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Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)

One of the most controversial and provocative films of the year, Fahrenheit 9/11 is Academy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore’s searing examination of the Bush administration’s actions in the wake of the tragic events of 9/11.

With his characteristic humor and dogged commitment to uncovering the facts, Moore considers the presidency of George W. Bush and where it has led us. He looks at how – and why – Bush and his inner circle avoided pursuing the Saudi connection to 9/11, despite the fact that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis and Saudi money had funded Al Qaeda. Fahrenheit 9/11 shows us a nation kept in constant fear by FBI alerts and lulled into accepting a piece of legislation, the USA Patriot Act, that infringes on basic civil rights. It is in this atmosphere of confusion, suspicion and dread that the Bush Administration makes its headlong rush towards war in Iraq and Fahrenheit 9/11 takes us inside that war to tell the stories we haven’t heard, illustrating the awful human cost to U.S. soldiers and their families.

Section 1. Fox was the first network to call Florida for Bush. Before that, some other networks had called Florida for Gore, and they changed after Fox called it for Bush.
“With information provided from the Voter News Service, NBC was the first network to project Gore the winner in Florida at 7:48 pm. At 7:50 pm ,CNN and CBS project Gore the winner in Florida as well.” By 8:02 pm , all five networks and the Associated Press had called Gore the winner in Florida. Even the VNS called Gore the winner at 7:52 pm. At 2:16 am, Fox calls Florida for Bush, NBC follows at 2:16 am. ABC is the last network to call the Florida for Bush, at 2:20 am, while AP and VNS never call Florida for Bush.

Ten minutes after the top of the hour, network excitement was again beginning to build. At 2:16 a.m., the call was made: Fox News Channel, with Bush’s first cousin John Ellis running its election desk, was the first to project Florida — and the presidency — for the Texas governor. Within minutes, the other networks followed suit. “George Bush, Governor of Texas will become the 43rd President of the United States,” CNN’s Bernard Shaw announced atop a graphic montage of a smiling Bush. “At 18 minutes past two o’clock Eastern time, CNN declares that George Walker Bush has won Florida’s 25 electoral votes and this should put him over the top.”


Section 1. The man who was in charge of the decision desk at FOX on election night was Bush’s first cousin, John Ellis.
“John Ellis, a first cousin of George W. Bush, ran the network’s ‘decision desk’ during the 2000 election, and Fox was the first to name Bush the winner. Earlier, Ellis had made six phone calls to Cousin Bush during the vote-counting.” William O’Rourke, “Talk Radio Key to GOP Victory,” Chicago Sun-Times, December 3, 2002.
A Fox News consultant, John Ellis, who made judgments about presidential ‘calls’ on Election Night admits he was in touch with George W. Bush and FL Gov. Jeb Bush by telephone several times during the night, but denies breaking any rules.

CNN, November 14, 2000
John Ellis, the Fox consultant who called Florida early for George Bush, had to stop writing about the campaign for the Boston Globe because of family ‘loyalty’ to Bush.

CBS News, November 14, 2000.

Section 1. “Make sure the chairman of your campaign is also the vote countin’ woman and that her state has hired a company that’s gonna knock voters off the rolls who aren’t likely to vote for you. You can usually tell them by the color of their skin.”
“The vote total was certified by Florida’s secretary of state, Katherine Harris, head of the Bush campaign in Florida, on behalf of Gov. Jeb Bush, the candidate’s brother.” Mark Zoller Seitz, “Bush Team Conveyed an Air of Legitimacy,” San Diego Union-Tribune, December 16, 2000.
The Florida Department of State awarded a $4 million contract to the Boca Raton-based Database Technologies Inc. (subsidiary of ChoicePoint). They were tasked with finding improperly registered voters in the state’s database, but mistakes were rampant. “At one point, the list included as felons 8,000 former Texas residents who had been convicted of misdemeanors.” St. Petersburg Times (Florida), December 21, 2003.
Database Technologies, a subsidiary of ChoicePoint, “was responsible for bungling an overhaul of Florida’s voter registration records, with the result that thousands of people, disproportionately black, were disenfranchised in the 2000 election. Had they been able to vote, they might have swung the state, and thus the presidency, for Al Gore, who lost in Florida. Oliver Burkeman, Jo Tuckman, “Firm in Florida Election Fiasco Earns Millions from Files on Foreigners,” . See also, Atlanta-Journal-Constitution, May 28, 2001.

The Guardian, May 5, 2003
In 1997, Rick Rozar, the late head of the company bought by ChoicePoint, donated $100,000 to the Republican National Committee. Melanie Eversley, “Atlanta-Based Company Says Errors in Felon Purge Not Its Fault,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, May 28, 2001. Frank Borman of Database Technologies Inc. has donated extensively to New Mexico Republicans, as well as to the Presidential campaign of George W. Bush. Opensecrets.org, “Frank Borman.”

Section 1. Gore got the most votes in 2000.
[A] consortium [Tribune Co., owner of the Times; Associated Press; CNN; the New York Times; the Palm Beach Post; the St. Petersburg Times; the Wall Street Journal; and the Washington Post] hired the NORC [National Opinion Research Center, a nonpartisan research organization affiliated with the University of Chicago] to view each untallied ballot and gather information about how it was marked. The media organizations then used computers to sort and tabulate votes, based on varying scenarios that had been raised during the post-election scramble in Florida. Under any standard that tabulated all disputed votes statewide, Mr. Gore erased Mr. Bush’s advantage and emerged with a tiny lead that ranged from 42 to 171 votes. Donald Lambro, “Recount Provides No Firm Answers,” Washington Times, November 12, 2001.
“The review found that the result would have been different if every canvassing board in every county had examined every undervote, a situation that no election or court authority had ordered. Gore had called for such a statewide manual recount if Bush would agree, but Bush rejected the idea and there was no mechanism in place to conduct one.” Martin Merzer, “Review of Ballots Finds Bush’s Win Would Have Endured Manual Recount,” Miami Herald, April 4, 2001.
* See also, the following article by one of the Washington Post journalists who ran the consortium recount. The relevant point is made in Table I of the article.


Section 1. Congressional Black Caucus members tried to object to the election outcome on the floor of the House; no Senator would sign the objections.
“While Vice President Al Gore appeared to have accepted his fate contained in two wooden ballot boxes, Democratic members of the Congressional Black Caucus tried repeatedly to challenge the assignment of Florida’s 25 electoral votes to Bush…. More than a dozen Democrats followed suit, seeking to force a debate on the validity of Florida’s vote on the grounds that all votes may not have been counted and that some voters were wrongly denied the right to vote.” Susan Milligan, “It’s Really Over: Gore Bows Out Gracefully,” Boston Globe, January 7, 2001.
The Congressional Black Caucus effort failed for “lack of the necessary signature by any senator.” Sen. Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) had previously advised Democratic senators not to cooperate. ‘They did not.'” Robert Novak, “Sweeney Link Won’t Help Chao,” Chicago Sun-Times, January 14, 2001.

Section 1. “On the day George W. Bush was inaugurated, tens of thousands of Americans poured into the streets of D.C. They pelted Bush’s limo with eggs.”
“Shouting slogans like ‘Hail to the Thief’ and ‘Selected, Not Elected,’ tens of thousands of protesters descended on George W. Bush’s inaugural parade route yesterday to proclaim that he and Vice President Dick Cheney had ‘stolen’ the election.” Michael Kranish and Sue Kirchhoff, “Thousands Protest ‘Stolen’ Election,” Boston Globe, January 21, 2001.
“Scuffles erupted between radicals and riot police while an egg struck the bullet-proof presidential limousine as it carried Mr. Bush and wife Laura to the White House.” Damon Johnston, “Bush Pledges Justice as Critics Throw Eggs,” The Advertisers, January 22, 2001.
See also film footage.

Section 1. “The inauguration parade was brought to a halt and the traditional walk to the White House was scrapped.”
Bush made one concession to the weather — or to security concerns: He stayed in his limousine nearly the entire length of the mile-long inaugural parade, waving through a slightly foggy window. He got out to walk only for a brief distance when his motorcade reached the VIP grandstands in front of the Treasury Department and the White House. Doyle McManus, et al., “Bush Vows to Bring Nation Together,” Los Angeles Times, January, 21, 2001.
Bush’s limo, which traveled most of the route at a slow walking pace, stopped dead just before it reached the corner of 14th St. and Pennsylvania Ave., where most of the protesters had congregated. Then it sped up dramatically, and Secret Service agents protecting the car on foot had to follow at a full run. When they reached a section of the parade route where the sidewalks were restricted to official ticketholders, Bush and his wife, Laura, who wore a flattering electric turquoise suit, got out of the limo to walk and greet supporters. Helen Kennedy, “Bush Pledges a United US,” New York Daily News, January 21, 2001.

Section 1. “For the next eight months, it didn’t get any better for George W. Bush.”
In a poll conducted September 5 to September 9, 2001, Investor’s Business Daily and the Christian Science Monitor showed President Bush’s approval rating at 45%, down from 52% in May ( Investor’s Business Daily/Christian Science Monitor Poll, conducted by TIPP, 9/5 to 9/9, 2001). Zogby’s polling had Bush at 47% in late July 2001, down from 57% in February (Zogby, 7/26 to 7/29, 2001).
In June 2001, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll showed President Bush’s approval rating at 50 percent, which was the lowest presidential approval rating in five years. Richard L. Berke, “G.O.P. Defends Bush in Face of Dip in Poll Ratings,” The New York Times, June 29 2001
On July 26, 2001, in an article entitled “Bush Lacks the Ability To Force Action on Hill,” Dana Milbank of the Washington Post wrote, ” It may be premature to conclude that Bush has lost control of his agenda, but lawmakers and strategists in both parties said that Bush’s next year is much more likely to look like the fractious month of July than like the orderly march toward Bush’s tax cut this spring…. The troubles began, of course, with Vermont Sen. James M. Jeffords’ departure from the GOP, giving control of the Senate to the Democrats. But the problems are nearly as bad in the House, where moderates who supported Bush’s tax cut are proving recalcitrant on other issues. They rebelled against GOP leaders on campaign finance reform and held up Bush’s “faith-based” legislation over concerns about discrimination. Next week, they’re likely to oppose Bush’s proposal to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.”
California energy crisis also took a toll on Bush’s approval ratings. Due to rolling blackouts and rising utility bills Bush’s ratings took a toll among Californians. The poll showed that almost as many Californians disapproved of the President’s job as approved of it with an approve/disapprove of 42/40. “Calif. Governor Says He’ll Sue to Force Government Action,” The Houston Chronicle, May 30, 2001.

Section 1. “In his first eight months in office before September 11, George W. Bush was on vacation, according to the Washington Post, forty-two percent of the time.”
“News coverage has pointedly stressed that W.’s month-long stay at his ranch in Crawford is the longest presidential vacation in 32 years. Washington Post supercomputers calculated that if you add up all his weekends at Camp David, layovers at Kennebunkport and assorted to-ing and fro-ing, W. will have spent 42 percent of his presidency ‘at vacation spots or en route.'” Charles Krauthammer, “A Vacation Bush Deserves,” The Washington Post, August 10, 2001.

Section 1. Bush relaxes at Camp David, Kennebunkport and his ranch in Crawford Texas.
As of April 2004, President Bush had made 33 trips to Crawford during his presidency, bringing his total to more than 230 days at the ranch in just over three years. “Add his 78 trips to Camp David and five to his family’s compound at Kennebunkport, Maine, and Bush has spent all or part of 500 days – or about 40 percent of his presidency – at one of these his three retreats.” “Bush Retreats to a Favorite Getaway: Crawford ranch,” Houston Chronicle, April 11, 2004.

Section 1. On Sept. 10, 2001 , Bush joined his brother in Florida where he slept the night in “a bed made of fine French linens.”
Bush has not been bashful about visiting Florida, ground zero in the vote-recount battle that followed last year’s election. On this trip, he was spending a good deal of time with his brother, Gov. Jeb Bush. ” President to Push Congress on Education in Fourth Florida Visit,” Associated Press, September 10, 2001; See also, CNN Inside Politics, September 10, 2001.
Two individuals prepared the president’s room “and made the bed with some of the family’s fine French linens.” Tom Bayles, “The Day Before Everything Changed, President Bush Touched Locals’ Lives,” Sarasota Herald-Tribune, September 10, 2002.

Section 1. “As the attack took place, Mr. Bush was on his way to an elementary school in Florida . When informed of the first plane hitting the World Trade Center, where terrorists had struck just eight years prior, Bush just decided to go ahead with his photo opportunity.”
NOTE: It should be emphasized that at the time Bush was notified of the first plane attack, he (unlike the rest of America) was already aware that Osama bin Laden was planning to attack America by hijacking airplanes, per the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Brief (PDB). He was also aware, of course, that the World Trade Center had been historically a target for terrorist attacks. He nonetheless went ahead with this photo opportunity in a school full of children.
“Mr. Bush arrived at the school, just before 9 am, expecting to be met by its motherly principal, Gwen Rigell. Instead he was pulled sharply aside by the familiar, bulky figure of 51-year-old Karl Rove, a veteran political fixer and trusted aide of both Mr. Bush and his father, George Sr. Mr. Rove, a fellow Texan with an expansive manner and a colorful turn of phrase, told the President that a large commercial airliner (American Flight 11) had crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Centre . Mr. Bush clenched his teeth, lowered his bottom lip and said something inaudible. Then he went into the school.” William Langley, “Revealed: What Really Went on During Bush’s ‘Missing Hours,'” The Telegraph, December 16, 2001.
“The airborne attack on the World Trade Center was at least the second terrorist attempt to topple the landmarks. In 1993, terrorists sought to bomb one building so that it would explode and fall into the other. The plot did not succeed, but six people were killed and more than 1,000 injured.” Cragg Hines, “Terrorists Strike from Air; Jetliners Slam into Pentagon, Trade Center” The Houston Chronicle, September 11, 2001.
August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Brief (PDB), “Bin Ladin Determined to Strike Inside US”: “Al-Qa’ida members — including some who are US citizens — have resided in or traveled to the US for years, and the group apparently maintains a support structure that could aid attacks… FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.” August 6, 2001, Bin Ladin Determined to Strike Inside US,


Section 1. “When the second plane hit the tower, his chief of staff entered the classroom and told Mr. Bush the nation is under attack.”
“At 9:05 a.m., the White House chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., stepped into the classroom and whispered into the president’s right ear, ‘A second plane hit the other tower, and America’s under attack.'” David E. Sanger and Don Van Natta Jr., “After The Attacks: The Events; In Four Days, A National Crisis Changes Bush’s Presidency,” The New York Times, September 16, 2001.

Section 1. “Mr. Bush just sat there and continued to read My Pet Goat.”
“It was while attending a second-grade reading class at Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Fla., to promote his education reforms that President Bush learned America was under attack. In the presence of her VIP guest, teacher Sandra Kay Daniels, 45, conducted the day’s lesson, which centered on a story about a pet goat.” “9/11: A Year After,” Los Angeles Times, September 11, 2002.
President Bush listened to 18 Booker Elementary School second-graders read a story about a girl’s pet goat Tuesday before he spoke briefly and somberly about the terrorist attacks. “Bush hears of attack while visiting Booker,” Sarasota Herald-Tribune, September 12, 2001.
See also film footage.

Section 1. “Nearly seven minutes passed with nobody doing anything.”
“[H]e lingered in the room for another six minutes [after being informed of the second plane]… [At] 9:12, he abruptly retreated, speaking to Mr. Cheney and New York officials.” David E. Sanger and Don Van Natta Jr., “After The Attacks: The Events;In Four Days, A National Crisis Changes Bush’s Presidency,” The New York Times, September 16, 2001 .
“Mr. Bush remained in the elementary school for nearly a half an hour after Andy Card whispered in his ear.” Michael Kranish, “Bush: US To Hunt Down Attackers,” Boston Globe, September 11, 2001.