On Sunday, the New York Times published a ten thousand word investigation of the Lackawanna terror case. Thursday on most PBS stations (check local listings) air a companion Frontline documentary, Chasing the Terror Cell.
Both provide a detailed examination of the arrest of six US citizens who trained in a Al Queda camp in the spring of 2001. Bush said another 26 words in his State of the Union speech this year, “”We’ve broken Al Qaeda cells in Hamburg and Milan and Madrid and London and Paris–as well as Buffalo, New York.” But did they really catch a Al Queda sleeper cell?
Lowell Bergman who co-wrote the NYT piece with Mathew Purdy is the correspondent and he gets some important interviews (just as he did in other docs including Blackout where he interviewed Ken Lay, Jeffrey Skilling, and Dick Cheney not long before Enron imploded).
He speaks to one of the men in prison, Sahim Alwan. And that is one big advantage of a documentary over even a long newspaper story. We get a sense of what kind of person Alwan is. We also get to see the looks on the faces of Tom Ridge and the FBI’s Peter Ahearn as they are silent when Bergman asks them a question they don’t want to answer.
Luckily, we have the advantages of both plus the additional material which will go up on the show’s website.
And people who missed last week’s Truth, war, and consequences can watch the entire program and explore the website.