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May 2, 2013

Documentary Tells Story of CIA “Sisterhood” that Found bin Laden

Watch Documentary Focuses on Analysts Behind Bin Laden 'Manhunt' on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

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The new HBO documentary “Manhunt” tells the story of the CIA officers and analysts whose work led to the capture and killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in 2011. The documentary premiered on May 1, the second anniversary of bin Laden’s death. Based on a book by CNN’s Peter Bergen, the documentary has prompted a discussion on the mostly female analysis and operations team, which has been called “The Sisterhood”.

Former CIA analyst Cindy Storer, who had been tracking bin Laden since the mid-1990s, explained that he had been exhibiting troubling signs since before September 11 .

“There were just warning after warning,” she said. “We knew something huge was going to happen.”

“I was counseled once in a performance review that I was spending too much time working on bin Laden. They said we were obsessed crusaders, overly emotional, using all those women stereotypes.”

But that all changed after September 11, 2001. Suddenly, operations focused on finding al-Qaida figures, including bin Laden, in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.

Nada Bakos, another member of the mostly female team, later worked as a “targeter” for the CIA deployed in Iraq, looking for al-Qaida operative Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. She also targeted the al-Qaida emissary who revealed the name of the courier who led the U.S. to bin Laden’s doorstep.

Warm up questions

1. What is the CIA? What is their job?

2. What do you know about Osama bin Laden?

3. Why is the U.S. a target for terrorism?

Discussion questions

1. What did you find most interesting about this video?

2. Why was the death of Osama bin Laden such an important event in the U.S.?

3. How do you think the world, and in particular, the U.S. changed as a result of September 11?

4. What does this story say about the role women play in traditionally “boy’s club” organizations like the CIA?

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