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Fahrenheit 911

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I've just seen the trailer for Michael Moore's new film, Fahrenheit 911 on the film web site:


Now the fact that I haven't seen the film itself inhibits me from having too many opinions about it, but I thought I'd ask the question: what do you think about Michael Moore?

Is his film full of half-truths and lies? If so, what are they?

Does he tell the truth? And what impact will that have?

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The arguement that he always makes is that if he was lying he would be taken to court.

No-one has ever taken him to court (despite publicly saying that he's wrong so its not as if they are publicity shy).

Its not just him gathering material. He has a huge team of researchers who are paid to make sure the information is right, and by the looks of it most of the material for the film is simply taken from other sources so its not as if hes setting stuff up.

He may write like a Daily Mirror journalist, but that doesn't mean he's as dishonest as them;-)


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Now the fact that I haven't seen the film itself inhibits me from having too many opinions about it, but I thought I'd ask the question: what do you think about Michael Moore?

I remember reading that last year Michael Moore was the most read American author in the United States (it seems that some foreign born authors sold more books than him). This is a stunning achievement – or does it mean that only those people on the left still read books in America.

Personally, I am not great fan of his books. I don’t find his writing particularly funny and prefer a more measured, logical approach to political debate. However, I do like his documentaries. He is a talented communicator and is a great manipulator of emotions.

Moore also has a great skill that is extremely rare for someone on the left. He is able to shape the agenda of the mass media. One way he does this is by running a very popular website. When need be, he can go straight to the people without the help of conventional media. He also uses his website successfully to sell his books and films. Look at the way he has run rings around Disney over the distribution of his film Fahrenheit 911. It has been said that Howard Dean was the first person to master the techniques of web communication for political advantage. I would suggest that it is Michael Moore who deserves this accolade.

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  • 1 month later...

Fahrenheit 9/11 is released in the UK today. I see the film has taken $60.10m in two weeks in the States. This seems to be an amazing achievement. Can anyone think of any other documentary maker who has had so much popular success. What is more, he has done this with a political viewpoint that is far to the left of mainstream culture. I would not have believed it was possible.

However good a filmmaker he is (and I believe he is outstanding), Michael Moore is a master of manipulating the capitalist media. Whatever they seem to do (there is currently a massive smear campaign against him) he seems to survive it.

Moore is very careful about what he includes in his film. For example, he has apparently new and horrible footage of soldiers mistreating captives, but he does not use it in the film. Like John Kerry he is wary of criticising the behaviour of US troops.

Will the film influence the result of this year’s presidential election? I hope so but I suspect that most of the people who have seen the film were already hostile to Bush. However, as one man said after leaving the cinema: “it provides you with a lot of information you can use in arguments with your political opponents.”

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I have just taken my family to see this film and I have commented on my initial response


Of course it is not a film to be viewed uncritically but Michael Moore is very talented in translating his ideas onto the big screen. He is a comedian. It is his job to poke fun at the politicians and he does it superbly.

The film goes beyond that and it has some of the most appalling images of the attitudes of American soldiers and constant reminders of the corporate greed which drives war. It is a bit of luck Michael Moore has American citizenship (and membership of the NRA) because he would otherwise be in Guantanamo bay right now!

The film shows there is a case to answer and for all the fulmination of the right-wing media that seems to be the one thing they cannot do.

Oh and btw the Daily Mirror employs John Pilger so I would not tar all their journalists with the same brush!

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Fahrenheit 9/11 is released in the UK today. I see the film has taken $60.10m in two weeks in the States. This seems to be an amazing achievement. Can anyone think of any other documentary maker who has had so much popular success.

I watched the BBC4 Storyville episode on the weekend about Marcel Ophuls' 1969 documentary about the occupation of France 1940-44 The Sorrow and the Pity. http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/documentaries...-and-pity.shtml This is the closest comparison I can think of.

I thought the interview with Ophuls fascinating and was interested to read how Michael Moore considers himself a disciple of Ophuls. In this recent Guardian interview Ophuls was asked whether he likes Moore's films:

  "Very much. He's wonderful when he buttonholes the bad guys like Charlton Heston. So pushy! It's hard to believe he's not a Jew!"
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When starving people find food, they don't worry too much about the ingredients. Michael Moore's film is crude and sometimes patronising. He puts words into people's mouths. He finishes their sentences for them. At times he is funny and moving, at others clumsy and incoherent. But I was shaken by it, and I applauded at the end. For Fahrenheit 9/11 asks the questions that should have been asked every day for the past four years. The success of his film testifies to the rest of the media's failure...

When most of our journalists fail us, it's hardly surprising that the few who are brave enough to expose the lies of the powerful become heroes, even if their work is pretty coarse. When a scruffy comedian from Michigan can bring us closer to the truth than the BBC, it's time for a serious examination of why news has become the propaganda of the victor.


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One of the great strengths of Michael Moore’s filmmaking is that he personalizes political decision making. For me, one of the best parts of the film is when he asks American politicians if their sons and daughters are fighting in the Iraq War. Of course, we all know the answer to that question. Their look of embarrassment reveals the true nature of this war. It is about sending the sons and daughters of the poor to go and fight poor people living in another country. It is only when the middle class start getting conscripted that politicians start to make a fuss about foreign wars.

Would Tony Blair have been willing to order his troops into battle if his sons had been members of the armed forces? Would he have been so keen to impose education fees on students if he had not first bought flats for his two sons to stay in while at university? The best way to stop a politician pontificating about people taking industrial action is to ask them about their pay and conditions? Michael Moore has grasped this universal truth and makes full use of it in his filmmaking.

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There is an interesting review of Fahrenheit 9/11 in this week’s Sunday Times by Cosmo Landesman. It is part of Rupert Murdoch’s campaign to discredit Michael Moore (after all 379 of his newspapers supported the war so he has a lot of explaining to do). However, he does make an important point in his review.

“In watching Fahrenheit 9/11, you are subjected to the relentless drive of its narrative. Unlike a newspaper article or book, you can’t stop, go back and consider an assertion or weigh up the evidence. There’s a lot of food for thought in this film – but no time to think.”

This is of course not only true of documentary films. It is true of television stations like Fox News owned by people like Murdoch. A recent report revealed that editorial positions are handed down from on high in a daily briefing note. One briefing read: “Remember when you’re writing about this (the Iraq War), its all good. Don’t write about the number of dead, or about troops being under fire or under attack. Keep it positive. Emphasise all the good we’re doing, like rebuilding schools and bringing democracy.”

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I have seen the movie and read both both "Dude, Where's my country" and "Stupid White Men". I have enjoyed all of them, but I am worried that the right wing press in North America has successfully launched a campaign against Moore. Many people here in Canada have discounted him as a crack pot who is completely biased. While Moore's bias is clear, I applaud him for at least being up front about them, whereas most of the media here is also biased, but are much more sneaky about it. Being Canadian, people here seem to be more questioning about Bush and his policies, but I have talked to quite a few people who will not see the movie because of what they have heard about Moore from other media sources. Our press here in Canada is also quite right leaning. I hope Moore continues to push on in the face of this negative campaign.

As a social studies teacher, I also feel it is important for students to see this movie. It moves the war in Iraq beyond the 'video game images' that we see on CNN et al, and shows the true horrors of it, along with the personal side through grieving families and fragile returning soldiers.

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Our press here in Canada is also quite right leaning. I hope Moore continues to push on in the face of this negative campaign.

As a social studies teacher, I also feel it is important for students to see this movie. It moves the war in Iraq beyond the 'video game images' that we see on CNN et al, and shows the true horrors of it, along with the personal side through grieving families and fragile returning soldiers.

There is also a smear campaign against Michael Moore in the UK. He is not accused of being a subjective reporter (that of course is clear and is willingly admitted by Moore). The campaign against Moore (led by newspapers owned by Rupert Murdoch) is that he is a hypocrite. That he is obsessed with making money and becoming famous. That he is not really concerned with the plight of the underdog. This includes running stories about how Moore exploits the old (senile Charlton Heston) and the powerless (he is said to treat his staff very badly).

These stories will of course hurt his image. But will they stop people seeing his movie. It definitely has not stopped people in the UK seeing it. Within a few days it became the most popular documentary in UK history (in terms of people who have seen it and the revenues obtained at the box office).

Moore has definitely been helped by the fact attempts were made to restrict its viewing. I would not be surprised that Moore took steps to ensure this happened. It was the best publicity he could have received. Especially as people in the UK and the USA have become aware that their governments lied to them about the reasons for the Iraq War. This has created a strong desire to discover the truth. I expect this to be followed by an increase in interest in conspiracy theories. It could even be next year’s big media trend.

Moore is a talented left-wing documentary maker. However, these have not been in short supply in the past. The problems with other left-wing filmmakers is that they have been ignored. Moore’s great achievement concerns the way he manipulates the capitalist media to his own advantage. This is especially true of the way he uses new technology to communicate directly to his supporters. He is one of the first political figures on the left who has grasped the significance of the revolution that has taken place in communications over the last few years.

I fully expect the CIA to successfully get Moore. He will probably be arrested and charged with some horrendous crime such as paedophilia. But by this time he will have shown those on the left how you can undermine the power of the owners of the mass media. The web has guaranteed that Orwell’s predictions will not take place. The state is in fact losing control over the minds of the people. The successful revolution has already taken place. Tim Berners Lee was our Lenin. The difference is Berners Lee did not remain in power like the Bolsheviks. He handed it over to the people like Michael Moore who had grasped the significance of what had happened and were willing to use it for political ends.

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I wrote up my response to 911. It is rather personal and narrative, I posted it on the student forum version of this. Mr. Simkin suggested I post it on this forum as well. If it offends anyone, or anything please feel free to censor, delete, or do whatever is necessary.

So, today I went to see Farenheight 911. I went into it initially thinking that it would be a propagandist film against Bush, because that's what I've heard. Pointing out that something is propaganda is in fact propaganda. So, I'm not going to argue with the fact that it took a political stance, but there is one item of which you CANNOT argue with. That is that there were facts, there was footage you could not deny, there was truth. Yes, some of it was laced with propaganda, but nevertheless there was truth in that movie. On the date that the movie was released Washington D.C. was supposed to release official statements to counter some remarks perhaps stated by those who have seen the film. Next to nothing has been released. For example, "Is it true that Ben Laden's family was permitted to leave the U.S. when all other planes were not to leave?". The only response from Washington that has been received is that "at the time that his family was permitted to leave, not ALL planes were grounded". The lack of political rebuttal really says something about the film's truth, the undeniable truth. There are people out there, that I've met that won't see the film because it's against Bush. I respect the fact that you are a republican, that you support Bush, but nevertheless how are you expected to support and promote something when you do not know the opposition? The only way to win a battle is to know that which you are fighting, if you don't know you're opponent you will be stuck in the same track of arguments and rebuttals.

I just wanted to say, I was against this war in the beginning and people were like "what?! you're against freedom? you're against liberty and justice?" Sorry, people but I'm not against any of those, I never have been, but I am still without a doubt in my bone against this war. I'm not even going to address the fact that Bush said that Iraq was/is linked with Al Qaida, because there's no true proof. I will address however, how all of it reminds me of the Keneddy assassination. Following the Kenneddy assassination there was the whole blame of the "Communist conspiracy". It's been asserted that it was an excuse to go to war with communist nations, Cuba as an example. So, weapons of mass destruction, connection with Al Qaida, to me all sound like excuses to go to war with Iraq. Everyone's said that this war was so Bush, the power hungry man could get more oil. I'm not 100% sure if I believe that, but the scary connection with the Saudi's and having them own 6-7% of country through the money that they've put into our country, and the even scarier connection with the Bush family, especially Bush senior leads me to believe that the Saudi's could potentially 'own' our president.

Seeing Bush, just sit in that elementary classroom for minutes after the attacks on the World Trade Center were reported to him. Watch him move his eyes side to side, read a child's book, watch him sit there scared and frozen not knowing what to do. The precious moments after the horrible event that lead to thousands, dead our chief in command SAT there. The only reason why he was there surely, was to help make up with the minorities who he disenfranchised in Florida in the first place. Jesus, it's insane. The one man that is not supposed to be still, the one man that should know what to do, that should be there taking care of our country's men and women, saving their lives. SITS THERE.

Another reaction I had, was the young men blaring a song with the lyrics "burn mother****** burn" while shooting Iraqi's, because they felt that Iraq should go up in flames. Feeling that the Iraqi's should learn our values, and our ways, through violence, killing them, and guns. It reminded me of the missionaries who went to Africa during the colonization period. Pretty much telling the African's "convert or die, it's your choice really. We want to do what's best for you". I'm sorry, but that is not the way to show someone your values. To teach someone through killing them.

The woman outside of the white house showing the Iraqi chidren dead, and the woman from Flint coming, and then that clearly educated woman coming up and saying "this is all a sham!", "blame Al Qaida for your son's death". Now, in no way am I generalizing that those who support the war effort blame Al Qaida, because I hate generalizations myself. However, if one, just one educated person thinks that way, then it's tragic. It's not Al Qaida that is killing our men and women in Iraq, it is the innocent Iraqis who have no other choice but to DEFEND themselves against us. Now, I admit the behaviour of some is horrible. For example, the dragging and beating of soldier's burnt bodies. I can't forgiven such immoral behaviour as that, but then how can I forgive our American soldiers for blindfolding an Iraqi of just about the same age as them, and tickling their feet then wiping their hand off as if the Iraqi had a disease. Or pointing out his penis and then screaming "OMG he touched his ****!!" As if the Iraqi was not even a human being. Had situations been different those boys could have been friends.

Then there's Colin Powell. How he sold out his people, how you can see it in his face. No one else up there cares about those who are fighting, but Colin Powell sold them all out. He sold out who he is, and he has to look in the mirror everyday and face the face that he betrayed his people. I don't know whether it's true that recruiters target the minorities in a less-educated and less-affluent town, but if it is. Then how could Colin Powell surely knowing full well that this was the case sell out his people? How could he betray that which he is, and for what? To be a part of the party where the leader cannot even state "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me". I'm sure he knew of the disenfranchized minorities in Florida, and did he do something to stop it? He was originally running for vice president, why did he all of a sudden drop down to Secretary of State? No one does that, so why did he?

The woman standing outside her house screaming to Allah, that could be any woman across the world. Hell, that could have been your own mother, screaming to God, screaming to whatever. To stop the unjust killing, to stop the massacering of her people, to stop the brutal murder.

There was an interview with a man who in a gym following 9/11 stated his opinion. Then the FBI showed up on his door step. Anyone think that sounds a bit like little Mr. Stalin? They had a clip of Bush stating "sure, a dictatorship would be better" (paraphrased that), Stalin was a dictator. I see a correlation, that is unmistakable. We are supposed to learn from history, then why the **** are we repeating it? "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it" or something. Clearly, Bush should brush up on his history, and maybe a little something else.

Now he's looking for reasons to invade Iran. Weapons of mass destruction, right. Again, why does it matter if they've got weapons of mass destruction, Iraq never even threatened us. Hell, most of the world has weapons of mass destruction, North Korea has weapons of mass destruction! Why don't we invade them? Because they've got them! If we invade them, they'll be used on us. This is why people think Bush is power hungry, because it looks like he wants to shift the balance of power in our direction. He wants the United States to be in control. That's all for now. Everyone despite political views should see that movie, if not for interest, if not because you may agree with it, but to counter it. I would love to see a movie come out in response, that is not bull ****.

I'd just like to point out, that the people in the theater clapped when it was over.

I did have one issue with the film that I disliked. He included information on the Coalition of the Willing. In the film he outlined the members of it alongside the United States. He only outlined the smaller countries, and left out many who participated and deserved credit. He also mocked the smaller countries, and insinuated that it was only the United States army that was fighting. That's not the case however, because many countries such as Spain, Czech Republic, Ukraine, and most importantly the United Kingdom contributed. I think that his film would have benefitted from including the other countries, since they are of importance.

Edited by Lia Kelinsky
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I'm not even going to address the fact that Bush said that Iraq was/is linked with Al Qaida, because there's no true proof. I will address however, how all of it reminds me of the Kennedy assassination. Following the Kennedy assassination there was the whole blame of the "Communist conspiracy". It's been asserted that it was an excuse to go to war with communist nations, Cuba as an example. So, weapons of mass destruction, connection with Al Qaida, to me all sound like excuses to go to war with Iraq. Everyone's said that this war was so Bush, the power hungry man could get more oil. I'm not 100% sure if I believe that, but the scary connection with the Saudi's and having them own 6-7% of country through the money that they've put into our country, and the even scarier connection with the Bush family, especially Bush senior leads me to believe that the Saudi's could potentially 'own' our president.

Thank you for posting this perceptive review of Michael Moore’s film. One of the great advantages of Moore’s film is that he has raised the issue of motives for the war. Politicians are not always completely honest about their reasons for making certain decisions. However, to declare pre-emptive war is probably the most important decision a politician ever has to make. If it is later discovered that this war was declared on a false prospectus, the political leader has to be removed from office.

The world was told that the reason for the war was that Iraq owned WMD and posed an immediate threat to world safety. (In the UK the British public were told that soldiers stationed in Cyprus were likely victims of these weapons.) We now know this was not true but Bush and Blair claim that they thought that it was and that they were let down by the intelligence provided by the CIA, MI6, etc.

The conventional view is that the war was over oil. This indeed was a factor. The belief was that by gaining control of Iraqi oil, Bush would be able to force down the world price for oil. This would stimulate the US economy and this would help Bush to be elected in November. Bush also knew that when a country is at war the poll-rating of the president goes up. This is based on the idea that the patriotic thing to do in a war is to support your president. Blair also thought it would also result in increased popularity (Margaret Thatcher was the most unpopular prime minister in UK history before the Falkland War).

Bush and Blair made a terrible miscalculation and the oil price has not gone down since the war. As a result of WMD not being found in Iraq, Bush and Blair have been forced to let others see those secret CIA and MI6 reports. It now seems that Bush and Blair knowingly mislead the world about WMD in Iraq.

However the war was not only about oil and future elections. It was also about political and financial corruption.

It was recently revealed (Robin Ramsay’s The Rise of New Labour) that when Blair became a candidate for the leadership of the Labour Party in 1994, Gideon Meir, a senior official at the Israeli Embassy in London, introduced him to Michael Levy (an extremely wealthy Jewish businessmen). Levy agreed to help Blair to become leader of the party. Levy, with the help of four other Jewish businessmen (Sir Emmanuel Kaye, Sir Trevor Chinn, Maurice Hatter, and David Goldman) provided Blair with £7m. This paid for his campaign plus the running of his private office. This money allowed Blair to become independent of Labour Party funding. Could it be this money, rather than the charm of George Bush, that persuaded Blair to give his support to the American (Israeli) policy in the Middle East.

Another recently published book, The Halliburton Agenda by Dan Briody, provides another reason for the war. The book tells an interesting story.

In 1992 Dick Cheney, head of the US Department of Defence, gave a $3.9m contract (a further $5m was added later) to Kellog Brown & Root (KBR), a subsidiary of Halliburton. The contract involved writing a report about how private contractors could help the Pentagon deal with 13 different “hot spots” around the world.

The KBR report remains a classified document. However, the report convinced Cheney to award a umbrella contract to one company to deal with these problems. This contract, which became known as the Logistics Civil Augmentation Programme (Logcap), was of course awarded to KBR. It is an unique contract and is effectively a blank cheque from the government. KBR makes it money from a built in profit percentage. When your profit is a percentage of the cost, the more you spend, the more you make.

KBR’s first task was to go to Somalia as part of Operation Restore Hope. KBR arrived before the US Army. Over the next few months KBR made a profit of $109.7m. In August 1994 KBR made $6.3m in Rwanda. Later that year they received $150m profit from its work in Haiti. KBR made its money from building base camps, supplying troops with food and water, fuel and munitions, cleaning latrines and washing clothes.

The contract came up for renewal in 1997. By this time Cheney had been appointed as CEO of Halliburton. The Clinton administration gave the contract to Dyncorp. The contract came to an end in 2001. Cheney was now back in power and KBR won back the Logcap contract. This time it was granted for ten years. The beauty of this contract is that it does not matter where the US armed forces are in action, the KBR makes money from its activities. However, the longer the troops stay, the more money it makes.

KBR is now busy in Iraq (it also built the detention cells in Guantanamo Bay). What is more Halliburton was given the contract for restoring the Iraqi oil infrastructure (no competitive bid took place).

Cheney sold his stock options in Halliburton for $30m when he became vice president. He claimed he had got rid of all his financial interests in Halliburton. However, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) discovered that he has been receiving yearly sums from Halliburton: $205,298 (2001), $162,392 (2002), etc. They also found he still holds 433,333 unexercised stock options in Halliburton.

The main difference between a democracy and a military dictatorship is that the freedom of the media ensures that serious political corruption does not take place. Yet, in both the US and the UK, political corruption goes to the heart of the war in Iraq. Thousands of people have been killed in order that a few men could become extremely wealthy. It is the most serious charge one can make against a politician. I believe both Bush and Blair are guilty of this charge. Not only should they be removed from power. They should be sent to prison for a very long time.

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Interesting review of the film by David Leigh in today's Guardian.

It is generally agreed that Michael Moore's anti-Bush documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 is not one for the intellectually fastidious. This wildly club-swinging production is nonetheless politically potent, as anyone could testify who has seen its large and appreciative British cinema audiences.

Moore, whose film became the first documentary to take more than $100m, claimed this week, as he surfaced at the Democratic convention in Boston, that he was shifting US presidential votes away from the Republicans. So it is worth asking what his factual basis might be. Are any of Moore's facts right? In particular, is his biggest conspiracy theory true?

In his let's-join-up-all-the-dots way, this Emile Zola from Flint, Michigan, accuses Bush of a corrupt relationship with the Saudis. He says - or hints heavily - that Bush had business links with the Bin Laden family, which induced him to allow the lot of them to escape from the US on chartered planes in the aftermath of 9/11, and, secondly, to allow Osama himself to get away later, while Bush hastily diverted the public's attention to irrelevant Iraq.

There is only one source given for this material - a New York writer called Craig Unger who is interviewed on screen by Moore about it. Unger has written a book called House of Bush, House of Saud. Few Britons have yet had a chance to read it, because its first UK publishers, Random House, took fright at the prospect of being sued by rich Saudis. A smaller firm, Gibson Square, proved braver and Unger's book is due out this month.

Unger is not in the big league of historians. To quote his book jacket: "He has written about the two George Bushes for the New Yorker, Esquire and Vanity Fair". And his subtitle is downright false: The Secret Relationship Between the World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties. The relationship has not been a secret.

The text is solidly enough researched. It does indeed demonstrate convincingly that Bush had a business buddy called Jim Bath back in Houston, Texas, in the 1970s, who in turn acted as fixer and frontman for a pair of rich young Saudis. One of them was a brother of Osama bin Laden, and the other, years later, donated to Osama's Afghan guerrilla war against Soviet Russia.

The book does go on to show too that some Saudi money went into a struggling oil firm, Harken, in which the young Bush was involved. And it does show that the Bin Ladens and all the other rich Saudis holidaying in the US at the time of 9/11, were hustled home in an astonishingly privileged way, probably thanks to the cigar-chomping Prince Bandar, Saudi ambassador to Washington.

The book also documents two important general points. One is that the undeservedly wealthy Saudis have invested an estimated $860bn in US companies and purchased US arms worth several hundred billions of dollars.

The other key fact demonstrated is that the Saudi royals have helped preserve their close link with the US by aiding successive administrations in unsavoury plots and plans. These included arming the Nicaraguan contras, covertly arming Saddam in Iraq (in the days when it suited the US to encourage him), and using Saudi conduits to funnel money to the crazed Osama bin Laden himself (ditto).

Unlike Moore's film, the underlying Unger book is perfectly fastidious with the facts. But Unger's dots don't join up to make a conspiracy either.

For a start, they do not show that a Bin Laden directly funded Bush. For another thing, the Bin Ladens are a huge clan, and knowing a single one of them does not automatically tar you with the Osama bin Laden brush.

Most important of all, there is a fundamental misreading of the nature of the relationships at work here. Many western politicians in the 70s, 80s and 90s sought to shake down the Saudis and relieve them of their oil money, either to prop up their local economies or to line their personal pockets. Britain's own Tory cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken was a case in point, and ended up going to jail as a result.

Naturally, this required the turning of a blind eye to the alarming characteristics of Saudi society - for example, its brutality, corruption, despotism, misogyny, fanaticism, hypocrisy, dishonesty and greed. And equally naturally, it is very embarrassing for the likes of George Bush when the consequences of that sort of behaviour blow back in your face. Who would want to advertise it?

But this does not make a conspiracy. There is no real evidence in Unger's book that Bush wanted Osama bin Laden to escape, or that he invaded Iraq as a deliberate distraction.

In fact, the 9/11 commission last week blamed the defence department arch-hawk Paul Wolfowitz for the Iraq obsession, quoting the president telling Tony Blair that Iraq was not the immediate problem, whatever Wolfowitz said. And indeed, Moore's parochially-minded J'Accuse makes no mention of our own PM's equally loopy wish to march on Baghdad.

Moore's defenders say that, if not factually correct, then his film is in some way "essentially" true. Iraqi babies and US blue-collar soldiers are indeed being blown to bits for no good reason. The west's unholy relationship with Saudi Arabia and the Saudi royal family's unholy relationship in turn with its barbaric Islamists, did, in a general sense, lead to 9/11. And western politicians do seem to want to distract us from those nasty facts.

But this makes Fahrenheit 9/11, in documentary terms at least, a fraud. The film is not journalism. It is an extended piece of stand-up - a satiric riff by one deeply hostile individual. This shouldn't discourage people from going to this exhilarating movie. But it means that if you have a respect for accuracy, watching will be a guilty pleasure.


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