Path to 9/11: Hugh Hewitt Accuses Me of Airbrushing History

Hugh Hewitt is not happy that the “airbrush brigade” is comparing Path to 9/11 to The Reagans. His reliance on CBS’s face-saving statement as to why The Reagans was pulled is a bit laughable. Hugh also relies on the number of screeners who reviewed the film:

First, hundreds of people have screened :The Path to 9/11,” including me and many other critics and/or hosts of large audience shows. (Complaints from tiny lefty bloggers that I received a screener and other s didn’t ignore the fact that I requested it weeks ago and that I have an audience in the millions, not the tens.) To my knowledge not one professional critic has yet suggested the film is other than a powerful narrative of the era, especially chilling in its portrait of the enemy, or particularly damning of the Clinton-era fecklessness regading terror. It isn’t like we don’t know that Monica was a distraction and Madeleine Albright a less-than-brilliant Secretary of State (how about that late lurch towards North Korea?) John O’Neill was in fact fired; there were warnings that were ignored about the African embassy bombings, and no response followed the Cole attack and the American ambassador to Yemen was an obstruction to that investigation, Massoud was assasinated by al Qaeda. These are not debatable subjects. They are facts.

Rush Limbaugh as an objective movie critic? C’mon Hugh. David Neiwert calls Hugh a liar for the false allegation that that John O’Neill was fired. But let’s look a bit deeper at David’s link as it helps us dig much deeper into Hugh’s whirlwind across a few important historical events. O’Neill did retire during the summer of 2001 (and yes, George W. Bush was President by then). O’Neill’s problems at the FBI were due to certain careless actions such as the July 2000 briefcase incident. But also check out his efforts at making the nation safe from Al Qaeda. Other members of the government during the Clinton years were also very dedicated to the same task – so when Hugh talks the “Clinton-era fecklessness” regarding terror, he is rewriting history. For example, the O’Neill bio states:

The turn of the millennium passes without incident. Lewis Schiliro recalls: “I remember talking to John shortly after midnight on that night, and there was a sense of accomplishment. We had just made the arrests in the Ressam spin-off. And, you know, certainly we believed we got everybody that we need to find. But you’re never really 100 percent sure of that.” In a July 2001 speech in Spain, O’Neill points to the millennium investigation as a model of good law enforcement. It underscored his core belief that in the fight against terrorism, everyone had to work together: “The coordinated approach of federal, state, and local law enforcement entities was integral to efforts to disrupt the alleged terrorist plot and greatly contributed to the presentation of evidence in the trial of Ahmed Ressam,” he tells the gathering.

But let’s turn to the investigation of the Cole attack. O’Neill and Ambassador Barbara Bodine did quarrel over the investigation, which drew the intervention of Louis Freeh and Janet Reno to continue the investigation. Hugh forgets to tell us the latter. Alas, the delays did cause the White House to learn that it was really Al Qaeda that ordered the Cole attack only after George W. Bush became President.

But why would that matter given the promise of Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to take out the Taliban if there was another terrorist attack. President Clinton even ad Sandy Berger and Richard Clarke draw up what it appears to have been a very successful plan known as the Delenda plan to execute this promise. Alas Condi Rice pretended she knew nothing about the plan that Berger told her about on December 20, 2000 and that Clarke presented her on January 25, 2001. So its execution did not occur during the spring of 2001 but only during late 2001. Too damn bad – but the truth that Hugh can’t admit is that it was the Bush-era fecklessness regarding terror during his first eight month in office that led to 9/11.

Finally, let’s turn to “Massoud was assasinated by al Qaeda”. General Ahmed Shah Massoud was assassinated by Al Qaeda two days before 9/11. Does Hugh have any clue why? My link has all sorts of tidbits:

The CIA’s Counter Terrorism Center develops a plan to strike at bin Laden in Afghanistan called the “Blue Sky Memo.” It recommends increased support to anti-Taliban groups and especially a major effort to back Ahmed Shah Massoud’s Northern Alliance, to tie down al-Qaeda personnel before they leave Afghanistan. No action is taken in the last few weeks of the Clinton administration; the CIA presses the ideas unsuccessfully early in the new Bush administration. [9/11 Commission, 3/24/2004] … Ahmed Shah Massoud, leader of the Northern Alliance fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, has been trying to get aid from the US but his people are only allowed to meet with low level US officials. In an attempt to get his message across, he addresses the European Parliament: “If President Bush doesn’t help us, these terrorists will damage the US and Europe very soon.”… Declassified Defense Intelligence Agency documents from November 2001 will suggest that Northern Alliance leader General Ahmed Shah Massoud had gained “limited knowledge” “regarding the intentions of [al-Qaeda] to perform a terrorist act against the US on a scale larger than the 1998 bombing of the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.” It further will point out he may have been assassinated on September 9, 2001, because he “began to warn the West.” … General Ahmed Shah Massoud, the leader of Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance, is assassinated by two al-Qaeda agents posing as Moroccan journalists. [Time, 8/4/2002] A legendary mujahedeen commander and a brilliant tactician, Massoud had pledged to bring freedom and democracy to Afghanistan. The BBC says the next day, “General Massoud’s death might well have meant the end of the [Northern] alliance” because there clearly was no figure with his skills and popularity to replace him. [BBC, 9/10/2001; BBC, 9/10/2001] “With Massoud out of the way, the Taliban and al-Qaeda would be rid of their most effective opponent and be in a stronger position to resist the American onslaught.”

Some accounts had Osama bin Laden hoping to take out other leaders of the Northern Alliance before 9/11. What was bin Laden’s goal in these attacks on us? To get American boots on the ground in a Muslim nation. He learned of the ability of the CIA to work with local rebels during the 1980’s when we helped the Afghan Arabs undermine the Soviet puppet regime. He also therefore reasoned there had to be something like the Delenda plan where an effective Northern Alliance could topple the Taliban without many US boots on the ground. So he decided to take out Massoud and the other leaders of the Northern Alliance. Isn’t it amazing that Osama bin Laden knew more about our capabilities than NSA director Condi Rice?

The goods news is that bin Laden’s plans crumpled when General Franks executed this Delenda plan during the months AFTER 9/11. But then there was that idiotic decision on March 19, 2003 to put American boots on the ground in Iraq. Since President Bush has a new fondness for quoting Osama bin Laden, let’s recall that bin Laden called the invasion of Iraq a “gift from God”.

Historians will chastise both Hugh and me for trying to write history today. We likely need a generation to get past all the partisan garbage. I suspect the defenders of Path to 9/11 are hoping it will assist in their partisan zeal of avoiding a real Congress led by Nancy Pelosi. I suspect their efforts will fail. But when our grandkids are reading the real history of this period, they’ll wonder why it took our nation so long to get rid of the GOP appeasers of the demagogue known as George W. Bush. I suspect they’ll never understand why we reelected the worst President in American history.