Disney CEO buries inconvenient facts about 9/11 to protect Hillary Clinton, say activists

Matthew Boyle | Investigative Reporter

Activists tell The Daily Caller that The Walt Disney Company is refusing to re-air a 9/11-related docudrama, effectively burying politically inconvenient facts about the events which led to the 9/11 terror attacks, in order to protect the political future of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

“The Path to 9/11,” first aired on ABC in 2006, portrayed President Bill Clinton’s administration as ignoring warnings and signs that Osama bin Laden and al Qaida were planning a major attack on the United States — a finding supported by The 9/11 Commission Report. But since 2006 Disney CEO Bob Iger has repeatedly refused to rebroadcast it, or to sell the rights to other broadcasters.

President Clinton and his national security adviser Sandy Berger refused to issue an ultimatum to bin Laden and the Taliban in Afghanistan after the USS Cole bombing in October 2000. Both Berger and Clinton later told the 9/11 Commission that there was not enough evidence at the time to link bin Laden to the bombing. Clinton and former President George W. Bush have both been publicly criticized for not militarily responding to that attack before September 11, 2001.

Bush and Clinton have also both taken heat for not capturing, killing or attacking bin Laden before 9/11, even though there were several opportunities for both administrations to do so.

“I think those early opportunities are clear,” 9/11 Commission Chairman and former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean said on Meet The Press in 2004. “We had him. We saw him. I think maybe we could have done something about it.”

“Nobody wanted to invade Afghanistan at that point. American people probably wouldn’t have stood for it,” Kean told host Tim Russert about whether he planned to question Bush, Clinton and their vice presidents on this specific point. “But could we have sent a team in? Could we have sent a cruise missile in? Could we have gotten him and his leadership at some point?”

Kean said “The Path to 9/11” and his commission’s report on the events that led up to the 2001 terrorist attacks make both Republicans and Democrats look bad, but Americans needed to see it.

The commission’s report identified many indications that the Clinton administration, and the early Bush administration, hadn’t taken advantage of opportunities over the course of several years to take out bin Laden. Michael Scheuer, the former head of the CIA’s bin Laden unit, told reporters in 2004 that he and other intelligence officials in his unit provided the Clinton administration with actionable information at least ten times that could have led to bin Laden’s demise. (RELATED: Dick Cheney praises Hillary Clinton)

“The Path to 9/11” included this information, and more. It tied the 9/11 bombings back to the 1993 World Trade Center bombings, showing there were warning signs of an imminent attack even then. And it highlighted warnings from Ahmad Shah Massoud — an Afghan leader who sharply criticized the Taliban and al Qaeda — of devastating terrorism on the horizon.

Massoud was killed two days before the 9/11 attacks, but he had previously warned U.S. intelligence officials that his assassination would be regarded as a precursor warning to a forthcoming terrorist attack. The film recounts warnings Massoud issued over the course of several years.

Conservative blogger Resa LaRu Kirkland told The Daily Caller that the “Path to 9/11” is the only film she has seen that fully and accurately portrays Massoud’s warnings and criticisms of bin Laden.

When ABC News first announced its plans to air “The Path to 9/11” in the fall of 2006, liberal groups and Democratic politicians reacted harshly. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, several of his Democratic colleagues in government, and liberal activists from ThinkProgress and other online opinion websites wrote letters to Disney CEO Bob Iger begging him to not air it.

They claimed at the time that the movie inaccurately portrayed the events leading up to 9/11. Democratic commission member Richard Ben-Veniste sided with his party’s liberal leaders in criticizing the film’s accuracy.

Kean, the commission chairman and a Republican, rebutted those criticisms in several media interviews, saying he thought the film was an accurate rendering of history and adding his belief that all Americans should see it.

ABC News did air the docudrama over two nights, on September 10 and 11, 2006, to a combined audience of approximately 25 million viewers.

“The Path to 9/11” was nominated for seven Emmy awards, and won one. It also received an American Cinema Editors “Eddie” award. But the film, which cost $40 million to make, has not aired in the U.S. since, nor has it been released on DVD.

Some activists, notably many without partisan political affiliations, have tried to change that.

In May, 9/11 Families for a Secure America Foundation president Peter Gadiel wrote to Disney CEO Bob Iger asking him to rebroadcast the docudrama, saying that his group believes the tenth anniversary is the “perfect opportunity” to do so. Gadiel’s 23-year-old son James was killed in the 9/11 attacks. He worked on the 103rd floor of the World Trade Center’s North Tower.

Rick Oltman, vice president of Gadiel’s organization, told The Daily Caller that Iger never responded.

In an email to TheDC, Oltman said he believes hopes of a future presidential bid for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are keeping the film from airing again. “The word is, so long as Hillary Clinton has a chance of becoming president, the movie will never be re-shown,” Oltman said.

Iger is a major political donor to, and supporter of, Hillary Clinton. He has backed her political campaigns before, and would be a logical future supporter if she were to run for president in the future.

Kirkland, the blogger, is leading her own effort to make sure  “The Path to 9/11” sees the light of day again. She told TheDC she’s optimistic that it may happen this year, but admits there are no guarantees.

Critics of Disney’s failure to rebroadcast or license the film say Iger and other Disney executives are opposed to showing the film because doing so would be politically damaging to Hillary Clinton. During the initial controversy over the film, she was widely considered to be the Democratic choice for president in 2008. Whispers that she might challenge President Barack Obama in a 2012 primary are rekindling those concerns.

Iger has continued to say the reason the company hasn’t done anything with the film, including rebroadcasting it or widely distributing it via DVD production, is because it doesn’t make sense to do so.

But even so, Iger has refused several different offers to sell it. Tom Borelli, the director of the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise project and a Disney shareholder, told The Daily Caller that he has formally offered to purchase the film’s rights from Disney — only to be ignored.

At the time he offered to pay for the right to distribute “The Path to 9/11,” Borelli was co-managing a mutual fund that would have covered the project’s expenses. Borelli said that he wrote to Iger with a legitimate offer to buy the rights, and that Iger never responded.

Borelli and Kirkland both told TheDC that the Lions Gate film production company has also offered to purchase the film from Disney. Borelli added that Iger told Lions Gate “no.” Lions Gate could not be reached for comment for this story.

In a phone interview, Borelli said Iger is “really a progressive activist masquerading as a CEO.” Borelli said he thinks Iger is using his corporate clout to distort the truth in order to prop up Clinton.

Borelli said that by not selling or rebroadcasting the docudrama, Iger is letting the company’s $40 million investment in the Emmy-award-winning film go to waste. He told TheDC that, ironically, “it’s pretty clear” Iger isn’t protecting Disney shareholders’ investments.

“He’s using his own political views to affect not only his company, but he’s also robbing Americans [of] the ability to understand what happened and what led up to the 9/11 attacks,” Borelli said.

Kirkland believes Iger’s refusal to show Americans “The Path to 9/11” again is a “blatant attempt” to “whitewash history.”

“Fox & Friends” aired a story in May about young Americans who know very little about the events that led to the 9/11 terror attacks, what happened that day and what has happened since. USA Today followed up with a major story exposing the low level of 9/11 historical awareness among incoming U.S. college students.

“The sense I get is, ‘Something happened,’ and beyond that, things get a little bit fuzzy,” Purdue University professor Randy Roberts told USA Today about his students. “We have a new generation for whom this is a story. They know it’s an important story, but they just don’t know exactly why.”

Borelli has pressed Iger on the film’s disposition at several Disney shareholder meetings, but the CEO hasn’t budged for years on the issue — even telling Borelli “Fuck you!” during one such meeting.

Disney executives did not respond to TheDC’s request for comment for this story.

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