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This is very long, well researched and right on. The second 29 will be put on a different thread with a link.
As stated yesterday and as is the case with most of Moore-on's movie, only those recovering from labotomies mindlessly follow along with this idiots conclusions.
2000 Election Night
Fahrenheit 9/11 begins on election night 2000. We are first shown the Al Gore rocking on stage with famous musicians and a high-spirited crowd. The conspicuous sign on stage reads “Florida Victory.” Moore creates the impression that Gore was celebrating his victory in Florida.
Actually, the rally took place in the early hours of election day, before polls had even opened. Gore did campaign in Florida on election day, but went home to Tennessee to await the results. The “Florida Victory” sign reflected Gore’s hopes, not any actual election results. (“Gore Campaigns Into Election Day,” Associated Press, Nov. 7, 2000.)
The film shows CBS and CNN calling Florida for Al Gore. According to the narrator, “Then something called the Fox News Channel called the election in favor of the other guy….All of a sudden the other networks said, ‘Hey, if Fox said it, it must be true.’”
We then see NBC anchor Tom Brokaw stating, “All of us networks made a mistake and projected Florida in the Al Gore column. It was our mistake.”
Moore thus creates the false impression that the networks withdrew their claim about Gore winning Florida when they heard that Fox said that Bush won Florida.
In fact, the networks which called Florida for Gore did so early in the evening—before polls had even closed in the Florida panhandle, which is part of the Central Time Zone. NBC called Florida for Gore at 7:49:40 p.m., Eastern Time. This was 10 minutes before polls closed in the Florida panhandle. Thirty seconds later, CBS called Florida for Gore. And at 7:52 p.m., Fox called Florida for Gore. Moore never lets the audience know that Fox was among the networks which made the error of calling Florida for Gore prematurely. Then at 8:02 p.m., ABC called Florida for Gore. Only ABC had waited until the Florida polls were closed.
About an hour before the polls closed in panhandle Florida, the networks called the U.S. Senate race in favor of the Democratic candidate. The networks seriously compounded the problem because from 6-7 Central Time, they repeatedly announced that polls had closed in Florida--even though polls were open in the panhandle. (See also Joan Konner, James Risser & Ben Wattenberg, Television's Performance on Election Night 2000: A Report for CNN, Jan. 29, 2001.)
The false announcements that the polls were closed, as well as the premature calls (the Presidential race ten minutes early; the Senate race an hour early), may have cost Bush thousands of votes from the conservative panhandle, as discouraged last-minute voters heard that their state had already been decided; some last-minute voters on their way to the polling place turned around and went home. Other voters who were waiting in line left the polling place. In Florida, as elsewhere, voters who have arrived at the polling place before closing time often end up voting after closing time, because of long lines. The conventional wisdom of politics is that supporters of the losing candidate are most likely to give up on voting when they hear that their side has already lost. Thus, on election night 1980, when incumbent President Jimmy Carter gave a concession speech while polls were still open on the west coast, the early concession was blamed for costing the Democrats several Congressional seats in the West, such as that of 20-year incumbent James Corman. The fact that all the networks had declared Reagan a landslide winner while west coast voting was still in progress was also blamed for Democratic losses in the West; Congress even held hearings about prohibiting the disclosure of exit polls before voting had ended in the any of the 48 contiguous states.
Even if the premature television calls affected all potential voters equally, the effect was to reduce Republican votes significantly, because the Florida panhandle is a Republican stronghold. Most of Central Time Zone Florida is in the 1st Congressional District, which is known as the "Redneck Riviera." In that district, Bob Dole beat Bill Clinton by 69,000 votes in 1996, even though Clinton won the state by 300,000 votes. So depress overall turnout in the panhandle, and you will necessarily depress more Republican than Democratic votes. A 2001 study by John Lott suggested that the early calls cost Bush at least 7,500 votes, and perhaps many more. Another study reported that the networks reduced panhandle turn-out by about 19,000 votes, costing Bush about 12,000 votes and Gore about 7,000 votes.
At 10:00 p.m., which networks took the lead in retracting the premature Florida win for Gore? Theu were CNN and CBS, not Fox. (The two networks were using a shared Decision Team.) See Linda Mason, Kathleen Francovic & Kathleen Hall Jamieson, “CBS News Coverage of Election Night 2000: Investigation, Analysis, Recommendations” (CBS News, Jan. 2001), pp. 12-25.)
In fact, Fox did not retract its claim that Gore had won Florida until 2 a.m.--four hours after other networks had withdrawn the call.
Over four hours later, at 2:16 a.m., Fox projected Bush as the Florida winner, as did all the other networks by 2:20 a.m.
At 3:59 a.m., CBS took the lead in retracting the Florida call for Bush. All the other networks, including Fox, followed the CBS lead within eight minutes. That the networks arrived at similar conclusions within a short period of time is not surprising, since they were all using the same data from the Voter News Service. (Mason, et al. "CBS News Coverage.") As the CBS timeline details, throughout the evening all networks called states used VNS data to call states, even though VNS had not called the state; sometimes the network calls were made hours ahead of the VNS call.
Moore’s editing technique of the election night segment is typical of his style: all the video clips are real clips, and nothing he says is, narrowly speaking, false. But notice how he says, “Then something called the Fox News Channel called the election in favor of the other guy…” The impression created is that the Fox call of Florida for Bush came soon after the CBS/CNN calls of Florida for Gore, and that Fox caused the other networks to change (“All of a sudden the other networks said, ‘Hey, if Fox said it, it must be true.’”)
This is the essence of the Moore technique: cleverly blending half-truths to deceive the viewer.
[Moore response: On the Florida victory celebration, none. On the networks calls: provides citations for the early and incorrect Florida calls for Gore, around 8 p.m. Eastern Time, and for the late-evening network calls of Florida for Bush around 2:20 a.m. Doesn't mention the retraction of the Florida calls at 10 p.m., or that CBS led the retraction.]
2000 Election Recount
How did Bush win Florida? "Second, make sure the chairman of your campaign is also the vote count woman." Actually Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris (who was Bush's Florida co-chair, not the chairman") was not the "vote count woman." Vote counting in Florida is performed by the election commissioners in each of Florida's counties. The Florida Secretary of State merely certifies the reported vote. The office does not count votes.
A little while later, Fahrenheit shows Jeffrey Toobin (a sometime talking head lawyer for CNN) claiming that if the Supreme Court had allowed a third recount to proceed past the legal deadline, “under every scenario Gore won the election.”
Fahrenheit shows only a snippet of Toobin's remarks on CNN. What Fahrenheit does not show is that Toobin admitted on CNN that the only scenarios for a Gore victory involved a type of recount which Gore had never requested in his lawsuits, and which would have been in violation of Florida law. Toobin's theory likewise depends on re-assigning votes which are plainly marked for one candidate (Pat Buchanan) to Gore, although there are no provisions in Florida law to guess at who a voter "really" meant to vote for and to re-assign the vote.
A six-month study by a consortium including the New York Times, Washington Post and CNN disproves Fahrenheit's claim that Gore won under any scenario.
As USA Today summarized, on May 11, 2001:
Who would have won if Al Gore had gotten manual counts he requested in four counties? Answer: George W. Bush."
"Who would have won if the U.S. Supreme Court had not stopped the hand recount of undervotes, which are ballots that registered no machine-readable vote for president? Answer: Bush, under three of four standards."
"Who would have won if all disputed ballots — including those rejected by machines because they had more than one vote for president — had been recounted by hand? Answer: Bush, under the two most widely used standards; Gore, under the two least used."
Throughout the Florida election controversy, the focus was on "undervotes"--ballots which were disqualified because the voter had not properly indicated a candidate, such as by punching out a small piece of paper on the paper ballot. The recounts attempted to discern voter intentions from improperly-marked ballots. Thus, if a ballot had a "hanging chad," a recount official might decide that the voter intended to vote for the candidate, but failed to properly punch out the chad; so the recounter would award the candidate a vote from the "spoiled" ballot. Gore was seeking additional recounts only of undervotes. The only scenario by which Gore would have won Florida would have involved recounts of "overvotes"--ballots which were spoiled because the voter voted for more than one candidate (such as by marking two names, or by punching out two chads). Most of the overvotes which were recoverable were those on which the voter had punched out a chad (or made a check mark) and had also written the candidate's name on the write-in line. Gore's lawsuits never sought a recount of overvotes, so even if the Supreme Court had allowed a Florida recount to continue past the legal deadline, Bush still would have won the additional recount which Gore sought.
A very interesting web widget published by the New York Times allows readers to crunch the data any way they want: what standards for counting ballots, whose counting system to apply, and how to treat overvotes. It's certainly possible under some of the variable scenarios to produce a Gore victory. But it's undeniably dishonest for Fahrenheit to assert that Gore would win under any scenario.
Moore amplifies the deceit with a montage of newspaper headlines, purporting to show that Gore really won. One article shows a date of December 19, 2001, with a large headline reading, "Latest Florida recount shows Gore won Election." The article supposedly comes from The Pantagraph, a daily newspaper in Bloomington, Illinois. But actually, the headline is merely for a letter to the editor--not a news article. The letter to the editor headline is significantly enlarged to make it look like an article headline. The letter ran on December 5, not December 19. The Pantagraph has contacted Moore's office to ask for an explanation, but the office has refused to comment.
[Moore response: Cites articles consistent with my explanation. Fails to acknowledge that the only scenarios for a Gore victory involved recounting methods which Gore never requested in his lawsuits. To tell viewers that Gore would have won "under every scenario" is absurd.]
Florida Purge of Convicted Felons from Voter Rolls
According to Fahrenheit, Bush cronies hired Data Base Technologies to purge Florida voters who might vote for Gore, and these potential voters were purged from the voting rolls on the basis of race. ("Second, make sure the chairman of your campaign is also the vote count woman. And that her state has hired a company that's gonna knock voters off the rolls who aren't likely to vote for you. You can usually tell 'em by the color of their skin.") As explained by the Palm Beach Post, Moore's suggestion is extremely incomplete, and on at least one fact, plainly false.
The 1998 mayoral election in Miami was a fiasco which was declared void by Florida courts, because--in violation of Florida law--convicted felons had been allowed to vote. The Florida legislature ordered the executive branch to purge felons from the voting rolls before the next election. Following instructions from Florida officials, Data Base Technologies (DBT) aggressively attempted to identify all convicted felons who were illegally registered to vote in Florida.
There were two major problems with the purge. First, several states allow felons to vote once they have completed their sentences. Some of these ex-felons moved to Florida and were, according to a court decision, eligible to vote. Florida improperly purged these immigrant felons.
Second, the comprehensive effort to identify all convicted felons led to large number of false positives, in which persons with, for example, the same name as a convicted felon, were improperly purged. Purged voters were, in most cases, notified months before the election and given an opportunity to appeal, but the necessity to file an appeal was in itself a barrier which probably discouraged some legitimate, non-felon citizens from voting. According to the Palm Beach Post, at least 1,100 people were improperly purged.
The overbreadth of the purge was well-known in Florida before the election. As a result, election officials in 20 of Florida's counties ignored the purge list entirely. In these counties, convicted felons were allowed to vote. Also according to the Post, thousands of felons were improperly allowed to vote in the 20 non-purging counties. Analysis by Abigail Thernstrom and Russell G. Redenbaugh, dissenting from a report by the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, suggests that about 5,600 felons voted illegally in Florida. (The Thernstrom/Redenbaugh dissent explains why little credit should be given to the majority report, which was produced by flagrantly ignoring data.)
When allowed to vote, felons vote approximately 69 percent Democratic, according to a study in the American Sociological Review. Therefore, if the thousands of felons in the non-purging 20 counties had not been illegally allowed to vote, it is likely that Bush's statewide margin would have been substantially larger.
Regardless, Moore's suggestion that the purge was conducted on the basis of race was indisputably false. As the Palm Beach Post details, all the evidence shows that Data Base Technologies did not use race as a basis for the purge. Indeed, DBT's refusal to take note of a registered voter's race was one of the reasons for the many cases of mistaken identity.
DBT's computers had matched these people with felons, though in dozens of cases they did not share the same name, birthdate, gender or race...[A] review of state records, internal e-mails of DBT employees and testimony before the civil rights commission and an elections task force showed no evidence that minorities were specifically targeted. Records show that DBT told the state it would not use race as a criterion to identify felons. The list itself bears that out: More than 1,000 voters were matched with felons though they were of different races.
The appeals record supports the Palm Beach Post's findings. Based on the numbers of successful appeals, blacks were less likely to have been improperly placed on the purge list: of the blacks who were purged, 5.1 percent successfully appealed. Of Hispanics purged, 8.7 percent successfully appealed. Of whites purged, 9.9 percent successfully appealed. John R. Lott, Jr., "Nonvoted Ballots and Discrimination in Florida," Journal of Legal Studies, vol. 32 (Jan. 2003), p. 209. Of course it is theoretically possible that the appeals officials discriminated against blacks, or that improperly purged blacks were not as likely to appeal as were people of other races. But no one has offered any evidence to support such possibilities.
[Moore response: Cites various articles about the felon purge. Offers no evidence to support the claim that voters were targeted on the basis of race.]
Bush Presidency before September 11
The movie lauds an anti-Bush riot that took place in Washington, D.C., on the day of Bush’s inauguration. He claims that protestors "pelted Bush's limo with eggs." Actually, it was just one egg, according to the BBC. According to Moore, "No President had ever witnessed such a thing on his inauguration day. " According to CNN, Richard Nixon faced comparable protests in 1969 and 1973.
Moore continues: “No President had ever witnessed such a thing on his inauguration day. And for the next eight months it didn’t get any better for George W. Bush. He couldn’t get his judges appointed; he had trouble getting his legislation passed; and he lost Republican control of the Senate. His approval ratings in the polls began to sink.”
Part of this is true. Once Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords left the Republican party, Democrats controlled the Senate, and stalled the confirmation of some of the judges whom Bush had nominated for the federal courts.
Congress did enact the top item on Bush’s agenda: a large tax cut. During the summer, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives easily passed many of Bush’s other agenda items, including the bill whose numbering reflected the President’s top priority: H.R. 1, the Bush “No Child Left Behind” education bill. The fate of the Bush bills in the Democratic-controlled Senate, as of August 2001, was uncertain. The Senate later did pass No Child Left Behind, but some other Bush proposals did not pass.
Moore says that Bush's "approval ratings in the polls began to sink." This is not entirely accurate, although I haven't counted this issue as a "deceit." From January 2001 to September 2001, Bush's approval ratings in almost all polls fluctuated pretty narrowly in a 50-59% range. Moore accurately cites a Christian Science Monitor poll with 45 percent approval for Bush on September 5, 2001, but the low result here is an outlier compared to the overall poll trend. What really changed for Bush, pollwise, was not that his approval ratings were sinking, but that his disapproval ratings had risen. The national polls showed that the approve/disapprove gap for Bush was much larger in January 2001 than in the late summer of 2001. So Moore is correct that Bush's polls numbers had deteriorated, although Moore's phrasing is not correct.
"He was already beginning to look like a lame duck President." Maybe in Moore's imagination. No serious political commentator made such a claim in 2001.
Bush is quoted as saying, "A dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier, there's no question about it." What Moore fails to note, though, is that the quote, from July 26, 2001, is a facetious joke, like Moore's claim in Dude, Where's my Country? that he did not have sex until age 32.
Another Bush joke is presented as an obvious joke, although important context is missing. Near the end of the movie, Bush speaks to a tuxedoed audience. He says, “I call you the haves and the have-mores. Some call you the elite; I call you my base.” The joke follows several segments in which Bush is accused of having started the Iraq war in order to enrich business. As far the movie audience can tell, Bush is speaking to some unknown group of rich people. The speech actually comes from the October 19, 2000, Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner. The 2000 event was the 55th annual dinner, which raises money for Catholic hospital charities in New York City. Candidates Bush and Gore were the co-guests of honor at the event, where speakers traditionally make fun of themselves.
Gore joked, "The Al Smith Dinner represents a hallowed and important tradition, which I actually did invent." Lampooning his promise to put Social Security in a "lock box," Gore promised that he would put "Medicare in a walk-in closet," put NASA funding in a "hermetically sealed Ziploc bag" and would "always keep lettuce in the crisper." Mary Ann Poust, "Presidential hopefuls Gore and Bush mix humor and politics at Al Smith Dinner," Catholic New York, Oct. 26, 2000. So although Fahrenheit presents the joke as epitomizing Bush's selfishness, the joke really was part of Bush helping to raise $1.6 million for medical care for the poor. Although many a truth is said in jest, Bush's joke was no more revealing than was Gore's claim to have founded the dinner in 1946, two years before he was born.
[Moore response: Cites articles predicting that Bush would having trouble with Congress on Arctic drilling, campaign finance, and faith-based charity. Cites a California poll in which Bush's disapproval rating equaled his approval rating. Cites a couple additional polls, selecting Bush's worst results. No response on the distortion of the Alfred E. Smith Dinner.]
Fahrenheit 9/11 states, “In his first eight months in office before September 11th, George W. Bush was on vacation, according to the Washington Post, forty-two percent of the time.”
Shortly before 9/11, the Post calculated that Bush had spent 42 percent of his presidency at vacation spots or en route, including all or part of 54 days at his ranch. That calculation, however, includes weekends, which Moore failed to mention.
Tom McNamee, “Just the facts on ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ Chicago Sun-Times, June 28, 2004. See also: Mike Allen, “White House On the Range. Bush Retreats to Ranch for ‘Working Vacation’,” Washington Post, August 7, 2001 (Many of those days are weekends, and the Camp David stays have included working visits with foreign leaders.)
Reader Scott Marquandt looked into a random week of Bush's August 2001 "vacation." Using public documents from www.whitehouse.gov, here is what he found:
Monday, August 20
Spoke concerning the budget while visiting a high school in Independence, Missouri.
Spoke at the annual Veteran's of Foreign Wars convention in Milwuakee,Wisconsin.
Signed six bills into law.
Announced his nominees for Chief Financial Officer of the Department of Agriculture, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Financial Management, member of the Federal Housing Finance Board, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disabled Employment Policy, U.S. Representative to the General Assemblyof the U.N., and Assistant Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development for the Bureau of Humanitarian Response.
Spoke with workers at the Harley Davidson factory.
Dined with Kansas Governor Bill Graves, discussing politics.
Tuesday, August 21
Took press questions at a Target store in Kansas City, Missouri.
Spoke with Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien on the matter of free trade and tariffs on Canadian lumber.
Wednesday, August 22
Met with Karen Hughes, Condi Rice, and Josh Bolten, and other staff (more than one meeting).
Conferenced with Mexico's president for about 20 minutes on the phone. They discussed Argentina's economy and the International Monetary fund's role in bringing sustainability to the region. They also talked about immigration and Fox's planned trip to Washington.
Communicated with Margaret LaMontagne, who was heading up a series of immigration policy meetings.
Released the Mid-Session Review, a summary of the economic outlook for the next decade, as well as of the contemporary economy and budget.
Announced nomination and appointment intentions for Ambassador to Vietnam, two for the Commission on Fine Arts, six to serve on the Commission on the Future of the United States Aerospace Industry, three for the Advisory Committee to the Pension Benefits Guaranty Corporation, one to the Board of Directors of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and one to the National Endowments for the Arts.
Issued a Presidential Determination ordering a military drawdown for Tunisia.
Issued a statement regarding the retirement of Jesse Helms.
Thursday, August 23
Briefly speaks with the press.
Visited Crawford Elementary School, fielded questions from students.
Friday, August 24
Officials arrive from Washington at 10:00 AM. Briefly after this at a press conference, Bush announced that General Richard B. Myers will be the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and General Pete Pac will serve as Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. He also announced 14 other appointments, and his intentions for the budget. At 11:30 AM these officials, as well as National Security Council experts, the Secretary of Defense, and others, met with Bush to continue the strategic review process for military transformation (previous meetings have been held at the Pentagon and the White House). The meeting ended at 5:15.
Met with Andy Card and Karen Hughes, talking about communications issues.
Issued a proclamation honoring Women's Equality Day.
Saturday, August 25
Awoke at 5:45 AM, read daily briefs.
Had an hour-long CIA and national security briefing at 7:45
Gave his weekly radio address on the topic of The Budget.
Sunday, August 26
Speaks at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
Speaks at the U.S. Steel Group Steelworkers Picnic at Mon Valley Works, southeast of Pittsburgh. He also visits some employees still working, not at the picnic.
That's a pretty hardworking week of "vacation." Marquandt looked up Bush's activities for the next three days:
Declares a major disaster area in Ohio and orders federal aid. This affects Brown, Butler, Clermont and Hamilton counties.
Sent a report on progress toward a "solution of the Cyprus question" to the Speaker of the House and the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
Announced his intention to nominate Kathleen Burton Clarke to be Directorof the Bureau of Land Management (Department of the Interior).
Speaks at the American Legion's 83rd annual convention in San Antonio, discussing defense priorities. Decommissions the Air Force One jet that flew 444 missions dating from the Nixon administration to, finally, his own trip to the etirement ceremony for the plane in Waco, Texas.
Attends the dedication ceremony of the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park in San Antonio.
Announces appointment of 13 members of the Presidential Task Force to Improve Health Care Delivery for Our Nations Veterans.
Christopher Hitchens notes:
[T]he shot of him “relaxing at Camp David” shows him side by side with Tony Blair. I say “shows,” even though this photograph is on-screen so briefly that if you sneeze or blink, you won’t recognize the other figure. A meeting with the prime minister of the United Kingdom, or at least with this prime minister, is not a goof-off.
The president is also captured in a well-worn TV news clip, on a golf course, making a boilerplate response to a question on terrorism and then asking the reporters to watch his drive. Well, that’s what you get if you catch the president on a golf course.
Christopher Hitchens, “Unfairenheit 9/11: The lies of Michael Moore,” Slate.com, June 21, 2004. (Some of Moore's defenders have denounced Hitchens as a member of the vast-right wing conspiracy. Hitchens, however, wrote an obituary of Ronald Reagan recalling his lone meeting with Reagan, when he asked a question which made Reagan Angry: "The famously genial grin turned into a rictus of senile fury: I was looking at a cruel and stupid lizard." Hitchens also wrote a book and produced a movie, The Trials of Henry Kissinger, urging that Kissinger be tried for war crimes.)
By the way, the clip of Bush making a comment about terrorism, and then hitting a golf ball, is also taken out of context, at least partially:
Tuesday night on FNC’s Special Report with Brit Hume, Brian Wilson noted how “the viewer is left with the misleading impression Mr. Bush is talking about al-Qaeda terrorists.” But Wilson disclosed that “a check of the raw tape reveals the President is talking about an attack against Israel, carried out by a Palestinian suicide bomber.”
"Cyberalert," Media Research Center, July 1, 2004, item. 3.
Interestingly, as detailed in Bill Clinton's autobiography My Life, in November 1995. when President Clinton learned that Israel's Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin had been shot, Clinton went out to the White House lawn and hit golf balls while he waited to learn if Rabin would live. That Clinton played golf after learning of a terrible crime in Israel obviously does not mean that he did not care about the crime. If a television station had recorded some footage of Clinton hitting golf balls that awful night, it would have easy for a hyper-partisan film-maker to use the footage against Clinton unfairly.
Moore wraps up the vacation segment: "It was a summer to remember. And when it was over, he left Texas for his second favorite place." The movie then shows Bush in Florida. Actually, he went back to Washington, where he gave a speech on August 31.
[Moore response: Accurately quotes the Washington Post: "if you add up all his weekends at Camp David, layovers at Kennebunkport and assorted to-ing and fro-ing, W. will have spent 42 percent of his presidency 'at vacation spots or en route.'" Does not attempt to defend Fahrenheit's mischaracterization of the Post's meaning. Does not explain why the Israeli context was removed from the Bush quote. Does not defend the claim that Bush went from Texas to Florida.]
Moore's changing positions
Fahrenheit presents a powerful segment on the September 11 attacks. There is no narration, and the music is dramatic yet tasteful. The visuals are reaction shots from pedestrians, as they gasp with horrified astonishment.
Moore has been criticized for using the reaction shots as a clever way to avoid showing the planes hitting the buildings, and some of the victims falling to their deaths. Even if this is true, the segment still effectively evokes the horror and outrage that every decent human being still feels about September 11.
But as New York’s former Mayor Edward Koch reported, Moore says, “I don’t know why we are making so much of an act of terror. It is three times more likely that you will be struck by lightning than die from an act of terror.” If there is some additional context which would explain Moore's remarks, he has not supplied such context on his website. It seems unlikely that Moore's "war room" is unaware of the highly critical review written by former NYC Mayor Koch.
Moore's first public comment about the September 11 attacks was to complain that too many Democrats rather than Republicans had been killed: "If someone did this to get back at Bush, then they did so by killing thousands of people who did not vote for him! Boston, New York, DC, and the planes' destination of California--these were places that voted against Bush!" (The quote was originally posted as a "Mike's Message" on Moore's website on September 12, but was removed not long after. Among the many places where Moore's quote has been repeated is The New Statesman, a leftist British political magazine.)
A person might feel great personal sympathy for the victim of a lightning strike, but the same person might feel that, overall, the "lightning problem" is not worth making a big fuss over. Fahrenheit presents September 11 as a terrible tragedy (in which Moore lost one of his friends and many other people lost loved ones), and as something worth making a big fuss. On this latter point, Fahrenheit's purported view does not appear to be the same as Moore's actual view.
[Moore response: none.]
Bush on September 11
Fahrenheit mocks President Bush for continuing to read the book My Pet Goat to a classroom of elementary school children after he was told about the September 11 attacks. Actually, as reported in The New Yorker, the book was Reading Mastery 2, which contains an exercise called "The Pet Goat." The title of the book is not very important in itself, but the invented title of My Pet Goat makes it easier to ridicule Bush.
What Moore did not tell you:
Gwendolyn Tose’-Rigell, the principal of Emma E. Booker Elementary School, praised Bush’s action: “I don’t think anyone could have handled it better.” “What would it have served if he had jumped out of his chair and ran out of the room?”…
She said the video doesn’t convey all that was going on in the classroom, but Bush’s presence had a calming effect and “helped us get through a very difficult day.”
“Sarasota principal defends Bush from ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ portrayal,” Associated Press, June 24, 2004. Also, since the President knew he was on camera, it was reasonable to expect that if he had suddenly sped out of the room, his hasty movement would have been replayed incessantly on television; leaving the room quickly might have exacerbated the national mood of panic, even if Bush had excused himself calmly.
Moore does not offer any suggestion about what the President should have done during those seven minutes, rather than staying calm for the sake of the classroom and of the public. Nor does Moore point to any way that the September 11 events might have turned out better in even the slightest way if the President had acted differently. I agree with Lee Hamilton, the Vice-Chair of the September11 Commission and a former Democratic Representative from Indiana: "Bush made the right decision in remaining calm, in not rushing out of the classroom."
[Moore response: Defends the factual accuracy of the segment, which no one has ever disputed, except regarding the book's title.]
The Wolfowitz Comb
Another cheap shot
Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz is shown surreptitiously licking his comb in preparation for Congressional testimony under the cameras. I know: Eeeuuww! Moore's point is that this proves Wolfowitz is a low life, a sleazy guy whose policy opinions should be devalued accordingly. And, of course, it's funny to see the famous and powerful embarrass themselves. Yet not one among us hasn't had dozens of questionable hygiene moments that we would be mortified to have witnessed by anyone, not to mention see featured in a nationally released documentary. Moore knows that Wolfowitz's desperate act in attempting to tame unruly hair for a public appearance will look much worse on movie screen than it really is, and he must know that periodic hygiene failings are not any kind of proof of depravity: after all, we're talking about a director here who habitually appears in public unshaven and sloppily dressed. To Moore's likely retort that Wolfowitz deserves to be gratuitously ridiculed for doing nothing worse than any member of his audience could easily recall doing himself, the answer is that nobody deserves to be treated this way. It is cruel and hypocritical, and violates basic ethical reciprocity. Doing so is wrong, and far more wrong, and infinitely more harmful to others, than licking one's own comb.
Jack Marshall, "Fahrenheit 911," Ethics Scoreboard, June 30, 2004.
Castigating the allegedly lazy President, Moore says, “Or perhaps he just should have read the security briefing that was given to him on August 6, 2001 that said that Osama bin Laden was planning to attack America by hijacking airplanes.”
Moore supplies no evidence for his assertion that President Bush did not read the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Brief. Moore’s assertion appears to be a complete fabrication.
Moore smirks that perhaps President Bush did not read the Briefing because its title was so vague. Moore then cuts to Condoleezza Rice announcing the title of the Briefing: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” Here, Moore seems to be playing off Condoleezza Rice's testimony of the September 11 Commission that the contents of the memo were vague.
However, no-one (except Moore) has ever claimed that Bush did not read the Briefing, or that he did not read it because the title was vague. Rather, Condoleezza Rice had told the press conference that the information in the Briefing was “very vague.” National Security Advisor Holds Press Briefing, The White House, May 16, 2002.
The content of the Briefing supports Rice’s characterization, and refutes Moore’s assertion that the Briefing “said that Osama bin Laden was planning to attack America by hijacking airplanes.” The actual Briefing was highly equivocal:
We have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting, such as that from a [deleted text] service in 1998 saying that Bin Laden wanted to hijack a U.S. aircraft to gain the release of “Blind Shaykh” ‘Umar’ Abd aI-Rahman and other U.S.-held extremists.
Nevertheless, FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.
(Some readers have wondered how this short segment qualifies as three deceits: 1. that Bush did not read the memo, 2. that the memo's title was offered as an excuse for not reading the memo, 3. omitting that the memo was equivocal, and that the hijacking warning was something that the FBI said it was "unable to corroborate.")
[Moore response: Tacitly acknowledges that Bush had read the August 6 PDB: "he (unlike the rest of America) was already aware that Osama bin Laden was planning to attack America by hijacking airplanes, per the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Brief (PDB)." Does not directly address Fahrenheit's lie that Bush hadn't read the PDB, or the lie that Bush had used the "vague" PDB title as an excuse for not reading it. Accurately quotes the PDB, without acknowledging that the PDB was much more equivocal than Fahrenheit claims.]
Saudi Departures from United States
Moore is guilty of a classic game of saying one thing and implying another when he describes how members of the Saudi elite were flown out of the United States shortly after 9/11.
If you listen only to what Moore says during this segment of the movie—and take careful notes in the dark—you’ll find he’s got his facts right. He and others in the film state that 142 Saudis, including 24 members of the bin Laden family, were allowed to leave the country after Sept. 13.
The date—Sept. 13—is crucial because that is when a national ban on air traffic, for security purposes, was eased
But nonetheless, many viewers will leave the movie theater with the impression that the Saudis, thanks to special treatment from the White House, were permitted to fly away when all other planes were still grounded. This false impression is created by Moore’s failure, when mentioning Sept. 13, to emphasize that the ban on flights had been eased by then. The false impression is further pushed when Moore shows the singer Ricky Martin walking around an airport and says, “Not even Ricky Martin would fly. But really, who wanted to fly? No one. Except the bin Ladens.”
But the movie fails to mention that the FBI interviewed about 30 of the Saudis before they left. And the independent 9/11 commission has reported that “each of the flights we have studied was investigated by the FBI and dealt with in a professional manner prior to its departure.”
McNamee, Chicago Sun-Times. (Note: The Sun-Times article was correct in its characterization of the Ricky Martin segment, but not precisely accurate in the exact words used in the film. I have substituted the exact quote. On September 13, U.S. airspace was re-opened for a small number of flights; charter flights were allowed, and the airlines were allowed to move their planes to new airports to start carrying passengers on September 14.)
Tapper: [Y]our film showcases former counter-terrorism czar Richard Clarke, using him as a critic of the Bush administration. Yet in another part of the film, one that appears in your previews, you criticize members of the Bush administration for permitting members of the bin Laden family to fly out of the country almost immediately after 9/11. What the film does not mention is that Richard Clarke says that he OK’d those flights. Is it fair to not mention that?
Moore: Actually I do, I put up The New York Times article and it’s blown up 40 foot on the screen, you can see Richard Clarke’s name right there saying that he approved the flights based on the information the FBI gave him. It’s right there, right up on the screen. I don’t agree with Clarke on this point. Just because I think he’s good on a lot of things doesn’t mean I agree with him on everything.
Jake Tapper interview with Michael Moore, ABC News, June 25, 2004. In an Associated Press interview, Clarke said that he agreed with much of what Moore had to say, but that the Saudi flight material was a mistake. (Clarke testified to the September 11 Commission, on September 3, 2003, that letting the Saudis go "was a conscious decision with complete review at the highest levels of the State Department and the FBI and the White House." It's possible to read Clarke's 2003 statement as consistent with his 2004 statements; if you believe that what Clarke is saying now contradicts what he said in 2003, then Clarke is a liar, and all other claims he makes in Fahrenheit are discredited.)
Again, Moore is misleading. His film includes a brief shot of a Sept. 4, 2003, New York Times article headlined “White House Approved Departures of Saudis after Sept. 11, Ex-Aide Says.” The camera pans over the article far too quickly for any ordinary viewer to spot and read the words in which Clarke states that he approved the flights.
Some Saudis left the U.S. by charter flight on September 14, a day when commercial flights had resumed, but when ordinary charter planes were still grounded. When did the bin Ladens actually leave? Not until the next week, as the the 9/11 Commission staff report explains:
Fearing reprisals against Saudi nationals, the Saudi government asked for help in getting some of its citizens out of the country….we have found that the request came to the attention of Richard Clarke and that each of the flights we have studied was investigated by the FBI and dealt with in a professional manner prior to its departure.
No commercial planes, including chartered flights, were permitted to fly into, out of, or within the United States until September 13, 2001. After the airspace reopened, six chartered flights with 142 people, mostly Saudi Arabian nationals, departed from the United States between September 14 and 24. One flight, the so-called Bin Ladin flight, departed the United States on September 20 with 26 passengers, most of them relatives of Usama Bin Ladin. We have found no credible evidence that any chartered flights of Saudi Arabian nationals departed the United States before the reopening of national airspace.
The Saudi flights were screened by law enforcement officials, primarily the FBI, to ensure that people on these flights did not pose a threat to national security, and that nobody of interest to the FBI with regard to the 9/11 investigation was allowed to leave the country. Thirty of the 142 people on these flights were interviewed by the FBI, including 22 of the 26 people (23 passengers and 3 private security guards) on the Bin Ladin flight. Many were asked detailed questions. None of the passengers stated that they had any recent contact with Usama Bin Ladin or knew anything about terrorist activity.
The FBI checked a variety of databases for information on the Bin Ladin flight passengers and searched the aircraft. It is unclear whether the TIPOFF terrorist watchlist was checked. At our request, the Terrorist Screening Center has rechecked the names of individuals on the flight manifests of these six Saudi flights against the current TIPOFF watchlist. There are no matches.
The FBI has concluded that nobody was allowed to depart on these six flights who the FBI wanted to interview in connection with the 9/11 attacks, or who the FBI later concluded had any involvement in those attacks. To date, we have uncovered no evidence to contradict this conclusion.
The final Commission Report confirms that Clarke was the highest-ranking official who made the decision to let the Saudis go, and that Clarke's decision had no adverse effect on September 11 investigations. See pages 328-29 of the Report.
Finally, Moore's line, "But really, who wanted to fly? No one. Except the bin Ladens,” happens to be a personal lie. Stranded in California on September 11, Michael Moore ended up driving home to New York City. On September 14, he wrote to his fans "Our daughter is fine, mostly frightened by my desire to fly home to her rather than drive." Moore acceded to the wishes of his wife and daughter, and drove back to New York. It is pretty hypocritical for Moore to slam the Saudis (who had very legitimate fears of being attacked by Angry people) just because they wanted to fly home, at the same time when Moore himself wanted to fly home.
(Deceits: 1. Departure dates for Saudis, 2. Omission of Richard Clarke's approval for departures, 3. Lying to Jake Tapper about whether Clarke's role was presented in the movie, 4. Moore himself wanted to fly when he says only the bin Ladens did.)
[Moore response: Provides citations showing that "the White House" approved the Saudi departures; does not cite or acknowledge Clarke's statement that he was the guy in the White House who approved the departures. Does not respond to Clarke's statement that the Saudi departures segment in Fahrenheit is "a mistake." Provides accurate citations for the dates of Saudi departures; does not address how the film misled viewers about when the departures took place. Cites the September 11 Commission (which says that the pre-departure interviews were "detailed" and other sources, including National Review, which say they were not). ]
Bush and James Bath
Moore mentions that Bush’s old National Guard buddy and personal friend James Bath had become the money manager for the bin Laden family, saying, [that after the bin Ladens invested in James Bath,] “James Bath himself in turn invested in George W. Bush.” The implication is that Bath invested the bin Laden family’s money in Bush’s failed energy company, Arbusto. He doesn’t mention that Bath has said that he had invested his own money, not the bin Ladens’, in Bush’s company.
Matt Labash, “Un-Moored from Reality,” Weekly Standard, July 5, 2004. See also: Thomas Frank, “Film offers limited view,” Newsday, June 27, 2004; Michael Isikoff & Mark Hosenball, "More Distortions From Michael Moore. Some of the main points in ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ really aren’t very fair at all," MSNBC.com, June 30, 2004.
Moore makes a big point about the name of James Bath being blacked out from Bush National Guard records which were released by the White House. The blackout might appear less sinister if Moore revealed that federal law required the National Guard to black out the names any Guardsmen whose medical information was on the same pages as the records which the Guard released regarding George Bush's health records. In Bath's case, he had been suspended for failing to take an annual physical exam. So what Moore presents as a sinister effort to conceal the identity of James Bath was in fact the legally-required compliance with federal law.
Moore gloats: "What Bush didn't know was that I already had a copy of his military records--uncensored--obtained in the year 2000." Moore creates the impression that he is an investigative sleuth. Actually, the records had been released in 2000. The privacy regulations for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) went into effect on April 14, 2003, and so did not apply when the National Guard records were released in 2000.
[Moore response: Shows that Bath and Bush were friends, a fact which was never disputed. Does not address the fact that the black-out of Bath's name was required by new federal law. Does not defend the insinuation that Bath used bin Laden money to invest in Bush. Does not address the fact that Craig Unger's book House of Bush, House of Saud reports that there is no evidence that Bath used bin Laden money for the Arbusto investment.]
Bush and Prince Bandar
Moore points out the distressingly close relationship between Saudi Arabia’s ambassador, Prince Bandar, and the Bush family. But Moore does not explain that Bandar has been a bipartisan Washington power broker for decades, and that Bill Clinton repeatedly relied on Bandar to advance Clinton’s own Middle East agenda. (Elsa Walsh, “The Prince. How the Saudi Ambassador became Washington’s indispensable operator,” The New Yorker, Mar. 24, 2003.)
President Clinton’s former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Wyche Fowler, has been earning a lucrative living as a Saudi apologist and serving as Chairman of the Middle East Institute—a research organization heavily funded by Saudi Arabia. (Joel Mowbray, “Feeding at the Saudi Trough,” Townhall.com, Oct. 1, 2003.) Former President Clinton received $750,000 for giving a speech in Saudi Arabia, and the Saudis have donated a secret sum (estimated between $1 million and $20 million to the Clinton Library.)
I am not suggesting that Mr. Fowler is in any way corrupt; I’m sure that he is sincere (although, in my view, mistaken) in his strongly pro-Saudi viewpoint. Nor is there anything illegal about former President Clinton's receipt of huge Saudi largesse. What is misleading is for Moore to look at the web of Saudi influence in Washington only in regard to the Republican Bushes, and to ignore the fact that Saudi influence and money are widespread in both parties.
Bush once served on the Board of Directors of the Harken Energy Company. According to Fahrenheit:
Moore: Yes, it helps to be the President’s son. Especially when you’re being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
TV reporter: In 1990 when M. Bush was a director of Harken Energy he received this memo from company lawyers warning directors not to sell stock if they had unfavorable information about the company. One week later he sold $848,000 worth of Harken stock. Two months later, Harken announced losses of more than $23 million dollars.
Moore:…Bush beat the rap from the SEC…
What Moore left out: Bush sold the stock long after he checked with those same “company lawyers” who had provided the cautionary memo, and they told him that the sale was all right. Almost all of the information that caused Harken’s large quarterly loss developed only after Bush had sold the stock.
Despite Moore’s pejorative that Bush “beat the rap,” no-one has ever found any evidence suggesting that he engaged in illegal insider trading. He did fail to file a particular SEC disclosure form on time. (Byron York, “The Facts About Bush and Harken. The president’s story holds up under scrutiny,” National Review Online, July 10, 2002.) For detailed factual timeline, see James Dunbar, "A Brief History of Bush, Harken and the SEC," Center for Public Integrity, Oct. 16, 2002.
Moore’s film suggests that Bush has close family ties to the bin Laden family—principally through Bush’s father’s relationship with the Carlyle Group, a private investment firm. The president’s father, George H.W. Bush, was a senior adviser to the Carlyle Group’s Asian affiliate until recently; members of the bin Laden family—who own one of Saudi Arabia’s biggest construction firms—had invested $2 million in a Carlyle Group fund. Bush Sr. and the bin Ladens have since severed ties with the Carlyle Group, which in any case has a bipartisan roster of partners, including Bill Clinton’s former SEC chairman Arthur Levitt. The movie quotes author Dan Briody claiming that the Carlyle Group “gained” from September 11 because it owned United Defense, a military contractor. Carlyle Group spokesman Chris Ullman notes that United Defense holds a special distinction among U.S. defense contractors that is not mentioned in Moore’s movie: the firm’s $11 billion Crusader artillery rocket system developed for the U.S. Army is one of the only weapons systems canceled by the Bush administration.
Michael Isikoff, “Under the Hot Lights. Moore’s movie will make waves. But it’s a fine line between fact and fanaticism. Deconstructing ‘Fahrenheit 9/11.” Newsweek, June 28, 2004. (Isikoff appears to be wrong on one fact; the Crusader uses a self-propelled gun, and does not fire rockets.)
Moore claims that refusing to mention the Crusader cancellation was alright because the cancellation came after the United Defense initial public offering (stock sale to the public). But the cancellation had a serious negative financial impact on Carlyle, since Carlyle still owns 47% of United Defense.
Moore tells us that when Carlyle took United Defense public, they made a one-day profit of $237 million, but under all the public scrutiny, the bin Laden family eventually had to withdraw (Moore doesn’t tell us that they withdrew before the public offering, not after it).
Labash, Weekly Standard.
There is another famous investor in Carlyle whom Moore does not reveal: George Soros. (Oliver Burkeman & Julian Borger, “The Ex-Presidents’ Club,” The Guardian (London), Oct. 31, 2000.) But the fact that the anti-Bush billionaire has invested in Carlyle would detract from Moore’s simplistic conspiracy theory.
Moore alleges that the Saudis have given 1.4 billion dollars to the Bushes and their associates.
Moore derives the $1.4 billion figure from journalist Craig Unger’s book, “House of Bush, House of Saud.” Nearly 90 percent of that amount, $1.18 billion, comes from just one source: contracts in the early to mid-1990’s that the Saudi Arabian government awarded to a U.S. defense contractor, BDM, for training the country’s military and National Guard. What’s the significance of BDM? The firm at the time was owned by the Carlyle Group, the powerhouse private-equity firm whose Asian-affiliate advisory board has included the president’s father, George H.W. Bush.
...The main problem with this figure, according to Carlyle spokesman Chris Ullman, is that former president Bush didn’t join the Carlyle advisory board until April, 1998—five months after Carlyle had already sold BDM to another defense firm.
Isikoff & Hosenball, MSNBC.com. (The full text of the article contains the counter-argument by Moore's "war room" and the replies by Isikoff and Hosenball. Moore's staff points out that at the time of the bin Laden 1.18 bin Laden investment, Carlyle included some Bush associates).
Craig Unger points out that George H.W. Bush still receives daily C.I.A. briefings. As Unger points out, Bush has the right to do, but he is the only former President who does. The suggestion is made that Bush uses the C.I.A. information for personal business purposes. We have no way of knowing, and it is possible the Bush does so. On the other hand, this segment Fahrenheit omits a very relevant fact which would supply an alternative explanation: Bush served as C.I.A. Director in 1976. It would not be surprising for him to want to follow C.I.A. activities in retirement. Earlier in the film, however, Moore does state, in passing, that "Bush’s dad was head of the CIA."
[Moore response: Provides extensive citations for facts about Carlyle which were never disputed. Does not address the fact that Democrats and George Soros are also involved in Carlyle. Does not address how Bush administration severely harmed Carlyle by cancelling the Crusader. Reiterates the points made in response to Isikoff & Hosenball, that Bush friends were involved in Carlyle before the George H.W. Bush was.]
Moore asks Craig Unger: “How much money do the Saudis have invested in America, roughly?"
Unger replies “Uh, I've heard figures as high as $860 billion dollars.”
What is the basis of Unger's claim? The $860 billion figure appears on page 28 of Unger's House of Bush, House of Saud. He cites two sources: The Saudi Ambassador's 1996 speech to the U.S.-Saudi Arabian Business Council. In that speech, Prince Bandar discussed the Saudi economy, but said nothing about the size of Saudi investment in the U.S.
Unger's other cited source is a February 11, 2002, Washington Post story, titled "Enormous Wealth Spilled Into American Coffers." The $860 billion figure does not appear there, either. The article states:
After nearly three decades of accumulating this wealth, the group referred to by bankers as "high net worth Saudi individuals" holds between $500 billion and $1 trillion abroad, most of it in European and American investments. Brad Bourland, chief economist of the Saudi American Bank (one-quarter owned by Citibank), said in a speech in London last June that his bank's best estimate of the total is about $700 billion, with the possibility that it is as much as $1 trillion.
Raymond Seitz, vice chairman of Lehman Brothers in London and a former U.S. ambassador to Britain, gave a similar estimate. Seitz said Saudis typically put about three-quarters of their money into the United States, the rest in Europe and Asia. That would mean that Saudi nationals have invested perhaps $500 billion to $700 billion in the American economy.
In short, Unger's cited sources do not support his $860 billion figure.
According to the Institute for Research Middle Eastern Policy (a pro-Saudi think tank which tries to emphasize the importance of Saudi money to the United States), in February 2003 total worldwide Saudi investment was at least $700 billion, conservatively estimated. Sixty percent of the Saudi investments were in the United States, so the Saudis had at least 420 billion dollars invested in the U.S. (Tanya C. Hsu , “The United States Must Not Neglect Saudi Arabian Investment” Sept. 23, 2003.)
Unger is asked "what percentage of our economy is that?" (Meaning the supposed $860 billion.)
He replies, "Well, in terms of investments on Wall Street, American equities, it's roughly six or seven percent of America. They own a fairly good slice of America." A little bit later, Moore states that "Saudi Prince Bandar is perhaps the best protected ambassador in the US...Considering how he and his family, and the Saudi elite own seven percent of America, it's probably not a bad idea."
According the Census Bureau, the top countries which own U.S. stocks and bonds are the United Kingdom and Japan. Foreign investors owned $1,690 billion in corporate bonds in 2002. The Census Bureau lists the major national holders, and then groups all the minor holders--including Saudi Arabia--into "Other Countries." All of these other countries combined (including Saudi Arabia) account for only 6 percent of total foreign ownership of U.S. corporate bonds. Likewise, all "Other Countries" combined account for only 7 percent of total foreign ownership of corporate stocks. (And of course the large majority of U.S. corporate stocks and bonds are owned by Americans.) Bureau of the Census, Statistical Abstract of the United States, table 1203.
According to the Bureau of Economic Statistics, total foreign investment in the United States in 2003 was $10,515 billion dollars. This means that even if the figure that Unger "heard" about Saudis having $860 billion is correct, then the Saudis would only have about 8 percent of total foreign investment in the United States. Unless you believe that almost all American assets are owned by foreigners, then it cannot possibly be true that Saudis "own seven percent of America."
[Moore response: Cites Unger's book, and a lawyer who filed an anti-Saudi lawsuit and repeated the Unger figure. Does not address the fact that Unger's sources do not support his claim. Points out that the capitalization of the New York Stock Exchange composite is $12 trillion and that $860 billion amounts to approximately 7 percent of that. But even if the Saudis owned 7% of the stocks on the New York Stock Exchange, the NYSE does not include all of America's wealth--which includes real estate, businesses which are not traded on the NYSE because they are privately owned, and so on. The data show that the Saudis own between 4% (420 billion) and 7% (700 billion) of total foreign investment in the U.S. Moore's assertion that Saudis "own seven percent of America" is completely false.]
Special Protection for Saudi Embassy
Moore shows himself filming the movie near the Saudi embassy in Washington, D.C.:
Moore as narrator: Even though we were nowhere near the White House, for some reason the Secret Service had shown up to ask us what we were doing standing across the street from the Saudi embassy….
Officer: That’s fine. Just wanted to get some information on what was going on.
Moore on camera: Yeah yeah yeah, I didn’t realize the Secret Service guards foreign embassies.
Officer: Uh, not usually, no sir.
But in fact:
Any tourist to Washington, DC, will see plenty of Secret Service Police guarding all of the other foreign embassies which request such protection. Other than guarding the White House and some federal buildings, it’s the largest use of personnel by the Secret Service’s Uniformed Division.
Debbie Schlussel, “FAKEN-heit 9-11: Michael Moore’s Latest Fiction,” June 25, 2004.
According to the Secret Service website:
Uniformed Division officers provide protection for the White House Complex, the Vice-President's residence, the Main Treasury Building and Annex, and foreign diplomatic missions and embassies in the Washington, DC area.
So there is nothing strange about the Secret Service protecting the Saudi embassy in Washington—especially since al Qaeda attacks have taken place against Saudi Arabia. According to Articl