The Path to 9/11

The Path to 9/11

"The Path to 9/11" was a two-part miniseries that aired in the United States on ABC television from September 10 – 11, 2006, and also in other countries. The film dramatizes the 2001 terrorist attack upon the World Trade Center in New York City and the events leading up to the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Initially promoted as having a high level of authenticity and claiming that its screenplay was "based on the 9/11 Commission Report," controversy arose from the film after that claim was later removed by ABC. Critics pointed out that key scenes were fictional in nature, and the controversy ensued.

The film was written by Cyrus Nowrasteh, a conservative screenwriter [] , and directed by David L. Cunningham; it stars Harvey Keitel and Donnie Wahlberg. [ [ "The Path to 9/11" at] ]
According to ABC:


*Harvey Keitel.... John P. O'Neill (FBI Special Agent, Terrorism, and subsequently Head of Security at WTC)
*Donnie Wahlberg.... Kirk (Composite CIA field agent)
*Stephen Root.... Richard Clarke
*Barclay Hope.... John Miller
*Patricia Heaton.... Barbara Bodine (U.S. Ambassador to Yemen)
*Shirley Douglas.... Madeleine Albright (U.S. Secretary of State)
*Penny Johnson Jerald.... Condoleezza Rice (U.S. National Security Advisor)
*Dan Lauria .... George Tenet (Director of Central Intelligence)
*Amy Madigan.... Patricia Carver (Composite CIA headquarters analyst)
*Michael Murphy.... William Cohen
*Trevor White.... Scott Ramer
*William Sadler.... Neil Herman
*Shaun Toub.... Emad Salem
*Michael Benyaer.... Khalid Sheikh Mohammed
*Martin Brody.... Mohamed Atta (9/11 leader, presumed pilot of American Airlines Flight 11)
*Nayef Rashed.... Ayman al-Zawahiri (Al Qaeda leader)
*Fulvio Cecere.... Joe Dunne
*Marie Cruz.... Aida Fariscal
*Kevin Dunn.... Sandy Berger (U.S. National Security Advisor)
*Nabil Elouahabi.... Ramzi Yousef (World Trade Center bomber)
*Enis Esmer.... Mohammed Salameh
*Moe Fawaz.... Majed Moqed
*Akin Gazi.... Mohamed Rashed Daoud Al-Owhali
*Mido Hamada.... Ahmed Shah Massoud (Afghan tribal leader)
*Youssef Kerkour....Mahmud Abouhalima
*Sam Lupovich.... Khalid al-Midhar
*David Michie.... Nicholas Lanier (Composite ABC Middle East Correspondent)
*Hani Noureldin.... Nawaf Al-Hazmi
*Armando Riesco.... John Atkinson
*George R. Robertson.... Dick Cheney (Vice President)
*Al Sapienza.... Donald Sadowy
*Katy Selverstone.... Nancy Floyd
*Jean Yoon.... Betty Ong (Flight Attendant)


The miniseries presents a dramatization of the sequence of events leading to the September 11, 2001 attacks by Al Qaeda on the United States, starting from the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and up to the minutes after the collapse of the World Trade Center in 2001, based on the 9/11 Commission reports. The point of view of the movie is from two primary protagonists: John P. O'Neill, and a composite Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agent, "Kirk". O'Neill was the real-life Special Agent in charge of Al Qaeda investigations at the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He died in the collapse of the Twin Towers on September 11 shortly after retiring from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and taking the position of Director of Security for the World Trade Center. The composite CIA agent "Kirk" is shown dealing with various American allies, especially Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Shah Massoud, in Afghanistan. In addition, "Patricia", a CIA headquarters analyst, represents the views of the rank and file at CIA headquarters. The miniseries features dramatizations of various incidents summarized in the 9/11 Commission Report, and represented in high level discussions held within both the Clinton and Bush administrations. The final hour of the movie dramatizes the events of 9/11, including a re-creation of the second plane entering the World Trade Center, Tom Burnett's calls to his wife, and John Miller's reporting near the scene of the attacks. The film concludes with information about the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, as well as the performance evaluation the Commission gave the government when it reconvened in 2005.


United States

*Part 1: September 10, 2006 at 8:00pm-10:45pm (shortened from 11 PM) at EDT on ABC
*Part 2: September 11, 2006 at 8:00pm-9:00pm at EDT on ABC
*Part 2 (continued): September 11, 2006 at 9:20pm-10:17pm at EDT on ABC (After President Bush National Address) (See exception)

ABC's broadcasts though originally planned to be shown "with limited commercial interruption" were aired with no commercials, since the network was unable to obtain sponsorship. [ [ War Room: Political News, Politics News - Salon ] ] The broadcasts were also watched in Canada, where the network is available on cable and satellite.

Part 2 of the miniseries, also uninterrupted, aired in the San Diego, California market on KGTV nearly a week later, on September 16, 2006, from 8:30pm-10:30 pm. Fact|date=April 2007


*Part 1: September 10, 2006 at 8:30pm on Channel Seven
*Part 2: September 11, 2006 at 9:30pm on Channel Seven


*Part 1: September 13, 2006 at 9:05pm on VT4
*Part 2: September 20, 2006 at 9:05pm on VT4

*Part 1: August 20, 2008 at 9:10pm on RTL-TVI
*Part 2: August 20, 2008 at 10:00pm on RTL-TVI
*Part 3: August 20, 2008 at 10:50pm on RTL-TVI


*Part 1: November 11, 2007 on MTV3
*Part 2: November 18, 2007 on MTV3
*Part 3: November 25, 2007 on MTV3
*Part 4: December 2, 2007 on MTV3
*Part 5: December 9, 2007 on MTV3

In Finland the miniseries was shown in five parts as distinct from normal two.


*Part 1: September 10, 2006 at 9:00pm on Zee Studio
*Part 2: September 11, 2006 at 9:00pm on Zee Studio

New Zealand

*Part 1: September 10, 2006 at 7:30pm on TV One
*Part 2: September 11, 2006 at 7:30pm on TV One


*Part 1: January 3, 2008 on TVNorge
*Part 2: January 4, 2008 on TVNorge
*Part 1: September 12, 2008 on TVNorge

outh Africa

*Part 1: September 11, 2007 on M-Net
*Part 2: September 11, 2007 on M-Net


*Part 1: September 12, 2007 at 10.00pm on Antena 3
*Part 2: September 12, 2007 at 12:00pm on Antena 3

United Kingdom

*Part 1: September 10, 2006 at 8:00pm on BBC2
*Part 2: September 11, 2006 at 8:30pm on BBC2

BBC2's broadcasts were also watched in Ireland, Belgium and the Netherlands, where the channel is available on cable.

Production history

According to ABC, the movie is based on the 9/11 Commission Report, books "The Cell" by John Miller and "The Relentless Pursuit" by Samuel Katz, as well as personal interviews, news accounts, and other sources. [Credits to "Path to 9/11"] The first indication that ABC was running a miniseries appeared in a brief article in the "New York Post." [Kaplan, Don and David K. Li. "SECRETS OF FIRST 9/11 MINISERIES" "New York Post", July 28, 2005] In it, the producers identified shooting locations and revealed that Harvey Keitel would play John O'Neill. At the time, ABC had a working name of "Untitled Commission Report" and the producers used the working title "Untitled History Project", with the project beginning filming in July 2005 and scheduled to end post production by January 2006. Preview screenings were made in May for foreign broadcasters. [ [ Beeb clears a 'Path' for ABC's 9/11 mini - Entertainment News, TV News, Media - Variety ] ] The film was first publicly announced at the Television Critics Association summer press tour in July.

According to "Advertising Age", the miniseries was a personal project of ABC entertainment president Steve McPherson, who began to look for a producer shortly after reading the 9/11 Commission Report.

The White House asked the major networks for airtime to present a Presidential Address to the nation. The interruption delayed the broadcast of the second half of "Path to 9/11" by approximately 20 minutes in the Eastern and Central Time Zones. Otherwise, the movie aired without any interruption.

Filming was conducted in Morocco, New York City, Toronto, Hamilton, Ontariocite web|url=,+Ontario,+Canada |title=Internet Movie Database - List of Films shot in Hamilton, Ontario|accessdate=2008-01-29] and Washington, D. C. The production was one of the few allowed to film at the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, Virginia. [ [ Boston Globe, Sept. 6, 2006: Makers of ABC miniseries question why 9/11 happened] By Suzanne C. Ryan, Globe Staff]

Controversy and criticisms

ABC advertised the involvement of Republican 9/11 Commission Chairman Thomas Kean as both a consultant and as a co-executive producer. [ [ ABC Entertainment Gets More Pressure to Toss 9/11 Film] , by David Bauder, September 8, 2006] what

Commission member Richard Ben-Veniste said that the miniseries misrepresented many facts presented in the the 9/11 Commission report, and noted that no Democratic 9/11 Commission member had been consulted. [ [ 9/11 Miniseries Is Criticized as Inaccurate and Biased - New York Times ] ]

The extent of the criticism and indignation expressed resulted in ABC revising its original description of the film as a "docu-drama based on the 9/11 Commission Report" to describe it as a dramatization of events based only in part on the 9/11 Commission Report. The network also added a disclaimer to that effect three times during both nights of the U.S. broadcast. However, these last-minute revisions and the dilution of its original claims were made too late to prevent the "Path to 9/11" film being marketed in some other countries as the "Official True Story".Fact|date=September 2007

To date, ABC's $40 million miniseries, which drew a combined audience of 25 million, has not been released on DVD. Writer and producer Cyrus Nowrasteh has said that a stalled release is not due to lack of interest but rather strong political pressure. He told the "Los Angeles Times" that " [P] owerful forces are out to protect Bill Clinton's presidential legacy and shield Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) from any potential collateral damage in her bid for the White House". Furthermore, Nowrasteh goes on to explain that he was told by a top executive at ABC Studios that "if Hillary weren't running for president, this wouldn't be a problem." According to the "LA Times", an ABC spokeswoman reached September 4, 2007 would say only that the company "has no release date at this time," and she declined to comment further. [cite news |title=Is Clinton's candidacy blocking 'Path to 9/11'? |publisher=LA Times |date=September 5, 2007 |url=,0,2302280.story?coll=la-home-entertainment] In an interview with KFI's John Ziegler, Nowrasteh candidly discusses the issue. [cite news |title=Producer Claims ABC Won't Release 'Path to 9/11' DVD |publisher=Breitbart TV |date=September 5, 2007 |url=]

Advance viewing copies selectively distributed

The extensive pre-broadcast controversy over the film was based on content that was present in viewing copies sent to conservative political groups, talk show hosts and bloggers. [ [ LIBERTAS » Blog Archive » LIBERTAS Exclusive! An Advance Review of ABC’s Outstanding The Path to 9/11 ] ] The office of former President Clinton repeatedly requested a preview copy, but was denied one, [ [ ABC News: Comments About ABC Entertainment's 9/11 Film ] ] as was former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. [ [ ABC News: Comments About ABC Entertainment's 9/11 Film ] ] However, a version was shown at a Washington, D.C. screening to members and guests of the National Press Club, [ [,0,2124244.story?coll=la-home-headlines L.A. Times: ABC Stands By Its 9/11 Story — Almost. By Scott Collins and Tina Daunt] ] and to attendees of the Midwest Security and Police Conference in Chicago. [ [ Law enforcement gets sneak peak (sic) of 9/11 mini-series 8/02/06 ] ]

Background of writer/producer

The film's writer/producer, Cyrus Nowrasteh, has described himself as "probably more of a libertarian than a strict conservative," but "it's not the predominant thing that's driving me, my career, or my writing." He said further that he did not "want to just be a conservative version of Michael Moore." [ [ by Interview by Govindini Murty] ] Nowrasteh also wrote and directed "The Day Reagan Was Shot", a TV movie for which Oliver Stone was the executive producer. [Cast and Crew for [ The Day Reagan Was Shot] ]

Nowrastech has been a featured speaker and columnist [ [ LIBERTAS » Blog Archive » Interview: Writer-Producer Cyrus Nowrasteh on his ”Into the West” & ”9/11” Miniseries ] ] for the Liberty Film Festival - a Conservative film festival which merged in 2006 with David Horowitz's Center for the Study of Popular Culture (now the David Horowitz Freedom Center) to form a joint conservative film organization. [] In November 2006, He received an award in 2006 from the Liberty Film Festival for his participation in "The Path to 9/11". [ [ Media Matters - ABC VP presented with "Freedom of Expression Award" at right-wing film festival for her role in pushing The Path to 9/11 ] ] [ [ LIBERTAS » Blog Archive » Fox News to Air Censored Clips from ABC’s The Path to 9/11 ] ]

Historical context of the controversy

Much of the context of the controversy surrounding "The Path to 9/11" concerns criticisms that the movie incorrectly portrays events and actions of the US government during the 1990s in combating al-Qaeda.

The bipartisan 9/11 Commission Report provides details on many failed initiatives during both the Clinton and Bush administrations in the years before the attacks. During the Clinton administration, the report describes several situations where the United States was unable to capitalize on intelligence opportunities to kill or capture Osama bin Laden. These include: [ National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States ] ]

*The claim by Sudan's minister of defense, Fatih Erwa, that Sudan offered to hand bin Laden over to the United States in 1995, widely cited in newspaper reports. However, the 9/11 Commission was able to find "no credible evidence that this was so" (page 110).

*Canceled CIA-led plans in May 1998 to use allied Tribal forces to capture bin Laden at Tarnak Farms in Afghanistan (page 111).

*Simultaneous Tomahawk cruise missile attacks in August 1998 on a camp near Khowst, Afghanistan and the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum, Sudan, which failed to kill bin Laden (Operation Infinite Reach, page 116).

*Intelligence locating bin Laden at the Haji Habash house in Kandahar in December 1998, accessible by cruise missile strike, which was not carried out (page 130). However, in this case, post-hoc analysis suggests that bin Laden left his room unexpectedly and would not have been hit (page 140).

*Intelligence locating bin Laden at the Sheikh Ali camp south of Kandahar in February 1999, accessible by cruise missile strike, which was not carried out (page 137).

*CIA reporting on bin Laden being located in the vicinity of Kandahar in May 1999 (page 140). Again, the military was order to "stand down" and no strike occurred. The latter strike is described in the 9/11 Commission Report as "the last, and most likely best, opportunity... for targeting bin Laden with cruise missiles before 9/11."

Criticisms of historical inaccuracy by FBI consultants

Two FBI agents criticized the film for creating a work of fiction, and claimed it was inaccurate. Thomas E. Nicoletti had been hired by the filmmakers as a consultant, but quit [ [ Think Progress » FBI Agent Who Consulted On Path to 9/11 Quit Halfway Through Because ‘They Were Making Things Up’ ] ] because "There were so many inaccuracies...I’m well aware of what’s dramatic license and what’s historical inaccuracy," Nicoletti said. "And this had a lot of historical inaccuracy.'" [ F.B.I. Agents Question Accuracy of 9/11 Series - New York Times ] ]

Dan Coleman, who retired from the FBI in 2004, said he also was concerned when he read the script in the summer of 2005 after being approached by producers about being a technical advisor.

"They sent me the script, and I read it and told them they had to be kidding," Coleman said. “I wanted my friends at the FBI to still speak to me.”

Alleged assassination opportunities not used by Clinton

Critics claim many inaccuracies in the film, including the depiction of the Clinton administration. For example in one scene, former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger is portrayed as unwilling to approve a plan to take out a surrounded Osama bin Laden. He leaves it to former CIA Director George Tenet to decide if he will take responsibility. In the original version of the film [ [ The deleted scane] at [ Investor's Business Daily] ] , Berger hangs up the phone on Tenet, and Tenet calls off the operation. No reliable verification of this event has ever been discovered. In fact, even Richard Miniter — a conservative author and critic of the Clinton administration — was quoted as saying cquote|the idea that someone had bin Laden in his sights in 1998 or any other time and Sandy Berger refused to pull the trigger, there’s zero factual basis for that.”". [ [ Think Progress » Conservative Author Richard Miniter: ‘There’s Zero Factual Basis’ For Key Scene In Path To 9/11 ] ]

Nowrasteh has said that the abrupt hang-up portrayed was not in the script and was instead improvised. It was later removed from the version shown in the United States. [ [ New York Times: Three From Clinton Administration Urge Disney to Cancel or Revise 9/11 Mini-Series. September 7, 2006 By Jesse McKinley] ] Moreover, Nowrasteh maintains that a certain amount of dramatic license must be allotted in the process writing a dramatic script with a historical underpinning (see docudrama and biopic). Although the precise conversations depicted in the script may never have taken place, the general tone and content of events depicted in The Path to 9/11 are alleged true. Nowrasteh has said that the film "dramatizes the frequent opportunities the administration had in the 90’s to stop bin Laden in his tracks but lacked the will to do so.” [ [ FrontPage Magazine ] ] When asked if he thought of the script as a "historical document," Nowrasteh has responded:

Nowrasteh used the book "Dereliction of Duty" [ [ Clinton aide says
9/11 film 'correct'
] by Robert "Buzz" Patterson as a source for portions of the movie. [ [ Buzz Patterson Dereliction of Duty - Reckless Disregard / Dereliction of Duty / RighTalk Radio ] ] [ Clinton aide says
9/11 film 'correct'
] ] In 2006 Patterson served as a board member for Move America Forward [ [ Move America Forward ] ] - a conservative political PAC, and was a host of a conservative talk show "The Buzz Cut" for a number of years [ [ HUMAN EVENTS ONLINE - Conservative News, Views & Books ] ] . He also serves as Chief Operating Officer of the conservative David Horowitz Freedom Center [ [ Horowitz Freedom Center: About Us ] ] . As a former Senior Military Aide to President Clinton, he was one of five men entrusted with carrying the President’s Emergency Satchel, otherwise known as the Nuclear Football.

"Dereliction of Duty" contains a compilation several events witnessed by Patterson. In an interview with "World Net Daily", Patterson agrees that scenes from "The Path to 9/11" conflate several events, but he maintains that the overall depiction of how the Clinton administration handled its opportunities to get bin Laden was correct. Patterson states that he witnessed several incidents similar to those depicted in the movie, where Berger was pressing Clinton for a decision to strike at bin Laden, "but he couldn't get a decision from the President." "Dereliction of Duty" recounts an event where Berger was informed in the situation room by a military watch officer, "Sir, we have a two-hour window to strike." Clinton did not return phone calls for Berger for more than an hour, then said he wanted more time to study the situation. Patterson also describes a second incident where Berger placed an urgent call to Clinton through Patterson. Clinton, who was watching a golf tournament, became irritated, and after a third attempt at relaying the message, responded that he would call Berger on his way back to the White House. According to Patterson, by then the window of opportunity was closed.

According to the bipartisan 9/11 Commission Report, there were several real-life circumstances where plans to capture bin Laden were called off that may roughly speaking match the description of events occurring in the movie (see above).

In May 1998, plans by the CIA to utilize allied tribal forces to capture bin Laden were called off (page 114). Both Berger and Tenet claim it was Tenet, not Berger, who called off plans. However, the report makes no claim as to who actually called off the operation, and it notes that the CIA's Deputy Director of Operations James Pavitt said he "thought that it was Berger’s doing, though perhaps on Tenet's advice." Berger claims, and his claims are presented uncontested in the Report, the operation was never in the execution stage in the first place because it was not feasible for local tribes and warlords to assist in his capture and delivery to the United States. [ [ National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States ] ]

In February 1999, a potential cruise missile strike against bin Laden was called off. According to the report, "Clarke told us the strike was called off after consultations with Director Tenet because the intelligence was dubious..." (page 130). Again in May 1999, a potential cruise missile strike against bin Laden was called off. Here again, the report suggests that it was Tenet who was responsible for canceling the attack, based on concerns regarding the reliability of intelligence (page 140).

An article at states that anti-terrorism expert Richard Clarke made the following criticisms of the film: [ [ Think Progress » Richard Clarke Blasts Key Scene In ABC’s 9/11 Docudrama ] ]
#Contrary to the movie, no US military or CIA personnel were on the ground in Afghanistan to have spotted bin Laden. (When asked about this apparent discrepancy, Nowrasteh stated, "I've interviewed CIA agents who have told me otherwise. But that is the one concession we made. [In the original,] we had a CIA agent on the ground near bin Laden's compound—inside the wall even—and we took that out for the final presentation.")
#Contrary to the movie, the head of the Northern Alliance, Ahmed Shah Massoud, was nowhere near the alleged bin Laden camp and therefore could not have seen Osama bin Laden.
#Contrary to the movie, Tenet actually said that he could not recommend a strike on the camp because the information was single sourced, and there would be no way to independently confirm bin Laden's presence in the target area by the time an already launched cruise missile would have reached it.

A member of the 9/11 Commission, Richard Ben-Veniste also stated that the scene depicting Berger hanging up the phone on Tenet is fictional. [ [ ] ]

Michael Scheuer, former head of the CIA Bin Laden Unit during the Clinton administration, a critic of President George W. Bush's Iraq policy, says it was not Berger who canceled assaults on bin Laden, but rather Clarke on Clinton's behalf. Scheuer states, "Mr. Clarke, of course, was at the center of Mr. Clinton's advisers, who resolutely refused to order the CIA to kill bin Laden. In spring 1998, I briefed Mr. Clarke and senior CIA, Department of Defense, and FBI officers on a plan to kidnap bin Laden. Mr. Clarke's reaction was that "it was just a thinly disguised attempt to assassinate bin Laden." I replied that if he wanted bin Laden dead, we could do the job quickly. Mr. Clarke's response was that the president did not want bin Laden assassinated, and that we had no authority to do so". [ [ Washington Times - Bill and Dick, Osama and Sandy ] ]

Former Secretary of State Albright questions her portrayal

Another scene in question supposedly portrays Madeleine Albright refusing to shoot missiles at Osama bin Laden without authority from Pakistan and eventually getting "permission" from them against the military's wishes. Albright insists that this is completely inaccurate. [ Albright letter to Robert Iger] , September 5, 2006] [ The same letter by Albright, hosted on the internet by CNN] ] According to the 9/11 Commission Report, Pakistan was informed by the US Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Joseph W. Ralston who "was sent to meet with Pakistan's army chief of staff to assure him the missiles were not coming from India." [ "The Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States", Chapter 4, Section 4.2] , Retrieved: September 18, 2006]

Inaccuracies regarding airline travel

In the opening scene of the film, American Airlines is depicted as ignoring a security warning regarding hijacker Mohammed Atta. The airline involved was actually U.S. Airways. [ [ Statement of Robert S. Mueller: Joint Investigation Into September 11: (published September 26, 2002) ] ]

According to the 9/11 Commission Report: "While Atta had been selected by CAPPS [a security warning at a U.S. Airway ticket counter] in Portland [Maine] three members of... [Atta's] hijacking team - Suqami, Wail al Shehri, and Waleed al Shehri - were selected [at an American Airline counter] in Boston. Their selection affected only the handling of their checked bags, not their screening at the checkpoint. All five men cleared the checkpoint and made their way to the gate for American 11." [ "The Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States", Chapter 1, Section 1.1, page 2] , Retrieved: September 16, 2006] The incorrect depiction of location and airline may be justified as "time compression and compositing", as described in the film's disclaimer, or it may be an example of careless writing and sloppy fact-checking.

As a result of the inaccuracy, American Airlines stated they planned to pull all advertising from the ABC network and were considering legal action. [ [ Movie & TV News @ - Studio Briefing - 18 September 2006 ] ]

ABC-selected pre-screenings

ABC, which offered the movie to schools, critics, some blogs, radio personalities such as Rush Limbaugh, and conservative movie critic Michael Medved, eventually presented a special screening to which Democrats such as Richard Ben-Veniste were also invited. According to Jay Carson, a spokesman for Bill Clinton, Clinton's office requested a copy of the movie so that they could view it before it aired, but the request was denied. However, Limbaugh has at least partially disputed this, claiming that Ben-Veniste and others saw the film before him. [] Carson has also stated that Madeleine Albright and Sandy Berger had also requested a copy and had also not received them. []

This prompted Albright and Berger to write letters] [] to ABC asking why they had not received copies and why ABC have chosen to run a movie whose accuracy is highly in question.

In addition to requesting an answer, Albright also stated the following reason for wanting a copy:

Clinton responds

On September 7, Clinton warned ABC through his attorneys that "The Path to 9/11" misrepresents his pursuit of Osama bin Laden.

cquote|Clinton pointedly refutted [sic] several fictionalized scenes that he claims insinuate he was too distracted by the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal to care about bin Laden and that a top adviser pulled the plug on CIA operatives who were just moments away from bagging the terror master, according to a letter to ABC boss Bob Iger obtained by The Post.

The former president also disputed the portrayal of then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright as having tipped off Pakistani officials that a strike was coming, giving bin Laden a chance to flee.

"The content of this drama is factually and incontrovertibly inaccurate and ABC has the duty to fully correct all errors or pull the drama entirely," the four-page letter said. [:]

enate Democrats' letter to ABC

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, Assistant Democratic Leader Dick Durbin, Senator Debbie Stabenow, Senator Charles Schumer, and Senator Byron Dorgan sent a letter to Robert A. Iger, the President and CEO of the Walt Disney Company. Their letter includes the following statement:cquote|Presenting such deeply flawed and factually inaccurate misinformation to the American public and to children would be a gross miscarriage of your corporate and civic responsibility to the law, to your shareholders, and to the nation.

"The Communications Act of 1934 provides your network with a free broadcast license predicated on the fundamental understanding of your principle obligation to act as a trustee of the public airwaves in serving the public interest. Nowhere is this public interest obligation more apparent than in the duty of broadcasters to serve the civic needs of a democracy by promoting an open and accurate discussion of political ideas and events." [ [ US Senator Harry Reid for Nevada ] ]

cholastic Press announcement

Scholastic Press, which had a deal with ABC to distribute "educational materials" based on the movie, pulled the materials in question from their website on September 7, substituting them with materials focusing on "critical thinking and media literacy skills". [ About Scholastic: News ] ]

Dick Robinson, Chairman, President and CEO of Scholastic Press, had this to say on the matter:

Responses from cast and crew

Harvey Keitel, who plays the lead role in the film, also criticized the script, saying that "it turned out not all the facts were correct" and "you cannot cross the line from a conflation of events to a distortion of the event." [ [ article by John Amato on Thursday, September 7th, 2006 at 10:01 PM - PDT] ] Keitel also said there was "discussion" and "argument" on-set during the filming about what was truthful and what was not, and that he disagreed with certain decisions.

Producer Marc Platt has acknowledged that the script was based in part on a book co-written by a Bush administration official. The book, "The Cell: Inside the 9/11 Plot, and Why the FBI and CIA Failed to Stop It" was co-written by John Miller, who serves as the assistant director of public affairs for the FBI. [ [ Media Matters - ABC's Path to 9/11 partly based on information from Bush administration PR official ] ]

Response from Barbara Bodine

On September 8, former Ambassador to Yemen Barbara Bodine complained in a "Los Angeles Times" Op-Ed about her portrayal in the film: "According to the mythmakers, a battle ensued between a cop obsessed with tracking down Osama bin Laden and a bureaucrat more concerned with the feelings of the host government than the fate of Americans and the realities of terrorism. I know this is false. I was there. I was the ambassador." [ [,1,3740515.story 9/11 Miniseries is Bunk] Los Angeles Times, Barbara Bodine, September 8, 2006] The ABC miniseries compressed Bodine's role to a single extended scene, suggesting she was dismissive, hostile, and vulgar toward FBI investigator John O'Neill from the moment of his October 2000 arrival in Yemen (see USS Cole bombing).

A 2003 biography of O'Neill, "The Man Who Warned America", recounts everything in the scene and portrays her in a similar light.

Television actress Patricia Heaton, who played Bodine and who has her own independent ABC development deal, did not comment on the controversy surrounding "The Path to 9/11" nor its worldwide broadcast on September 10-11, 2006.

Response by pre-screeners

Before the miniseries aired, some screeners of previews of "The Path to 9/11" asserted that certain scenes misrepresented the real-life events upon which they were said to be based, and that some scenes were complete fabrications. Fox News personality James Hirsen countered that the film, while containing elements of a dramatization, was overall fair and very well grounded in fact. [ [ ABC's 'Path to 9/11': Bill Clinton's Inconvenient Truth ] ] Still, some public figures (many of whom claim to have been denied the opportunity to see the movie in advance) have picked up on this and accused ABC of being unfair in its portrayal of the Clinton Administration's attitudes and actions regarding terrorism.Fact|date=January 2007 There are also claims that some individuals portrayed in the film were not given special DVD preview copies before it was aired publicly.Fact|date=January 2007

In addition to the fictionalized scenes and misrepresentations, preview copies have also contained several smaller errors that prompted criticism that the film is sloppy in its fidelity to facts. For example, a caption in the film misspelled Madeleine Albright's name. [ [ Disney/ABC gets Sec. of State Albright's name wrong in 9/11 mockumentary - AMERICAblog: A great nation deserves the truth ] ] Another example is a scene portraying a warning popping up on a computer when Mohamed Atta boarded American Airlines Flight 11 in Boston. The scene was factually inaccurate; Atta actually boarded a connecting U.S. Airways flight in Bangor, Maine. [ [ "Confronting the Terrorist Threat to the Homeland: Six Years After 9/11" ] ]

Open letter/questionable props

Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian was among many distinguished historians who published an open letter to ABC expressing concern about "flagrant falsehoods about critical events in recent American history", concluding: "A responsible broadcast network should have nothing to do with the falsification of history, except to expose it. We strongly urge you to halt the show's broadcast and prevent misinforming Americans about their history." [ [ Open Letter to ABC: Don't Airbrush 9/11: Leading Historians Call For Cancellation of "Fraudulent" ABC 9/11 Docudrama ] ]

During production of the movie, there was a controversy in the Toronto media over the use of discarded medical charts and records as document props. The Privacy Commissioner for the province of Ontario launched an investigation and the producers destroyed footage including the garbage and sent all remaining documents to a shredding service for disposal. [Siddiqui, Tabassam. "Privacy office probes records fiasco; Hundreds of medical charts strewn on streets used as props for Toronto shoot of 9/11 movie." "Toronto Star", Oct 4, 2005. pg. A.07]

Advertising discrepancies

While in the U.S. the film was marketed as a loose dramatization of events based on the 9/11 Commission Report, television advertising for the film in countries outside the U.S. called the film the "Official True Story".Fact|date=September 2007 Further, an Australian TV listing called the film "the story of exactly what happened", which later changed to "The thrilling dramatised investigation" as the airing time drew near. [ [ Daily Kos: ABC Hits Panic Button? Frantic Re-Write Misfires ] ]

A Republican supports editing film

Republican William Bennett joined those saying there is "no reason to falsify the record" or "falsify conversations". During an appearance on CNN he called on ABC to correct the inaccuracies of the show and for fellow conservatives to join him in such a demand. [ [ Sept. 8 2006 Video at Bill Bennett Says ABC Should ‘Correct Those Inaccuracies’ in Path to 9/11] ]

Misinformer of 2006

On December 22, 2006 Media Matters for America named ABC as "Misinformer" of 2006 for, among other things in "The Path to 9/11", calling it:

a two-part miniseries that placed the blame for the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the Clinton administration and whitewashed some of the Bush administration's failures leading up to the attacks.cite news | url= | title=Misinformer of the Year: ABC|publisher=Media Matters for America | date=December 22, 2006 | first= | last= | accessdate = 2007-01-14]

Allegation of non-profit involvement

Allegations of religious involvement surfaced in 2006, when journalist Max Blumenthal commented on David Loren Cunningham and his former links to the international mission organization Youth With A Mission. David is the son of Youth WIth A Mission founder Loren Cunningham. This connection to Youth WIth A Mission, and past allegations of a political agenda within the organization, were mentioned by Blumenthal. He also noted the previous intentions of David Cunningham to 'revolutionize' film and television by founding an auxiliary group within Youth WIth A Mission called TFI (The Film Institute). Youth WIth A Mission International Chairman Lynn Green acknowledged the allegations, yet rebutted these concerns, insisting that the organization, "had nothing to do with financing the film, nor did any YWAM personnel have any influence on the content of the film."cite news
title = Behind the ABC 9/11 Docudrama: The Axis of YWAM
author = Anton Chaitkin
publisher = Executive Intelligence Review
date = September 17, 2006
url =
accessdate = 2008-01-31
] cite web
title = ABC 9/11 Docudrama's Right-Wing Roots
url =
date=September 11, 2006
accessdate = 2007-12-16
quote = Last June, Cunningham's TFI announced it was producing its first film, mysteriously titled Untitled History Project. "TFI's first project is a doozy," a newsletter to YWAM members read. "Simply being referred to as: The Untitled History Project, it is already being called the television event of the decade and not one second has been put to film yet. Talk about great expectations!" (A web edition of the newsletter was mysteriously deleted last week after its publication by the blogger Digby, but has been cached on Google at the link above).
] cite web
title = YWAM and The Path to 9/11
url =
accessdate = 2007-12-16
quote = As you probably know, Youth With A Mission and our founder, Loren Cunningham, have come under some intense scrutiny in the media in the past couple of weeks days. I thought you might have some questions arising from the publicity and wanted to help you by providing some answers to help you respond to people around you.

Controversy: support for "The Path to 9/11"

9/11 Commission Kean's comment

Additionally, a book by Thomas Kean, a member of the 9/11 Commission who worked as an adviser to the film, is also included as published material.] Kean supports the film saying, "People in both parties didn't particularly like the commission report, and I think people in both parties aren't going to love this one". Kean also remarked on ABC's "Good Morning America": "It's something the American people should see because you understand how these people wanted to do us harm, developed this plot, and how the machinations of the American government under two administrations not only failed to stop them, but even failed to slow them down." [ [ ABC: 9/11 Program Criticism 'Premature' ] ] According to the New York Times of the 13th September, Kean said that he had vetted much of the screenplay for accuracy and that he was confident it reflected the spirit of what happened. "I’m very happy with it," he said.

ABC maintains film is non-partisan

ABC continued to maintain that their movie was non-partisan and responded to critics by explaining that, "No one has seen the final version of the film, because the editing process is not yet complete, so criticisms of film specifics are premature and irresponsible." [ [ "The Path to 9/11" (2006 Docudrama) - SourceWatch ] ]

Film storyline corroboration

In a November 2004 "Weekly Standard" article, Michael Scheuer, the former head of the CIA's bin Laden unit, tends to lend support to the overall theme in "The Path to 9/11" that Berger, Tenet and Clarke were more concerned about collateral damage than killing or capturing bin Laden [ [ Scheuer v. Clarke] by Matthew Continetti] :

Responses from the right

Some conservative commentators have responded to the controversy by suggesting that what they call "the deep anger of the Clinton political machine" or the "narcissistic whining of the Clinton coterie" amounts to "self-serving complaints," to "an irrelevant diversion," to a "repellent" "hissy fit," and to quibbling about details in what talk radio host Hugh Hewitt described as "a very accurate docudrama" whose main message, according to Brent Bozell, is that "America's intelligence apparatus was woefully unprepared for 9-11, and remains dangerously inadequate today." [ Why Does the Left Hate "The Path to 9/11"?] by Hugh Hewitt] Bozell further stated that both "Clinton and Bush officials come under fire, and if it seems more anti-Clinton, that's only because they were in office a lot longer than Team Bush before 9-11. Indeed, the film drives home the point that from our enemies' perspective, it's irrelevant who is in the White House. They simply want to kill Americans and destroy America. The film doesn't play favorites, and the Bush administration takes its lumps as well." [ [ A compelling "Path to 9-11"] by Brent Bozell] Hewitt added that the "program is not primarily about the Clinton stewardship—or lack thereof—of the national security. It is not even secondarily about that. Rather the mini-series is the first attempt — very successful — to convey to American television viewers what we are up against: The fanaticism, the maniacal evil, the energy and the genius for mayhem of the enemy."

ABC airs movie with minor changes

On September 10, 2006, Part 1 aired over ABC in the United States as scheduled and without commercial interruption. According to the journal "Editor and Publisher Magazine", less than one minute was "cropped out" in comparison to the review copy in its possession. All of the controversial scenes were included in some manner, with only brief shots trimmed and occasional word substitutions madeFact|date=January 2007. In addition, a written and spoken disclaimer was aired at the beginning and end of the movie (and just past the midpoint of the first evening's broadcast) reminding viewers that the movie was a fictionalization. [ [ ABC airs 9/11 Film -- Contested Scenes Remain, Editor & Publisher] , by E&P staff, September 10, 2006] The film "is not a documentary," ABC/Disney said.

On September 11, 2006, Part 2 aired as scheduled, without commercials, though it was interrupted halfway in by a speech from President Bush in the Eastern and Central time zones, which pre-empted the only parts of the movie that were critical of Bush's handling of the events of 9/11/2001.

While the first night had lower ratings, the second night received the highest ratings of the night. [ [ 'Path to 9-11' Tops Monday Viewership] by Greg Sheffield]


*2007 Emmy Award: Outstanding Single Camera Picture Editing for a Miniseries or a Movie
*2007 Emmy Award nominations: Outstanding Casting for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special; Outstanding Cinematography for a Miniseries or Movie; Outstanding Main Title Design; Outstanding Music Composition for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special (Original Dramatic Score); Outstanding Sound Editing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special; Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special;
* 2007 American Cinema Editors Eddie Award: Best Edited Miniseries or Motion Picture for Commercial Television


United States

During the original broadcast in the United States, "The Path to 9/11" was beat by NFL football and tied a rerun of the film "9/11" shown on CBS. [ [ Think Progress ] ]

Documentary Revisits Controversy

In September, 2008, film producer David Bossie and former talk show host John Ziegler premiered a direct-to-video documentary entitled "Blocking The Path to 9/11" [ [] The official website for "Blocking The Path to 9/11"] , which revisits the political controversy behind the miniseries. [ “Who Was Blocking ‘The Path to 9/11’?” by Jeffrey Resner] Through interviews with the "Path to 9/11" filmmakers and others, news clips regarding the controversy, and footage from the miniseries itself, the documentary asserts that Disney/ABC ultimately shelved plans to release a DVD of the miniseries as a result of pressure from the political left, specifically the Clintons themselves. As noted in the documentary, Disney/ABC denies this and claims the move was merely a business decision.


ee also

*"Special Bulletin"
*"The Reagans"
*"The Day After"
*"I Missed Flight 93"
*"Inside 9/11"

External links

*imdb title|0473404
* [ 9/11 Commission Report]
* [ Think Progress articles on bias and errors in The Path to 9/11]
* [ Review in the "New York Post"] by John Podhoretz
* [ Fact-checking ABC (video from "Slate Magazine")]
* [ The Path to Hysteria] by Cyrus Nowrasteh
* [ Interview] with [ Cyrus Nowrasteh] by [ Investor's Business Daily]
* [ Opening of "The Path to 9/11", ABC, September 10, 2006, including disclaimer] .

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