I watched Part One of this two-part mini-series on ABC tonight. I have to say, I was blown away, both by the production values of this MOW (aka Movie of the Week) and of the information it provides.
It is excellently written, acted and produced. It could rival the best episodes of 24 in its suspense and realistic feel, though it did move rather slow in a few areas. But production aside, what it reveals of the events leading up to September 11, 2001 is insanely mind-bending.
Some of it it is already known, in the arrests of various Al Qaeda operatives on their way to, or shortly after, a terrorist attack. But at one point, we apparently had a clear and perfect opportunity to take out/arrest/kill Osama Bin Laden back in 1998, but was not approved at the last minute. Richard Clark, NSC for President Clinton and now an ABC adviser, defends the move saying that the CIA operatives there would have been cut down in the attempt and it would not have been successful.
I don't believe him. And even if he is correct, wouldn't it have been better to have tried back then, with the element of surprise on our side, than what has happened since? It seems to me that Clinton's advisers and cabinet were more afraid of what their Boss and what the Congress would do to them if any Ops against Bin Laden and Al Qaeda than they were intent on protecting and defending the citizens of the US. And Clinton was far too busy defending himself because he couldn't keep his paws of an intern to pay real attention to what was happening in the world, nonetheless in his own ranks.
It will be interesting to see what mistakes and missteps the Bush Administration made in the months and days leading up to September 11th. Because you know they made them. Ain't nobody perfect in this world.
What I do admire about Bush is that once the attack happened, he came out and said what everyone in the Intelligence community knew since the early 1990s: we are at war with this guy. Bin Laden declared war on America, on Americans, on every single one of us unless we convert to Islam or until we are all dead. Every last one of us. He declared that back in the early 1990s. He made it known to the world. And September 11th was just one in a many attacks he's made on us. But more importantly, Bush not only declared war, he backed it up with action. He was ruthless in his pursuit. That is, until Bin Laden took refuge in the mountains of an American ally, Pakistan, who still claims allegiance to us over Bin Laden/Taliban.
If Pakistan's leaders really believe that, they must be completely out of touch with their own people, who are aiding and abetting Bin Laden and the Taliban even today. Personally, I think Pakistan's leaders are playing both sides of the fence because they get benefits from being on America's side but I think their hearts really belong to Bin Laden. That's just my opinion.
Bush started so strong. He was kickin' ass and takin' names. But he seems so impotent now. What happened? What happened? I have to wonder if He got so frustrated with Pakistan that it caused him to turn and kick Saddam in the balls, which drug us into an unwinnable position in Iraq. And somewhere along the way he lost his way.
Back to "The Path of 9/11", I can see why many Clinton loyalists cried foul over this movie though. It doesn't shine the best light on Clinton. But that's really Clinton's own fault, not the fault of the 9/11 Commission or the filmmakers. He sucked at foreign policy. Even Clinton fans have to admit that. He just sucked at it. I don't know if he just didn't care, or if he just completely lacked comprehension of it.
Failure doesn't belong just to him, though. It seems clear that it didn't just filtered down through his underlings, but it had percolated unchecked through the intelligence and law enforcement agencies for years; perhaps due to Reagan's failing mental health or the elder Bush's lack of trust or belief in Reagan's policies. There was a gross lack of communication and trust between intelligence agencies and a whole lot of people who just didn't see any of it coming till it was too large to stop.
Whatever you may think of Clinton or Bush, I think ABC actually made a very wise and valuable choice in producing this film. How many of us actually took the time, or would bother to take the time even now, to read the whole 9/11 Commission Report. But we're all more than willing to watch a mini-series for a few hours, especially one that's aired uninterrupted -- as in without those stupid, pesky, annoying commercials. And perhaps some of us, like me, just might get curious enough to read the real thing and actually have a better understanding of the world we live in and events leading up to the attack that woke us up to the fact that we really are at war. Not because we declared it so, but because someone out there really does want us dead.