Real War On Terror
Dispatches Documentary Series
first aired on Channel Four in November 2005
The Invasion of Iraq began on the 20th March 2003. The United States and Great Britain and led a grouping of
nations in what was dubbed the "coalition of the willing". The stated justification for going to war was Iraqi possession
of weapons of mass destruction, the need to depose the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein and to curtail his support of terrorist
On 1st May 2003 George W. Bush landed on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in a military jet. He gave a speech announcing
the end of major combat operations in the Iraq war. Clearly visible in the background was a banner stating "Mission Accomplished."
Two years later the body count of Iraqi civilians is at least 27,000, and rising with the daily occurrence of violent bombings.
In The Real War on Terror season, Dispatches exposes both the human and political costs of the invasion of Iraq.
click play to start the videos
Part 1: Iraq: The Reckoning
Peter Oborne, political editor of the Spectator, reports on the West's exit strategy for Iraq. He believes the invasion
of Iraq is proving to be the greatest foreign policy failure since Munich. Oborne argues that the plan to transform Iraq into
a unified liberal democracy, a beacon of hope in the Middle East, is pure fantasy. Reporting on location with US troops in
Sadr City, and through interviews with leading figures in Britain and the US, Oborne argues that the coalition and its forces
on the ground are increasingly irrelevant in determining the future of Iraq - a future that's unlikely to be either unified,
liberal or democratic.
The film includes interviews with Richard Perle, Peter Galbraith, Deputy Chief of Army staff General Jack Keane. Oborne
also interviews Rory Stewart, who worked as a deputy governor in Nasyriah and witnessed first hand the rise of the pro-Iranian
fundamentalist parties that are now at the heart of the Iraqi government.
Part 2: America's Secret Shame
President Bush's decision to declare war on Iraq has now cost the lives of more than 2,000 American troops and injured
another 30,000. With such substantial loss of life and appalling numbers of injured, reporter Deborah Davies investigates
how the Bush administration has attempted to suppress the scale of the casualties and so minimise this public relations disaster.
In Minneapolis, Deborah visits veterans of the war as they recuperate in hospital. She discovers that the defining feature
of the Iraq war is that troops suffer multiple injuries, often including brain damage and amputations; combined injuries that
soldiers would never have survived in the past.
Almost half the troops serving in Iraq are not full time soldiers. One National Guardsman tells Dispatches how he lost
the movement in one side, one eye and a third of his skull in a roadside blast. He dreams of a return to his old life, but
his injuries have been devastating – he is still wheelchair–bound and his young daughter is so terrified of his
appearance that she mutilated her doll to match her father's injuries.
Another feature of the war is that many female soldiers have been injured. One who lost a leg when her convoy was blown
up, is now retraining to become a prosthetics technician. She'll be in demand, with several hundred Iraq veterans needing
Deborah also travels to small–town Ohio and follows two families as they prepare for the emotional homecoming of
the local reservist Marine unit which suffered heavy losses in Iraq. In one company of 140 men, 23 have been killed and a
further 50 injured making it the unit's highest casualties since World War II. As one family prepares excitedly to welcome
home their son, another family has faced the harrowing ordeal of their son's body being delivered to them in three separate
boxes, as more of his body parts were recovered and identified. But even for the family of the surviving marine, their joy
is tempered with concern for his emotional wellbeing – up to 80 per cent of Iraq veterans are suffering from severe
post–traumatic stress symptoms and levels of drug and alcohol abuse are soaring.
But despite such pain and suffering endured by military families, Deborah discovers that the Commander–in–Chief,
George Bush has not attended a single funeral or memorial for the dead. The government also tried to ban photos of flag–draped
coffins being flown back into America from Iraq.
Scanning the papers during a two–week journey around America, Dispatches finds an extraordinary lack of national
coverage in the American media. While local papers herald the return of their sons and mourn the heroic dead, national papers
largely confine their coverage to brief updates of the latest death toll.
The latest polls in the US now put support for the war at less than 50%. President Bush's personal ratings are also at
an all time low. As the casualty levels continue to rise Dispatches asks how far the true cost of the Iraq invasion is now
turning public opinion against the war.
Part 3: Kidnap And Torture American Style
In case you missed the chat with Andrew Gilligan, read the transcript.
As Tony Blair unveils his tough new line on deporting foreign terror subjects following the July bombings, journalist Andrew
Gilligan investigates whether these new rules will mean suspects, who have never been found guilty by a jury, will be delivered
into the hands of torturers.
Gilligan examines the evidence that Britain's support for America's War on Terror has extended to alleged complicity in
the practice of 'extraordinary rendition' - the abduction of terror suspects and their removal to regimes with poor human
Dispatches: Kidnap and Torture American Style follows the stories of terror suspects. Some of them are British residents,
who have been snatched from streets and airports throughout the world before being flown to the Middle-East and Africa. In
countries such as Syria and Egypt, they undergo agonising ordeals before being incarcerated, without ever facing an open trial.
Testimonies from those suspects allege that Britain has a key role in these shady operations from supplying intelligence
information on which interrogations are based, to ordering their arrest and detention.
With the legality of extraordinary rendition being questionable at best, Gilligan speaks to Elizabeth Wilmshurst, the former
Deputy Director of Legal Affairs at the British Foreign Office. She resigned in protest over Britain's decision to join the
invasion of Iraq. In her first interview since her resignation, she voices her concern about reports of Britain's involvement
in the CIA's torture by proxy.
Twenty-two people in Britain are now awaiting deportation to countries which are known to carry out torture. Gilligan asks
if the policy of deportation to countries where diplomatic assurances against torture are likely to be broken is any different
to extraordinary rendition when the end result is the same – the torture chamber.
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