From the horror of 9/11 to the invasion of Iraq; the truth about WMD to the rise of an insurgency; the scandal of Abu Ghraib to the strategy of the surge -- for six years, FRONTLINE has revealed the defining stories of the war on terror in meticulous detail, and the political dramas that played out at the highest levels of power and influence.
Now, on the fifth anniversary of the Iraq invasion, the full saga unfolds in the two-part FRONTLINE special Bush's War, airing Monday, March 24, 2008, from 9 to 11:30 P.M. and Tuesday, March 25, from 9 to 11 P.M. ET on PBS (check local listings). Veteran FRONTLINE producer Michael Kirk (The Lost Year in Iraq, The Dark Side) draws on one of the richest archives in broadcast journalism -- more than 40 FRONTLINE reports on the war on terror. Combined with fresh reporting and new interviews, Bush's War will be the definitive documentary analysis of one of the most challenging periods in the nation's history.
"Parts of this history have been told before," Kirk says. "But no one has laid out the entire narrative to reveal in one epic story the scope and detail of how this war began and how it has been fought, both on the ground and deep inside the government."
Since the war on terror began, FRONTLINE's award-winning reporting has gone behind the headlines to connect the dots and reveal the true story of an administration at war with itself over how to respond to the devastating 9/11 attacks.
In the fall of 2001, even as America was waging a war in Afghanistan, another hidden war was being waged inside the administration. Part 1 of Bush's War, airing Monday, March 24, from 9 to 11:30 P.M. ET, tells the story of this behind-the-scenes battle over whether Iraq would be the next target in the war on terror.
On one side, Secretary of State Colin Powell and Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet squared off against Vice President Dick Cheney and his longtime ally, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The battles were over policy -- whether to attack Iraq; the role of Iraqi exile Ahmad Chalabi; how to treat detainees; whether to seek United Nations resolutions; and the value of intelligence suggesting a connection between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 attacks -- but the conflict was deeply personal.
"Friendships were dashed," Powell's deputy Richard Armitage tells FRONTLINE. As the war within the administration heated up, Armitage and Powell concluded that they were being shut out of key decisions by Cheney and Rumsfeld. "The battle of ideas, you generally come up with the best solution. When somebody hijacks the system, then, just like a hijacked airplane, very often no good comes of it," Armitage adds.