Raging Right Wing Republican

For those of us who are politically informed, and therefore Republican.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

F9/11: The Temperature At Which Fat Burns

I am going to deconstruct this Fahrenheit 9/11 of Moore's, and compile and update a list his lies and distortions as information comes.

CLAIM: The USA invaded Afghanistan to secure the area so an oil/natural gas pipeline could be built by UNOCAL. This oil interest had influenced Bush's policy decisions toward Afghanistan and the war, partly influencing friendly relations with the Taliban.

LIE: Unfortunately for Moore, UNOCAL gave up trying to build that pipeline back in 1999. There is no pipeline being built, and none was being contemplated at the time. The UNOCAL pipeline was 'purely a Clinton-era proposal'. It was Clinton, not Bush, who was in talks with the Taliban over the pipeline. And when the Taliban visited the country, it was neither Clinton nor Bush who invited them, but UNOCAL.

Isikoff of Newsweek Reports:
Whatever the motive, the Unocal pipeline project was entirely a Clinton-era proposal: By 1998, as the Taliban hardened its positions, the U.S. oil company pulled out of the deal. By the time George W. Bush took office, it was a dead issue—and no longer the subject of any lobbying in Washington. (Vice President Dick Cheney’s energy task force report in May, 2001, makes no reference to it.) There is no evidence that the Taliban envoy who visited Washington in March, 2001—and met with State Department and National Security Council officials—ever brought up the pipeline. Nor is there any evidence anybody in the Bush administration raised it with him. The envoy brought a letter to Bush offering negotiations to resolve the issue of what should be done with bin Laden.

CLAIM: Moore implicitly claims that Al Gore would've won 2000 'in under every scenario', had Bush not stolen the election.

LIE: After the election, independent news media organizations sent their own people to count the ballots and find their own results for media purposes, and as Newsday points out, made interesting findings . As it turns out, had the Supreme Court allowed yet another recount, Bush would've won anyway. If the statewide recount ordered by the Florida Supreme Court had gone ahead, the consortium found that Bush would have won the election under two different scenarios: counting only "undervotes," or taking into account the reported intentions of some county electoral officials to include "overvotes" as well - which happen to be the methods Gore was pushing for. The scenarios posed by the New York Times, CNN, and other major news organizations contradict what Moore alleges. (How do you 'steal' an election if you were always ahead, anyway?)

CLAIM: Saudi Arabia had given a whopping $1.4 billion to family and friends of George W. Bush.

LIE: Isikoff & Hosenball Report:

About $1.2 billion of that comes from BDM through a defense contract which allowed us to train their military forces in the 90's. BDM was owned by the Carlyle Group at the time.
But a cursory examination of the claim reveals some flaws in Moore’s arithmetic—not to mention his logic. ... Leave aside the tenuous six-degrees-of-separation nature of this “connection.” The main problem with this figure, according to Carlyle spokesman Chris Ullman, is that former president Bush didn’t join the Carlyle advisory board until April, 1998—five months after Carlyle had already sold BDM to another defense firm. True enough, the former president was paid for one speech to Carlyle and then made an overseas trip on the firm’s behalf the previous fall, right around the time BDM was sold. But Ullman insists any link between the former president’s relations with Carlyle and the Saudi contracts to BDM that were awarded years earlier is entirely bogus. “The figure is inaccurate and misleading,” said Ullman. “The movie clearly implies that the Saudis gave $1.4 billion to the Bushes and their friends. But most of it went to a Carlyle Group company before Bush even joined the firm. Bush had nothing to do with BDM."

DISTORTION: Bush was at a fundraiser, when he said his audience was an impressive gathering of the "haves and have mores... Some people call you elite, I call you my base."

Well, indeed, he was at a fund raiser, no doubt about that; but so was Al Gore, and the fundraiser was for... Catholic charity. Of course, if you take Moore's quote as an indication that Bush caters to his elite base, well then you can take Gore's own words at face value:
"I never exaggerate. You can ask Tipper or any of my 11 daughters."

CLAIM: Bush let Osama Bin Laden's family & other Saudi's fly out of the country without any security check. He let terrorists go.

LIE: But that's not what happened. As it turns out, the flights that sent the Saudi's out of the country after 9/11 were approved by none other than Richard Clarke - former terrorism czar and author of the less than complimentary "Against all Enemies". This was done only after the FBI had run security and background checks on the people in question, as well as interrogations. Only after they were cleared were they allowed to leave.
Much has already been written about these flights, especially the film’s implication that figures with possible knowledge of the terrorist attacks were allowed to leave the country without adequate FBI screening—a notion that has been essentially rejected by the 9/11 commission. The 9/11 commission found that the FBI screened the Saudi passengers, ran their names through federal databases, interviewed 30 of them and asked many of them “detailed questions." “Nobody of interest to the FBI with regard to the 9/11 investigation was allowed to leave the country,” the commission stated.

Richard Clarke:
“I thought the flights were correct,” Clarke told ABC News last week. “The Saudis had reasonable fear that they might be the subject of vigilante attacks in the United States after 9/11. And there is no evidence even to this date that any of the people who left on those flights were people of interest to the FBI.
And the only way you could associate Bin Laden's family with 9/11 is if you believe in guilt by association - which is ridiculous because there is no evidence of any ties of collaboration between the two. In fact, what is not told is that Bin Laden is an estranged member of his family (the black sheep, if you will) and that Saudi Arabia kicked him out of the country for attempting a revolution; not good grounds for any kind of cooperation. The family members that appeared were tertiary; keep in mind that Osama's family is humongous:
... Moore assures us that bin Laden is really tied to his family. His proof: a guy on film said that at bin Laden’s son’s wedding, a “few family members showed up.” Bin Laden’s father fathered 50 children alone. A few relatives showing up at – not bin Laden’s – but bin Laden’s son’s wedding is pathetic at best.
Also, under oath, Clarke immediately claimed that the decision to let the Saudi's out of the country, out of concern for their safety (and after they had been cleared) "never went any higher" than Clarke himself.

CLAIM: Bush is in the pocket of the Carlyle Group. The Group's heavy investment influences him greatly.

LIE: Nothing could be further from the truth. Not only are many other prominent men of power actually further indebted to the Group (Al Gore), but George Soros, none other than the man who is the source of such accusations against Bush, actually has more to do with the company in terms of monetary interest. In fact, Michael Moore himself is linked to the Carlyle Group. And even better, the company plays a large hand in distributing Fahrenheit 9/11:
But it turns out that Moore, not Bush, may have the more active financial relationship with Carlyle. Reports Sunday's New York Post: "The Carlyle Group - which [Moore] bashes in the movie as some sort of shadowy war profiteering company - has become part owner of Loews Cinemas, which is currently showing his film."

How much of Caryle's bin Laden-tainted cash has found its way into Moore's pockets - the portly propagandist isn't saying.

But ignoring everybody else, and getting back to Bush, he actually severed ties with the Carlyle Group, and his decisions hurt the Carlyle Group, acting against the interest of the company. Not such a puppet, is he?
Most importantly, the movie fails to show any evidence that Bush White House actually has intervened in any way to promote the interests of the Carlyle Group. In fact, the one major Bush administration decision that most directly affected the company’s interest was the cancellation of a $11 billion program for the Crusader rocket artillery system that had been developed for the U.S. Army (during the Clinton administration)—a move that had been foreshadowed by Bush’s own statements during the 2000 campaign saying he wanted a lighter and more mobile military. The Crusader was manufactured by United Defense, which had been wholly owned by Carlyle until it spun the company off in a public offering in October, 2001 (and profited to the tune of $237 million). Carlyle still owned 47 percent of the shares in the defense company at the time that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld—in the face of stiff congressional resistance—canceled the Crusader program the following year. These developments, like much else relevant to Carlyle, goes unmentioned in Moore’s movie.
The film also notes investments in United Defense, a military contractor, by the Carlyle Group, a firm that Bush and his father have been involved with which counts members of the Bin Laden family among its investors. He states:
September 11 guaranteed that United Defense was going to have a very good year. Just six weeks after 9/11, Carlyle filed to take United Defense public and in December, made a one-day profit of $237 million. But sadly, with so much attention focused on the Bin Laden family being important Carlyle investors, the Bin Ladens eventually had to withdraw.
Moore's phrasing suggests that the Bin Ladens profited from the post-Sept. 11 buildup with the United Defense IPO but were forced to withdraw after the stock sale. However, Labash notes that the Bin Ladens withdrew before the initial filing, not afterward, missing the big payday Moore insinuates that they received.

CLAIM: The White House blacked out a reference to Bath’s missed physical from his National Guard records because it was trying to conceal the Bath connection. After being hired by the bin Ladens to manager their money in Texas, Bath “in turn, invested in George W. Bush.”, implying a sordid connection of illegitimate influence between the Bin Laden's and Bush.

LIE: NEWSWEEK REPORTS:
The use of innuendo is rife through other critical passages of “Fahrenheit 9/11.” The movie makes much of the president’s relationship with James R. Bath, a former member of his Texas Air National Guard who, like Bush, was suspended from flying at one point for failure to take a physical. The movie suggests that the White House blacked out a reference to Bath’s missed physical from his National Guard records not because of legal concerns over the Privacy Act but because it was trying to conceal the Bath connection—a presumed embarrassment because the Houston businessman had once been the U.S. money manager for the bin Laden family. After being hired by the bin Ladens to manager their money in Texas, Bath “in turn,” the movie says, “invested in George W. Bush.”

The investment in question is real: In the late 1970’s, Bath put up $50,000 into Bush’s Arbusto Energy, (one of a string of failed oil ventures by the president), giving Bath a 5 percent interest in the company. The implication seems to be that, years later, because of this link, Bush was somehow not as zealous about his determination to get bin Laden.

Leaving aside the fact that the bin Laden family, which  runs one of Saudi Arabia’s biggest construction firms, has never been linked to terrorism, the movie—which relied heavily on Unger’s book—fails to note the author’s conclusion about what to make of the supposed Bin Laden-Bath-Bush nexus: that it may not mean anything. The “Bush-Bin Laden ‘relationships’ were indirect—two degrees of separation, perhaps—and at times have been overstated,” Unger writes in his book. While critics have charged that bin Laden money found its way into Arbusto through Bath, Unger notes that “no hard evidence has ever been found to back up that charge” and Bath himself has adamantly denied it. “One hundred percent of those funds (in Arbusto) were mine,” says Bath in a footnote on page 101 of Unger’s book. “It was a purely personal investment.”

CLAIM: Hamid Karzai, president of Afghanistan, was once a UNOCAL consultant.

LIE: Not so, says a UNOCAL representative.

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