"The Bush administration and the Clinton administration made big mistakes," Lehman said. "The Bush administration did not take Osama bin Laden or the overall terrorist threat nearly as seriously as they should have, and the Clinton administration pulled back from it because of legal concerns and diplomatic concerns."
In the movie, the opportunities to capture bin Laden were clear cut. A CIA operative named "Kirk," played by Donnie Wahlberg, is led to an al Qaeda camp by the military commander of the Northern Alliance. He spots bin Laden through binoculars merely yards away.
The 9/11 Commission report, however, says such opportunities existed but were not so clear cut in reality.
Former CIA Director George Tenet testified before the commission in 2004 about one close call with the al Qaeda leader in February 1999, the so-called "Desert Camp" incident where U.S. intelligence believed it tracked bin Laden to an area south of Kandahar, but officials were afraid of hitting a member of the royal family of the United Arab Emirates.
"There's also a question, I believe, as to whether bin Laden was inside or outside the camp," Tenet said.
There was also an opportunity in May 1999 in Kandahar, which the 9/11 Commission Report calls "most likely the best" opportunity to target bin Laden with cruise missiles before 9/11. Several CIA sources offered very detailed reports of bin Laden's whereabouts.
"If this intelligence was not 'actionable,' working-level officials said at the time and today, it was hard for them to imagine how any intelligence on Bin Laden in Afghanistan would meet the standard," the report states. "Communications were good, and the cruise missiles were ready. 'This was in our strike zone,' a senior military officer said. 'It was a fat pitch, a home run.' ...Working-level CIA officials agreed."
But CIA Director Tenet assessed the accuracy of the intelligence as only 50-50, and in consultation with the White House the go-ahead was never given.
"The Path to 9/11" shows Clinton administration successes, such as the capture of terrorist Ramzi Youssef and the foiling of the Millennium bomb plot -- but no one would confuse this with a pro-Clinton film.
Tonight the miniseries focuses on the Bush administration and its failures -- whether fact or fiction, or a little bit of both.