What's Fact, What's Fiction in 'The Path to 9/11'?

ByABC News via logo
September 11, 2006, 11:01 AM

Sept. 11, 2006 — -- "The Path to 9/11," ABC Entertainment's two-part miniseries about the events leading up to Sept. 11, 2001, has been in the headlines for days because of fictionalized scenes that portray members of the Clinton administration obstructing attempts to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. President Clinton and his supporters launched a full-bore political campaign, urging ABC Entertainment and its parent company The Walt Disney Company to pull the film.

ABC Entertainment decided to air the mini-series, though it said on Sunday some scenes were edited, but would not specify which ones.

So what aired, and what was fact and what was fiction?

John Lehman, a Republican 9/11 commissioner, watched it and said the episode portrayed events fairly.

"It very well portrayed the events in a way that people can understand them without doing violence to the facts," he said.

Clinton and many Democrats thought otherwise.

Clinton spokesman Jay Carson told ABC News that "ABC's claims of edits notwithstanding, the scenes ABC put on its air [Sunday] night are completely false and directly contradicted by the 9/11 Commission report. ABC regrettably decided not to tell the truth [Sunday] night and instead chose entertainment over the facts." Clinton staffers complained that they had been reassured by the company that the film would be edited to better reflect the findings of the 9/11 Commission; that they did not happen, they said. ABC Entertainment would not comment.

Three times during Sunday's episode, ABC Entertainment ran disclaimers that it contained "fictionalized scenes" for "dramatic and narrative purposes."

A review of the preview copy and the version that aired indicated that the filmmakers, in editing, de-emphasized the implication that President Clinton was too preoccupied with the Monica Lewinsky scandal to focus on terrorism. Likewise, the film no longer pushed the notion that it was largely based on the 9/11 Commission Report.