9/11 Commissioners Debate ABC Entertainment Movie, Iraq, War on Terror

In an exclusive appearance on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," four of the 10 members of the 9/11 Commission commemorated the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, calling for more to be done to protect the country, and splitting along party lines as to whether the controversial ABC Entertaiment miniseries, "The Path to 9/11," accurately portrays their bipartisan report.

"Nobody's seen the final cut," said Tom Kean, the former Republican governor of New Jersey and chair of the 9/11 Commission, of the film. "Only in the United States and in Washington could this kind of debate occur about something they haven't seen."

The miniseries, which airs in two parts Sunday and Monday, the fifth anniversary of 9/11, drew criticism this week over Democratic fears that it may portray the Clinton administration's approach to al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden in a negative light.

"I don't want any lies in there parading as the truth, that's all," President Bill Clinton told reporters earlier this week.

But members of his administration have taken the fight a step further.

On Friday, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, both of whom served in the Clinton administration, sent a letter to Commissioner Kean, who served as a consultant on the film.

"Actors portraying us do contemptible things we never did, and say things we neither said nor believed," they wrote in the letter. "And what's more, in many instances these portrayals are contradicted by your Commission's own findings."

Albright and Berger urged Kean to sever his relationship with "this grossly misleading project" and asked that he encourage ABC entertainment to "withdraw the broadcast altogether."

Kean rejected both entreaties.

"Of course it should be aired: I'm not for censorship," Kean said. "If people blame Bill Clinton after seeing this, then the miniseries has failed. That's wrong."

Some of Kean's 9/11 Commission colleagues disagreed, including Commissioner Jamie Gorelick, who served as the deputy attorney general for three years under Clinton.

"I don't think you can act to remedy the problem [of terrorism] unless you have an accurate idea of what went on," Gorelick said. "[The film] should either be pulled or fixed."

Gorelick, however, maintained that she was most concerned about the film's potential impact on schoolchildren.

Scholastic, the nation's leading children's publishing, education, and media company, severed its partnership with ABC earlier this week, cancelling plans to provide educational materials about 9/11 in coordination with the docudrama.

"That was the thing that worried me the most," Gorelick said. "You don't need Tom Kean to vet this. You can look at the report. … We labored for 20 months to get this right."

Another 9/11 commissioner, Republican appointee John Lehman, who served six years as President Reagan's Secretary of the Navy, gave the controversy much less gravity.

"It's not going to have an earthshaking impact," Lehman said. "If you don't like the hits to the Clinton administration, well, welcome to the club. Republicans have lived with Michael Moore and Oliver Stone for years."

On the substantive issue of whether the United States is safer five years after 9/11, Kean rejected the notion that the terrorist threat might be "overblown."

"We have to prepare and make this country just as safe as it can be," he insisted.

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