As is so often the case, the best advice about how to think about these things comes not from people like me or others in Washington, but from the families of the victims of 9-11. Several family members issued this statement, which I strongly commend to all:
"Families of September 11 believes the best way to honor those who were lost is to make sure that what happened to them never happens again. As such, we must understand exactly what took place, and not allow "entertainers" to promote misleading or incorrect information as fact to the public.
If we do not learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it. Any depiction of 9/11 that is not accurate and factual propagates myths, myths that may cause us future harm.
In order to make our country safer and more secure, we owe it to those who were lost to acknowledge that which took place, so that we can ensure it never happens again."
September 8, 2006
Despite press reports that ABC/Disney has made changes in the content and marketing of "The Path to 9/11," we remain concerned about the false impression that airing the show will leave on the public. Labeling the show as "fiction" does not meet your responsibility to the victims of the September 11th attacks, their families, the hard work of the 9/11 Commission, or to the American people as a whole.
At a moment when we should be debating how to make the nation safer by implementing the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, "The Path to 9/11" calls into question the accuracy of the Commission's report and whether fabricated scenes are, in fact, an accurate portrayal of history. Indeed, the millions spent on the production of this fictional drama would have been better spent informing the public about the Commission's actual findings and the many recommendations that have yet to be acted upon. Unlike this film, that would have been a tremendous service to the public.
Although our request for an advance copy of the film has been repeatedly denied, it is all too clear that our objections to "The Path to 9/11" are valid and corroborated by those familiar with the film and intimately involved in its production:
Your corporate partner, Scholastic, has disassociated itself from this project.
9/11 Commission Chairman Thomas Kean, who served as co-executive producer on "The Path to 9/11," has stated that he raised concerns about the accuracy of several scenes in the film and that his concerns were not addressed during production.
Harvey Keitel, who plays the star role of FBI agent John O'Neill, told reporters yesterday that while the screenplay was presented to him as a fair treatment of historical events, he is upset that several scenes were simply invented for dramatic purposes.
Numerous Members of Congress, several 9/11 Commissioners and prominent historians have spoken out against this movie.
Indeed, according to press reports, the fact that you are still editing the film two days before it is scheduled to air is an admission that it is irreparably flawed.