Continued from part 2.
Something else to consider. Aside from the bullshit reasons for trying to keep the film off the air, and the reasons for keeping the film off of DVD/Blu-Ray distribution (so far succeeding on that front), it would be a good idea to bring up the criticisms the film is facing. Historical criticisms, and criticism on a little something else.
In the opening credits of The Path to 9/11, it states the film is based on the book The Cell: Inside the 9/11 Plot, and Why the FBI and CIA Failed to Stop It by John C. Miller, Michael Stone, and Chris Mitchell. In the closing credits, the film states it’s also based in part on the novels 1000 Years for Revenge by Peter Lance, and Relentless Pursuit: The DSS and the Manhunt for the Al-Qaeda Terrorists. The first bit of criticism starts with the authoring of the screenplay, mainly in regards to it unfairly ripping off one of those books, and “whitewashing” it (not in the sense of replacing characters with white actors mind you).
1000 Years for Revenge
So according to Peter Lance, author of the book 1000 Years for Revenge (which will be referred to as 1K-R from here on out), Cyrus Nowrasteh approached Lance stating that ABC wanted to use his book 1K-R as the main source for The Path to 9/11. Peter Lance instead sold the book rights to director of NBC Kevin Reilly. In July 2005, Lance found out about Cyrus’ involvement with the film project, which at that time was being filmed under the unofficial title “[Untitled] History Project,” something that Blocking the Path to 9/11 confirms.
Now, in July as the cameras began rolling on what ABC first called “the History Project,” something told me that I should get a look at Cyrus’s script. When I turned to the first page of “Night One,” I saw that Nowrasteh had lifted much of my book, scene by scene, dialogue for dialogue. He’d even titled the first two hours, “The Mozart of Terror,” the name I’d coined for Yousef.
But beyond the hijacking of 1000 Years, what was most galling, was how Cyrus, hungry for some book on which to hang his story, had now embraced The Cell, the very book he’d bad-mouthed to me and elevated John Miller, who was about to take a job as chief FBI flak, to a lead character.
Worse, he’d taken the hapless Det. Lou Napoli – who had
ignored Ronnie Bucca’s warnings and failed to follow the WTC bombers and turned him a lead member of the FBI posse out to stop bin Laden – a bullpen of real and fictional characters now led by John O’Neill.
Unable to legally acquire my book, Nowrasteh had simply appropriated it and used what he wanted from it and then set up The Cell with its pro FBI slant as the “based on” underlying work for his re-telling of “History.”
Finally, after months of negotiating with ABC, Larry Stein called me in December of 2005 to say that my former network had agreed to pay a settlement of $250,000.00 to acquire the mini-series rights to 1000 Years For Revenge.
But the deal contained a “non-disparagement” clause and gag order. In order to keep me from telling the real truth behind their distortion of my work, ABC would hold off paying me the final $50K until a month after The Path to 9/11 aired.
Claim: The Path to 9/11 rips scenes and dialogue from 1K-R, and is based more heavily on that book than on The Cell.
Response: Well, ABC did respond to and settle with Peter Lance in response to his claims, which should say something in of itself. That being said, when reading the book The Cell, I’ve noticed plenty of narrative elements from that film that indicate that the miniseries was heavily inspired by that book. For instance, the book puts a lot of focus on an ABC news reporter (one of the author’s of the book, who is also a significant character in the miniseries) who got in past security (he knew some of the fireman and policeman) right after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing to get a glimpse at the inside while firemen and bomb disposal units were doing their work inside. He shows up at other points, such as when the blind sheik gets arrested, interviews Bin Laden, and shoots footage from ground zero during the actual 9/11 incident. This is a character that 1K-R does not focus on.
Plus The Cell mentions that Ramzi Yousef (the one who was mainly responsible for carrying out the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing) looked upon the towers across the Jersey shore after his bombing failed to topple both of them. Keep in mind that The Cell was written before 1K-R (in fact, Peter Lance mentions the book in his footnotes, though he also mentions that it’s a book that “told only one side of the story” (Introduction, p.2).
And from what sections I have read from the book, I agree, scenes are lifted from the book and put into the movie, which fully supports Lance’s claim.
Anyway, when all is said and done, the above issue is more of an issue with giving credit where credit is due, which isn’t something that the final product in of itself should be bashed for. The main objection Peter Lance has against The Path to 9/11 is less the fact that they took his work without permission (ie plagiarized), and more that they distorted “facts” that Lance laid out in his novel that he not only wanted in the film, but that he says Cyrus claimed to have also wanted included in the film. I’m not sure if Lance’s claims on Cyrus intending to include such information is true or not, only they know the truth about that, and I haven’t seen anything from Cyrus that confirms or denies these claims. But I can take a look at the events Lance wanted included in the screenplay.
Claim: “the story of FBI special agent Nancy Floyd who’d almost stopped Yousef as he built the first WTC bomb in 1992 only to have her career tanked by superiors in the NYO” — Source
Response: The 1K-R novel focuses on 3 major characters, Ramzi Yousef, a firefighter named Ronnie Bucca, and then FBI agent Nancy Floyd. Ramzi aside, Nancy and Ronnie had reduced roles in the film compared to 1K-R, which disappointed Lance as he feels their stories must be told in greater depth, especially since he has made them central characters in his nonfiction novel. That being said, Nancy Floyd’s character is in the film, she appears roughly 15-16 minutes in. Interestingly enough, her character was also in the film Path to Paradise (played by Marcia Gay Harden), but she is not mentioned in the novel The Cell. That in of itself does support the claim that The Cell doesn’t tell all sides of the story. Anyway, the film pretty much shows about as much of Nancy as 1K-R described, except the part of her career following the trial of Yousef. In the novel, it states that Nancy didn’t receive any reward, had an OPR investigation done on her, and she was left hung out to dry. Most likely because she bad mouthed her superiors (who pretty much deserved it), and that bad mouthing was recorded on an audio device and used in the trial hearings by the defense. Should the film have included that moment? Probably, considering how much screwing over was done. But that’s hardly a good enough reason to say that this film shouldn’t be seen.
Claim: “the Ronnie Bucca tragedy. An ex-Green Beret and firefighter with the FDNY’s elite Rescue One, Bucca later became a fire marshal and had top secret security clearance via an Army Reserve M.P. unit where he was posted at The Defense Intelligence Analysis Center at Bolling AFB in D.C.” — Source
Story details: http://peterlance.com/wordpress/?p=1182
Response:As far as I can tell, Ronnie Bucca isn’t mentioned in the film (or in The Cell for that matter). And as far as I know, he was a man who fit the above description who had taken it upon himself to do his own personal investigation following the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and might have come across information that could’ve been useful towards avoiding the 9/11 incident. But honestly, that message is already included in the movie. The CIA and FBI side of the story is already enough to show that things were happening that the government should’ve taken more seriously, but didn’t, and Ronnie’s story wouldn’t have added much to that. That being said, there is another story that should take much higher priority than Ronnie’s in terms of what the film tries to accomplish, and that’s Able Danger, a U.S. organization that had proof of at least 4 of the hijackers, that they were planning the 9/11 event, and had this information available in the year 2000, but the higher ups ignored them. It’s the most unbelievable part of the whole story, but that wasn’t included in the film. For what reason, probably because it wasn’t mentioned in either The Cell or 1K-R. Peter Lance would include it in his later book Triple Cross, but it was probably too early to get into that particular plot development. It’s worth looking into.
Anyway, all of that aside, I’d like to lay down an alternative viewpoint regarding Peter Lance’s involvement with the project, and his book’s influence. I don’t doubt that he and Cyrus met and talked about it, and I don’t doubt that his book was influential in the role of the film. What I do doubt is the extent of his victim role. He claims he was less in it for the money and more in it for getting the story told, for getting the message out. And yet, he decided to sell the right to his book to NBC instead, and hoped they would get an alternative film/miniseries done that would be faithful to his work. His argument against ABC, claiming they were ripping off his book with their screenplay, is true in that Cyrus also wanted as much of the whole story told as possible, but they could no longer secure the rights to the book Cyrus (may have) recommended. At the time, ABC was shooting the film under the title “Untitled History Project”. They didn’t want Peter Lance bringing this up publicly and exposing the project while they were still filming, so they went ahead and gave him money and told him to shutup. This is because, according to the documentary Blocking The Path to 9/11, it was given that unofficial title for security and safety reasons for the cast and crew. I mean, think about it, what would happen if word got out that they were making a 9/11 docudrama during the filming process? The source above states he wrote a letter to ABC citing his objections and claim of slander in October 2005. ABC relented and gave him a settlement with the gag order in December 2005. The filming of The Path to 9/11 finished in the summer of 2006 (as stated in the documentary Blocking the Path to 9/11). That was likely the primary reason for the gag order, yet Lance speaks out as if big bad Disney ABC were flexing its muscles solely just because they didn’t want any badmouthing. That being said, I wouldn’t doubt that was another reason for the gag order. Plus Disney has a bad habit throughout its history of ripping off sources for a watered down version of a story without citation (Aladdin vs. the original version of The Thief and the Cobbler, The Lion King vs. Hamlet and Kimba the White Lion). The security risk for the cast and crew should not be ignored in any case.
The Big Question
Was The Path to 9/11 wrong to have that 3 minute sequence that shows how they failed to capture Bin Laden? There are claims that this incident did not happen, that they never got that close, and that Bill Clinton did everything he could to capture/kill Bin Laden, and even went so far as to draw up an invasion plan for Afghanistan that could be used after his presidency had ended so the next president could utilize it to finish what he started.
Claim: No event like the scene portrayed in the movie with them getting that close to killing/capturing Bin Laden ever happened.
Response: Hank Crumpton says otherwise, according to this 60 Minutes interview done in 2012. Hank Crumpton is a former CIA officer.
Claim: Bill Clinton did everything he could to capture/kill Bin Laden during his presidency, from 1998 and onwards.
Response:He did everything he could so long as it wouldn’t hurt his political chances. This is backed up by the novels, and by documentaries such as National Geographic’s Inside 9/11, and On Native Soil.
Claim: Bill Clinton was responsible for the drawing up of the invasion plan into the Middle East for dealing with the terrorists and Bin Laden just before his presidency ended.
Response: I thought I remembered seeing this scene depicted in the film. Apparently I thought wrong, unless I overlooked it somehow. But anyway, more accurately, Clinton had an official draw up an invasion plan for the next president to implement since he didn’t want to do it during his last year in office. They could’ve included that, and to be honest, I kinda wished they did too. But even if they did, the haters would still probably hate, claiming that the film would’ve made Clinton look like a pussy for not invading during his last year with those invasion plans, forcing the next president to go along with it. In any case, the message remains the same even without this event. Clinton wanted to deal with Al Qaeda, but was iffy when it came to actually doing so on various occasions (not all occasions mind you, some various ones). And if there was a chance things could go wrong, he didn’t want to be viewed in a worse light than he already was with the whole affair scandal and the botched bombing run. So he handed the responsibility over to the next in line, who didn’t act on it. Either way, both sides share the blame.
Response to Frank Vyan Walton’s post “ABC shelves Path to 9/11 DVD. Yay!”
Boy does this blog have a lot to get off of its chest on how much is despises The Path to 9/11, and pretty much Republicans in general. Aside from bringing up the “intellectual theft” that was discussed above, he brings up these issues which I will respond to, especially since he thinks these are good enough reason to keep this movie off the shelves:
Claim: The film essentially defamed John O’Neill, Richard Clarke, George Tenet, Madeleine Albright, Sandy Berger and Bill Clinton by manufacturing failures of inaction on their part which didn’t take place and ignoring many successful aggressive anti-terrorist actions.
Response:See above in response to the claims “Bill Clinton did everything he could…” and “No event like the scene portrayed in the movie…” As for John O’Neill, what are you even talking about? Did you even watch the movie? I’d say they did the opposite of defaming him. Same goes for Richard Clarke. Sandy Berger, that piece of shit deserved to get defamed after stealing and destroying classified documents (Source), nevermind the fact that he was involved in at least one of those “close call” incidents according to Tom Kean in the documentary Blocking the Path to 9/11. As for the others, in what way, may I ask, were they unjustly defamed?
Claim: The rival book (as compared to 1K-R) “The Cell, ” is essentially a “Disney-ized” version of similar events brought up in 1K-R, but was so white-washed it was “Like telling the story of John Dillinger’s take down without mentioning FBI agent Melvin Purvis.”
Response:That’s true, up to a point. Yeah that book left out Nancy Floyd, and Ahmed Shah Massoud. But you know what else? 1K-R doesn’t cover ABC reporter John Miller to the extent that The Cell does. It also goes too far into conspiracy theory territory when it brings up Flight TWA 800, stating that Yousef may have been involved with bombing the plane, when it wasn’t a bomb at all that took it down. In fact, The Cell goes into great detail on how panicked everyone was about that flight, the conspiracy theories that abounded, and how the FBI stayed on that case longer than it should to make sure a logical scientific explanation was put forth after much time and research to explain how it exploded and why it went down the way it did (the building of a computer simulation was involved). Plus Peter Lance is way too hard on the FBI, citing their failures. Look, there’s negligence by the higher ups, then there’s the whole “in hindsight” logic that Lance constantly uses. The Cell offers another perspective, on how the FBI agents on the ground were scrambling and doing the best they could with what they had even though they were underfunded and understaffed (particularly in the arabic translation department). That they could’ve done their jobs better if they were better financed, had more staff/support, and more cooperation and understanding between their higher ups and other agencies such as the CIA. Both books have their pros and cons.
The blog states that the below “facts” were not included in The Path to 9/11. I will respond on if they were or were not actually included in the film, and if they were not, if they should have been (discussing if they were in fact factual).
Claim: Bill Clinton personally authorized each and every aggressive action suggested to stop and/or contain Osama Bin Laden (Source)
Response:If that’s true, then he sure dropped the ball on that didn’t he? Anyway, the film did say the attacks were authorized, it was the matter of actually pulling the trigger that became questionable, especially when civilians were around the target.
Claim: Under Clinton the CIA had standing orders to Kill Bin Laden (9/11 Commission Report)
Response:Well yeah, that’s true, and the film supports this. But there’s a difference between having orders to kill bin Laden, and actually taking the necessary steps to kill bin Laden.
Claim: No U.S. military personnel were ever on the ground in Afghanistan prior to 9/11 and ever had visual contact with Bin Laden (Source)
Response:The “visual contact with Bin Laden” part could be true, but not having military personnel on the ground is not, unless by military that doesn’t include those who were on the ground attempting to capture/kill Bin Laden along with Ahmed Shah Massoud. In which case, then yeah, no military, just FBI or CIA agents.
Claim: Bill Clinton specifically ordered Joint Chiefs Chairman Hugh Shelton to develop a plan to put Special Forces on the ground in Bin Laden’s camps, but it was the Pentagon who balked – not the White House. (Source)
Response:Alright, yeah, I don’t recall the film having that bit in it. I don’t think it mentioned the Special Forces idea in general, aside from a brief discussion where they remark that a president has never declared a war during the last year in office, which is essentially what deploying Special Forces means. But yeah, they could’ve included that, but they didn’t. Again, I seriously doubt that this is grounds for keeping this film hidden away. Consider a scene during part 2 where they ask Condoleezza Rice on a few occasions for assistance with retaliating against Al Qaeda, and retaliating against the USS Cole attack, but their pleas are once again ignored, only now by another administration that seems to give less of a damn despite the warning signs.
Claim: The Development of the Armed Predator, under Clinton, to address the logistical problems which plagued Special Forces in Afghanistan
Response:The Predator and discussions of arming it is included in the movie, during the Clinton Administration period.
Claim: The fact that the Armed Predator, though ready, was not even discussed for deployment by the WH until Clarke’s “urgent” meeting finally took place on Sept 5th.
Response: Ok. The whole Predator scenario was put in the movie, mentioning how they wanted it to become armed so they could’ve taken out Bin Laden when they had the chance (budget). And again, I think they included enough of it in the movie.
Claim: Richard Clarke’s urgent Jan 2001 warnings about Al Qaeda to Condi Rice and call for an immediate Principles Meeting which was ignored for 9 months.
Response:Well, I’d say they condensed this whole thing in a scene where he meets with Rice, who ignores him and has him re-assigned to another sector (Cyber-Security).
Claim: The Bush Administration doing nothing in response to the U.S.S. Cole bombing once Al Qaeda had been confirmed as the culprits in early 2001.
Response:That’s true. But Clinton didn’t really do much either. Both administrations failed their because the Yemenis wouldn’t assist them. Hell, they hindered them. And neither administration wanted to get too aggressive with investigating it or else risk rising tensions and potential war with Yemenis. This is covered in The Cell by the way.
Claim: The Midnight Ride to Condi’s Office by Tenet, Cofer Black and Clark to warn that something big “10 on a scale of 1 to 10” was coming, which was ignored. (Source)
Response:There’s already plenty of instances in the film about pleas to the higher ups falling on deaf ears.
Claim: The August 6th President’s Day Brief. (Source)
Response: The film did not focus on either president enough to have an actor portray them, only relying on news footage. There was no reason to give Bush such special attention compared to Clinton. That being said, one could argue that this should’ve been mentioned second-hand by some participant of the brief, such as by Condoleezza Rice or some such person.
Claim: George Tenet’s personal briefing of Bush in August at the Crawford ranch to reemphasize the PDB and make clear that “They’re Coming Here”
Response:Just how many of these “pleas falling on deaf ears” instances do you fucking want in this movie?
Oh, and one other thing mentioned by Walton:
“I myself regret that “Path to 9/11” won’t be available on DVD since I actually missed it’s original airing – I also love a good comedy.”
Sounds to me like he’s implying that he didn’t actually make an attempt to watch the fucking movie. Probably would’ve helped his case if he did, just like how it would’ve helped those asshole politician’s cases if they themselves also saw the movie before opening their cunthole mouths against it.
One last thing.
I mentioned in part one of this film analysis that several politicians who rallied against the film had not seen it. It’s worth noting that they claim to have requested a copy of the film, but were denied by Disney ABC. That may be true, and ABC probably should’ve given them copies of the film for the sake of calming the shitstorm that erupted. But they didn’t. I can think of a few reasons why, the main one being why should a studio give out a copy of a film before its release date at the risk of having it leaked online or have bootleg copies floating around? I think they were hoping they would just wait and watch the damn show when it aired, and then bring their arguments afterward, which is how it should be in my opinion. Was this the right decision? In hindsight, maybe not, but there are factors to consider just from a business standpoint alone. The film did eventually air, and at that point many of the arguments turned out to be bullshit, so they shut their mouths. But that still didn’t stop behind the curtains political pressure from going against Disney which went against ABC to shelve the film and keep it locked in the Disney vault for the foreseeable future. And this is a crime against film.
PS: Still haven’t finished 1K-R. Working my way through it. But I used the index to go to various pages in an attempt to counter some of the above claims. If I made any mistakes, or if my responses are not solid, by all means, leave a statement in the comments section and I will address it.
End of Review/Analysis (hopefully).