Hijacking Catastrophe: 9/11

Fear & the Selling of American Empire. Documentary film Produced and directed by Jeremy Earp and Sut Jhally.
Running Time: 68 minutes.
Hijacking Catastrophe: 9/11, Fear & the Selling of American Empire places the Bush Administration's justifications for war in Iraq within the larger context of a two-decade struggle by neoconservatives to dramatically increase military spending in the wake of the Cold War, and to expand American power globally by means of military force. At the same time, the documentary argues that the Bush Administration has sold this radical and controversial plan for aggressive American military intervention by deliberately manipulating intelligence, political imagery, and the fears of the American people after 9/11.
Narrated by Julian Bond, Hijacking Catastrophe features interviews with more than twenty political observers, including Pentagon whistleblower Lt. Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski.

This film is a real rant. As sympathetic as many people might be to its agenda, there is no careful weighing of the arguments here. Hijacking Catastrophe is strident, angry attack on the Bush administration, its agenda in Afghanistan and Iraq, and it its manipulation of public fears and perceptions.

Almost exclusively a talking heads documentary, its 68 minutes passes swiftly enough, though it might be better suited to television than the cinema. And it would have been stronger if its passionately held thesis was tested by a dialogue between the protagonists in this debate. My hunch is that the filmmakers Jeremy Earp and Sut Jhally think the other side has had more than enough airplay.

As it is Hijacking Catastrophe makes a valuable one-sided contribution to understanding some of the issues in a post-9/11 world. My concern is that its tone will be appreciated by those already converted by its argument.

Fr Richard Leonard SJ is the director of the Australian Catholic Film Office.

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