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The Path to 9/11
Having just watched ABC’s The Path to 9/11, I am both impressed and distressed by it. As a movie, it is rich in detail, texture, intelligence, but makes difficult demands upon the audience. It is everything that Syriana had hoped to be in its wildest dreams without being ridiculously partisan.

It features a narrative style which is exhausting. The jitteriness of the camera, the nervous documentary cinema verite manner of things may lend a certain verisimilitude and create deserved anxiety, but alienates a general audience which prefers a more straightforward and less irritating form. And I don’t want Americans to be turned off from watching this because the director is cute with an auteur compulsion.

Even so, there are powerful things this drama reveals. The cuts made don’t hurt although the movie would be better if they hadn’t made them. That is, it would be more infuriating if more of the truth was included.

Yet, to give ABC credit, they stuck it to Clinton and his friends in their follow-up on Nightline right afterwards with the spare time leftover devoted to explaining clearly the facts of Clinton’s fecklessness. They substituted their fictional rendering with an even more explicit finger pointing at the true sequence of events and the cupidity of the decisions of Clinton et al.

The most horrifying fact that this story reveals, though, is pure human contrariness. There are never more than a few serious people in any group. The rest are mediocrities who will spend their lives and careers avoiding responsibility and risk.

The only consolation is that the enemy is filled with people as weak, stupid, venal, and egotistical.

I was surprised by ABC’s retaliation to Clintonistas, though. That was a nice riposte. “Okay, Bill, we’ll take out the obvious fictional dramatizations, but then we’ll use the time to explain even more clearly just what it was you failed to do in a non-fictional account. How’s them apples, bubba?”

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