The Looming Tower (2018): Season 1, Episode 8 - A Very Special Relationship - full transcript

Everyone adjusts to a new president and, with it, a shift in threat priority. Soufan learns of the importance of Osama bin Laden's bodyguard and is refused access to him. O'Neill is denied ...

If al-Qaeda did this,
it is an act of war.

The FBI will collaborate
with the Yemen government

and make as small
a footprint as possible.

Who the fuck's in charge here?

I am.

Who are you?

He's saying that if you want to

know about the house,

talk to Quso or long name.

You give me reason, I give you Quso.

I need you to clear a path for us.

17 dead Americans,

and their blood's gonna
be on your hands.

Ask him if it's
for a guy named Khallad.

I found about the man you want...

I'm having a bit of a problem here

with one of your guys.

Truth is, I'm in sort of a bind.

I thought you said
his girlfriend's name was Liz.

The one I met was named Liz.

Well, you'd better tell her the truth

about your wife.

That problem we recently discussed?

Our problem.

It's being taken care of.

I want to rely on you

to fix things for us in America.

I'm at your service.

Good evening.

Just moments ago,
I spoke with George W. Bush

and congratulated him on becoming

the 43rd president
of the United States.

I, George Walker Bush,
do solemnly swear...

I, George Walker Bush, do
solemnly swear...

That I will faithfully execute

the office of president
of the United States.

That I will faithfully
execute the office

of president of the United States.

I count myself
extremely fortunate to be back

and have the opportunity
to serve a new president.

I thank you so much

for the confidence you've placed in me,

for the honor you do me.

Honored by your call to service

and looking forward to it.

It's gonna be a lifetime very rewarded.

Thank you, sir.

She canceled?

New assistant. All his fault.

- How's next week?
- How about now?

Rest assured,

she's making time
for an interview with "Vogue."

First African-American woman
national security advisor.

Yeah, it's a big deal. I get it.

Get me Condoleezza Rice
on the phone right now, please.

Annie Leibovitz will photograph.

They called me for a quote.

She doesn't get it. None of them do.

Every new administration
must be brought up to speed

on the current
national security climate.

Eight years ago with Bush Sr.,

- it was all about the Russians.
- Right?

So now it is again.

Anything Clinton cared about
must have been bullshit.

He went north? We'll go south.

Meanwhile, the threat matrix
is through the roof.

That's what I'm trying to tell her.

Try harder.

Get their attention.
Scare the shit out of 'em.


She will call me back.

Sure. She's a busy lady.

And if you are just joining us,

we have breaking news
to tell you about:

a terrorist convicted
of 213 counts of murder

in the 1998 bombing

of the American embassy in Kenya

will be sentenced to life in prison

without the possibility of parole.

- Yes! Yes!
- Chesney!

Chesney! Chesney! Chesney!

Chesney! Chesney! Chesney! Chesney!

Justice was served.

So much time, so much effort... a hero.

- Yeah.
- Yeah.

The American justice system worked.

You should all sleep very well tonight.

This is all you. Are you proud?

I couldn't have done it
without Kathy and Floyd.

- Oh, shut up.
- Ohh.

No... go back to work.

Now they're gonna want to make
a martyr out of him.

Listen, I put in a request.

You're gonna do
a language school intensive,

learn Arabic.

I don't want to do that.

Well, you learned Romanian, didn't you?

It can't be as hard as Romanian.

It's too late for me.

I'm coming up on retirement,

- same as you.
- So what?

They're not gonna
push you out the door.

They need you.

When it comes, I'll be ready to go.

I know. I know. Don't worry.

It's a good idea.


No, of course.

He's here right now. I'll ask him.

Okay, then. Bye-bye.

But, Dad, you can't have
another one until midday.

I know it hurts.

Yes, okay.
I promise I'll call the doctor.

I'll see you later... Okay.

Thank you.

The aircraft is controlled

from the cockpit, or flight deck.

The pilot sits in the left seat,

and the copilot sits to the right,

with the control column
located in the center.

In front of them
is the instrument panel

containing the flight controls

enabling a smooth and safe flight.

The pilot and copilot
examine the aircraft logs

and verify that all the controls
are in the proper position...

Even as a kid, I knew

most Americans really didn't get it.

They didn't understand
how the world worked,

what was fake and what was
a bullshit distraction

from the way things really were:



I knew there were good guys
and bad guys,

and I wanted to be
one of the good guys.

But at the same time,

I appreciate I can be overzealous.

I also appreciate that
sometimes the right thing to do

is to turn the other cheek.

You pulled me out of Yemen

in the middle of an investigation.

I'm not gonna ask why
or what that's about.

I'm just here to tell you

that the investigation was going well.

I picked the right case agent too.

Soufan's young, but he's whip-smart.

Presumably the Yemenis trust him.

He's from around there, correct?

He was born in Lebanon.
They don't trust him

any more than they trust any American.

Less, maybe.

But in spite of this, he was the,

you know, right man for the job.

If you say so.

I made personal connections

with some of the key players,

got some leads, but they know more.

Like to get back over there

before they forget
how much they like me.

So when am I going back?

You're not.

You've been denied reentry into Yemen.

Who did that?

Ambassador Bodine.

Apparently you didn't
make personal connections

with all the key players.

Did she say why?

She said a lot of things,

but reading between the lines,

I'd say she thought
you were kind of an asshole.

Khallad rented the house
the bombers stayed in.

We have to assume he was running
the operation on the ground.

And we also have to acknowledge

that's an assumption.

So what do we know for sure?

One leg.

Fantastically identifiable

He traveled from Malaysia
to Bangkok to meet Quso.

Quso told you he gave him 36 grand.

Said it was for a new leg.

Which I do not believe.

And I'm taking
a second run at Quso later.

Good deal.

Have you talked
to your people at Langley?

I told them what we're looking for.

Yeah, I also told them
what we're looking for,

but did you get an answer?

'Cause I didn't.

He read in his "Lonely Planet Yemen"

that the best food here
was the street food.

So white.

You asked them for
any information about Khallad

or anything from the Malaysia meeting,

the take from the Hada phone?


And you told them we can't move forward

until they quit stonewalling?

I didn't put it like that exactly,


Yeah, basically.


So yeah... as you predicted,

absolutely, there were phone calls

made from Quso's hotel room in Bangkok

to the Hada phone in Yemen

and from there
to a payphone in Malaysia.

Wait, Chihoyne, you kind of
buried the lede.

We're getting those transcripts?


I mean, they're not
passing anything on.

They're saying it's not pertinent.

"Not pertinent"?

What the fuck does that mean?

If they've got something,
it's pertinent.

I-I don't know, man.

What do you mean, you don't know?

Why am I going through you

if you can't get any fucking answers?

Fucking bureaucrat.

Why don't you take it down a notch?

A bunch of Americans
got blown out of the water

and shipped home in pieces,
but let's take it down a notch

because the Agency is the Agency,

and what are you gonna do?

Look, Ali... Ali, just...

Aw, come on, let's
take it down a notch, Floyd.

They all get their period
at the same time or something?

Yes, I saw Agent Soufan's cable.

We were wondering if you'd like us

to pull the relevant intel,
draft a response.

If Leonard Bliss
wants a response drafted

and you are required in that effort,

then you will be alerted at that time.

In the meantime,

should we let Agent Soufan know...

In the meantime, you will continue

with what you were doing
before he interrupted.

We get hundreds of cables a day, and...

we do not dash off responses
like flighty co-eds.

I should get back to work.

I don't want to dash anything off,

but obviously his request
is time sensitive.

The Bureau and the CIA were established

as two distinct
and separate organizations

for security reasons.

We don't always have the same goals,

and sometimes our goals
conflict with each other.

It is my belief and the belief
of my colleagues that...


He doesn't work here anymore.

That there is no reason
on God's green Earth

to jeopardize our own missions

by solving the Bureau's crimes
for them.

How about this?

Let's find out why
I-49 wants this information.

Let's find out what they know already,

and we'll go from there.

Sound good?

Excuse me. Yeah?

Can I have one more hour, please?

Uh, sure. It's not booked till 5:00.

Thank you.

I'll be right there.

Hi, Toni-Ann.

Listen, tomorrow I want you
to take these photographs

to your G-men buddies over at I-49

and see if they recognize anyone.

Well, I recognize al-Mihdhar.

But will they?

It's important that
we understand what they know.

That way, we can assess

what information is or isn't pertinent

to their inquiries.

And if they know nothing?

Then come and tell me that.



They gave you a day pass, huh?

Can't wait for parole.

I bet.

You recognize any of these goobers?

Nope. Who are they?

You don't recognize them?

Should I? Who are they?

This is Khalid al-Mihdhar.

What the fuck is this,
"quid pro quo, Clarice"?

Who are the others?

I don't know.

You don't know?

No, they just want me
to see if you guys know.

Wait a minute. Wait a minute.
But they know, right?

I mean, these are their photographs.

Yeah, I assume.

You assume? You didn't fucking ask?

It doesn't work like that.

- What the fuck, Toni-Ann?
- All right, all right.

So this is al-Mihdhar.
What else do you got?

Do you got a birth date?

- No.
- You got a passport number?

- No.
- These are fucking useless.

- What the fuck is this?
- Okay.

So thanks for the help.

You come in here.
You show us these photographs.

- You won't say why.
- I don't know why!

They keep this shit up,

more people are gonna get killed.

- It's fuckin' pathetic.
- What the fuck is this?

Got any other fucking photographs?

Whose side are you on?

The fucking Agency

is turning our own people against us.

You got a complaint? Write it up,

you put it through the proper channels.

Okay, yeah.

I'll go out and buy myself a stamp.

How about you drop the attitude?

How about you show
some loyalty to your men?

Where the fuck is John?
He should've been here today.

He got called to D. C.

How convenient.

I bet he did.

Hey, Bob. Forget John!

I'm your boss!


I don't know.

If Mr. American Ali
doesn't want to talk anymore,

let us end this conversation.


Take him away.

He never even met Bin Laden.

When you showed me the list
of suspects held here in Yemen,

Abu Jandal was on that list, correct?

How can I remember?

I remember.

Get him.


Unfortunately that won't be possible.

You want me to go to Qamish again?

Embarrass you again?


Go to who you like.

No one will let you speak
to Abu Jandal.

Are you giving her a ride?

Did her car break down?

Amy approached me with some concerns

regarding Mr. Ali Soufan's
recent correspondence

and your instructions as to response

or lack thereof.

She approached you?

She was concerned
you wouldn't take her seriously,

whereas I think
I've developed a reputation

among some of the analysts as having

a somewhat avuncular energy.

Oh, have you?

She raises some good questions.

I assured her you'd be reasonable.

I appreciate that
the Bureau and the Agency

play different roles,

but at the same time,

international terrorism
may call for some adjustment

in terms of how we deal
with intelligence issues.

I think that's very interesting.

The FBI has an intelligence branch.

But it's hard for me to see a downside.

Am I missing something?

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.

The 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 will be
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.

Our job is very simple.

Saudi Arabia must never go down.

We have a delicate but very...

special relationship.

Oh... look at that.

I'm low on gas.

I see.

I'm sorry. Thank you for your time.

You're tired. Take a sick day tomorrow.

Actually... take the week.

How often should
a married couple be making love?

Radicalism prospers

in the gap between rising expectations

and declining opportunities,

especially where the population
is largely impoverished,

where the art is impoverished,

and where the men are largely separated

from the women.

That is why we believe we are seeing

an abundance of it in the Middle East

as well as North Africa, central Asia,

Pakistan, Afghanistan.

Now, the origins
of Islamic fundamentalism,

we can save for another day.

But it's impossible to understand...



I have a lot of work to do.

The president has a lot of work to do.

So what I need from you today
is the short version.

How are you going
to advise the president

if you just skim the "Cliff Notes"?

I'd like to do a second degree.

I really would. I like to study.

But I don't have time.

I have another meeting in a half hour.

I told Reed
you should clear the morning.

And I told Reed
you do not dictate my schedule.

Reed? Turn the lights back on.

Please do not blow off the research.

You need to understand this.

We're talking about
the current greatest threat

- to national security...
- Then let's keep this very simple.

Who are they?

Who's who? Who's al-Qaeda?

- Right.
- That's precisely

what I'm trying to explain to you.

You reported directly
to President Clinton,

did you not?

I did. And President Clinton...

You won't be needed to report directly

to President Bush.

Take the deep dives. That's your job.

But when you put something in writing,

if you want it to get to the President,

keep it pithy.

- "Pithy"?
- Well, on point.

Like I said, everyone's very busy.

Abu Jandal has nothing
to do with the "Cole" bombing.

Speak in English, please.

- I like to practice.
- Fine.

Let's speak in English.

Your English is excellent, by the way.


You think flattery
will get you Abu Jandal.

It will not.

Why can't I speak to him?

Because there is no need.


You've spent your life
among soldiers...

Protecting them,
risking your life for them.

The men on the "Cole"
were soldiers... young soldiers.

Won't you help them?

First flattery, now guilt.

I'm surprised you didn't bring me

more of Brother John's cigars.

Brother John says,

"Let Brother Ali talk to Abu Jandal."

I'm sad to not do you this favor.

You don't seem sad.

My guess is, you are happy.

You are happy because by denying me,

you're making
the Yemeni government happy.

And they'll reward you.

What are you gonna get?

Another medal?

Bigger house?

Tell me something.

Did you commit to memory

all of the prisoners
held in Yemeni jails?

That name's
particularly easy to remember.

It means "father of death."

Ooh, gorgeous, Arnold.

That looks excellent.

- Why a giraffe?
- Mm-mm-mm.

Well, I know why giraffes
make me happy.

Um... I-I have to take this. Okay.


It's me. How are you?

What's wrong? What happened?

Nothing's happened.

But we said you'd only call me

when I'm at work
if there's an emergency.

That's why I leave the phone on.

That's why I bought the phone. I know.

There's no emergency. I...

I mean, I just got a break, and I'm...

Sorry. I'll go.

No, no, no. I just...

How are you? Is everything okay?

Totally fine.

How are you?

What are you doing right now?

How are the kids?

They're... they're great.

We're painting pictures

of what happiness looks like right now.

I assume you painted me.

How's Yemen?


You still won't say
that's where you are.

Can't say.

You can't say.

Are you close to catching anybody?

Hey, you know what?

I can't fucking talk about that.

Why would you even ask me that?

- I'm sorry. I just...
- Hey, just go teach, okay?

I shouldn't have called.

You didn't even want me to call.

No, you're right. I didn't.

I'm working.

Yeah, me too.

And I'm doing my fucking best, okay?


She hang up on you?

That's crazy.

You were being so charming.

Come on, man. Let's go back inside.

I mean, what am I supposed to do?

Turn the other cheek?

Be a lamb? You know what that means.

- Be passive?
- No.

Jesus never asks us to be passive.

Well, I gotta figure something out.

They're coming for me.

I don't know why, but they are.

- And how...
- You know what?

I do know why. Office politics.

I was never one
for office politics, you know?

I always told people,
"You can either love me"

"or hate me,
but your life will be easier"

"if you love me."

I guess that isn't working anymore.

So fine, I... you know...

I gotta deal with it,

kiss up to these guys...

treat them like a jealous girlfriend...

Buy them flowers,
talk pretty, you know?

Crazy waste of time when
lives are on the line.

Well, how are the things
in your personal life?

Professional troubles
never... seem so bad

if the home is a safe harbor.


The world's in chaos.


Men screw everything up.

I know I'm part of that.
We both know I'm part of that.

But I'm trying to put things right.

Do you want to make a confession?

Oh! Oh, God!

Oh, God, Johnny.

Oh, Johnny.

Oh, Johnny.

Oh, God! Johnny!

Oh, I love you! I love you, Johnny.

You can't blow these out.

- Careful, honey.
- Make a wish, girls.



I'm fine.

Everything's fine.

Hey, we leave at 6:00, Ali.

- Yeah, Mommy, I know.
- He's got to get his girl

something nice.

She's pissed at him.

My dad was a cop.

Worked a ton of overtime,

and my mom was always sad,
mad, long-suffering

'cause he was never home, and so...

he got sad and mad
and never wanted to be home.

And what teenage Floyd figured out

was that in this business,

you gotta date someone
in the same line of work.

Civilians don't get it.

Or they get it, but...
they just can't handle it.

Okay, when I get back,

I'm gonna ask out Kathy.

Okay, if you want to get your ass beat.

My friend!


We have better inside.

You come inside,
we drink tea, and I show.

We are not brothers.

This is the Western Union
at South Las Vegas Boulevard?

I'm calling to check the status
of money sent.

My tracking number is...


Good. Thank you.

Have a good day.

What are you doing here?

I missed you.

So you flew back?

I'm rotated out for the month.


I drew a picture of happiness
for you on the plane.

Who did that to you?

You can't tell me.

Can I come in?

Yeah, of course you can come in.

- I just...
- What?

Ali... this isn't working. I need...

- Don't break up with me.
- I never see you.

You disappear. You reappear.

I can't ask you anything.

- I know.
- I don't know who you are.

- I don't know what you do.
- No, you know who I am.

I don't want to live like this.

- This is not what I want for my life.
- You want someone

- totally predictable?
- No, no, I want...

I'm predictable.

- I'll always come home to you.
- Ali...

The second the plane lands...

I'll come home to you.

I hate not knowing where you are.

I hate that you might be in danger.

Of course you hate it.
It's good that you hate it.

Why is it good?

Because it means we're in love.


"When love beckons to you, follow him,

though his ways are hard and steep."

Kahlil Gibran.

Oh, really?

You're gonna quote poetry?

Hi, honey. I'm home.

Open your eyes.

So this is you?

This is my first bed in America.

In Pennsylvania.

And this is happiness because...

Because maybe after a week,
I realized I never had to

wake up in the middle
of the night again

and go to the bottom of the stairs.

Why would you go
to the bottom of the stairs?

That's the safest place

in a house when bombs are falling.

I got a tip yesterday.

- Pretty hot tip.
- Yeah?

"The New York Times" is gonna
publish a story on you.

I think I'd have heard about that.

Basic thrust is that
the security of the country

may be compromised

because the head
of counterterrorism in New York

was the subject
of intense internal scrutiny

following the loss of a briefcase

containing classified documents.

Where'd they get that from?

I have no idea.

So kill it.

I can kill it. I...

You... you don't think
I know the editor?

You think I haven't bought him dinner?

You need to resign.

No. No. I'm... I... look...

John. John, John, John.

I don't want to fire you.


So you need to resign.

I've been here 25 years.

You need to resign today.

Oh, no!

We lost your hat.


How... how old?

She'll be three. We just moved here.

She's never seen the sea before.

You want get up?

I'm gonna take her in.

Oh, yeah. That's right!

It's the sea. Yeah.

I normally don't attend

the weekly counterterrorism
meeting as a rule,

but I wanted to be here today
to underscore

that from the CIA's perspective,

there is nothing more urgent
than containing al-Qaeda.

Thank you, George.

I told your colleague the other day,

I don't deal in generalities.

I need specifics.

And specifics you shall have,
good lady.

The NSA's been hearing a lot of chatter

from various terrorist cells.

Correct, Michael? Roger that.

We're concerned
about a potential attack

on Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Israel...

The word "potential"
is inherently unspecific.

And Genoa, Italy,
for this year's G8 summit.

Hey, George?

Listen, I gotta tell you something.

I gotta tell all of you guys something.

I'm gone.

I'm out.

I heard.

So this is my last meeting.

It's my last one of these.

So I-I just want to say straight up

to the Agency guys, okay?

Maybe your people
won't talk to my people

because somebody's got
a hard-on for me.

But I'm out of here.
It's not about me anymore.

My people... my guys... are trying

to keep Americans safe.

Forget the fucking Genoese
for a second...

Maybe let Mr. Tenet finish, Mr....

Mr. O'Neill makes an excellent point.

There are terrorists here.

I explained to you
about the terrorist cells

and the transnational nature of...

Who is here?

Is there someone in the United States

that is a clear and present danger

that I need to be
worrying about right now,

or are you talking
about swatting flies?

Because the president has told me

he has no interest in swatting flies.

John's right.
We have had repeated trouble

with the sharing of information
between Alec Station and I-49.

Are you, George, aware

of any information
that hasn't been shared?

The president is correct.

We need to have
a comprehensive strategy,

which is why I'm meeting
with him on Tuesday

when he gets back from Texas.


Let's move on.

This is the ladies' room.

Or did you think you could have me too?

Don't you think the world
would be a better place

if two people could have
an honest conversation

about what's really going on?

I think the world
would be a better place

if old men didn't
hang around the ladies' room.

George Tenet, please.

Thank you.

- Yes.
- George?

We must speak.