Movie Review

Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)

  Lies and Moore Lies

by Shae Murphy, Williamsburg, Virginia

Michael Moore claims he did not lie in his movie Fahrenheit  9/11.  I, however, found it full of well-crafted but deceptive propaganda.

* 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."

It is true that the Post said this. But what Moore fails to mention is that the Post included weekends in its calculations, therefore generating a misleading number. Excluding weekends, Bush spent 13 percent of his time on "vacations", many of which were actually working "vacations" with foreign heads of state.

* Moore shows a clip of a CNN analyst saying, "Under every scenario Gore won the election" in 2000.

What Moore doesn't show is that an exhaustive study by news organizations including The New York Times and CNN found just the opposite. We now know that under any reasonable scenario Bush still won.

It's true that the analyst said what he was quoted as saying. However, it is now an accepted fact that the analyst was wrong. Moore fails to mention that, therefore misleading his audience.

This type of deceit is typical throughout the movie. Moore quotes a pseudo authority saying something and then moves to the next topic without informing his audience that the authority has since then been proven totally and completely wrong regarding what he said.

* Moore emphasizes that the name of James Bath was blacked out from Bush's military records released by the White House, implying a sinister cover-up.

The blackout would appear far less sinister if Moore revealed that federal law required it to be blacked out (names of unrelated soldiers must be blacked out on any released records). What Moore presents as a cover-up was in fact just legally required compliance with federal law.

This is also typical of Moore. He states a fact and then intentionally fails to provide the audience with related facts that are absolutely critical to evaluating the issue. The result? Technically Moore doesn't lie, but he certainly is deceptive.

* Moore quotes a pseudo authority who asserts that Saudis "own seven percent of America".

The data actually show that the Saudis own between 4% and 7% of total foreign investment in the U.S. Total foreign investment totals about $10,515 billion. But total US assets are much, much higher - $12 trillion on NYSE alone, plus real estate, private companies, etc.  Moore is blatantly misleading, but since he quoted someone else, technically he himself did not lie.

* Fahrenheit asserts that Iraq "had never attacked the United States. A nation that had never threatened to attack the United States. A nation that had never murdered a single American citizen." But read this interview:

Jake Tapper (ABC News): You declare in the film that Hussein's regime had never killed an American … 
Moore: That isn't what I said. Quote the movie directly.
Tapper: What is the quote exactly?
Moore: "Murdered." The government of Iraq did not commit a premeditated murder on an American citizen. I'd like you to point out one.
Tapper: If the government of Iraq permitted a terrorist named Abu Nidal who is certainly responsible for killing Americans to have Iraq as a safe haven; if Saddam Hussein funded suicide bombers in Israel who did kill Americans; if the Iraqi police-now this is not a murder but it's a plan to murder-to assassinate President Bush which at the time merited airstrikes from President Clinton once that plot was discovered; does that not belie your claim that the Iraqi government never murdered an American or never had a hand in murdering an American?
Moore: No, because nothing you just said is proof that the Iraqi government ever murdered an American citizen.

Note Moore's hyper-legal response to Tapper. In fact, Saddam provided refuge to notorious terrorists who had murdered Americans. Saddam provided a safe haven for Abu Abbas, for Abu Nidal, and for the 1993 World Trade Center bombmaker, Abdul Rahman Yasin. Saddam therefore was an accessory to the murders. Saddam ordered his police to murder former American President George Bush in 1993. In 1991, he ordered his agents to murder the American Ambassador to the Philippines and others. Yet none of these aggressions against the United States "count" for Moore, because none of them succeeded.
And there is this irrefutable point: Saddam did perpetrate the premeditated murder of Americans. Every victim of every Palestinian terrorist bomber who was funded by Saddam Hussein was the victim of premeditated murder-including the 17 American victims.

* Bush supported closing veterans hospitals" says Moore.

The Administration did propose closing seven hospitals in areas with declining populations where the hospitals were underutilized, and whose veterans could be served by other hospitals. Moore does not say that the Administration also proposed building new hospitals in areas where needs were growing.

* Investments in Bush Oil ventures by a Saudi dominated investment firm - Moore never comes out and claims this, he just strongly insinuates it. And that's clever of Moore, because even a little research proves that it never happened.

* The "secret evacuation" of important Saudis living in the U.S. after 9/11 -Moore insinuates that the Saudis were allowed to slip away without questioning, endangering our national security. Let's see what the 9/11 Commission staff report says:
    "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…each of the flights we have studied was investigated by the FBI and dealt with in a professional manner prior to its departure.
      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… Many were asked detailed questions.
     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."

* The pain of a family who lost a son in Iraq - The movie spends much time on the grief and anger of Lila Lipscomb, the mother of Sgt. Michael Pederson, who died in Iraq in April 2003. (He enlisted in the military in 1996, and was 26 years old when he was killed.) This was indeed moving, as it should be. Mrs. Lipscomb reads for the camera an angry letter which her son wrote castigating President Bush. Not shown on camera is the fact that Sgt. Pederson apologized for the letter shortly afterward. People like Mrs. Lipscomb deserve our utmost respect and honor and deserve to be heard. So do the families of other fallen soldiers who believe in the cause for which they fought, but Moore completely disregards their feelings. For all of these families, regardless of their political view, I say may God bless them, comfort them, and hold them close. May their sacrifice not be in vain.

* Coverage of wounded servicemen recovering in U.S. hospitals - Scenes of young men missing arms or legs are always shocking, as they should be. These men deserve our best care, and I believe they are getting it. Most of the wounded would, if they could, gladly rejoin their units, but Moore doesn't interview the ones who feel that way.

* Congressmen who were "horrified" by the thought of their children going to Iraq - Moore states that "out of the 535 members of Congress, only one had an enlisted son in Iraq." But note the nuanced phrasing: "only one had an enlisted son in Iraq." Actually, two sons of members of Congress are serving in Iraq, but one of them is a Second Lieutenant, which means that he is above the rank of an "enlisted man." When you do a quick statistical analysis you find that a Congressional household is about 23 percent more likely than an ordinary household to have a son or daughter in Iraq.
Regarding the congressional interviews themselves, one of the congressmen Moore approached is childless (but Moore didn't tell you that). Another responded positively, telling Moore that his son was already thinking about a career in the navy. Moore edited those statements out of the movie.

* Bush telling a crowd of obviously wealthy people "Some call you the elite; I call you my base." - As far the movie audience can tell, Bush is speaking to some unknown group of rich people. But the speech actually comes from the October 19, 2000, Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner for Catholic hospital charities, where speakers traditionally make fun of themselves. Al Gore was there, too. In fact, Gore made fun of himself, promising not only to put Social Security in a "lock box," but to put "Medicare in a walk-in closet," put NASA funding in a "hermetically sealed Ziploc bag" and to "always keep lettuce in the crisper."
So while the left tries to make Bush look selfish, what he was actually doing was helping to raise $1.6 million for medical care for the poor.

Fahrenheit 9/11 contains many purposeful deceptions. The cinematography is well done and Moore is a talented director. But don't believe everything you see. In fact, if you do a little research you'll find that you probably should believe very little of it.

For an extensive list of deceptions with lots of supporting details you can visit:
There you can also see Moore's rebuttals to these charges.

Shae has lived in Williamsburg since 1979. He has an MS degree from William and Mary and works in the field of software engineering.

Newsweek: Moore Distorted Bush Saudi Ties 

NewsMax Wires, Thursday, July 01, 2004 

A central theme of Michael Moore’s controversial documentary “Fahrenheit 9/11” is a bare allegation that Saudi Arabian interests provided $1.4 billion to firms connected to the family and friends of President George W. Bush. 

However, as a special Newsweek investigative report notes, there is really less – not more – than meets the eye re the dramatic Moore claim: 

* Nearly 90 percent of that claimed amount, $1.18 billion, comes from 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. The “Bush” connection: The firm at the time was owned by the Carlyle Group, a private-equity firm whose Asian-affiliate advisory board once included the president’s father, George H.W. Bush.

* But, points out Newsweek, 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. 

* As for the sitting president’s own Carlyle link, his service on the board ended when he quit to run for Texas governor -- a few months before the first of the Saudi contracts to the unrelated BDM firm was awarded. 

* The Carlyle Group is hardly a “Bush Inc,” noted Newsweek – but rather features a roster of bipartisan Washington power figures. “Its founding and still managing partner is Howard Rubenstein, a former top domestic policy advisor to Jimmy Carter. Among the firm’s senior advisors is Thomas “Mack” McLarty, Bill Clinton’s former White House chief of staff, and Arthur Levitt, Clinton’s former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. One of its other managing partners is William Cannard, Clinton’s chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.” 

* According to the report, the movie neglects to offer any evidence that Bush White House intervened in any way to bolster the interests of the Carlyle Group. In fact, the one major Bush administration decision that most directly affected the company’s interest was the cancellation of a $11 billion program for the Crusader rocket artillery system. The Crusader was manufactured by United Defense, which had been wholly owned by Carlyle until it spun the company off in a public offering in October, 2001. Carlyle still owned 47 percent of the shares in the defense company at the time that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld canceled the Crusader program the following year. 

* As to Moore’s dealings with the matter of the departing Saudis flown out of the United States in the days after the September 11 terror attacks, the 9/11 commission found that the FBI screened the Saudi passengers, ran their names through federal databases, interviewed 30 of them and asked many of them "detailed questions." "Nobody of interest to the FBI with regard to the 9/11 investigation was allowed to leave the country," the commission stated. 

* The entity in the White House that approved the flights wasn’t the president, or the vice president -- it was Richard Clarke, the counter-terrorism czar who was a holdover from the Clinton administration. Clarke has testified that he gave the approval conditioned on FBI clearance.