September 9th, 2006


"The Man Who Knew"


I wasn't going to post further about this, but given that ABC is about to smear the memory of FBI hero John O'Neill in the guise of praising him, you might want to know that the best thing, bar none, ever put together about 9/11 is this PBS Frontline documentary, "The Man Who Knew":

O'Neill was the guy way out in front on the bin Laden threat; ended up drummed out of the FBI, in weird circumstances; became chief of security at the World Trade Center...and was killed there on 9/11.

If you haven't seen it, and are looking for stuff you didn't know, but need to, about 9/11, this is the place. Not political; critical of a number of folks (including in the Clinton administration), and absolutely first rate, must-see historical television. Hell, it's even fine drama, despite being a straightforward documentary: the story itself is (obviously) plenty dramatic.

93 93/93 -- AJ
(who dares to hope PBS might rerun it, in the full 90-minute version; I didn't check to see if the "watch online" link still works, but it might)

Perhaps the finest thing...

93! come out of the "Path to 9/11" debacle is the opportunity to separate out (#1) principled conservatives, from (#2) emotional "conservatives" (not reason-based), from (#3) unprincipled partisans, and paid shills. A large number of hardcore conservatives -- whose natural expectation was that if Democrats were howling about a film it was probably a pretty important and worthwhile film -- have taken only a few days to reach the principled conclusion that since this thing has large numbers of deliberate lies in it, they can't support it. A small sampling is here:

I'm not talking only rightwing bloggers, but major conservative figures (e.g., Bill Bennett) and security professionals (like Roger Cressey, linked in my last post, or the retired FBI man who quit three weeks after being hired as the film's historical consultant because "They were making things up") showing a basic commitment to the truth regardless of partisan advantage. Which is what I'd frankly expect from the conservatives I grew up with, much less security professionals.

Still, mighty nice to see. :D

I am trying to forgive the (#2) emotional folks, whose current embattled feeling may be muddling their heads a bit more than usual (e.g., hampering their ability to distinguish between (a) a major "historical" network miniseries and, say, (b) a polemic or (c) an outright fiction -- and for that matter, and maybe more importantly, between speculation, however nasty, and systematic lying*); and the (#3) win-at-any-cost liars are lower than pond scum anyway.** But I have to tell you how heartening it is to see that principle can still be found in broad measure among folks of all political persuasions.

I should note for the new people here that I'm a Cold War moderate Democrat with a libertarian streak -- pretty "conservative" myself, in many ways: pro-military, pro-intelligence services, rabidly patriotic...which is why I have had such a beef with the current strategies for running this country.

Anyway, here comes tomorrow -- in the new world, I mean, not on teevee. Not a pretty sight...but a lot more hopeful with some good people on all sides of this nightmarishly ugly time.

93 93/93 -- AJ

* I have always felt this way, in case anyone wonders. There have been a number of rightwing films, of varying degrees of distribution -- on Waco, e.g., not to mention Bill Clinton generally -- and I've never bothered to post about 'em. If they don't sell as many tickets as Fahrenheit 9/11 did, maybe that has something to do with tickets for polemics selling better when their target audience feels frustrated than when they're controlling all three branches of government. The closest comparison to the current miniseries would be conservative objection to the miniseries "The Reagans" -- and my own feeling was that historical miniseries are a different aminal than screeds or fictions. When CBS canceled "The Reagans," that sounded good to me.
** Not entirely fair, I realize on reread. Like the Stalinist commies they so resemble, some few extremely rightwing Christians (possibly including the ones who, per a guest on Keith Olbermann's show Friday night, came up with this miniseries project in the first place) have principles -- which, alas, include a Malcolm X-style dedication to getting their way "by any means necessary," including breaking their own Ten Commandments. They believe they are following a "higher" morality, just like the commies (and Nazis) believed they were. Anyway, I meant "unprincipled" in the more usual sense. While I'm at it, some of what I'm calling (#2) "emotional" conservatives consider themselves entirely reason based (and surely are more so than many of their liberal counterparts) -- but are, alas, basing at least some of their reasoning on outright lies told by the (#3) types...though that hardly excuses 'em this time (given, e.g., that the miniseries writer himself admits that the Berger scene, pivotal to the film and included in the foreign trailers, never happened). When truth and lies become less important than political benefit, "principle" is gone. Shame on them.

And finally, another fine thing to come out of this is the "outing" of various actual paid (#3) liars: those who know they're telling falsehoods, and stick with 'em anyway. It can be hard to get such folks in place, and they've had to burn a lot of them at once. Somebody must want the American people bamboozled pretty badly -- which was my point in the original post.