Written by Hazel Weiser
It’s no mere coincidence that the release of the film Fair Game occurred on November 5, just four days before George Bush’s memoir Decision Points was published. Fair Game recalls how the Bush administration deceptively crafted its justification for invading Iraq despite UN and CIA analysis to the contrary: Sadam’s WMD program had been destroyed and dismantled subsequent to the First Gulf War; the elusive aluminum tubing wasn’t for use in a centrifuge; and Niger hadn’t sold yellow cake uranium to Iraq. The film is dramatic and suspenseful although we know the story, which includes the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame by at least Irve Lewis “Scooter” Libby, in retaliation for her husband Joseph Wilson’s public campaign to expose the administration’s lies about the Niger yellow cake. Wilson had been sent by the CIA to investigate those allegations and found them impossible. The film stars Naomi Watts as CIA operative Valerie Plame and Sean Penn as former diplomat Joseph Wilson, and was produced by Participant Media. It’s worth the cost of a ticket, it’s definitely worth the hour and forty-eight minutes of your time. It’s absolutely worth the reminder of just how horrible the Bush administration was.
As an aside, Participant Media is responsible for a series of serious films, including An Inconvenient Truth, Food Inc., Fast Food Nation, The Visitor, The Soloist, and Syriana, among others. Jeff Skoll founded Participant Media in 2004, after making his fortune as the first president of eBay. Let’s not confuse him with Meg Whitman, another leadership alum of eBay, who just spent $140 million of her own money to run, and lose a bid, to become governor of California. Participant Media produces not just films, but campaigns to educate viewers—and voters—about the issues presented in the films.
From Participant’s mission website page: The company seeks to entertain audiences first, then to invite them to participate in making a difference. To facilitate this, Participant creates specific social action campaigns for each film and documentary designed to give a voice to issues that resonate in the films.
Ironically, one of Skoll’s earlier film projects was the 2006 film Fast Food Nation which highlighted the exploitation of undocumented workers in the meat processing plants supplying the largest “fictitious” burger chain in the country. Remember that Meg Whitman might have been defeated in California when an undocumented domestic worker, Nicandra Diaz Santillan, outed Whitman for hiring her despite her status, underpaying her for nine years, and then hypocritically sounding the anti-immigrant alarm in her campaign speeches.
But back to Bush. The versions of what happened in Fair Game and Bush’s memoir don’t match up, of course. But to be fair, the expectation of a political memoir is not truth especially from this president, especially just two years after the end of his term in office. Decision Points has already sold one million copies. Dan Froomkin in Huffingtonpost.com calls “the two most essential, abhorrent, intolerable lies” in Bush’s memoir: Bush had a legitimate reason to invade Iraq and that there were legitimate reasons to use torture. Froomkin meticulously goes through the evidence that counters Bush’s contentions as to the timing of the decision to invade Iraq, the “facts” used to justify the invasion, and Bush’s alleged role as a dissenter, reluctant to order an invasion. It’s worth a read, especially since too many reviews of the memoir leave uncontested the contents of Bush’s recollections. Of course, the legitimacy of the so-called evidence against Saddam was the focus of the various Congressional commissions and books. David Corn, co-author with Michael Isikoff, of Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War, is another of the few reviewers to call Bush on his distortions in a November 8, 2010 posting on Politics Daily. Also worth a read. The Libby Legal Defense Trust published its own “version” of what happened in the Valerie Plame affair to counter the film, now that the appeal of his conviction on four counts was dropped (and any further indictments for lying are not feasible) and his sentence commuted by President Bush. On September 7, 2010, Libby appeared on Fox News, a first interview since his conviction in 2007. Again, hardly a coincidence in timing.