The Path to 9-11

Er, something to do with an ABC TV prog about 9/11 that has had to be re-edited ’cause it got some serious people real mad (thanks Shaun..); sorry for the tone of voice, just been watching the classic film, the Last Picture Show:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 7 (UPI) — ABC Television is to make changes to its
controversial mini-series “The Path to 9-11” before it airs next week,
following a barrage of criticism from former Clinton administration

“No one has seen the final version of the film, because the editing
process is not yet complete, so criticisms of … specifics are
premature and irresponsible,” ABC said in a statement Thursday.

The statement is the first confirmation that the version which was shown
at a press launch in Washington, D.C., a few days ago — and distributed
to hundreds of reporters, media organizations, and TV reviewers — is
not the one that will air.

There was no indication in the statement of what changes might be made
or how significant they will be, and ABC did not provide anyone to
answer questions.

The move follows complaints to Robert Iger, the chairman of Disney
Corp., ABC’s parent company, from former President Bill Clinton and two
senior officials from his administration, criticizing the film’s
portrayal of their efforts to capture or kill al-Qaida leader Osama bin

“The content of this drama is factually and incontrovertibly inaccurate
and ABC has a duty to fully correct all errors or pull the drama
entirely,” wrote Clinton lawyer Bruce Lindsey. “It is unconscionable to
mislead the American public about one of the most horrendous tragedies
our country has ever known.”

The liberal blog says that 25,000 people have used
their site to send letters of complaint to ABC about the film, a five
hour-long examination of the origins of the Sept. 11 plot, which is
scheduled to air over two nights next week on the fifth anniversary of
the attacks.

“I find it quite amazing that a former president would try to intimidate
a TV network into sanitizing a dramatization of the events leading up to
Sept. 11,” Roger Aronoff, a media analyst with the conservative watchdog
group Accuracy in Media, told United Press International. He accused ABC
of “buckling under the Clinton pressure,” and warned “we will be
watching closely.”

“The Path to 9-11” is billed as a dramatization based in part on the
report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United
States, which investigated the events of Sept. 11 and circumstances
leading up to it.

A disclaimer ABC plans to show at the beginning of each episode, which
will air commercial free, states the film “is not a documentary,” adding
that: “For dramatic and narrative purposes,” it “contains fictionalized
scenes, composite and representative characters and dialogue, as well as
time compression.”

Nonetheless, in promotional materials accompanying the film, ABC
Entertainment President Steve McPherson said: “When you take on the
responsibility of telling the story behind such an important event, it
is absolutely critical that you get it right,” and many Democrats are
angry about portions of the film.

In one scene, CIA operatives working with Ahmed Shah Masud, the
charismatic Afghan mujahedin leader who fought al-Qaida and their
Taliban sponsors, are assembled on a hillside above bin Laden’s
residence at Tarnak Farms. “It’s perfect for us,” says “Kirk,” a
composite character representing several of the CIA operatives and
analysts involved in the hunt for the terrorist leader.

But the team is forced to abort the mission when National Security
Adviser Samuel “Sandy” Berger hangs up on them in the middle of a
conference call, after telling them he cannot give the go ahead for the

“I don’t have that authority,” he says.

“Are there any men in Washington,” Masud asks Kirk afterwards in the
film, “or are they all cowards?”

“No such episode ever occurred — nor did anything like it,” wrote the
real Berger to Iger.

In an interview yesterday with a Los Angeles radio station, Cyrus
Nowrasteh, the film’s screenwriter, acknowledged that the scene did not
depict actual events.

“Sandy Berger did not slam down the phone,” Nowrasteh said, according to
the New York Times. “That is not in the (Sept. 11 commission) report.
That was not scripted. But you know when you’re making a movie, a lot of
things happen on set that are unscripted. Accidents occur; spontaneous
reactions of actors performing a role take place. It’s the job of the
filmmaker to say, you know, maybe we can use that.”

The other scene depicts then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
insisting that the Pakistani government be forewarned about a cruise
missile strike against bin Laden — and then issuing the warning over
the objections of the military.

“Neither of these assertions is true,” writes Albright in her letter to
Iger, calling the scene “false and defamatory.”

The missiles narrowly missed bin Laden — according to some reports,
because he was warned of the forthcoming strike and left the Afghan
training camp at which it was aimed.

The Sept. 11 commission report records that because the missiles had had
to cross Pakistani air space, the vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs
of Staff met with Pakistani military officials “to assure (them) the
missiles were not coming from India. Officials in Washington speculated
that one or another Pakistani official might have sent a warning to the
Taliban or bin Laden.”