Tuesday, May 28, 2013

HBO and CNN: "Manhunt: The Inside Story of the Hunt for bin Laden"

CNN and HBO have collaborated to air the documentary by Greg Barker of Peter Bergen’s book on the eend of Bin Laden.  The film is called, “Manhunt: The Inside Story of the Hunt for bin Laden.”  The book is titled “Manhunt: The Ten Year Search for bin Laden, from 9/11 to Abbottabad.” Published by Broadway in 2012.
The opening of the film talks about how women make good intelligence analysts.

Then the film describes the symbolic character “Alec Station” as a combination of the analytic and field operational aspects of CIA work.
It moves to Peter Bergen’s description of his 1997 interview with Osama bin Laden in a secret place in Afghanistan, where bin Laden threatened to attack America because of its policies in Arab lands. Bergen offers a comparison:  what if Japan had threatened the US verbally in 1937?
The film covers the early months of 2001, as the warning signs started to come in.  The film describes what the offices where analysts work at the CIA (Langley and other buildings) looks like (not that remarkable), and then recounts the morning of 9/11. There was a fear that a plane might hit the Langley headquarters or other facilities.  Employees stood their ground.

Linda Stats has a TV review for the New York Post here.  

CNN has its own description of the “film” as a kind of feminist epic here, partly because of the underground work of "Jennifer Matthews", who gave her life in a meeting leading to a suicide attack in 2008.  
HBO’s own site his here.

The film, which redisplays its title at every commercial break, consists largely of individual accounts from agents of the course of the investigation, following other terrorists (some of them gratuitous) and eventually the courier in the “Zero Dark Thirty” film (Movies blog, Jan. 11, 2013). The film also accounts the recruitment of a man who worked as both a doctor and as an underground blogger,  The doctor eventually treats the number #2 man in Al Qaeda. 

The documentary makes the point that Osama bin Laden tried very hard to live as long as possible, even though he preached that martyrdom for Allah would be rewarded and was unbelievably efficient in his fanaticism until 9/11.

It also makes the point that the US intelligence system "works" because it can take the necessary risks when it really has to -- which is not all the time.  

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