The Sundance Channel, to commemorate Sunday's third anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq, is offering four efforts meant to show that the U.S. mission is misbegotten, mean-spirited and doomed to failure.
In the parlance of the troops, the programmers at Sundance clearly think the mission is FUBAR, which, cleaned up slightly, means Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition.
As a package, it's a heavy blast of advocacy without much attempt at journalistic balance and thus not likely to convince anyone who is not already in the Rumsfeld-is-the-devil camp. But if that fits your politics, sit back and enjoy the night.
The opener is "Big Storm: The Lynndie England Story," a sympathetic look at the Army reservist from West Virginia who became the poster girl for the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal. That was her grinning and pointing in the infamous pictures of naked prisoners.
Dolled up with makeup and looking semi-sweet, England comes across as naive and pitiful yet also manipulative and lacking in a fit set of morals. She's shown in a rocking chair with her newborn, fathered by one of the guards at Abu Ghraib.
England insists she thought the humiliation of prisoners was part of an officially sanctioned plan to get them to cough up information about terrorist plots. Besides, all the kids were doing it.
"It wasn't right but apparently it wasn't uncommon enough to stop," she says.
"Big Storm," by Dutch documentarian Twan Huys, is after bigger game than England. Its thesis, hardly a new one, is that the real culprits were Rumsfeld and President Bush for countenancing, even ordering, the use of torture.
Janis Karpinski, the reserve general who was in charge of Abu Ghraib, makes a compelling case that she was the fall guy for actions of subordinates such as England and also for top generals who were desperate for intelligence from prisoners.
For the record: "Big Storm" was finished before England was convicted in September and sentenced to three years in jail. She's now in the brig in San Diego.
"Occupation: Dreamland," by Ian Olds and the late Garrett Scott, is the rightfully acclaimed documentary that follows eight soldiers from the Army's 82nd Airborne Division patrolling Fallouja in the early months of 2004 before the Marines from Camp Pendleton took over.
It's an intimate look at how these particular soldiers talk and act and at their hopes and fears. Be prepared for lots of the F-word and lots of barracks griping.
"Cher's not hot, she's scary," says one soldier, and who can disagree?
A Fallouja resident tries to butter up the soldiers to avoid arrest. The soldiers aren't buying.
" ... this guy, zip him up," says one soldier, using lingo for putting plastic handcuffs on the guy's wrists and a bag over his head.
The problem with "Occupation" is that it cannot resist stretching for the Big Meaning, extrapolating from the experiences and gripes of eight soldiers that the U.S. mission is futile. Would that it were that easy to decide whether the efforts of 140,000-plus troops are working or if the difficult, complicated mission is truly in the best interests of the U.S.
Rounding out the long night are filmmaker Tim Carter's "Torture: The Guantanamo Guidebook," a simulation of what Carter presumes U.S. interrogation tactics to be, and "Embedded/Live," director-actor Tim Robbins' slam at the Pentagon and reporters who covered the troops.
Somewhere, Michael Moore must be smiling.
"Big Storm" and "Occupation: Dreamland"
Where: Sundance Channel
When: 'Big Storm' 9 to 10 p.m. and 'Dreamland' 10 to 11:30 p.m. Sunday
Ratings: TV-14 (may be unsuitable for children under the age of 14)