FBI agents questioned 9/11 program's accuracy a year ago

by JESSE McKINLEY, New York Times

Two retired F.B.I. agents said today that they had rejected advisory roles on the disputed ABC mini-series, “The Path to 9/11,” because of concerns about the program’s accuracy.

One of the agents, Thomas E. Nicoletti, was hired by the producers of the mini-series in July 2005 to oversee its technical accuracy, but left after less than a month because of scenes he believed were misleading or just false.

“There were some of the scenes that were total fiction,” said Mr. Nicoletti, who served as a supervisory special agent and a member of the joint terrorism task force before retiring in 2003. “I told them unless they were changing this, I could not have my name associated with it.”

Chief among Mr. Nicoletti’s concerns were scenes that placed people at places they had not been present at and scenes that depicted events that were out of chronological order.

“There were so many inaccuracies,” he said.

Mr. Nicoletti said he asked the producers to make changes, but was rebuffed. “I’m well aware of what’s dramatic license and what’s historical inaccuracy,” Mr. Nicoletti said. “And this had a lot of historical inaccuracy.”

ABC, which has said that the mini-series is a docudrama about terrorism investigations prior to 9/11, not a documentary, has said that “for dramatic and narrative purposes, the movie contains fictionalized scenes, composite and representative characters and dialogue, as well as time compression.”

Dan Coleman, who retired from the F.B.I. in 2004, said he also was concerned when he read the script last summer after being approached by producers about being a technical advisor.

“They sent me the script, and I read it and told them they had to be kidding,” Mr. Coleman said. “I wanted my friends at the F.B.I. to still speak to me.”

Mr. Coleman said his concerns mainly dealt with the depiction of law enforcement officers, particularly John O’Neill, an F.B.I. counterterrorism expert who died in the attacks. “I’m Irish and I believe in ghosts,” he said. “I don’t want to be haunted.” He said he passed on the job.

But Terry Carney, another former F.B.I. agent, took the position, which he said had more to do with correcting the look and demeanor of agents, not the facts of the investigation.

“I was never asked to comment on historical accuracy,” Mr. Carney said. “That wasn’t my role.”

article originally published at http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/08/us/08cnd-path.html?ex=1315368000&en=12a71bfd7a....

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