The Oath

PBS Premiere: Sept. 21, 2010Check the broadcast schedule »

Links & Books


The Oath
The filmmaker's site for The Oath includes a trailer, reviews and information about the film and filmmakers.


Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda

Council on Foreign Relations. "Profile: Osama bin Laden."
A brief dossier on Osama bin Laden compiled by the Council on Foreign Relations covers his history, family, ideology, backing, authority, attitude toward the United States, movements and connection to Iraq.

Council on Foreign Relations. "Al Qaeda."
A succinct profile of Al Qaeda compiled by the Council on Foreign Relations covers the network's origins, leaders, structure, allies and major attacks.

The New York Times. "Times Topics: Al Qaeda."
This page serves as a helpful clearinghouse of documents and articles on Al Qaeda from The New York Times and other sources.

TIME. "The Most Wanted Man In The World."
This rigorously reported profile of Osama bin Laden was published shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks. (September 24, 2001)


The Commission: What We Didn't Know About 9/11 (New York: Twelve, 2008)
New York Times reporter Philip Shenon reveals startling details about the 9/11 investigation and tells the inside story of the federal commission proceedings.

Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 (New York: Penguin Press, 2004)
Steve Coll reveals startling details of the CIA's involvement in the evolution of the Taliban and Al Qaeda in the years prior to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century (New York: Penguin Press, 2008)
Steve Coll tells the story of the rise and fall of the bin Laden family, shedding new light on Osama bin Laden's family circle.

Al Qaeda and Yemen

BBC. "Yemen Country Profile."
This BBC profile provides basic information about Yemen, its culture, its leaders and its media.

Council on Foreign Relations. "Islamist Radicalism in Yemen."
This recently compiled Council on Foreign Relations backgrounder includes information on Yemen's internal challenges, relations with Al Qaeda and local terrorist networks and counterterrorism efforts.

Saba News Agency
Yemen's state-run, English-language news agency covers news of local and international interest.

The New York Times Magazine. "Is Yemen the Next Afghanistan?"
In this ambitious feature in The New York Times Magazine, Robert F. Worth shows how poverty, corruption, distrust of government and military opportunity have combined to make this struggling Middle Eastern country a hotbed for jihadis and Al Qaeda. (July 6, 2010)


Osama: The Making of a Terrorist (New York: Knopf, 2004)
Jonathan Randal's biography of bin Laden presents a history of the contemporary jihadi movement, from its roots in Afghanistan in the 1980s through the September 11, 2001 attacks and beyond.

The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006)
For this Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Lawrence Wright conducted more than 500 interviews with everyone from friends of bin Laden to an Al Jazeera reporter to White House counterterrorism chief Richard A. Clarke. The result is a comprehensive examination of the events of September 11, 2001 that is both personal and historical.

An End to Al Qaeda: Destroying Bin Laden's Jihad and Restoring America's Honor (New York: St. Martin's Press, 2010)
Intelligence veteran Malcolm Nance proposes a dramatic shift in efforts to eliminate Al Qaeda, including exposing its mission to seize control of Islam.

Hamdan v. Rumsfeld

Hamdan v. Rumsfeld Petition
These documents are from the lawsuit in which Salim Hamdan challenged the lawfulness of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's plan to try him for alleged war crimes before a military commission convened under special orders by President George W. Bush rather than before a court-martial convened under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The government moved to dismiss -- that motion was denied.

U.S. Department of Defense. "United States of America v. Hamdan." (PDF)
This summary of charges is provided by the U.S. Department of Defense.

U.S. Department of Defense. "Salim Ahmed Hamdan."
These transcripts of testimony and exhibits are provided by the U.S. Department of Defense.

The New York Times. "Multimedia Presentation: Hamdan v. Rumsfeld."
The New York Times offers audio recording from the March 28, 2006 Supreme Court hearing on the government's plans to try Hamdan before a military commission.

Hamdan v. Rumsfeld
This complete site gathers briefs, decisions and news of the landmark case.

The New York Times. "Times Topics: Salim Ahmed Hamdan."
This pages serves as a helpful clearinghouse for documents and articles from The New York Times and other sources related to Hamdan.

The New York Review of Books. "Why the Court Said No."
David Cole, professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center analyzes Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. (August 10, 2006)

Guantánamo/Interrogation/Military Commissions

Human Rights Watch. "Guantánamo."
Human Rights Watch's portal for information about Guantánamo includes up-to-date reports, news releases and commentaries. See also the group's portals on military commissions and detention without trial.

Amnesty International. "Guantánamo, Bagram and Illegal U.S. Detentions."
Amnesty International gathers background information, reports and action steps related to Guantánamo and illegal detentions.

The New York Times. "Times Topics: Guantánamo Bay Naval Base (Cuba)."
This helpful clearinghouse organizes documents and articles from The New York Times and other sources related to the naval base at Guantánamo.

The New York Times. "Times Topics: Military Commissions."
This is another helpful clearinghouse of documents and articles from The New York Times and other sources, in this case on military commissions.

The New Yorker. "Camp Justice."
Jeffrey Toobin examines just one of several factors that complicate the proposed closing of Guantánamo. (April 14, 2008)

The New York Times. "Guantánamo Drives Prisoners Insane, Lawyers Say."
William Glaberson reports that Hamdan's lawyers claim he was driven insane by spending 22 hours a day in solitary confinement, and therefore he cannot prepare for or receive a fair trial. (April 26, 2008)

The New Yorker. "Hellhole."
The United States holds tens of thousands of inmates in long-term solitary confinement. Is this torture? Atul Gawande considers the issue. (March 30, 2009)

The New Yorker. "Inside The Wire."
Jeffrey Toobin profiles the appointed lead defense counsel in the trials by military tribunal of the detainees at Guantánamo Bay, analyzing the George W. Bush administration's approach to trying war criminals and "the place of the rule of law in this new kind of war." (February 9, 2004)

The New York Review of Books. "Official American Sadism."
Anthony Lewis looks at the American military's questionable treatment of political prisoners under the Bush administration. (September 25, 2008)

The New York Review of Books. "The Prisoners Speak."
Jonathan Raban reviews three accounts of treatment of prisoners in Guantánamo. (October 5, 2006)

The New York Times. "Media Seek Looser Guantánamo Rules."
Jeremy W. Peters reports that a coalition of news organizations has demanded that the Pentagon relax restrictions on what can be revealed about Guantánamo. (July 20, 2010)


Enemy Combatant: My Imprisonment at Guantánamo, Bagram and Kandahar (New York: New Press, 2006)
Moazzam Begg, writing with Victoria Brittain, tells of his abduction by U.S. forces and detainment by U.S. forces at Guantánamo and elsewhere. A British Muslim of Pakistani descent, Begg also writes about what led him to become involved with Islamic political causes.

Guantánamo and the Abuse of Presidential Power (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006)
Author Joseph Margulies was the lead attorney in the landmark Supreme Court case Rasul v. Bush, which established that the U.S. court system has the authority to decide whether non-U.S. citizens held at Guantánamo Bay are wrongfully imprisoned. He criticizes the actions of the U.S. government, writing that Guantánamo and similar extraterritorial detention centers have become "prisons beyond the law," where officials defy the guidelines set out in the Geneva Conventions, holding prisoners indefinitely and in solitary confinement without access to counsel. Margulies bases his reporting on firsthand accounts from both military personnel and prisoners.

Abu Ghraib

The New Yorker. "Torture at Abu Ghraib."
American soldiers brutalized Iraqis. How far up does the responsibility go? Seymour M. Hersh discusses the atrocities at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq -- and who is ultimately responsible. (May 10, 2004) "The Abu Ghraib Files." presents an archive of 279 photos and 19 videos of Abu Ghraib abuse gathered by the Army's Criminal Investigation Command (CID), as well as information drawn from CID's timeline of events. Essays and analysis by a team of writers are also featured. (March 14, 2006)

The Washington Post. "Abu Ghraib Tactics Were First Used at Guantánamo."
Josh White reveals that the practices that shocked the world when they were discovered at Abu Ghraib were approved by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld as part of a special interrogation plan aimed at breaking down an alleged conspirator in the September 11, 2001 attacks. (July 14, 2005)


Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib, and the War on Terror (New York: New York Review Books, 2004)
This hefty 580-page book takes as its starting point essays that Mark Danner, a New Yorker staff writer, wrote for The New York Review of Books just after the Abu Ghraib photographs came to light in 2004. Danner goes behind the images of abuse that shocked the world to the leadership and policy decisions that allowed them.

Abu Ghraib: The Politics of Torture (Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 2004)
This collection of essays from nine prominent thinkers examines the Abu Ghraib scandal from different perspectives. Social critic and feminist Barbara Ehrenreich writes about how the images affected her ideas about women in the military; former deputy mayor of Jerusalem Meron Benvenisti considers refugees and the displaced.

Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib (New York: HarperCollins, 2004)
New Yorker writer and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour M. Hersh investigates the so-called "war on terror," drawing connections between early mistakes in the hunt for Al Qaeda, troubles on the ground in Iraq and the Abu Ghraib scandal.

From NPR and PBS


Morning Edition. "Guantánamo Trial to Begin for Youngest Prisoner."
Preparations are under way at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, for the first military tribunal under the Obama administration. Omar Khadr was captured in Afghanistan and brought to Guantánamo eight years earlier, when he was just 15 years old. Karen Greenberg, author of The Least Worst Place: Guantánamo's First 100 Days, talks to Renee Montagne about Khadr. (August 10, 2010)

Morning Edition. "Free From Guantánamo, He Seeks Afghan Office."
Izatullah Nusrat, a 42-year-old village elder from a town near Kabul, was held in Guantánamo for five years before authorities decided he wasn't a threat. Now he's running for the Afghan parliament. (August 10, 2010)

All Things Considered. "Little Progress on Closing Guantánamo as Trials Start."
Progress toward making President Obama's pledge to close Guantánamo a reality is slow. More than 60 prisoners have been relocated since he took office, but politicians on both sides of the aisle have objected to bringing any to American soil, and more than 100 are still being held. (August 10, 2010)

Talk of the Nation. "The Growing Power Of Al-Qaida In Yemen."
Racked by political chaos and tribal feuds, Yemen is one of the Middle East's poorest countries. It is also increasingly frequently a base of operations for Al Qaeda propaganda and attacks on the United States and other nations. Robert Worth, Beirut bureau chief for The New York Times, talks about why Yemen may be the next Afghanistan. (July 13, 2010)

Fresh Air. "Laura Poitras, Puzzling Over a Jihadi's Journey."
Filmmaker Laura Poitras talks about the making of The Oath. "What we tried to do in the film was take you into the psychological mystery of what does this guy [Abu Jandal] believe, where does he come from and how is he surviving now?" she says. "We wanted the audience to be drawn into his charisma, because this is a guy who ran a guest house [for bin Laden]. And young men seek him out for teaching. . . He has this sort of a power, and he actually talks about it -- the art of influencing people." (June 2, 2010)

All Things Considered. "U.S. Dilemma: Yemeni Detainees at Guantánamo."
A disproportionate number of Guantánamo detainees hail from Yemen. Presidents Bush and Obama have both sought to release these men to Yemen, but officials do not believe they can trust the Yemeni government to monitor and rehabilitate the men as needed. (January 4, 2010)

Morning Edition. "Conditions in Yemen Ripe for Terrorist Groups."
The suspect taken into custody for detonating explosives on an airliner near Detroit apparently told authorities he had gotten the explosive material from a bomb expert in Yemen. Richard Fontaine of the Center for a New American Security talks to Linda Wertheimer about deteriorating security in Yemen and U.S. efforts to fight terrorism there. The center develops national security and defense policies that protect U.S. interests. (December 29, 2009)

Morning Edition. "At What Cost? Moving Guantánamo Inmates To Ill."
A proposed plan to convert an Illinois prison into a detention center for Guantánamo inmates sparks heated debate. (December 22, 2009)

All Things Considered. "Guantánamo Jury Gives Hamdan Light Sentence."
A military jury at Guantánamo Bay sentenced bin Laden's driver to five and a half years in prison, making Hamdan eligible for release in just six months. (August 7, 2008)

All Things Considered. "'Hamdan v. Rumsfeld': Path to a Landmark Ruling."
This radio story provides clear, concise background on the landmark case. (September 5, 2006)


POV. My Country, My Country.
Laura Poitras creates an extraordinarily intimate portrait of Iraqis living under U.S. occupation in the first of her three-part series on the post-9/11 United States.

PBS NewsHour. "Yemen Lacks Counterterrorism Resources to Halt Jihadists."
As part of a series of reports from Yemen, Margaret Warner reports on the country's antiterrorism units on the Arabian Peninsula and the impact of military aid from the United States on the impoverished country's the fight against Al Qaeda. (March 24, 2010)

PBS NewsHour. "Bin Laden's Ex-Driver Sentenced to 5 1/2 Years."
A military jury sentenced bin Laden's former driver, Hamdan, to five and a half years in prison, making him eligible for parole in six months. (August 7, 2008)

PBS NewsHour. "Gitmo Trial Begins, But Questions Loom Over Detainee Legal Process."
After years of legal delays, the trial of bin Laden's former driver began at Guantánamo, marking the first full-scale military tribunal at the base since its opening in 2001. Two legal experts examine the future of the detainee program. (July 21, 2008)

NOW. "Guantánamo Justice?"
NOW looks at a strong blow to the George W. Bush administration's detainee policy and the military lawyer who dealt it. David Brancaccio talks with Charles Swift, whose Supreme Court victory on behalf of his client, a Guantánamo Bay detainee, successfully challenged the Bush administration's detainee policy. (August 3, 2007)