After exploring the Watergate scandal, the impeachment of Bill Clinton, and more, the podcast Slow Burn will offer a beat-by-beat accounting of the years leading up to the Iraq War when it returns for its fifth season, April 21st.
Reporter Noreen Malone helmed this investigation, which will examine how the Iraq War — now widely considered a disaster — was launched with tremendous support. The new trailer highlights interviews with people who remain staunch defenders of the invasion, as well as those who voiced early objections but didn’t get very far with them. The clip also touches on the post-9/11 anthrax scare that helped fuel further support for the war and seems to nod toward the lies that surrounded America’s claims that Iraq was harboring weapons of mass destruction.
In an email interview with Rolling Stone, Malone said she wanted to explore the run-up to the Iraq War specifically because of how peculiar the vast support for the war looks in retrospect. She noted it wasn’t just Republican politicians and commentators who were in favor of the war, but a wide array of respected journalists and others across the political spectrum.
“This started as a bit of an investigation for me — why exactly had they believed what they did?” Malone said. “What have we forgotten about that moment? What looks different now through the lens of recent history?”
As for the repercussions of that 2001 to 2003 period (as opposed to the Iraq War as a whole), Malone said she was struck by how many people involved in the invasion were “more sincere in their intentions than we tend to believe in hindsight.” She continued, “But I think that common perception of malintent actually speaks to what was broken in that time — trust in government to tell the truth, and to get the facts right, and to act in the best interest of Americans and the world. Not to mention that the failure to properly plan out for a post-invasion Iraq didn’t exactly make people think our government was capable of effective action on large-scale projects. That period of time also probably helped erode trust in the media, which largely failed to actually investigate claims from the government at the time. A lot of what’s happened in our politics since can, unfortunately, be chalked up to that distrust.”
Among the people Malone interviewed for Season Five of Slow Burn are former George W. Bush White House official Frank Miller (a special assistant to Bush, and Senior Director for Defense policy and Arms on the National Security Council staff), Senators Tom Daschle and Dick Durbin, journalists Dan Rather, Bill Kristol and Ann Curry, and intellectuals like Kanan Makiya, an Iraqi academic who was one of the leading voices in America advocating for the other throw of Saddam Hussein.