Everything you know is false, and the proof is in the documentation of the distortion of the truth. The documentary Manhunt, premiering on HBO May 1, examines the decades long hunt for Osama Bin Laden as told by CIA operatives who were assigned same.
There’ve already been fictionalized narrative versions of this scenario with Zero Dark Thirty and Seal Team Six. What Manhunt does is put the focus of what goes on behind the scenes at intelligence gathering levels and reveal intimate details in the form of found footage, news clips and testimonials by the people who made it happen.
Even before 9/11 the CIA was sending weekly if not daily memos warning to the White House that an attack on America was eminent. The talking heads recount how after the attack they were reprimanded because, even though their warnings were ignored, they never said this place, this time, this date, and therefore were considered unreliable. Perhaps not ironically when the previously mentioned fictional accounts of the raid on Bin Laden’s fortress were released a bunch of pouncy Congresspeople condemned the filmmakers yet this documentary shows that the very same Congress ignored rational and constant warnings that would’ve prevented the attacks in the first place.
Manhunt, after premiering at the Sundance Film Festival will now enjoy a cable run on HBO for this next month. Manhunt is directed by Greg Baker (a PBS Frontline vet) and based on a book that will be published simultaneously on May 1, Manhunt: The Inside Story of the Hunt for Osama Bin Laden by Peter Bergen.
Some of the events covered in Manhunt include the pre-history of al-Qaeda from the 1980s to the present; the Sisterhood of female CIA agents who were part of the intelligence gathering team that were assigned to track Bin Laden; the CNN interview with Bin Laden that was conducted by Bergen (and Peter Arnett) in March 1997; the search for Bin Laden’s sole courier (Bin Laden sent out messages to his second in command telling him to stop killing collateral Muslim civilians and concentrate on military targets); and the bombing of the American military base in Khost, Afghanistan.
Chilling footage includes video of the suicide bomber who took out several CIA agents (including Jennifer Matthews who was the Jennifer Ehle character in Zero Dark Thirty) in the Khost attack as he prepares to end his life, dictating his last testament if you will in the manner of new millennium cell phone video interviews. Another unsettling moment concerns the use of waterboarding and how, for instance, Khalid Sheik Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times (in the period of a couple of weeks), and yet the real breakthroughs came from pounding the pavement and sleuth-like footwork.
- Michael Bergeron