The Path to Bad Television and Simple Truths

Doug Elfman reviews “The Path to 9/11” in today’s Sun-Times, giving it zero stars for its content more than its inaccuracies. But about those inaccuracies… I’ve had this argument with people I know who should know better regarding the right-wing lie regarding bin Laden and Clinton that goes like this:

The CIA and Northern Alliance come within killing distance of Osama bin Laden, but former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger is portrayed saying they don’t have the presidential authority to kill.

I’ve read this so many times and heard it as a rebuttal to Bush’s own failings pre-9/11, and it has been repeated so much that people accept it as fact, but:

None of that happened, according to the film’s senior adviser, Thomas Kean, a Republican who chaired the 9/11 Commission. He admits the scene is a “composite,” as are some agents in the film.

“It’s utterly invented,” President Bush’s former terrorism czar Richard Clarke said this week.

“No such episode ever occurred — nor did anything like it,” Berger wrote to ABC. “In no instance did President Clinton or I ever fail to support a request from the CIA or U.S. military to authorize an operation against bin Laden or al-Qaida.”

Even right-wing tool John Podhoretz from the truth-challenged National Review Corner and New York Post admits that:

That scene never took place in real life. The imputation that an actual living person named Sandy Berger refused to give a specific OK to an operation that would have put an end to Osama bin Laden three years before 9/11 is a libel.

Okay, so that’s that. Next time you hear that, when you’re listening to Rush Limbaugh or whoever, know that it’s a lie. Whatever deficiencies Clinton may have had, this was not one of them.

And one other thing: Fahrenheit 9/11 has been mentioned in comparison to this ABC movie, but there is a major difference here (one of many): the star of F911 was George W. Bush himself. He said the words, he sat in the chair reading the book, he swung the golf club and generally embarrassed himself. There was no actor playing his part. There wasn’t a “re-creation of events” and it was not a “docu-drama.” Bush was the star!

“The Path to 9/11” stars Harvey Keitel and Donnie Wahlberg.

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