Hijacking Catastrophe: 9/11, Fear and the Selling of American Empire

An addition to the fast-growing body of docus indicting the current Bush administration, "Hijacking Catastrophe" goes beyond simple Bush-bashing to paint a horrifying portrait of organized U.S. imperialist expansion and public deception stretching back to the early Reagan era. Lacking the humor and dramatic flair of "Fahrenheit 9/11," sober expose will reach a narrower audience of the previously converted.

With:
With: Tariq Ali, Benjamin Barber, Medea Benjamin, Noam Chomsky, Kevin Danaher, Mark Danner, Shadia Drury, Michael Dyson, Daniel Ellsberg, Michael Franti, Stan Goff, William Hartung, Robert Jensen, Chalmers Johnson, Jackson Katz, Michael T. Klare, Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatowski, Norman Mailer, Zia Mian, Mark Crispin Miller, Scott Ritter, Vandana Shiva, Norman Solomon, Greg Speeter, Fernando Suarez del Solar, Immanuel Wallerstein, Jody Williams, Max Wolff. Narrator: Julian Bond.

This review was corrected on July 14, 2004

A short, sharp addition to the fast-growing body of docus indicting the current Bush administration, “Hijacking Catastrophe” goes beyond simple Bush-bashing to paint a horrifying portrait of organized U.S. imperialist expansion and public deception stretching back to the early Reagan era. Lacking the humor and dramatic flair of “Fahrenheit 9/11,” sober expose will reach a narrower audience of the previously converted (at home if not necessarily abroad), but it’s a good choice for rep and fest programmers. It’s already available for dissemination in home formats, whilst playing big-screen benefit and limited-run dates.

Well-documented premise is that a few radical neo-conservatives first hatched theoretical foreign and domestic policies too extreme to be revealed — let alone fully implemented — during Reagan’s first term. Their wish list included such goals as the U.S. no longer honoring certain international treaties or the U.N.; an offensive, “pre-emptive” military approach toward invading other countries found problematic or desirable; artfully scaling back civil liberties and Constitutional rights; vast increases in defense spending.

More mainstream Republicans thought all this a little too hot to handle, whether they were in sympathy or not. Just one year before the 9/11attacks, former Defense Dept. honcho and neo-con theorist Paul Wolfowitz (who’d first formulated these ideas as an ideological package) noted in a report that progress toward such lofty goals was likely to be slow … unless some “catastrophic event … like a new Pearl Harbor” allowed them to be shoved down the public throat as patriotic national-security necessities.

History duly complied.

Point is that this way lies creeping fascism, not to mention catastrophic national debt (projected as $7 trillion by this year’s end) that could eventually lower living standards for every citizen, save the very rich. Noted en route is the status of various Bush Jr. honchos (Chaney, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, Wolfowitz, the prez himself) as “chicken hawks” who avoided their own military service in younger years, as well as the Hollywood-style management of W.’s macho, take-charge image, and the energy expended to keep the public “scared stupid” via vague warnings of further terrorism.

Commentators run a gamut that includes international diplomats and activists, leftist intellectuals (Noam Chomsky, Norman Mailer), investigative journos, and appalled (if safely retired) military personnel. Iraq civilian casualty photos provide the stomach-churning reality that’s been largely airbrushed from popular American reportage. News/archival appearances aside, however, no one representing or defending those accused is heard from — which will hurt the docu’s chances of being seen by anyone middle-to-right on the political scale.

Brisk package is well handed in tech departments.

Hijacking Catastrophe: 9/11, Fear and the Selling of American Empire

Production: A Media Education Foundation presentation. Produced by Jeremy Earp. Executive producer, Sut Jhally. Directed by Jeremy Earp, Sut Jhally.

Crew: Camera (color, DV), David Rabinovitz; editor, Kenyon King; original music/sound designer, Thom Monahan. Reviewed on videocassette, San Francisco, July 10. Running time: 68 MIN.

With: With: Tariq Ali, Benjamin Barber, Medea Benjamin, Noam Chomsky, Kevin Danaher, Mark Danner, Shadia Drury, Michael Dyson, Daniel Ellsberg, Michael Franti, Stan Goff, William Hartung, Robert Jensen, Chalmers Johnson, Jackson Katz, Michael T. Klare, Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatowski, Norman Mailer, Zia Mian, Mark Crispin Miller, Scott Ritter, Vandana Shiva, Norman Solomon, Greg Speeter, Fernando Suarez del Solar, Immanuel Wallerstein, Jody Williams, Max Wolff. Narrator: Julian Bond.

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