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September 07, 2006

"The Path To 9/11:" Hollywood Blows It?

Via Just One Minute, The NYT reports that ABC might just cut all the scenes that offend the Clintonites.

Three members of the Clinton administration have written the chief executive of the Walt Disney Company, ABC’s parent, to complain that the network’s coming two-part miniseries “The Path to 9/11” is fraught with factual errors and fabrications.

The letters ask that the five-hour movie, scheduled for broadcast Sunday and Monday, be either edited for accuracy or canceled, and ABC gave a small indication yesterday that some changes might be made.

One of the officials, former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, said in her letter to the Disney executive, Robert A. Iger, that although she had requested a copy of the film, ABC had not given her one. But, Ms. Albright said, she has been told by people who have seen it that it “depicts scenes that never happened, events that never took place, decisions that were never made and conversations that never occurred.”

“It asserts as fact things that are not fact,” she wrote.

The concerns of Ms. Albright, as well as those expressed in letters from Samuel R. Berger, former national security adviser, and Bruce R. Lindsey, a Clinton White House aide now with the Clinton Foundation, were echoed yesterday by several Democratic members of Congress.

ABC, meanwhile, continued to explain that the mini-series, though largely drawn from the report of the Sept. 11 commission, was a dramatization, not a documentary.

But the network appeared to be leaving the door open to last-minute changes in the film.

“It is common practice to continue to make edits to strengthen a project right up to the broadcast date,” said Hope Hartman, an ABC spokeswoman.

The scene that seems to be most complained about depicts Clinton's advisors refusing to give the greenlight to US troops who are in position to capture or kill bin Ladin.

The Clintonites insist such an event never took place -- that there were never any soldiers in position to make such a capture or kill, and that the entire debate over greenlighting the action is entirely fabricated.

I hate to admit this, but I think they're right. But see update at end of post; they may not be right after all.



I am not very familiar with the 9/11 report, but I never read of such an event before. Kinda-sorta similar events, yes: Clinton refusing Sudan's offer to deliver bin Ladin into US custody, due to concerns the US did not have a proper legal indictment against him and thus had no firm legal basis for holding him (apart, of course, for declaring war on the US and arranging terrorist attacks against us); Clinton's security advisors putting off a cruise missile strike on a bin Ladin camp until the people there had left, so as not to deal with the political consequences of killing wives and children of terrorists who were likely present. So instead we just bombed empty buildings.

Similar in spirit, yes. But not actually the same event depicted in the movie.

If there is any factual basis for this specific event, I don't know of it. No one to my knowlege has argued against the Clintonites citing a page of the 9/11 report describing this alleged event. I have a simple method for determing facts that works quite well: When someone makes an allegation, and their opponents do not directly challenge or refute it, that allegation can be taken as true 99.9% of the time, because their opponents would certainly have refuted the allegation if they could.

Whenever I see or read debate on this scene, the Clintonites say it simply didn't happen, and their opponents or interviewers change the subject, or else resort to saying it's a "composite" scene that reflects the "spirit" of the truth.

So, having never heard of this particular incident before, and watching and reading Clinton opponents continually fail to address the allegation of wholesale fabrication head-on, I conclude, provisionally, at least until someone cites chapter and verse, that it simply did not happen.

Which is a problem. Because while one can say the scene is in the "spirit" of the factual record, one cannot say it's actually part of the factual record.

Which leads me to believe the scene will ultimately be cut, and, worse yet, I can't even complain too loudly about it.

The scene will be cut, thus taking out of the film any strong criticism of Clinton. And there's no time to replace it with a factually accurate scene, such as Clintonites deciding to refuse Sudan's extradition offer, or delaying a missile strike supposedly launched to "get bin Ladin" until a time at which it was known there would be no chance whatsoever of getting bin Ladin.

Thus, the juiced-up scene will be chopped, and no factual scene offered as a replacement. Due to a bad decision by the filmmakers to go Hollywood and indulge in "composite dramatization" of a very serious charge rather than sticking to the actual facts (which are quite damning in themselves), Clinton will be entirely absolved of almost all blame in "The Path to 9/11."

A juicy conspiracy theory can be propsed -- the scene was inserted, knowing that it would have to be cut, so that the filmmakers can claim "we tried to be fair, but we made a mistake" resulting in letting Clnton skate in the docudrama -- but I don't buy it. It was just a stupid, boneheaded mistake that will result in the continuing whitewash of Clinton's lethargic, anemic, disengaged response to bin Ladin and the coming mass-murders of 9/11.

Even when Hollywood attempts to be balanced and poltically neutral, they fuck us over.


Update: This NewsBusters piece suggests the event depicted is more closely based on real events than I had thought, but still the scene is not actually accurate, if I'm reading it right.

I'm making some inferences, which I think are reasonable.

First of all, these answers come from anti-semite anti-American CIA squealer Michael Scheuer, which should give some pause in taking them at face value. However, on a simple factual issue, to which he was a party, I'm willing to say he's likely telling the truth.

The problem is that he's not talking about a plan minutes away from final execution -- that is, US troops in position to capture Osama, and Sandy Berger refusing to greenlight the operation. Rather, he's talking about a planned operation that never went fully operational. It was scuttled earlier in the process, before troops were on Osama's doorestep. Before they even were in Afghanistan, it seems.

That's just inference based on his answers to NewsBuster's questions, but he seems to always be talking about a "plan" and not an "operation" in its last stages.

So: There does seem to be a stronger factual record for the scene depicted in the film (And, mind you, I'm going on hearsay reports of what the scene depicts; I could be wrong, it could be that the scene never implies that troops are ready to take out bin Ladin.) But there does not seem to be any factual record of US troops just minutes away from capturing or killing bin Ladin, if only Sandy Berger would give the go-code.

It could be that the scene actually depicts what Scheuer says the true events were, i.e. a plan rather than an actual operation-in-progress scuttled by Sandy Berger and company for legal and politcal reasons. If that's the case, then the film is, in fact, quite accurate, minus little bits of necessary speculation as to how these debates specifically played out. No one was there with a recorder, after all.

And it could be, then, that Albright, Berger, and Ben Veniste are simply lying when they claim the film depicts events that didn't happen.

I don't know. I haven't seen it. I'll check again to see what has been reported, precisely, about the film's depiction of this episode.

Thanks to Mike In Appalachia.

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posted by Ace at 11:21 AM

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