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the man who knew

photo of val & johnjoin the discussion: What lessons do you draw from the story of John O'Neill, his obsessive pursuit of Al Qaeda, and his struggles within the FBI?

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Dear FRONTLINE,

Intelligent change will occur only after the average person becomes informed. This will occur through the viewing of this type of media programing.

If we get any more spin we will loose our way.

Please keep up the good work and don't give in to the politically correct pressure. In fact, I'd very much like to know how much negative pressure you have incurred as result of this program?

Thanks

huntington beach, ca


Dear FRONTLINE,

What happened to and with John O'Neill is a glaring example of how precocious, unconventional, or highly intelligent people are often treated in high school, the family, by peer groups, organizations, and society in general.

In a time such as this, wisdom often comes from non-traditional, hard-to-listen-to sources who may not fit any logical profile.

I fear the FBI may admit this obvious wrong in hindsight, yet neglect to address the institutional attitudes and resistances that might have allowed the critical voice of an

This powerful documentary desperately needs a follow-up, though, on why the Bureau is so obviously hiding information about 9/11 and 9/11 figures ... many questions remain unanswered.

Let's get a penetrating investigation going at the national level that is not controlled or hampered by career or former CIA or FBI personnel, partisan hacks, or other prejudicial parties.

willamette valley,, oregon


Dear FRONTLINE,

Great job Michael Kirk, great writing and great visuals of people gulping to express their loss. Unfortunately I thank you for showing me that we have met the enemy and sometimes the enemy is us. Bureaucracy against the maverick and another spirit is gone.

What can I do?

Larry Travis
ventura, ca


Dear FRONTLINE,

Prior to our entry into World War Two a spy-counterspy named Dusko Popov learned that the Japanese were going to attack an American Pacific Base. Because of Popov's flamboyance and panache J. Edgar Hoover discounted his information and America slept while the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. The parallels are striking and it makes Louis Freeh look like the same sort of fool that we now know Hoover was. God spare us from unthinking political functionaries.

Ned Best
seattle, washington


Dear FRONTLINE,

"The Man Who Knew" is more than a mere indictment of pettiness and complacency in government bureaucracy, where objectives are undermined by politics and talent and initiative such as O'Neill's is all too easily denied.

No, it's an indictment of the growing rigidity in organizational culture and thinking at large, and the small-minded administrators who too often hold sway. "The Man Who Knew" should be studied very carefully in both the government and corporate sectors and its lessons absorbed.

Of course, there are some who might say it's easy to deride the FBI and lionize O'Neill in retrospect, but theyíre only veiling their defense of a cynical status quo. "The Man Who Knew" is a perfect blueprint for why and how we fail organizationally in the most profound ways and continue to call it good management or, god help us, good government.

As in past years, this year Frontline has been doing some exceptionally fine work, particularly with regard to 9/11. Keep in mind, folks, programming such as Frontline is a case-in-point why continued PBS funding is essential.

When political assaults are mounted against Public Television, it's because its opponents don't want this sort programming on and don't want you, the viewers, to be informed. Be ready to fight, because sure as rain, they'll be coming again.

Chris Beckwith
mpls, mn


Dear FRONTLINE,

Was Ms. Bodine ever asked what contribution her "counterterrorism efforts" were made to further the investigation in providing information re Al Qaeda cells in her territory of Yeman? Did she produce any evidence or names that were involved with the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole? From her magazine interview she appears to want to take credit for her leadership in fighting terrorism.

Apparently, she contributed nothing useful contrary to what we would like to think John could have done in exposing cell activity and members of Al Qaeda in Yeman. How does she sleep nights? Another example of how a person's ego is larger than her brain. Hopefully she will not serve in any leadership capacity again.

watsonville, ca


Dear FRONTLINE,

I was transfixed by the show, and couldn't shake the feeling that it was a story I'd heard before... Many years ago I read a heartbreaking story in Sports Illustrated, which I think was the work of Frank Deford, about a guy who was a football coach at a very small college in the deep south. This guy was completely dedicated to his job, and to his players. He gave a damn. He was driven out by the same kind of idiots who bedeviled John O'Neil.

The other case that came to mind was Gen. Patton. He was the perfect guy in the perfect situation, and his abilities were almost squandered by the same sort of folks that sent John O'Neil into retirement.

Jeff Hickey
madison, wi


Dear FRONTLINE,

I have just watched your "The Man Who Knew" What an eye opener!

The lesson for me? Your program confirms how absolutely essential it is to have investigative reporting at the high level you have shown here. And John O'Neill has not lived for nothing! Through you he has left a warning we should never forget!

vancouver, bc, canada


Dear FRONTLINE,

In reading some of the postings here, many fault the politcal culture of the government in general, and the FBI in particular. I don't work for a government agency.

Working as an engineer for a large corporation, I see a culture similar to the one which opposed John O'Niell. A culture which recognizes and promotes bullshit artists, professional meeting attendees, arm-waivers, Power Point experts, and various others who are too intellectually lazy to do the tedious and disciplined work that is actually required. Very few of the guys that I work with are truly knowledgable engineers.

This is one example of a problem that transcends our society, in every profession. Diligent, hard work in the background isn't valued anymore. You have to go to meetings and make yourself visible, wave your arms, take credit for the work of others, tell the dumb managers what they want to hear. This country is run by these politically connected bullshit artists.

Rich Scillia
wichita, ks


Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you John O'Neil.

l.n., ca.


Dear FRONTLINE,

After watching the program no John O'Neill on the west coast and reading the commentary by east coasters, it almost seems trite to further condemn Tom Pickard and Ambassador Bodine. Yet, I add my own condemnation of them and their narrow-minded collegues who could not see the forest for the trees.

Happily, now that we finally have a Congressional Commission investigating 9/11, perhaps we can get a shake up of that cabal in FBI senior management, and reform the beast into something useful for American's protection.

Dave Skjeie
manhattan beach, california


Dear FRONTLINE,

Copies of this tape should be sent to every CongressPerson and Senator. A special copy should be sent to Pres. Bush for his review.

This tape is the basis of "Criminal Charges" for many "middle, upper middle, upper, and senior personnel in the Justice Department". Among these must be Janet Reno. Bill Clinton must also share responsibility.

I suspect a "not discovered by us" ( so it is not true ) philosophy will be adopted by Washington.

Frontline, get Congress and the Senate to watch this tape.

Frank Doyle
the woodlands, texas


Dear FRONTLINE,

You paint a picture of the FBI being consumed by petty jealousy and conformity to the point that it torpedoes its most critical missions. I don't see how creating a Dept. of Homeland Security is going to be worth the trouble unless the agency culture changes.

Bin Laden et al. suceeded by thinking outside the box, and we failed by icing out people like Mr. O'Neill and keeping our heads inside one. Think our leadership learned anything from this?

Gripping story. Unfortunately, it leaves me nearly as angry at our own agencies as I am at our adversaries.

Khal Spencer
los alamos, nm


Dear FRONTLINE,

Why should we be surprized by the behavior of the FBI and State Department when we have tolerated these same kinds of failures in our corporate and religious leaders.

The threat to America is not from without, but from within.

Richard Hesse
east lansing, mi


Dear FRONTLINE,

Frontline! Another reason to give up "the other TV stations".

Thanks so much for your courageous reporting about John O'Neill. I recall this verse,

'Where shall wisdom be found?and where is the place of understanding?Man knoweth not the price thereof; neither is it found in the land of the living..' (Job 25:8)

grand prairie, texas

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