Too much technology hampered 9/11 security: film

Fri Feb 19, 2010 4:58pm EST
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By Brian Rohan

BERLIN (Reuters) - A documentary that explores gaps in U.S. security from the point of view of a whistleblower who had spotted problems before the 9/11 attacks made its debut on Friday at the Berlin film festival.

"S.O.S./State of Security" follows the travails of former White House security adviser Richard Clarke, depicted as a Kennedy-era idealist whose cries went unheeded.

In the film, Clarke, who famously apologized to victims for government failure to prevent the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington attributed to Al Qaeda, criticizes over-reliance by intelligence experts on technology.

"Good security is all about having good people and good critical dialogue," he said following the screening. "The only way to make progress is to expose these problems as much as possible."

Making its world premiere at the festival, the documentary takes potshots at the administration of former U.S. President George W. Bush and includes interviews filmed in close up with former and current members of the U.S. intelligence community whose work usually is shrouded in secrecy.

The film describes weaknesses in airport and infrastructure security in the United States and a lack of foreign expertise and human intelligence gathering abroad as leaving the country exposed despite massive investment in the sector.

"I think America is going through a security theater -- a lot of what goes on at airports, for example, does not provide security and is not really necessary," Clarke said.

Experts cited in the film argue that successful security requires discussion and the ability to defeat extremist ideology in public debate, a battle in which they say tolerant, open societies should have the advantage.   Continued...