When Path to 9/11 aired last September, the mini-series’ most prominent critics were former president Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, both of whom objected to their film portrayals and the program’s implication that Clinton was to blame for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Accused by activists and politicians across the spectrum as being a conservative with a political agenda, Path to 9/11 producer and screenwriter Cyrus Nowrasteh himself has maintained that his goal was simply “to represent our recent pre-9/11 history as the evidence revealed it to be.” He asserts that his screenplay was an objective account of the events.
Amid the controversy, the California Central Coast chapter of the World Affairs Council decided to host Nowrasteh at one of their many events. The nonprofit, non-partisan organization aims to foster topical political discussion among its members by hosting high-profile speakers, each of whom appears without payment.
“Most of our topics really come from membership up,” said Executive Director Jay Berger. “One of our board members had met him in September or October at a function, and [Nowrasteh] said he hadn’t done anything like this publicly.”
According to Berger, their group is well versed in dispute: His decision to host a general from the United States Central Command prompted one board member to resign, charging that the group was allowing itself to be used as a propaganda machine.
He adds that he also received complaints when WAC-CC hosted Congresswoman Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.
“Frankly, I know I’m doing my job best if I get people e-mailing me and complaining,” Berger says. “The idea behind it is to give somebody a look behind what’s going on in the papers.”
While Berger acknowledges that Nowrasteh has been referred to as a “mouthpiece for the Bush administration,” he counters that the producer believes his only goal was to tell the truth about the infamous attacks.
Nowrasteh plans to give a 30-minute talk, followed by approximately 15 minutes worth of film footage that was cut from Path before it was aired. His focus is apparently more technical than political: He aims to illustrate what getting a story out onto a television network entails.