Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Path to 9/11

This is the name of a docudrama coming to ABC to be showing on the 10th and the 11th, presumably to commemerate September 11th. The right wing is very pleased with it, as it lays the blame for September 11 right where it belongs (in their minds). Consider this passage from Hugh Hewitts latest article.
As a very accurate docudrama, "The Path to 9/11" has drawn the deep anger of the Clinton political machine. Representatives of that era have been demanding at a minimum edits and some outright cancellation of the program. Monica Lewinsky makes an appearance, you see, as does Bill Clinton's videotaped testimony about his perjury. National Security Advisor Sandy Berger is portrayed as indecisive, Madeleine Albright as misdirected, George Tenet as sputtering.
And here's Brent Bozells take on this program.
Both Clinton and Bush officials come under fire, and if it seems more anti-Clinton, that's only because they were in office a lot longer than Team Bush before 9-11.
Brent Bozell doesn't show his cards as much as Hugh Hewitt. Obviously the program has to seem to be fair to be credible; otherwise it can be attacked as propaganda. Brent Bozell, being somewhat media savvy understands this. Hugh Hewitt doesn't. And Rush Limbaugh really doesn't.

The game plan in defending this movie is pretty straightforward though. Portray those who criticize the movie as a small clique of Clinton Loyalists, unwilling to allow their hero to be tarnished even slightly. Even though the movie takes shots at both the Bush's and the Clintons, Democrats aren't willing to shoulder their part of the blame.

That's not exactly the problem. The problem is that the movie distorts the Clinton Years. One key scene involves Sandy Berger receiving a call that Heroic and Manly CIA agents had Osama Bin Ladin in their sights and they requested the White House give them permission to open fire. The White House, personified by Sandy Berger, dithers and eventually fails to give permission to off Bin Ladin. Sheldon Rampton gives a more accurate version of what happened in an article at AlterNet.
The only problem with this "perfect example," which Murty praises because it "honestly depicts how the Clinton administration repeatedly bungled the capture of Osama Bin Laden," is that it didn't happen. In reality, it was CIA director George Tenet, not Berger, who called off the operation, which never got anywhere near "surrounding Bin Laden's house in Afghanistan." According to the 9/11 commision report on which the movie is supposedly based, Tenet told us that, given the recommendation of his chief operations officers, he alone had decided to "turn off" the operation. He had simply informed Berger, who had not pushed back. Berger's recollection was similar. He said the plan was never presented to the White House for a decision.

The CIA's senior management clearly did not think the plan would work. Tenet's deputy director of operations wrote to Berger a few weeks later that the CIA assessed the tribals' ability to capture Bin Ladin and deliver him to U.S. officials as low.
For another review of the Clinton record on fighting terrorism check out this article by William Pitt at Truthout.

It's also worth noting that the film has been screened for dozens of conservatives, down to such extremists as the gang at Frontpage Magazine. However when President Clinton requested a copy of the film, he was denied one. There's also the timing - they are showing a film which teaches that Republicans are better at understanding and fighting terrorists than Democrats pretty close to the election. Good timing, eh?

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