Thursday, September 07, 2006

ABC alters 9/11 show under pressure

By Scott Collins, Times Staff Writer

ABC's upcoming five-hour docudrama "The Path to 9/11" is quickly becoming a political cause célèbre.

The network has in recent days made changes to the film, set to air Sunday and Monday, after leading political figures, many of them Democrats, complained about bias and alleged inaccuracies. Meanwhile, a left-wing organization has launched a letter-writing campaign urging the network to "correct" or dump the miniseries, while conservative blogs have launched a vigorous defense.

"The Path to 9/11," whose large ensemble includes Harvey Keitel and Patricia Heaton, offers a panoramic sweep of the events leading up to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The movie dramatizes what it deems intelligence and operational failures of the Clinton and Bush administrations, relying heavily on public records. Thomas Kean, the chairman of the 9/11 commission, served as a consultant.

After a screening of the first episode in Washington last week, some audience members attacked the film's depiction of the Clinton administration's pursuit of Osama bin Laden. Among those unhappy was Richard Ben-Veniste, an attorney and member of the 9/11 commission whom some conservatives have dismissed as a Democratic attack dog. Richard A. Clarke, the former counterterrorism czar, has criticized the movie for suggesting that the Clinton administration was in a position to capture Bin Laden in 1998 but canceled the mission at the last minute.

After much discussion, ABC executives and the producers toned down, but did not eliminate entirely, a scene that involved Clinton's national security advisor, Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger, declining to give the order to kill Bin Laden, according to a person involved with the film who declined to be identified because of the sensitivities involved.

"That sequence has been the focus of attention," the source said, adding: "These are very slight alterations."

In addition, the network decided that the credits would say the film is based "in part" on the 9/11 commission report, rather than simply "based on" the bestselling report, as the producers originally intended.

ABC, meanwhile, is tip-toeing away from the film's version of events. In a statement, the network said the miniseries "is a dramatization, not a documentary, drawn from a variety of sources, including the 9/11 commission report, other published materials and from personal interviews."

The statement adds: "The events that lead to 9/11 originally sparked great debate, so it's not surprising that a movie surrounding those events has revived the debate. The attacks were a pivotal moment in our history that should never be forgotten and it's fitting that the discussion continues."

None of ABC's moves is likely to quell the debate, however.

The Center for American Progress Action Fund, a liberal advocacy group, said on Wednesday it had collected 25,000 letters asking ABC to either correct or cancel the miniseries. "The miniseries presents an agenda that blames the Clinton administration for the 9/11 attacks while ignoring numerous errors and failures of the Bush administration," the center said in a news release.

Lets add some additional information to this story. As ABC alters it's presentation of The Path to 9/11 Al-Jazeera releases a video that shows Osama Bin Laden meeting with the 9/11 hijackers before the attack. Now put that in context with the fact that one of the scenes altered by ABC is the scene where Sandy Burgler hangs up on the team about to kill Bin Laden, because Clinton refused to give the order....

Al-Jazeera broadcasts Al-Qaeda video preparing 9/11 attacks
Sep 07 3:20 PM US/Eastern Breitbart
The Arab television channel Al-Jazeera broadcast a video which it said showed Osama bin Laden and suicide candidates of Al-Qaeda preparing the September 11, 2001 attacks against the United States.
Al-Jazeera had said earlier it would broadcast "a video that included scenes showing for the first time Al-Qaeda leaders preparing the September 11 attacks and practicing for their execution."

The video showed Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and two of the 19 Islamist militants that took part in the attacks, Saudi nationals Hamza el-Ramdi and Wael el-Shemari.

They spoke of the situation faced by Muslims in Bosnia and Chechnya.

Fifteen of the 19 attackers on September 11 were Saudis, and Al-Jazeera said it had only aired a few minutes of a document which it said lasted about an hour and a half.

The footage also showed hand-to-hand combat practice between people who wore masks over their heads.

The television station also broadcast a recording attributed to the head of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Hamza al-Muhajer, in which he said he was sure of victory against US-led forces in the country.

The recording was posted on an Islamist Internet site as well, but its authenticity could not be immediately established.

In the Internet statement, Muhajer also urged Sunni Muslims to kill at least one US citizen within the next two weeks.

"Oh followers of (Taliban leader) Mullah Mohammed Omar, oh sons of (Al-Qaeda leader) Osama bin Laden, oh disciples of (slain Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader) Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi ... I urge each of you to kill at least one American within a period not exceeding 15 days," Muhajer said.

The two broadcasts came four days before the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

Muhajer added: "I do not doubt for an instant victory" against US-led forces in Iraq, calling President George W. Bush a "liar" and a "dog."

"Do not be proud of the number and the equipment" (of your army), Muhajer said.

"The war has just begun."

Muhajer had already issued a public statement in June, a few days after his predecessor Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi was killed in a US air strike in Iraq.

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