Baghdad Diary



10 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17
History Channel

The good idea behind "Baghdad Diary" is that it views a single momentous event as it unfolds from diametrically opposite perspectives. The event here is the invasion of Iraq over the course of about a month in late March and early April 2003.

Sandra and Joseph Consentino of Consentino Films combined footage that was shot at about the same time by NBC cameraman Craig White and Baghdad taxi driver Fadil Kadom. Fadil, given a camcorder by a Norwegian journalist, bravely recorded his extended family as they moved to a safer house and, especially, the chaos that followed the invasion.

White was embedded with the Army's 3rd Infantry Division as it made its way from the Kuwaiti border to Baghdad. Both men shared their thoughts and fears. Neither of them, it turns out, expected the looting, destruction and ethnic warfare that was about to consume the country.

Apart from the unique concept and the careful editing, the two-hour History Channel program is valuable for the context it provides. The Consentinos include the bellicose speeches by President Bush, the initial appreciation of Iraqis grateful to be out from under Saddam Hussein's tyranny and the complete and utter lack of planning that followed the takeover of the country. If it doesn't provide answers, at least it makes clear how we got into this situation.