Don’t misunderestimate them

The Disinformation Company wants you to know that you’ve been tricked.

Gabriel Shapiro

You are being lied to. Every day you are exposed to half-truths, fabrications, selective readings of intelligence and outright propaganda. That’s the claim of a new documentary DVD from award-winning director/producer Robert Greenwald and the Disinformation Company.

The Disinformation Company has established a reputation as a leader in nonpartisan alternative media. They are behind several books and films which, like this DVD, proceed from the premise that mainstream American media, the current administration, large corporations and the rest of the ruling class benefit from your ignorance and are compelled to ensure that situation continues unchallenged.

Not everyone feels like taking the stultification of the nation sitting down. As the war in Iraq went into full swing, Greenwald got active, tracking down a diverse group of military, media and CIA insiders. The common thread: The administration decided to attack Iraq first, and only then started constructing a justification for their actions.

What the film presents, mainly through expert interview and news footage, and administration speeches, is a case against the rush to war. This is not funny; this is deeply disturbing and should be shown on every network weekly until the whole world has seen it.

Unlike many anti-war projects, this documentary relies on the strength of its experts and meticulousness of its research rather than on appeals to emotion or speeches by left-leaning celebrities.

The dissection of the Bush administrations’ rationalizations and justifications, proffered as causes or reasons for war, lead all of the experts in the film to the same conclusions: First, that Iraq never posed an imminent threat. Also, that the much-touted “weapons of mass destruction” were a trick designed to scare Congress into giving inordinate power to the president. And finally, that the interference and “data mining” conducted by the vice president’s office impeded the CIA’s work, and brought the White House to CIA Headquarters in Langley, Va., for the purpose of generating selective and duplicitous intelligence.

The final piece, the indictment of Vice President Dick Cheney as the chief architect of the mis-intelligence campaign, is especially disquieting because Cheney stood, and still stands, to materially benefit from continued involvement in Iraq. That his deception led the United States into a pre-emptive war, the likes of which has rarely been seen from a Western power since the 17th century and has cost thousands and thousands of lives, is outrageous.

The claims the film makes are backed with evidence and testimony. There are no loose claims or half-baked theories found in its 56 minute run. The film’s overall credibility is also bolstered by its director’s distinctions and longevity.

Director and producer Robert Greenwald has had a distinguished career over his 30-some years in cinema and television. Unlike Bill O’Reilly, who lied about having a Peabody Award, Greenwald actually did win the distinguished award and has been nominated for several Emmy and Ace Awards, among others.

Greenwald is not perfect, however. He did win a Razzie Award for worst director in 1981 after manning the helm of the now cult classic roller-disco fantasy “Xanadu,” starring Olivia Newton-John and Gene Kelly. Everyone makes mistakes.

More recently Greenwald directed “Steal This Movie,” based on the life of 1960s radical Abbie Hoffman. Despite his many films, the bulk of Greenwald’s oeuvre lays on the small screen. He has produced many television programs, documentary and otherwise.

While the movie focuses on specific problems with the administration’s deceit and scare tactics, it also addresses the function of intelligence and the Bushies’ inversion of how intelligence has historically been used.

Former CIA station chief in Pakistan Milt Bearden sums up: “Going to war based on intelligence is yet another example, I think, of intelligence not being able to live up to that kind of requirement. You may produce intelligence that could keep you out of a war, but I doubt that you’ll ever get Ö intelligence that will, in any way, allow you to go to war.”

The film explores the neo-conservative agenda and its roots in the belief that the United States is the only power capable of dominance. Further, this dominance must be always asserted, and those who do not comply cannot be tolerated. It is because of this agenda and ideology, the film contends, that the American people have been “neo-conned” into allowing a foreign affairs policy that has failed in every other instance in which it has been used. The idea that one nation can bludgeon the world into compliance has never succeeded.

All of the things that the news should have better reported are picked up in the movie. Some include the animosity between former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, their antithetical objectives, the success of the initial inspections and the flawed logic of basing any war on circumstantial evidence and inductive reasoning, to name a few.

The documentary is a response to the propaganda blitzkrieg tactics of the Ann Coulters and O’Reillys, using facts and evidence to silence their empty, hate-filled, fear-derived rhetoric. It concludes that neo-con “patriotism” is the last refuge of the scoundrels.

Patriotism belongs to everyone, and it must be rescued from a discourse whose terms have been set by those who would prefer to lie and kill than reason and work for peace and real security.

History will eventually judge politicians, perhaps quite harshly, but for the dead, there is nothing judgments can do. A great man once said, “The truth can never damage a cause that is just.” That man, Mahatma Gandhi, knew a thing or two about great struggles. He also knew a few things about the necessity of peace, saying, “An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.” Some days it seems that humans will never learn, but documentaries like this can inspire people to be more active, more vigilant, and not let evil be perpetrated in their names. The truth is out there, and it will set you free.