Steamshovel Press


"Taking Temperature with Michael Moore"
by Kenn Thomas

    For the conspiracy junky, the best thing about Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 911" movie is the information on James Bath. Bath has long been known as a money conduit between the Saudis and baby Bush(see Peter Brewton's The Mafia, CIA and George Bush). He was, in fact, closely associated with Adnan Khashoggi, the arms merchant that Danny Casolaro wrote so much about, who is Dodi Fayed's uncle and suspected by parapolitical analysts as having a hand in Dodi and Diana's death. Many don't realize that Bush and Bath served in the military together, though. So that was cool. The new edition of "The Octopus" has a chapter on Diana that takes a close look at Khashoggi and something called the al Yamama contract umbrella. That series of contracts covers the deals between the Saudis and the British aerospace industry, that in turn helps explain why Tony Blair is so much in lockstep with Dubya.

    Moore quite rightly makes much of the planes that took the Bin Laden family members out of the country when all other air traffic was stopped after 9/11. He doesn't mention that the person who claims responsibility for approving those flights was Richard Clarke. Clarke is otherwise shown as a hero because he became a great critic of the Bush administration, particularly with regard to its failure to do anything about terrorist threats prior to 9/11. Christopher Hitchens has pointed this out, although someone commented to me recently that Hitchens reviewing Michael Moore is like Cardinal Spellman reviewing Voltaire. (The Clarke/bin laden plane connection actually is made in a background newspaper article on screen in the movie.) Hitchens' criticism on this score is as obscure as Moore's off-screen defense of Clarke: what difference does it make which functionary of the administration approved such a bizarre and suspicious thing?

    Moore mentions the death of Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan in an unusual plane crash when discussing John Ashcroft, whose campaign for governor failed to defeat Carnahan even in death. Moore does not mention the unusual plane crash that killed Minnesota's Paul Wellstone in that election, or the eerie coincidence of the mid-70s plane crash that killed Missouri's Jerry Litton, a crash that benefited that same political power bloc that gained from the Carnahan crash. Moore also doesn't mention the anthrax letters that have yet to be effectively prosecuted by Ashcroft. So critics cannot really say that Moore sees conspiracies everywhere.

    The images of war gore are devastating, of course, but similar footage could be found for the Afghanistan (or any) war. Moore quibbles with but seems to support the one in Afghanistan. He says nothing, for instance, about congressmen with kids serving in Afghanistan, just that none exist who have kids in Iraq. One of the congressmen he stopped on the street, in fact, explained that he did have a son serving in Afghanistan, but Moore left that footage on the cutting room floor.

    The images of tweeting birds and kids flying kites in Iraq under Saddam seem a bit incongruous. Also, it's no great cinematic feat to make Dubya look dumb. It would be difficult to get across an idea, though, that since food and medicine sanctions against Iraq were lifted after the war, the sanctions are no longer killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children. Moore wouldn't even attempt to show that since it might suggest something positive about the Iraq War effort. Nevertheless, the fact remains.

    That people should no more believe the 9/11 commission about no conspiracy between al Qaeda and Iraq than it should believe the Warren Commission about Lee Harvey Oswald is something that Moore would never even try to wrap his critical thinking cap around.

    And, of course, the movie is utterly silent about Israel.
    Lastly, viewers should remember that Moore has interview footage of Nicholas Berg from before Berg was beheaded that never made it into the movie. The Berg beheading video is very weird. It looks like it happened at Abu Ghraib; somebody with a US military cap peeks out from behind camera; the sound on the video is way askew; shows no blood. Viewers should also remember that Moore was a big supporter of Wesley Clark, who may yet be the #2 man on the Democratic ticket, and John Kerry plans to increase troop strength in Iraq more than Dubya.

    It is hard to find fault with Moore's basic point: a bunch of greedy oil baron bastards, some wearing suits and ties, some wearing keffiah, are killing young Americans for the sake of their profits and power. But the pipeline to the Caspian wanted by the suits stands to give them another major oil supply that specifically is not Saudi -- so it serves an end that Michael Moore would agree with. Moore limits his audience's vision when he presents the Iraq War simply as one conspiracy gone bad. It is, rather, a love-hate relationship in a global culture rife with conspiracy.

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