The DVD of the ABC miniseries “The Path to 9/11,” which underwent edits under pressure from former President Bill Clinton before its original network airing in 2006, is months past due for release, and one of its writers believes it’s because of pressure from the presidential campaign of Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.
Cyrus Nowrasteh, also a producer for the miniseries, told John Ziegler of Los Angeles radio station KFI during an interview he was told by a top executive at ABC Studios that “if Hillary weren’t running for president, this wouldn’t be a problem.”
It was during an exclusive interview with WND just before the miniseries aired in September 2006 that a former military aide to Clinton who claims he witnessed missed opportunities to capture or kill Osama bin Laden disclosed Nowrasteh came to him in frustration after network executives began pressing for script changes.
Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Robert “Buzz” Patterson told WND then that Nowrasteh contacted him, explaining he had used Patterson’s book “Dereliction of Duty” as a source for the drama. Later that day, Nowrasteh brought a preview copy of “The Path to 9/11” to Patterson, who after watching it affirmed Nowrasteh told the story accurately.
Nowrasteh said in the KFI interview, “Whatever anyone may think about me or this movie, this is a bad precedent, a dangerous precedent, to allow a movie to be buried. Because the next time they’ll go after another movie. The Bush administration may go after a movie. The next administration may go after a movie. No matter who it is, they may go after a movie. I think this town needs to stand up.”
Asked whether he though the comment was a joke, he said no.
“I took it very seriously,” he said during the interview.
Nowrasteh said he was told that the program was to be on DVD in January, four months after it aired.
“Of course, January, no DVD released,” he said.
But Nowrasteh said he stayed on it, checking again in April when told it was due, because he knows such productions are planned weeks and months in advance.
Actor Kevin Dunn as Sandy Berger in “The Path to 9/11”
He said the executive, whom he identified as the “point man” on the DVD project, said, “I don’t have an answer,” when Nowrasteh asked about a specific release date. And when he heard the comment about the Clinton campaign, he responded that was all the more reason for an early release.
The project, five hours and $40 million for ABC, received seven Emmy nominations and attracted a two-night audience of about 25 million viewers. But its Amazon page notes that it currently is “unavailable.”
Even before the docudrama aired, it ignited a political firestorm from Democratic leaders who perceived it as critical of the Clinton administration and its efforts to contain Osama bin Laden before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in Washington, Pennsylvania and New York that killed about 3,000 people.
ABC, which today confirmed that no release date is scheduled for the project, was pressured to cancel, or edit the series.
Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., last year when he was minority leader, was joined by several other Democrats in a letter to Disney Chief Robert Iger that warned showing the series could “damage” Disney’s reputation.
Gord Lacey, founder of a website that tracks television shows on DVDs, told the Los Angeles Times, “It’s really up to the studios when they want to release the DVD. But this is odd. It may be this is a very sensitive subject and they [ABC Studios] don’t want to go through the PR nightmare again.”
“I go to Blockbuster and I see a lot of crap on the shelves,” Nowrasteh said. ” ‘Path to 9/11’ deserves to be available to people who want to see it or buy it or rent it or whatever. Every controversial movie I can think of, whether it’s ‘Fahrenheit 9/11,’ the Reagan miniseries . . . they were all released; they were broadcast. You can get them on DVD.”
The miniseries begins with the first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 and follows terrorist plotters to hideouts in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kenya, Yemen and the U.S.
Among the many sources for Nowrasteh’s script were the 9/11 commission report and the books “The Cell” by former ABC News correspondent John Miller, and “Relentless Pursuit” by Samuel Katz. Another source was “Dereliction of Duty” by Patterson.
An ABC executive said the network made “adjustments and refinements” to the drama that were “intended to make clearer that it was general indecisiveness” by federal officials that left the U.S. vulnerable to attack, and “not any one individual.”
The New York Post also reported Clinton wrote to ABC officials, complaining 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.”
Democrats were particularly critical of a scene that depicts former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger refusing to authorize a mission to capture bin Laden after CIA operatives and Afghan fighters had the al-Qaida leader in their sights.
As WND 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 clothing. They said he also inadvertently took copies of actual classified documents in a leather portfolio.
If pressure results in the DVD not being released, it won’t be the first time Democrats have affected a politically charged film.
During the 2004 presidential campaign, as WND reported, the Sinclair Broadcast Group canceled a planned showing of “Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal.” The documentary featured former POWs who told how John Kerry’s 1971 testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was used as propaganda against them by their North Vietnamese captors, allegedly intensifying their persecution.