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Alex Gibney on his new Al Qaeda documentary

After the Twin Towers fell on 9/11, popular culture struggled to find its bearings. Some proclaimed the death of irony, of satire, of humor. For documentary filmmakers, it was a different kind of struggle: wrestling with objectivity and trying to understand the enemy.

Among those documentarians was Alex Gibney, who won an academy award for “Taxi to the Dark Side,” a film about the United States use of torture in the War on Terrorism.

Some of Gibney’s other films include “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room,” and “Casino Jack and the United States of Money,” a film about Jack Abramoff. Gibney’s self-stated goal is to seek out abuses of power and expose them.

His latest film, which premiered this week on HBO, is a collaboration with Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Lawrence Wright. It’s based on Wright’s one man play, entitled “My Trip to Al Qaeda.”

In it, Wright examines the origins of Al Qaeda and his own effort to maintain journalistic objectivity while investigating the roots of terror. Need to Know’s Alison Stewart sat down with Gibney to discuss the film, and the role of the documentarian in today’s society.

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  • phil henshaw

    Alex, your’e the guy I’d like to make my film. I’m a scientist, apparently at war with the world


  • DingyGirl

    Watched “My Trip to Al Qual…” on HBO the other evening. This documentary is absolutely correct in its content and past/present/future description of Al Quatas long term plan to take downt the Western world. The USA is playing right into their plans. I think this should be on every channel on TV and not just limited to HBO. I would like to get my hands on this film and send to to every person thinking I know. Looking to see Mr. Gibney’s other documentarties, especially the one on Gov. & Corp. influence. We are doomed as long as corporations can influence Gov. more than the citizens. I am truly frightened for our country and the direction we are taking these days. BD, Ft.Myers,FL

  • Iwhite

    Maybe that is why the production was limited to HBO! We wouldn’t all the of the general public to know what he reported and discovered!

  • Mkhakoo

    I do not have HBO, but listened to the interview you had with Gibney. Thank you for an honest program. My heart was very sad. We are beginning to realize finally in majority that our reaction to 9/11 was the opposite to what we should have done, and what our moral values should have dictated. Most of us knew that the weapons of mass destruction was a lie, and what makes it very bitter today is that those who went after Saddam (Rumsfeld and the neocons) had deeply colluded with this miserable tryant in an effort to gain “power” in the Middle East for themselves. Our policies have not changed much and we are hell-bent on pursuing the goals set by our armies to gain “victory”. What do we expect to do in the Middle East? Yes we like the oil, but looking back we have razed its people with bombs, women, children included. Even if we withdraw tomorrow, they will never forgive us for what we did to them. Al Qaida destroyed several buildings in the US and we have hated them to death. Do we think after destroying thousands of buildings in Iraq and Afghanistan that they will like us? Ask a Vietnamese today about what we left behind. They will not forget what we did to them. War has never been the answer to global crisis. Heck, the Greeks still remember what the Germans did to them in WWII. The answer is not to only look into our souls, but to connect humbly with the souls of those we have wronged because of our power and arrogance. Yes, I too am frightened of the direction the country I love is taking this very moment. I cannot see us going to an Afghan family and asking for forgiveness as they will consider that irrelevant at this stage. But we have to try and not give up.