As millions line up to see “Fahrenheit 9/11” in large metropolitan areas, a small but growing number of reviewers are questioning the so-called documentary’s accuracy.
The director of “Fahrenheit 9/11,” Michael Moore, has been lionized on American college campuses. The University of North Florida agreed to pay Moore $40,000 for a speaking engagement, policy analyst Lisa De Pasquale told the crowd at Accuracy in Academia’s (AIA) summer conference. When Moore couldn’t make the engagement due to a scheduling conflict, he still wanted to collect the five-figure honorarium, De Pasquale told the audience. De Pasquale serves as program director for the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute.
With the release of “Fahrenheit 9/11,” Moore has surpassed his status as visiting dignitary on campus to enter another realm of iconography—homework assignment. Although less glamorous, the assignment of Moore’s film to study status keeps it on life supports. College students say that they are already calling the film “Fahrenheit 7-11.”
At some schools, such as Georgetown University, professors now give students 20 extra credit points for viewing “Fahrenheit 9/11,” which vilifies the president as he runs for re-election in a presidential election year. Veteran journalist Cliff Kincaid spoke to the audience at AIA ‘s summer conference at Georgetown about the film.
“Iraq was, we’re told, a peaceful place,” Kincaid reported to the audience after viewing the film, “until the United States invaded.”
“Kids in an amusement park,” Kincaid elaborated. “Iraqi kids flying kites in the arms of their mothers and fathers. Peaceful. Nice. No torture chambers, no mass graves, no wars against their neighbors.” One of the many viewers who wrote to us after C-SPAN broadcast Kincaid’s talk argued that while some Iraqis experienced torture in Hussein’s Iraq, others lived in peace.
“I recall thinking about those scenes and concluding that despite Saddam’s tyranny – and we’ve all had years of graphic description of Saddam’s human rights violations and thus well know of them – mothers indeed and nonetheless held innocent children lovingly in their arms and children indeed did still play on playgrounds,” this critic wrote. “These scenes were understood by me and others I know, to be portrayals of the basic humanity on the ground, in the place we were about to drop our bombs.”
Kincaid, the author of several books, is the longtime editor of the AIM Report. He has not only seen the film but also covered the 9/11 Commission hearings and virtually every other report on the tragedy that the U. S. government has issued, a distinction unique among those in the press who have reviewed the movie, mostly favorably.
“Michael Moore in his film goes out of his way to try to imply that Bush family connections to the Bin Laden family of Saudi Arabia had something to do with the Saudis in the United States after 9/11 being whisked out of the country without adequate FBI screening,” Kincaid noted. “That’s one of the main charges in the film.”
“Ironically, one of the heroes in his [Moore’s] film, one of the whistleblowers in the film, so-called, is Richard Clarke, formerly counterterrorism chief in the Bush and Clinton Administrations, who has publicly said that it was he, Richard Clarke, who made that decision on his own,” Kincaid points out.
The same correspondent who defended Moore’s portrayal of a peaceful Iraq begged to differ, offering as evidence snippets of Clarke’s testimony to the 9/11 Commission. In that testimony, Clarke says that he doesn’t know who brought the Bin Ladens’ plight to his attention, a bureaucratic non-denial denial that fails to contradict Kincaid’s conclusion.
“I was making or coordinating a lot of decisions on 9/11 and the days immediately after. And I would love to be able to tell you who did it, who brought this proposal to me, but I don’t know,” Clarke told the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. “Since you pressed me, the two possibilities that are most likely are either the Department of State, or the White House Chief of Staff’s Office. But I don’t know.”
When Kincaid spoke at AIA’s annual Conservative University summer conference, C-SPAN taped most of the proceedings of that conference, including his speech. When C-SPAN broadcast Kincaid’s talk, we received numerous calls and e-mails, so strikingly similar that the response to the program looked orchestrated.