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9/11: Inside the President’s War Room review: Engrossing from start to finish

One of the most riveting and unique documentaries with detailed interviews with George W Bush, Dick Cheney, and nearly everyone involved in the decision making on the day of the 9/11 terror attack in 2001

4.0
Ryan Gomez
Sep 12, 2021
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Story:

The polarising figure of the 43rd President of the United States, George W Bush, is front and centre of the documentary as he recollects what went behind the scenes when four passenger aircrafts were hijacked by Al-Qaeda terrorists killing nearly 3000 civilians, along with the destruction of the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon in Washington.

Review:

The 9/11 attacks reshaped the world we know today; it essentially set the tone for the global socio-political movement of the 21st century. The aftermath of the attacks continues to be an integral part of global politics with its repercussions reverberating across the globe. Over the past two decades, several documentaries, films, televisions shows, even conspiracy theory videos on YouTube have expounded on topics related to the attacks, the war on terror, and the US foreign policy.

9/11: Inside the President’s War Room gives unprecedented access into the decision-making of one of history’s most significant events. Aside from the various interviews, including that of the President and Vice-President of the time, and various members of the inner circle of Bush’s government, it has archival footage of the President and his entourage during the day of 11th September 2001. The layers of information the documentary provides through these interviews and footage are staggering.

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To thoroughly appreciate the documentary, it is essential to remain apolitical regarding George W. Bush’s administration. This documentary should be viewed as an objective deep-dive into the reasons behind several decisions the US administration made that day. Even though the documentary inadvertently justifies some of the questionable actions that were taken as a result of the twin tower attacks, the primary focus is on the raw emotions and the chaos that unfolded inside Air Force One due to the lack of information available to the top brass.

The extensive footage of the crashes and the plight of the people who fell victim to the attacks are heartbreaking, and some of the interviewee’s accounts of what transpired on that day are deeply emotional as well. For some, such as the former Solicitor General Ted Olson, it was a more personal tragedy than the others. Olson painfully recounted how he lost his wife Barbara in one of the plane crashes.

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The stoic responses of Dick Cheney, on the other hand, give insight about himself, a man who has come under pressure for his alleged actions that may have cost lives and resources, as a result of his decisions regarding America’s much scrutinised war on terror. He is almost reminiscent of the fictional character Ser Alliser Thorne, from Game of Thrones, as if to say that he won’t apologise for his actions and that his actions were nothing but patriotic to safeguard the interests of his people.

From a technical perspective, the production value of the documentary is in a class of its own. Director Adam Wishart has created something truly captivating with this project and offers a unique perspective about the 9/11 attacks. It is by all accounts an origin story of a new kind of war, one that was not fought between nations but against an ideology or a phantom state.

Verdict:

Bush’s politics may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and the Republican Party has not covered itself in glory in recent years. However, no other US President has had to face an unprecedented tragedy on American soil as Bush did in 2001. The documentary is an introspect on oneself asking the questions, “what would you have done differently? and how would you have reacted if you saw aircrafts full of passengers being flown into buildings causing the deaths of 3000 people in the blink of an eye?

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