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Monday, September 04, 2006 

Slate presents the whole 9-11 Commission Report: A Graphic Adaptation online

I discovered that Slate's presenting The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation online, and decided to take a look at the finished product, as can everyone else, and be the judge. It's a presentation that's at least 106 pages long, and may still be updated with more pages even as I write this. It's a lot of material, which is why I may have to add more thoughts even after what I end up posting for starters (update: now it's got several more pages added, bringing it up to 132-133 pages in total. That's certainly a lot).

Now from what I can tell, the finished book, if this is it, is surprisingly better than some initial reports made it out to be. However, that's not saying that all is satisfying with it. So, I'll see if I can offer a rundown of the good and the bad.

The good:
On page four, they give us an illustrated mug shot of all the 19 suspects who committed the sadistic crime in 2001. And, they also call the thugs "Arab nationals" on page five. (On page eight, there's an interesting part where the traffic controller is said to have found the message "unintelligible...he did not hear the words 'we have some planes.'" From my memory though, it was said that one of the hijackers was recorded telling the passengers on one of the flights "be sitting". He did not have good English.)

Page 14: we get to see the passengers of Flight 93 fighting back against the hijackers.

Page 20: we get a rundown of what happened over a time period.

Page 37: we're told about how one of bin Laden and the al Qaeda's first American-based operations was the al Khifa, opened in the 1980s, and which had its largest HQ in the Farouq mosque in Brooklyn, NY.

On page 38, they discuss the al Qaeda's attacks in Kenya, Nairobi, and Dar el Salaam during 1998. I'd first heard about it when I was at a hotel at the time, and it was very shocking.

Page 58: they give a good description of how the terrorists took steps to try and avoid drawing attention to themselves, by going shaven, avoiding mosques, etc.

The bad:
On page nine, I find the following part very fishy:
"At 8:46, Flight II crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City...killing everyone aboard and an unknown number of people in the Trade Center"
Uh...what? Close to 3,000 people were murdered in the attack, and they're saying they don't know? I don't approve of how they put that.

On page ten: here is something I find questionable at best, and in poor taste at worst: sound effect words (the explosion is accompanied by the word "WHOOOM!"). Also, I notice that they repeat the part as written on the previous page when they say:
Minutes later at 9:03, United Airlines 175 struck the south tower...killing everyone aboard and an unknown number of people in the tower.
Again: close to 3,000 people died in the attack, and they're saying they don't know how many?

On page 13, we again get the questionable use of sound effect words when, in depicting Flight 77's crash into the Pentagon, the artists use the word "BLAAM!" And, on page 16, we get it yet again when the towers are shown to crumble and break: "R-RRUMBLE..."

Page 26: it would seem as though the writers couldn't keep themselves from turning to a little Bush-bashing:
Karl Rove: "A twin-engine airplane has crashed into the World Trade Center, Mr. President."

President Bush: "Oh no! Must've been pilot error."
Let's see, they're implying that Bush actually said that when informed of the bad news? Whatever way you look upon it, that's really in poor taste, and if there's no record of Bush actually guessing aloud what the cause of the crash was, then I can't see why they'd write him saying that.

A page that's both good and bad together is page 30: on the one hand, it does offer some good insight into what kind of a monster bin Laden is. However, at the same time, I find the description of bin Laden as a "Saudi exile" questionable, and all too reminicient of when the AP Wire ran a photo caption of bin Laden back in January describing him as a "Saudi dissident". Ahem. As far as I know, while he may not live in the House of Saud now, they're not exactly hostile to him by any stretch, and there's every chance that they too have funded his terrorist activities, even indirectly. It's almost like the writers are sending two messages simultaneously.

There's also the problem of that, while Richard Clarke, who's first mentioned on page 44, is cited as the politician who was assigned to developing the US counterterrorism research division, Bill Clinton's role here seems strangely downplayed.

Which brings me to point out something very troubling here. If my estimates so far are correct, it would seem as though the writers are trying to avoid putting any blame upon former president Clinton, or at least trying to keep the readers in the dark about any role he might've had in dealing with counterterrorism efforts. Earlier, on page 40, they talk about how FBI director Louis Freeh tried unsuccessfully to establish a national security program and make it a top priority. But it does not mention whether or not Bill Clinton had anything to do with the failure to put one together. It's only by page 44 that they actually give him some mention, yet so fleetingly, it has little to no impact.

And it's on page 47 where...uh oh. They give a most misleading statement that terrorism was "moving high up among Clinton's concerns." Hate to say, but, that's pretty far from the truth. For example, as Front Page Magazine wrote last year, Louis Freeh wrote a book about his years as the director of the FBI, and, as told in the following:
Perhaps the most spectacular revelations in Freeh’s book involves Bill Clinton’s supplication before the Saudi government in the wake of the Khobar Towers bombing, which killed 19 Americans. Beyond failing to confront the Saudis—Clinton asked only that the FBI be granted access to bombing suspects—Freeh contends that the Clinton administration balked at acknowledging the Iranian role in the bombing. Not until the Bush administration entered office was Iran’s tie to that act of terrorism exposed, according to Freeh.

Podesta strenuously denies the allegation. “The Clinton administration,” he writes, “publicly and unequivocally placed blame on senior Iranian officials. Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder made this point at a press conference on Oct. 4, 1999.” Not quite. What Holder actually said on that date[viii] was: "The U.S. investigation of the attack at Khobar is on-going. We are investigating information concerning the involvement of Saudi nationals, Iranian government officials and others. And we have not reached a conclusion regarding whether the attack was directed by the government of Iran." That’s hardly the public and unequivocal placement of blame Podesta would have readers believe.

...Freeh, ... is just one of many former Clinton-era officials who has confirmed that the administration had no serious policy for confronting terrorism and terror-sponsoring regimes. No less an insider than Clinton’s former pollster, Dick Morris, has said that Clinton’s National Security Advisor “seemed to work overtime at opposing tough measures against terror”[ix].

Not surprisingly, the Clinton years saw not only the training of terrorists like Mohammed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi, Abdulaziz al-Omari, and more than a dozen other Islamic who extremists entered their flight schools or crept into the country, awaiting the signal to strike, but also successful attacks, like the bombing of the USS Cole. Those were also the years when the firewall erected by Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick prevented the sharing of intelligence between foreign and domestic counterterrorism agencies.[x] The preponderance of evidence suggests that the Islamic terrorism that would murder thousands on American soil within months of Clinton’s departure was simply not on the radar screen for the administration.
Well now, that certainly proves, if anything, that contrary to what Jacobson and Colon's graphic adaptation implies, that the Clinton administration was far from showing genuine concern in the rising threat of terrorism. There's more on this, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

And with that, I'll say that I'm getting really worried about the data provided in the 9/11 Comission Report: A Graphic Adaptation, that it could inaccurate and/or misleading, more so than I first thought. I wish I could say that appreciate it more than I do, but when I see that they're whitewashing Clinton, who was very negligent on dealing with terrorism, if at all, and slipping in a potential attack or two against Dubya for reasons that don't make sense, I have to frown.

The New York Sun's got a commentary on this, a positive one at that, and I notice that they say:
In Washington, Dick Cheney, watching events unfold on television, has a similar cast of mind. "How the hell could a plane — " says his bubble, before breaking into a second, "Oh, no! A second one!"

The portrayal of Mr. Cheney is interesting because, on grounds of objectivity, the authors were for once deliberately inaccurate. On the Web site of the book's publisher, Hill and Wang, a division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Ernie Colon said: "[Cheney] has a mouth formation that looks like a sneer, so I drew him that way. But after I drew him I thought it might look like a political statement and we wanted to stay away from that, so I withdrew that and put in something which looked a little more neutral."
Well now, that's interesting. But it doesn't explain some of the biases that still exist in the book, or at least what I may percieve as such.

Everyone reading here can review the whole complilation that's Slate's got (so far), and judge for themselves to see just how good or bad the book is.

Open trackback parties: Is it Just Me, The Mudville Gazette, Point Five.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I do not know if I'll ever be as good as him, but I do my best.
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