The Columbia Critic

A place to debate anything we want to. We'll talk Columbia campus issues. We'll talk up the homosexual problem. We'll talk China. And we'll talk without resorting to partisan rhetoric. We may be left. We may be right. But we aren't going to be quoting any party line. We're leading the discussion. But feel free to chime in. Hannity and Colmes this is not.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Path to 9/11

Tonight ABC began it's 2-part mini series looking back at 9/11, bringing viewers "behind closed doors at the CIA, the FBI and the White House and into the world of Richard Clarke, Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice, Dick Cheney, Sandy Berger and CIA Director Richard Tenet". This is however not a documentary and has been filed under "docu-drama". "Docu-drama" apparently is another termed used to describe a historically based film where the writer and producers were able to take liberties fabricating history.

Now "The Path to 9/11" is advertised as having Governor Thomas Kean, Chairman of the 9/11 Commission, as the senior consultant. One would expect that such a film would be honest and try to represent the facts as clearly and undistorted as possible; writer, Cyrus Nowrasteh, even said that he was trying to preserve the tone of the 9/11 Commission's report. What then do Governor Kean and Nowrasteh know that the rest of us do not? ABC's series frames the path to 9/11 as centering around the failings on the Clinton administration, claiming that the administration and intelligence agencies had numerous opportunities to capture/kill Osama Bin Laden but failed to do so for reasons of politics and logistics.

The Clinton administration did not have superior intelligence agencies to that which was on hand for President George W. Bush, the problems existing with inter-agency communication was then as much of a problem as it is now, but to frame the blame on President Clinton, Madeleine Albright, and Sandy Berger is ridiculous. By not labeling the series as a documentary, they are able to get away with a lot while still delivering a powerful message to the American public. There is and never has been any evidence that our military, covert agents, etc. were ever in a position to get Bin Laden. "CIA agents weren't on the ground, they weren't with Massoud, nobody had bin Laden in their grasp, and Berger never refused to give the order to get the guy."

The outrage over this film is extremely vocal. Inaccuracies from this film are tantamount to libel, it is outrageous how much blame is placed upon Berger and Albright. It is one thing if it was historically accurate, it is another to fabricate it for dramatic effect; however this is not just for dramatic effect as hesitation on Clinton's national security team's part is the crux of the plot.

Many have spoken out, including Albright and Berger, 9/11 Commissioner Richard Ben Veniste (Chief of Watergate Task Force), a slew of top university historians, friends of agent John O'Neill, the FBI agents who left their advisory positions on the series citing gross inaccuracies and unwillingness of the producers to alter the script, a lot of conservative pundits including (suprisingly) Chris Wallace and Bill O'Reilly. What do Keane and Nowrasteh know that everyone else does not?

This film is particularly outrageous because of the position that 9/11 holds in the American psyche. Many events are still unclear and many widows, friends and family are still seeking closure and for ABC to air a "docu-drama" that is riddled with inaccuracy is hurtful to everyone. It is entirely possible that this film be taken as a factual reference point that serves as the majority of America's recollection of the September 11, 2001. For that reason it should have been important to the producers, writer, and ABC that historical accuracy be well maintained and that fictional dramatic liberty be held to areas of the inconsequential. However, it is not surprising that this has occurred as writer, Cyrus Nowrasteh, was a member of the panel: "How Conservatives Can Lead Hollywood'’s Next Paradigm Shift". I hope America pays attention and does not let the wool cover their eyes to what is the truth and what is not.


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