‘A Very Special Relationship’ shows the terrible partnership between the CIA and FBI

on Mar31

30 March 2018 | 3:48 pm

Via latimes.com

Spoiler Alert: this article contains a thorough recap of “A Very Special Relationship” the eighth episode of “The Looming Tower”

“The Looming Tower” has deftly, and infuriatingly, detailed the bureaucratic infighting between the FBI and CIA that enabled Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network to murder 2,996 people in 2001. However, the governmental friction depicted in “A Very Special Relationship” is utterly enraging. It’s disheartening, and chilling, to watch three hardened terrorists stroll freely around a grocery store in San Diego mere months before September 11, 2001. Meanwhile, although concealed from agent John O’Neill (Jeff Daniels) and the rest of the FBI, the CIA’s Martin Schmidt (Peter Sarsgaard) is well aware that this murderous trio resides in America’s Finest City.

“A Very Special Relationship” opens with authentic footage of the inauguration of George W. Bush on January 21, 2001. Yet again, director Craig Zisk skillfully cuts between actual film and fact-based portrayals. With Bill Clinton departing the Oval Office, Richard Clarke (Michael Stuhlbarg), the former National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection and Counter-terrorism for the United States, tries to secure a briefing with secretary of state Condoleezza Rice. Rice ignores Clarke’s requests and then, after finally agreeing to meet, completely downplays al-Qaeda’s threat. In fact, despite the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August 1998 and the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole, Rice is basically oblivious to the network’s existence. Writers Dan Futterman and Alex Gibney ingeniously script this scene and make Rice appear criminally negligent.

Toward this installment’s conclusion, O’Neill meets with CIA director George Tenet (Alec Baldwin) and other high-ranking officials. O’Neill announces that he was forced to resign and urges everybody to become a cohesive unit.

“I knew there were good guys and bad guys and I wanted to be one of the good ones,” says O’Neill.

Daniels remains superb as O’Neill and he effortlessly combines humor with extreme intensity. Tragically, O’Neill’s warnings go unheeded and a catastrophic plan is underway and won’t be thwarted.

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