The Looming Tower (2018)
Produced by Hulu
Based on the 2006 book, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright
Creators: Dan Futterman & Alex Gibney
Starring Jeff Daniels, Tahar Rahim, Wrenn Schmidt, Bill Camp, Louis Cancelmi, Virginia Kull, Ella Rae Peck, Sullivan Jones, Michael Stuhlbarg, Peter Sarsgaard, & Eisa Davis
The most suspense-filled videos anyone can watch on YouTube are from the network morning shows which aired on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. The pundits talk about the wonderful weather, the stock market, and the latest in celebrity gossip. As proof that America’s racial problems color all American cultural events, NBC’s Today Show host, Katie Couric, was interviewing Harry Belafonte about African music, “civil rights,” and a host of other topics related to white guilt nonsense just before the first plane hit the North Tower. Meanwhile, one must helplessly watch the time-stamp in the corner of the screen as it marches ever forward towards the 8:46 AM time of impact.
While 9/11 was a tremendous shock and surprise to most Americans, the attack was actually the climax of a campaign by Wahhabi Islamists that had been ongoing for nearly a decade, including the first World Trade Center bombing on February 26, 1993; the Battle of Mogadishu (Black Hawk Down) between the US military and Somali militia on 3-4 October, 1993; the Khobar Towers bombing that killed US Air Force personnel on June 25, 1996; the bombings of US embassies in eastern Africa on August 7, 1998; the attack on the USS Cole on October 12, 2000; and the thwarted “Millennium Plot” by al-Qaeda to attack American targets both at home and abroad on January 1, 2000.
The fight to defeat al-Qaeda by the CIA, FBI, and the White House is dramatized in Hulu’s The Looming Tower. This miniseries is highly entertaining, with excellent acting all around, especially (in my view) by Peter Sarsgaard, Wrenn Schmidt, Eisa Davis, and Jeff Daniels. The series features fictionalized dialogue and characters, many of whom are composites but based on historical personalities. In short, it is a “true myth,” or historical fiction, showing the problems that the US government, and American society as a whole, had in dealing with al-Qaeda prior to 9/11.
The plot centers on FBI Special Agent John O’Neill (Jeff Daniels), who was a real person, and CIA officer Martin Schmidt (Peter Sarsgaard), who is a composite. The two men disagree about how to deal with al-Qaeda. The CIA refuses to share information with the FBI, even though both O’Neill and Schmidt are very concerned about the al-Qaeda threat. O’Neill’s turbulent personal life also features in the story – he has two affairs while still married to his wife, something frowned upon in the eyes of O’Neill’s Roman Catholic Church. O’Neill is also deeply in debt, and at one point loses classified information. There is also an exploration of the ecumenical breakdown of Muslims vs. American Christians as seen through the eyes of a (fictionalized) Lebanese immigrant turned FBI agent, Ali Soufan (Tahar Rahim). By the end of the miniseries, as in real life, O’Neill has retired from the FBI and ironically takes a job as security chief at the World Trade Center, where his fate, al-Qaeda’s plans, and a terrible red-letter day in American history come together. There is no 9/11 death scene for John O’Neill – in my view a risky artistic move, but the ending still works.
The book upon which the miniseries is based is considerably different. It mostly discusses al-Qaeda’s ideas, and how and why they planned and carried out their terror campaign. The miniseries instead focuses on the American point of view, even changing some of the people who were involved from being Kenyan to American. From a White Nationalist point of view, the miniseries is more important, culturally speaking, because it realistically depicts how most whites in the government, law enforcement, or the military will deal with the Islamic (or any other) threat in the years to come. In these large, hierarchical organizations, one’s frustrations will mostly derive from office politics rather than the enemy. One will only get glimpses of the foe – if at all.
Before proceeding further, this author must state his disbelief in the various 9/11 conspiracy theories. This review will proceed under the assumption that the only conspiracy pertaining to 9/11 was al-Qaeda’s, and which was hatched entirely in the caves and camel-pastures of Afghanistan. It is also written from the viewpoint of an American white advocate. International readers will need to adjust the insights from this article to match their own circumstances.
Insight in The Looming Tower
First Half: Fiction that Shows Reality
The relationship between O’Neill and Schmidt illustrates the two schools of thought regarding how to manage the terrorism problem. The first school is shown here through the CIA, which views terrorism as an act of war. Terrorists should therefore be dealt with as a military problem, even if it means collateral damage, invasions, toppling governments, and so on.
There is a severe drawback to this, however. Treating terrorism as an act of war carries with it a very large chance of broadening the conflict. Bombing terrorists in a foreign country is, by definition, an act of war by one nation against another, which can be a problem given that the terrorists themselves are often not acting on behalf or, and in many cases are not even citizens of, the country being attacked. The First World War, and in turn the Second World War, began when the Austro-Hungarian Empire chose to treat the assassination of its heir apparent by a group of terrorists as an act of war. Similarly, the response to 9/11 became the Global War on Terror, and one combat deployment has continued to follow the next in an ever-expanding list of countries. Additionally, every bomb dropped carries with it the potential for creating new terrorists.
The second school of thought is that of the FBI. In their view, terrorism should be treated as a crime. Individuals are arrested and processed through the courts in an attempt to contain the problem. Under this philosophy, Osama bin Laden’s scullery maid is merely an innocent dishwasher rather than acceptable collateral damage in a strike.
Unfortunately, law enforcement cannot prevent crimes. Law enforcement can only investigate and make arrests. Justice given after the fact is of little comfort to people suffocating in smoke in the Windows on the World restaurant or leaping to their deaths from above the ninety-first floor. Additionally, a court trial automatically reveals the methods that were used to collect evidence, which can tip off an enemy and cause them to shift tactics. It also runs the risk of ending in a mistrial or a not-guilty verdict.
The Looming Tower shows that shadowy organizations like the CIA must make decisions based on non-moral geopolitical concerns, which contrasts with the law enforcement mission of the FBI. As CIA officer Diane Marsh (Wrenn Schmidt) says:
If we tell the FBI everything, they will run around the world arresting minor players – often minor players from Saudi Arabia. There will be headlines. Mr. and Mrs. Smith from Shitsburgh/Pittsburgh will be outraged by America’s special relationship with the Saudi royal family. After all, “the Saudis harbor terrorists,” or so the FBI says. And the fundamentalists in Saudi Arabia will be equally angry because, clearly, the Americans seek a “war on Islam.” Royal heads will roll. Fundamentalists will overrun the palace, and their brethren throughout the Middle East and beyond will be emboldened. Civil wars every which way: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Pakistan, and as the blood dries and fanatics rule the East, Mr. and Mrs. Smith chowing down on their cereal, not yet understanding that a seismic shift just took place in the political structure of the Earth and . . . they are fucked.
Marsh’s statement should be further analyzed. It’s a wise statement, but said too late, and clearly its advice on how to suppress Islamic fanatics has not been followed. To emphasize the former concept, the fall of the Iranian royal family allowed Muhammadan fanatics to rule Iran, causing the very type of seismic shift Marsh fears. And to emphasize the latter idea, while the US government supports the decadent House of Saud, they can’t seem to apply Marsh’s logic in keeping down the lunatics in other Arab nations. The “Arab Spring” of 2010 was, in fact, a series of civil wars across the Middle East where fanatics, funded by the US government and supported by fools such as senators Lindsay Graham and John McCain, spilled (and continue to spill) a great deal of blood. In Libya, these fanatics have even restarted the African slave trade. Fanatics likewise took over Egypt for a time, until the Egyptian army stepped in. US government policy in Syria isn’t merely immoral, it’s foolish on its face.
Ultimately, the seismic shift in geopolitics has nothing to do with the existence of obsolete political forms like the House of Saud. It is rather governed by the attitudes of whites like Mr. and Mrs. Smith from Shitsburgh/Pittsburgh.
Second Half: Reading Between the Lines
The intellectual father of the neoconservative movement, the Jewish philosopher Leo Strauss (1899-1973), wrote that all cultural works have two meanings: the first is what the text actually says, and the second can be read “between the lines.” What is between the lines in The Looming Tower is easy to see.
While the miniseries paints O’Neill as a highly motivated professional, showing his reckless personal life should be seen as an indictment of the institution that is the FBI. As I’ve written elsewhere, the FBI is really a semi-competent Praetorian Guard. Its first mission is to protect itself. By following this logic, the FBI has moved into interfering in politics. The FBI, for example, has even snooped on Eleanor Roosevelt. And the FBI’s involvement in the 2016 presidential election has been nothing short of shameful. On the one hand, it ignored likely criminality on the part of one candidate while inventing a criminal conspiracy perpetrated by the other.
There is also another, darker side of the FBI: the Bureau’s close associations with “informants.” FBI informants are usually people who are a danger to themselves and others in regular circumstances, but become more menacing, government-sponsored dangers as informants. An informant lit the fuse on the Ruby Ridge fiasco of 1992, and nearly twenty percent of the Ku Klux Klan during the Civil Rights Movement of the early 1960s were informants. The latter fact makes one wonder if Klan activity was staged by the Bureau to bring about bad optics upon those resisting the Africanization of public spaces. The father of the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooter was also a likely FBI informant who probably helped the shooter slip through the cracks before his rampage. And among the armed protesters in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge standoff in 2016 were undercover informants who were ordered by the FBI to act unlawfully.
When reading between the lines, one can see that the CIA’s policy of not giving the FBI information is correct from the perspective of not falling into the FBI’s judicial clutches. After all, any conversation with the FBI can be turned into a crime should the Bureau choose to make it so; just ask General Michael Flynn. With that in mind, one would be insane to hand over classified information to the FBI. Any out-of-process mistake, even a mistake made in good faith, could be used by the FBI against the person handing the information over, should the FBI feel like doing so.
When reading between the lines, the miniseries is even harsher on Condoleezza Rice (Eisa Davis), at the time President George W. Bush’s National Security Advisor. Condoleezza Rice was a well-spoken black woman, one of a number of black appointees both Bush administrations used to unsuccessfully deflect accusations of racism. Between the lines, The Looming Tower shows that Rice was what Lawrence Auster (1949-2013) called the Empty Black Suit. This is the phenomenon where a well-spoken black mimics the outward appearances of being knowledgeable, but doesn’t really understand the matter at hand.
In The Looming Tower, Condoleezza Rice fails to appreciate the seriousness of the al-Qaeda threat when the professional civil servants in the FBI and CIA attempt to bring her up to speed. Rice was therefore following a white-presenting template in professional appearance and mimicking knowledge of culture and diplomacy that ultimately caused the White House to misunderstand the threat. For example, Rice insists that all information must be “pithy,” and that the “deep dives” are someone else’s responsibility. Unfortunately, according to the narrative in this program, Rice was unable to recognize the seriousness in a memo called, “Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in U.S.” When trying to create a plan to deal with the threat, Rice can only see the problem as one of “swatting flies.” Rice was misusing words, or in this case mistaking buzz-words for a real policy.
Thinking Beyond the Series
Ultimately, 9/11, or something like it, was going to happen eventually, in some way. The “Civil Rights” Movement helped get eloquent mediocrities like Condoleezza Rice top jobs while tying the hands of whites in dealing with non-whites. Indeed, the hostility of the 9/11 conspirators is really an extension of the run-of-the mill resentments that most non-whites have for whites. Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, Islamist terrorists have agency of their own. They were looking very hard for a way – any way – to attack. Furthermore, Islamic civilization has a very long history of violence. That civilization has only been peaceful when its territory was ruled by European imperial powers.
Even as Europeans ruled nearly the whole of the Islamic world, far-sighted men, often of the racialist Right, gave clear warnings. In the 1920s Lothrop Stoddard wrote, “The world of Islam, mentally and spiritually quiescent for almost a thousand years, is once more astir, once more on the march. Whither? We do not know.”
After 9/11, we knew where Islam was headed.
However, in 2001, this threat would have been confined to the Old World if not for the Immigration Act of 1965. Prior to 1965, people in large portions of the world, including the Middle East and Central Asia, were barred from entry outright. Furthermore, the ideology of multiculturalism and “civil rights” is something of a religion. Then, as now, a great many people in positions of power couldn’t admit to themselves, or others, the real nature of the problem.
Ideas Must Reach the Minds of Those in Power
During the video that was made by an undercover antifa agent and then published in The New York Times, Greg Johnson remarked that, “The greatest power in politics is to frame the political debate.” What, if any, political and intellectual frame did the political elite have on hand on the afternoon of September 11, 2001? Three things stand out:
- The first is the religious heresy of Negro Worship that is the actual state religion for all of America. This religion deliberately causes a great many people to deny the truth of a large, dangerous Third World population in a First World country. This Negro Worship helped bring about the 1965 Immigration Act that allowed the terrorists to enter in the first place, while also bringing about a denial of the fact that Arab immigrants were likely to commit acts of terrorism. This religion is so powerful that President George W. Bush insisted his worst day as President was not 9/11 or the collapse of the economy in 2008, but rather when Kanye West accused him of racism during the Hurricane Katrina fiasco.
- The second is the Pentagon’s 1992 Defense Planning Guidance. Historian Hal Brands insists that this document is the one strategy that has, with some variation, been adopted by every Presidential administration from George H. W. Bush to Obama. This Defense Planning Guidance document is actually a slippery affair. There are several drafts, and no measure therein has been seriously examined by the public. It was written by the neoconservative Jew, Paul Wolfowitz, who later became infamous for serving as Deputy Secretary of Defense under Donald Rumsfeld, and was one of the most vocal voices who pushed for the invasion of Iraq in 2003. It reaffirms American support for Israel, which may be the only part of the document which Wolfowitz seriously believed in. After 9/11, the ideas in this document provided the blueprint for the disastrous “Bush Doctrine” that led to the Iraq War.
- The third is the neoconservative/Jewish document entitled A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm. The realm they wanted secured was Israel. The document calls for destabilizing Israel’s enemies, such as Syria and Iraq. The public’s fear and anger that resulted from 9/11 was channeled into carrying out many of the proposals in A Clean Break.
After the Towers’ Fall – Looking Forward
In the future, we of the North American New Right must be the ones to have the ideas to solve the next crisis. A new frame for political debate should be as follows:
- The biggest security threat to the United States is the “browning of America.” This also applies to Europe and other white nations.
- Further security threats include one-sided trade relationships with Asia and “blank checks” for allies who have many enemies, but no ability to help America.
- Nothing good comes out of the Middle East. Israel and Jews must be lumped together with other Middle Easterners as a unique challenge that runs the spectrum from swindle and subversion, to outright terrorism, to the ability to set the price of oil.
- While the Middle East’s pathologies must me contained, it is a good idea to shift focus from deliberately causing disruption by making use of Islamist fanatics like the “White Helmets” or the “moderate Syrian Rebels” to supporting peace, stability, and profitable trade in the region.
Finally, the creation of artistic works representing these ideas is of the utmost importance. In The Looming Tower, in the figure of FBI Special Agent Ali Soufan, we see an emerging trope of a Third World Immigrant who is exceptionally dedicated to the defense of the American people. This trope is dangerous and unrealistic. Third World immigrants, including those from the Orient, are highly uneven. In reality, for every Colin Powell or Ali Soufan, there follow an army of hostile actors who run the spectrum from the Fort Hood shooter, Major Hassan, to others who may not act on their hatreds, but who are nevertheless filled with resentment.
 The Israeli “art student” event in the summer before 9/11 (“The Summer of the Shark,” according to the press) is notable. It could indicate Israeli foreknowledge and that they allowed the attack to happen on purpose, or it could also indicate that a senior member of the Israeli government was using it to further drug smuggling or some other scheme. The Israeli “art students” mostly targeted the offices of the US Drug Enforcement Agency. Some of the “art students” even stayed in Hollywood, Florida, near where some of the 9/11 hijackers were living prior to the attacks. This is a remarkable coincidence, but it could also indicate that Middle Eastern people find Hollywood, Florida a good place to stay when planning crimes rather than a joint effort.
 Peter Brimelow wrote in 2008, “Recently, Condoleezza Rice revealed a foolish failure to understand what the Battle of Kosovo means in Balkan politics: [Rice was quoted as saying,] ‘I mean after all, we`re talking about something from 1389. 1389! It`s time to move forward. And Serbia needs to move forward. Kosovo needs to move forward.’” This is a remarkable misunderstanding of the situation by Rice.
 All believers in African integration into a white society misread data. As Secretary of State, Rice would read the narrative of the “Civil Rights” Movement into the Bush administration’s Iraq Policy. One article about her reported the following: “[Rice said,] ‘Like many of you, I grew up around the home-grown terrorism of the 1960s. I remember the bombing of the church in Birmingham in 1963, because one of the little girls that died was a friend of mine.’ Black Americans should stand by others seeking freedom today, she went on, and shun the ‘condescending’ argument that some races or nations were not interested in or ready for Western freedoms. ‘We’ve heard that argument before. And we, more than any, as a people, should be ready to reject it,’ she said. ‘That view was wrong in 1963 in Birmingham and it is wrong in 2003 in Baghdad and in the rest of the Middle East.’” More criticism of Rice’s “civil rights” outlook on affairs of state can be found here.
 There is also the theory that radical Islamic terrorists follow the philosophy of anarchism, which was a very significant terrorist movement in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. For more, read here.
 Hal Brands, American Grand Strategy in the Age of Trump (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2018), pp. 4-5.
 The Bush administration mostly followed this strategy until its costs to the United States became too large to ignore. The 2006 Iraq Study Group, which consisted of mostly WASP gentiles, came to conclusions that were entirely opposite to those of A Clean Break. The Group insisted that “[t]he United States cannot achieve its goals in the Middle East unless it deals directly with the Arab-Israeli conflict and regional instability. There must be a renewed and sustained commitment by the United States to a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace on all fronts: Lebanon, Syria, and President Bush’s June 2002 commitment to a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine.”