Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11 facts

This site is intended to defend Michael Moore's documentary Fahrenheit 911. I created this site only because I could not continue to sit aside while so many people and websites began lying about what the movie does and does not say. I intend to set the record straight on as many of the topics of the movie as possible and I encourage anyone to challenge my work and bring up new topics I have not included.

I will be using most of the arguments I have been hearing from the likes of Limbaugh such as the credibility of Richard Clarke and the suppossed UnoCal pipeline in Afganistan deal. Much of the other arguments used against Moore stem from another blog entitled fahrenheit fact, which I will refer to as FFact, as well as websites such as moorelies.com and the violently right wing newsmax.com

Finally, I plan to argue against the claims that deal with the credibility of the movie only and nothing else! I will not discuss the posts from FFact and allegations from others that have nothing to do with the actual content of the movie (all boldfaced comments come from the FFact blog).

9. Florida purges blacks from state voter rolls

FFact's latest post is about blacks in Florida actually being underrepresented in the percentage of blacks that were mistakenly not allowed to vote due to being a prior felon. According to FFact, since 49% of incarcerated people in Florida are black, and only 44% of the 1,100 voters who were wrongfully purged were black, there seems no bias in the number of blacks that were purged from the roles and not allowed to vote:

Wait a second- blacks were what? That's right: under-represented among convicted felons in Florida. There were less blacks removed than statistics say should have been...Hardly a case of discrimination, wouldn't you say? In fact, since most counties ignored the [purged voter] list, and the list actually under-represented blacks in the first place, and the list increased the probable Bush margin, it would appear that if Katherine Harris and Jeb Bush were doing any discriminating at all, it was against the white or Republican members of these counties.

Unfortunately FFact's argument doesn't really say anything and is completely off base. First off, estimates of the amount of voters who were purged go as high as 50,000 according to this article by Greg Palast who has done extensive research into the illegal purges and is a main reason why CNN is currently suing the state of Florida to see the 2004 purge list. So we are dealing with a much larger number that could have swayed an election that was decided by a few thousand (or hundred) votes.

Furthermore, the list was over 50% black or hispanic, and included purging people who shared the first and last name, but different middle name, than another felon (not to mention Database Technologies strong republican ties and over billing to the state of Florida for work never done). And the purge list did not prohibit people from voting solely b/c of an error related to a felony but also due to mistakes involving multiple registrations and deaths. So if 90% of the list was illegally disenfranchised due to felonies than this means an even higher proportion of blacks and hispanics were not allowed to vote even though, whether they were a prior felon or not, had their voting rights restored.

Lastly, I have no idea why FFact uses the point that "if the thousands of felons in the non-purging 20 counties had been illegally allowed to vote, it is likely that Bush's statewide margin would have been substantially larger" when in the preceding sentence they say felons tend to vote "69 percent Democratic." So in fact they only prove Moore's assertion.

Friday, July 02, 2004

8. Who called Florida in favor of Bush?

FFact and others make a solid point when they claim Moore's film makes "the assertion that the Fox News Channel was the reason that other networks began to call Florida for Bush instead of Gore." They claim that Fox was one of the networks that prematurely called Florida for Gore around 8:00 pm election night and it wasn't until after 2:00am that Fox ended up calling Florida for Bush. What they don't mention is that Fox was the first network to do so even though the recounts into the early hours of the morning showed, according to Newsweek, Bush's suppossed lead dwindling. Here is how FFact puts it:

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. At 10:00 p.m., which network took the lead in retracting the premature Florida result? The first retracting network was CBS, not Fox.

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.

All there facts are in line and for great insight into how CBS made their calls, view this document (very cool). The only problem is that once again their is no proof or validity to the claim that Moore lied. All the movie says is that all the networks had called Florida for Gore and then a network called the Fox News channel called it for Bush. True, Moore never gives you a timeline and never mentions that Fox had originally called Florida for Gore but the fact of the matter is that all the networks had originally called Florida for Gore until Fox called it for Bush at 2:16am.

Furthermore, CBS only retracted their claim that Gore won Florida at 10:00pm, but never call it in favor of Bush. It wasn't until Fox called it for Bush that any network followed suit. So while Moore may not give his viewers all the underlying facts, his main argument that all the networks had Florida for Gore until Fox called it the other way is entirely factual.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

7. Hezbollah has offered help to distribute the film

I know I said I would only defend Moore against the allegations of lies relating to his movie and what it says only. But this lie about Hezbollah endorsing the movie and/or offering its support to distribute it is the biggest nonsense and completely unsubstantiated. Here is how FFact puts it:

Did you know that "Fahrenheit 9/11" is in part funded by terrorists? That's right. In the mideast, Hezbollah has offered to help distribute the film in the mideast and Moore has tacitly accepted.

These allegations have been thrown around so widely and irresponsibly that it unfortunately has become a fact to so many. But when you read the only articles that claim to prove this, they are nothing more than sheer speculation and heresy. Take the first article by The Guardian and look closely at what it says about Hezbollah offering help to distribute the film:

Meanwhile, in the United Arab Emirates, the film is being offered the kind of support it doesn't need. According to Screen International, the UAE-based distributor Front Row Entertainment has been contacted by organisations related to the Hezbollah in Lebanon with offers of help.

How does a claim as vague as 'contacted by organizations related to the Hezbollah in Lebanon' become full blown support by the group for Moore and his movie? Once that distributor gets the rights to the film Moore has nothing to do with who supports or does not support them. I do not doubt that the group does in fact support the movie but this proves nothing and is certainly not an indictment of Moore.

Furthermore, other articles being run as proof of Hezbollah's offer come from the extremely right-wing WorldNetDaily (WND), a website notorious for running articles with shadowy and uncredible sources. This is proven by the website everyday when it uses WND founder and editor Joe Farah's mysterious "G2 Bulletin" as a source for almost every article they run relating to the Middle East, especially those trying to stir up war fever towards Iran and Syria. The 'G2 bulletin' has no accountability and when readers wish to investigate the stories they run, they are told a yearly subscription charge of $200 is needed to read further. Pretty easy to run a big headline like "Chemical attack in Iraq" with no clear source.

But this certainly does not mean WND is lying in this particular case in its story FFact uses to show that Moore 'tacitly accepts the help.' However, when one reads the article, the closest it comes to indicting Moore is the claim by Front Row's (UAE based company that recieved the support from Hezbollah) Managing Director Gianluca Chacra: "We can't go against these organizations as they could strongly boycott the film in Lebanon and Syria." But again, how does this indict Moore? How is he responsible for what others wish to do with the movie once they have the rights to it? Even if the charges were true Moore has no authority to stop it even if he wished to do so.

Lastly, FFact supposedly verifies this claim even further when a reporter asked Moore what he thought of the connection and received the following response:

"Shockingly," Moore shined him on with some comment about some people believing there were Martians on Earth (or the equivalent). But Ledeen came armed with a follow-up, having phoned Moore's distributor who had already affirmed the rumor. Then the "courageous documentarian" simply stonewalled and changed the subject.

Moore has no reason to dignify the reporter's comments. Why give any credibility to the argument by answering the allegation? Even if Moore said 'I reject any help they may be offering,' that only proves his critics' point that the movie is getting support from Hezbollah when in fact Moore has nothing to do with it.

*Note* - FFact as of July 1st has taken back its accusation that terrorists are helping to distribute the film. While I do commend them for their honesty, many other are still pushing this lie so it needs to be addressed.

6. Moore's source has ties to Saddam and other terrorists

In his film, Moore relies heavily on the words of Representative Jim McDermott (D-Washington) who has consistently taken a very strong stance against Bush and his administration for the war in Iraq. While I cannot recall the exact words McDermott uses in the film you can look to his live appearance from Baghdad on the Sept. 29, 2002 broadcast of ABC's "This Week," when McDermott proclaimed, "The president of the United States will lie to the American people in order to get us into this war." Most may not agree with McDermott but regardless, he has the right to say this and has the right to stand completely against the war.

But what the critics are saying about McDermott is that his ties to Saddam go far beyond a few words he speaks in public. According to the FFact blog who links an article written by Debbie Schlussel, and this article from newsmax.com, McDermott accepted a $5,000 check from a man named Shakir al-Khafaji, who has strong business ties with Saddam.

But of course people like Debbie Schlussel and others only give you half the story, which ironically is the exact thing they are attacking Moore for doing. If they had given you the entire story, they would have told you that McDermott returned the check immediately after learning of al-Khafaji's ties to Saddam.

Also, the group 'Life for Relief and Developement' that funded McDermott's trip to Iraq, may have had a dark side to it but it is entirely believeable that McDermott was involved only with the positive aspects FFact lists such as "distributing 30,000 medical books to hospitals and medical schools...The group also has opened free medical clinics [in Iraq]." McDermott's work with the group was more than likely completely legal.

Furthermore, had FFact wanted to be completely impartial, they would have also told you about the forged papers implicating British MP George Galloway as having business ties to Saddam. And if papers were forged to lie about one politician, they easily could have been for many others.

So had the FFact blog or Debbie Schlussel mentioned these two related stories their argument would be severely weakened. But instead they chose to omit this side and end up doing the exact thing they ridicule Moore for doing.

5. All embassies have secret service protection

So often when critics attack this movie they claim Moore and Fahrenheit 911 say something that it never actually says but instead only possibly implies those things. A perfect example is the portion of the movie in which Moore is approached by two secret service agents while he stands outside of the Saudi embassy. The agents approach Moore and the following conversation takes place as described by the FFact blog:

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.
MICHAEL MOORE: We're not here to cause any trouble or anything. Uh, ya know, is that...
OFFICER: That's fine. Just wanted to get some information on what was going on.
MICHAEL MOORE: Yeah yeah yeah, I didn't realize the Secret Service guards foreign embassies.
OFFICER: Uh, not usually, no sir.

But the agent was wrong- Moore does not mention this. He allows us to believe that only the Saudi Embassy has secret service protection, which is untrue. For example, the Secret Service has this to say:

After several name revisions, the force officially adopted its current name, the United States Secret Service Uniformed Division in 1977. While protection of the White House Complex remains its primary mission, the Uniformed Division's responsibilities have expanded greatly over the years.
They now protect the following (among others):

* foreign diplomatic missions in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area and throughout the United States, and its territories and possessions, as prescribed by statute.

However, neither Moore nor anybody in the movie ever states that the Saudi embassy is the only embassy with secret service protection. Like so many other parts of the movie the critics will make you believe that Moore explicitly says this or that by not challenging his sources (such as the secret service agent) he is doing his audience a disservice. But he actually just quotes the secret service agent who says other emabssies don't usually get the same protection that the Saudi embassy does.

Moore is simply proving the point that while all the embassies may have the right to secret service protection, the Saudi embassy is the only embassy that receives it and has agents approach you for standing outside the building for a short time. Do you think secret service agents would have approached Moore had he stood outside the French, German or British embassy? Probably not even though they are just as vulnerable as the other embassies which is the point Moore makes well.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

4. Bush's reacted properly when informed of terror attacks.

A chilling part of the movie is when Moore shows Bush sitting in an elementary school on 9/11 reading a book to children and is told by Andrew Card that a second plane has hit the WTC and America was under attack. Having already known that the first plane had hit, Bush remained in his chair for a full 7 minutes before being leaving. Supporters of Bush use this reaction to illustrate Bush's calmness and strong leadership in a time of great tradgedy. Limbaugh claims that had Bush jumped out of seat and gone crazy liberals would have screamed Bush is out of control and not fit to lead us into war. The FFact blog, rather than defend Bush's reaction itself, uses the report issued by the 9/11 commission for its defense:

Moore sneeringly mentions that Bush was reading to the students from a book called My Pet Goat and uses scorn and mocking to imply that it was stupidity and incompetence that kept the President in the classroom

The 9/11 Commission disagrees:

If the 9/11 commission isn't worried about Bush's reaction, why should we be worried?

"Bush made the right decision in remaining calm, in not rushing out of the classroom," said Lee Hamilton, vice chairman of the Sept. 11 commission and a former Democratic congressman from Indiana.

So this is actually one man's opinion of Bush's reaction and not a finding of the 9/11 commission and in no way can be used as a strong case against Moore's claim. What the 9/11 commission does say is that "The president told us his instinct was to project calm, not to have the country see an excited reaction at a moment of crisis...[Bush] felt he should project strength and calm until he could better understand what was happening." But this is what the 9/11 commission states that Bush told them but is in no way their official opinion on what happened (let me know if anywhere in the report the commission clearly states they agree with Bush's reaction.)

Every minute was crucial that morning and for Bush to sit there instead of quietly standing up, telling the kids with a smile 'I am sorry but my duty as President has forced me to leave,' and getting to business shows terrible action on the part of the President.

Furthermore, Moore once again stops short of really laying into Bush by never mentioning that Bush claimed to have seen on TV before entering the classroom the first plane crash into the tower and remarked by saying 'that is one terrible pilot.' Moore should have asked two questions relating to this. First, how does a suppossed former fighter jet pilot not realize the crash was more than just a 'bad pilot' and more importantly, how did Bush see the first plane hit when no footage of the North Tower being hit surfaced until September 12th?

3. Unocal pipeline deal was scratched in 1998.

Another big topic in the movie is that the war in Afghanistan was actually about securing an oil pipeline than it was about Al-Qaeda or democracy. And the company involved was Unocal who in 1998, brought in representatives of the Taliban to Houston to cozy up to them. However, the Taliban turned out to be a P.R. nightmare and the plan was only put on hold until a more friendly govt was in place. But the plan itself was never scratched altogether. Here is how FFact states their case:

From an AP report in 1998:

"Unocal Corp. withdrew from a consortium planning to build a pipeline across Afghanistan, saying low oil prices and turmoil in the Central Asian nation have made the project too risky...The pipeline was originally contemplated in the 1990s with the participation of U.S. energy giant Unocal Corp., but those plans were abandoned when the United States fired cruise missiles into Afghanistan in 1998 in pursuit of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network, blamed for two U.S. embassy bombings that year in east Africa."

This is no doubt true but it means nothing in terms of proving Moore is a liar. The plans were not feasible at the time but were always on the table. Besides, the two arguments for why the pipeline could not be built were b/c of turmoil in the region and low oil prices. Well obviously now oil prices are way up and the turmoil has subsided once the new govt was put in place.

Furthermore, adding Hamid Karzai as P.M. of Afghanistan and Zalmid Khlaidzay as top advisor to the country, both former Unocal employees only strengthens Moore's arguments.

2. Did Richard Clarke approve bin Laden flights out of U.S.?

Maybe the most scathing accusation towards Bush in the movie is that dozens of relatives of the bin Laden family were wisked away out of the U.S. in the days following 9/11. Some critics of the film claim that the movie says these flights took place when the rest of commercial airlines were grounded but this is a complete lie and the movie NEVER SAYS THIS! And the movie also never says that Bush himself approved these flights but instead the movie has sources stating these flights were approved by the 'highest levels of the administration.' The movie shows the 9/11 testimony of terrorism czar Richard Clarke claiming that he did not approve these flights and that it was probably the FBI. This is a critical source of Moore's movie that the critics attacked because Clarke contradicts himself when he said in an interview with The Hill newspaper that he alone approved the flights and he'd do it again.

Here is how Fahrenheit Fact puts it:

As it turns out, the flights were approved by Richard Clarke- former terrorism official and author of the less than complimentary "Against all Enemies". The requests never "went any higher" than Clarke.

So what did Clarke really say and what did he do and not do? Well it is hard to say but I would tend to believe his testimony under oath at the commission. Why he changed his story with The Hill is confusing but I believe that when Clarke claims he takes responsibility for it he id doing so because it was under his watch even though he never actually authorized it, so he feels guilty. I am in sales and when I lose a deal my sales manager feels responsible and takes the blame even though I am the one who actually lost it. It is also the same thing as when Democrats wanted Bush to take responsibility for the abuse at Abu Ghraib prison. Even though Bush never authorized it or took part in it people still want him to take responsibility since he is Commander in Chief.

1. Moore distorts Bush's vacation days in run up to 9/11

One fact that people like Limbaugh and the Fahrenheit Fact blog use with conviction is that Moore distorts the number of days that Bush is on vacation in the lead up to 9/11 by including weekends in his calculation. Moore and others claim Bush was on vacation 40% of the time but if you take out the weekends, he was only on vacation roughly 15%. Here is how the blog FFact puts it:

It's obvious that these "vacation days" include weekends.

(You can do the math: 250/x=42/100; x=595 days=1.63 years). Okay, 42% is a lot of vacation, but weekends account for 29% of our time. I'm sure that a lot of this "vacation" time is just Bush going to Camp David for the weekend. Can we really fault the President for going to Camp David on weekends? If you take out weekends, you get 42%-29%, or 13% of the time that Bush was on vacation.

Okay, this is still a lot, although 13% looks a lot better than 42%. Over a year, 13% is about 6.76 weeks of the year--which is still much more than most of us. But we know that Bush's vacations are generally working vacations. For example, he has hosted visits from leaders like Putin, Fox, and many others there. This hardly seems like a real vacation.

As Hitchens points out today, there are a lot of problems with Fahrenheit 9/11. It's pretty clear that Moore's "vacation time" allegation is one of them.

The blog makes a pretty good point and for a short time I sided with it and thought Moore was out of line. But of course, as always, I soon learned that the Republicans were wrong and in fact Moore could have used a much larger percentage had he chosen to use a shorter time frame.

You see, President Bush went on vacation for 30 days in August of 2001, the month leading up to the tragic events of 9/11. So had Moore used the timeframe of August 1st to September 11th, he could have said Bush was on vacation 73% of the 41 days leading up to 9/11. Amazing how the strongest argument against Moore's movie actually ends up justifying it further.

Bush vacation days in August 2001: http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/august01/2001-08-03-bush-vacation.htm

And everyday at Crawford, TX is a vacation day no argument!