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Sept. 11th ABC movie-Historically accurate

Sometimes Hollywood does get it right. The landings at the beaches of Normandy in the Steven Spielberg movie, ďSaving Private RyanĒ is a vivid, stunning, blood and gore portrayal of the horror that young American troops freeing the world of Adolph Hitler faced. No book could portray this experience as accurately as the movie.

The Disney Company through its ABC subsidiary, has put together a million dollar 5 hour experience of the events leading up to the September 11th tragedy at the World Trade Centers. Being a student of national security I was deeply surprised at how accurate the movie is. Even some of the actors physically looked like some of the actual participants in the events.

The senior Democratic leadership in the Congress pleaded with the network not to air the movie. They felt that the Democrats were being shown in a bad light, which they were. If you want to lead a country, you must take the hit politically when you are caught on the wrong side of an issue.

Beginning with Jimmy Carter, this country has treated acts of terrorism as a judicial process, a law and order issue, and not an ACT OF WAR. This policy was continued by every President, Republican or Democratic for over a quarter of a century, only President Bush to his credit, decided to call it what it is, WAR. Itís the desire on the part of Islamic extremists to make the world unsafe for democracy.

The Democrats have much to lose because Senator Hillary Clinton would like to be President in the next 24 months, and former President Clinton is taking a hit on this movie as well. Bill Clinton personally called Robert Iger, the CEO of Disney, and ABCís parent company to ask him to cancel the 5 hour drama. Clinton was told that the show was still being edited, and this was just 4 days before it would appear on television. Nobody edits that close to airtime. Whoís kidding who? Nevertheless, it looks like 15 to 20 minutes were cut from the first nightís portrayal.

One of the scenes that were altered at the former Presidentís request showed Sandy Berger, former national security advisor to President Clinton in a telephone conversation with leaders of the CIA. The agency had a real time, live ground operation in progress to capture Osama Bin Laden going on while Berger on the phone simultaneously, couldnít make up his mind whether to proceed. Menís lives were at risk, and Berger canít make a decision. Finally, Berger hangs up the telephone rather than be pinned down. The scene showing Berger hanging up the phone was deleted.

Berger certainly doesnít come up in a good light. Neither does former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright for that matter. When it came to giving the approval to go after Bin Laden, Albright makes it very clear that regional considerations must come first, and then thereís President Clinton himself. The movie does some job portraying the former President as out of touch, and even weak towards terrorism. To a very great extent this was simply the former President following in the same footsteps as every President before him during the preceding 25 years.

Former Presidents have all played the same tune. They treated terrorism as a legal issue. These people must be arrested, and brought to justice. Terrorists were waging war against the United States, and we in turn were waving arrest warrants, and grand jury indictments at them. This was just as true of Republican Presidents as well as Democratic Presidents. Nobody in a leadership position in Washington wanted to take on the terrorism issue.

It was far easier and face saving, to call it a legal issue. The current President George Bush changed all that. Whatever you think of the current President, he is the first American President in a quarter of a century to deal with terrorism for what it is, terrorism. It is a war pure and simple.

Now there are a lot of people in the world that hate us, thatís the bad part. The good part is that 99% of these people donít have the money, energy, knowledge, or guts to follow through on their hatred. They canít execute, they canít get it done. Bin Laden had the wherewithal, and the organization to follow through, and thatís just what he did. Ask anyone in the CIA, and they will tell you that the 9/11 plot was in no way the work of amateurs.

If you asked an intelligence agent his objective opinion, he would probably tell you the operation was well thought out, well run, well financed, and well executed. The cell even used our own technology (GPS tracking), and openness of our society against us. It was kept a small operation by the terrorists, and the goal was something that in an open society was unthinkable.

The ABC movie showed the continuing power of visual media over books. You can write a thousand books, but one movie can be seen by a hundred times people than those who read books.

Bin Laden knew the power of visuals. This is why he wanted the full force of the media to be involved in this tragedy, and thatís just what he got. The man is evil, and heís a terrorist. We must also realize that with his money and organization he represents a threat that we have not seen before or since. He should have been dealt with by now. The scale of the danger he represents is too great, for this menace to be left alive in the mountains of Pakistan where he lurks.

Goodbye and Good Luck

Richard Stoyeck

About the Author: Richard Stoyeckís background includes being a limited partner at Bear Stearns, Senior VP at Lehman Brothers, Kuhn Loeb, Arthur Andersen, and KPMG. Educated at Pace University, NYU, and Harvard University, today he runs Rockefeller Capital Partners and

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