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Michael Moore Backpedals on Key Premise of Documentary


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Michael Moore Backpedals on Key Premise of Documentary

By Marc Morano

CNSNews.com Senior Staff Writer

July 28, 2004

Boston (CNSNews.com) - Left-wing filmmaker Michael Moore on Tuesday appeared to back off his earlier allegation regarding President Bush's involvement in the flights of Saudi Arabian citizens out of the U.S. in the days following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

CNSNews.com asked Moore on Tuesday if he still believed that President Bush was directly involved in approving the flights of Saudi Arabian citizens out of the U.S., given Richard Clarke's admission that he alone authorized the flights. Clarke is a former White House counter-terrorism official and a Bush critic.

"What I said in the film (Fahrenheit 9/11) was that the White House authorized it. Richard Clarke worked for the president, he was part of the White House and he took the word of the FBI," Moore told CNSNews.com, following his fiery speech to a "Take Back America" event, organized by the Campaign for America's Future.

But Moore's response on Tuesday differed from his earlier allegations that Bush took time out of his day on Sept. 11, 2001 to contemplate what he could "do to help the bin Ladens."

Moore told Pacifica radio last October, "So here is Bush trying to deal with everything on Sept. 11, 12, 13th, you know. You remember, everybody remembers, the total state of chaos and people, just everyone, all of us, discombobulated by the whole thing, and he had the time to be thinking -- what can I do to help the bin Ladens right now?"

But in May, Clarke admitted that he alone approved the exit of bin Laden's relatives -- contradicting one of the central premises of Moore's film.

The decision to approve the flights, Clarke admitted, had been his own. The request "didn't get any higher than me," he told The Hill newspaper.

"On 9/11, 9/12 and 9/13, many things didn't get any higher than me. I decided it in consultation with the FBI," Clarke said of the flight carrying bin Laden's relatives.

"I take responsibility for it. I don't think it was a mistake, and I'd do it again," he added. The Saudis and bin Laden's relatives were flown out of the U.S. because of fears for their safety following the terror attacks.

On Tuesday, after CNSNews.com reminded Moore about what Clarke had said, Moore backed off his earlier allegations regarding Bush's involvement in the flights.

CNSNews.com pressed Moore on whether he still believed Bush was personally involved in authorizing the flights.

Moore responded, "What I do know is that two nights after September 11th, Mr. Bush had a private dinner with [saudi ambassador to the United States] Prince Bandar in the White House. In those 48 hours after September 11, what other ambassadors or world leaders came to the White House and had a private dinner with Mr. Bush? Only the prince from Saudi Arabia."

"I think that is a legitimate question to ask. Let me put it this way. If 15 of 19 hijackers had been Libyans, do you think the president would be having a private dinner with the ambassador from Libya two nights later?" Moore asked rhetorically.

'A mistake'

Clarke, who appears in Moore's film, told the Associated Press in June that it was "a mistake" for Moore to include in his movie the assertion that the White House was the impetus for the flights. Clarke called Moore's allegations about the bin Laden family's flight out of the country "a tempest in a tea pot."

Clarke became a darling of the left earlier this year when he turned against the Bush administration and criticized its anti-terror policies. His book Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror detailed his frustration at working in the Bush administration.

CNSNews.com also asked Moore about the Kerry campaign spokesman who described Moore as an "extremist" on Westwood One radio last week.

"Oh, he didn't say that," Moore responded as he began walking away. Moore has urged his fellow liberals to unite behind Kerry to defeat Bush.

When CNSNews.com read a direct quote from Kerry spokesman Chad Clanton describing Moore as an "extremist," the filmmaker finally shouted back, "I am an extremist -- at the box office."

Moore's Bush-bashing film Fahrenheit 9/11 recently reached $100 million in earnings, making it the highest grossing documentary in history. The movie will play in Bush's home town of Crawford, Texas, on Wednesday.

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Osama Bin Laden's Brother Blasts Moore Film for 'Inaccuracies'

(CNSNews.com) - The half-brother of Osama bin Laden is disputing what he called "inaccuracies" about his family alleged in the Michael Moore movie, "Fahrenheit 9/11." In the film, Moore claims the Bush administration arranged to fly 142 Saudis, including two dozen members of the bin Laden family out of the U.S. two days after the Sept. 11 attacks, even though all other commercial flights were grounded. "That's false and can be verified by anyone," Yeslam Binladen, one of Osama's 54 siblings, who intentionally spells his last name differently from his notorious brother, told French magazine VSD. "They benefited from no exceptional authorization to leave American territory," he said

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