One of the biggest mistakes conservatives made in defending President George W. Bush was ignoring a little movie called “Fahrenheit 9/11.” Most Bush supporters I know shake their heads and roll their eyes when I ask them if they’ve seen the documentary because they “wouldn’t watch that trash,” but I always remind them that if they don’t watch it, they won’t be able to effectively expose its deceptions.
Although "Fahrenheit" came out in 2004, I was tempted to assemble this little collection of the film's deceptions after I learned thatMichael Moore and the Weinstein brothers have finally settled a lawsuit they were in over the movie.
Moore’s Westside Productions filed a civil suit against Harvey Weinstein and his brother Robert last February over $2.7 million (a little pocket change in the grand scheme of the hundreds of millions the film made). The Weinsteins struck back, saying Moore was greedy since he’d already reportedly walked away with over $20 million from the movie. The specific details of the settlement were not disclosed in documents filed last week in Los Angeles Superior Court.
"Fahrenheit" is one of the few movies that actually almost had an effect on a presidential election, and its director even admitted that he hoped the film would directly impact the outcome of the Bush v. Kerry challenge--in favor of the Democratic Party. Two conservative alternative documentary films titled "Fahrenhype 9/11" and "Celsius 41.1" were released shortly after "Fahrenheit," exposing many of the deceptions in Moore's film.
Considering the timing of "Fahrenheit" and the vulnerability of America back then, I think it’s fair to say that Michael Moore exploited the emotional sting of defeat Americans were feeling shortly after the Iraqi insurgency struck back, and it became apparent the war would not be won overnight.
It didn’t take long for "Fahrenheit" to become the highest selling documentary film of all time, grossing over $220 million. Some movie theaters, particularly in leftist areas of the country such as the Bay Area of Northern California even refused to enforce the “R” rating so that young people could see the film.
The basic assertion of Fahrenheit is that the Bush administration falsified evidence about Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athist Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction, drew a false connection between Iraq and the Sept. 11 attacks and deviously riled up fear throughout the United States to gain support for an unjustified war and the USA Patriot Act.
Investigative reporters including Christopher Hitchens and Stephen F. Hayes discovered numerous inconsistencies in the film’s claims, but the most comprehensive list of “deceptions” in Fahrenheit came from Dave Kopel and the Colorado based ‘Independence Institute.’
Kopel composed a July 1 2004 report titled, “Fifty-nine Deceits in Fahrenheit 9/11,” which brilliantly unmasked the film’s inconsistencies and subtle deceptions. Kopel brilliantly outlined his findings with thorough detail.
I’ve covered some of those and more for those of our readers who haven’t seen the movie--and for those of our reader who have, but didn’t see through the veil of deceit.
Fahrenheit starts out covering the controversial presidential election of 2000, but the first attack on Bush’s actual presidency starts when Moore sites a Washington Post study that falsely accused W of spending 42 percent of his time (before 9/11) on vacation implying that he dropped the ball. According to Kopel, the Post figures failed to include weekends. Long story short: Bush never played hooky nearly as much as the liberal mainstream media would have us believe.
Fahrenheit then moves on to falsely portraying Bush as insensitive for continuing to read a children’s book to a classroom of a Florida elementary school children after being told about the attacks on the World Trade Center.
The Washington Times however reported that although it could not be seen on film, Ari Fleischer was holding a sign to the president from the back of the room that read, “DON’T SAY ANYTHING YET.”
Gwendolyn Rose-Rigell, the principal of Emma E. Booker Elementary School praised Bush’s action in an Associated Press report: “I don’t think anyone could have handled it better,” she said. “What would it have served if he had jumped up and ran out of the room?”
The movie never mentions any of that.
Fahrenheit also accuses the president of being negligent in allowing the Sept. 11 attacks to have happened, and suggests they could have been prevented. The film outlines a story in which the president allegedly did not read an August 6, 2001 FBI memo that said Osama bin Laden had ordered his al-Qaeda operatives to hijack commercial airline planes to plan a terrorist attack. The actual memo however was much more equivocal and read:
“We have not been able to confirm corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting, such as that from a… service in 1998 saying that bin Laden wanted to hijack a U.S. aircraft to gain the release of the Blind Shaykh Umar Abd al-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.”
Moore also tries to draw a non-existent, diabolical correlation between President Bush and the bin Laden family due to his relationship with the Saudi regime. Fahrenheit focuses on an incident that occurred after 142 Saudis including 24 members of the al-Qaeda leader’s family were flown out of the country on Sept. 13.
The implication was that Bush allowed potential 9/11 suspects to leave the United States in the wake of the attack because he did them a special favor.
What Moore fails to mention is that the FBI interviewed 30 of the Saudis including members of bin Laden’s family before they were permitted to leave. Moore also fails to mention that it was whistleblower Richard Clarke who cleared those departures and that Osama bin Laden is estranged from his family--who own one of the largest construction companies in the world--actually do significant business with the U.S.
Another absurd Fahrenheit connection drawn is because of Bush’s former National Guard friendship with James Bath who later became the U.S. based money manager for the bin Laden family. Fahrenheit implies that the bin Laden family invested in Bush, but it was Bath who invested his own money in Bush’s failed energy company, Arbusto.
Moore also tries to portray himself as a savvy investigative reporter who managed to get uncensored copies of Bush’s National Guard records, which had Bath’s name blacked out. The implication was that there was a conspiracy to hide their friendship from the public. Moore fails to mention that Bath’s name was blacked out after April 14, 2003 with passage of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA). His name was blacked out because his reference in Bush’s report entails a health related physical exam that both men failed to take, and those matters became confidential.
There was no cover up--simply compliance with federal law.
Fahrenheit takes a shot at drawing a unique relationship between Bush and Saudi Prince Bandar, failing to mention that Bandar has been a bipartisan Washington power broker for years. Also, Bandar had a close relationship with the Clinton administration as well. Clinton personally received $750,000 for giving a speech in Saudi Arabia and Kopel says that the Saudis have donated as much as $20 million to the Clinton library.
Another faux tie that Moore implies Bush has to the bin Laden family is his father’s link to the Carlyle Group to which he served as a senior adviser. The bin Ladens had invested $2 million in Carlyle Group fund, which actually has a bipartisan collection of partners, including leftist financier George Soros. Nonetheless, at the time Fahrenheit was released both Bush Sr. and the bin Ladens had reportedly cut ties with the group.
Moore ramps up the Bush-Saudi connection by implying that the Saudi Embassy had special protection in the wake of 9/11 because of uniformed U.S. Secret Service protection outside the building. The reality of course is that many foreign embassies receive Secret Service protection when they are in possible danger of attack. In fact, Article 22 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations dictates that every host country is obliged to protect foreign embassies within their own borders.
Fahrenheit tries to draw a conspiratorial relationship between Bush and both the Saudis and the Afghan Taliban regime. Moore asks in the film, “Is it rude to suggest that when the Bush family wakes up in the morning they might be thinking about what’s best for the Saudis instead of what’s best for you?”
Kopel points out that despite this so called conspiratorial alliance between the Bush administration and the Saudis, the Saudis did not join the coalition of the willing against Iraq and the oil rich country also asked the U.S. to move their regional military headquarters to Qatar.
Fahrenheit also tries to draw a weak connection between the Bush administration and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan until its overthrow by U.S. military forces after 9/11. As evidence, the documentary shows video footage of a March 2001 visit to the U.S. by a Taliban envoy named Sayed Hashemi who was allegedly welcomed by a Bush official. In reality, Hashemi’s arrival was not welcomed, and recognition of the Taliban’s status by the Bush State Department continued to be denied.
Some of Fahrenheit’s most sinister deceits involve Iraq because this goes to the heart of accusations against President Bush for starting an illegal war under false pretenses.
Fahrenheit starts out this lengthy chapter of the film by arguing that Iraq never attacked the United States. Moore obviously has forgotten about Saddam Hussein’s April 1993 assassination attempt against President George H. Bush during his visit to Kuwait.
President Clinton was so convinced the FBI was correct in their investigative assertions that Iraqi intelligence was behind Bush 41's attempted murder that he ordered 23 Tomahawk missiles fired from Naval cruisers in the Gulf upon Iraqi intelligence headquarters.
Kopel also points out that Saddam’s regime repeatedly fired upon American and British pilots in the no fly zone in the wake of the Gulf War cease-fire under U.N. Resolution 687.
Although the connection has never been proven, Moore still dismisses a fascinating theory developed by Laurie Mylorie, a Harvard Professor who authored, “The War Against America: Saddam Hussein and the World Trade Center Attacks,” and “Saddam Hussein and the World Trade Center Attacks: A Study in Revenge.
Mylorie, who served as Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential election advisor on Iraq suggested in both books that Iraq was responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and former CIA Director James Woolsey supported her theory.
Mylorie’s evidence was compelling: She pointed out two major connections: (1) Ramzi Yousef, who was the orchestrator of the 1993 bombing was working for Iraqi intelligence at the time, and (2) Abdul Rahman Yasin, the operative who mixed the chemicals for the bombs was a former Iraqi intelligence agency who was granted asylum to Baghdad after fleeing the FBI in the wake of the WTC attack.
Another bad attempt Fahrenheit makes at discrediting Bush’s preemptive strikes against Iraq is arguing that the country supposedly never threatened the United States. Kopel sites a November 15, 1997 comment in which Babel, the main state press mechanism in Iraq wrote that, “American and British interests, embassies and naval ships in the Arab region should be the targets of military operations and commando attacks by Arab political forces.”
On November 25, 2000, Saddam made a televised speech in which he opined that, “The Arab people have not so far fulfilled their duties. They are called upon to target U.S. interests everywhere and target those who protect these interests.”
On the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks in 2002 a weekly magazine owned by Saddam’s son, Uday Hussein was quoted saying that all Arabs should “use all means and they are numerous against the aggressors… and considering everything American as a military target, including embassies, installations, and American companies, and to create suicide/martyr squads to attack American military and naval bases inside and outside the region and mine the waterways to prevent the movement of war ships…”
Fahrenheit does everything it can to allege that the Bush administration made a false connection between Iraq and the Sept. 11 attacks, but the Bush administration did not make that direct connection. President Bush repeatedly explained that the reasons that he and the United States Congress came together (the U.S Senate voted in favor of empowering President Bush to enforce all outstanding U.N. resolutions pertaining to Iraq 77-23 including Democratic leaders such as John F. Kerry, John Edwards and Hillary Clinton) was because the Sept. 11 attacks were a wake up call, and that Iraq was a dangerous loose end that needed tying up.
The 9/11 Commission Report however has confirmed on page 61 that Sudanese Islamic leader al-Turabi brokered a non-aggression pact between Saddam and al-Qaeda in 1993. Although the pact was not an operational one it is the only known pact between any head of state in the world and al-Qaeda. This fact was originally presented in Weekly Standard reporter Stephen F. Hayes’ 2000 book, “The Connection: How al-Qaeda’s Collaboration with Saddam Hussein Has Endangered America.”
Hayes reported that 1992 Iraqi intelligence reports indicate that Osama bin Laden was an intelligence asset to the Ba’athist regime, and that the former deputy director of Iraqi intelligence under Saddam told U.S. officials that bin Laden asked the Ba’athist regime for arms and training during an in person meeting in 1994.
In 1995, senior al-Qaeda leader Abu Hajer al met with Iraqi intelligence officials, and in 1998 the Department of Justice under President Clinton issued a federal indictment citing Iraqi assistance with al-Qaeda “weapons development.”
In 1999, a senor Clinton administration counter-terrorism official told the Washington Post that they were “sure” Iraq had supported al-Qaeda chemical weapons programs.
Although the 9/11 Commission Report concluded that, “We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al-Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States,” it also concludes that there were “friendly contacts” between Iraq and al-Qaeda. Hayes points out as well that the chief prosecutor of the World Trade Center bombers has said that the staff report ignores substantial evidence of Iraqi involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks.
As Kopel says, “Fahrenheit dishonestly pretends there was no relationship at all.”
This is the overall problem with Fahrenheit 9/11. It not only falsely portrays President Bush has having diabolically exploited the Sept. 11 attacks to justify the Iraq War, it tries to discredit the value in having liberated Iraq in the first place. It also diminishes the national security need to have eliminated Saddam Hussein and the Ba’athist regime.
Although many conservatives and patriotic Americans have refused to watch the documentary, it is important to know the assertions and deceptions the movie makes because its sales prove that it has had a powerful impact on Western culture in terms of how the Iraq War and the history of the Bush administration is viewed.