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Series / The Looming Tower

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The Looming Tower is a 2018 mini-series on Hulu about the intelligence failures in the CIA and FBI that led to 9/11, starring Jeff Daniels, Tahar Rahim, Peter Sarsgaard, Michael Stulhbarg and Alec Baldwin.


Tropes in this series include:

  • Cassandra Truth: O'Neill keeps trying to get his bosses and the other agencies to take Al-Qaeda seriously and aid their investigations. Schmidt, though hostile to the FBI investigation, also has problems getting his own bosses at the CIA to consider the threat.
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  • General Ripper: Schmidt believes the only way to stop al-Qaeda is indiscriminate missile strikes.
  • Interservice Rivalry: The battle between the FBI and the CIA over information-sharing is the driving conflict of the entire show.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Martin Schmidt is a supreme asshole and consistently argues for military action based on sketchy intel, some of which has disastrous results. However, he is one of the few people in the CIA who treats al-Qaeda like the threat that it is.
  • My Greatest Failure: 9/11 is a massive failure for almost all the characters (Richard Clarke is the only one to make the trope explicit though).
  • Pull the Thread: The Nairobi bomber claims to be a simple traveler, and that he has no ID because he lost all his travel belongings in the bombing. When Agent Chesney points out that his clothes are completely free of dust or dirt, the bomber claims that he cleaned the debris off of them. Not only is it not likely that he managed to get his clothes that clean, especially with the bloodstains he'd have had to remove, Chesney also catches that he wouldn't have laundered his also-spotless shoes and belt... the latter of which even still has the price tag on it.
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  • Raised Catholic: O'Neill is lapsed but one of his girlfriends is devout and the weight of his sins is very heavy on his shoulders.
  • Stunned Silence: Clarke is dumbstruck when Condoleezza Rice says they're going to connect 9/11 to Saddam Hussein.
  • The War on Terror: Focuses on pre-9/11 events, from the 1998 Embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya, the USS Cole attack, and the immediate aftermath of 9/11.
  • Your Cheating Heart: John O'Neill has two girlfriends, neither of whom know about each other, and both of whom think he's divorced from his wife when he's only separated.


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