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Harvey Keitel plays counter-terrorism expert John O’Neill in ABC’s “The Path to 9/11
ABC has changed its “The Path to 9/11” television special, set for a commercial-free broadcast Sunday and Monday, because of pressure over the message it carries, according to a report on a television blog site.
The network heard from a number of leading political figures, many of them Democrats, who complained of alleged inaccuracies and bias in the production, according to the report in the Los Angeles Times’ CalendarLive.com website.
The report said the five-hour docudrama also is in the middle of an information war between a left-wing organization that wants changes made in the film and conservative blogs defending the portrayal.
An advocacy group called The Center for American Progress Action Fund is leading an effort to have ABC cancel or change the show further.
In a statement the group said the production “presents an agenda that blames the Clinton administration” but ignores the many failures of the Bush administration.
The movie takes what its makers have judged as intelligence and operational failures of the administrations of both Bill Clinton and President Bush and turns them into a drama portraying the prelude to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.
Fox News reported former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Clinton aide Bruce Lindsey have written to Walt Disney Co., ABC’s parent, making editing demands.
In a New York Times report, Albright said she’d been told the film “depicts scenes that never happened, events that never took place, decisions that were never made and conversations that never occurred.”
The CalendarLive report said public records were used in the preparation, but Clinton supporters still were upset.
A Times’ source told the newspaper ABC executives and producers have toned down a scene that was generating much of the criticism.
“That sequence has been the focus of attention,” the source, who told the newspaper he didn’t want to be identified, said. “These are very slight alterations.”
At issue was a scene shown last week in a screening in Washington, after which audience members complained of the film’s depiction of Clinton’s pursuit of Osama bin Laden.
The Times said Richard A. Clarke, the former counterterrorism adviser, said the movie suggested the Clinton administration was in a position to capture the confessed terrorist leader in 1998 but canceled the mission.
Reports say that scene showed Samuel R. “Sandy” Berger, Clinton’s national security adviser, declining to give the order to kill bin Laden.
As WorldNetDaily reported, Berger was the focus of a Justice Department investigation for removing highly classified terrorism documents before the Sept. 11 Commission hearings that generated the report used for the television program.
FBI agents searched Berger’s home and office after he voluntarily returned some documents to the National Archives.
Berger and his lawyer told reporters he knowingly removed handwritten notes he made while reading classified anti-terror documents at the archives by sticking them in his jacket, pants and socks. They said he also inadvertently took copies of actual classified documents in a leather portfolio.
The complaints also allege the film infers Clinton was preoccupied with the Monica Lewinsky affair instead of focusing on bin Laden.
The network also decided, the report said, to make the credits say the production was “in part” based on a federal 9/11 commission report.
The network has called the production a “dramatization” of the events.
“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,” ABC said.
ABC said in a statement today the final version hasn’t been viewed yet, editing still is going on and criticisms are “premature and irresponsible.”
“For dramatic and narrative purposes, the movie contains fictionalized scenes, composite and representative characters and dialogue and time compression,” the network said. “We hope viewers will watch the entire broadcast of the finished film before forming an opinion about it.”
Program executive producer Marc Platt reportedly told the Washington Post he worked to be “fair.”
“If individuals feel they’re wrongly portrayed, that’s obviously a concern. We’ve portrayed the essence of the truth of these events. Our intention was not in any way to be political or present a point of view,” he said.
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