The Left Has Upped The Numbers For 9/11 The Path

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Links. I know I'll watch:

http://tigerhawk.blogspot.com/2006/09/left-is-virtually-begging-people-to.html


Sunday, September 10, 2006
The Left is virtually begging people to see "Path to 9/11"
By TigerHawk at 9/10/2006 01:39:00 PM


Whatever the original audience for the ABC miniseries "The Path to 9/11", the left has massively expanded it by deciding that among all the things it should campaign against, a "docudrama" from ABC is worthy of a massive grassroots political and legal campaign. How extensive is this campaign? See this post at AMERICABlog, one of the leading lefty blogs:

I've talked with some of the other organizers of the anti-Disney/ABC campaign, and we've decided, quite rightly, that if Disney/ABC runs this defamatory show tomorrow night, we are launching an all-out war against both companies. I'd like to start the discussion going, with your input, as to what the next steps should be, possible actions, etc.

Some thoughts:

1. Legal component.

Clearly Bill Clinton, Sandy Berger, Madeleine Albright and American Airlines have good cause to sue Disney/ABC, the BBC, Australian and New Zealand television, and any local affiliate that broadcasts the show. How can we further help their lawsuit? I think a first step is paying close attention in each country to how the show is being marketed. Get us copies of ads, promotions, etc. that show local broadcasters and others promoting the show as true and non-fiction. How else can we help their suit?

John Aravosis goes on to describe a comprehensive legal, legislative, regulatory and commercial strategy against Disney, ABC, Apple (if it makes the show available on iTunes), the BBC (a well-known den of right-wing nuttery), YouTube and virtually anybody else who might promote or facilitate its dissemination. Read the whole thing, and then consider that the guy averages 100,000 readers a day.

This strikes me as an extremely unwise strategy on a number of levels. First, a great many people are going to watch this show only because of the controversy coming from the left. I can say with absolute certainty that I will watch it only because John Aravosis and his ilk think that I should not be allowed to see it and judge for myself. I am sure that there are millions more just like me, and several times our number who simply want to see what all the fuss is about.

Second, as Ann Althouse points out, the legal part of the strategy is not even slightly in the interest of bloggers, especially the high-voltage ad hominum attack variety.

Oh, yeah, bloggers really ought to want to encourage lawsuits by public figures who think something inaccurate has been said about them. This is the worst case of myopia I've seen in my years of blogging. You guys are complete idiots.

Third, Aravosis is advocating terrible policy in the abstract. Setting aside all the obvious legal problems to consider what the policy ought to be, do we really think that former presidents and their cabinet officers should have a cause of action for dramatizations or even fictionalizations about their time in office? If Aravosis were to win his point and Republicans were to take advantage of it, Michael Moore could never raise the money for another film and would probably go bankrupt just defending himself for the movies he has already made.

Fourth, the obvious joy that Democrats took in exploiting Fahrenheit 911, which contained at least as many deceptions and deceits as "The Path to 911," fatally undermines the credibility of their outrage. Any leading Democrat or blogger who denounced Fahrenheit 911 has a leg to stand on. Anybody who rejoiced in the "truthiness" of Moore's propaganda, however, should be pressed to distinguish their outrage at ABC. (And if the objection rests on the use of a broadcast medium in this case versus movie theaters and cable and satellite television in the other case, may I respectfully suggest that in today's world that distinction is meaningless. The "spectrum scarcity" rationale that justified content-based regulation of broadcast television disappeared more than twenty years ago. There is no principle left to sustain it, only the desire of politicians to retain leverage over the television networks.)

Finally, this is all bad politics. The bizarre efforts of Richard Clarke notwithstanding, it is obvious that every administration from Carter's through Bush 43 failed to appreciate the purposeful lethality of unconstrained Islamic radicalism. Clinton's was no different. Notwithstanding lots of plans, neither he or nor his national security apparatus actually thought that it was important to destroy al Qaeda. Clarke attributes this to the intense political pressure on the Clinton administration, which constrained his ability to act against al Qaeda without being accused of having "wagged the dog." He also argued that Clinton did not go after al Qaeda's camps in Afghanistan because of Iraq:

On these three occasions and during the presentations of the PolMil Plan, I tried to make the case to the Principals that we should strike at known al Qaeda camps whether or not bin Laden was in them. "I know that you don't want to blow up al Qaeda facilities in Afghanistan trying to get bin Laden only to have the bastard sow up the next day at a press conference saying how feckless we are. So don't say we were trying to get bin Laden; say we were trying to destroy the camps. If we get him, so much the better."

The response I received from all the other members of the Principals usually went along the lines of: "So we spend millions of dollars' worth of cruise missles and bombs blowing up a buck fifty's worth of jungle gyms and mud huts again?" Sometimes I heard, "Look, we are bombing Iraq every week. We may have to bomb Serbia. European, Russian, Islamic press are already calling us the Mad Bomber. You want to bomb a third country?"....

It was ironic that people had once worried whether Bill Clinton would use force and now there was criticism that he was using it too much. In the Islamic world, there was criticism that Clinton was bombing Iraq. After the start of hostilities with Belgrade, there were days when U.S. forces bombed both Serbia and Iraq. General Shelton and General Zinni [who would later emerge as leading critics of OIF - ed.] looked on the idea of regular strikes against Afghanistan as another burden on an already stretched military.... (Against All Enemies, p. 201 - 202, bold emphasis added)

Notwithstanding Clarke's heroic efforts to defend Clinton's intentions, at the end of the day he is forced to concede that Clinton actually did very little to confront al Qaeda. Whether this was the result of intense political pressure -- which seemed to constrain Clinton much more than George W. Bush -- or obstructionism from the military (which seemed to find far more resources available to support George W. Bush than Bill Clinton) is quite immaterial. At the end of the day, Clinton chose to do essentially nothing about al Qaeda, and instead focused on Iraq.

None of this is new. Two years ago I wrote about this very passage in Clarke's book:

[T]he Clinton administration as late as 1999 clearly felt that containment of Saddam was more important than pursuit of al Qaeda. While this revealed priority for bombing Iraq rather than al Qaeda ante-dated September 11, by 1999 "bin Laden's fighters had stitched to their battle flag [five] major victories: Aden, Yemen (1992); Mogadishu, Somalia (1993); Rihadh, Saudi Arabia (1995); Dhahran, Saudi Arabia (1996); [and] Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (1998)..." (Imperial Hubris, Anonymous, pp. 22-23) Al Qaeda was coming after us every which way, and yet the Clinton Administration continued to make containment of Iraq such a priority that Richard Clarke portrays it as having precluded action against al Qaeda's bases in Afghanistan. I point this out not to snark up a storm at either Clinton or Clarke, but to discredit the current argument of the Kerry campaign that the invasion of Iraq was "the wrong war at the wrong time." The "neocons" of the Bush Administration, if they are indeed as influential and monolithic as proposed, are hardly more preoccupied with Iraq than the leading lights of the Clinton administration circa 1999. They just had the political wherewithal to exorcize their preoccupation.

That last bit might have been an overstatement -- I now think that there were people in the Bush administration who were more intensely focused on Iraq than their counterparts during the Clinton years, but that still does not change the fact that Clinton chose not to go after al Qaeda with hammer and tongs. Whether the choice was as blatant and specific as ABC seems to suggest is obviously a point for debate, but that Clinton made the choice not to go after al Qaeda is not.

CWCID: Glenn Reynolds, who has more links on this subject.
 

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