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Friday Sep 8, 2006

The Damage One Movie Can Do

It's been quite impressive to watch the campaign against "The Path to 9/11," the ABC "crockudrama" slated to air Sunday and Monday.

The combination of online truth-squadding, grassroots pressure, and high-level criticism has put the network on the defensive, preventing it from continuing to market the movie as wholly based on the 9/11 Commission Report.

As a secondary benefit, the controversy may disrupt the GOP's attempts to exploit the run-up to the 9/11 five-year remembrance, by focusing attention on 9/11 misconceptions systematically perpetuated by conservatives.

However, to keep the momentum building, we'll need to overcome the blatherings of the truly slow in the media.

Case in point: today's review of "Path" in the NY Times.

Think Progress already flagged a damning falsehood in the piece: that the 9/11 Commission said the Clinton Administration was "distracted" by the Monica Lewinsky matter, when in fact the Commission said the exact opposite.

Think Progress summed it up nicely: "This is what happens when people learn about the 9/11 Commission by watching Path to 9/11."

There are other silly statements which show how much the reviewer is missing the point of the controversy. Such as:

Dramatic license was certainly taken, but blame is spread pretty evenly across the board. It's not the inaccuracies of "The Path to 9/11" that make ABC's mini-series so upsetting. It's the situation on the ground in Afghanistan now.

The issue isn't whether Dubya gets dinged too. The issue is inaccuracies.

There are no allegations of inaccuracies concerning the Bush Administration. Just with Clinton. That is precisely what is upsetting.

Spreading the blame "pretty evenly," if that really is what happens in the film (falsely accusing the Clintonites of passing at a clean shot of Osama is pretty hard to even out), doesn't compensate for making stuff up.

In fact, if it takes lies to spread the blame, maybe it shouldn't be spread so evenly.

The reviewer proceeds to reveal her own bias:

In 2001 President Bush and his newly appointed aides had ample warning, including a briefing paper titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.," and they failed to take it seriously enough, but their missteps are not equal.

It's like focusing blame for a school shooting at the beginning of the school year on the student's new home room teacher; the adults who watched the boy torment classmates and poison small animals knew better.

Actually, it's not like that at all.

The Clinton Administration did not idly "watch" as Bin Laden plotted. Whereas the Bush Administration did.

As LiberalOasis wrote back in 2003:

The millennium plot was stopped on [Clinton's] watch. And many terrorists were apprehended and convicted.

But there are credible voices on the Left who argue Clinton was slow to grasp the importance of the issue, or was hampered by geopolitical concerns.

Nevertheless, by the latter years of his term, the Clintonites were well aware of the enormity of the threat.

And working hard to stop it until the very last day.

They were discussing military action against Osama in the lame duck days of December 2000, and fully briefed the Bushies during the transition.

The Bushies, of course, responded by ignoring the recommendations of the Hart-Rudman national security commission that was established under Clinton.

That was before we knew about the infamous PDB.

And before Clinton and Bush Administration counterterror official Richard Clarke told us that "Bill Clinton was obsessed with getting bin Laden" and that "when the Bush people came into office, they thought I was a little crazy, a little obsessed with this little terrorist bin Laden. Why wasn't I focused on Iraqi-sponsored terrorism?"

Don't forget that in the months before 9/11, all the Dems were pounding the table about fighting terrorism.

While the Bushies were insisting we spend enough on counterterrorism but not enough on missile defense.

Bush was not a new schoolteacher on his first day. Though on his first day, despite being warned, he consciously shifted foreign policy strategy away from a focus on Al Qaeda.

We'll never know if 9/11 would have been prevented if he had listened to the warnings of the Clintonites.

But we do know Bush was not doing all he could to prevent it.

While there are certainly some criticisms to be made of Clinton's record, but they're not lack of focus and committment.

America needs a honest depiction and clear understanding of what happened so we can finally develop a workable counterterror strategy, and elect leaders we can trust to carry it out.

This film ain't doing it, but maybe the controversy will.

Posted by Bill Scher on Sep 8, 2006 email post email Spotlight / / You are in Terrorism
Posts Near Sep 8, 2006