"Dave from Minnesota" was my first caller in the third hour of today's show. He had the Clinton talking points arranged before him, and began with assertions about the need for ABC to cancel "The Path to 9/11" because of the inaccuracies that permeated the program, and he was ready with the "CBS canceled the Reagan film" argument.
He hadn't seen the movie, of course. But he was certain it shouldn't be shown.
After a few minutes he chose to hang up rather than continue the conversation. I'd have kept him the entire hour. "Dave" didn't know who Ramzi Yousef was, or Yousef's relation to Khalid Sheik Mohammed, or anything to do with the enemy for that matter. He was almost completely uninformed about the subject matter of the series.
And it is for "Dave" that I hope the program airs. I don't care if the ABC brass completely caves to Bill Clinton's desperate --and ultimately doomed to be unsuccessful-- effort to airbrush history. I really don't. Clinton doesn't matter. Berger doesn't matter. Madeleine Albright will never hold public office again. Their objections --both the valid and the not valid-- just don't matter.
The utter and dangerous ignorance of both the left and the simply apolitical concerning the enemy matters. Which is why "The Path to 9/11" matters.
The central character of the program is Ramzi Yousef. Right behind him is Khalid Sheik Mohammed. Both are in prison. Both will never again be free. But they are representative of the enemy, and the enemy is numerous and every bit as dedicated to their malicious schemes as these two were. That's the point of this program and why ABC must air it, and why other similar projects must be made and aired. It isn't about domestic politics at all. It is about the war. "The Path to 9/11" tries --and I think succeeds-- in attempting to convey who the enemy is and why the war is a deadly serious business.
In the second hour of my program, "Alex from LA" called intent on publicizing some nutter theory on how Bushco was behind the whole thing, a radio advance guard for the Presbyterian publishing empire, I guess. "Alex" wants the world to know it wasn't "them." It was "us." There are thousands --maybe tens of thousands-- of Alexes, even after the appearance of a video with bin Laden and the terrorists. "Why did it show up sixty days before an election," Alex demanded, implying his immovable certainty that Halliburton's audio/visual geeks had been up late prepping the clincher bit of agitprop. Wow.
Five years after the attacks and there are large segments of the American public that don't understand, or refuse to believe, that we are in a war; and not just a war, a war that can be lost. They have ceased to believe, or never did, that the enemy is sophisticated, deadly, and crucially, relentless. "The Path to 9/11" conveys this message. That's why it matters.
RG: I think what our failure was, that we failed to recognize that terrorism was at war with us, and we kind of treated it as a criminal conspiracy.
HH: Has that shifted sufficiently in your eyes now?
RG: Yeah. I think President Bush made a very, very important historic decision on September 20th, 2001. I think that was the turning point. I think President Bush recognized it as a war, that these people had declared war on us. They had actually declared war on us a long time before we recognized it on September 11. And President Bush decided we'd go on offense against them, that we would respond accordingly, where as in the past, we had responded sporadically. We'd get attacked, and sometimes, we'd respond. And then in the case of the Cole, for example, we didn't respond. And I think we were giving them an inconsistent picture. And probably because we didn't understand the full nature of just how dangerous they were.
HH: Rudy Giuliani, looking back now five years after the original attack, or the attack on 9/11, and three years after the invasion of Iraq, knowing what you know now, was the invasion of Iraq a good idea/
RG: Yes, I believe that both the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq were necessary. Maybe they could have been explained differently, or particularly Iraq, maybe we could have handled it somewhat differently. But the reality is, the terrorist enemy that we face is multifaceted, and loosely organized. We're not facing just one organization. Their organizational structure is Islamic fanaticism, or however you want to describe it. There are a lot of ways you can describe it. But it's not as if we're facing just one organization, or one country. And it reminds me...when I sort of analogize it to my prosecutorial days, it reminds me of dealing with the mafia. In New York, we were dealing with five different families. If all you did was eliminate one of those families, all you were accomplishing is making the other four families stronger. So the way you have to deal with terrorism is, you've got to eliminate all the pillars of support as best you can, which means Saddam Hussein, al Qaeda in Afghanistan. You've got...you had to deal with Qadafi. Luckily, he stepped down. We have to deal eventually with Iran and Syria, and places that like that support terrorism.
Rudy understands the enemy, but he would. He was there. He attended the funerals.
The late John O'Neill understood the enemy, and Harvey Keitel's preformance in "The Path to 9/11" conveys this. Very few people did prior to 9/11. The ABC series argues that Richard Clarke did. I disagree. So what. It doesn't matter. Outfit Clarke in Jeremiah clothes: It doesn't matter.
Just so you know: 9/11 reset the clock for me. All hands went to midnight. I’m interested in what people did after that date, and if the movie shows that before the attack one side lacked feck and the other was feck-deficient, I don't worry about it. It's like revisiting Congressional debates about Hawaiian harbor security in November 1941. Y'all get a pass. The Etch-A-Sketch's turned over. Now: what have you said lately?
Agreed. There's a scene in the film where a video of Bill Clinton is shot again and again by the al Qaeda terrorists in training. Chilling stuff. They hate him too. They hate us all. "Dave" and "Alex" need to understand this point. The program may help them. Which is why I hope ABC refuses the very, very insistent demands from the would-be censors, and why I hope you tune in Sunday night at 8 PM.