Clinton Administration Assails ABC’s “Path to 9/11″

Howard Kurtz at the Washington Post is reporting this morning that former members of the Clinton administration have joined with members of the 9/11 Commission in pointing out glaring inaccuracies in ABC’s upcoming “Path to 9/11.”

Former secretary of state Madeleine K. Albright called one scene involving her “false and defamatory.” Former national security adviser Samuel R. “Sandy” Berger said the film “flagrantly misrepresents my personal actions.” And former White House aide Bruce R. Lindsey, who now heads the William J. Clinton Foundation, said: “It is unconscionable to mislead the American public about one of the most horrendous tragedies our country has ever known.”

ABC’s entertainment division said the six-hour movie, “The Path to 9/11,” will say in a disclaimer that it… contains “fictionalized scenes.” But the disclaimer also says the movie is based on the Sept. 11 commission’s report, although that report contradicts several key scenes.

Berger said in an interview that ABC is “certainly trying to create the impression that this is realistic, but it’s a fabrication.”

The Post article further points out that, quite possibly in an antempt to quel criticism of the movie, the network refused to give them advance copies of the movie although advanced copies were given to conservatives like Rush Limbaugh and conservative blogs.

Further, according to Kurtz, the network only consulted with Republicans on the project and not with Democrats – not even Democrats on the 9/11 commission. However, on 9/11 commissioner who has seen the movie, Richard Ben-Veniste, says the film is “inaccurate.”

From the Center For American Progress:

KEY SCENE SAYS CLINTON ADMINISTRATION BLEW SUREFIRE CHANCE TO KILL BIN LADEN: 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.

INACCURACIES AND BIAS RIFE IN FILM: 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. Radio host 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 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 websites 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.”

ABC FEELING THE PRESSURE: 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.


Greg Sargent at TPMcafe has a statement from Bill Clinton via Clinton spokesman Jay Carson concerning “The Path To 9/11.”

The record shows that President Clinton was committed to and focused on stopping terrorism every day,” Carson emailed us, “and that his administration had many significant successes on this front, and he expects that any serious treatment of history would reflect that.

I believe a simple comparison of quotes from three officials who worked for both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush is in order. First, Army Lt. Gen. Donald Kerrick, who had come from top posts on the Joint Staff and the Defense Intelligence Agency to manage Clinton’s National Security Council staff and who remained at the NSC after George W. Bush took office.

Clinton’s Cabinet advisers, burning with the urgency of their losses to bin Laden in the African embassy bombings in 1998, had met nearly weekly to direct the fight… Among Bush’s first-line advisers, candidly speaking I didn’t detect that kind of focus. That’s not being derogatory. It’s just a fact.

Next, Roger Cressey — a top counterterrorism official to Bush II and Clinton, appearing on Scarborough Country last night:

it’s amazing, based on what I’ve seen so far is how much they’ve gotten wrong. They got the small stuff wrong such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed instructing Ahmed Rassam to carry out the millenium attacks. Then they got the big stuff wrong, this fantasy about how we had a CIA officer and the Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Massoud looking at Bin Laden and they breathlessly call the White House to say we need to take him out and the White House said no. I mean it’s sheer fantasy. So, if they want to critique the Clinton administration and the Bush administration, based on fact, I think that’s fine. But what ABC has done here is something straight out of Disney and fantasyland. It’s factually wrong. And that’s shameful.

Finally, Richard Clarke, former counterterrorism czar for Bush I, Clinton and Bush II, and now counterterrorism adviser to ABC:

Contrary to the movie, no US military or CIA personnel were on the ground in Afghanistan and saw bin Laden.. Contrary to the movie, the head of the Northern Alliance, Masood, was no where near the alleged bin Laden camp and did not see UBL… 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.


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