PBS Gets in Line on Syrian War

PBS’s “Frontline” has long sought to position itself within the elite conventional wisdom following the lead of liberal interventionists at the New Yorker and the New York Times while also careful not to provoke the wrath of powerful politicians. So it marched in lockstep on Syria, as Rick Sterling explains.

By Rick Sterling

Frontline is an influential television program which examines important foreign and domestic issues. The shows tend to be technically well done combining concise writing with compelling video. Many North Americans watch and have their beliefs shaped by Frontline documentaries.

Last week Public Broadcasting System channels across North America broadcast the Frontline special titled “Obama at War.” The 52-minute video portrays the following:

Origins of the Syrian conflict; Response of the Obama administration; Evolution of the conflict; The run-up and response to alleged chemical attacks in 2013; Emergence of ISIS, Nusra and other extremist groups; Where is the conflict headed?  Where is U.S. policy headed? [The video is online here. The approximate time stamp of some key moments in the video are noted in text below.]

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On the positive side, the documentary acknowledges that: It is a violation of international law to provide weapons to a non-state actor trying to overthrow a sovereign state; the overthrow of the Libyan government led to chaos and increased sectarianism and violence; there might not be any easy solutions; escalating U.S. involvement as demanded by the “Syrian opposition” and interventionists might actually make things worse.

In addition, the program shows the inner workings and debate process in the Obama administration. That said, following are some key problems with the documentary.

Key Failings:

(1) Promotes “Syrian Opposition” that is more American than Syrian

Three “Syrian Opposition” members (Ouabi Shahbandar, Murhaf Jouejati, and Amr al Azm) appear 12 times through the documentary, using about 7% of the total time.  In reality all of the three are U.S. Citizens; none of them has lived in Syria for many years or decades.

Ouabi Shahbandar is the “Syrian Opposition” member given prominent attention in the video. He came to the US at age 8.  At Arizona State University in 2003 he was a young Republican neoconservative on the rampage, strongly supporting GW Bush and the invasion of Iraq, denouncing war protesters as “terrorists” and allying with far right figures such as David Horowitz. In the past decade he has worked for the US Dept of Defense.

Murhaf Jouejati teaches at the National Defense University (US Dept of Defense). A third voice is from Amr Al Azm who is leader of the US funded “Day After Project” intended to plan for development after regime change in Damascus. In short, all three “Syrian Opposition” voices are aligned and committed to US not Syrian national interests.

(2) Excludes authentic Syrian voices

Most viewers will be completely unaware that polls have consistently shown the majority of Syrians  supporting their government and opposing armed opposition attacks.  As the widely respected British journalist Jonathan Steele wrote in 2012, “Most Syrians back President Assad but you’d never know from Western media.”  In 2013, a NATO study concluded that Assad was winning the battle for Syrian hearts and minds and “After two years of civil war, support for the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad was said to have sharply increased.”

In light of this it seems fair to ask: Why are none of these voices included in a documentary about Syria? Why were there no voices from members of theSyrian American Forum or Arab Americans for Syria or from Syrians who actually live in Syria and experience the conflict first hand?

(3) Gives biased and contradictory characterization of the conflict

At (2:30) “Syrian opposition” member Murhaf Jouejati claims the Syrian opposition has universal goals and is not sectarian. In contrast, at (3:35)Washington Post journalist David Ignatius describes the uprising as a “Sunni revolution”. How can it be a “Sunni revolution” and non-sectarian at the same time?

In reality, both portrayals are distortions. The Syrian conflict has been often characterized in Western media as “an Alawi regime dictatorship dominating the Sunni majority population.” Although repeated countless times, it is essentially untrue. For example, the powerful Syrian Defense and Information Ministries are both led by Sunni Muslims; the Syrian Army is majority Sunni; the economy is dominated by Sunni businessmen. In reality, Syria is a mix of many religions and the government is predominately nationalist and secular, not religious.

The opposition is driven by sectarian Wahabi ideology but that does not represent Sunni Islam any more than Zionist supremacism represents Judaism or right wing Christian fundamentalists represent Christianity.

(4) Excludes important background information about U.S. Ambassador and U.S. Policy

U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford is ever-present in the documentary. He appears 15 separate times and his perspective uses almost 10 percent of the entire video.  In the opening scenes, Ford talks about going to support a protest march in Hama. He says “We were not backing any particular set of demands that the protesters were putting forward; we were simply supporting their right to demonstrate peacefully.” This is a nice platitude for those who believe in the tooth fairy, but how about the real world?

In fact, U.S. policy has been hostile toward Syria for many years. In 2003-4 the Syria Accountability Act imposed sanctions.  It’s widely known that the US and allies Israel and Saudi Arabia seek to break Syria’s alliance with Iran and the Lebanese resistance movement. Israel has attacked Syria numerous times. In 2007, Seymour Hersh wrote:

The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

Robert Ford is very familiar with these “extremist groups” since he was Political Counselor under Ambassador John Negroponte in Baghdad 2004 2006 during the time that they were launched. Negroponte is infamous in Latin America where he was US Ambassador to Honduras coordinating the creation of the ‘Contras’ in Nicaragua and death squads in El Salvador and Honduras.  Negroponte and Robert Ford implemented the transformation in US strategy in Iraq following the first year of US occupation.  Called the “Salvador option” by Newsweek magazine, Robert Ford likely played a pivotal role since he was a top official and fluent in Arabic. But this important background information is missing from the Frontline special.

(5) Falsely claims the Syrian insurgency was predominately secular in 2012/2013

One of the major arguments of Robert Ford and other interventionists is that the Syrian uprising was not sectarian; they claim the Obama Administration did not do enough to support the secular opposition and thereby “allowed” it to be radicalized. Ford says toward the end of the documentary:

Of course there was a window of opportunity. The jihadi elements in Syria were a distinct minority in the Syrian armed opposition in late 2012 and going into 2013.(45:35)

This assertion is contradicted on multiple counts. Observing conditions in Aleppo in September-October 2012, American journalist James Foley wrote: “Many civilians here are losing patience with the increasingly violent and unrecognizable opposition, one that is hampered by infighting and a lack of structure, and deeply infiltrated by both foreign fighters and terrorist groups.”

More significantly, just in the past few weeks, the August 2012 analysis of the Defense Information Agency has been released following a lawsuit connected to Congressional hearings around Benghazi.  That report states: “Internally, events are taking a clear sectarian direction. The Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI are the major force driving the insurgency in Syria.”

It appears Ford was deliberately downplaying the sectarian reality of the conflict to justify his call for greater U.S. intervention.

(6) Falsely suggests Obama Administration was preventing opposition forces from receiving weapons

The documentary gives the impression the Obama administration was steadfastly blocking the supplying of weapons to Syrian armed opposition through 2012.  In reality, huge quantities of weapons were transferred  beginning 2011. Another Defense Intelligence Agency document discloses:

“During the immediate aftermath of, and following the uncertainty caused by, the downfall of the Gaddafi regime, in October 2011 and up until early September 2012, weapons from the former Libya military stockpiles located in Benghazi, Libya were shipped to Syria.” The weapons included “Sniper rifles, RPG’s and 125mm and 150mm howitzer missiles.”

As documented here, beginning November 2012 there was a major airlift of arms to Syrian rebels: “3,000 tons of weapons dating back to the former Yugoslavia have been sent in 75 planeloads from Zagreb airport to the rebels, largely via Jordan.”

The kernel of truth here is that despite the huge shipments of weapons to the armed opposition they were still losing. Unwilling to accept this, Saudi Arabia wanted to escalate the shipments and transfers even more.

(7) Excludes Crucial Information including the Huge Number of Syrian Soldiers Killed

There are many scenes of Syrian victims from “armed opposition” territories and battle zones. Like all wars and conflicts, it is horrible with good and bad people on all sides. However, it is striking that there are no videos or interviews showing the extent of casualties in Syrian government areas.

Three quarters of the Syrian population live in areas under Syrian government control and they are also victims of random or targeted attacks. Nor is there any hint about the huge number of Syrian soldiers, police and national defense forces who have been killed.

Viewers of “Obama at War” will have no idea that between 80,000 and 120,000 Syrian soldiers and civil defenders have been killed in the conflict. Many thousands are victims of those “Sniper” rifles shipped under the watchful eye of the CIA. Skeptical readers are urged to look for themselves at the range of estimates from different sources shown here.

Contrary to the mythology, there was a violent faction provoking the conflict from the beginning. What would happen in the USA or Canada if foreign-sponsored “rebels” killed tens of thousands of police or military soldiers?

(8) Falsely claims “clear proof” that Syrian government used Sarin in Spring 2013

At (22:15) Frontline intones “With no one to stop him, Assad initiates a new phase in the war: the deployment of chemical weapons.” Mark Mazetti of New York Times says: “Intelligence community was assessing that the rebels were on the ropes. You have the clear proof in the intelligence community that there had been chemical weapon attacks .”

Mazetti’s assertion ignores the widespread debate and differing opinions among those looking into the sarin issue.  For example, United Nations Inspector Carla Ponte said the evidence pointed toward the rebels being responsible, not the government. She said: “There are strong, concrete suspicions of the use of sarin gas . on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities.”

If the “rebels” were “on the ropes,” why would the Assad government use chemical weapons and provoke international outcry and possible intervention? On the other hand, the “rebels” had the motive and the means. Syrian insurgents had even been captured with sarin in Turkey earlier in the year.

(9) Excludes key research on responsibility for Sarin Use in August 2013

At (26:45) Frontline says “Then, a sarin gas attack on a rebel held suburb of Damascus. 1,400 men, women and children are killed according to what the American intelligence agencies tell the President.” John Kerry accuses the Syrian government of using “the world’s most heinous weapons against the most vulnerable people.”

In reality, there was immediate skepticism about the responsibility. Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), made of up retired members of the U.S. intelligence community especially the Central Intelligence Agency, issued a statement saying:

“Former co-workers are telling us, categorically, that contrary to the claims of your administration, the most reliable intelligence shows that Bashar al-Assad was NOT responsible for the chemical incident that killed and injured Syrian civilians on August 21, and that British intelligence officials also know this.”

“Obama at War” ignores the critical debate and simply repeats the accusations which have been largely discredited. Over the past 18 months some of the best U.S. investigative journalists have researched what happened on Aug. 21 in Ghouta. Seymour Hersh wrote “The Red Line and the Rat Line” pointing to Turkish and Nusra culpability. Robert Parry wrote “The Collapsing Syria-Sarin Case” identifying the “junk heap of bad evidence” used to blame the Syrian government.

Two months before the gas attacks, Russ Baker predicted the drive toward another U.S. intervention based on false premises.  He commented sarcastically:  “No one is likely to demand good hard evidence for the use of chemical weapons. After all, the Bush administration and its lies for war was so very long ago.”

Instead of dealing with the controversy and contrary evidence, Frontline ignored it and echoes the assertions of interventionists.

(10) Largely ignores the lessons from Libya

The situation in Libya is highly relevant to Syria and recent. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to explore what happened there and the lessons to be learned? At (9:45) there is a passing reference to the chaos in Libya following the overthrow of the Gaddafi government.

Earlier at (5:45) New York Times reporter Mark Mazetti says “We had seen what happened in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya Popular demonstrations would ultimately bring down the regime.” However, that is inaccurate regarding Libya where the government was overthrown by a seven-month US/NATO/GULF bombing campaign not “popular demonstrations.”

Considering that the attacks on Libya were presented as necessary to “protect civilians” (as is currently argued for Syria), and the eruption of sectarianism and violence which has followed, and the terrible decline in living standards and security for Libyan civilians . isn’t this worthy of more than five seconds passing reference?

(11) Repeats Dubious Accusations regarding Chlorine Gas Bombs

“Obama at War” repeats accusations based on unreliable evidence that the Syrian government has been using chlorine gas bombs to attack civilians. Logic would suggest that the opposition has a motive for this while the government does not. Some widely publicized writers, such as Dr. Annie Sparrow, are full of moralistic condemnations but curiously short of facts.

As reported by Time magazine in Spring 2013, the major chlorine producing factory in Syria (and its stockpiles of chlorine) were under Nusra (Al-Qaeda) control since 2012. It is also curious there are no current videos showing the alleged onslaught of chlorine-filled barrel bombs while there are many videos showing the armed opposition launching gas canisters.

(12) Promotes False History of the Expansion of ISIS and Nusra

At this point the documentary does something very misleading: it presents the expansion of ISIS and Nusra as a consequence of the Obama decision not to attack Syria. At 36:25 the documentary intones “Extremists exploited the decision not to attack.” At 36:35 Shahbandar claims that extremists are telling Syrian civilians “Look you’ve been betrayed by the world .”

At 36:55 Baker (NY Times) suggests that ISIS and Nusra are saying “We’re the only ones who can take down Assad and create a new order here.” The documentary then claims that moderate rebels are joining extremists with ISIS emerging as the strongest. That is soon followed by video showing ISIS surging through Iraq and seizing Mosul.

In reality, the extremists (Nusra, ISIS, etc.) were the major armed opposition force long before the August 2013 situation.  That was confirmed in the August 2012 DIA report. Nor was the surge of ISIS into Iraq a consequence of the Obama decision. The ISIS seizure of Mosul occurred in June of 2014, ten months after the Obama decision.

If the U.S. had proceeded and attacked Syria in September 2013 it would have further weakened the Syrian government and helped the extremists expand even more. After four years of attacks by tens of thousands of heavily armed insurgents from all over the globe, the Syrian government and military is greatly weakened. That has allowed ISIS to control the lightly populated eastern part of the country. The Syrian army is bogged down fighting thousands of extremists in the major urban areas in the west, north and south which has allowed ISIS to continue in the east.

(13) Suggests that ISIS and Nusra are “helping” and “defending” Syrians

At 37:10 Ford says: “I think it’s human nature to seek help from those who will defend you against the external threat that’s killing you, arresting you, torturing you. It’s no surprise that Syrians seek support of anyone to get rid of the regime that’s inflicting the pain.”

Ford’s assertion that the extremists are “defending” Syrians against an “external threat” is bizarre since the “external threat” refers to the Syrian government and “those who will defend you” refers to extremist organizations consisting of huge numbers of sectarian fanatics and mercenaries from across the globe.

While there are some Syrians who want a sectarian Wahabi state with strict sharia law, they are vastly outnumbered by Syrians who want to maintain a secular state and inclusive multi-faith society. The suggestion in this documentary that a significant number of Syrians seek “help” from ISIS or Nusra is a grotesque falsehood.

Ford continues his nonchalant description of ISIS at 44:30: “Dropping bombs is not going to destroy the Islamic State and so it seems the Islamic State is going to maintain control over the eastern half of Syria more or less indefinitely.”

Conclusions

–“Obama at War” presents a biased and distorted view of the reality in Syria.

–The experience and perspective of the vast majority of Syrians is ignored.

–There is a pressing need for realistic reports which convey the perspectives and experiences of all people in the conflict, not just the “opposition” and their supporters.

Rick Sterling is active with the Syria Solidarity Movement and the Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center. He can be emailed at rsterling1@gmail.com. [This story previously appeared at dissidentvoice.org and is reprinted with the author’s permission.]

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11 comments for “PBS Gets in Line on Syrian War

  1. Rob Roy
    June 6, 2015 at 00:11

    Mr. Stirling, I am appreciative of your excellent report. I knew these points and you have lined them up perfectly. One thing that caught my eye was your mention of Carla del Ponte of the United Nations who led the first investigation of the use of sarin. I heard her say myself that it was not the Assad government who used it on the Syrian people, but the rebels. At that moment I said, “Well, we will never hear from her again,” and we didn’t. That was in May. As soon as someone veers from the government line, s/he is shut down. Notice how whistleblowers, the truth tellers go to jail and the criminals go free. Then later in August when sarin came up again, I knew it wasn’t Assad. The idea at that time that he would use it was absurd, what with the UN on deck in the immediate area; he would have been utterly foolish to use a chemical at that moment, and he’s not foolish; in fact, he rans a secular state with freedom of religion for all. We out here who seek truth search through all the manufactured propaganda and find it lacks evidence, always. So we turn to investigators such as you, Robert Parry, Seymour Hersh, Norm Chomsky, et. al., who present proof. I’ve learned the truth about Israel and it’s IDF and Mossad, about Russia, about what really happened and is happening in Ukraine, what NATO, the US, IMF, WB, Bilderberg Group, BIS and the Project for a New American Century are doing to further US imperialsim for power, money and control. I know what government lies are supported and spread by the NYT, WP, MSM and sadly, PBS. and NPR (Ira Glass is now pro-Koch brothers’ support.) I know the truth about M17, about the history of Iran and their NOT wanting a nuclear weapon, about 49 of the 54 African countries having US bases, about the set up of Russia and China as targets for nuclear attack (WWIII), about what TPP, TISA, FTA really mean, about our state department (Victoria Nuland is outs of her mind), about our loss of civil right and democracy (if we ever had it) and the intentions of the followers of Milton Friedman’s so called economics of shock doctrine, etc. Frontline’s program on Putin was one-sided. Obama’s War was a farce of misinformation, as you point out, step by step. I’m writing really to commend you and the other great investigative journalists without whom I, and many others, would live in ignorance. Thank you.

  2. Deschutes
    June 5, 2015 at 15:28

    Agreed: PBS is a stinking pile of Washington propaganda just like NPR is. Their corporate sponsors have them by the balls, they both masquerade as ‘liberal’ commercial free stations, but they are absolute sh!t. Hey–I have an idea I want to share with you that’s worked really well for me for the past 25 or so years: just don’t watch it. Works wonders! Problem solved :-)

    • Jacob
      June 5, 2015 at 23:07

      Most PBS programs are preceded by an announcement naming the “sponsors,” many or most of which are right-wing, tax-exempt foundations such as Bradley, Koch and Pew. And, oddly for what’s called a “public” broadcasting system, the full name of PBS is the “Corporation for Public Broadcasting,” rather than something that would suggest actual public service such as “The People’s Public Broadcasting System” or the “American Public Broadcasting System.” As this Consortium.com article indicates, PBS is serving as a propaganda outfit, not a public service.

  3. Abe
    June 5, 2015 at 14:14

    PBS has demonstrated repeatedly that it has no difficulty promoting CIA “information activities”.

    The PBS ONLINE website has area called “Mediashift: Your Guide to the Digital Revolution” that features projects funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

    The stated mission of the Knight Foundation is to support “transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged.”

    The Mediashift area of the site has an “Idealab” that highlights media innovation and digital tools.

    PBS’s fascination with new digital technologies has supplanted concern about standards of journalistic integrity.

    In May 2015, PBS ONLINE promoted fake “citizen journalist” Eliot Higgins:

    “Want to triangulate that photo of Russian tanks barreling down the streets of Donetsk? Check out the citizen journalism being done at Bellingcat, a U.K. website focused on investigating and verifying underreported issues worldwide. Started by Eliot Higgins, a blogger, and funded in a Kickstarter campaign launched last summer, Bellingcat crowdsources and verifies photographs and reports on contentious and difficult to verify subjects like reported chemical warfare use in Syria, the British phone hacking scandal, and developments in the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”
    http://www.pbs.org/idealab/2015/05/how-citizen-journalists-tap-silk-to-tell-underreported-stories/

    PBS praised the Higgins and Bellingcat “Ukraine Vehicle Tracking Project” that was launched to coincide with the release of a report by the Atlantic Council.

    A regime change think tank, the Atlantic Council is managed by Western “policy makers”, military leaders, and senior intelligence officials

    Higgins was an author of the Atlantic Council report, “Hiding in Plain Sight: Putin’s War in Ukraine”.

    The Atlantic Council lavishly praises Higgins and Bellingcat for providing “undeniable proof” in support of US and EU governments accusations that “Russia is at war with Ukraine”.

    The management roster of the Atlantic Council includes four former heads of the Central Intelligence Agency:
    Michael Hayden (Board member) – CIA Director 2006–2009
    Leon Panetta (Honorary Director) – CIA Director 2009–2011
    Robert Gates (Honorary Director) – CIA Director 1991–1993
    William Webster (Honorary Director) – CIA Director 1987–1991

    PBS has previously indulged in uncritical praise of Higgins

    Back in 2014, the PBS ONLINE site twice featured “open source weapons analysis of Eliot Higgins” as an example of an “innovative project that shows the power of citizen collaboration” when in fact, Higgins was thoroughly debunked for his “it was Assad” internet claims about the 2013 sarin attacks in Ghouta, Syria.

    PBS FRONTLINE has implicitly endorsed Higgins’ disproven claims with its recent “Obama at War” broadcast.

    Expect PBS FRONTLINE to “get in line” on the War in Ukraine, with Higgins and the Atlantic Council’s lies stated as flat facts.

  4. Peter Loeb
    June 5, 2015 at 07:04

    OBAMA TRICKS

    The careful, tight manipulation of all news and of all available
    “information” and “voices” has been a typical procedure
    of this government.

    Recall (to cite one example only) when Obama was supposedly
    fighting for “affordable” health care—mostly profitable to the
    giant health care industries who were prime contributors to
    Obama campaigns— and he would assume his fatherly
    tones with words to the effect that, of course, he is always,
    always open to different views, different suggestions. Meanwhile, Cong.
    John Conyers was at first disinvited to a White House Discussion and
    when pressing the issue was admitted and pushed into less
    significant forums. (Conyers and many others supported another
    remedy.)

    Well, what a wonderful guy that Obama was. There were no
    other voices, there was not organizing from unions nationwide,
    from doctors nationside. Those voices weren’t ever heard.

    This is the same extremely tight nearly dictatorial control of
    all information in many issues of war and peace. As concerns
    Palestine, Obama disingenuously pretends differences
    with Israel’s PM Obama while he time and again proclaims
    his racism, hateful, violent, brutal policies. Of course, Obama
    cannot listen to any other Palestinians but those approved
    by Israel. The rest are “terrorists”. In the UN the US dutifully
    blocks whatever Israel wants blocked such as a Nuclear
    Free Mideast Zone.

    We in the US are so “lucky” (sarcasm) to have “free speech”
    provided we speak only about information the government
    wishes us to have. And nothing else. For in fact, nothing else
    is available. One can say that Americans are “ignorant”
    but they are not investigative journalists. Nor do they follow
    the intricacies of foreign policy events daily or in any
    histories not explicitly tailored to the official Washington line.

    As for NPR, when anchors are sent to places where one can
    hear bullets exploding in the background , one can sometimes
    detect the tiniest hint that perhaps the anchor might carelessly
    say something not following the Official Line. Perhaps
    just a tightening of the nervous voice sent thousands of
    miles to prove the Official Line.

    I must confess that I have learned some things from NPR, but
    the more I learn, the more I am trying to discern not what is really
    happening but what they WANT me to think is happening.

    —Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

  5. Abe
    June 5, 2015 at 03:10

    PBS FRONTLINE:
    We helped got you into the last war.
    We’re good for the next.

    Gunning for Saddam (Nov. 8, 2001)
    FRONTLINE investigates Americas other enemy, Saddam Hussein.

    “As Americans are confronted by acts of bioterrorism, powerful forces in the nations capitol believe Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is to blame, for this and many other terrorist acts during the last decade. Many are lobbying to mobilize a military operation to oust Hussein when the next phase of the war on terrorism kicks in. Proponents of the plan, including former Clinton administration CIA director James Woolsey, contend Saddam Hussein was involved in the first World Trade Center bombing, the attempted assassination of President George H.W. Bush in 1993, and the ongoing state sponsorship of terrorist activities. Foes of this plan argue that attacking Saddam will destabilize other nations in the region, most prominently Saudi Arabia, and no doubt destroy the carefully crafted coalition presently hunting for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.”

    See http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/gunning/analyses/

    • Antiwar7
      June 7, 2015 at 10:50

      Exactly. Frontline has always been pandering to established opinion, and despite their high production values, has no credibility.

  6. Eddie
    June 4, 2015 at 22:39

    I have to say that what little respect I once had for ‘Frontline’ ended decades ago during the Carter administration when Ted Koppel used it as a nightly career stepping-stone to pander to US bellicosity regarding Iran and the hostages. (i.e.; by his reckoning, as well as the conservatives, it’s better to have thousands of US soldiers killed & 10s of thousands of foreign civilians instead of the US citizens being held hostage in a foreign country even though they were unharmed.) I haven’t watched or regarded it since then, and that was ~1979…

    • Frank
      June 6, 2015 at 03:43

      You are confusing Ted Koppel’s “Nightline” (ABC) with the PBS flagship journal, “Frontline.” Kind of a silly mistake, although the once proud PBS is now virtually indistinguishable from the other commerical media. PBS has been under immense pressure from the corporate right wing for decades and is now a mere shadow of its former self.

  7. Virgile
    June 4, 2015 at 21:33

    I fully agree with your conclusions. It is a shame that even PBS fell into the biased propaganda that we have seen for the last 4 years. Showing the well groomed American-Syrian opposition spokesmen telling us that the opposition represented the majority of the Syrians and that they were ‘pacific’ is a total parody.
    1)It totally ignores the fact that because Bashar al Assad was convinced he would be spared, he has not ordered like the othe Arab countries, the anti-crowd kits, water-cannons, tear gas that we have seen used massively in neighboring Turkey. In addition the police was not trained to deal with mobs, especially when they were coming out from Mosques. There were many unfortunate and tragic judgement errors, a clear underestimation of the situation and a lack of preparation to avoid shedding blood.
    2) Yet the moment the demonstrations started they were immediately exploited by the revengeful Moslem Brotherhood that Hafez al Assad had crushed in Hama, Islamist terrorists and Mossad agents. They all saw a golden opportunity to destroy a government that has antagonized them for decades.
    3) The opposition leaders welcomed the Islamist fighters and declared stupidly “:They are helping us topple Bashar al Assad and they would go back to their country once this is done”
    etc.. etc..
    That documentary’s only place would be in a University where they teach how to distort the facts and manipulate viewers.

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