Patterico's Pontifications


The Path To 9/11 – A Response Thus Far

Filed under: General,Media Bias,Movies,Politics,Terrorism,War — Justin Levine @ 9:59 pm


Well, it now looks like full blown partisan warfare has broken out over the “Path To 9/11” – and the film will inevitably (and unfortunately) be seen through that lens.

It also looks like my work schedule will prevent me from seeing the latest broadcast cut of the film when it airs, so it will be difficult for me to compare what was cut and assess its impact.

But back to the debate…

Even though we are NOT the same person, I heartily endorse Pattreico’s take on this controversy (including the notion that having more historical accuarcy is never a bad thing, and that Richard Clarke doesn’t have a whole lot of credibility – despite being depicted as a hero in this film). He has provided some useful links to this debate, so “Thanks P!”

The first thing I want to emphasize is that everyone should read pgs. 108-143 of the 9/11 Commission report as a background to this current debate [meaning the pages of the document itself – not the Adobe Reader pages].

Let’s also try to all stipulate and agree about a few things:

1.  The terrorists were ultimately responsible for 9/11. Period. They, and they alone, are to blame (Though blame is admittedly different than mere “criticism” which is what this film inspires debate over in regards to our leaders.)

2.  If there were someone in the government (of any administration) who clearly could have prevented 9/11 and failed to do so, it would be unlikely that they would clearly admit to that to the 9/11 Commission, the press, or anyone else.
3.  Some partisans on both sides were added to the 9/11 Commission to essentially try and “protect” their own side – resulting in a document that only included what everyone could agree on. Omissions and limitations in the 9/11 Commission report were inevitable, and the Commission itself was aware of that. As a result, the Commission report is certainly not the last word on historical fact (though it can still be a useful tool as a starting point).

Can we at least all agree on that???

[I would also add that Sandy Berger’s attempt to remove documents from the National archive while the 9/11 Commission was meeting casts suspicions on his credibility in the final report himself – but I don’t even expect a unanimous opinion about that in the current political climate, so I won’t include it in the above list.]

So are there inaccuracies in the film? Of course!

Here: I’ll repeat it and put it in bold so that the lefty blogs can copy and paste this section easily in order to take the admission out of context (I’ll even throw in the quotes for you so that it will be that much easier for your pasting responsibilities):

“So are there inaccuracies in the film? Of course!”

[Back to the debate…]

The film states up front that some of the characters are composites and that timelines of events have been conflated for dramatic purposes. It is a “docudrama” – not a “documentary”. The main character (FBI agent John O’Neill) died on 9/11, so its impossible to accurately recreate each conversation of his that is depicted in the film.

I can sympathize with those who are uncomfortable with the “fake but accurate” defense. But if that’s the case, then the argument is against the “docudrama” as an artistic form in general – not just this particular one. And it wouldn’t just be the scenes of the Presidential advisors that would have to be questioned – “The Path To 9/11” also depicts several scenes of the terrorists talking to each other. These are conversations that have obviously been dramatized since we have no way of knowing what they actually said to each other in private. It also obviously clear that the Donnie Wahlberg CIA character is a composite of several CIA operatives since they have him in various crucial and dramatic scenes on three different continents. A literal depiction of the 9/11 Commission report would simply be unfilmable.

Pgs. 113-114, 120, 132-33, 140-41 of the 9/11 Commission primarily deal with the controversial scene regarding the decision not to capture Bin Laden.     [Also of note, pg. 128 has Berger being told of a probable “Iraqi-Al Qaeda” agreement. Interesting how that tidbit seems to have been swept under the carpet, no?]

Bear in mind that the above pages represent the bare minimum of what highly partisan adversaries could all agree on.

This film clearly studied those pages, and dramatized it into a single event – capturing what I believe to be the dramatic essence of it. Admittedly, it takes some of the contradictory accounts from the Commission itself and chooses to embrace the one interpretation from it that paints Berger in a bad light (Perhaps this was because the filmmakers were aware that Berger was convicted of trying to steal documents from the National Archives during the Commission’s work and came to the conclusion that he couldn’t be fully trusted – but I’m just speculating here.).

If you are looking for “documentary”-style fact, then many of the criticisms of the Path To 9/11 are valid. The film depicts a scene wherein Berger, Tenet, et al. pull the plug on a plan to get Bin Laden while CIA and Northern Alliance forces are in the field and have him literally surrounded. I’ll admit that it didn’t happen that way. But I would argue that it still captures the dramatic essence of the above pages listed from the 9/11 Commission. Thomas Kean, Co-Chairman of the 9/11 Commission seems to agree. (Read the report yourself, then watch the film and see if you agree yourself.)

It has been misreported that Berger’s character in the film is single-handedly responsible for pulling the plug on the plan to get Bin Laden (and others have misinterpreted my own writing to that effect). That is not what happens. Berger is seen as trying to pass the buck to George Tenet to try and get him to make the final choice so that if things go wrong, Tenet will be able to take the blame (not Berger). Tenet refuses to give the go-ahead and advisors then turn to Berger again who refuses to respond. It is not a flattering portrayal by any means, but it does not show Berger being single-handedly responsible for shutting down the operation. Again, this is all a reasonabe interpretation of the dramatic essence of what the 9/11 Commission suggests.

For those who want a film where every line of dialogue and fact presented can be scrupulously documented and sourced – it would be best if you simply start a general campaign against the “docudrama” form in general. No more “Oliver Stone’s JFK”. No more “The Reagans”. No more “Hannoi Hilton” or “Path To 9/11”. Fair enough if you chose to be consistent. There is a legitimate argument to be made that docudramas in general do more harm than good in terms of education and enlightenment (though I don’t think that to be the case with ‘Path’).

These same criticisms could be leveled in equal fashion for the scenes depicting the Bush Administration (which again must be emphasized is shown in an equally bad light). But it is curious how Condi Rice doesn’t seem to be knocking down any doors to demand edits to this film.

There are also legitimate arguments to be made that this film actually goes easy on the Clinton administration in certain respects –

No reference is made to Clinton’s action in Somalia which many believe emboldened Bin Laden and made the Clinton administration gun shy. No reference is made to debated stories about Sudan offering to hand Bin Laden over to the U.S., only to be turned down. It does not depict the Jamie Gorelick memo which hampered communication between intelligence agencies (Gorelick ended up on the 9/11 Commission itself).

But at this point, rather than go through all of the criticisms point-by-point, it would simply be easier for you to read pgs. 108-143 of the 9/11 Commission report and then see the film this weekend (especially in light of the fact that edits are still apparently being made and I would hate to comment on a work when I no longer know what is in it). Then the real debate can begin in earnest with everyone participating – rather than having just a few elites who managed to see this thing continue to lecture everyone else.

Finally, I am always reluctant to use someone else’s blog to try and promote KFI product. However, if you really want to hear more about this controversy, including some eye-opening interviews and sound-cuts from 9/11 Commissioner Thomas Kean, actor Donnie Wahlberg and ‘Path’ writer Cyrus Nowrasteh, then go to and sign up for “KFI On Demand”. (You will have to register at the site, but it is free and available for everyone in the U.S.)

After you have access to “KFI on Demand” –

Download the Podcast of The John Ziegler Show on 9/5/06 at the 7pm hour as well as the entire 3-hour show from 9/7/06 (which might not be available online until mid-day on 9/8/06). Writer Cyrus Nowraseh has tentatively agreed to return to the Ziegler Show on Tuesday 9/12 (after the film has aired).  You will hear some astonishing sound cuts that are too numerous to list and describe here at this time.

Bottom line – I don’t retreat from anything I have said about this film, even while acknowledging that it plays with certain facts for dramatic effect. What I take issue with is the assertion that it plays with the facts for partisan effect. It does not.

Dean Barnett pretty much nails it in dissecting what is really at issue in this debate.

And keep in mind – all of the screaming thus far has just been over the “Clinton Legacy” issue. Just wait until the film airs and CAIR gets into the act. Have your bomb shelters ready….

[Posted by Justin Levine – not Patterico]

34 Responses to “The Path To 9/11 – A Response Thus Far”

  1. Patterico, you make a great point about the Bush administration and Condi Rice not attempting to impede free speech.

    What is it with these Democrats?

    Chris from Victoria, BC (9824e6)

  2. I really wanna see this movie. Even a lefty at the NY Times gave it a mostly positive review this morning (DailyKos has started a letter-writing jihad against the NY Times as a result….).

    You know what? The main reason I wanna see the movie isn’t even about how Berger, Albright, and Clinton are portrayed. My assumption is that even the director’s cut would go easier on them than I would (and you say they go easy on them in some ways), but whatever, I believe history books will not be kind to them when we’re further away from those years and there’s fewer people around working overtime to protect the Clinton Legacy. What I mostly wanna see it for is for all the other stuff – depictions of the enemy and the various attacks, and John O’Neill’s story. If ABC yanks this, I hope people with advance copies will find a way to get them out. (hint hint)

    There have been many a poorly done docudramas, but I like the form when they’re done well.

    I watched United 93 this week and it was great. Did they make up some stuff? Obviously. You can’t do a docudrama without making up some stuff, and it’s all the more impossible when the docudrama is condensing 8 years into 5 hours.

    BTW, the first commenter still thought Patterico made that post despite the exclamation points. 🙂

    LoafingOaf (9f37aa)

  3. Mr Levine wrote:

    If there were someone in the government (of any administration) who clearly could have prevented 9/11 and failed to do so, it would be unlikely that they would clearly admit to that to the 9/11 Commission, the press, or anyone else.

    Unfortunately, there is someone who could have prevented it, directly, and he did admit it: President Clinton had the opportunity in 1996 to take custody of Osama bin Laden — and turned it down.

    He admitted it himself in 2002, and then tried to take it back in 2004, and I’m sure that his partisans will deny he could have done so, but there is plenty of confirmation in the Washington Post article linked above.

    Dana (3e4784)

  4. I read Mr Barnett’s article, and he’s sort of close, but I don’t believe that he took it far enough. The Democrats do have a plan for fighting terrorism: it is the old Clinton policy of using law enforcement methods rather than military ones. To flog my own site here (yes, I know, I’m shameless), I wrote that the real objection to The Path to 9/11 is that it depicts the general policy of the Clinton Administration, the use of law enforcement techniques, as just plain not working.

    Our friends on the left might have a decent point about some of the dramatic license taken in the film, in the assignment of some actions to different people, but what is the apparent message is that the overly legalistic methods used by the Clinton Administration might be good for solving a crime after a crime has occurred, but didn’t stop the crime from being committed in the first place.

    If the American people realize that, then the entirety of the left’s method for fighting terrorism is shot to pieces.

    Dana (3e4784)

  5. Well, is it true that there’s no reenactment of the “Pet Goat” or “Bin Laden determined to strike inside the United States” events–which were, you know, things that actually happened?

    This is your guys’ Fahrenheit 9/11.

    [Based on Justin’s review, that’s nonsense. The famous PDB is indeed mentioned according to Justin, along with other points that make the Bushies look bad. Where in Fahrenlies 9/11 did Michael Moore slam Clinton? When has Moore ever slammed any Democrat president? — P]

    Geek, Esq. (a214b6)

  6. From Michael Moore’s lies, to we need to bug out in Iraq, as Dana says above it leaves it all in shambles.

    You are not going to convince the left their carefully crafted set of lies they use in their narrative of events is wrong, they believe anything. But you might have a shot at convincing the middle to believe at least some of the Democrat lies. Therein lies the problem for the ‘how can we fool them today’ party, too much truth out there.

    I will never forget Dean saying truth comes in versions.

    bill (26027c)

  7. The LLL is concerned more about the lasting legacy of their hero, Bill Clinton and his band of inept followers, that they are resorting to any means necessary to keep his “pure and clean virtue” intact. Well, boys and girls, it’s time to let a little secret out – He was not another JFK, LBJ or FDR! He was more along the lines of Jimmy and Millard Filmore – inept in foreign policy. Face facts…his minions helped set the stage for OBL to do what they did five years ago.

    I guess that Dean Wermer had it right – “Boy, fat, dumb and stupid ain’t any way to go through life”.

    fmfnavydoc (e2bd42)

  8. The San Jose Mercury News issued a correction in today’s paper: “A front-page article Thursday about the controversy surrounding ABC’s “The Path to 9/11″ incorrectly identified Justin Levine. Levine is a guest blogger on the Patterico’s Pontifications Web site and works in radio.”

    aunursa (53c76d)

  9. You need to know the truth. The “Path to 9/11” is a series of lies and misrepresentations. Do not support this travesty. The only good news is that the backlash from this garbage will damage the Republican party in the mid-term elections if it airs.

    American (46cc0f)

  10. When I drop in on a website, I read the content of the post carefully. Then I follow the discussion in the comments. Only at that point do I add my two cents’ worth. Always. That way, I don’t insult readers by reciting prepackaged talking points.

    Americankoshi (b6037f)

  11. Way to go “American.” Everything that reflects badly on Clinton is a lie and everything that reflects badly on Bush is the god’s truth.

    Way to go.

    Mike K (416363)

  12. I hope Geek,esq and American are at least getting paid for sharing with us their lunacy.

    From what I have heard, it is not exactly sympathetic to the Bush administration, either, particularly Condi Rice, and that Richard Clark (of all people) looks as much like a hero as anybody. (Apparently the 911 commisssion report about Rice “looking like she never heard of Al Queda” is in the docudrama, but her interview on radio months before talking about Al Queda isn’t, is my guess).

    Sheesh, Michael Moore’s nonsense gets him a prize seat at the Democratic Convention, ABC spending 40 million to fulfill “their responsibility to do it right” gets them attacked by the Dems and they give in. Maybe ABC is a typo and it should be APC, American Pravda Corporation.

    I want to see Sen. Reid and Gov. Kean discuss the film.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  13. […] And at least the newspaper is correcting the error. Per commenter aunursa: The San Jose Mercury News issued a correction in today’s paper: “A front-page article Thursday about the controversy surrounding ABC’s “The Path to 9/11″ incorrectly identified Justin Levine. Levine is a guest blogger on the Patterico’s Pontifications Web site and works in radio.” […]

    Patterico’s Pontifications » That Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy (421107)

  14. Where the hell were all these hypocrites when Michael Mooreon released the most appalling agitprop film this side of Leni Riefenstahl or Dan “Fake bu Accurate” Rather took it upon himself to interfere in a Presidential election?

    This is precisely why I chose the Orwell quote as the motto for my site. Only in an Orwellian world could these people actually get a pass on these absurd antics.

    By any objective standard, the real totalitarians in or midst go by ‘D’.


    -the Canine Pundit

    Sirius Familiaris (93f35d)

  15. Finally, the Lib’s rewriting of Clinton-era history is about to see the light of day.


    Steve (0c820b)

  16. It has been 6 years since President Clinton left office. Has there ever been such commotion over the record of a recent president like this?

    All because Senator Mrs. Clinton may run for president, and that President Clinton will still be #1 until the dems again elect a President, which I hope will be a long, long time from now at the current pace of events.

    It would be nice for the writers of the docudrama to release the script as intended, complete with footnotes documenting their sources.
    Hey===> It could be a new (un)reality TV show. Watch the broadcast version and guess what was edited out. With enough sponsers, maybe the season finale could be guessing what Sandy Burglar took from the Archives…

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  17. Role Reversal And The 9/11 Miniseries…

    Imagine if the 9/11 miniseries created scenes inaccurately portraying Condi Rice or Michael Hayden. More than likely republicans and conservatives would have been extremely upset and asked ABC to make modifications. To say otherwise is not honest. [Of …

    Sensible Mom (72c8fd)

  18. I’m not sure why they needed to spend 40 million dollars on The Path to 9/11 just to lay blame on one party of the other FIVE YEARS later when we have already gone over this a million times and concluded that both parties were to blame! I can only guess that it is politically motivated and that saddens me. How will we ever move forward if we are living in the past.

    Linden (c5d150)

  19. BTW, It wasn’t just the Clinton camp who put pressure on ABC/Disney; more than 40,000 concerned Americans in the last two days have sent letters to the producers demanding the truth.

    Linden (c5d150)

  20. Linden wrote:

    BTW, It wasn’t just the Clinton camp who put pressure on ABC/Disney; more than 40,000 concerned Americans in the last two days have sent letters to the producers demanding the truth.

    Oh, please, give me a break! I got the Democrats’ e-mail plea, complete with the email address to hit ABC; it was just the Usual Suspects getting their Useful Idiots to click on an address and combitch.

    You know, had this week happened to conservatives (Richard Armitage, not the Evil One, being named responsible for “outing” Valerie Wilson; The Washington Post and The New York Times realizing that the whole Plamegate nonsense had fallen apart for the Dems; and The Path to 9/11), we’d have just shrugged our shoulders, ’cause we’re used to getting hammered by the mainstream media, and we’ve got thick skins.

    But when it happens to y’all, you go apoplectic. Freedom of speech? Y’all can’t tolerate that! Threatening ABC’s broadcast licenses? Nothing wrong with that when it’s done by the Democrats!

    Of course, the real problem for you isn’t that you see things in it that aren’t completely accurate (due to dramatic license), but that you recognize that so much of it is true.

    Dana (3e4784)

  21. How is it that you (Justin Levine) was able to see the Path to 9/11 and yet Clinton has not seen the film yet????

    You are on the radar now!!!!

    Mike Ricco (5b2ff1)

  22. Cndi Rice does look bad in it. Richard Clark, of all people, is the closest thing to a hero, so I hear.

    I heard a few minutes ago that it is likely the dems went ballistic seeing part one only, they didn’t get to see how the Bush administration looks, which isn’t too good either.

    FYI, the guy behind the movie is being interviewed on Medved now.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  23. Why do you think ABC/Disney edited the film and are now promoting it as ” loosely based on the 9/11 Commission Report”? If they felt it was factual, why would they edite it AFTER sending it out for review and AFTER sending letters to schools asking them to show it to their students?

    Linden (c5d150)

  24. That’s the $100,000 question. If it was factual, why are they listening to the Democrats whining.

    The Dems were happy to embrace Fahrenheit 911 in spite of the nonsense it was while claiming to be a “documentary”.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  25. So, MD, does that mean I get $100,000 if I provide the answer?

    They are caving because they are used to caving to pressure from the Democrats, from their side. And they are realizing that freedom of speech doesn’t cut both ways; it’s only useful when usd against Republicans.

    I’m only an hour up the road; are you going to mail teh check, or do I have to drive down to get it?

    Dana (1d5902)

  26. When has Moore ever slammed any Democrat president?

    Is that a joke, Patterico?

    What a sad, pathetic man Bill Clinton is. Though many have criticized him for dodging the draft, I actually admired the fact that he refused to go and kill Vietnamese. Not all of us from the working class had that luxury, and tens of thousands of our brothers died for absolutely no damn reason. For this “anti-war” President to order such a misguided, ruthless — and, yes, cowardly — attack from the air is a disappointment of massive proportions.

    Now, it is time for all of us to stop Clinton and his disgusting, hypocritical fellow democrats who support him in this war. It is amazing to watch all these “liberal” congress members line up behind the President. In a way, I’m glad it’s happening, if only to show the American people there is little difference between the Democrats and the usually war-loving Republicans. Aren’t you getting a kick watching the Pat Buchanans and the Henry Hydes sounding like pacifists! These politicians can change stripes at the drop of a hat (or bomb) because, ultimately, they are the same animal, participants in a one-party system that tries to fool the people by going by two names (“Democrat” and “Republican”).

    There’s a reason I laugh at Democrats who think that Moore is some kind of champion.

    By the way, read that entire essay. It’s a knee-slapper. My favorite part:

    Right about now, some of you, with all good intentions, are saying, “But, Mike, this Milosevic guy is a madman. He’s committing genocide. We should not ignore this as we did the Holocaust in the early days of World War II. He must be stopped by any means necessary.”

    Yes, he must be stopped. But bombing the people of his country is exactly the wrong way to stop him. In fact, it has only strengthened him.

    When this liberal compares something to Moore’s work, it isn’t a compliment.

    Geek, Esq. (2a5c35)

  27. Perhaps my question was a bit sloppy. What I meant was that Moore would never attack a Democrat president from the right. As you have shown, he is willing to criticize a Democrat as anti-war.

    From Justin’s review, the “Path to 9/11” movie appears to be even-handed in criticizing both sides. Fahrenheit 9/11 was not. Therefore your comparison of the two is absurd.

    That’s my point.

    Patterico (de0616)

  28. Well Dana, I’m afraid it was a manner of speech trying to force the issue back on Linden. I hope you haven’t put $80,000 on your charge card in the last half-hour.

    Your statement about being an hour up the road led me to your website. I did not go to UK, but my father grew up in Harlan Co., KY, and I grew up listening to Wildcat basketball. I remember what I was doing when Laettner….

    I think I posted on another thread, but Erwin Chemirinsky actually agreed that the Dem senators were way out of line and threatening the first amendment. (Must be a full eclipse, to agree with Erwin…).

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  29. Well, there are conflicting accounts as to whether it’s ‘fair and balanced.’ But, in general, when one sees:

    1) Conservative activists making the film;

    2) Conservative activists being treated like a target audience by the marketing people; and

    3) Conservative activists reacting to it like 12-year old kids did to Star Wars in the 1970’s,

    well it’s starting look like a duck.

    Reviews indicate that, bias aside, it’s a mendacious, dull P.O.S. with little to no artistic or historical or entertainment value, so I’ll just watch football instead. (And yes, I know that ESPN is owned by ABC).

    Geek, Esq. (2a5c35)

  30. Why in the world would it slam Bush, if your theories are true?

    Or do you think Justin Levine is lying about the content of the film?

    Patterico (de0616)

  31. I suspect that Justin is, well, not exactly impartial.

    Geek, Esq. (e9bab4)

  32. Busheviks think they can fool all of us all the time, but this fraudulent take on current affairs has got to be exposed.

    Even children’s educational publishing group Scholastic, Harvey Keitel, who stars in the drama, members of Congress and the official commission which investigated the September 11 attacks, are strongly critical about this phoney film .

    Scholastic is removing the material from its website because it “did not meet our high standards for dealing with controversial issues”.

    Nine respected US historians sum it up beautifully: “Broadcasting these falsehoods, connected to the most traumatic historical event of our times, would be a gross disservice to the public. A responsible broadcast network should have nothing to do with the falsification of history, except to expose it.”

    Impeach Bush NOW!

    Max Gross (1759c6)

  33. You want to see and hear fabricated bullsh*t about 9/11, evil genius Osama bin Laden, Saddam’s invisible WMD, and the spooky “war on terrorism”? Just watch Bush and co. They never stop faking it!

    Max Gross (1759c6)

  34. Islamofascist CAIR Doesn’t Like the Term “Islamic Fascist”: FNC video, 8/14/6

    CAIR Terrorist Apologist Blames Israel, FNC video, 8/12/6

    Free Patriotic Corner Banners:

    terrorfree (5317f2)

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