Clinton officials balk at ABC's 9/11 miniseries
Former U.S. president Bill Clinton and officials of his administration are objecting to an ABC miniseries, Path to 9/11, that purports to tell the story of the lead-up to the attacks on the World Trade Center.
Clinton and senior officials, including former secretary of state Madeleine Albright andone-time National Security adviser Sandy Berger, have written to ABC demanding the network withdraw the series or correct errors.
The miniseries, scheduled to air Sunday and Monday at 8 p.m., is "terribly wrong," the letters say, and contains depictions of events involving public figures that never happened.
The $40-million US series blames policies enacted during the Clinton years in part for the lack of attention given to international terrorism.
However, there is plenty of blame to go around with Bush administration officials such as Condoleeza Rice also taking plenty of heat.
"By ABC's own standard, ABC has gotten it terribly wrong," Clinton Foundation head Bruce Lindsey and former Clinton adviser Douglas Band wrote in a letter to Robert Iger, chief executive of ABC's parent The Walt Disney Co.
"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. It is unconscionable to mislead the American public about one of the most horrendous tragedies our country has ever known," the letter says.
The talk of blogs
Political blogs throughout the U.S. are hotly debating the miniseries, with conservative websites happy to see blame for the 9/11 attacks shift onto the previous Clinton administration.
Conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh has interpreted the film for his listeners as demonstrating that, in the Clinton era, "we didn't do diddly-squat," while the Bush administration was subsequently "caught up and sort of hamstrung by the existing procedures."
The Path to 9/11 outlines 10 years of systemic failure to prepare for international terrorism and comes down hard in favour of laws such as the Patriot Act that give new powers to government.
The two-part miniseries is drawn from interviews and documents, including the report of the Sept. 11 commission. ABC is describing the series as a "dramatization," as opposed to a documentary.
Clinton's formerofficials complained about not being permitted to view the miniseries, but said some of the scenes they have had described to them are fabricated.
Albright is shown personally warning the Pakistani government before an airstrike on Afghanistan, in a scene she says never happened.
"The scene as explained to me is false and defamatory," she said in her letter to ABC.
Berger is shown refusing to authorize the arrest ofOsama bin Laden in the years before the attacks despitea request from CIA officials.
"The fabrication of this scene (of such apparent magnitude) cannot be justified under any reasonable definition of dramatic licence," he wrote.
Object to ads
Lindsey and Band objected to advertisements for the miniseries, saying they suggest Clinton wasn't paying enough attention to the threat of terrorism.
They asked to see the miniseries to help correct inaccuracies.
"While ABC is promoting The Path to 9/11 as a dramatization of historical fact, in truth it is a fictitious rewriting of history that will be misinterpreted by millions of Americans," they said.
"Given your stated obligation to 'get it right,' we urge you to do so by not airing this drama until the egregious factual errors are corrected, an endeavour we could easily assist you with given the opportunity to view the film."
ABC has not responded to the criticism. It plans to air the five-hour series commercial free.
With files from Associated Press