Synopsis by Hal Erickson
The title character in this PBS Frontline documentary is John O'Neill, who for six years headed the FBI's counterterrorism unit. Throughout the waning years of the 20th century, the flamboyantly iconoclastic O'Neill conducted what was virtually a one-man investigation of infamous Al Qaeda chief and international terrorist Osama Bin Laden. Thanks to his "maverick" behavior, questionable business practices, sometimes embarrassing errors, and most especially the inbred bureaucracy and professional jealousy of his colleagues, O'Neill was generally ignored as he warned his colleagues of the terrible threat posed to the Western Hemisphere by Bin Laden and his followers. Eventually squeezed out of the FBI, the outspoken O'Neill accepted the post of Security Chief at the World Trade Center -- where, on September 11, 2001, he and more than 2,800 other unfortunates were killed when two hijacked jets slammed into the Twin Towers. Utilizing a jazz score and a richly textured film noir ambience, The Man Who Knew unfolds like an old-fashioned Hollywood murder mystery, graced with a bitingly ironic wit.
al-Qaeda, bureaucracy, counterterrorism, FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation), investigation, jealousy, maverick, September 11th, threat, warning