    While the focus of the documentary outlines the struggle between CIA intelligence (George Tenet) against Pentagon intelligence (Cheney and Rumsfeld), the data and interviews collected illustrate some fascinating details from the war in Afghanistan and the lead-up to war in Iraq.

    I especially urge everyone to check out an interview with Gary Berntsen, a retired 20-year CIA clandestine service vet. This gives tremendous insight into how hard some of these CIA guys worked in Afghanistan, and what exactly happened over there, and some of the reasons why. I'll post an excerpt :

    Originally posted by Gary Berntsen
    We are flown into the Panjshir Valley [in Afghanistan] ... on a North[ern] Alliance helicopter, which looks like it's held together with bubblegum and bailing wire. I had been a crash firefighter in the Air Force; I knew an aviation accident when I saw one getting ready to happen. It was unbelievable. The aircraft tires had big bubbles the size of 50-cent pieces. There were holes from ground fire throughout the bird. There was an internal fuel tank which shouldn't have been in the middle of the body of the aircraft; it was leaking. We had to open the windows because we would have been asphyxiated. Then we flew in on that. It was quite an exciting flight...

    That was my first time in Afghanistan, and it was fabulous. I was thrilled to be there. ... Unfortunately, there were some reports that came out of left field ... that said, "Bin Laden is aware that there are Americans in the country." He had put a bounty on the life of any CIA officer that could be captured in Afghanistan and brought to him for $3 million. Our headquarters panicked, and they said, "You have to come out." ...

  • #2
    Re: Frontline: The Dark Side

    Frontline is pretty much the Gold Standard of television journalism. Their reporting is impeccable and often very insightful and even nuanced. It's far from slanted perspective, often offering very complex perspectives on issues that otherwise seem to be 'pro' or 'anti'. After your last post on "The Insurgency" I caught the last half hour of that show and couldn't believe how good it was.

    Also, when I was teaching psych I showed a Frontline to my classes called 'The New Asylums' which covered the Ohio State Prison System's mental health program, which is generally recognized as the best in the nation. It showed some of the very hard choices officials and guards had to make when handling/managing very sick, often violent, criminals.

    I'll be looking for this show tonite. PBS here in Austin does a crappy job re-running Frontline for some reason.


    • #3
      Re: Frontline: The Dark Side

      Unfortunately our Tivo crapped out on us...we had it set to record Frontline every Tuesday night...So I missed it!! :(



      • #4
        Re: Frontline: The Dark Side

        For those who missed it, don't get PBS, or whatever - this program and many others are available online, on demand. If you've never seen a frontline doc, you should really check this out. The website also contains extra material, such as notes, interactive features and the full text of interviews.

        Full guide is here:




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