It was designed, like so many other media products these
days, to discredit the Bush administration's rationale for
the Iraq War. All that was missing was filmmaker Michael
Moore trying to poke a microphone into the face of the vice
The title, "The Dark Side," refers of course to Darth Vader,
the evil villain in the fictional "Star Wars" series, and
was meant to suggest that the Bush Administration had been
behaving like some kind of sinister force in the world. Cheney
also used the term, but in a completely different context,
in order to highlight the behind-the-scenes efforts that
would have to take place to put the international terrorists
and their sponsors out of business.
The context was that Cheney was on Meet the Press on September
16, 2001, just five days after the horrific events of September
11th. Here was the exchange:
MR. RUSSERT: When Osama bin Laden took responsibility
for blowing up the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, U.S.
embassies, several hundred died, the United States launched
60 tomahawk missiles into his training sites in Afghanistan.
It only emboldened him. It only inspired him and seemed
even to increase his recruitment. Is it safe to say that
that kind of response is not something we're considering,
in that kind of minute magnitude?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: 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. 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 and strategy.
We also have to work, though, sort of the dark side,
if you will. 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. 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
Clearly Cheney's comments were measured and reasonable,
and not the least bit sinister.
From there the program takes us on a familiar ride. It presents
an array of people, some journalists like Ron Suskind and
Bob Woodward, and numerous former intelligence agents, many
with books, who have come out against the war. Producer/writer/director
Michael Kirk gives it all of the usual gravitas and seriousness
of a Frontline special, but the problem is that he gives
little or no attention to evidence that strongly contradicts
his conclusions. He has every right to do that, except for
the fact that people might think that programs based on the
use of our tax dollars would make some attempt to be credible
While Kirk is entitled to his point of view-and he lined
up an impressive group of people with a lot of experience
and credentials-his case just doesn't stand up to scrutiny.
More on that in my next commentary. CRO