Documentary reveals how far CIA will go to fight terrorism

A new documentary reveals the inner workings of the world's most powerful, covert intelligence organizations.

In "The Spymasters: CIA in the Crosshairs," all 12 living former CIA directors talk candidly about the controversial measures taken to keep America safe -- including secret prisons, the use of torture and brutal interrogations - as well as past security failures.

In one excerpt, the film captures the drama of events before the September 11th terrorist attacks, when former CIA Director George Tenet and his Director of Counterterrorism Cofer Black warn the White House of serious threats to the United States.

In July 2001, they raised the alarm to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice in an emergency meeting as well as in multiple daily briefings for the president, but writer Chris Whipple says Tenet felt that his warnings were not ignored.

"There was a drumbeat of threats from al Qaeda. The problem was it wasn't specific and actionable," Whipple explained. ""What [Tenet] says is that it was probably too late. You would have to - as he put it - button down the airports, button down the buildings, then cancel the visa policies and at this point, two of the hijackers were already here as we now know."

Whipple also dismissed the idea that the CIA did not return to the issue, saying, "At the end of the day... I think they play by the rules of listening, (getting) their marching orders (from) the president."

"I think it goes back to what Michael Morell said that it was not a failure of intelligence - it's a national failure," added co-director Jules Naudet. "We could never have implemented what needed to be implemented before 9/11 because people were not ready for it."

While all 12 directors agree that 9/11 was not a failure of intelligence, the filmmakers said they had "passionate" disagreements about everything from the mission of the CIA, to its brutal interrogation methods, to the use of lethal drone strikes and the fight against terrorism.

"We called it a 'battle for the soul of the CIA,'" Whipple described. "There really is kind of an existential crisis going on in the CIA."

The filmmakers also relayed to the growing fears of the fight against terrorism, following the Paris attacks.

"It goes back to I think a point of where it's coming out, much more of what has happened in Paris - is the former directors are complaining that we are killing people too much, but we're not capturing them," said Naudet.

"The Spymasters: CIA in the Crosshairs," premieres on Showtime on Nov. 28 at 9 p.m. EST.