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I saw Fahrenheit 9/11 last Saturday night (3 Jul). I’d read a number of commentaries on the movie before seeing it. A lot was said about how this wasn’t a documentary; it played too loosely with the facts and was carefully crafted to play on our emotions. That it did. I laughed, I shook my head in disbelief, I almost cried, and I was angry for several days. I can’t imagine any American seeing this movie and not getting angry, whether it’s at Bush, Moore, or both. Angry at Bush for everything Moore seems to show him to be, and angry at Moore for trying to make us angry at Bush (whether or not he succeeds).
A number of scenes speak for themselves:
These are just the scenes that have stuck with me most.
One could say, this is one-sided; where’s the other side of the story? We’ve all seen it 1000 times on television!
Maybe this isn’t a documentary in the truest sense of the term. Whatever else it is, it is a spectacular drama.
I contemplated my anger at Moore. Perhaps he uses some of the same propagandizing and dramatic effects as the Bush administration. But it’s deeper than that. It’s human to use denial as a way of shielding ourselves from unpleasant truths, and the instinctive response to having the truth shoved in our face, when we would rather not face it, is anger. “Why are you making me think about this?” We see our own tendency to denial in the scene with the woman in Washington telling Lila Lipscomb to blame Al Qaida.
But the truth is out there. Tim Bray read the entire Senate Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community’s Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq and summarizes it in a way that makes it clear—the intelligence community’s main failure was to stand up to an adminstration that was determined to go war no matter what the facts.
So obviously there was pressure to come up with the right answer.
But the pressure that really mattered was based on the fact that the Administration had already decided to go to war and everyone knew it and everyone wanted to be a team player. The working analysts didn’t have to be leaned on to cook the books (and they did cook the books, see above), they did it cheerfully, because their management and their management’s management and everyone right up to the Oval Office, wanted them to.
– Tim Bray
Is there any way to tell this story without emotion?
I saw F-9/11 with V, who lived in Peru until a few years ago, and has a bigger perspective on the machinations of wealth and power, even at these most extreme levels. Her attitude isn’t fatalistic or resigned, but it’s accepting in a way that I find unusual among Americans. We can each only do what we can do. It reminds me of the idea of non-resistance to evil, which I hope to get around to writing about soon.
V pointed out that, as unflatteringly as the film portrays Bush, we also see him as human and vulnerable like the rest of us. I can feel for the guy. I hope he gets to spend all the time at his ranch in Texas as he wants next year.
And I’d like to see more chapters of this story told, and if necessary to get us to look at them more carefully, dramatized:
[W]hat has occurred during the past several months is not the normal commerce. A series of explosive leaks—closely held documents and well-informed tips—have altered the course of politics and might very well influence the outcome of this year’s presidential election. Yet we don’t know whom to thank. Who gave the Justice Department’s “torture” memorandum to the Washington Post? Who provided the International Red Cross’s letter of complaints on prisoner abuses to the Wall Street Journal? Who confirmed for the New York Times that Iyad Allawi, the newly appointed Prime Minister of Iraq, had supervised the CIA’s terrorist bombing campaign in Baghdad a decade ago? Who informed U.S. News & World Report that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld had authorized the holding of a “ghost prisoner” in violation of international law? Who—someone close to the President?—leaked the “torture” memo written by White House counsel Alberto Gonzales?
And, particularly interesting in the wake of this past week’s events:
Why did DCI George Tenet suddenly resign on June 3rd, only to be followed a day later by James Pavitt, the CIA’s Deputy Director of Operations (DDO)?
The real reasons, contrary to the saturation spin being put out by major news outlets, have nothing to do with Tenet’s role as taking the fall for alleged 9/11 and Iraqi intelligence “failures” before the upcoming presidential election.
Truth is stranger—and more fascinating—than fiction.
The only “intelligence failure” happened at the top. Didn’t he think the truth would come out?
Then again, what would you do? Experts Say Cheap Oil May Soon Be History.
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