2005 duPont Award Winners: ‘Truth, War and Consequences’

Jan 10, 2005  •  Post A Comment

The day after the statue of Saddam Hussein fell in Baghdad, Iraq, on April 9, 2003, “Frontline’s” executive producer asked filmmaker Martin Smith to go to Baghdad.

“I think his words were, ‘It would be good to get you into Baghdad to cover the postwar period,'” recalled Mr. Smith, the producer, writer and correspondent for “Truth, War and Consequences” on PBS.

Just a few days later, Mr. Smith was in Iraq, witnessing the looting in Baghdad and the killing in Fallujah at the same time President Bush WAS declaring “mission accomplished” from an aircraft carrier.

“I wanted to believe he was right, but the problem here is the cynics have been right all along,” Mr. Smith said.

He was referring to the skeptics in the State Department who believed that rebuilding Iraq would be tough, compared with the civilians in the Pentagon who believed Iraq would quickly flourish. “The Pentagon vision was that this place would be like free-trade heaven, a capitalist dream,” Mr. Smith said. “And the State Department believed it would be a far more difficult road and there would be a lot of rebuilding, and we would have to depend on a lot of Iraqi institutions.”

“Truth, War and Consequences” aired in October 2003 and was one of the first works of journalism to trace the roots of the war in Iraq and expose how pre-war political infighting among the Pentagon, State Department and White House and faulty intelligence contributed to the ongoing conflict.

The documentary includes interviews with government advisers and military leaders who admit they were unprepared for the lawlessness and devastation in Baghdad. “I didn’t do a lot of reporting on the actual fighting,” Mr. Smith said. “It was really about the selling of the war at home and how the [administration] took it to the public and Congress.”