Sunday, September 10, 2006

"The Path To 9/11", Part One

There are heroes in evil as well as in good.
-- la Rochefoucauld

A thing long expected takes the form of the unexpected when at last it comes.
-- Mark Twain

Some quick hit reactions on the first installment:

The Arab, Afghani, and Pakistani actors turn in splendid character roles. The Ramzi Yousef character is a real rat bastard, and the Kenyan embassy bomber is convincingly rabid.

A good first draft of the '93 WTC bombing backstory is in the book The Cell: Inside the 9/11 Plot and Why the FBI and CIA Failed to Stop It.

I didn't like the jerky handcam technique in United 93, and I didn't like it much here, either. Close-ups of eyes, mustaches, scenes shot through windows, through grates, through screens abound. So do cliches: yawning guards, spider webs, flies on the wall during a surveillance scene (get it? Huh?), musical comment on the goings-on from the soundtrack. (A soundtrack?)

John O'Neill mutters "I hate mayors" after being blocked by red tape in an investigation.

Osama bin Laden's declaration of war on America is read aloud in a couple of scenes. There isn't a sentence in it that a major American university's humanities department could bring itself to dispute, from what I've seen the past few decades. Which is why I don't trust academics to stick up for America. So many of 'em think that they are sitting in some hypothetical grandstand, watching all us little ants fight it out in a mason jar, far below.

The special forces in the field radiate a grungy Joe Cool lethality (with the inevitable Hollywood prettying-up. But, just as the British army in World War One were lions led by donkeys, so these guys are falcons led by turkeys. This can be corroborated by a real life source. Retired SEAL Matthew Heidt ran a milblog for a while. In one post he complained about how Bill Clinton had the teams run drills and dry runs all the time, but never turned them loose on America's terrorist enemies. According to him, Clinton "didn't have the sack to pull the trigger."

Amazingly, the Dems are almost uniformly depicted as contemptible and ineffectual. Cuomo shrugs off the '93 bombing. Sandy Berger loses his nerve (but, apparently after some last minute editing, does not hang up on the UBL snatch team). Madeline Albright tries to cover her incompetence with arrogance. And Bill Clinton's lack of character, and its fateful consequences, are acidly rendered. (What's worse than having a President with low poll numbers? Having a President whose #1 priority is being liked.) That's the amazing part of this film, given the entertainment industry's long love affair with The Big He. The same people who called Fahrenheit 9/11 "hard-hitting" are all a-squawk over this film, and many of those howls sound like cries of betrayal. The visual media and creative community are all supposed to be in the Democrats' corner, so where'd this come from, then?

The Kenyan embassy bombing scene had a small bit of personal connection for me. I visited the embassy in Nairobi several years before the bombing. I was young and idealistic, and thought I might make a career in an NGO. So, when I was there on a foreign study trip, I went to the embassy to ask about what kind of volunteer opportunities were available in country. Nothing came of it, but I always had fond memories of Kenya. I was outraged at the embassy bombings, and later at the bombing of that Kenyan lodge which was a favorite of Israeli vacationers. Vile jihadis, they don't deserve to clap eyes on such beautiful country or people as that.

That was one expensive blowjob, pardon the language....

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