IMDb > "Frontline" Top Secret America (2011)

"Frontline" Top Secret America (2011)

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Frontline: Season 29: Episode 19 -- From PBS and Frontline - In the years after September 11th, FRONTLINE produced more than 45 hours of award-winning films documenting the 9/11 attacks and America's response to them. Now on the tenth anniversary of September 11th, FRONTLINE Producer Michael Kirk-Bush's War, The Torture Question, and Cheney's Law-teams up with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Dana Priest, to investigate the dramatic changes that have reshaped America in the last decade.


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TV Series:
Original Air Date:
6 September 2011 (Season 29, Episode 19)
In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, FRONTLINE and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Dana Priest ask how more than a decade of fighting terrorism has reshaped the country and whether it has made us safer. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
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The world of American surveillance See more (1 total) »


 (Episode Cast)
William Arkin ... Himself - Reporter
John Ashcroft ... Himself
Daniel Benjamin ... Himself
Gary Berntsen ... Himself
J. Cofer Black ... Himself (also archive footage)
Kit Bond ... Himself
John O. Brennan ... Himself (as John Brennan)

George W. Bush ... Himself (archive footage)
Vincent Cannistraro ... Himself
Dick Cheney ... Himself (archive footage)
Richard Clarke ... Himself
Michael Delong ... Himself
Jim Gilmore ... Himself - Reporter
Melvin Goodman ... Himself
Michael Hayden ... Himself
Richard H. Immerman ... Himself
David Kay ... Himself
Thomas Kean ... Himself
Jack Keane ... Himself
Richard Kerr ... Himself
Mark Lowenthal ... Himself

Will Lyman ... Himself - Narrator
Douglas Macgregor ... Himself
F. Michael Maloof ... Himself
John McLaughlin ... Himself
Brad Miller ... Himself
William Murray ... Himself
John Negroponte ... Himself

Barack Obama ... Himself (archive footage)
John Perren ... Himself
Paul Pillar ... Himself
Benjamin Powell ... Himself

Colin Powell ... Himself (archive footage)
Dana Priest ... Herself - Reporter
A. John Radsan ... Himself
Arun Rath ... Herself - Reporter

Condoleezza Rice ... Herself (archive footage)
John Rizzo ... Himself

Donald Rumsfeld ... Himself (archive footage)
Michael Scheuer ... Himself
Gary Schroen ... Himself
Allison Stanger ... Herself

Fran Townsend ... Herself

Episode Crew
Directed by
Michael Kirk 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Michael Kirk 
Mike Wiser 

Produced by
Raney Aronson .... producer
Lauren Ezell .... associate producer
David Fanning .... executive producer
Missy Frederick .... producer
Jim Gilmore .... producer
Michael Kirk .... producer
Sarah Moughty .... coordinating producer
Colette Neirouz .... coordinating producer
Robin Parmelee .... coordinating producer
Arun Rath .... producer
Michael Sullivan .... executive producer
Mike Wiser .... producer
Original Music by
John E. Low 
Cinematography by
Ben McCoy 
Film Editing by
Chad Ervin 
Production Management
Chris Fournelle .... post-production director
Varonica Frye .... unit manager
Art Department
Maya Carmel .... designer
Sound Department
Carl Franson .... sound
Jason Pawlak .... sound
Jim Sullivan .... sound mixer
Camera and Electrical Department
Mark Rublee .... camera operator
Michael Williamson .... still photographer
Editorial Department
Michael H. Amundson .... post-production editor
Phil Bennett .... managing editor
Mark Dugas .... additional editor
Jim Ferguson .... post-production editor
Andrew Golis .... senior editor
Arnie Harchik .... on-line editor
John MacGibbon .... editor: avid
Megan McGough .... post-production assistant
Tyrra Turner .... assistant editor
Louis Wiley Jr. .... editorial consultant
Music Department
Martin Brody .... composer: theme music
Mason Daring .... composer: theme music
Other crew
Sam Bailey .... multimedia director
Carla Borras .... deputy story editor
Jim Bracciale .... series manager
Eric Brass .... legal
Diane Buxton .... senior publicist
Jay Fialkov .... legal
Janice Flood .... legal
Gretchen Gavett .... research assistant
Andrew Golis .... media director
Scott Kardel .... legal
Christopher Kelleher .... secretary
Azmat Khan .... research assistant
Dennis Kinlaw .... researcher
Katie Lanning .... editorial secretary
Tim Mangini .... broadcast director
Lisa Palone .... compliance manager
Tobee Phipps .... business manager
Heather Prince .... admin coordinator
Bill Rockwood .... website developer
Caitlin Rotman Saks .... production assistant (as Caitlin Rotman)
Lisa Sullivan .... contracts manager
Nathan Tobey .... coordinator

Series Crew
These people are regular crew members. Were they in this episode?
Directed by
Brent E. Huffman 
Katerina Monemvassitis 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Ly Chheng  developer

Produced by
Marsha Bemko .... associate producer
Katerina Monemvassitis .... producer
Cinematography by
Emmett Wilson III 
Production Management
Grant Viklund .... assistant production manager
Sound Department
Donna Bertaccini .... location sound mixer (multiple episodes)
Michael Keenan .... location sound mixer (multiple episodes 1997-)
Editorial Department
Nishant Radhakrishnan .... assistant editor (2000-)
David Waletzky .... assistant editor

Additional Details

54 min
Sound Mix:

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful.
The world of American surveillance, 8 October 2013
Author: dy158 from Singapore

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The September 11 attacks in 2001 has always been a defining moment in modern American history. The day when Osama bin Laden, the mastermind for the attacks, was killed a decade on was also another defining moment in American history as well. But in between the decade, what had actually happened in what would become known as 'America's war on terror'?

Dana Priest, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for the Washington Post, would come to team up with her fellow colleague William Arkin where they would come to uncover that the government had been waging a secret war on surveillance. It is far from prying eyes, hidden in plain sight in what looked like seemingly ordinary-looking office buildings in the surrounding area near the capital Washington D.C. and around the country. In between Priest and Arkin's investigations, they would come to encounter people who were willing to recount what happened in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks in the George W. Bush's administration in terms of how they reacted.

Based on those who used to work for the Bush administration in the aftermath of the attacks, there was a sense of panic over what happened, but it was not long the reaction came in when it comes to how the United States would do so as to not have another 9/11. What would come to surface in recent times in terms of the methods used to catch potential terrorists in terms of the surveillance and interrogation methods used, Priest and Arkin would come to find out in the course of their investigation that there has been a very different America in operation after the September 11 attacks and it continued into the presidency of Barack Obama. But even on the inauguration day for Obama, security was not let up for the man who had made history by being the first African- American president.

What has been discussed in recent times on the role of surveillance on ordinary American lives, the documentary had already showed at the time of the first airing that it was already in operation in terms of how much was spent and the effort spent doing so. The documentary did also the highlight the high-profile security scares the United States had experienced post-September 11 in the shoe bomber case on 22 December 2001, the arrest of the Christmas Day bomber of 2009, and the Times Square attack of 2010. But a common pattern has emerged in these cases where it is the ordinary citizens who alerted the authorities, and not through government contractors tasked to do the surveillance.

At the end of it, it is the level of government surveillance which is something Priest is trying to grapple with in a post-September 11 America, in terms of how big it can get. What she and her colleague Arkin had experienced in covering and reporting along with another of their photographer colleague from the Washington Post does make one ponder how big is the other America, where its purpose is on protecting American citizens.

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