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The Critical Lies of Michael Moore

Part I: How Fahrenheit 9/11 Whitewashes the War in Afghanistan

by Jared Israel
[Posted 14 September 2004]

Contents of Part 1

* Overview - "Fahrenheit 9/11" trivializes the US invasion of Afghanistan.

* Lie #1: The US media did not cover the Taliban's December 1997 meeting with UNOCAL.

* Lie #2: Halliburton got a contract to drill in the Caspian Sea the same day that UNOCAL and the Taliban signed a pipeline contract.

* Lie #3: Gov. George W. Bush arranged the Taliban's December 6, 1997 meeting with UNOCAL because a pipeline would help his friends.

To read Part 2 of this article, go to 



Anyone can make a mistake.  But when a documentary maker uses false information and intentionally deceptive images to create a fictional picture of a critical event, it's no mistake.

That's what Michael Moore did in 'Fahrenheit 9/11' regarding why the US invaded Afghanistan. This is serious business because:

1) Moore's image as Media Rebel has been masterfully promoted around the world so that now he is a hero for  critics of US policy;

2) His false picture of why the US invaded Afghanistan trivializes the disastrous meaning of the invasion. Thus he lulls his viewers with inaccurate and petty criticism.

What is the real US policy?

When the US invaded we were told that the goal was to catch bin Laden; that the US had to destroy the Taliban because they were harboring bin Laden and other terrorists; that once bin Laden was caught and the terrorist apparatus destroyed, the US would leave Central Asia.

As Michael Moore states, it is obvious that catching bin Laden was never a serious goal. However, the more important point is that the US has remained in Central Asia. [1]

To begin to see how serious this is, check out the map below.

 Click for larger view.

The former Soviet Central Asian Republics, the 'Stans,' are the countries in the center and to the East in color.   The Caucasus are to the West in color. To the South are Iran and Afghanistan.  Russia takes up almost the entire North of the map and continues beyond the map, Eastward beyond China.

From 1979 to 1989, the US and the Soviet Union fought one of the most brutal battles of the Cold War over Afghanistan. 

Zginew Brzezinski, who was then and is now the top US geopolitical strategist, boasts that in 1979 the US covertly sponsored Muslim extremists in Afghanistan, knowing that the Soviets would respond. How did the US know? Because a Muslim extremist state in Afghanistan would be a deadly menace to the largely Muslim Central Asian Republics and to Russia itself. [2]

During the decade-long war that followed, the US and Saudi Arabia spent 6 billion USD funding mujahideen so extreme that they considered anyone who supported secular government or social equality their deadly enemy. In that war, the US and Saudi Arabian secret services and their brutal Pakistani offspring created a battle hardened Muslim extremist apparatus. [3]

Emperor's Clothes has provided substantial evidence that the US has used the Brzezinski strategy of covertly fostering Muslim extremism as a geopolitical weapon ever since. [4]

Now skip ahead to 2001. The US invasion has put NATO - which was created specifically to fight Russia - in military control of Afghanistan. The US now has extensive military ties including bases in Afghanistan and Central Asia, that is, in countries that were once allied with or part of the Soviet Union. [5]

Why does the US need fighter-bomber bases and other military ties near the underbelly of Asian Russia, not to mention China? Keep in mind that this is happening even as Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia - once Soviet Republics or members of the allied Warsaw Pact - have been absorbed into NATO. A friend who just served his mandatory stint in the Yugoslav Army informs me that the Yugoslav Air Force is altering its operating procedures to coincide with NATO and that everyone is learning English. Georgia, accused by NATO of lending state support to the Chechnya terrorists, is virtually a US military protectorate. How can Russians (and Chinese) perceive such military activity as anything but a threat? A threat of war.

Is it any surprise that Russians have concluded that 911 was used as a ploy to penetrate Central Asia and further encircle Russia?  Absent 911, a US invasion of Afghanistan would have provoked a strong reaction from ordinary people in Russia and other states. But because of 911, many people believed the US government was sincerely fighting extremists.

And now the Russians see that with Iranian support the US has set up a Muslim extremist government in Afghanistan. [6]

They see that this puppet government has asked Taliban clerics to help govern Afghanistan! These are the people who 'had to be stopped,' remember? (Discussed further in Part 4 of this article.)

We need a worldwide opposition to the US encirclement of Russia including the invasion of Central Asia on the grounds that it is a) blatantly imperialist and b) creates a real danger of nuclear war. Instead Moore and other supposed antiwar leaders divert attention by "accusing" the US of invading Afghanistan to help an energy company get a pipeline.

Moore "proves" this with lies. His lies are rendered powerful by film, the best medium of persuasion. They are enhanced by his assertion that:

"And I also went and hired the former chief counsel and head of fact-checking at The New Yorker and then she brought in some fact-checkers. I said tear the movie apart and find something wrong with it....I don't get sued because my facts are correct. I libel no one. My opinions are my own and they may or may not be correct, but let's have that debate."
--Michael Moore interviewed in 'Entertainment Weekly'

Just for clarity, it is absurd to describe an opinion as correct or incorrect.  So we will accept your invitation to debate, but what we will examine is your alleged facts, thank you Mr. Moore.

Michael Moore's film has been boosted with free media coverage on a scale unprecedented for any US film supposedly attacking US policy. This would never have happened if the Establishment perceived Moore's film as a threat.  But it is not a threat to US policy because it hides the truth about the most world-threatening US action since the supposed end of the Cold War: the invasion of Central Asia.

In the following article I will go sentence by sentence through the part of "Fahrenheit 9/11" that deals with why the US invaded Afghanistan. I will show that every claim Michael Moore makes in this part of his film is a lie, either outright or by implication. I will show that Moore strings falsehoods together to create a fictional picture of why the US went into Afghanistan.

Below is the first paragraph of the transcript of this part of the film. The narrator, Michael Moore, has just asked why if the US wanted to catch bin Laden they waited two months to go after him. Moore then asks the rhetorical question, "Or was the war in Afghanistan really about something else?" Here's Michael Moore:

[Excerpt from transcript of 'Fahrenheit 9/11" starts here]

Narrator: Or was the war in Afghanistan really about something else? Perhaps the answer lay in Houston Texas.

In 1997, while George W. Bush was governor of Texas, a delegation of Taliban leaders from Afghanistan flew to Houston Texas to discuss the building of a pipeline through Afghanistan bringing natural gas from the Caspian Sea.  And who got a Caspian Sea drilling contract the same day UNOCAL signed the pipeline deal?  A company headed by a man named Dick Cheney: Halliburton...Only the British press covered this trip.

[Excerpt from transcript of "Fahrenheit 9/11" ends here]

Let's examine Moore's assertions one lie at a time.


Lie #1: The US media did not cover the Taliban's December 1997 meeting with UNOCAL


If you've been reading Emperor's Clothes, you know we pay a lot of attention to what the media does and does not report, because  sometimes it is significant.

Trying to create the impression that he is a serious investigative journalist exposing an Establishment attempt to suppress the truth, Michael Moore says, "Only the British press covered this [the Taliban's 1997 US] trip." 

The problem is, it isn't true.

The trip was covered by Tass, the Russian wire service, Agence France Presse, the French wire service, and by the BBC -  but also by the Associated Press (AP) in the US.  Some prominent regional newspapers such as the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution and the Charleston Gazette covered the story. So did the most influential US paper, The New York Times. (I'll quote the Times article a bit later.) [8]

I got this information in five minutes using the media search engine, Lexis-Nexis, which is available to all reporters, including Michael Moore and his fact-checkers at the New Yorker. Could it be that they figured that nobody would check?


Lie #2: Halliburton got a contract to drill in the Caspian Sea the same day that UNOCAL and the Taliban signed a pipeline contract.


This one is a whopper - a double lie. 

Moore's script is clearly worded to suggest that a) UNOCAL and the Taliban signed a gas pipeline contract during the Taliban's 1997 visit to Houston and that b) on the same day that happened, in a related action, Richard Cheney's company, Halliburton, was awarded a contract to drill in the Caspian Sea.

The Taliban met UNOCAL on December 6th. I searched for the words "Halliburton"  and "Caspian" for 90 days before and after December 6, 1997. The Lexis-Nexis media search engine has no news report of Halliburton getting any contract to drill in the Caspian Sea during this period. 

On December 9th there is mention of a contract involving Halliburton. It seems a consortium of companies called the Terra Nova Alliance closed a deal to build an oil-drilling facility:

"The Terra Nova oil field is located on the Grand Banks 350 kilometres east-southeast of St. John's, Newfoundland." [9]

So we are talking about oil, not as Moore claims natural gas. And we are talking about drilling off the coast of Canada, not as Moore claims off the coast of Turkmenistan.  (They are 5000 miles apart...)

But at least Halliburton was going to be drilling in water!

Did Halliburton get a Caspian oil drilling contract that wasn't reported in the media during this period?  I guess it's possible.  But even if that were the case, such a contract could not have been signed "the same day UNOCAL signed the pipeline deal." Why? Because UNOCAL and the Taliban never signed a pipeline deal. Never. Nor did they sign any other kind of deal. Not in 1997 and not later.

Eight months after the Taliban visited the US, the US bombed Afghanistan. And immediately after that UNOCAL announced:

"El Segundo, Calif., Aug. 21, 1998 -- As a result of sharply deteriorating political conditions in the region, UNOCAL, which serves as the development manager for the Central Asia Gas (CentGas) pipeline consortium, has suspended all activities involving the proposed pipeline project in Afghanistan." [10]

UNOCAL has not subsequently lifted a finger to return to Afghanistan.  Never.

Note that UNOCAL uses the word, "proposed".  When UNOCAL pulled out, 8 months after meeting the Taliban, the gas deal was still only a proposal.  

That UNOCAL and the Taliban did not sign any contract was no secret.  For example, a week after the visit, one of the news stories that Moore claims do not exist reported:

[Excerpt from Washington Times starts here]

"T. Kumar, advocacy director at Amnesty International, said that his organization is 'concerned' about the Taleban's treatment of women and that it has met with UNOCAL officials.

'[The] Taleban is not a government yet, and there is no contract, but we think UNOCAL should be concerned about the human rights in any country where it operates,' said Mr. Kumar last week." [My emphasis - JI] [11]

[Excerpt from Washington Times ends here]

"...and there is no contract..."

It doesn't get much clearer than that, does it?

Now let us consider the final lie in the first paragraph of the transcript.


Lie #3: Gov. George W. Bush arranged the Taliban's December 6, 1997 meeting with UNOCAL because a pipeline would help his friends


This lie relies on the power of film.  Moore creates the impression that George W. Bush was behind the Taliban's 1997 trip by combining his narration with a series of images, a montage with a message.  Below is the sequence. My descriptions are followed by Moore's narration.

Image 1: We see George W. doing some recreational shooting. Moore is saying that the US didn't conduct the invasion of Afghanistan in a manner suggesting they were serious about catching Osama bin Laden.  Moore asks, rhetorically, why anybody would give bin Laden a two months head start before going after him.  And then he asks: 

Narrator (Michael Moore): Or was the war in Afghanistan really about something else? Perhaps the answer lay in...

Image 2: A skyscraper. A sign in front reads, "Houston."
Narrator: ...Houston Texas.

Image 3: Oil rig pumping. Country music.

Image 4: George W. walking along a corridor.  He passes what appears to be a Governmental seal.  A very dark-skinned black man walks beside him.  Reporters follow.  Bush gives us one of his nervous "I-know-something-you-don't-know" grins.
Narrator: In 1997, while George W. Bush was governor of Texas…

Image 5: Outside. Two Afghans in Turbans.
Narrator: …a delegation of Taliban…

Image 6: Houston skyline
Narrator: …flew to Houston…

Image 7: Bush greeting some Anglo-Saxon-looking men in business suits.
Narrator: …to meet with UNOCAL Executives

Image 8: Building, looks like a corporate headquarters, sign says UNOCAL.
Narrator: …to discuss the building of a pipeline…

Image 9: Map with arrow moving from Caspian sea, through Turkmenistan, then through Afghanistan, into Pakistan.
Narrator: …through Afghanistan.

Other images follow with Moore saying that Cheney's company Halliburton got a contract to drill in the Caspian Sea the same day that UNOCAL signed a contract with the Taliban, and that Enron, a Bush contributor, stood to gain from the supposed Afghan pipeline.

The combined effect of the visuals and the text is: Gov. Bush arranged for the Taliban to come to the Houston headquarters of UNOCAL to meet with UNOCAL officials about building a pipeline which would help two companies that supported him.

The first problem with this is that the montage is entirely fabricated.

For example, Image 4 shows Bush walking beside a very dark, African-looking man (a foreign dignitary?) and this is followed by Image 5, showing two Afghans in turbans. This sequence triggers the impression: Bush is welcoming the Taliban.  But in fact:

A) The Taliban aren't black - they're rather light skinned;

B) Image 4 is indoors but Image 5 is outside and

C) We never actually see Bush with any men in turbans. 

Similarly, Image 7 shows Bush greeting some white business men.  But who are they?  UNOCAL officials?  Golfing buddies? Bill collectors? There's no way to know but we do know this: none of the images offer one iota of evidence that  Bush met with the Taliban or UNOCAL on December 6, 1997. This means, of course, that Moore couldn't find any visual evidence, so he strung these images together to give us the impression that Bush was in charge of the visit.  This impression is then cemented by Moore's comment that the supposed pipeline would benefit Bush's supposed allies.

If Moore had any real evidence that Bush was involved in UNOCAL's proposed CENTGAS pipeline deal, he would present it. He resorts to outright lies and lies by suggestion because he has no other way to sell this car.

In Part 4 of this article we will read informative excerpts from an Agence France Presse dispatch and from articles in the Washington Times and New York Times (which according to Moore don't exist...).

Based on these news reports, it appears it was Bill Clinton's State Department that summoned the Taliban to visit the US in December 1997 and that the Taliban then asked UNOCAL to extend an invitation.

The State Department's expressed purpose was to use a carrot-and-stick approach to push the Taliban to unite with other Muslim extremists whom they were then fighting and together form a stable government. If they did this there could be lots of benefits, including a gas pipeline that would bring them hundreds of millions of dollars a year in fees.  If they did not, they would get no pipeline and moreover they risked US displeasure - not a healthy prospect. In other words, contrary to "Fahrenheit 9/11," US policy was not being driven by the profit goals of the oil industry.  Rather, the oil industry was being used to help fulfill the geopolitical goals of US policy.

We will return to Moore's claims about the Taliban's visits during the Clinton administration (1997) in Part 4 of this series.

The series continues with "Part 2 - Moore's own 'Defense' Shows he's Lying," at   

Jared Israel
Editor, Emperor's Clothes


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Footnotes and Further Reading


We've put together a list of articles relevant to Michael Moore's thesis that the US invaded Afghanistan over a pipeline.  It is posted at:

[1] See, "U.S. Won't Abandon Central Asia... Central Asians, Be Warned," which includes U.S. Senate Testimony of Undersecretary of State Elizabeth Jones and comments by Jared Israel.

We published a follow-up to the above article. See
"Encircling Russia, not oil motivates US policy in Afghanistan"

[2] Interview with President Carter's Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski: "Ex-Security Chief Brzezinski's Interview makes clear: The Muslim Terror Apparatus was Created by US Intelligence as a Geopolitical Weapon"
Comment by Jared Israel: "Are we witnessing the Brzezinski doctrine in action today?"

[3]  Regarding the $6 billion spent financing Muslim extremism in Afghanistan, see the NY Times article, "Afghan Taliban Camps were Built by NATO," at

[4] For example, see "Why has USAID been Shipping Muslim Extremist Schoolbooks into Afghanistan... for 20 Years? And why is President Bush hiding it?"

[5] For pictures of the Manas US Air Force base (also known as 'Peter J. Gancia') in Bishkek in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstanin, see links below:  

[6] It may be hard to believe that Iran helped the US set up the post-invasion Afghan government but actually that's an understatement.  In fact, representatives of the US and Iran and various European and Arab states and Islamist scholars met in Rome in 2002 to plan the entire governmental structure of Afghanistan.

Michael Moore claims that the Taliban's 1997 visit to the US was blacked out by the media; he is lying.  But the Rome meeting where the US and Iran planned the new Afghanistan was indeed blacked out. Wire services - the Associated Press, for example - did cover the meeting, but no English-language newspapers picked up this truly sensational story!  We chanced on one of the dispatches by accident while doing unrelated research using the media search engine, Lexis-Nexis. (It archives wire service dispatches.) See, "How the US and Iran Cooperated, Planning Muslim Religious Rule in Afghanistan," at  

[7] July 16th, 2004 1:50 pm; Entertainment Weekly "The Passion of Michael Moore"; By Daniel Fierman July 9th, 2004

[8] Here are some of the US news reports covering the Taliban's visit:

- The New York Times, December 15, 1997, Monday, Late Edition - Final, Section A; Page 12; Column 3; Foreign Desk , 1054 words, "U.S. and Iran Cooperating on Ways to End Afghan War," By BARBARA CROSSETTE 

 - The Washington Times, December 14, 1997, Sunday, Final Edition, Part A; Pg. A1, 1007 words, "Oil deal greases the way for Taleban's acceptance," Toni Marshall and Tom Carter; THE WASHINGTON TIMES

 - Agence France Presse -- English, December 10, 1997, Financial pages, 336 words, "Pakistan optimistic about regional gas pipeline project," KARACHI, Dec 10

 - Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock, AR), December 08, 1997, Monday, Pg. A1, 520 words, In the News

 - The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, December 8, 1997, MondayCONSTITUTION EDITION, 392 words, WORLD IN BRIEF;

 - Charleston Gazette (West Virginia), December 08, 1997, Monday, News; Pg. P3C, 1029 words, World briefs

 - Associated Press Online, December 07, 1997; Sunday, International news, 469 words, Oil Giant Woos Taliban Leaders, KATHY GANNON , ISLAMABAD, Pakistan

[9] Canada Newswire, December 9, 1997, Tuesday, Financial News, 640 Words, "Terra Nova Awards Major Contract: Glory Hole Construction Will Use Latest Technology," St. John's, Nfld, Dec. 9, Bc-Terra-Nova-Contract


[11] The Washington Times, December 14, 1997, Sunday, Final Edition, Part A; Pg. A1, 1007 words, "Oil deal greases the way for Taleban's acceptance," Toni Marshall and Tom Carter; The Washington Times


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