ABC miniseries blames Clinton for 9/11
A key scene in "The Path to 9/11" involves President Clinton's national security adviser Samuel Berger, "who freezes in dithering apprehension" when a CIA agent radios in from Afghanistan to say that he and a group of local tribesmen "have Osama bin Laden within sight." The CIA character "begs for the green light to capture or kill the al Qaeda chieftain, but the line goes dead, suggesting that Berger and his colleagues, including Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and Defense Secretary William S. Cohen, frozen in indecision, had hung up on the CIA man." According to Richard Clarke - former counterterrorism czar under Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II, and now counterterrorism adviser to ABC - this depiction is "utterly invented" and "180 degrees from what happened." In a statement posted on ThinkProgress, Clarke stated that there were no U.S. military or CIA personnel on the ground in Afghanistan who ever saw bin Laden, and that contrary to the movie, "the CIA Director actually said that he could not recommend a strike on the camp because the information was single sourced and we would have no way to know if bin Laden was in the target area by the time a cruise missile hit it." In fact, as 9/11 Commission member Richard Ben-Veniste pointed out yesterday, the commission actually found that President Clinton had given the green light to every "operation that had been cleared by the C.I.A. to kill bin Laden." In other words, ABC invented from whole cloth a scene which makes the incendiary claim that the Clinton administration passed on a surefire chance to kill or catch bin Laden.
There are other falsehoods and misrepresentations in "The Path to 9/11." In one scene, a CIA character complains that "ever since the Washington Post disclosed that we intercepted his calls, [Osama bin Laden] stopped using phones altogether." In fact, the 9/11 Commission found that the Washington Times - "the capital’s unabashedly conservative newspaper" - actually published the story about bin Laden's phone, not the Washington Post. More importantly, that story has since been discredited, though it is still cited by conservative politicians and pundits (including President Bush) "seeking to impose greater restrictions on the news media." The heavy political slant in "The Path to 9/11" is also clear from the reviews. Rush Limbaugh cheerily relayed that "the film really zeros in on the shortcomings of the Clinton administration in doing anything about militant Islamofascism or terrorism during its administration." A Salon.com review found the film portrayed the Bush administration in a strongly positive light, while painting Clinton “as a buffoon more interested in blow jobs than terrorists.”
The writer of "The Path to 9/11" is an unabashed conservative named Cyrus Nowrasteh. Last year, Nowrasteh spoke on a panel titled, “Rebels With a Cause: How Conservatives Can Lead Hollywood’s Next Paradigm Shift.” He has described Michael Moore as “an out-of-control socialist weasel,” and conducted interviews with right-wing Web sites like FrontPageMag. Though he claims the film is an "objective" historical presentation, Nowrasteh also said it shows how Clinton had “frequent opportunities…in the 90s to stop Bin Laden in his tracks - but lacked the will to do so.” He has referenced Clinton’s “lack of response” to Al Qaeda “and how this emboldened Bin Laden to keep attacking American interests.”
Complaints about the film began last week and "only grew louder over the Labor Day weekend, filling a blog site that ABC had set up as a forum for debate," CQ reported. "On Sunday ABC pulled down the blog without explanation, and then re-established it Tuesday, also without explanation." Also yesterday, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) called on ABC to "come clean" about the miniseries and run a disclaimer stating that it "does not represent an official account of the facts surrounding the September 11th attacks." ABC released a statement saying that the miniseries was “a dramatization, not a documentary, drawn from a variety of sources," and said it "planned to run a disclaimer with the broadcast, reminding viewers that the movie was not a documentary." But major problems remain. For instance, ABC is sending letters to 100,000 high school teachers urging them to tell their students how they can view the program. Most American high school students weren’t even teenagers when the 9/11 attacks occured - now ABC is trying to present those students with its slanted and inaccurate version of history.
This is wrong, and you can fight back. Tell ABC to tell the truth about 9/11, by signing the letter at http://thinkprogress.org/tellabc.