By Vic Holtreman
The short version: If you're looking for an accurate rebuttal to Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, this short and sweet (if dry) documentary is for you.
FahrenHYPE 9/11 is Dick Morris' response to Michael Moore's pseudo-documentary Fahrenheit 9/11. For those of you unfamiliar with Mr. Morris, he managed Bill Clinton's successful bid for the Presidency in 1996, and has been a close associate of the Clintons for over 20 years. He has a long history as a (successful) political consultant and most recently writes a column for the New York Post and appears regularly on FOX news as a commentator. (Click on the image to rent it from Netflix)
In contrast to the over the top style of Fahrenheit 9/11, with it's splashy graphics, animation, and sarcastic voiceover, FahrenHYPE 9/11 is much more of a traditional (read: dry) documentary. It won't win points for production values, fancy direction or musical score, but it does state facts... which last time I checked is what a documentary is supposed to do.
There are interviews with a number of people who have done extensive research both on the items brought up in Moore's film as well as on the Iraq situation (before and after the war) and terrorism in general. Liberals will no doubt want to toss out anything said by Ann Coulter, but among other interviewees are the likes of Ed Koch, former mayor of NYC, and on the non-expert side are people who were highlighted in Moore's film... without their permission.
The thrust of the film is to refute a number of the claims presented in Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 with facts that have not been spun and stretched to the limit. The movie opens with a humourous snippet of Michael Moore on stage somewhere stating: "Yes, there have been terrorist attacks and there will be more, but that does not mean there is a terrorist threat."
I have to say I had more than a giggle over that bit of reasoning.
Overall I thought the film spent a bit too much time covering the events of that fateful day, and should instead have gotten to it's main premise a bit faster. Also the film seemed a bit rushed, I think it could have used more material and a bit of tightening up (although it clocks in at a quick 75 minutes). Also the use of real authorities carries more weight than commentators like Ann Coulter, especially if one is trying to convince the other side.
FahrenHYPE 9/11 interviews the teacher who was present at the photo-op when the second jet hit the Twin Towers. She made clear that she thought that the President's reaction was proper... that since he was not reading the children's book but was listening to the children read it gave him time to collect his thoughts. There were brief interviews with others who were at the scene that stated that one of his aides informed the President off-camera not to say anything. After the fact it was pointed out that jumping up and leaving the room immediately would have accomplished nothing, and may have contributed to the American public panicking. It was also pointed out that the President remained in the room 5 minutes after being told, and not the purported 7 minutes.
A further list of items contradicting Moore's film:
- The "Gore Wins Florida" headline was fabricated... taken from the editorial page of the newspaper in question, with a modified date and font and placed on the front page to make it look like an actual news story.
- The fact that the Florida recount has been verified as correct by multiple independent sources including CNN and other independent sources.
- Dick Morris, who worked closely with Bill Clinton, stating that Sudan offered the U.S Osama Bin Laden in 1996, but that the administration suggested they turn him over to Saudi Arabia, which wanted nothing to do with him. From that point, Bin Laden went to.... Afghanistan.
- The scene where a representative of the Taliban is shown as a guest of our government actually occured during the Clinton administration, as a guest of the Federal government, not a guest of Texas (of which Bush was then Governer).
- The much vaunted Unocal/Bush/oil pipeline connection was actually a Unocal/Clinton connection. An idea that Unocal floated during the Clinton administration, and abandoned before Bush was President.
- Dick Morris also stated that no one in the Federal Government took terrorism seriously before President Bush.
- That since 9/11 Al Qaeda has targeted the Hoover Dam, specific casinos in Las Vegas, and additional, multiple NYC targets without success due to the efforts of the current administration.
- To Al Gore's credit, he did head a makeover of the air travel security system that actually identified 8 of the 19 hijackers, but the Clinton administration watered the system down to where all that was done when someone fit the parameters was to guarantee that they boarded the plane with their luggage.
- The 42% vacation time number pulled from the Washington Post and used in Moore's film included weekends, travel time, and Camp David. Highlighted was a typical vacation week for the President, showing the amount of work, meetings attended, and decisions made during his "vacation".
- The function where Bush jokes that the "Elites" are "his base" was also attended by Al Gore, and was an annual event to raise tens of millions of dollars for children's charity... where it is tradition for the political attendees to crack jokes.
- The fact that there was no real tangible connection to the Carlyle group, and that many more Democrats than Republicans actually have serious ties to the company... including George Soros, who invested $100 million in that particular company. (Hmmmm....)
- The claim that the Bin Laden family was flown out while all airline travel was shut down: False. The left the country only when regular flights were resumed across the country. By the way, Richard Clarke, a huge critic of Bush, was involved in this particular decision.
- There have been Saudi connections to presidents going back to Lyndon Johnson, and that the Bin Laden family contributed $200,000 to the Carter Library.
- Oregon State Police are not responsible for guarding the Oregon coastline... the Coast Guard is. There was also an interview with the State Trooper highlighted in Moore's film, who was extremely unhappy with how his comments were used. He also stated he was not told this was for a Michael Moore theatrically released film... he thought it was for a small documentary that might appear on PBS.
- The main thrust of the Patriot Act is to bring down the walls between law enforcement agencies and eliminate red tape when it comes to tracking down terrorist activity. A not-publicized item is the fact that due to the Patriot Act, an attempt to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge was thwarted. If pre-Patriot Act rules were in effect, this could not have been stopped.... but prosecution after the fact would be possible.
- There is documented evidence of the fact that China, Russia, France, and Germany had agreements with Saddam to receive oil from prime fields at $10/barrel if sanctions were lifted. Also that $10 billion of the $65 billion from the oil for food program was paid in bribes.
- As to the claim that Saddam was not a threat to the U.S.: A newspaper owned by Saddam's son Uday called for a fatwah against the U.S. on the one year anniversary of 9/11. The paper called for suicide bombers to attack us.
- The fairly well-known fact that Saddam paid families of Palestinian suicide bombers for their efforts.
- President Bush was following a mandate signed by President Clinton in 1998 to liberate the Iraqi people.
- Although Moore made U.S. troops look terrible, depicting them as killing, terrorizing, and severely injuring civilians, he did not show Saddam's torture chambers, or children's prisons where children as young as 5 years of age were imprisoned and sometimes murdered in front of their parents.
- An interview with the soldier who lost both hands, who was proud to have served our country, believes in what the U.S. is doing in Iraq, and was never interviewed by Moore at Bethesda Hospital. Moore used footage from a completely different interview without the soldier's permission. The young man was incensed about this, and called Moore a liar.
- A telling item was Ed Koch relating how not very long after the horrific events of 9/11 Michael Moore told him that "we were making too much of a big deal about it." Not surprisingly, Koch was horrified that Moore would say such a thing.
Although the above list is lengthy, I've not covered every rebuttal in the film.
Although Dick Morris has helped the Clintons (and therefore the Democratic party) for over two decades, this film does of course come across as partisan on the side of the Bush administration. You can toss that off and call Morris a traitor to the Dems, or you can look at that and really think about why someone who was on the side of the Left for so long sees fit to now support the Right.
Regardless of the partisanship present here, the bottom line is that this comes across as more serious and factual than the ultimate spin flick put out by Michael Moore.