June 21, 2006
The Wisdom Fund

'The Dark Side': Exposé or Disinformation?

by Enver Masud

Yesterday, PBS broadcast "The Dark Side" in which FRONTLINE professes to go "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." It "tells the story of the vice president's role as the chief architect of the war on terror."

FRONTLINE does do that, but it does not tell the whole truth in at least two important ways:

First, the war on Afghanistan was launched before the U.S. had proof of Bin Laden's guilt. To this day, the FBI says that it has "no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11."

Second, the war on Afghanistan was planned before 9/11. It became more urgent when the Taliban, after initially negotiating for a pipeline with the Texas firm Unocal, began showing a preference for Bridas Corporation of Argentina.

According to the Guardian (September 22, 2001): "Osama bin Laden and the Taliban received threats of possible American military strikes against them two months before the terrorist assaults on New York and Washington".

Four days later the Guardian reported that "former state department official Lee Coldren passed on a message he had got from Bush officials: "I think there was some discussion of the fact that the United States was so disgusted with the Taliban that they might be considering some military action." Karl Inderfurth was there too, and former ambassador to Pakistan, Tom Simons."

This contradicts "The Dark Side" which reported that the U.S., at the time of the 9/11 attack, had no plan for an attack on Afganistan.

The U.S. began to formulate its strategy for the region at least as early as 1979. I was then managing the "National Power Grid Study" at the U.S. Department of Energy, and this was openly discussed among the staff.

Following the toppling of the Shah of Iran by Ayatollah Khomenei in 1979, the U.S. began seeking ways to gain control of the energy resources of the Middle East and Central Asia.

"Iran was an incipient democracy in 1953," writes Stephen Kinzer author of "All The Shah's Men", "but Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh - chosen by an elected parliament and hugely popular among Iranians - angered the West by nationalizing his country's oil industry. President Eisenhower sent the CIA to depose him. The coup was successful, but it set the stage for future disaster."

Gulf War I, launched in 1991 to reverse Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, was the first stage of the U.S. strategy for control of the region. September 11 provided the pretext for the attack on Afghanistan, and the invasion of Iraq.

What Americans were't told is that Saddam Hussein was "quietly assured by the United States that it would have no objection to his claiming his prize - Kuwait - once he defeated Iran in the 1980-88 war. The assurances were very quiet and very deniable," wrote George Friedman, founder of Stratfor, in "America's Secret War".

In "The Dark Side", FRONTLINE summarizes much of what became widely known after the March 20, 2003 invasion of Iraq. Useful to those who seldom venture beyond major news media, it exposes little that is new to the well informed. What it says about the war on Afghanistan sustains the disinformation campaigns of the Bush Sr., Clinton, and Bush Jr. administrations.

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