ABC's The Path to 9/11 is set to air beginning tonight, in spite of further criticism. The Americablog blog reported that the show defames American Airlines. Media Matters reports that John O'Neill, played by Harvey Keitel in the miniseries, is improperly depicted.
On 9/11, Mohammad Atta — the man who crashed American Airlines Flight 11 into the World Trade Center; it was the first aircraft to hit the twin towers — flew from Portland, Maine to Boston's Logan airport on a U.S. Airways flight earlier that morning. While checking in prior to boarding the flight from Portland to Boston, Atta's ID showed up on a computer screen. At the time, all the airline could do is hold his bags (which were irrelevant to the terrorists' operation). He then flew U.S. Airways Express.
This information is on page 1 of the 9/11 Commission's report.
The Path to 9/11 gets it wrong. It starts with Atta's ID being flagged at American Airlines in Boston. That's not what happened. It also has a person at the ticket counter ask if they should search him, but the supervisor shrugs it off, telling them to keep the terrorist's luggage.
They get the airline wrong, they get the airport wrong, and they imply that the airline could have legally done more than they did at the time...
Harvey Kietel was worried enough about his depiction of John O'Neill that he hired his own researcher and rewrote many of his lines. O'Neill was an FBI terrorism expert who was responsible for investigating the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, and the 2000 U.S.S. Cole bombing. He quit the FBI in 2001 and took the position of head of the World Trade Center's security team in August, 2001. He died on September 11, 2001. A couple of different people have mentioned problems with O'Neill's depiction in the "docudrama", though I haven't seen anyone specify exactly what the problems were. Kietel is now calling for ABC to fix the inaccuracies.
I found some more stuff about the miniseries on Americablog. For instance, FBI agents warned ABC about accuracy problems a year ago. The first part of the series has already been aired in New Zealand and the Sandy Berger scene that started the ball rolling is intact. In fact, the scene is the key to the whole first part of the series. Apparently if the scene had been cut or edited it would have significantly impacted the ability to understand the story.
And, finally, in what will probably be my last substantional post on the miniseries, I just want to point out that there is now a Wikipedia entry about it! You can find the entry here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Path_to_9/11 'm sure it will go through numerous updates in the days to come.
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