President Clinton and a phalanx of Clintonistas from the old days have rolled out of the barracks and are putting up a fierce fight over a movie.
The complaint from the Clinton troops is that the movie "The Path to 9/11," which ABC will air this weekend, contains scenes that did not happen. Particularly, they complain about a scene in which CIA agents and Afghanis have bin Laden cornered and a character modeled after former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger won't give permission to capture or kill him.
Now 9/11 Commission co-chair Tom Kean says the scene is a composite of events which much the same things happened. Namely, the Clinton team did not pull the trigger on bin Laden when they had a chance... several chances in fact.
Former White House anti-terror chief Richard Clarke has made a career in retirement of blaming 9/11 on George Bush, while claiming he manfully tried to hunt bin Laden down until the last second of his government service.
In the reality check department, here's what Michael Scheuer, a 22-year veteran of the CIA and head of the agency's bin Laden unit, has to say, published today in The Washington Times:
"Mr. Clarke never mentions that President Bush had no chances to kill bin Laden before September 11 and leaves readers with the false impression that he, Mr. Clinton and Mr. Clinton's National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, did their best to end the bin Laden threat. That trio, in my view, abetted Al Qaeda."
Mr. Scheuer says the CIA gave Mr. Clarke and Mr. Clinton eight to ten shots at bin Laden — eight to ten times they had him in the crosshairs — and Clarke, Clinton, Berger et al never could pull the trigger.
Yes, it's a fact that 9/11 happened on George Bush's watch, and the facts seem to say he was not paying attention to bin Laden as he should have. But the facts also say the Clinton administration simply could not bring itself to do what needed to be done on more than one occasion.
On the basis of that evidence alone, ABC should go ahead with the movie even if Mr. Clinton and his former aides fuss and fume.
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