The enemy within

About the Film:

Five years after the attacks on 9/11 and the massive, multibillion-dollar reorganization of government agencies which followed, FRONTLINE and New York Times reporter Lowell Bergman investigates the domestic counterterrorism effort and asks whether we are any better prepared to prevent another catastrophic attack. Relying on interviews with high-level sources in the U.S. government, Bergman reveals ongoing interagency rivalry as well as troubling flaws in what has been the largest reorganization of the government in half a century. The documentary focuses on who is the real enemy within the United States and whether we are prepared to defeat him.

Watching the Film:

Teachers can either assign the film for viewing as homework or show the film in class. Suggested discussion questions are provided. The lessons and activities in this guide can be used in the classroom without having viewed the film.

A Note to Teachers:

The lesson itself is, potentially, politically and emotionally charged since it presents students with disturbing historical events and with scenarios and questions to which many answers are possible.

For classes in social studies, civics and government, language arts, current events and history; Grade level 9-12.

Discussion Questions:

This guide includes a list of questions for students to discuss after viewing The Enemy Within.

Featured Lesson Plan:

"A Balancing Act"

Lesson Objectives:
Students will:

Additional Lesson Ideas:

Oral Histories of Sept. 11, 2001
Students will interview several people about their reactions to the events of 9/11 and their ideas about how best to combat terrorist threats.

Personal Responses to Sept. 11, 2001
Students present their responses to the events of Sept. 11 using art, music or writing.

Using Literature to Understand History
Language arts teachers can assign the novel Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson for students to learn about the Japanese-American internment.

Additional Resources:

An annotated list of relevant Web sites.

Purchasing the Film:

The Enemy Within can be purchased from Shop PBS for Teachers. Also, teachers and students can watch the film streamed in its entirety on FRONTLINE's Web site: http://www.pbs.org/frontline/enemywithin/


This teacherıs guide was developed by Simone Bloom Nathan of Media Education consultants. It was written by Ellen Greenblatt of University High School, San Francisco. Advisers were Debra Plafker Gutt, Stuyvesant High School, New York, Patricia Grimmer, educational consultant and Greg Timmons, curriculum writer and educational consultant.