Friday, September 08, 2006

OP-ED: Media lies exposed in American TV movie on Sept. 11 terrorism

TV movie on Sept. 11 exposes mainstream American media lies
By Ray Hanania

To understand the depth to which the lines between lies and truth have been erased in the United States, one need only pause to consider the growing uproar over a TV fictionalized drama about the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11.

The movie by ABC purportedly is based on numerous sources including the 9/11 Commission which published an exhaustive report. The report was so exhaustive that while many Americans purchased the 567 page report, few probably even recognized the subtle nuances that are now being debated when they did read it.

The nuance has to do with several specific accusations that the administration of former President Bill Clinton didn’t do enough to prevent Sept. 11.

In one instance, reportedly depicted in the original film, U.S. Intelligence officials, specifically former Security Adviser Sandy Berger and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, had Osama Bin Laden in their sights but failed to take him out.

Five years after Sept. 11, and many years after the supposed incident, the suggestion that Clinton’s administration could have prevented the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks by killing Bin Laden, but did not act, is devastating.

It’s devastating not only to Bill Clinton’s legacy but also to the future aspirations of his wife, Senator Hillary Clinton.

Berger claims they tried to kill Bin Laden but missed him by a few hours. Thomas Kean, the 9/11 Commission Chairman, says that the decision to kill Bin Laden was delayed and he escaped and that is reportedly reflected in the film.

Albright is angry because the film implies that she tipped off Pakistan that the U.S. planned to bomb Bin Laden, and that warning was leaked to Bin Laden and that allowed him to escape.

Five years after Sept. 11, who really cares? So much has been said that have turned out to be lies, these lies seem ridiculously selfish.

The American media is complicit in this drama that has highlighted the failures that exist in American journalism. Fact and fictions, are supposed to be two distinct elements of entertainment. One is purely for entertainment. One is for entertainment and knowledge.

The American media is so confused about what is true and what is not true, this debate over the planned ABC movie is ridiculous.

President Bush also lied and his lies have been turned into fact by the American news media. The media’s role in distorting the war crimes of Israel, to water them down into supposed defensive and unavoidable actions, are notorious, while the media’s exaggeration of Arab, Muslim and Palestinian acts to defend themselves and turning them into acts of terrorism are notorious, too.

The American media is so complicit in the distortions that a debate about fact versus fiction in the United States is worthless. Much of what the American news media writes about the Middle East is not news at all but fiction, lies distorted to appear to be truth when in fact they are politically motivated.

American journalists are less reporters and more advocates for causes, and the reason for that is that journalism is leaning away from professional objectivity to increasing profits as independent news sources outside of the mainstream media’s controls slowly and steadily takeover the role of providing information and truth to the American public.

It has been five years since Sept. 11 and four years since President Bush declared that Iraq’s president Saddam Hussein was involved with al-Qaeda. Just this week, the Senate Intelligence Committee released findings that concluded Saddam Hussein opposed al-Qaeda and had no interest in working with them. (Read a story on it?)

In fact, Saddam Hussein might have actually sided with the United States in fighting al-Qaeda, which is a fanatic religious organization driven by distortions of Islam rather than observance of true Islamic faith.

But Americans can’t have it both ways. They can’t sit back and allow the media to carry the lies for Bush and even Clinton, and then cry when a non-news department of one of the nation’s largest entertainment television stations decides to create a movie about Sept. 11.In America these days, there is no line between what is truth and the lies that Americans favor.

Americans want to believe that Saddam Hussein was involved with al-Qaeda because how else can they justify the loss of nearly 3,000 American soldiers’ lives for an unjustified war.

The next thing you know, Americans might start asking questions about America’s blind support of Israel or Israel’s government’s war crimes against the Palestinian civilians or the civilians of Lebanon.

Personally, I’m looking forward to the ABC TV movie on Sept. 11 terrorism that will be broadcast in two parts Sunday and Monday.

Clinton’s calls to pull the film only reinforce my belief that all American politicians, including Clinton and Bush, have lied in order to gain political favor against taking the moral high road and truly standing for the civil rights of people around the world.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning Palestinian American columnist, author and co-founder of the National Arab American Journalists Association. He can be reached at