Former 9/11 Commission co-chair Gov. Thomas Kean (R-NJ) served as a “senior consultant” for ABC’s The Path to 9/11 and “is listed in the credits as a co-executive producer.”
ABC Entertainment President Steve McPherson said Kean’s involvement was “crucial to the project” because “when you take on the responsibility of telling the story behind such an important event, it is absolutely critical that you get it right.”
But during a conference call yesterday, Kean himself questioned the accuracy of the miniseries. Asked about a key scene in which the Clinton administration is accused of blocking a surefire chance to kill Osama bin Laden, Kean said, “I don’t think the facts are clear” about those events, and that while ABC had “chose to portray it this way,” “my memory of it is that it could have happened any number of ways.”
The New York Post summarized Kean’s perspective: “Kean…said he was all right with the made-up scene — even though the video is being peddled to high schools as a teaching aid.”
Q: I mean, isn’t it the case that this film actually does show Sandy Berger hanging up the phone in the middle of a conference call, when there are U.S. personnel whose lives are at risk on the ground, and they have bin Laden in their sights, and that really nothing like that ever happened?
KEAN: Well, the question, Shaun, is whether — whether it was Sandy Berger, or whether it was the head of the CIA? Whether the call was hung up on or whether it was totally — whether it was disrupted by a failure in communications? I mean, these are all historically, I think, open questions. But again, this is a, you know, this is a miniseries, not a documentary.
Q: On this moment, the Sandy Berger moment, to go back to that for a second, if it’s not actually supported by the Commission’s findings, how exactly did it make its way into the movie?
KEAN: Well, I think it made its way into the movie because they do base this not just on the 9/11 Commission report, but they base it on any number of other sources. I’m not aware of all of them. I’m aware of books, and I know they used “Reckless Pursuit,” [inaudible] book. I know they used “The Cell,” which is John Miller’s book. Peter Lance, I read his book, and I recognize scenes that came from “1,000 Years of Revenge,” by Peter Lance. I know there are a number of other books, articles, and interviews they used. So, where that particular — I think I know, I think I know a couple of places where they got that particular scene from — but, uh, so, so it comes from all these various, various sources.
Q: Did it raise any red flags, though, for you, someone who must have a, you know, inherent broad knowledge of these events, did these concern you at all?
KEAN: Yeah, well, I pointed out that the scene involving Afghanistan and the attempt to get bin Laden that was thwarted is a composite. There were a number of these scenes, there were a number of tribes involved. Some of the people who were shown there probably weren’t there. But, when you’re — as it was pointed out to me — when you’re doing a miniseries of this kind, you just can’t show that there were 15 tribes involved [laughs] at various times, and so on. So it is a — it’s a composite. But the basic fact is that on a number of occassions, they thought they might have been able to get bin Laden, but for any number of reasons the plug was pulled on those operations.
Q: And the fact that it implicates Sandy Berger so directly in that scene didn’t concern you?
KEAN: Well, it’s, it’s — I think the facts are, if you take that particular, that particular event when it happened, I don’t think the facts are clear, whether it’s Sandy Berger, or whether it’s the head of the CIA, whether a line went dead. I think there are, I think there are a number of — they chose to portray it this way, but my memory of it is that it could have happened any number of ways.