Fahrenheit 911

5 out of 10


Naughtiness in the Bush Camp

Where were you when the World Trade Towers were hit? Everyone remembers. It's like the assassination of Kennedy, although, ironically I can vividly remember vividly where I was on that day too despite being in England and being only about 3 years old at the time.My mom had rattled on and on , extolling how wonderful JFK was, so when I heard about it, it not only had impact, but even for a tiny tot then, I had an immediate strange, haunting feeling of "something is not quite rigth with this picture".

From the day you even hear about its existence, you know what stance a Michael Moore documentary has taken and, with a release by Lion Gate, a company that specialising films that are too contraversial for other companies to handle, it was certain to be one of the great talking points of not only this year, but quite some time to come. On every poster there's fat face of Moore, idol of America's left, peering over the brown folder as he makes it clear that he will be lifting the lid on conspiracies surrounding the World Trade Centre disaster.He has the evidence, so what are his crucial claims?

- #1. BUSH'S INCOMPETANCE - Moore's evidence indicates Bush was neither up to the mark as either a businessman nor as a leader. In addition to documantary evidence, the screen is filled with imagery of George W taking large amounts of time off in the early days before 911, yet this is fundamentaly unsound. Unlike the left, the Bush camp DE FACTO does not believe in the ability of "Big Government" and he was elected primarily not to run every nut and bolt in a nation of 200 million or so, but as a torch bearer for a political message. With American as a Republic and not a Kingdom, would it not be reasonable for a man who has always worked in a chief executive role throughout his life to delgate to a handpicked team rather than to regard himself as essential to every judgement call. Does America want a power-hungry megalomaniac telling them what cothes to wear each morning or a person who leaves the average dude to run his own life? Arguably, that's precisely what America voted on. Likewise, seeing Bush sitting in a school where "My Pet Donkey" is read to him, completely out of his depth after being told of the WTC disaster minutes before, would be funny if it were not so tragic. Yet consider, would you have known? And maybe his freezing like a deer in the headights is, in effect, a saving grace that proves he had no idea that this was going to happen.

- #2. BUSH'S LINKS TO THE HOUSE OF SAUD - Time and again, Bush is shown to have close links to the Royal Family of Saudi Arabia. Maybe fail comment regarding George W's impartiality, but in some ways it does give the impression of suggesting that "Arab equals terrorist", in a conspiracy way that is creepily similar to the "Jew equals bolshevik" in the each part of the 20th Century.

- #3. BUSH'S LINKS TO BIN LADEN - Beyond the links to the Saudis, Moore shows that Bush was backed by the Bin Laden family and that Bin Laden was trained by the CIA for action against the Russian in their occupation of the Afghanistan in the 1980's yet Moore fails to draw the obvious conclusion from history that, at best, it is our own intelligence agencies taht are the cause not the solution to many if not most of our world's problems. Governments are always happy to leave out from our history classes at school the fact that Josoph Stalin was originally a spy for the Ochrana, the Tsar's Secret Police and was sent to join the Communist Party to undermine it. Likewise, in the dangerously unstable Germany in 1919, the new Weimar Republic hired an unemployed corporal as an undercover agent to spy on a small 50-strong pressure group. The corporal's name was Adolf Hitler and the pressure group would become the Nazi Party. The latest in a long line of highly trained professional operatives turning "native", Bin Laden would again be a true threat, but represents a lesson that cannot seem to be learnt of the damage that Intelligence Agencies can cause.

- #4 NO LINKS BETWEEN BIN LADEN AND THE INVASION OR IRAQ - Moore's testimony on the Gulf War is embarrasing if not downright hilarious as he waylays Senators trying to pursuade them to sign up their sons ofr active service in the USA Army in Iraq.

Whilst much of the film successfully rubs the Republicans nose in the dirt, it all seems too much like "Bowling For Columbine 2 - The Sequel". By pursuing a fundamentally doctrinal attack on Republicans, Moore is bound to and does indeed find the skeleton in lots of people's closet, yet he fails centrally to do what was promiosed at the start. The film veres away from the World Trade Centre disaster, treating what happened as straightforward facts knwon to us all. It's like someone taking a "What is wrong with the picture" puzzle and putting it in a new frame. Across the web, questions of a far more ominous tone have been gathering and are totally unanswered:-

- 1. The WTC is supposed to have collapased as the jetliner fuel had heated structural steel to melting pont. No where else on the planet has this been achieved. Steel melts at 2795 Fahrenheit, (not 911 as claimed by some of Moore's publicity), yet the estimates show that it only reached about 800 Celsius, way below that necessary. Likewise, aviation fuel quickly evaporates and the whole structure would have acted as a giant heat sink, piping off the heat. Additionally, the floors have been estimated to have been loaded to only one-sixth of their breaking stress.

- 2. Is it not remarkable that so few survived after the collapse despite the fact the WTC had a comprehensive network of subterrainian shopping malls below it and a subway station that was virtually unharmed?

- 3. On one floor, the only man to survive was a broker who received a mysterious call, before impact, from a person insisting he was a client, demanding that he come to the ground floor reception area to meet him at once. By the time the lift arrived, the building had been struck.

...and so the list of things that just "don't add up" goes on and on...in much the same way it did with the Kennedy assassination.

As Moore bounces around the screen, one is left with the distinct feeling he's missed the target, in the same way as reporter Tarik Ayyoub wasn't when he was killed by an air-to-ground missile in the American bombing the Al Jazzera Cable News office in Baghdad. Unlike Mr Moore. he died reporting facts on the ground not scuffling through library documents for a one-sided partisan finger-wagging at the Bush camp like an old nanny that's landed him a very fat check at the box office.

Missed the target

Film Critic: Robert L Thompsett