MetroFocus: September 7, 2021

FRONTLINE INVESTIGATES “AMERICA AFTER 9/11”

Tonight we feature the new FRONTLINE documentary about the impact of 9/11 on American society. “America After 9/11” offers a powerful historical record of how the terrorist attacks ushered in an era of fear, mistrust, and division in America — one that would ultimately see the Capitol once again being targeted, and democracy itself coming under assault. From the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to the January 6th insurrection, “America After 9/11” exposes the legacy of 9/11 and the ongoing challenge it poses for the president and the country. Director and producer Michael Kirk joins us.

For more information on “America After 9/11,” click here.

TRANSCRIPT

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III.

SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ.

BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG.

THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY -- JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER.

JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD.

CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY.

JUDY AND JOSH WESTON.

DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.

> WHEN 9/11 HAPPENED, WE WERE EMBARKING UPON A NEW ERA IN AMERICAN HISTORY.

IT USHERED IN AN AGE OF FEAR.

IT WAS ABOUT US VERSUS THEM.

MISTRUST.

TWO DECADES OF FEELING LIKE THE GOVERNMENT DOESN'T LISTEN TO YOU.

AND DIVISION.

THE BIGGEST NATIONAL SECURITY THREAT FACING THE UNITED STATES IS INTERNAL.

THE 20-YEAR EPIC STORY OF AMERICA AFTER 9/11 PREMIERS TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 7th ONLY ON PBS.

> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METRO 'METROFOCUS.'

DETAILS THE UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES OF THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT'S MISHANDLES OF THE EVENTS IN THE YEARS THAT FOLLOWS SEPTEMBER 11th, 2001 AND THE TERRORIST ATTACKS THAT OCCURRED.

THE TWO-HOUR SPECIAL COMES TO AIR AS WE APPROACH THE 20th ANNIVERSARY OF THOSE ATTACKS AND REFLECTS BACK ON THE PAST 20 YEARS, EXAMINING HOW THE U.S.

RESPONDS LED TO A CHANGE IN CULTURE HERE AT HOME, A SHIFT AT HOW THE UNITED STATES IS VIEWED ABROAD AND EVENTUALLY EVEN DIRECTLY TO THE JANUARY 6th DOMESTIC TERRORIST ATTACK ON THE UNITED STATES CAPITAL.

JOINING ME NOW TO DISCUSS THE DOCUMENTARY 'AMERICA AFTER 9/11' AND HOW THE EVENTS OF SEPTEMBER 11th CHANGED THE COURSE OF OUR HISTORY FOREVER IS THE CO-PRODUCER, CO-WRITER AND DIRECTOR OF 'AMERICA AFTER 9/11,' MICHAEL KURC.

WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS'.

THANK YOU.

IT IS GREAT TO BE HERE.

I WANT TO ASK, I GUESS, WHAT IS THE IMPETUS, WHICH I WHAT I USUALLY ASK MOST FILM MAKERS.

WHAT WAS THE SEED THAT GAVE YOU THE IDEA TO NOT ONLY TELL THE STORY BUT TELL IT THIS WAY IN THE FACT THAT THEY'RE -- ACCORDING TO THIS DOCUMENTARY, THERE IS A CLEAR LINE BETWEEN WHAT HAPPENED ON JANUARY 6th AND THOSE ATTACKS.

EXACTLY.

WE HAVE MADE ABOUT 19 FILMS ABOUT AMERICA AFTER 9/11 IN THOSE LAST 20 YEARS, AND IN THOSE 20 FILMS, WE WERE SPECIFIC IN ONE CASE ONLY.

WHO IS DONALD RUMS FIELD, WHAT DID HE DO?

ALL OF THE THINGS THAT YOU ARE REMINDED THROUGH AS YOU WATCH IT WITH YOUR HANDS OVER YOUR EYES.

WE THOUGHT, SO WHAT COULD WE DO THAT WILL ALLOW US AS A COUNTRY AND AS FILM MAKERS TO STEP BACK, TAKE A BROADER LOOK, NOT LOOK AT ALL THE SPECIFICS THAT WE SAW IN THOSE 19 FILMS.

AS WE DID, AS YOU SUGGESTED, SOMETHING SURPRISING EMERGED, WHICH WAS A THROUGH LINE THAT TOOK US ALL THE WAY FROM WHAT HAPPENED ON 9/11, THE ANGER, THE FEAR, THE PATRIOTISM, THE AMBITION THAT TOOK US ALL THE WAY TO JANUARY 6th, 2021.

OF COURSE.

NOW JUST TO BUILD ON THAT A LITTLE BIT BECAUSE SOMETIMES, AND SO MANY HISTORIANS, ESPECIALLY NOW, HAVE BEEN LOOKING BACK ON THIS COUNTRY'S HISTORY TRYING TO UNDERSTAND HOW WE GOT TO THIS POINT WHERE WE ARE NOW, AND WHILE THIS FILM POINTS TO 9/11, I HAVE HEARD PEOPLE POINT TO, YOU KNOW, THE ELECTION OF RONALD REAGAN.

I HAVE HEARD PEOPLE POINT TO THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT FROM THE '60s AND THE JOHNSON ADMINISTRATION.

I HAVE HEARD PEOPLE REFER TO FDR AND THE NEW DEAL.

WITHOUT GIVING TOO MUCH AWAY, I WANT TO HELP THE AUDIENCE UNDERSTAND WHY THIS WAS SUCH A FLASH POINT.

WELL, WE HAVE MADE LOTS OF FILMS OVER THE LAST 40 YEARS.

BUT TRYING TO DECIDE, TRYING TO DISCOVER THAT THAT'S AT THE HEART OF THE DIVISION AND THE POLARIZATION IN AMERICA, WHAT'S REALLY HAPPENED TO US, IT'S BEEN HAPPENING, AS YOU HAVE JUST SAID, IN SLOW MOTION FOR 200 YEARS.

SO WE HAVE MADE FILMS ABOUT RACE TRYING TO GET AT THE HEART OF THAT.

WE MADE CALLS ABOUT IMMIGRATION, HOW IS THAT ADDING TO THE DIVISION, THE ECONOMIC DISLOCATION IN 2008 AND THE ANGER ABOUT THAT, HOW IT'S PUT A LOT OF PEOPLE.

AND IT ACTUALLY GAVE RISE TO THE TEA PARTY IN LOTS OF WAYS.

SO THIS IS MAYBE IN SOME WAYS THE LAST PIECE, THE NATIONAL SECURITY PIECE, THE THING WHERE YOU LOOK OUT AND YOU SAY THE WHOLE WORLD WAS WITH US THE DAY AFTER 9/11.

THOSE CELEBRATIONS EVEN IN THE MIDDLE EAST IN LOTS OF PLACES, ARAFAT IS IN OUR FILM SAYING, WE FEEL SOLIDARITY WITH THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.

SO INTERNATIONALLY, THERE WE WERE.

WE HAVE OBVIOUSLY SQUANDERED THAT, LOST THAT IN THE WORLD.

DESERVEDLY SO.

WE ARE NOT THE AMERICA MANY PEOPLE THOUGHT WE WERE WHEN 9/11 HAPPENED, MANY PEOPLE IN THE WORLD.

AND DOMESTICALLY AS PEOPLE DISCOVERED THE LIES, THE WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION LIES, OH, THE TORTURE, ALL THE THINGS, THE ENDLESS WAR IS IN, IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN.

WE FIGURED THIS IS THE FINAL PIECE OF WHY AMERICANS ARE SO DIVIDED AND SO POLARIZED.

AND THIS WAR CERTAINLY ADDED TO THAT.

IT'S NOT THE ONLY REASON BY ANY STRETCH OF THE IMAGINATION, BUT IT IS ANOTHER ONE OF THE BIG REASONS WHY WE ARE THE WAY WE ARE.

OF COURSE.

AND I THINK THAT IS A QUESTION SO MANY AMERICANS ARE ASKING, WHY WE ARE THE WAY WE ARE RIGHT NOW.

BUT I DO WANT TO ASK.

SO TO HELP YOU PAINT THIS PICTURE, YOU DREW ON, AS FRONT LINE ALWAYS DOES, A VERY BROAD AND JUST AN IN DEPTH BENCH OF EXPERTS.

I WAS WONDERING IF YOU COULD TALK TO US ABOUT WHO ARE THE PEOPLE THAT HELPED EXPLAIN THIS NARRATIVE.

YEAH.

IN SOME WAYS EVERY FILM, AT LEAST MY CREW AND I MAKE, WE TRY TO -- WE THINK OF IT AS YOU ARE PASSING A DINNER PARTY OR SOMETHING.

YOU WANT TO GET A WIDE VARIETY OF PEOPLE WHO CAN COME IN TO TALK ABOUT SPECIFIC THINGS.

BUT ALSO WHEN YOU SUM THEM ALL UP, YOU FEEL AT THE END OF THE PARTY LIKE YOU HAVE REALLY GOTTEN SOMEWHERE, YOU HAVE REALLY FIGURED SOMETHING OUT.

SO IT IS LIKE PUTTING PIECES OF A PUZZLE TOGETHER.

WE HAVE REPORTERS WHO REPORTED ON THE WAR.

WE HAVE THINKERS ABOUT ALL THE BIG ISSUES THAT ARE HAPPENING.

WE HAVE PEOPLE WHO ARE INVOLVED IN THE POLITICS OF IT SO THAT WE HAVE HAD FIRST PERSON INTERVIEWS WITH PEOPLE.

BEN RHODES, FOR EXAMPLE, WITH HIM ALL THE WAY ALONG GIVES US ONE OF THESE THREE-HOUR INTERVIEWS THAT YOU BOIL DOWN INTO 20 OR 18 GREAT SOUND BITES TO TELL THE STORY FROM -- FROM OBAMA'S TEAM'S PERSPECTIVE.

SO YOU HAVE A KIND OF -- AND THE SAME IS TRUE IN THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION AND IN THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION.

SO YOU HAVE A KIND OF WORLD VIEW OF WHAT THESE EVENTS WERE, WHAT -- WHY IT HAPPENED, WHAT THE IMPULSE WAS THAT CAUSED IT TO HAPPEN AND WHAT THE RESULTS WERE.

SO YOU CAN TAKE ANYTHING, AND WE PICKED EIGHT OR NINE.

TAKE WEAPONS OF MASS DE DESTRUCTION, FOR EXAMPLE.

MANY OF THE PEOPLE WHO ARE PART OF THE DECISION TO GO TO IRAQ.

WHY DOES THAT HAPPEN?

WHO FIGURED OUT THE LIES?

AND WHAT WERE THE IMPACTS OF THAT?

SO ON EVERY ONE OF THOSE MAIN DIMENSIONS AND IN THAT CASE WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION YOU HAVE COLIN POWELL WHO IS TALKING ABOUT EXPLAINING WHY IT WAS HE WENT TO THE UNITED NATIONS AND BASICALLY LIED ON BEHALF OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

I'M ALSO WONDERING FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE, AT LEAST, WHAT WERE THE WAYS THAT THIS ATTACK CHANGED THE COUNTRY.

WE SORT OF TALKED ABOUT IT POLITICALLY, BUT THIS WAS ONE OF THE FEW EVENTS WHERE EVEN THOUGH IT HAPPENED IN NEW YORK AND OF COURSE IN THE FIELD OF PENNSYLVANIA AND IN D.C. WHERE THE PENTAGON WAS, MORE VIRGINIA SPECIFICALLY, BUT PEOPLE ACROSS THE COUNTRY ALL FELT AS THOUGH IT HAPPENED TO THEM.

PEOPLE WHO WERE IN WASHINGTON STATE, SOME OF THEM STILL FELT AS IF THEY WERE SURVIVORS.

YES.

THERE IS A THING THAT HAPPENED IN THE COUNTRY, WE FIGURE, AND THE PEOPLE WE TALKED TO TELL US HAPPENED.

BECAUSE IT HAPPENED HERE REALLY FOR THE FIRST TIME, EVERYBODY FELT FEAR FOR THEMSELVES PERSONALLY.

THEY SAW THAT A LOT OF PEOPLE WENT TO WORK IN THE TWIN TOWERS THAT MORNING AND THEY DIDN'T COME HOME IN NEW YORK CITY.

AND IF YOU ARE IN SEATTLE OR TOPEKA OR NEW ORLEANS, YOU ARE SAYING, MY GOD, THIS COULD HAPPEN TO ME.

IF ONLY 19 PEOPLE ON A COUPLE OF AIRPLANES COULD TAKE OUT THE TWIN TOWERS IN THE HEART OF MANHATTAN, WHAT CAN HAPPEN TO THE MALL OF AMERICA IN MINNEAPOLIS?

WHAT CAN HAPPEN TO MY LOCAL SCHOOL OR WHERE I WORK?

SO THAT FEAR BECAME A BIG PART OF WHY PEOPLE, I THINK, RALLIED AROUND PRESIDENT BUSH WHEN HE SAID WE'RE GOING TO GO.

WE'RE THE GOOD GUYS, AND WE'RE GOING TO GO GET THE EVIL DOERS IN THE WORLD.

A LOT OF SUPPORT FOR THAT AND A LOT OF SUPPORT FOR A LOT OF THE THINGS WENT DON BECAUSE WHEN CHOICES WERE OFFERED TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, WHEN VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY CAME ON TELEVISION AND SAID, WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO GO TO THE DARK SIDE, I THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE SAID, OH, I DON'T LIKE THE SOUND OF THAT, BUT USING METHODS AND MEANS THAT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE AREN'T GOING TO KNOW ABOUT THAT, I DON'T KNOW THAT, BUT YOU KNOW WHAT?

I'LL CHOOSE SURVIVAL OVER CULTURAL OR LEGAL, POLITICAL OR MORAL CHOICES THAT I'M REALLY PROUD THAT AMERICA SAYS IT HAS MADE FOREVER AND IS THE STANDARD BEARER FOR.

SO I THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE IGNORED WHAT THEY FEARED WAS HAPPENING BECAUSE OF WHAT THE GOVERNMENT WAS DOING BECAUSE I THINK THEY WERE AFRAID.

AND, REMEMBER, RIGHT AFTER 9/11, WITHIN A MONTH ANTHRAX SCARES ARE HAPPENING ALL OVER THE COUNTRY.

ANTHRAX POPS UP IN WASHINGTON AND A COUPLE OF OTHER PLACES.

AND PEOPLE ARE SAYING, MY GOD, WHEN ARE THEY GOING TO TAKE AN AIRLINER DOWN?

WHEN ARE THEY GOING TO COME GET ME?

PEOPLE GAVE THE GOVERNMENT AND THEIR LEADERS A LOT OF LEEWAY.

AND IT TAKES FOUR OR FIVE OR MAYBE THREE YEARS, AROUND THE RELEASE ABOUT THE TORTURE, AROUND WATER BOARDING, AROUND THE IDEA THAT PEOPLE WERE BEING KEPT IN DOG CAGES WEARING ORANGE JUMP SUITS.

WAIT A MINUTE.

THIS DOESN'T FEEL LIKE AMERICA.

THIS DOESN'T -- I MEAN, ENOUGH PEOPLE IN AMERICA STARTED TO FEEL LIKE, I'M NOT SO SURE.

MAYBE WE'RE GOING TOO FAR.

THEN WHEN IRAQ GOES BAD AND THERE ARE NO WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION, PEOPLE BEGIN TO BELIEVE THAT THE TRUTH THAT THEY BELIEVE THE GOVERNMENT WAS TELLING THEM ABOUT THINGS WASN'T SO TRUE.

I KNOW THAT SOUNDS FAMILIAR NOW WORRYING ABOUT THE TRUTH AT THE TIME IT WAS A BIG REVELATION.

OH, MY GOD, THE GOVERNMENT IS ACTUALLY LYING TO US ABOUT THINGS THAT CAUSE SOME AMERICANS TO DIE AND AN AWFUL LOT OF OTHER PEOPLE IN THE MIDDLE EAST CERTAINLY TO DIE.

AND WHEN THAT HAPPENS AND IT ALL CASCADES THAT WAY GOING FROM BUSH TO OBAMA TO STRUM AND NOW TO BIDEN, THE FEELING OF UNCERTAINTY ABOUT IS YOUR GOVERNMENT TELLING YOU THE TRUTH?

ARE THE INSTITUTIONS OF THE GOVERNMENT DOING THE RIGHT THING?

IS AMERICA THE AMERICA WE BELIEVE IN?

THAT STARTS TO DIMINISH AND THAT'S WHEN THE TROUBLE REALLY STARTS IN AMERICA.

ONE OF THE QUESTIONS I WANTED TO ASK ARE WHAT ARE THE KINDS OF FEARS THAT THE 9/11 TERROR ATTACKS BROUGHT UP?

BUT I'M WONDERING IF A LOT OF THAT COULD HAVE BEEN PERHAPS ENCOURAGED BY THE FACT THAT SO MUCH OF THE CHOICES WERE PRESENTED TO THE PUBLIC IN A BINARY KIND OF WAY.

IT IS EITHER THIS OR THAT.

WE DO THIS OR WE DO THAT.

RIGHT, GOOD AND EVIL.

THAT'S WHERE IT STARTED, WAS BUSH SAYING THAT VERY FIRST NIGHT.

WE'RE THE GOOD.

THEY'RE THE EVIL.

THEN A COUPLE OF WEEKS LATER, THE AXIS OF EVIL, ALLOWING US TO TALK ABOUT KOREA, IRAN AND IRAQ AS PLACES WE HAD TO GO.

BUT AFTER EVIL DOERS EVERYWHERE.

SO NOW THAT'S ANOTHER BINARY CHOICE THAT'S BEEN PRESENTED TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.

STICK WITH US.

WATCH WHAT WE DO.

WATCH HOW WE GO IN.

WE HAVE TO DO THIS.

WE HAVE TO KEEP THEM.

WE HAVE TO CLEAR THE FIELD FOR OUR OWN PROTECTION.

AND I THINK THEY BOTH BELIEVED IT IN THE BUSH WHITE HOUSE AND CERTAINLY IN THE OBAMA WHITE HOUSE, AND THEY WERE NAIVE ABOUT THE EFFECTS OF WHAT WOULD HAPPEN.

NOBODY ANTICIPATED, WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO RUN AFGHANISTAN NOW.

WE'VE DEMOLISHED THE TALIBAN, BUT WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO WITH KABUL AND ALL THOSE OTHER CITIES?

AND OSAMA BIN LADEN ESCAPED, SO WHAT ARE WE GOING HERE IN AFGHANISTAN?

WE SAID WE WERE GOING HERE TO GET HIM.

THOSE KINDS OF CHOICES, WELL, WE'RE THE GOOD GUYS.

WE HAVE TO STAY.

WE HAVE TO HELP.

WE HAVE TO BRING PEOPLE DEMOCRACY, THAT WAS THE CHOICE OFFERED TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN THROUGH MOST OF THESE -- MOST OF THESE THINGS.

AND FINALLY CAME HOME TO BOOST.

OF COURSE.

AND, SO, YOU TALKED A LITTLE BIT ABOUT, YOU KNOW, THE GROWTH OF MISTRUST, HOW SO MANY AMERICANS ONCE THEY BEGUN SEEING WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN THIS WAR ON TERROR AND OF COURSE TRYING TO, I GUESS, JUSTIFY OR RELATE THAT TO WHAT THE GOVERNMENT IS TELLING THEM, WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION, ET CETERA, THAT A GROWING MISTRUST CAME.

BUT AT THE SAME TIME, THERE WAS ALSO A SIGNIFICANT PORTION OF THE COUNTRY THAT DOUBLED DOWN ON THEIR TRUST.

SO I'M WONDERING HOW DO YOU SEE THOSE TWO OPPOSING FORCES AFFECTING THE POLITICS THAT WE HAVE TODAY?

SO THOSE ARGUMENTS, THEY REALLY BECOME ONCE UPON A TIME WE WERE ALL AMERICANS.

NOW, WAIT A MINUTE, I'M WITH THE WAR.

I'VE GOT A RELATIVE OVER IN THE WAR.

THEY BROKE DOWN DEMOGRAPHICALLY THE KIND OF PEOPLE THAT WENT TO SERVE IN AN ALL VOLUNTEER ARMY WAR.

THEY WERE INTENSELY IN FAVOR OF THE SACRIFICE THEY WERE MAKING, THEIR CHILDREN, THEIR BROTHERS, THEIR WIVES, THEIR HUSBANDS, THEY WERE MAKING SACRIFICES.

BUT A BIG PART OF AMERICA, WELL EDUCATED, WHITE ELITES HAD STEPPED BACK AND SAID, HEY, THIS ISN'T REALLY AFFECTING ME THAT MUCH.

IT DOESN'T FEEL RIGHT.

I DON'T LIKE THOSE PICTURES.

BUT I'M NOT GOING TO GET IN THE MIDDLE OF THIS.

I'VE GOT OTHER THINGS TO WORRY ABOUT.

AND SOME OF THEM WAS ABOUT ECONOMIC COLLAPSE IN '08.

I THINK THERE WAS A DIVISION THAT STARTED RIGHT IN THERE ABOUT PEOPLE WHO WENT AND PEOPLE WHO DIDN'T HAVE TO GO, FOR PEOPLE FOR WHO THERE WAS NO BLOOD IN TREASURE IN THIS LONG WAR IN AFGHANISTAN AND THIS OTHER WAR, EVEN THOUGH THEY LIED TO GO THERE, EVEN THOUGH THEY MAY HAVE HAD ALL KINDS OF OTHER REASONS THAT THEY DIDN'T TALK ABOUT.

A LOT OF PEOPLE JUST LOOKED THE OTHER WAY ON THAT UNTIL, I THINK, IT GOT -- IT GOT -- IT GOT VERY BAD.

AND EVEN THE GROUP THAT WAS SUPPORTING THE WARS BEGAN TO SAY, WAIT A MINUTE, I'VE COME HOME.

PTSD IS AT 40%. MY VETERAN, MYSELF, MY SON, MY HUSBAND, MY WIFE, MY FATHER, MY MOTHER ARE -- ARE NOT THE SAME AFTER THEY'D GO BACK.

AND THE GOVERNMENT AND THE AMERICAN PEOPLE DON'T SEEM TO SUPPORT THEM, SO A LOT OF ANGER STARTS BUILDING UP IN THAT WAY.

TOO, WHEN THE BODIES COME HOME.

I MEAN, BODIES COME HOME ON TELEVISION, AND YOU SEE CEREMONIES AT ARLINGTON, AND IT IS LIKE, OH, MY GOD, THIS HAS BEEN GOING ON WAY TOO LONG.

WHAT'S GOING ON?

AND THAT IN SOME WAYS SETS THE TABLE FOR DONALD TRUMP.

WELL, SPEAKING OF POLITICS, YOU KNOW, THE FILM DOES GO INTO GREAT DEPTH AND UNDERSTANDABLY SO.

THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION WAS IN POWER WHEN THIS TOOK PLACE.

AND I'M WONDERING, WAS THERE A PARTICULAR POINT THAT WAS PERHAPS BY HISTORIANS OR THE PEOPLE INTERVIEWED IN THIS FILM CONSIDERED TO BE THE -- THIS IS WHERE THE BUSH -- THIS WAS THE DECISION THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION MADE THAT LET'S SAY CREATED THE -- SET UP THE DOMINOS TO FALL ALL THE WAY OUT TO JANUARY 6th?

THAT'S A GOOD QUESTION.

I THINK PEOPLE ARGUE ABOUT IT.

WASN'T WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION AND THE BIG LIE?

BECAUSE THE PRESS PARTICIPATED IN THE BIG LIE, TOO.

THE FRONT PAGE ON THE STORY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES AND OTHER PLACES SUPPORTING THE IDEA THAT AMERICA HAS TO GO INTO IRAQ AND CLEAN OUT SADDAM HUSSEIN.

SO THAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN THE MOMENT WHERE A LOT OF PEOPLE GOT OFF THE TRAIN.

OTHER PEOPLE TELL US THAT IT WAS ABU GRAD OR BOTH IN IRAQ WHEN PEOPLE WERE SUPPORTING THE AMERICAN EVENINVASION.

WHEN THOSE PICTURES CAME OUT AND YOU SAW LOTS OF IRAQIS AS MUSLIMS WERE BEING TREATED SO POORLY, A LOT OF PEOPLE STEPPED BACK AND SAID, OH, MY GOD.

THIS IS HORRIBLE.

WHEN THE DRONE STRIKE STUFF STARTED TO EMERGE DURING OBAMA'S TIME, A LOT OF PEOPLE VOTED FOR OBAMA.

BEN RHODES SAID HE WOULD HAVE NEVER BEEN ELECTED IF BUSH HADN'T TAKEN US TO WAR IN IRAQ.

OBAMA COMES IN AS THE ANTI-WAR PRESIDENT, CAMPAIGNS AGAINST THE IRAQ INVISASION AND THE IRAQ WA.

EVERYBODY THINKS, OKAY, IF I ELECT OBAMA, THESE WARS WILL STOP.

HE HATED THE IRAQ WAR, FOR SURE.

THOUGHT THE AFGHANISTAN WAR WAS THE GOOD WAR.

SURGED TROOPS, TRIED TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

COULDN'T, BUT ALSO COULDN'T LEAVE.

STUCK WITH AFGHANISTAN.

BUYS INTO A LOT OF THE -- OR TRIES TO GET RID OF GUANTANAMO.

THE POLITICAL WILL ISN'T THERE YET, I GUESS, SO HE GIVES UP ON THAT.

AND THEN, AND THEN SIGNS ON FOR A LOT OF THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION CIA STUFF, LITTLE DICEY.

NOT THE TORTURE, BUT THE OTHER STUFF.

AND -- AND EVENTUALLY SIGNS ON TO DO MUCH MORE, YOU KNOW, WHAT'S CALLED STRATEGIC OR SANITARY BOMBING, THE DRONE WARS AND THE ASSASSINATION SQUADS.

AND IS IN CHARGE OF THAT.

THAT ALL GETS REVEALED OF HOW MUCH LARGER THAT PROGRAM HAD GROWN UNDER OBAMA.

A LOT OF PEOPLE STEP BACK AND SAY, WAS IT THE OBAMA MOMENTS?

I DON'T KNOW.

I THINK BY THEN THE CASCADE HAS ALREADY HAPPENED AND PEOPLE ARE DIVIDING UP, TAKING SIDES ON THIS.

THAT'S WHAT I MEAN ABOUT IT SETTING THE TABLE FOR TRUMP.

YEAH.

AND, SO, AS YOU TALKED ABOUT A LOT OF PEOPLE, BEN RHODES SAID HE DIDN'T THINK OBAMA WOULD HAVE GOTTEN ELECTED HAD BUSH NOT GONE TO WAR, A LOT OF PEOPLE WILL SAY DONALD TRUMP WAS A REACTION TO BARACK OBAMA AND HIS PRESIDENCY AND BIDEN, ET CETERA.

I'M WONDERING WITH ALL OF THESE SEEMINGLY, YOU KNOW, PENDULUMS SWINGING BACK AND FORTH POLITICALLY WHEN IT COMES TO CONTROLLING THIS COUNTRY, HOW HAS 9/11 CHANGED THE WAY THE REST OF THE WORLD VIEWS US?

THAT SEEMS TO BE A BIG QUESTION NOW, PARTICULARLY WITH OUR PULL-OUT FROM AFGHANISTAN, FOR LACK OF A BIGGER DESCRIPTION, THE REST OF THE WORLD SEEMS TO BE GIVING US THE SIDEWAY.

EXACTLY, YES.

FRANCE WAS THE FIRST TO LEAVE US ALONE WHEN IT WAS TIME FOR WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION.

ENGLAND KEPT WITH US.

BUT IF YOU ASK THE PEOPLE, IF YOU LOOK AT THE WORLD IN THE INDUSTRIAL WORLD WHO WE USED TO CALL THE FIRST WORLD, RUSSIA, FRANCE, GERMANY, ENGLAND, ENGLAND IS ABOUT IT, AND ENGLAND'S NOT THAT HOPPED UP ABOUT AMERICA ANYMORE.

CERTAINLY WE HAVE LOST OUR POWER OUT THERE.

WE'RE TRYING TO GET IT BACK WITH NATO NOW AND BE PART OF NATO, BUT THOSE NATO COUNTRIES THAT JOINED US IN THAT MISADVENTURE IN IRAQ, FROM THEIR POINT OF VIEW, THEY WERE DOING IT BECAUSE THEY WERE IN PART OF AN ALLIANCE WITH US, BUT THEY'RE VERY WARY NOW OF, I THINK, AMERICA ADVENTURES.

AND I HAVEN'T EVEN MENTIONED SYRIA, LEBANON, IRAQ, IRAN, THOSE PARTS OF THE WORLD, THE SOVIET UNION AND CHINA, ALL OF WHOM SIT OUT THERE ON THE EDGES OF WHAT AMERICA HAS BEEN DOING AND WATCHED US SQUANDER OUR GOOD WILL IN THE WORLD, IF WE REALLY HAD IT, AND AN ALL LOT OF OUR MONEY, TRILLIONS AND TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS.

YOU WILL NOTICE THAT NEITHER RUSSIA NOR CHINA HAS LEFT AFGHANISTAN.

THEY'RE STILL THERE ABOUT TO SET UP AND DO BUSINESS IN AFGHANISTAN.

SO WHERE IS AMERICA AFTER WE LEAVE AFGHANISTAN AFTER THE MISADVENTURES IN IRAQ, AFTER ABU GRAD, AFTER DESTRUCTION, AFTER THE RISE OF ISIS, WHERE IS AMERICA?

I THINK IT'S -- I THINK WE'RE NOT VIEWED THE WAY WE ALL THOUGHT WE WERE VIEWED.

MAYBE WE WERE NEVER VIEWED THIS HIGH ON THE HIT PARADE, BUT I DON'T THINK WE'RE NUMBER ONE ANYMORE BY A LONG STRETCH.

YOU KNOW, ONE OF THE FINAL THINGS THAT I DO WANT TO ASK AND BECAUSE I BROUGHT IT UP WHEN WE TOUCHED ON IT WAS THAT THE FILM, LIKE WE SAID FROM THE BEGINNING, DRAWS A LINE FROM 9/11 TO SEPTEMBER -- EXCUSE ME, JANUARY 6th.

AND, SO, I'M WONDERING IF YOU COULD SORT OF GIVE US A SYNOPSIS OF HOW THAT IS BECAUSE FOR SOME PEOPLE IT MIGHT SEEM LIKE, THAT SEEMS LIKE A STRETCH.

BUT JUST AGAIN ONE MORE TIME, GIVE US A CLEAR UNDERSTANDING OF HOW WE GOT FROM THAT DAY TO THIS DAY.

WHEN YOU WATCH THE FILM, I HOPE -- I MEAN, WHAT HAPPENED TO US WHEN WE WERE MAKING IT, WE STEPPED BACK AND WE CONNECTED ALL THESE DOTS ACROSS, YOU KNOW, THESE FOUR PRESIDENCIES, AND WE SAID, WAIT A MINUTE, THERE IS A COMMON THING HAPPENING HERE, DISTRUST, DISILLUSION, TRUTH IS BEING TRAMPLED, VALUES ARE BEING COMPROMISED AND PEOPLE ARE REACTING TO THIS IN LOTS OF WAYS.

THERE ARE OTHER THINGS HAPPENING, TOO, TO BE SURE THAT THIS IS EXACERBATED AS WELL.

RACE ISSUES, IMMIGRATION ISSUES, ALL KINDS OF THINGS ALREADY PERCOLATING IN SOCIETY TOO.

NOW ON TOP OF THAT YOU ADD THIS.

OTHER REASONS FOR OTHER PEOPLE TO DISTRUST THE GOVERNMENT, TO FEEL THE VALUE YOU'RE BEING TRAMPLED IN.

AS YOU WATCH THAT HAPPEN THROUGHOUT THIS FILM, I THINK YOU BEGIN TO UNDERSTAND THAT THERE WERE -- THERE WAS -- AMERICA WAS BROKEN, AND IT WASN'T THAT AS WE SAY IN THE FILM AS BEN RHODES SAYS IN THE FILM, THAT ONE OF THE, YOU KNOW, DONALD TRUMP BROKE AMERICA.

IT WAS THAT AMERICA WAS BROKEN AND ELECTED DONALD TRUMP, AND THAT'S A REACTION FROM OUR POINT OF VIEW OF A CERTAIN GROUP OF PEOPLE IN AMERICA WHO HAD WITNESSED WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN ALL OF THE INSTITUTIONS AND ALL OF THE OTHER THINGS THAT HAPPENED FROM THE GOVERNMENT.

THEY DIDN'T TRUST THEIR GOVERNMENT.

AND IT WASN'T THAT HARD, I THINK, FOR DONALD TRUMP.

YOU WATCH HIM ON THAT DAY WHEN THE CAPITAL WAS ASSAULTED SAYING, UTTERING THE BIG LIE AND SAYING DON'T TRUST YOUR GOVERNMENT.

YOU HAVE NO REASON TO TRUST YOUR GOVERNMENT.

AND YOU SEE THE PEOPLE WEARING FLAP JACKETS AND MILITARY GEAR.

THERE ARE VETERANS THERE, POLICE AND LAW ENFORCEMENT PEOPLE IN THE CROWD WHO HAVE LONG BEEN PROTESTING, LONG BELIEVED WHAT TRUMP HAD SPENT FOUR YEARS SAYING, WHICH IS BRINGING THE WAR HOME, WHICH I BELIEVE HE REALLY DID WITH BOTH HIS -- HIS WORDS AND HIS -- IT WAS HIS PLAN TO BRING PEOPLE, TO BRING THE ARGUMENT HOME.

HE TOOK THE VOCABULARY, WE USED TO CALL ISLAMIC TERRORISTS, AND CALLED THEM DOMESTIC TERRORISTS, CALLED THEM ANTIFA AND CALLED THEM BLACK LIVES MATTER.

WHEN THE GEORGE FLOYD PROTESTS STARTED LAST SPRING, A YEAR AGO LAST SPRING AND SUMMER, THAT'S WHEN TRUMP KNEW, I THINK, BUT IF YOU WATCH HIS ACTIONS AND YOU WATCH WHAT HAPPENED, HE COULD MILITARIZE THE STREETS, NATIONAL GUARD, OTHERS AND BRING THE WAR HOME.

THAT FEELING IS PALPABLE IN OUR FILM AS YOU COME NEAR THE END.

UNFORTUNATELY, WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO LEAVE IT.

I WANT TO THANK OUR GUEST, CO-PRODUCER, CO-WRITER AND DIRECTOR.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

THIS IS, I THINK, DEFINITELY THE KIND OF CATHARTIC LOOKBACK THAT WE ALL NEED.

THANK YOU, JENNA.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III.

SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ.

BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG.

THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY -- JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER.

JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD.

CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY.

JUDY AND JOSH WESTON.

DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.

©2021 WNET. All Rights Reserved. 825 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10019

WNET is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Tax ID: 26-2810489