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A real nightmare

The influential BBC documentary "The Power of Nightmares" argued that al Qaeda is largely a phantom of the US national security apparatus's imagination. Even before the bombs in London, the thesis deserved scepticism. The Bush administration in fact ignored Islamic terrorism before 9/11

By Peter Bergen   August 2005

“The Power of Nightmares” is arguably the most important film yet made about the “war on terror.” The three-part television documentary by Adam Curtis shown last autumn on BBC2—and now turned into a three-hour documentary feature film—is more intellectually engaging, more historically probing and more provocative than any of its rivals, including Fahrenheit 9/11. But although the new film version has been shown at Cannes and at a few festivals in the US, it has yet to find an American distributor. The reservations are understandable. For the documentary asserts that al Qaeda is largely a phantom of the imagination of…

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