Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Flavia Monteiro Colgan | ABC's '9/11': Clinton was right

WELL, BASED on what I saw last night, ABC decided not to listen to 200,000 Americans, a bunch of historians and even Republican commentators like Bill Bennett and Pat Buchanan, who said ABC should not distort the truth and "falsify the record" on 9/11.

But ABC went ahead anyway with its Twisted 'Path to 9/11,' as the Washington Post called it. Responding to an avalanche of advance criticism, ABC had said the complaints were premature because the piece hadn't been viewed. But Rush Limbaugh got an advance copy, while no Democrats or progressives did.

The writer, Cyrus Nowrasteh, who I heard on Sean Hannity's radio show, is a conservative. The $40 million that funded the movie, well, they won't tell us where that came from. I looked up some of this writer's previous work and found this quote:

"There's a larger point in these historical adaptations than the accuracy of each incident." Well, when it comes to the most devastating incident in my lifetime, I think accuracy is important. And, by the way, I don't think 9/11 needs any dramatization at all.

The docudrama contained some gratuitous swipes at President Clinton, like showing Monica Lewinsky. Others were distortions. And others were just flat out wrong. Mr. Nowrasteh must have gotten those moves from his buddies at the White House.

ABC had said on Saturday before the first part aired on Sunday that it was planning a "number of changes to scenes, including one deletion."

Even with those alterations, it was an unfair slam. Bill Clinton and his crew were right to ask Tom Kean, the Republican co-chairman of the 9/11 Commission, to try to influence the network to withdraw the film since ABC had said the docudrama was mostly based on the report.

I read every word of the report, and I didn't see the resemblance. As Clinton summed it up: "They ought to tell the truth."

The tragic events of 9/11 are not something to be trifled with. Putting words into people's mouths and showing them doing things they never did is not acceptable.

The docudrama portrayed Clinton as a president who didn't care about terrorism, but his record tells a different story. He had daily briefings on al Qaeda and meetings three times a week. Compare that to a president who couldn't break away from clearing brush to read a memo that said, "Bin Laden Determined to Attack America."

The fact is that Clinton proposed an additional $1.1 billion in anti-terror efforts. Clinton was acutely aware of the financial aspects of terror and wanted us not to do business with international banks that held al Qaeda money. A bill that would have mandated that was called totalitarian by some Republicans - and they gutted it.

As to the alleged Lewinsky "distraction," the Post noted that it would have been more appropriate to "instead cut to stock footage of a smirking Kenneth Starr, the reckless Republican prosecutor" than Lewinsky. Richard Clarke, present at most of the terror briefings, has said many times that Clinton told his advisers not to worry about political calculations and just tell him what the best moves were.

And if being an inaccurate and manipulative film wasn't bad enough, "The Path to 9/11" also suffered from terrible cinematography and bad writing. I suffered through this series so if you missed it the first time around and were thinking of catching it on DVD, you won't have to.


Flavia Monteiro Colgan is a member of the Daily News editorial board and an MSNBC commentator.
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