The Spymasters


The Spymasters pulls back the curtain on the Central Intelligence Agency: How far should America’s spymasters go to protect our safety? What is fair game – torture, secret prisons, lethal strikes against enemy combatants by remotely-piloted drones? What is the nature of modern terrorism, and how can we defeat it? In The Spymasters, now airing on Showtime, every living director of Central Intelligence grapples with these questions, taking viewers into the agency’s inner sanctum.



Charlie Rose
Charlie Rose The Week:
Examine the new documentary on the CIA, “Spymasters,”
Chris Whipple and Jules Naudet on Spymasters
CBS Interview
Documentary reveals how far CIA will go to fight terrorism
MSNBC Interview
Morning Joe:
Filmmakers explore inner workings of CIA
Charlie Rose
The Charlie Rose Show:
Filmmakers discuss their Showtime documentary on the CIA, “Spymasters”
The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell
The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell:
“The Spymasters” 12 CIA Directors Documentary Interview
CBS Interview
CBS News:
Comparing The Spymasters to Homeland

In The Spymasters, airing on Showtime, the CIA’s directors take viewers into the agency’s inner sanctum.


"Homeland on Steroids with Real People"

— Norah O'Donnell, CBS This Morning


"You Guys Blow It Out of the Water"

Joe Scarborough, Morning Joe, MSNBC


"Chris Whipple's Revelations......"

— New York Magazine


"... About the CIA's Urgent, Ignored Pleas"

— New York Magazine


"As Candid as Spooks Get"

— The Wall Street Journal


"Imperative to Watch"

— Entertainment Weekly


"Stunning and Riveting"

— Gayle King, CBS This Morning


"Bombshell New Interviews"

— Salon


"An Existential Battle for the CIA's Soul"

— The New York Daily News


"A Televised 'Truth & Reconciliation Commission'"

— Jeff Stein, Newsweek


In The Spymasters, airing on Showtime, the CIA’s directors take viewers into the agency’s inner sanctum.



NPR: Here & Now
Spymasters’ Documentary Goes Into The Minds Of CIA Leader

NPR: Fresh Air
Top CIA ‘Spymasters’ Agree: We Can’t Kill Our Way Out Of Terrorism

Variety Sirius Pop Politics Radio Show :
‘Spymasters’ Depicts ‘Battle for the Soul’ of CIA in War on Terror

The Alan Colmes Show:
When The Bush Administration Knew 9/11 Was Coming

The Dave Coombs show:
“The Spymasters,” narrated by Mandy Patinkin, is the brainchild of Chris Whipple.

Kilmeade and Friends: Fox News Radio
Spymasters’ Documentary Goes Into The Minds Of CIA Leader


‘The Attacks Will Be Spectacular’

Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” The CIA’s famous Presidential Daily Brief, presented to George W. Bush on August 6, 2001, has always been Exhibit A in the case that his administration shrugged off warnings of an Al Qaeda attack.

Chris Whipple on Spymasters and the ‘Sobering’ New Security Threats

It was wall-to-wall mavens, moguls and machers at Michael’s today. ‘Tis the season and all that. I was joined by media multi-hyphenate Chris Whipple, whose work as a journalist, writer and documentary filmmaker has garnered him a case full of Peabody and Emmy Awards — and more war stories than I could possibly even try to cram into one column.

‘We can not kill our way out of this’

After 9/11, did the urge the strike with vengeance seriously weaken effective intelligent gathering analysis and espionage?

Showtime’s CIA Documentary Takes On New Relevance After the Paris Attacks

Before he wrote Harlot’s Ghost, his novel about the Central Intelligence Agency, Norman Mailer wrote an essay proposing five “models” for understanding the organization. He knew (and Le Carré did, too): The CIA is a vast bureaucracy staffed by gifted, if not necessarily glamorous, civil servants.

New CIA Documentary Puts Spymasters Under the Klieg Lights

George Tenet, the former CIA director, has been understandably reluctant about giving interviews since he resigned from the spy agency 11 years ago. After all, he was the nation’s top intelligence officer during three of the nation’s most troubling espionage failures: the 1999 bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, Serbia; the September 11, 2001, attacks; and George W. Bush’s disastrous invasion of Iraq, which the CIA enabled with its false finding that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.

How the makers of ‘The Spymasters’ got former CIA directors to open up

In the opening act of the documentary “The Spymasters: CIA in the Crosshairs,” former Director Leon Panetta admits to authorizing a 2010 drone strike that killed an Al Qaeda member implicated in the deaths of seven CIA operatives.

Showtime Documentary Presses CIA Leaders on Drones, Torture

The Spymasters helps viewers understand the mindset behind controversial decisions.
Pardon the unintended wordplay, but the signature moment of Showtime’s remarkable new documentary, The Spymasters—CIA In The Crosshairs, comes near its end, when a producer asks Mike Morrell, the agency’s former acting director, about the implications of what are known in the killer-drone biz as “signature strikes”—missile attacks on unidentified people not because they’re known terrorists, but because a drone operator thinks they might be based on the fact that they’re carrying weapons or otherwise behaving suspiciously.

Fighting Terrorism Was the Biggest Weakness of the Bush Administration

When Donald Trump impugned the honor of his brother earlier this year, Jeb Bush proudly fell back on the achievement of the Dubya administration that has endured in public memory, despite his other failures: “He kept us safe.” Even in 2008, at the nadir of Bush’s presidency, Americans still gave him a fair measure of credit in this area. But the impression that Bush was successful, or even especially well-focused, on protecting Americans from terrorism is an inversion of reality, and the fact that it can still be asserted with a straight face is the residue of one of the most successful propaganda campaigns in American history.

Bush and Cheney were warned. Bush and Cheney yawned. And then 9/11 happened

Bombshell new interviews with CIA officials make clear what we’ve always suspected: Their negligence is horrifying.

Documentarian Chris Whipple has some new bombshell revelations about how the Bush administration ignored the advance warnings of 9/11 in story for Politico, “The Attacks Will Be Spectacular,” a spin-off of his documentary, “The Spymasters,” set to air this month on Showtime, in which he interviews all 12 living former CIA directors.

Showtime documentary collects all of the former CIA chiefs

His new subject? Former directors of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Much to the surprise of Naudet and fellow producers, former CIA chiefs and other key officials agreed to participate. At a time the agency’s work seems more important than ever, they talk bluntly about terror threats, drone strikes, secret interrogation sites and torture for a documentary that premieres on Showtime on Saturday at 9 p.m. ET.

How Showtime’s CIA terrorism documentary The Spymasters went from novel to necessary

Showtime’s documentary The Spymasters — CIA in the Crosshairs was never going to be comfort viewing; all 12 living CIA directors collectively speak on record for the first time, delving deep into the disquieting truths about terrorism, tragedy, interrogation, and the game-changing decisions these men of espionage made when desperate worlds turned to them.

Showtime’s ‘The Spymasters: CIA in the Crosshairs’ paints vivid picture of the struggle within the agency

The most stunning aspect of “The Spymasters: CIA in the Crosshairs,” Showtime’s new documentary about the agency, is how the 12 living directors of the world’s most covert organization disagree so much. They reflect what’s clearly an existential battle for the soul of America’s intelligence-gathering agency.

The ‘Spymasters’ Review: As Candid as Spooks Get

You don’t expect a lot of laughs from “The Spymasters: CIA in the Crosshairs,” especially given the confluence of content and current events. And you don’t get them. Still, it’s hard not to chuckle when the subject turns to “signature strikes”—the deaths-by-drone perpetrated against suspected terrorists “where the evidence may not be that clear,” according to Robert Gates, one of 12 former or current directors of U.S. Central Intelligence interviewed for the two-hour documentary.

Former CIA director blasts waterboarding in Showtime doc

Although Donald Trump says he’d bring back waterboarding as an interrogation technique as commander in chief, claiming, “Only a stupid person would say it doesn’t work,” intelligence veterans debate the practice in a Thanksgiving-weekend Showtime doc, “The Spymasters: CIA in the Crosshairs.”

The film includes interviews with 12 CIA chiefs. Gen. Michael Hayden, director under George W. Bush, says: “If some future president is going to decide to waterboard, he’d better bring his own bucket, because he’s going to have to do it himself.”

The red carpet and private screening of Showtime’s documentary ‘The Spymasters

Gedeon Naudet, Director and Executive Producer, The Spymasters, David Hume Kennerly, Executive Producer, The Spymasters, Susan Zirinsky, Executive Producer, The Spymasters, Chris Whipple, Writer and Executive Producer, The Spymasters, and Jules Naudet, Director and Executive Producer, The Spymasters, attend the red carpet and private screening of Showtime’s documentary ‘The Spymasters – CIA In The Crosshairs’ at The National Press Club on November 18, 2015 in Washington, DC.

Bush administration ignored CIA warnings in the months before 9/11 that ‘spectacular’ terrorist attack on the U.S. was imminent and ‘just didn’t get that we were going to be struck’, former top agency officials reveal

  • Condoleezza Rice was told in July 2001 Al Qaeda was planning ‘significant terrorist attacks against the United States in the coming weeks or months’
  • Former CIA counterterrorism center chief Cofer Black and ex-agency director George Tenet revealed the warning was largely ignored before 9/11

Former CIA Directors Disagree On Torture

“We were asked to do some very hard things.”

A sneak peek of a soon-to-be-released documentary reveals mixed sentiments among former directors of the Central Intelligence Agency on the United States’ use of torture.

All 12 living directors of the CIA were interviewed for “The Spymasters — CIA In The Crosshairs,” a documentary that covers the full spectrum of controversies the agency has been faced with in recent years, including secret prisons and drone strikes.

Showtime’s ‘Spymasters’ Documentary Delves Into The Inner Workings Of The CIA

We’re getting a first look at Showtime’s upcoming documentary The Spymasters: CIA In The Crosshairs, which premieres November 28.

Written by Chris Whipple (The President’s Gatekeepers) and narrated by Mandy Patinkin (who plays former CIA head Saul Berenson on Showtime’s Homeland), the film looks inside the agency’s controversial conduct in the war on terror – marked by the use of brutal interrogation techniques, secret prisons and lethal drone warfare.

Mandy Patinkin to Narrate Showtime Provocative Documentary THE SPYMASTERS; Watch Preview

For the first time in history, all 12 living directors of the CIA will be interviewed in THE SPYMASTERS – CIA IN THE CROSSHAIRS, a two-hour documentary premiering Saturday, November 28 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime across all platforms. Narrated by Emmy® and Tony® winner Mandy Patinkin (Homeland), the film offers a remarkable inside look into the spy agency’s controversial conduct in the war on terror – marked by the use of brutal interrogation techniques, secret prisons and lethal drone warfare. Written by Chris Whipple (The President’s Gatekeepers), THE SPYMASTERS is directed by Jules and Gédéon Naudet (the Emmy, Peabody® and DuPont® award-winning 9/11) in a joint Showtime and CBS News production. Executive producers are Jules and Gédéon Naudet, Chris Whipple, Susan Zirinsky and David Hume Kennerly.

Mandy Patinkin to Narrate Showtime CIA Documentary ‘The Spymasters’

The network also announced their late 2015 documentary slate, including ones that explore the lives of Marlon Brando, Jimi Hendrix, Suge Knight and Barney Frank.

Mandy Patinkin is moving from a show about a fake CIA to a project about the real one.

The Homeland star will narrate Showtime’s new documentary, The Spymasters, which looks at the world’s most powerful and clandestine spy agency and the men who ran it. It will premiere November 28 at 9 p.m.

‘Homeland’ star Mandy Patinkin narrating ‘Spymasters’ documentary

Homeland star Mandy Patinkin will narrate The Spymasters, a Showtime documentary about the clandestine agents who work for the Central Intelligence Agency.

“For the first time ever, all 12 living directors of the CIA, and the agency’s top operatives, have given remarkable, introspective interviews and unprecedented access to America’s spy network,” the cable television network said in a news release.



CIA DIRECTOR, 2012-2013

CIA DIRECTOR, 2009-2011

CIA DIRECTOR, 2006-2009

CIA DIRECTOR, 2004-2006

CIA DIRECTOR, 1997-2004

CIA DIRECTOR, 1996-1997

CIA DIRECTOR, 1993-1995

CIA DIRECTOR, 1991-1993

CIA DIRECTOR, 1987-1991

CIA DIRECTOR, 1977-1980

CIA DIRECTOR, 1976-1977

ACTING CIA DIRECTOR, 2011, 2012-2013





On the set

Photographs by David Hume Kennerly