The Path From 9/11

Now that all the books have been published and promoted, the Hollywood films have all opened (and closed), the radio and television commentaries and commemorative specials have been broadcast, the dramas (and the so-called "docudramas") and even a handful of reality-based, actual "documentaries" have aired and been argued over, ad infinitum and ad nauseam, on the web and in the blogosphere ... at long last, and after all has been said (but so little really has been done), where do we find ourselves? And where do we go from here, on the long, confusing, circuitous and still ever-painful path from 9/11?

To answer that question, we first must come to truly understand what happened in and to America five years ago, how it happened and -- most importantly -- why. Yet the plethora of attack-related media that has exploded onto our public consciousness in the runup to the fifth "anniversary" of the terror attacks has done nothing to help us understand any of it. Yes, books have been sold, theatres filled, ratings raised, circulations increased, reputations enhanced, but, I repeat, nothing has been done to help us understand.

This, despite the obvious talents of directors like Paul Greengrass of "United 93" and Oliver Stone of "World Trade Center"; despite the literary investigations of reporters like Peter (Triple Cross) Lance and Lawrence (The Looming Tower) Wright; or the vivid recollections of Kristin (Wake-up Call) Breitweiser and the self-serving apologia (Without Precedent) of Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton; despite the National Geographic Channel's eviscerated version of Lance's book; despite Court TV's documentary embrace of On Native Soil, based on the discredited 9/11 Commission report; despite Spike TV's ode to metalworkers and millions of downloads of Loose Change; despite CBS's rerun of the same French documentary it aired years ago; and, yes, despite ABC's cretinous and much-discussed docudrama "The Path to 9/11" -- despite it all, all the bluster, all the recriminations, all the posturing, all the politics and all the media attention, attention still must be paid.

Attention -- first to the families, our touchstones who suffered more than any and who still seek deliverance from that suffering in their unending search for the truth of what happened. Attention next to the many questions about 9/11 that remain unanswered -- questions large and small, new and old; such as why the Pentagon held back so much information about air defense deficiencies from the 9/11 commission that Chairmen Kean and Hamilton came close to asking the Justice Department to launch a criminal investigation; such as why the dozens of pre-attack warnings pouring into Washington were ignored; such as why the Able Danger intelligence program, which purportedly uncovered evidence of five active Al Qaeda cells and identified four of the eventual hijackers months before the attacks, was ignored and closed down; such as why Osama bin Laden was allowed to escape from Afghanistan when cornered in Tora Bora; such as why evidence of Pakistani intelligence involvement in the 9/11 plot has been ignored and covered up.

Attention fully paid, then, to "press for truth" (the title of another 9/11-related documentary I am an executive producer of [View trailer at top of page and clips HERE -- ed.]) about what actually happened, how it happened, and who helped make it happen -- as a means of finally approaching the reality of why it happened -- and perhaps in the course of that search, ensuring that it can never happen again.

A logical starting point, and something that some family members spoke out for at a recent press conference in Washington, D.C., is to support calls for a new, reopened, and nonpartisan investigation. There is little doubt that that the 9/11 commission report has become the Warren Commission Report of our time, a fatally flawed official examination that ended up raising more questions than it answered, owing to a toxic brew of politics, partisanship, personal agendas and presidential obstruction. Chairman Thomas Kean's recent paid involvement with ABC's fictitious "historical" docudrama is but the latest reminder that the 9/11 tragedy has yet to be investigated fully or fairly, or in a NON-partisan (as opposed to BI-partisan!) manner.

Both Kean and his Democratic Party counterpart Lee Hamilton now acknowledge that the Pentagon didn't play straight with them, and that they and their fellow commissioners bowed to political pressure when they didn't fully question New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani about his management decisions and emergency responses. Other commissioners complained repeatedly about White House obstacles put in their path, yet the commissioners chose to issue their report nonetheless, even in the face of staff objections that there wasn't enough time to follow all leads.

The commissioners also allowed the president and vice president to testify together (and not under oath) and went along with other administration demands, such as the one that only a minority of the commissioners could see a minority of the documents requested, and even then had to vet their notes with the White House before sharing them with the full commission! So Kean's paid advisory role to the discredited ABC miniseries is best understood as just the latest evidence of his shattered credibility, and that of his commission as well.

At the risk of stating the obvious, let me conclude by noting that we can never move beyond 9/11 until we obtain a fuller understanding of the events of that day and what underlies them. And until we have a complete, thorough and nonpartisan investigation, that will never happen. We must continue to "press for truth" in connection with the events of Sept. 11, 2001, for we still don't know the true "path to 9/11," and until we do, we can never find the path from 9/11.


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