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[b]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 Article 22 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, an international agreement which has been ratified by the United States, every host country (including the United States) is obliged to protect every embassy within its borders.
[Moore response: None.]
[b]Alleged Bush-Saudi Conspiracy
Moore asks, “Is it rude to suggest that when the Bush family wakes up in the morning they might be thinking about what's best for the Saudis instead of what's best for you?” But his Bush/Saudi conspiracy theory is contradicted by very obvious facts:
…why did Moore’s evil Saudis not join “the Coalition of the Willing”? Why instead did they force the United States to switch its regional military headquarters to Qatar? If the Bush family and the al-Saud dynasty live in each other’s pockets…then how come the most reactionary regime in the region has been powerless to stop Bush from demolishing its clone in Kabul and its buffer regime in Baghdad? The Saudis hate, as they did in 1991, the idea that Iraq’s recuperated oil industry might challenge their[s]....They fear the liberation of the Shiite Muslims they so despise. To make these elementary points is to collapse the whole pathetic edifice of the film’s “theory.”
Hitchens, Slate. This isn't to say that concerns about the wishes and interests of the Saudi rulers play too large a role in American foreign policy--especially in the U.S. State Department, which has been notoriously supportive of pro-U.S. Arab dictatorships for many decades. I would much prefer that the State Department and other American foreign policymakers spent less time worrying about friendly relations with the governments of Saudi Arabia, China, and other dictatorships, and more time supporting the aspirations of people who want to free themselves from dictatorship. But complaining about the historic pro-Saudi tilt in U.S. foreign policy, a tilt which is partly the result of extensive business relations between the two countries, is not the same as propounding a tin-hat conspiracy theory that George Bush is a servile tool of the bin Laden family.
Interestingly, Fahrenheit omits one of the leading evildoers in Moore's grand conspiracy theory. As he told an audience in Liverpool, England, “It’s all part of the same ball of wax, right? The oil companies, Israel, Halliburton.” The oil companies and Halliburton are prominent villains in Fahrenheit, but there is no mention at all of Israel. Indeed, a Bush quote about terrorism in Israel is chopped to remove the Israel reference. That Moore ignores Israel in Fahrenheit makes sense, given Moore's stated intention of using the movie to defeat George Bush in November. Most American Jews are Democrats; if they found out what Moore believes about Israel they might be considerably more skeptical about Moore's claims regarding other alleged global conspirators. (Moore is strongly anti-Israel; he has called for the U.S. to cut off all aid to Israel, and to use the money to buy weapons for the Palestinians. His latest book, Dude, Where's My Country, is dedicated to the memory of Rachel Corrie, an American who traveled to Israel, burned an American flag for some Palestinian children, served as an activist for a terrorist support group called the International Solidarity Movement which is run by the Palestinian Communist Party and which advocates the extermination of the state of Israel. She died trying to prevent an Israeli bulldozer from removing some shrubbery which was thought to cover tunnels used by terrorist bombers to enter Israel.)
[Moore response: None]
[b]Proposed Unocal Pipeline in Afghanistan
This segment is introduced with the question, "Or was the war in Afghanistan really about something else?" The "something else" is shown to be a Unocal pipeline.
Moore mentions that the Taliban visited Texas while Bush was governor, over a possible pipeline deal with Unocal. But Moore doesn’t say that they never actually met with Bush or that the deal went bust in 1998 and had been supported by the Clinton administration.
Labash, Weekly Standard.
Moore asserts that the Afghan war was fought only to enable the Unocal company to build a pipeline. In fact, Unocal dropped that idea back in August 1998.
Jonathan Foreman, “Moore’s The Pity,” New York Post, June 23, 2004.
In December 1997, a delegation from Afghanistan’s ruling and ruthless Taliban visited the United States to meet with an oil and gas company that had extensive dealings in Texas. The company, Unocal, was interested in building a natural gas line through Afghanistan. Moore implies that Bush, who was then governor of Texas, met with the delegation.
But, as Gannett News Service points out, Bush did not meet with the Taliban representatives. What’s more, Clinton administration officials did sit down with Taliban officials, and the delegation’s visit was made with the Clinton administration’s permission.
McNamee, Chicago Sun-Times.
Whatever the motive, the Unocal pipeline project was entirely a Clinton-era proposal: By 1998, as the Taliban hardened its positions, the U.S. oil company pulled out of the deal. By the time George W. Bush took office, it was a dead issue—and no longer the subject of any lobbying in Washington.
Isikoff & Hosenball, MSNBC.com.
On December 9, 2003, the new Afghanistan government did sign a protocol with Turkmenistan and Pakistan to facilitate a pipeline. Indeed, any Afghani government (Taliban or otherwise) would rationally seek the revenue that could be gained from a pipeline. But the new pipeline (which has not yet been built) has nothing to do with Unocal. Nor does the new proposed pipeline even resemble Unocal's failed proposal; the new pipeline would the bring oil and gas from the Caspian Sea basin, whereas Unocal's proposal involved deposits five hundred miles away, in eastern Turkmenistan.
Fahrenheit showed images of pipeline construction, but images have nothing to do with the Caspian Sea pipeline, for which construction has never begun. Nor do they have anything to do with the Unocal pipeline, which never existed except on paper.
According to Fahrenheit, Afghanistan's new President, Hamid Karzai, was a Unocal consultant. This is false. Sumana Chatterjee and David Goldstein, "A lowdown on the facts behind the allegations in 'Fahrenheit 9/11'," Knight-Ridder newspapers, July 2, 2004. The origin of the claim appears to be a December 6, 2001 story in the leftist French newspaper Le Monde. The story does not cite any source for its claim. (The story is available on-line from Le Monde's website; registration and payment are required.) Unocal has denied that Karzai was ever a consultant.
(Deceits: 1. Governor Bush never met the Taliban; 2. The Unocal pipeline idea was abandoned; 3. The new pipeline is different from the Unocal proposal; 4. Construction has not begun.)
[Moore response: Regarding Karzai, cites the article in Le Monde, and two later articles which appear to use Le Monde's information. Moore's translation is: "He was a consultant for the American oil company Unocal, while they studied the construction of a pipeline in Afghanistan." The actual sentence was "Après Kaboul et l'Inde ou il a étudié le droit, il a parfait sa formation aux Etats-Unis ou il fut un moment consultant de l'enterprise pétrolière américaine Unocal, quand celle-ci étudiant la construction d'un oléduc en Afghanistan." Translated: After Kabul and India where he had studied law, he completed his training in the United States where he was briefly (literally: "for a moment") a consultant for the American petroleum business Unocal, when it was studying the construction of a pipeline in Afghanistan." Neither Le Monde nor Moore has provided any evidence to substantiate the claim about Unocal and Karzai.
[Moore does not attempt to defend the other falsities which are detailed in this section: that Unocal had abandoned the project in 1998, that the 2003 Protocol involves an entirely different pipeline, and that the pipeline footage in the movie has nothing to do with either the 1998 or 2003 proposals.]
[b]Moore Supports Terrorists
In Fahrenheit 9/11, Moore claims to support our troops. But in fact, he supports the enemy in Iraq—the coalition of Saddam loyalists, al Qaeda operatives, and terrorists controlled by Iran or Syria—who are united in their desire to murder Iraqis, and to destroy any possibility of democracy in Iraq. Here is what Moore says about the forces who are killing Americans and trying to impose totalitarian rule on Iraq:
The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not "insurgents" or "terrorists" or "The Enemy." They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow -- and they will win.
Michael Moore, “Heads Up... from Michael Moore,” MichaelMoore.com, April 14, 2004. Of course if you believe that the people who are perpetrating suicide bombings against Iraqi civilians and American soldiers for the purpose of forcing a totalitarian boot onto Iraq are the moral equivalent of the American Founders, then Moore's claim about the Iraqi insurgents could be valid. But even if that claim were valid (and I do not believe that any reasonable person can equate people fighting for totalitarianism with people fighting for constitutional democracy), then Moore is still being dishonest in Fahrenheit when he pronounces his concern for American troops. To the contrary, he is cheering for the forces which are killing our troops, as he equates the killers with freedom-fighters. And if you think that the people who are slaughtering American soldiers, American civilians, Iraqi soldiers, and Iraqi civilians are terrorists rather than "minutemen," then it is true that Moore supports terrorists. By the way, the number of Iraqi victims of Moore's "minutemen" outnumbers American victims by about 10:1.
There are some sincere opponents of the Iraq War who want to "support our troops" by bringing them home, and thereby getting them out danger. But it's deceptive to say that you support the troops if (besides lobbying for troop withdrawal) you are actively recruiting enemy fighters to kill our troops. Moore is doing so, as the next item details.
[Moore response: None.]
[b]Terrorists Support Fahrenheit
As reported in the trade journal Screen Daily, affiliates of the Iranian and Syrian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah are promoting Fahrenheit 9/11, and Moore’s Middle East distributor, Front Row, is accepting the terrorist assistance:
In terms of marketing the film, Front Row is getting a boost from organizations related to Hezbollah which have rung up from Lebanon to ask if there is anything they can do to support the film. And although [Front Row’s Managing Director Giancarlo] Chacra says he and his company feel strongly that Fahrenheit is not anti-American, but anti-Bush, "we can’t go against these organizations as they could strongly boycott the film in Lebanon and Syria."
Nancy Tartaglione, "Fahrenheit to be first doc released theatrically in Middle East," Screen Daily.com, June 9, 2004 (website requires registration). The story is discussed in Samantha Ellis, “Fahrenheit 9/11 gets help offer from Hezbollah," The Guardian, June 17, 2004; and "Moore film distributor OK with terror support: Exec says firm doesn’t want to risk boycott of 'Fahrenheit 9/11' in Mideast," WorldNetDaily.com, June 22, 2004.
Salon.com followed up on the story, and reported:
Gianluca Chacra, the managing director of Front Row Entertainment, the movie’s distributor in the United Arab Emirates, confirms that Lebanese student members of Hezbollah "have asked us if there's any way they could support the film." While Hezbollah is considered a legitimate political party in many parts of the world, the U.S. State Department classifies the group as a terrorist organization. Chacra was unfazed, even excited, about their offer. "Having the support of such an entity in Lebanon is quite significant for that market and not at all controversial. I think it’s quite natural." (Lions Gate did not return calls asking for comment.)
John Gorenfeld, "Michael Moore Terrorizes The Bushies!" Salon.com, June 24, 2004.
According to Screen Daily, Moore’s film will open in mid-July on ten screens in Lebanon and two screens in Syria. Syria is a terrorist state which invaded Lebanon in the 1970s and controls the nation through a puppet government. The main al Qaeda commander in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, has worked with Hezbollah and has operated out of Syria.
Moore accuses the United States of sacrificing morality because of greed: “The motivation for war is simple. The U.S. government started the war with Iraq in order to make it easy for U.S. corporations to do business in other countries. They intend to use cheap labor in those countries, which will make Americans rich.” David Brooks, “All Hail Moore,” New York Times, June 28, 2004; translation of original Japanese interview with Moore.
Yet it turns out that the self-righteous Moore is the one who is accepting aid from a terrorist organization which has murdered and kidnapped hundreds of Americans--and also an organization that works with Zarqawi and al Qaeda. Just to avoid a boycott on a dozen screens in a totalitarian terrorist state and its colony?
Moore is, with terrorist assistance, pushing the film in Syria and a Syrian colony, both of which are places which supply some of the fighters who are currently killing Americans and anti-totalitarian Iraqis. Fahrenheit presents the fighters as noble resistance, and the American presence as entirely evil. It's not that the content of Fahrenheit is all that different from the propaganda which pervades the state-controlled Arab media, or on al Jazeera. But Fahrenheit's may be more persuasive, to at least some of its Arab audience, because its denunciations of American and praise for the Iraqi insurgents comes from an American. It is reasonable to expect that such a film, when shown in Syria and Lebanon, will aid in the recruiting of additional fighters to kill Americans and Iraqis. In effect, the presentation of Fahrenheit in Syria and Lebanon--especially with explicit endorsement from a terrorist organization--amounts to a recruiting film for terrorists (or, in Moore's terms, "minutemen") to go to Iraq and kill Americans.
Because of Syria's oppression of Lebanon and its support for terrorism in Iraq and other nations, Congress passed and President Bush signed the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act. The Act authorizes the U.S. government to freeze the assets of individuals or organizations "who are determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to be or to have been directing or otherwise significantly contributing to" Syrian sponsorship of terrorist organizations or the destabilization Iraq.
Theoretically, it might be possible that Moore has no personal awareness that his Middle East distributor is working with terrorists. But such ignorance is unlikely for two reasons: First, Moore’s “war room” staff monitors controversial articles about the film, and there could hardly be anything more controversial than making common cause with terrorists. Not only has the Hezbollah relationship been publicized in a leading film trade on-line newspaper, the Moore-Hezbollah connection has been reported in one of the very most significant British newspapers, and in an important American on-line newspaper.
Second, Moore was personally questioned about the terrorist connection at a Washington, D.C., press conference. He at first denied the terrorist connection, but was then confronted with the direct quote from his distributor. He stonewalled and refused to answer. So the man who spends so much time getting in other people’s faces with tough questions is unwilling to explain why he is accepting aid from Hezbollah.
By way of reply, Moore could have said, "I sold the Middle East distribution rights to FRE, so I can't legally control what they do. But I strongly condemn their relationship with Hezbollah, and I've already told them that if they don't stop cooperating with Hezbollah, they will never distribute another movie of mine. I think it's reprehensible for any business to accept terrorist assistance." But instead, he stonewalls. Likewise, his website has provided no explanation of Moore's conduct regarding Hezbollah.
Fahrenheit stitches together some scattered lines from the screenplay of 1984, written by Ralph Gilbert Bettison and William Templeton. Moore implies that the words are those of George Orwell, although quotes do not come from George Orwell's novel 1984. The movie depicts a totalitarian state perpetually at war, and does accurately capture many of the points made in Orwell's book. As Moore quotes "Orwell" (actually, Bettison and Templeton): "The war is not meant to be won, but it is meant to be continuous...A hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance... The war is waged by the ruling group against its own subjects and its object is not the victory over either Eurasia or east Asia but to keep the very structure of society intact." The real purpose of war as “to keep the very structure of society intact.” Fahrenheit applies "Orwell’s" words to the United States of today.
Moore’s purported positions on some issues in Fahrenheit are different from his previous positions: whether people should have made a big deal about September 11, whether Osama bin Laden is guilty of the September 11 attacks, whether American families, including the Lipscombs, deserve to suffer the deaths of their children because they supported the war. But throughout Michael Moore’s career, he has remained true to the central theme of Fahrenheit: capitalist America is the real terrorist state. Because America is a capitalist society, American use of force is necessarily evil. (Or as the New Yorker reported, "He believes that the United States should not take military action under any circumstances except emergency self-defense.")
Four days after September 11, Moore announced: “We, the United States of America, are culpable in committing so many acts of terror and bloodshed that we better get a clue about the culture of violence in which we have been active participants.” (The statement has been deleted from Moore’s website, but is available through the web archive service called the Wayback Machine.) This is the view of Fahrenheit 9/11: Iraq under Saddam was fine until America began terrorizing it.
Saddam Hussein agrees; after September 11, his government issued an official statement declaring, "The American cowboys are reaping the fruit of their crimes against humanity." Saddam's media showed him telling his generals, "Those who do not want to harvest evil, should not plant evil...Despite the contradictory humanitarian feelings on what happened in America, America is harvesting the thorns that its rulers have planted in the world...Nobody has crossed the Atlantic carrying weapons against America, but it has crossed the Atlantic carrying death and destruction to the whole world."
For more of Moore's anti-American statements, see the Tacitus weblog entry "Michael Moore in his own words." One of the posters for the European release of Fahrenheit features a burning American flag, with a cloudy death's-head skull in place of the white stripes.
Throughout American history, there have always been patriotic Americans who criticized particular war-time policies, or who believed that a war was a mistake and should be promptly ended. Today, there are many patriotic Americans who oppose some or all aspects of the War on Terror. I am among them, in that I have strongly opposed the USA PATRIOT Act from its first days, have denounced the Bush administration for siding with corporate interests rather than with public safety by sabotaging the Armed Pilots law, and have repeatedly stated that the current Saudi tyranny should be recognized as a major part of the problem in the War on Terror--despite the tyranny's close relationship with America's foreign policy élite.
In contrast to the large number of patriots who have argued against particular wars or wartime policies, a much smaller number of Americans have hated America. They have cheered for the fighters who were killing Americans. They have belittled America’s right to protect itself, and they have produced propaganda designed to destroy American morale and to facilitate enemy victory. To advance their anti-American cause, they have sometimes feigned love for the nation they despised.
For example, during the Vietnam War, many sincere patriots--such as George McGovern and Robert Kennedy--opposed the war. But some people actively collaborated with the totalitarian government of Ho Chi Minh, and the totalitarian armies of the Khmer Rouge and the Pathet Lao. These people tried to convince the American public that the soldiers who were killing American troops were fighting in a just cause. They were not; they were fighting for Stalinism and genocide.
Do the many falsehoods and misrepresentations of Fahrenheit 9/11 suggest a film producer who just makes careless mistakes? Or does a man who calls Americans: “possibly the dumbest people on the planet" believe that his audience will be too dumb to tell when he is tricking them? Viewers will have to decide for themselves whether the extremist and extremely deceptive Fahrenheit 9/11 is a conscientious work of patriotic dissent, or the cynical propaganda of a man who gives wartime aid to America’s murderous enemies, and who accepts their aid in return.
Dave Kopel is Research Director of the Independence Institute and an NRO columnist. He has previously written about the deceptions in “Bowling for Columbine.” Like Michael Moore, in 2000 Kopel endorsed and voted for Ralph Nader.