- The Washington Times - Friday, September 8, 2006

Former President Bill Clinton has dismissed as “indisputably wrong” an ABC miniseries that suggests he was too distracted by a sex scandal to confront the Islamist militant threat that culminated in the September 11 attacks, his spokesman said yesterday.

“We don’t claim the scenes are wrong. They are indisputably wrong. ABC says so. The 9/11 commission report says so,” said Jay Carson, a spokesman for Mr. Clinton’s office in New York.

“Tom Kean [the Republican chairman of the 9/11 commission and a consultant on the film] says so. The writer of the show says so.”

The Democratic National Committee yesterday said it delivered a petition with nearly 200,000 signatures to ABC’s Washington office urging the network drop its “right-wing factually inaccurate mocudrama.”

The Senate Democratic leadership also sent a letter to the network calling for the “The Path to 9/11” to be scrapped, citing the network’s free broadcast license and its obligation to the “public interest.”

“Nowhere is this public interest obligation more apparent than in the duty of broadcasters to serve the civic needs of a democracy by promoting an open and accurate discussion of political ideas and events,” said the letter signed by Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Senate Democratic Whip Richard J. Durbin of Illinois.

In addition, ABC was faced yesterday with a request from President Bush to interrupt the film for a speech.

The president has asked broadcast networks to clear time for an address to the nation Monday at 9:01 p.m., or at the start of the last hour of “The Path to 9/11” on the East Coast.

ABC announced plans last night to cover what is expected to be a 20-minute speech before resuming the film.

The network has said the film, which portrays Mr. Clinton’s former national security adviser, Samuel R. Berger, and former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright as bungling efforts to capture Osama bin Laden, is still being edited.

In a cut of the movie released to critics, Mr. Berger is depicted as unwilling to give an order to capture bin Laden, immediately followed by archival footage of Mr. Clinton’s video testimony about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky.

Mr. Berger said it did not happen and that “You can’t fix it. You gotta yank it.” According to the September 11 commission, Mr. Clinton’s CIA chief George J. Tenet says he nixed the plan.

A group of historians, including Arthur Schlesinger Jr. and Princeton University’s Sean Wilentz, also wrote to ABC parent Walt Disney Co. CEO Robert Iger yesterday, urging him to kill the series scheduled to air for five hours commercial-free tomorrow and Monday.

“A responsible broadcast network should have nothing to do with the falsification of history, except to expose it,” they wrote.

ABC said that for dramatic and narrative purposes “the movie contains fictionalized scenes, composite and representative characters and dialogue and time compression.”

Thomas Kean, the former Republican New Jersey governor who led the 9/11 commission, defended the miniseries.

“It’s something the American people should see,” he said in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America” yesterday. “Because you understand how these people wanted to do us harm, developed this plot, and how the machinations of the American government under two administrations not only failed to stop them, but even failed to slow them down.”

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