by Cole Smithey

The potential political impact of Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 has audiences champing at the bit to see news that they can't read in USA Today. The movie promises a brewing storm of civil controversy that has never before been tested in the history of cinema. A poll of audiences who attended Moore's last movie (Bowling for Columbine) revealed that 70 percent had never before attended a documentary film.

Michael Moore is a populist filmmaker who happens to engage in a significant brand of independent journalism that raises crucial questions with an air of simplicity and honest curiosity. But the damning answers to some of his direct queries demand action. When Moore reveals that no member of Congress had even read the Patriot Act before voting on the document, it would seem that the American public should perhaps serve our negligent Congress with pink slips.

However, the blind passing of the Patriot Act is but one infraction against American citizens in a laundry list of offenses that Moore clearly exposes in a movie that, more than anything else, provides insight into the lies that Americans have been pummeled with. Michael Moore is a sincere and articulate everyman to whom people around the world listen and respond enthusiastically. That's much more than can be said of George W. Bush.

Cole Smithey: What in this movie do you think will be shocking to the public, and what of that would be threatening to the U.S. Government?

Michael Moore: Well, what's going to be shocking to most Americans who see this film is Bush's military records that were blacked out by someone at the White House. I don't think people have heard American soldiers in the field talk the way they talk in this film of their disillusionment, of their despair, of their questioning what's going on. We have not seen that on the evening news. We've not seen the suffering that the war has caused -- from those who've been maimed and paralyzed, to the families back home who've lost loved ones. How often have we heard their voices? Every step along the way in this movie will be a revelation in terms of how this lie was perpetrated upon them.

The good thing about Americans is once they're given the information, they act accordingly, and they act from a good place. The hard part is getting through with the information. If the freelancers I was using were able to find what they found in Iraq, with our limited resources, you have to question why haven't we seen this? You see in the movie the first footage of abuse and humiliation of Iraqi detainees. And this occurred in the field, outside the prison walls. That is disgraceful, that it would take as long as it's taken, and for me to come along with stringers and freelancers to be able to bring this to the American people. The American people do not like things being kept from them, and I think what this film is going to do is be like a mystery unraveling.

CS: Do you think the coalition should pull out of Iraq?

MM: Of course the [chuckling] "Coalition of the Willing" needs to de-will themselves, and the United States must remove itself from the situation. We need to find a better solution with people who the Iraqis want there, and who will help the Iraqis rebuild their country -- that is not the United States of America.

CS: George W. Bush accused the U.S. troops who abused the Iraqi detainees of a "failure of character." What do you think are the failures of George Bush's character?

MM: Bush's comment about the failure of the U.S. troops is another example of how George W. Bush does not support our troops. George W. Bush and his ilk actually despise our troops. Only someone who despises our young people, who have offered to serve and protect our country and give up their lives if necessary -- to send them to war based on a lie is the worst violation of trust you can have, and the worst way to treat our troops. He is against our troops. He has put them in harm's way for no good reason other than to line the pockets of his friends and benefactors.

Publication date: 06/24/04

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