Boston (Reuters): A US war veteran who lost both arms in Iraq has sued Oscar-winning director Michael Moore for 85 million dollars, saying television clips were used without his permission in the anti-war documentary ''Fahrenheit 9/11'' and gave a false impression that he opposed the war. Sgt Peter Damon, 33, a supporter of President George W Bush and the Iraq war, claims Moore misused the footage to portray him ''in a false light'' and as ''disagreeing with the president about the war effort and as disagreeing with the war effort itself.''
''It was kind of almost like the enemy was using me for propaganda. What soldier wants to be involved in that?'' Damon told CBS's local television news affiliate. ''I didn't lose my arms over there to come back and be used as ammunition against my commander-in-chief.'' In a suit that also names Miramax Films Corp and several other film companies, Damon says Moore never sought his consent for using segments of an NBC Nightly News interview with Damon while he was in hospital. According to the complaint filed in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston and obtained by Reuters yesterday, Damon is seeking damages for ''loss of reputation, emotional distress, embarrassment, and personal humiliation''. Damon said he felt betrayed by the filmmaker, whose ''Fahrenheit 9/11'' won the top prize at the Cannes film festival and was the highest-grossing documentary ever at nearly 120 million dollars.
Damon lost his right arm near the shoulder and his left arm above the wrist when a tire on a Black Hawk helicopter exploded while he and two other soldiers were servicing the aircraft on the ground in Iraq. His left arm later had to be amputated at the elbow. One of Damon's colleagues was killed. Michael Moore's film production company was not immediately available for comment.
''Fahrenheit 9/11'' shows Damon lying on a hospital gurney at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Maryland, saying he feels like he has hands that were being ''crushed in a vice.'' He adds: ''But they (pain-killers) do a lot to help it,'' he said. ''And they take a lot of the edge off of it.'' NBC had originally used the clip for a story about medical treatment being received by veterans. In ''Fahrenheit 9/11'', the footage of Damon follows a statement by Democratic Rep Jim McDermott of Washington, who says of the Bush administration: ''You know they say they're not leaving any veterans behind, but they're leaving all kinds of veterans behind.'' ''The work creates a substantially fictionalized and falsified implication as a wounded serviceman who was left behind,'' the complaint said.
Damon was ''supported, financially and emotionally, by the active assistance of the president, the United States and his family, friends, acquaintances and community,'' it added. Damon has learned to use his artificial arms with the help of military personnel. Veterans groups have helped to build his family a home in Middleboro, Massachusetts. In an interview in front of his house, Damon told local CBS television: ''The original idea was supposed to be something positive about the treatment we were receiving ... not something to be used in a story talking about veterans being left behind because as you can see behind me I'm the last person who can say I am being left behind,'' he said, gesturing to his home.
Damon is seeking $75 million in damages, while his wife is seeking another $10 million due to ''mental distress and anguish'' suffered by her husband because of the film. He said he would donate the money to veteran's groups.