Media Blog

“Path to 9/11” Controversy Continues

Howard Kurtz has a summary of the Clinton gang’s three main objections to the miniseries:

· [Former NSA Sandy] 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. […]
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.
· [Former DCI George] Tenet is depicted as challenging Albright for having alerted Pakistan in advance of the August 1998 missile strike that unsuccessfully targeted bin Laden. […]
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. […]
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.”

The New York Post adds that Bill Clinton himself has gotten in on the campaign against ABC. 
Hugh Hewitt interviewed the program’s writer/producer Cyrus Nowrasteh last night and came away convinced that these complaints are without merit:

I spent most of yesterday’s three hour program with the program’s writer/producer Cyrus Nowrasteh, and no serious observer could listen to this interview and conclude that the movie is other than a deeply serious attempt to recount the events leading to the massacre of five years ago, primarily through the eyes of John O’Neill, the FBI agent who had taken over security at the World Trade Center just weeks prior to the attack and whose actions that day are believed to have saved thousans of lives.  For the Clinton team to demand cancelation or edits of the movie is to once again see them elevate their own pesonal vanity above every other interest, especially over the interests of John O’Neill and th emany other public servants who saw the threat clearly and did their best to stop it.  The objections of various Clinton-era figures –Berger rightly argues he didn’t hang up a phone in one scene, for example– are absurd complaints about the tiny details used to compress eight years and eight months into five hours of drama.  From these complaints they have built a tissue-thin demand for an Orwellian memory-hole moment. […]
It isn’t like we don’t know that Monica was a distraction and Madeleine Albright a less-than-brilliant Secretary of State (how about that late lurch towards North Korea?)  John O’Neill was in fact fired; there were warnings that were ignored about the African embassy bombings, and no response followed the Cole attack and the American ambassador to Yemen was an obstruction to that investigation, Massoud was assasinated by al Qaeda.  These are not debatable subjects.  They are facts.

I haven’t seen the film, but I share Dean Barnett’s concern that any ahistorical content provides an easy target for the film’s enemies and a distraction from the real record of Clinton-era failure.