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BBC OnePanorama


Last Updated: Thursday, 25 September 2003, 13:30 GMT 14:30 UK
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Interesting programme...although somewhat biased in favour of the US occupation. One comment comes into mind however: will the reporter please stop using the word liberated! The Iraqi's were not liberated, they have been occupied illegally and against the UN charter by the coalition, in addition if they were liberated they would have been celebrating and rejoicing. However from the secens of your programme it is obvious the Iraqi people neither welcome nor want the coalition forces on their territory. Please refrain from using the word liberated the apporpriate word is occupied.
Hafez , Ireland

Thanks BBC for this sobering programme which highlighted both sides of the problem. That is, the Iraqi's lack of organisational skills and the gung-ho attitude of the American soldiers. Unfortunately, since people learn from example, aggression only teaches aggression. What the Iraqi's need after Saddam's long reign of terror is to be shown compassion, just as the American soldiers probably are compasionate people back home.
Helena, Netherlands

The BBC at its very best.The 1000's of hours of coverage of Dr Kelly et al do not compare to this programme that shows in true clarity the insanity of the invasion of Iraq, and the evil of human nature.
Michael Stewart, England

I think everyone knows that the British army and the American army did a very good job for Iraqi people, however that doesn't mean they have all the right to treat Iraqis however they want. BBC, I will say thank you for that fantastic programe.
Alan Mohamed, UK

Congratulations are due to Panorama yet again for delivering a hard-hitting, poignant film. I thought the scene where the American soldiers were trying to build a football pitch for the locals was so symbolic of precisely what is wrong the Allied approach towards rebuilding Iraq. With all the best intentions in the world, they have no understanding of the real needs of the war-torn community. It was heart-wrenching to see the footage of the Senior UN official who had died and to hear the views of the soldiers who are hopelessly trying to restore order. A superb documentary.
Natasha Fletcher, UK

An excellent programme which managed to cover so many ascects of the situation in Iraq from the humanity of US soldiers trying to restore some kind of society to the horrors of what some see as an occupation.
R Stevens, UK

This was very good balanced programme,that showed the hard task the coalition is facing. The heavy handness of iraqi nationas dismays me in it undermines the good project they have undertaken. However the treatment of the pick pocket and the detainees should not disturb people, this occurs on many a saturday in Britain, and locking innocent people up has occurred to many a British citizen in Europe never mind else where.
Paul, North England

I am in Iraqi lives in UK and I would like to say that the electricity and water hardly existed before liberation of Iraq and if they existed in certain times or certain areas they were used as weapons, which Saddam used to punish his own people if he thought they were not loyal to him. Many cities in the south of Iraq were punished by cutting off the electricity and water by the regime, so Iraq was not a paradise before the liberation. Before liberation of Iraq, Saddam released more than 100,000 criminals from prisons, they were murderers, rapist and thieves, so what do you expect from those criminals when they are on the streets with arms?

And there are thousands of Saddam┐s loyalists who want to turn Iraq back to Saddam┐s era. Therefore the coalition forces must use the force against those bad guys, because those bad guys only understand the language of force. I really admire what the coalition forces have done to Iraq, and we all should grate them and applaud them. Iraq was simply a dying country under the old regime; with its people are refugees, starving or prisoners.

Many times the coalition leadership said they do not intend to stay in Iraq, so we should give them a chance. The most cynical thing I hear is that the American are after Oil, well Saddam was ready to give everything including Oil to stay in power, so if the America were after oil they would not bother with this war. Stop this conspiracy theory.
Haider, UK

Congratulations on an excellent programme last night (28/09/03). Is there any likelihood that this will be screened in the USA at any time? It would be good for the flag waving, anthem singing people of the USA to see what their troops are really like in Iraq. Thank you.
Paul Beesley, UK

Excellent documentary. Although it sometimes feels like the BBC is taking sides. That's is not a problem as long as it is acknowleged.
Paul van Dillen, The Netherlands

The comment made over and over was that soldiers cannot be police officers, and this was shown very clearly in the programme. Soldiers work in a war zone, and that is what Iraq still is, whatever George W Bush may say. At least we get to switch the tv off; people living there cannot escape their misery. Thank you for a revealing documentary.
Nadeem Shaikh, UK

How is it that in the land of free speech so many don't believe that this Panorama programme would get an airing in the USA on mainstream TV. Curious isnt it?
Sally Jones, UK

As a newly married wife of a US soldier serving in Baghdad I sat in total dismay at the images and comments that filled the screen tonight. I personally want to just say my husband is a good man and it saddens me to see that his character is being tarnished by others that can't seem to have a lack of self control in the power department.
Mrs Lisa Epperson, UK

Some of the images shown here will stay with me for a while. American forces instill harmony the good old way, a drive by shooting. The conveyor belt morgue. If you don't co-operate, you won't get treatment. Surely something can be done about the blatant human rights abuses committed by the Americans here. Were there ANY lawyers watching?
I.Osman, UK

Congratulations Andy Davies and the whole production team at Panorama. A truly fine piece of journalism. As you would expect I did not enjoy it but I did need to be shown the reality. I am particularly moved by Sergio Vieira de Mello.
Jan, UK

The Iraq documentry tonight was very good, and the Americans do seem very heavy handed towards the Iraqi people. But I believe it is because they do not understand the Arab way of life, the Arabs are very proud people, so they will not like soldiers brandishing guns in their faces, however, the Iraqis should remember that six months ago, they would not have dared demonstrating the way the programme depicted them, because they would have been shot or put in jail and tortured. Saddam was an evil man, and the country of Iraq is well rid of him, and I am sure in another six months or so the Iraqi people will realise this.
Isebella Sowerby, England

Can't the Americans/British not relate this to situation to Belfast in the early 70s?
Dave, N. Ireland

Your programme was excellent. The reporter, whose name I sadly missed, asked all the uncomfortable questions, irrespective of which 'side' they represented. The depth and scope - the remit, covered so much of what the general news omits. I wanted to know how much of the Americans responses would ever be made known to Americans. You covered so much ground.

Freedom of expression is imperative and at least we, in this country, have that. The BBC, for all its faults, continues to lead. And, given those faults, can at least admit to one or two (Hutton enquiry), which is one or two more than the government.
Mark Walker, UK

The BBC has decided at the outset to be anti British and anti American, in a word "the enemy within". It took every opportunity to do that before the war, during the war and now after the war.
Mansour Ali, UK

Excellent programme. The bestial footage it showed, of film shot in a Saddam-era concentration camp, underlined just how much better and more civilised the American occupation is than the previous regime. Yet the programme also showed very well just why it is that the population is turning against the US. I'm staggered by the lack of preparation on the part of the Americans - especially when you consider they were secretly planning for this war since March 2002.
Richard Douglas, UK

Not so sure about the purpose of the programme, it was just like a video diary of a reporter in Baghdad. We keep hearing about negative stories, I guess it's more fashionable in media terms...the expectation of life to be perfect following the 35 years of brutal regime after just few months, and in the most volatile region in the world can be seen as pretty premature. Why did the programme never mention sabotaged terror activities of water and oil pipelines, coupled with the other relative peaceful parts of Iraq. I should also say that Saddam had over 100,000 loyal men with cash and weapons, so tell me how can you will sort it in just few months.
H Marph, England

I've just watched what I couldn't believe I was seeing. Do the mistakes of the past not serve as a lesson for the present? Can't the Americans/British not relate this to situation to Belfast in the early 70s? Send your sons to their death... and sleep well in your beds - you evil men. There will be no winners.
Dave, N. Ireland

After watching this programme tonight I was horrified to hear an American say there was security
Jennifer Rimell, UK

I found the programme on Baghdad patchy at best. There does seem to be an agenda amongst BBC staffers that the Americans are going to fall flat on their faces In Iraq, and the sooner they do, the sooner the typical BBC person will feel vindicated. What I found so unbalanced about the programme was that although it mentioned the lack of availability of electricity and sewer services it made no attempt to quantify the amount of post liberation sabotage by Saddam Loyalists.

The murder of the UN envoy Snr Sergio de Mello was treated as a proxy anti - US act, rather than as a predictable act by loyalists who want all non-Iraqis to withdraw - leaving them free to resume torture , murder and exploitation of their own people.

If the BBC's editorial staff stopped for one minute to pose the "qui bono?" question about the attack on the UN compound they would have worked out just which group could possibly benefit from this murderous act. Can we please go back to the old BBC way of objective coverage of world events, rather than this fundamentally anti-American view. The US is not perfect by any means but to take a position opposed to them requires more balanced analysis than was shown in this programme.
Mark Hanson, UK

Yet again the BBC continue to cover Iraq with the same negative approach, the trouble the occupation forces are experiencing is not the complete picture. Where are your reporters showing Universities, schools, hospitals, roads, power stations being rebuilt and opened and proving the success. The BBC are making a mockery of our nation allowing the sympathisers of Saddam in this country to send messages to Iraq explaining that the UK's own BBC are mocking the allied forces and showing their failings. It seems to me that the 6 billion the BBC gets is to high and out of proportion compared with the loyalty the BBC gives to its own nation. I for one will be sending letters to my MP on the subject that the BBC bosses needs to be accountable for the mess they are making and their purge of any person involved with the Iraq war.
David Spinks, UK

As the good doctor said at the end, there is a disaster here, just waiting to happen, because certain people went charging in with no forethought or consideration. I feel sorry for some of the American troops, some of whom are patently good people. The old phrase "lions led by donkeys" springs to mind again.
Bill, Wales

I just lost my husband a humanitarian worker in Iraq a couple of weeks ago. Ian, my, husband was working to clear the area of explosives to enable a school to be rebuilt. He was ambushed on the way home from work and shot six times with a special bullet that apparently is hard to come by. This bullet when it hits the human body splits into two, he had twelve major traumas to his body and head. It has been hinted it was professionals that had attacked him, as no ordinary Iraq would acquire this bullet.

After watching this programme tonight I was horrified to hear an American say there was security when your reporter questioned him. If there was how can they explain what happened to my husband. He was not an American or a soldier, he was hit to stop any help in rebuilding the country as was the UN building.

The Americans I saw tonight had no respect. The American soldier who was taking on so many roles when he was being interviewed, town major? counsellor? He laughs he has no qualifications, what are they playing at? They need the UN in full time until then many lives will still be lost. I travelled to many countries with my husband after conflicts, I saw what was left of Sarajevo, Kosovo, Bosnia, Albania, the UN did a great job with these people.

I am angrier than ever since watching Panorama tonight. The charity organisation my husband worked for MAG are still carrying on what Ian was unable to finish but I fear for their lives if these are professionals out their picking them off. Jennifer Rimell
Jennifer Rimell, United Kingdom

No matter how bad the situation is at the moment in Iraq, it cannot be worse than Saddam's era
R.G, Oxford

I watched the programme here in England. I have nothing but accolades for this inspired and deeply moving account of post-Saddam Iraq. I'm amazed at how the BBC got the US military to allow the filming to be done and thankful for the reporter's candid and persistent questioning of all the people involved. Sadly, I feel a programme like could never make it onto a US screen, where it is sorely needed.

The footage of Sergio Vieira de Mello was particularly poignant. The interview of Paul Bremer, the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, was also shocking, as he seemed to deny the facts that were all too obvious to the foot soldiers: that there is little law and order and the situation is becoming less and less clear. Thanks for one of the most remarkable, dramatic, and timely pieces of TV journalism I have ever seen. It should be required viewing for all US policy makers; indeed, it should be shown and debated openly in as many places as possible.
Bryan Tucker, USA

Hundreds of people were dying every day under Saddam's regime, so no matter how bad the situation is at the moment in Iraq, it cannot be worse than Saddam's era. people seem to forget that services (electricity, water, ...etc) hardly existed before the war and that was not the fault of the Americans. Millions of dollars of Iraq's own oil money was given to the UN every year under UN Resolution 986, supposedly for rebuilding Iraq and reducing the suffering of the people. Yet the ordinary Iraqi for years could hardly find any medicine or food. If the UN failed to alleviate the suffering then, I do not see how they could succeed now.

What Iraq needs is for the so called Arab nationalists and Islamist extremists to take their fight elsewhere and leave the people of Iraq alone, they have suffered enough for the name of the Arabs and Islam.

As an Iraqi, the last people I want to see in charge of rebuilding Iraq is the UN. They only know how to spend or rather waste money on their own fat salaries and ludicrous per diems.
R.G, Oxford

I have just watched your programme on Iraq. It was probably the best Panorama that I have ever seen. Thanks to all who helped to bring this to us.
Steve Sexty, England

Obviously I have no idea whether the American soldiers' behaviour shown in your documentary is typical, but those that were featured clearly have neither the temperament nor the ability to peace keep effectively. Don't they know that the world is watching, and judging them?

It is vital that human rights and cultural/religious traditions are respected - harsh detention camps and swearing at women on streets will only convince the Iraqi's that their promised freedom is nothing more than a dream, and that they should take up arms. Americans, of all people, should understand the attitude - it was Benjamin Franklin who said "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
Julian Tibble, England

I have to agree with the opinion that there is no better alternative to the US led program that is in place
Joel Curry, England

Oh Aye - reminiscent of Northern Ireland. . . The hooded gang members brandishing guns at the camera. The camera team wandering about and sticking microphones into peoples faces. But I didn't see any objective setting of the scene. Why was the Mosque blown up with over 100 bystanders not mentioned. What are the factions at work in Iraq and what are their groupings. I didn't see microphones being stuck into their faces. Reminiscent of Northern Ireland all right another reporter chasing an easy story and painting his own picture - but I wonder what was left on the cutting room floor and I wonder who he didn't go on to the street and interview. But that would only get in the way of objective journalism
John Copeland, Scotland

I watched your programme tonight and it was both intelligent and moving. Whatever I post on your website will not change anything, what suggestions can you give me to help change things and to make these voices heard? Whenever I read about this situation it demands some sort of solution, I need to understand what sort of channels people can go through to make these things change. All these comments need to be used for some sort of greater good or else what was your programme for? Any suggestions about what we can do to make our voices heard would be gratefully received. Please do not let all of this feeling go to waste.
Tanya van Langenberg, U.K.

Powerful thought provoking shocking, what a complete mess.
Richard Oxenham, England

A well put together documentary which has shown the truth regarding the occupation of Iraq. What was striking was the horror on the face of the children of Iraq who are watching their fathers and brothers die at the hands of the American military. This begs the question...what will the youth of Iraq grow up thinking about the west? I was always told that two wrongs do not make a right...I suppose that this is true..if Saddam Hussein was wrong...so is the current occupation by the Americans and British.
Shazad Ajml, England

This was a well balanced documentary that showed many aspects of the state of affairs. Such a thoughtful piece of journalism is rare. I am afraid I have to agree with the opinion that there is no better alternative to the US led program that is in place. Let us not forget the evil of the regime that has fallen.
Joel Curry, England

Surely it is now time for a United Nations peacekeeping force to be sent into Iraq
David Curran, Bradford

I have never seen a more openly biased hatchet job than your Panorama effort this evening. How many hours of footage did you take? It seems patently clear that you have selected only one side of it for viewing - the negative.

Don't get me wrong, there are appalling problems and we need to see them. Criticism is also fine - indeed, it can help to change things for the better. However, tonight was not a balanced view or even a critique. It was about as biased as possible. I remember well your reporting of the mid part of the war when coalition troops appeared to being getting bogged down and the supply chain was being attacked. All was doom and gloom and yet two weeks later, the centre Baghdad was taken and the war effectively over.

I have no doubt that in 18 months time from the war's end, life for the average Iraqi will be much better than anything they have known over the past 10 years since the Gulf War. I would usually trust the BBC to show this also. However, I have serious doubts right now. Even when things do improve, I'm sure your reporters will manage to ignore all the hard effort and take what has been done for granted, asking for yet more all the while.
Jeremy Low, UK

My compliments with the excellent documentary, the in-depth and on-the-ground investigations gave me the feeling of being there for a few moments. I was terribly shocked with some of the images, especially the interrogation scene at the hospital and the shooting at the shop in Baghdad. It made me angry, sick. However, I am grateful for journalists who take the effort to show us these realities, even when they are ugly and disturbing. Thanks.
Wouter Schaap, Netherlands

What a great programme. Surely it is now time for a United Nations peacekeeping force to be sent into Iraq. We must have international cooperation to ensure Iraqi people get the best possible start. The programme highlighted what happens when soldiers who are not trained peacekeepers attempt to keep the peace. Unfortunately, it is hard to see the political powers that be yielding power to the UN. This political greed will no doubt cost more lives on all sides.
David Curran, Bradford, GB

Classic BBC documentary: journalist parachutes in, speaks largely to US military and personnel, and to a few Iraqi civilians. Not a very balanced picture of what is going on the ground--only a few hints of the true picture. The repeated reference by Andy Davies to "foreign fighters" in Iraq received no substantiation (sounds like what he was told by US personnel). Moreover, several publications, some regional specialists, others US based weekly new magazines, have been providing much better descriptions of resistance groups in Iraq for more than two months now. The best Davies could get was a couple of video recordings. Come on, you can do better than this!
Professor P V Coveney, University College London, U.K.

Usual Anti-American Editorial
S Wainstein, England

An enlightening report that illustrates military forces are not equipped to take on the role as peace keepers. A powerful documentary, which recorded some horrific and chilling images - one can only imagine what goes on when the cameras are not present!
Michael Briden, England

A brilliant, if sickening programme. Not sure if it had the intention but you could not help at the end feeling an even deeper sense of shame at the supposedly honourable intentions of apparently wise leaders that makes us all feel complicit in the chaos and carnage we have brought to the country and its already traumatised population.
Nadim Chaudry, United Kingdom,

An absolutely superb documentary. One of the first I have seen which accurately reflects not only the current near-anarchy in Baghdad and the arrogance of the Americans, but the sure and genuine justice of their fight to defeat Saddam Hussein. In the long term - as long as we and the US don't withdraw too soon - history must record on balance that the right thing was done.
James Goode, England

This was a very enlightening programme. What surprised me was the American attitude to their own occupation of Iraq. It seemed they had little understanding of how to treat civilians, and little respect for local culture and attitudes. The military talked as if only force will solve Iraq's problems. This approach is hopelessly short-sighted. It would be better if the US military tried to consider how they would react if the US was occupied by force. The truth is that they, like any of us, would fight any occupying power that was trying to impose it's own culture or values on us.
Nicholas, UK

I think one of the gravest mistakes the coalition forces are making is to assume that all opposition directed to them is by al-Qaeda. Logistically, it would be impossible for a single group to be committing terrorist acts in so many countries at the same time. You have to understand the mentality of brotherhood that exists within Islam, the Prophet stated himself that Islam is like a single body, when one part is ill, the whole body feels sick, and many people adhere to this principle. The outsiders fighting alongside the Iraqi's do not think of themselves as terrorists but rather feel that they are simply helping their brothers and sisters to overcome the aggressors.
Munsoor Alvi, United Kingdom

A truly excellent programme and should be required viewing for everyone...so why relegate it to being shown late on Sunday evening?
Alison Simpson, UK

Usual Anti-American Editorial. Classic example: Scene 1, BBC reporter is outraged US Soldiers will not stop celebratory gunfire at wedding.

Scene 2 (30 secs later) : BBC reporter is outraged US Soldiers carry out raids to find weapons at unsociable hour. These two points are exactly contradictory, but if you are producing biased editorial, logic is irrelevant.
S Wainstein, England

No wonder al-Qaeda will flourish there if they continue to treat Iraqi citizens like that
Dr K.Sivanesan, UK

It is programmes like this that will hopefully make the difference.
Gary Brown, UK

The ex-chief of police was a disgrace with a Gung ho American attitude. He must be removed from his duties immediately before he can inflict more damage than he has already. If America call themselves the peace loving nation that they proclaim to be then the program showed them in their true colours.
Nigel Stones, England

Congratulations on a brave and brilliant piece of work. What on earth has happened to this country that this dreadful government is now targeting yourselves for daring to expose the truth of our glorious "occupation?" Well done and do not be intimidated.
Bill Williams, UK

Thanks for producing this excellent programme.... keep up the good work...it would be nice to see programmes like this shown at peak-viewing times.

It saddens me that programmes like this are always shown late at night, and as such, does not reach an audience that issues like this should reach. I only hope that your correspondents do not suffer any harm on their assignments, and that they keep investigating issues like this that are largely not covered by mainstream media outlets.
Patrick Macdonald, Scotland

Well done BBC again. I was really saddened to see the daily life/death of ordinary people. I am pretty sure both UK/USA will have to pay the price for killing innocent people. Tony Blair/Bush will have to suffer one day the way innocent people in Iraq. no wonder al-Qaeda will flourish there if they continue to treat Iraqi citizens like that. There is no respect for humanity at all.
Dr K.Sivanesan, UK

How can someone who is there on a mission to help the people of Iraq not keep track of how many civilians have been killed by coalition troops
Richard Moore, UK

An incredible film. I only wish this could get a prime time broadcast slot in America. Unfortunately the bias of their media would never allow it.
Clare, London, UK

Thanks for a powerful and deeply troubling documentary. It seems the price is becoming too heavy to be sustained. I am writing this through my tears of sadness for a great country and a profoundly beautiful people.
Tristan, Scotland

This was a fantastic insight into the true life of ordinary civilians in Baghdad. The Americans are too out of touch with the Iraqi cultures, traditions and religion, and this is a major cause of tension between them. I only hope the U.N. can take control over the situation soon. Sergio Vieira de Mello is sorely missed.
Dina Ramatalla, U.K

We have another Vietnam on our hands. As the programme mentioned, it has become a battlefield for religious fanatics to take revenge on the US. Any ideas how the US could save face and walk away? the Pandora's box has been opened.
B Gill, England

I thought this was a superbly put together documentary. Not at all pleasant, not sensationalist but it conveyed just how bad things have got in Iraq. The thing I found most troubling was the attitude of the coalition's chosen leaders. For one thing, how can someone who is there on a mission to help the people of Iraq not keep track of how many civilians have been killed by coalition troops? The words arrogant and complacent don't even come close.
Richard Moore, UK

They are not suitable peacekeepers as they are not trained for this kind of what is police work
Steve Fuller, England

Congratulations to Andy Davies and the production team for an excellent programme on Iraq. The great loss of Sergio Vieira de Mello was underlined by his thoughtful comments. But the question remains: given that the invasion happened and Saddam was removed, what is the way to proceed? The only answer is that the UN must be transformed, beefed up, given peace enforcement as well as peace keeping and mopping-up powers. Perhaps now the US, having to turn to the institution it has so clearly despised of late, will realise that it must support and strengthen the UN.
Angela, Ireland

What a programme...The CPA needs a reality check. America is NOT restoring law and order. Some of the soldiers' behaviour is downright disgusting. Murdering, swearing at little old ladies - all part of the game. But hey, who cares? We're Americans with God on our side.
E. Tolboom, UK

Your programme has demonstrated that we, the British, are now accomplices to the atrocities being committed in Iraq. The time for the people of Britain to speak, and for Blair to actually listen for once, is coming soon. Last one to leave the country, please turn out the light. There is no hope while certain people remain in power.
Peter, England

Andy Davies's report tonight was the first time that viewers could see the reality of life on the front line for American soldiers in Baghdad. From what I have seen they are not suitable peacekeepers as they are not trained for this kind of what is police work.

They are fully trained soldiers and it showed. They are all under a lot of pressure, as we saw, not all Iraqi people want them in their country. The soldiers I thought were shooting at Iraqi people and at times killing them when it was not necessary as has been admitted by some in the film. We were told that life would be better for the Iraqi people without Saddam Hussein, but it does not appear to be the case for many of them at present.

There is not a full supply of electricity and water still, and there are continuing food shortages. Hospitals are short of equipment and in some cases closed. People are suffering, and some have stated that it is worse now than under Saddam Hussein. I have always thought that not enough thought went into post war Iraq by the Coalition. I think that both America and Britain are going to be in Iraq a lot longer than was ever planned before the start of the war.
Steve Fuller, England

Thank you for putting this Iraq documentary on television. It has come across how barbaric and Unjust the Americans are. I think they are just after the oil and this so called war is was a sham. How many people have to die to get George Bush to stop dictating to the world. Thanks again.
Anne Stockdale, England

The price of victory
10 Sep 03 |  Panorama
'An occupation cannot last'
26 Sep 03 |  Panorama
Iraq: Two sides of the same coin
25 Sep 03 |  Panorama
Your comments
25 Sep 03 |  Panorama

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