Donnie Wahlberg, <EM>The Path to 9/11</EM> Donnie Wahlberg, The Path to 9/11
Marking the fifth anniversary of the terror attacks, ABC concludes its much-talked-about miniseries The Path to 9/11 tonight at 8 pm/ET. Here, in two different Q&As conducted before and then in the midst of last week's uproar over the project's content, Donnie Wahlberg weighs in on what he calls "a painful walk through hindsight."

TV Guide: How apprehensive were you of this project?
Donnie Wahlberg:
I wasn't. What drew me to it was that it's not about the day. [We] don't need to show what people have already seen a million times already. It's based on the 9/11 Commission [Report, which covered] the events from the '93 World Trade Center bombing to 9/11. The building-up of Al Qaeda, the infrastructural problems of the U.S. government... [everything] that went into us not being ready for the biggest attack that ever occurred on American soil.

TV Guide: Did you learn things you wish you didn't know?
It's stuff I'm actually glad I know now. I cringed when I heard a lot of it, but at the same time I think it will be very informative for people. When they see these things, they may cringe as well. A simple decision like [this or that] could have changed the course of history.

TV Guide: And you're playing a real person, as opposed to a composite?
Yeah, I play a CIA field agent working with an Afghani enemy of the Taliban and Bin Laden.

TV Guide: Did you get to meet the agent?
No one will ever know who he is, but I have spoken to him, yes.

Immediately after the controversy surrounding The Path to 9/11's content, spoke with Wahlberg about the criticisms of the miniseries from such central figures as Richard Clarke and Madeleine Albright. What do you think of the brouhaha that's going on now? You had to know that this project could be a hot potato.
Wahlberg: I didn't think it was a hot potato. I think there's a stink being made because certain people aren't happy with the way they're being portrayed, but the reality is that in most cases, the producers took a gentle hand with this stuff. The writers and the producers and the director tried to use as much integrity as possible. This isn't an attempt to slight anyone or short anyone. The real problem is its hindsight. Look at Kenneth Lay; there were probably tons of businessmen having dinner with him up until like a week before the Enron mess was uncovered, and all those people are probably looking at themselves saying, "Damn. What an idiot I am." I've seen people watch The Path to 9/11 and say, when my character gets word that they can't [kill] Bin Laden, "Why didn't your character do it anyway?" It's obvious that anyone who sees themselves portrayed in it is going to feel sensitive about it. But the reality is, these events took place way before 9/11, pre-U.S.S. Cole, before any of this stuff. We have to look at the other side of it    if the people in question had made the decision to get Bin Laden, what would have happened then? For people to be not committed to do [that] is understandable, at that point in time. Look at things now: [President] George Bush, in his mind, thinks he's doing everything he can to keep Americans safe from terrorism, but he's being questioned at every turn. Everything's different in hindsight. The brouhaha is based in hindsight. How many people died on 9/11? How many innocent lives were lost? Somebody made a mistake, many parts of our government made a mistake, and we can't ignore it.

Coming up at The rest of our interview with Donnie Wahlberg, where he really delves into his exciting new CW thriller, Runaway (premiering Sept. 25).

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