September 13, 2006
I watched part one last night. Sunday was reserved for watching the Giants blow their first game to the Colts and Monday was my wedding anniversary, so I'm just now getting to it.
First point: The film is well made. The pacing is not too slow or too fast. The editing and cinematography keep you riveted. The use of hand-held cameras gives it an air of authenticity.
Second point: The portrayal of Richard Clarke is very positive (so far). He's actually one of the few higher up White House types that take this threat seriously. Why is Clarke so upset about this film? Doesn't make sense. Maybe he objects to being played by Milton, the red stapler guy from Office Space?
Third point: No, Sandy Burglar and Maddy Albright are not presented in a favorable light but neither is George Tenet or anyone else at a level of significant responsibility. Their words and actions (or lack thereof) are not so much indicative of individual character flaws as they are of a particular mindset that our government had at the time.
The film is more of an examination of what happens when you treat counter-terrorism as a "Law and Order" episode. We did this from Nixon to Bush 43, until 9/11/01. At that point, the current President and his cabinet realized that this is really a war - one like we've never fought before - that requires treating it like one.
It also provides a better understanding of the vastness of the terror network and how hard so many people have worked to track it down. The people in the CIA, FBI and other agencies who get their hands dirty understood the threat. It's the politicians and the bureaucrats who didn't. The agents didn't fail us, their bosses did. I'm amazed at what they were able to accomplish even in that restrictive environment.
If we give these folks the tools that they need and support what they do, we will defeat the terrorists almost every time. As Harvey Keitel's John O'Neill says "Nobody bats 1.000." But we need to recognize what we're dealing with and accept what we need to do to fight it.
If our government holds true to a "post-9/11" perspective we have a chance. To go back to a "pre-9/11" mentality would be suicide. And the problem with Democrats is that they desperately cling to a "pre-9/11" mentality. They prefer treating terrorists as criminals with Constitutional rights. They'd rather have court victories than military victories. They think negotiation is a viable tool in dealing with these animals. We can never go back to that old mindset.
And this reason above all others - the reminder that this approach is what doomed us to failure - is why Democrats should be most worried about this film, not the affect it will have on individual legacies and reputations.
Only by accepting responsibility and demonstrating that lessons have been learned can Democrats ever hope to convince the American people that they can be trusted with their safety. By demanding that "The Path To 9/11" be pulled in an attempt to cover-up their shortcomings, they have done more damage to their credibility than any movie ever could.
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