The power of nightmares is a very good documentary series shown on the BBC last year.
It looks back at the way fear has been misused by governments to control their people and get laws enacted. It focuses on the US on the one hand, looking at the tactics used during the cold war and refers heavily to de-classified documents.
It also traces the roots of Al Qaeda and gives insights into its formation.
The bombshell is that basically Al Qaeda has been built up by the US into being something that is more that it is in actuality - and concludes that Al Qaeda (as we understsand it - a distinct organisation - does not actually exist at all. Bin-Laden etc do head up "Al Qaeda", but their capabilities etc are as real as the Soviet anti-missile or stealth submarine technology that the US used to justify billions of dollars in arms expenditure. The bizare parallel with Al Qaeda was the double-logic used - "there is no evidence of the Russian subs/missiles/wmd etc - therefore they must have more sophisicated technology than we assumed to keep them so well hidden!" This same logic was applied prior to Iraq war where data from intelligence community showing no threats were re-interpreted by a White House appointed committee.. and the same is being applied to Al Qaeda ..."we can't find the organisation in our countries...therefore they are very well hidden!")
I found the series of programmes very enlightening and factual - a recommended watch. I didn't know it was on YouTube - I hope the whole series is on there as it needs to be watched from the beginning to see how everything is interwined.