The Path to 9/11: More Deleted Scenes

"The Path to 9/11," an ABC miniseries about the events leading up to Al Qaedas strikes on the United States, was controversial even before its release last week. Written by a Cyrus Nowrasteh, a friend of Rush Limbaugh, the two-parter received much criticism for singling out former president Bill Clinton and his administration as largely responsible, through failures of intelligence and strategic miscalculations, for the attacks of September 11, 2001.

ABC did tone down the miniseries somewhat, cutting and altering certain dramatizations, the content of which was revealed after the network allowed some conservative commentators to preview the film. A few of the deleted scenes, however, were never made public. Here for the first time are three dramatizations that were in the original version of the miniseries, but which were removed after complaints from media watchdog groups and members of the 9/11 Commission. Though the scenes' ideological bent is subtle, astute readers may notice slight tweaks and exaggerations that may constitute bias on the part of the filmmakers. We leave it to you, the audience, to decide.



SCENE ONE

NARRATOR (V/O)
In 1997, Clinton had a perfect chance to nab Osama bin Laden, or to at least gather some much-needed intelligence so as to thwart future attacks.

BILL CLINTON and OSAMA BIN LADEN are sitting across from each other at a table in a DC-area Starbucks during the summer of '97. Clinton is drinking an iced latte; bin Laden, an iced frappuccino.

CLINTON
See, Osama? America's not that bad. I'm glad we were able to do this today, though it's unfortunate I had to sneak out of the White House like that. Some members of my staff still don't know how to have fun, no matter how many times I tell them that terrorism is not something that bothers me and that I find it very difficult to take its threats seriously.

BIN LADEN
I think you have the right attitude, Bill.

CLINTON
Of course I do — I'm Bill Clinton. I'm impervious to everything. And I'm so certain that you don't mean us any harm — that, like me, you're simply misunderstood by your enemies, that once you get back to Afghanistan I'm willing to let you pretty much have free run of the place, okay?

BIN LADEN
Thanks Bill, I appreciate it.

CLINTON
Not a problem. But will you do one thing for me?

BIN LADEN
What's that?

CLINTON
Promise that you won't launch any attacks against us. I'd really look foolish if you did.

Bin Laden puts a hand on the table and crosses his fingers.

BIN LADEN
I promise.

Vaguely threatening, Muslim-sounding music plays.

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