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With 9/11 Film, Kean Finds Tough Critic in Hamilton

Lee Hamilton, right, and Thomas Kean appear at a forum in connection with the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Hamilton, who worked with Kean on the 9/11 panel, strongly criticized the ABC film Kean helped produce.
Lee Hamilton, right, and Thomas Kean appear at a forum in connection with the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Hamilton, who worked with Kean on the 9/11 panel, strongly criticized the ABC film Kean helped produce. (By Manuel Balce Ceneta -- Associated Press)

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By Dana Milbank
Tuesday, September 12, 2006

There have been few political love stories as beautiful as that of Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton, the former chairman and vice chairman of the 9/11 commission.

"I have never worked with anybody I've come to respect more than Lee Hamilton," Republican Kean said at a Sept. 11 fifth-anniversary joint performance with Hamilton yesterday.

"He is one of the preeminent public servants of our day, bar none," came Democrat Hamilton's well-worn reply.

So it packed even more punch when Hamilton, at the National Press Club luncheon, lectured his friend about the falsified Sept. 11 docudrama Kean helped ABC produce.

"It is either a documentary or it is a drama, and to fudge it causes me a great deal of concern and suggests to me that news and entertainment are getting dangerously intertwined," the former congressman from Indiana said of his friend's film. "And I do not think that that is good for the country, because an event of this consequence is very hard to understand, and to distort it or not to present it factually in this kind of a presentation, I think, does not serve the country well."

Kean, the "co-executive producer" of this disservice, stood at Hamilton's side, his hands clasped in front of him, grinning awkwardly.

In the past five days, the former New Jersey governor has infuriated many a Democrat who saw him as a nonpartisan truth-teller. In his work on ABC's "The Path to 9/11," Kean has blessed what has been documented to be a collection of falsehoods -- a disproportionate number of which make the Clinton administration look bad.

Critics on the left say Kean's bout of partisanship was brought on by the campaign of his son Tom Jr. for a Senate seat from New Jersey (ABC News was confused enough between father and son to say in its political calendar that "candidate Tom Kean Jr." was appearing with Hamilton). Whatever the motive, Kean's foray into the land of make-believe has thrilled those who seek to discredit the 9/11 commission's report.

The press club was thick with such people yesterday before Kean's arrival. In the Edward R. Murrow Room, conspiracy-minded characters hung posters announcing: "Neither planes nor fires brought the buildings down. Controlled demolitions did."

"They label us as kooks or wackos or conspiracy theorists," complained David von Kleist, making quotation marks with his fingers for the audience. But the "bottom line," he added, is that "this was an inside job . . . the terrorists didn't do it."

Lynn Pentz asked why plane wreckage was not seen at the Pentagon. "We're essentially to believe that the two six-ton titanium engines vaporized?" she asked.

The participants said the ABC show, which initially had claimed to be based on the 9/11 commission's report, proved their thesis that Kean lives in the realm of fiction. "It's a dramatized fraud of a fraud," said Jim Marrs, author of "The Terror Conspiracy."


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