'The Path to 9/11': Did They or Didn't They Edit?

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Sep 07, 2006 2:44 PM

Hugh's seen the movie and offers thoughts on why the Clintonistas are mobilized:

A five hour show that must condense eight years by necessity will not be complete, but it is very accurate. 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. The film does not spare the Bush Administration its shots either, but for the left in the US the most damning thing possible is a recounting of the deep slumber concerning al Qaeda that overcame not just President Clinton but all parts of the national security apparatus throughout the '90s. The film does not damn those in charge during those years. It does however deliver a indictment of criminal negligence from which there is simply no escape.

By attempting a programming coup against the series, the Clinton forces have brought enormous attention to the film, and for that I thank them.

His show covered the subject yesterday, too.

Allah points to this maybe-scoop on the editing process:

The Ostroy Report has learned from a reliable source connected to ABC that an unnamed ABC executive said that former President Bill Clinton called Disney President and CEO Robert Iger this week to voice his anger and frustration over the network's plan to air a six-hour movie, "The Path to 9/11," on Sunday and Monday, and that Iger agreed to make certain changes requested by Clinton. According to this ABC source, the film is currently being edited. In seeking confirmation, our call to Iger's office went straight into voicemail. We will update our story if and when we hear from a Disney official. Disney is the parent company of ABC.

Here's where the dispute lies:

Among the scenes that the Clinton team said are fictional:

· Berger is seen as refusing authorization for a proposed raid to capture bin Laden in spring 1998 to CIA operatives in Afghanistan who have the terrorist leader in their sights. A CIA operative sends a message: "We're ready to load the package. Repeat, do we have clearance to load the package?" Berger responds: "I don't have that authority."

Berger said that neither he nor Clinton ever rejected a CIA or military request to conduct an operation against bin Laden. The Sept. 11 commission said no CIA operatives were poised to attack; that Afghanistan's rebel Northern Alliance was not involved, as the film says; and that then-CIA Director George J. Tenet decided the plan would not work.

· Tenet is depicted as challenging Albright for having alerted Pakistan in advance of the August 1998 missile strike that unsuccessfully targeted bin Laden.

"Madame Secretary," Tenet is seen saying, "the Pakistani security service, the ISI, has close ties with the Taliban." Albright is seen shouting: "We had to inform the Pakistanis. There are regional factors involved." Tenet then complains that "we've enhanced bin Laden's stature."

Albright said she never warned Pakistan. The Sept. 11 commission found that a senior U.S. military official warned Pakistan that missiles crossing its airspace would not be from its archenemy, India.

· "The Path to 9/11" uses news footage to suggest that Clinton was distracted by the Republican drive to impeach him. Veteran White House counterterrorism official Richard A. Clarke, who also disputes the film's accuracy, is portrayed as telling FBI agent John P. O'Neill: "Republicans went all out for impeachment. I just don't see the president in this climate willing to take chances."

O'Neill responds: "So it's okay if somebody kills bin Laden, so long as he didn't give the order. . . . It's pathetic." The Sept. 11 commission found no evidence that the Monica S. Lewinsky scandal played a role in the August 1998 missile strike, but added that the "intense partisanship of the period" was one factor that "likely had a cumulative effect on future decisions about the use of force against bin Laden."

Update: And, on the first count, Allah reports that's exactly what's being changed.

ABC toned down a scene that involved Clinton’s national security adviser, Samuel “Sandy” Berger, declining to give the order to kill bin Laden, according to a person involved with the film who declined to be identified. “That sequence has been the focus of attention,” the source said.

The network also decided that the credits would say the film is based “in part” on the 9/11 panel report, rather than “based on” the report, as the producers originally intended.

Update:  Newsbusters has been checking on the veracity of the Berger story, and has this from a 22-year CIA vet referred to frequently in the 9/11 Commission Report. Newsbusters asked, "Is the scene in question as depicted by Rush an accurate account of the plan to capture or kill bin Laden in Afghanistan. If so, who do you believe gave the order to halt it?" Scheuer responded:

Regarding the scene, it was never clear to my officers or myself who canceled the operation. It is true that Clarke was bad-mouthing it. What I don't think people know, however, is that the Agency had thoroughly reviewed the plan and had approved its execution at the highest level -- that is, at the level of DCI Tenet and his immediate subordinates. (NB: At Tenet's direction, JSOC commanders at Fort Bragg also reviewed the plan. They approved it, said they could not do better, and built two sand-table mock-ups of the bin Laden's compound for us to use in preparing the operation.) My officers and I were told that the plan had been sent to Clarke and the NSC for approval. The next thing we knew, the Chief of CT at CIA told us that the plan had been canceled because civilians might get killed, there was not a hundred percent chance that we would get bin Laden, and that if bin Laden was killed in the capture effort the CIA might get accused of assassination. The implication to us at the time was that the NSC canceled the operation, but Tenet later claimed he did it himself. I don't know what the full truth is on this issue. Interestingly, after our east Africa embassies were bombed on 7 August 98, Clarke ordered us to immediately revive the capture plan, but of course by then the chance had been well and truly lost.

Update: Dan Riehl heard about the same alterations on WABC out of NY.

Update: Flopping Aces points to two Townhall interviews I should have linked earlier. First Michael Medved reviews "The Path to 9/11." Second, Dennis Prager interviews "The Looming Tower" author Lawrence Wright.

Update: Both Media Blog and Dan Riehl are reporting that ABC has pulled instructional materials meant to go along with the "Path to 9/11" miniseries. Spruiell:

UPDATE II: A complete cave-in:

“After a thorough review of the original guide that we offered online to about 25,000 high school teachers, we determined that the materials did not meet our high standards for dealing with controversial issues,” said Dick Robinson, Chairman, President and CEO of Scholastic, in a press release.

The focus of the new materials will be on "the differences between factual reporting and a dramatization" and "the causes of unrest in the Middle East." Like I said: Scholastic. Completely. Caved.

I'm generally pretty skeptical of instructional guides along these lines. They more often than not accompany global warming documentaries of varying degrees of accuracy, which call on children to color connect-the-dot pictures of weeping polar bears slipping off of formerly strong glaciers made weak and flimsy by Republicans.

We complain about those all the time. Strangely, they are never pulled.

As for all this uproar, the lefties should just sack up, let the thing run, and try to make some coherent arguments against it after the fact. That's what we've been doing for years.