on August 17, 2006
On Native Soil is a brilliantly done, bipartisan and sobering look at Sept 11th and the subsequent commission. The failings of the US govt were truely mindboggling. The producers of this documentary have done a service bringing the 911 commission report to life in an easily watchable format that is truely moving. Bravo!
on August 23, 2006
If you want to just see a dvd on the mistakes of the U.S. Government, this documentary does that and includes the complete "official" 911 Commission Report to peruse.
If you want to just see a dvd on the personal stories of those people affected directly, it does that too.
Most importantly, it looks at how 911 has changed America AND Americans. For five years, I've had to change the channel when 911 was the subject. If that's you too, I urge you to see this.
A HIGHLY RECOMMENDED documentary.
on November 2, 2006
There is a lot to like about this DVD, especially in the first three/quarters of the film. There is much new footage, including interviews with family members of those lost, as well as harrowing tales from some who narrowly escaped death on that dreadful day. The events of that day are both clearly and sensitively handled by Costner and Swank.
I liked this film a lot right up until the end, when the release of the 9/11 Commission Report was portrayed as a moment of closure and triumph for the families who lost loved ones on 9/11, and who had pushed for the formation of the 9/11 Commission. In fact, the release of the 9/11 Commission Report was anything but closure for these families, and countless others as well. These families had given questions to the commission in the hope that they would make an honest effort to find out what really happened. Sadly, few of these questions were asked, and so most of the families' questions are still as yet unanswered. For a really good treatment of this aspect of the 9/11 aftermath, see the film, "9/11, Press for Truth."
For "On Native Soil: The Documentary of the 9/11 Commission Report" to come out the same month that Americans lost the right to carry water and gels on airplanes is a potent irony because avoid another major terrorist attack makes you remember the last one. The thesis of Linda Ellman's 2005 documentary is that the families of the 9/11 victims shamed the government into establishing the 9/11 commission, and the climax of the film's narrative is not the publication of the commission's report but the public admission by former counter-terrorism adviser Richard Clarke that, "Your government failed you." I do not think "On Native Soil" will change you minds about what went wrong or who to blame, but at the very least it will remind us of the issues that should be under discussion.
Chances are you will pick up something new from this retelling of events. I do not know if I had forgotten or never realized that the second WTC tower that was hit was the first to collapse. The documentary covers a lot of ground quickly, especially with regards to the story of each of the four flights. What I found most interesting was what was happening with air controllers, the FAA, and the military air bases. A documentary on 9/11 told entirely from that perspective would be fascinating, because I can easily understand how communication and decision-making starts breaking down when you are talking about multiple planes being hijacked and crashed into buildings, where talking about "the hijacked plane" means different planes to different people. Even without throwing competing chains of command into the mix the resulting confusing is not only understandable, it is predictable and in all probability unavoidable.
Given a choice between believing the government to be corrupt or incompetent, I choose the latter. That is not to deny the presence of corruption, but that more often than not the explanation for the mistakes of the government has more to do with incompetence. Certainly that is what is evidenced by any objective look at what happened on September 11th, and there is little reason to think things have changed today. After all, if you can test formula and juice to prove it is not an explosive, then why does the same thing hold true for water and soft drinks? When I got on a plane last week there was a TSA officer standing by the door when we boarded the aircraft and they accepted any liquids people gave them, but they did not check anybody. Were they incompetent or corrupt?
The other driving dynamic of "On Native Soil" is the search for answers, but as the signs carried by family members outside the White House pointed out, there were 3,000 dead and 3,000,000 questions. I understand the impulse to want to believe that if Osama bin Ladan had been killed by this administration or the previous one, that 9/11 would not have happened, but I have to think that is too simplistic an approach, because clearly we live in a world where you cut off a head of this hydra and you are lucky if only one or two heads grow back. Everybody agrees that there will be another attack and given such a world view, which is totally realistic, anything you do to avoid such attacks smacks of crossing your fingers and hoping for the best. If luck is the residue of hard work, then maybe the only criteria is whether we are working hard enough, and I do not know if we can ever say that we are when the stakes are this high.
Ultimately, the key question engendered by "On Native Soil" is not who to blame but whether or not we are safer today in the United States than we were on September 11th. The solution advocated here is to contact your representatives in Washington, D.C., and have them support the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission (beyond having a national Director of Intelligence the documentary does not really get into the specific recommendations). Is it not at all clear how much things have changed, and changed effectively, since then: for example, if a U.S. fighter pilot has a hijacked plane targeted enroute to a major American city, can they shoot it down to save thousands of lives or would the decision still be bucked around the chain of command? To the extent that I think we are that belief stems not from increased security at airports and the borders but because the British intelligence service appears to be very good at breaking up terrorist plots that have gotten well beyond asking Al Queada for boots and because the vast majority of Muslim fundamentalists bent on killing Americans are flocking to Iraq to go after our soldiers. The scary conclusion I come to after watching this film is that once again we will not know what we should have been doing until the post-mortem on the next big attack and somebody someone will be doing another documentary just like this one.
The Special Features on the DVD consist of (1) Senators John McCain & Joe Lieberman on the Formation of the 9/11 Commission; (2) Survivors: The Rest of Their Stories, devoted to Brian's rescue of Stanley, Colonel Birdwell's story of surviving the attack at the Pentagon, and David Lim's goodbye to his partner Sirus; (3) Accountability: Taking Responsibility, done from the perspective of the family members, the intelligence community, and the politicians; (4) Are We Safer Now That We Were Before 9/11? begins with a report card full of Ds and Fs for those responsible for security and responding to such emergencies and suggests that thing have not improved substantially man years later despite spending billions of dollars; (5) Court TV Special with Catherine Crier on the documentary; (6) Photo Gallery; and (7) 9/11 Commission Report (DVD-ROM Feature).
on August 29, 2006
This is a very powerful documentary. It still gives me chills to watch the first tower go down and to see people jumping out of the building. This is non-political film. No finger pointing that it was Clinton's fault or Bush's fault. It was both. The FAA Security could also have prevented this tragedy.
No one wanted to be responsible or be accountable.
Highly worth seeing.
on September 4, 2006
Incredible to watch this - hard to imagine being the family members at this hearing and listening to the audio being played - how many times did Betty Ong have to say her name and title and flight number over and over? As other people have posted, not one specific person to blame but all, esp. the FAA. This was truly an eye-opener and many other things came to light that I was not aware of until viewing this film. A must have.
on March 25, 2015
I have viewed approx. one half of this production, and own a copy of the film. This is, no doubt, an important motion picture which raises the question of what--the hell--happened to the response of the U.S. government when this catastrophe occurred. And, then, why did the government ignore warnings about a major attack in the offing, which--incidentally--was subsequently denied by people like Connie Rice?
This is a piece of the puzzle. Yet, once you've screened this movie, there remains the need to examine the other MAJOR QUESTIONS:
1. What--more exactly--occurred with the WTC towers?...and how did it happen, when the design was extraordinarily robust...and was rated as capable of handling gale-force hurricane weather and aircraft collision?
2. Who, exactly, perpetrated this attack, when the evidence against the supposed Islamist young men has come to be seen as increasingly and significantly questionable?
3. What is the deal with the Bush-Cheney administration which initially refused to mount an investigation into the event, and was determined to employ the 9-11 tragedy as a pretext for a kind of jihad against a supposed Islamist jihad...in a massive "War on Terror," when the evidence of such a terrorist role by Iraq and Afghanistan (and of evidence of possession of "weapons of mass destruction") was shown to be exceedingly flimsy?
4. What is a possible "Larger Context" of this policy and strategy...on a global scale? Could there be larger issues related to such things as politics, natural resources and arms sales? Even a huge global agenda, e.g., one related to the "Project for a New American Century," which mentioned the need for an event nigh unto a "new Pearl Harbor" (sometimes referred to as a "false-flag" operation)?
Pretty horrifying stuff...but scrutiny of such content is undoubtedly a necessity, in light of some terribly "wake-up call" evidence. This evidence suggests a specter of very dark character, and untold magnitude. Something of a fundamentally horrific cast, and character, which one would ignore only at one's peril.
on October 17, 2011
One of the best documentaries I have seen in years. It is amazing that no further investigation has been conducted. There seems to be a lot more behind 9/11 that we are allowed to know. This documentary is a must see in every classroom and by any person who likes to get factual information - .
on October 22, 2007
This documentary should be a must-see for any concerned person of conscience. It tells an absolutely chilling tale of everything that went wrong before, during, and after the attacks. Two administrations knew that a major terrorist threat was in the works against the United States, with warnings along the way such as the attack on the USS Cole and the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, yet they chose to do nothing, ignoring all of the potent warning signs till it was too late. The documentary isn't political at all; it blames politicians of both major parties, along with the FAA, the military, airline traffic controllers, and other people who were in positions of power to do something, anything. It's utterly stunning to listen to these taped conversations that were made when the attack was in progress, with a bunch of people such as 911 operators and airport controllers. These people come across as such incompetent buffoons, like the people who kept asking flight attendant Betty Ong for her name, flight number, and flight seat, the people who kept putting survivor Brian Clark on hold while he was in the middle of evacuting Tower 2 (from the 84th floor!) and trying to get medical help for a severely injured man some floors above, and the man who actually hesitated and said he wasn't sure when asked if he should do anything about scrambling jets. Some of these people were still trying to locate the hijacked jets on their radar after they'd already crashed! If these people had done their job properly all along the chain of command, several thousand people's lives could have been saved, even after the attack got underway.
The documentary uses a lot of footage that hasn't been seen before, such as people jumping to their deaths from the towers, close-up images of all of the people trapped on the floors above the impact zones (many of whom tried to go up to the roof like they had in 1993, only to find the doors locked), and video interviews with terrorists made long before the attacks, in which they reveal they're planning something major. It's also very effective because it uses so many interviews with surviving family members, the people who pushed for the creation of the 9/11 Commission and some answers and apologies. It's outrageous that the current administration was such a stick in the mud about launching an investigation, and then, all except Richard Clarke, refused to acknowledge any responsibility for having failed to protect American citizens, let alone even apologise. Hopefully this documentary will inspire more concerned citizens to become more proactive and involved with their government, instead of being passive and uninformed and thus setting the groundwork for another possible future attack. A bunch of extras make the DVD even more powerful, such as the extended stories of some of the survivors, a Court TV special, a photo gallery, interviews with surviving relatives, the intelligence community, and politicians, and, best of all, a downloadable version of the 9/11 Commission Report.
on March 18, 2014
This was very interesting. I've shared it with many of my friends. It's a whole different way at looking at 9-11 and what our country went through. The dvd and package is perfect condition. Glad I got it.