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Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Ding ding! Time for round three in my bout with Dave Kopel.

(Part one, Deceits 1-2, is here.)
(Part two, Deceits 3-7, is here.)

Deceits 8-16

Like several of the other deceits identified in this report, the September 11 deceit is not part of the film itself.


Hopefully you didn't just spit-take on your keyboard.

Here Kopel is criticizing Moore for something Ed Koch claims he said, off-mic of course, at a panel discussion a couple of years ago, post-9/11 but pre-F9/11.

Sort of brings home exactly what the point of all this is, doesn't it? The 59 Deceits aren't designed to highlight inconsistencies in the film; they are designed to marginalize and discredit Moore himself.

Given one of the main themes of Bowling For Columbine -- that media-driven fear and paranoia are more to blame for gun deaths than the guns are -- do you think maybe Moore meant something different than "Eh, 9/11 wasn't a big deal" when he compared terrorism death rates to lightning strike death rates?

Not that Kopel cares. Maybe he should ask John Derbyshire how unimpeachable a source Koch is.

Fahrenheit mocks President Bush for continuing to read a story to a classroom of elementary school children after he was told about the September 11 attacks.

What Moore did not tell you:

Gwendolyn Tose-Rigell, the principal of Emma E. Booker Elementary School, praised Bush’s action: "I don’t think anyone could have handled it better." "What would it have served if he had jumped out of his chair and ran out of the room?"...

She said the video doesn’t convey all that was going on in the classroom, but Bush’s presence had a calming effect and "helped us get through a very difficult day."

'Sarasota principal defends Bush from ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ portrayal,' Associated Press, June 24, 2004.


The basic premise of #9: who you gonna believe, an elementary school principal, or your lyin' eyes?

Ms. Tose-Rigell seems to think it more important to calm a classroom full of small tykes, than to lead the country in the initial moments of a national crisis.

Maybe it's me, but I'd think that would be a task Bush could have delegated to someone like, I don't know, Ms. Tose-Rigell, while he maybe did something -- anything -- to defend the country. But that's just me. Clearly Kopel feels differently.

Castigating the allegedly lazy President, Moore says, "Or perhaps he just should have read the security briefing that was given to him on August 6, 2001 that said that Osama bin Laden was planning to attack America by hijacking airplanes."

Moore supplies no evidence for his assertion that President Bush did not read the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Brief. Moore’s assertion appears to be a complete fabrication.


Well gee, got to give Kopel his due here. Moore cannot definitively prove a negative, that Bush didn't read the PDB.

Of course, Kopel can't prove Bush did read it, either.

Bush's actions subsequent to August 6 don't really help Kopel's case, though.

Moore smirks that perhaps President Bush did not read the Briefing because its title was so vague. Moore then cuts to Condoleezza Rice announcing the title of the Briefing: "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S."

However, no-one (except Moore) has ever claimed that Bush did not read the Briefing... because the title was vague.


(Yes, that gets it own separate deceit. Kopel's already forced to start padding his total, and we aren't even into the teens yet!)

Again, more snark from Moore being treated as though it were a legal brief presented to the Supreme Court. I find Kopel's lack of humor... disturbing.

The content of the Briefing... refutes Moore’s assertion that the Briefing "said that Osama bin Laden was planning to attack America by hijacking airplanes." The actual Briefing was highly equivocal:

We have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting, such as that from a [deleted text] service in 1998 saying that Bin Laden wanted to hijack a U.S. aircraft to gain the release of "Blind Shaykh" ‘Umar’ Abd aI-Rahman and other U.S.-held extremists.

Nevertheless, FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.


So Kopel's point here seems to be that the PDB didn't say bin Laden was planning hijackings, it said that bin Laden's minions were engaged in activity consistent with preparations for hijackings. I feel badly for the hair Kopel just split in twain.

Kopel fails to mention the first line of the PDB: 'Clandestine, foreign government, and media reports indicate Bin Ladin since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the US.'

I guess in Kopel's world, that's "wanted" in the sense of, "I want to be locked in the Ritz-Carlton's honeymoon suite with Angelina Jolie for the weekend", rather than "I want to take these steps to advance my careerbloody jihad."

Moore is guilty of a classic game of saying one thing and implying another when he describes how members of the Saudi elite were flown out of the United States shortly after 9/11.

If you listen only to what Moore says during this segment of the movie—and take careful notes in the dark—you’ll find he’s got his facts right. He and others in the film state that 142 Saudis, including 24 members of the bin Laden family, were allowed to leave the country after Sept. 13.

The date—Sept. 13—is crucial because that is when a national ban on air traffic, for security purposes, was eased

But nonetheless, many viewers will leave the movie theater with the impression that the Saudis, thanks to special treatment from the White House, were permitted to fly away when all other planes were still grounded... -- McNamee, Chicago Sun-Times.


It's amazing to me that the opposition to Moore seems to know exactly what 'viewers' or 'the viewer' will think after watching a particular segment. Could be arrogance, I suppose, or maybe they're just able to bend the ear of some really experienced propaganda experts.

I guess noticing the date '09/13' flashed over and over in giant letters is supposed to require taking careful notes in the dark, for the average American. I take back the propaganda shot -- it's just arrogance.

What Moore says, and implies, is that the Saudis got special treatment, and were shipped out of the country ASAP. I suppose if you got Hitchensed on Johnnie Walker or something before seeing the movie, you might read more -- or less -- into that than what's in the film.

Tapper: [Y]our film showcases former counter-terrorism czar Richard Clarke, using him as a critic of the Bush administration. Yet in another part of the film, one that appears in your previews, you criticize members of the Bush administration for permitting members of the bin Laden family to fly out of the country almost immediately after 9/11. What the film does not mention is that Richard Clarke says that he OK’d those flights. Is it fair to not mention that?

Moore: Actually I do, I put up The New York Times article and it’s blown up 40 foot on the screen, you can see Richard Clarke’s name right there saying that he approved the flights based on the information the FBI gave him. It’s right there, right up on the screen. I don’t agree with Clarke on this point. Just because I think he’s good on a lot of things doesn’t mean I agree with him on everything. -- Jake Tapper interview with Michael Moore, ABC News, June 25, 2004.

Again, Moore is misleading. His film includes a brief shot of a Sept. 4, 2003, New York Times article headlined "White House Approved Departures of Saudis after Sept. 11, Ex-Aide Says." The camera pans over the article far too quickly for any ordinary viewer to spot and read the words in which Clarke states that he approved the flights.


Why should he need to? Moore's statement in the film is that the White House approved the flights. Did Richard Clarke act without Bush's approval? If not, then what's the point here? To discredit Richard Clarke?

From the 9/11 Commission staff report -- The Saudi flights were screened by law enforcement officials, primarily the FBI, to ensure that people on these flights did not pose a threat to national security, and that nobody of interest to the FBI with regard to the 9/11 investigation was allowed to leave the country. Thirty of the 142 people on these flights were interviewed by the FBI, including 22 of the 26 people (23 passengers and 3 private security guards) on the Bin Ladin flight. Many were asked detailed questions. None of the passengers stated that they had any recent contact with Usama Bin Ladin or knew anything about terrorist activity.


Deceit #16 (more on this in a second) is that Moore failed to note that the 9/11 Commission said the fleeing Saudis were actually interviewed. It is noted in the film, however, by Moore himself: "So, check the passport, little interview, that's it?" (I may be paraphrasing there, but that's the substance of the quote.) Maybe it wasn't emphasized strongly enough for Kopel -- is he actually a frustated film editor or something? That would explain a lot.

This whole 13-16 section is very muddled. It concludes with

Finally, Moore's line, "But really, who wanted to fly? No one. Except the bin Ladens," happens to be a personal lie. Stranded in California on September 11, Michael Moore ended up driving home to New York City. On September 14, he wrote to his fans "Our daughter is fine, mostly frightened by my desire to fly home to her rather than drive." Moore acceded to the wishes of his wife and daughter, and drove back to New York.

I don't count this as a deceit, because it is relatively minor. But it is pretty hypocritical for Moore to slam the Saudis (who had very legitimate fears of being attacked by angry people) just because they wanted to fly home, at the same time when Moore himself wanted to fly home.


Kopel's willing to drag in Ed Koch's hearsay, but not this? I can think of other people who wanted to fly at that time too -- Bush, for one, tooling around until Pappy Cheney said it was safe to come home.

In fact to not count this one, Kopel is forced to count Moore's 'omission' of Clarke's role in approving the flights as one deceit, and Moore's 'lying' about it during a press junket interview after the film was already in theaters as another.

I guess Kopel was too lazy to go back and re-number this thing? Otherwise, that's just too bizarre for words.

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