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Clinton officials protest ABC miniseries

Published September 8, 2006

NEW YORK - A group of former Clinton administration officials is protesting a miniseries about the events leading up to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, saying that parts of the program are "terribly wrong" and that ABC should correct it or not air it.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former national security adviser Sandy Berger, Clinton Foundation head Bruce Lindsey and Clinton adviser Douglas Band wrote in the past week to Robert Iger, CEO of ABC's parent the Walt Disney Co., to raise questions about The Path to 9/11.

But in a statement released Thursday afternoon, ABC said: "No one has seen the final version of the film, because the editing process is not yet complete, so criticisms of film specifics are premature and irresponsible."

The two-part miniseries, scheduled to be broadcast on Sunday and Monday, is drawn from interviews and documents including the report of the Sept. 11 commission.

The letter writers said that the miniseries contained factual errors and that their requests to see it had gone unanswered.

"By ABC's own standard, ABC has gotten it terribly wrong," Lindsey and Band said in their letter.

"The content of this drama is factually and incontrovertibly inaccurate, and ABC has a duty to fully correct all errors or pull the drama entirely. It is unconscionable to mislead the American public about one of the most horrendous tragedies our country has ever known."

However, in its statement, ABC said: "For dramatic and narrative purposes, the movie contains fictionalized scenes, composite and representative characters and dialogue, and time compression. We hope viewers will watch the entire broadcast of the finished film before forming an opinion about it."

The letter writers lodged complaints about scenes they had been told were in the miniseries, but which they said never happened. Albright objected to a scene that she was told showed that she insisted on warning the Pakistani government before an airstrike on Afghanistan and that she was the one who made the warning.

"The scene as explained to me is false and defamatory," she said.

Berger objected to a scene that he was told showed him refusing to authorize an attack on Osama bin Laden despite the request from CIA officials. "The fabrication of this scene (of such apparent magnitude) cannot be justified under any reasonable definition of dramatic license," he wrote.

Lindsey and Band objected to advertisements for the miniseries, which they said suggests Clinton wasn't paying attention to the threat of terrorism.

The five-hour miniseries is set to run without commercial interruption. Director David Cunningham said it was a massive undertaking, with close to 250 speaking parts, more than 300 sets and a budget of $40-million. The cast includes Harvey Keitel, Patricia Heaton and Donnie Wahlberg.

[Last modified September 8, 2006, 02:26:15]

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