One of the expert talking heads featured in Laura Poitras’s astonishing Edward Snowden documentary ‘CitizenFour’, former National Security Agency (NSA) deputy director William Binney gets to tell his own story in this informative but rather dry doc. The architect of a global metadata-tracking programme that he’s convinced could have detected and prevented 9/11 if the NSA higher-ups had given it the green light, Binney is not reluctant to praise his own abilities. But he also comes across as a little naive – could he not have foreseen that this same programme would later be retooled and used to gather information on American citizens?
The filmmaking is solid and unflashy – a blend of talking heads, archive footage and subtly employed recreations – though the soundtrack can be a little invasive, and it would’ve been nice to hear from voices outside of Binney and his immediate team. Still, the picture it paints of America’s frontline intelligence services – confused, internally quarrelsome and completely in hock to corporate interests – is fascinating.