Overview: An HBO press release sets up this documentary this way – Osama bin Laden, a wealthy Saudi who had taken up the cause of the Muslim jihad and helped establish the secret terror network al-Qaeda, was one of America’s greatest threats. From the early 1990s he was the obsession of a small group of CIA analysts and operatives who were determined to stop him before he launched a strike on U.S. soil.
MANHUNT features testimony and recollections – many shared for the first time – from the CIA officers who labored to destroy bin Laden’s terrorist organization and eventually kill the man himself.
The first part of MANHUNT chronicles the frustration of many in the CIA who first targeted bin Laden in the early 1990s. The film draws on the recollections of a group of female analysts at the time. This dedicated team began with a blank slate and worked deliberately to piece together disparate fragments of information to get a clearer picture of al-Qaeda. The second half of the documentary continues the story post-9/11 following the analysts while introducing on-the-ground operatives who were then empowered to turn intelligence into plans of action.
Expectations: We all know the outcome of those actions. But, I must admit I might be less knowledgeable them some on all the details. I have not read the memoirs of the Seal Team who carried out the mission devised; nor have I seen the movie Zero Dark Thirty starring Jessica Chastain. So, my mind is wide open to learn all the intelligence behind the search and hunt for the elusive criminal the U. S. needed to find.
By waiting for this documentary to premiere I think I’m offered the best possible people to tell me this story. Who better then hearing the analysts and operatives speak their story in their own words. This is not some fictionalized version interpreted by someone else but the thoughts and words of those directly involved. I am looking forward to having them tell me of the plans and goals of the intelligence community in making the manhunt successful.
Review: This documentary proved to be more about the importance of intelligence gathering than about this particular mission. The hunt for Bin Laden is just the best template we can use to illustrate the intelligence work it takes to solve an international problem. Think of it as a “Where’s Waldo” picture puzzle. Amongst a jumble of similar colors and patterns you have to find “Waldo.” The same principle applies – amongst the jumble of humanity stretched across the globe find the one bad man. He may be closer than you think. It proves to be quite an extraordinary feat of detective work.
And The Sisterhood were on top of it weren’t they? We have got to acknowledge the ingenuity and determination of this team just has much as the team who did the legwork to track down their man down in Abbottabad, Pakistan. That brilliant team included Cindy Storer, Nada Bakos(pictured), Susan Hasler and Barbara Sude. Their contrbutions to this documentary, for me, really nails down and completes the investigation of the century.
I don’t think, beyond the points made here, that it is necessary to break down the points this film made. Again, we are all familiar with the books, the news or a movie to give us plot. It was the sheer fact that the actual players told their side of the story that was interesting. Isn’t it always better to hear the facts right from the source?
In Conclusion: I’m glad I waited for this film to give me this firsthand account of events, of personalities, of the goals and strategies that bring this chapter on terrorism to a close. There is more work to be done by the intelligence gathering agents and I’m glad they are there with their plot boards and a pocket full of “snitches.”
On 05.01.11, due to this huge team effort, the diligent task ended in success and on 05.01.13 HBO premiered the chronicle of the events in MANHUNT – The Inside Story for the Hunt of Osama bin Laden. The story is worth being told again. And can be told again during these other HBO air dates: 05.04 at 2:45pm, 05.08 at 4:30pm & midnight, 05.12 at 10:45am, 05.16 at 2:30am, 05.18 at 4:50 am and 05.21at 12:45 pm. It also can be found on HBO2 and HBOGo.