Nine Lies of Fahrenheit 9/11

From the House Republican Conference Michael Moore’s new film, Fahrenheit 9/11, is a nice fictional stroll down Conspiracy Theory Lane that takes audience members to an abrupt dead-end at Slick Lies Street. With speculation presented as fact, specious connections depicted as reality, and outlandish claims offered without proof, Moore’s movie is a shameless sham. The following is a brief description of only a few of the many lies that this film presents as truth. Fahrenheit Lie #1: National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice is depicted in the movie telling a reporter, “Oh, indeed there is a tie between Iraq and what happened on 9/11.”

  • The scene deceptively shows the Administration directly blaming Saddam and his regime for the attacks on 9/11 by taking her comments out of context. Now read the entire statement made by Ms. Rice to the reporter: “Oh, indeed there is a tie between Iraq and what happened on 9/11. It’s not that Saddam Hussein was somehow himself and his regime involved in 9/11. But if you think about what caused 9/11, it is the rise of ideologies of hatred that led people to drive airplanes into buildings in New York.”

Fahrenheit Lie #2: In the film, Moore leads viewers to believe that members of bin Laden’s family were allowed to exit the country after the attacks without questioning by authorities.

  • The September 11th commission, on the other hand, reported that 22 of the 26 people on the flight that took most of the bin Laden family out of the country were interviewed and found to be innocent of suspicion.
  • The commission reported that “each of the flights we have studied was investigated by the FBI and dealt with in a professional manner prior to its departure.”

Fahrenheit Lie #3: Moore claims that James Bath, a friend of President Bush from his time with the Texas Air National Guard, might have funneled bin Laden money to an unsuccessful Bush oil-drilling firm called Arbusto Energy.

  • Bill Allison, managing editor for the Center for Public Integrity (an independent watchdog group in Washington, D.C.), on the other hand, said, “We looked into bin Laden money going to Arbusto, and we never found anything to back that up,” (Source: Seattle Times, 7/5/04).

Fahrenheit Lie #4: The movie claims that the Bush administration “supported closing veterans hospitals.”

  • “The Department of Veterans Affairs did propose closing seven hospitals in areas with declining populations where the hospitals were underutilized, and whose veterans could be served by other hospitals” (Source: Kopel, Independence Institute).
  • But Moore’s film fails to mention that the Department also proposed building new hospitals in areas where needs were growing, and also proposed building blind rehabilitation centers and spinal cord injury centers (Source: Department of Veterans Affairs).

Fahrenheit #5: Conspiracy theories abound about the reasons for the War on Terror, but none is more outlandish than the one propagandized in Moore’s film: that the Afghan war was fought solely to enable the Unocal company to build an oil pipeline (the plan for which was abandoned by the company in 1998). Moore “suggests that one of the first official acts of Afghan President Hamid Karzai … was to help seal a deal for … Unocal to build an oil pipeline from the Caspian Sea through Afghanistan to the Indian Ocean. It alleges that Karzai had been a Unocal consultant,” (emphasis added), (Source: Seattle Times, 7/5/04).

  • Unocal spokesman, Barry Lane, says unequivocally, “Karzai was never, in any capacity, an employee, consultant or a consultant of a consultant,” and Unocal never had a plan to build a Caspian Sea pipeline.

Moore mentions that the Taliban visited Texas while President Bush was governor to discuss a potential project with Unocal.

  • While Moore implies that then-Governor Bush met with the Taliban, no such meeting occurred. The Taliban delegation did, however, meet with the Clinton Administration on this visit (Source: Weekly Standard).

Fahrenheit Lie #6: Even readily available figures are exaggerated for effect in Fahrenheit 9/11. The claims have a basis in reality, making them believable, but are false nonetheless. In the film, Moore asks Craig Unger, author of House of Bush, House of Saud, “How much money do the Saudis have invested in America, roughly?” to which Unger responds, “Uh, I’ve heard figures as high as $860 billion.”

  • The Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy reports that worldwide Saudi investment approximated $700 billion – a figure much lower than Unger alleges the Saudi government to have invested in the U.S.
  • The Institute reports that 60 percent of that $700 billion – roughly $420 billion, less than half of what Unger “heard” – was actually invested in the United States by the Saudi government.

Fahrenheit Lie #7: “Moore’s film suggests that [President] Bush has close family ties to the bin Laden family – principally through [President] Bush’s father’s relationship with the Carlyle Group, a private investment firm. The president’s father, George H.W. Bush, was a senior adviser to the Carlyle Group’s Asian affiliate until recently; members of the bin Laden family – who own one of Saudi Arabia’s biggest construction firms – had invested $2 million in a Carlyle Group fund. Bush Sr. and the bin Ladens have since severed ties with the Carlyle Group, which in any case has a bipartisan roster of partners, including Bill Clinton’s former SEC chairman Arthur Levitt. The movie quotes author Dan Briody claiming that the Carlyle Group ‘gained’ from September 11 because it owned United Defense, a military contractor. Carlyle Group spokesman Chris Ullman notes that United Defense holds a special distinction among U.S. defense contractors that is not mentioned in Moore’s movie: the firm’s $11 billion Crusader artillery rocket system developed for the U.S. Army is one of the only weapons systems canceled by the Bush administration.” (Source: Kopel, Independence Institute.)

  • “There is another famous investor in Carlyle whom Moore does not reveal: George Soros. But the fact that the anti-Bush billionaire [Soros] has invested in Carlyle would detract from Moore’s simplistic conspiracy theory.” (Source: Kopel, Independence Institute.)

Fahrenheit Lie #8: Not revealing relevant facts is dishonest enough. But to paint the Bush Administration as sympathetic and friendly to the Taliban prior to September 11, is not only dishonest, but maliciously so. Moore shows film of a March 2001 visit to the United States by a Taliban delegation, claiming that the Administration “welcomed” the Taliban official, Sayed Hashemi, “to tour the United States to help improve the image of the Taliban.”

  • But the Administration did not welcome the Taliban with open arms. In fact, the State Department rejected the Taliban’s claim that it had complied with U.S. requests to isolate bin Laden.
  • To demonstrate even further the Administration’s contempt for the Taliban and its illegitimacy, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher – on the day of the terrorist regime’s visit – said, “We don’t recognize any government in Afghanistan.”

Fahrenheit Lie #9: Moore does more than simply downplay the threat posed to the U.S. by the former Hussein regime in Iraq. He goes so far as to assert that Saddam “never threatened to attack the United States.” If by “attack the United States” one interprets this claim to mean that Saddam never threatened to send troops to the United States, then Mr. Moore has a point.

  • But Saddam Hussein clearly sought to attack the United States within his own sphere of influence, even though he didn’t have the resources to attack U.S. soil from his side of the world: On November 15, 1997, “the main propaganda organ for the Saddam regime, the newspaper Babel (which was run by Saddam Hussein’s son Uday), ordered: ‘American and British interests, embassies, and naval ships in the Arab region should be the targets of military operations and commando attacks by Arab political forces.'” (Source: Kopel, Independence Institute.)
  • In addition, “Iraqi forces fired, every day, for 10 years, on the aircraft that patrolled the no-fly zones and staved off further genocide in the north and south of the country,” (Source: New York Times, 12/1/03).
  • Saddam Hussein also provided safe haven to terrorists who killed Americans, like Abu Nidal; funded suicide bombers in Israel who certainly killed Americans; and ran the Iraqi police, which plotted to assassinate former President George Bush.