Episode 151, with guests Michael Kirk and Terry Lenzner

Michael Kirk and Terry Lenzner are our guests this week.
Show produced by Katherine Caperton.
Original Air Date: May 17, 2014 on SiriusXM “POTUS” Channel 124.
PoliOptics airs on POTUS on Saturdays at 8 am & 6 pm, Sundays at 4 am & 5 pm and Mondays at 2 am.
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This week’s show is a trip into Washington’s darkest shadows.

My first guest, Michael Kirk, is someone I’ve admired from afar for many years. His filmography spans the history of PBS’s spectacular FRONTLINE documentary series, the most recent offering of which is “The United States of Secrets.” Michael wrote and directed Part 1 of the two-parter — “The Program” — which premiered on PBS on May 13 and which you can watch below.

On past shows, we’ve hosted a number of those Michael interviews for “The Program,” including Peter Baker and Ryan Lizza, and we’ve tried to dive deep into elements of the 9/11 story, but in reality we’ve only scratched the surface. In his signature FRONTLINE style, and with the hypnotic narration of Will Lyman, the attentive viewer will have a better sense than ever before of how 9/11 initiated the most ambitious and audacious effort in U.S. history to tap into the metadata and communications of people inside the United States in an effort to “get into the fight” in the War on Terror.

Watching Michael’s film, you’ll come to understand how people at the National Security Agency sought the ability to analyze communications patterns before 9/11 and how the events of that day unleashed a furious legal and technological effort to open the potential signals intelligence treasure chest of everyday phone calls, emails and internet searches that course through U.S.-based servers. The effort saw government officials pitted against on one another and also involved journalists pitted against their editors and bureau chiefs for the chance to tell the story.

The bookends of Michael Kirk’s arresting documentary show the dramatic “tick tock” of how Edward Snowden sought out Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and others to make a vast archive of documents available that began to shed light on the full extent of “The Program.”

Part 2 of “The United States of Secrets” airs Tuesday, May 20 on PBS stations.

* * *

Our second guest, Terry Lenzner, gathered his intelligence the old fashioned way: through gritty gumshoe detective work. While “The Program” sifted through countless terabytes of data searching for patterns that might lead to brewing conspiracies, Terry’s team at Investigative Group International sometimes took to sifting through dumpsters looking for clues from discarded trash.

Over the course of 50 years, Terry has found himself in the middle of some of the country’s toughest issues, from the Civil Rights struggle in Mississippi to Watergate to the impeachment of President Clinton, plus a long list of mysteries and scandals on behalf of public and private clients, which he chronicles carefully in new new book.

Reflecting on a long career that brought him from Harvard to Washington, Terry is now the author of The Investigator: Fifty Years of Uncovering the Truth, from Blue Rider Press.

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