Best on the Box highlight for Tuesday, August 31st.
9/11: Inside the President’s War Room
Twenty years ago next month, at 9.03am, on September 11th, the second of four hijacked planes hit the South Tower of the World Trade Centre in New York. America was under attack.
President George W. Bush was sitting in front of a classroom of seven-year-olds in Florida. Members of the President’s security detail thought that the next plane could be aimed at them.
The first draft of history and a claustrophobic clock-ticking chain of events, this film tells the story of the presidency on what was arguably the most consequential day of recent history. How should a government deal with a large-scale terrorist attack where four commercial aircraft are being used as missiles? How would they cope with losing their friends? And how should they respond?
As the clock ticks, the Presidency is forced to make a series of critical decisions, while still struggling to make sense of what is unfolding. Should they order fighter jets to shoot on American civilians? Should the seminal Presidential speech declare war, or calm a nation? How would the leadership of the most powerful nation on Earth grapple with the national and international implications?
This feature-length documentary tells the definitive timeline story of the Presidency through 12 hours of that momentous day – as it changed him, changed America, and changed the world – told with direct testimony from those in power at the time: President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State Colin Powell and numerous other senior White House staff.
It begins with blue-sky innocence, as a relatively new President orientates himself towards a domestic agenda and it ends as the machinery of Government flexes and responds to the threat and begins to contemplate the possibility of war. The events of that day led to two decades of conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq.
As America and its allies now withdraw from Afghanistan and the Taliban resume control, this is the story of how it all began.
BBC One, 8.30 pm