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The Interrogator aka The State of the Union

A U.S. Army interrogator in Afghanistan uncovers details of an al-Qaeda plot to detonate a nuclear device in Washington, DC as the President delivers his State of the Union Address. But, in the process of interrogation, SHE bonds with her prisoner and fights to save him from the death sentence brought on by his own disclosures.

A young woman full of revenge, DAWN STONE, enlists in the Army after her fiance’ is killed in an al-Qaeda 9/11-type attack on the Statue of Liberty. After interrogator training, Dawn’s shipped to Kandahar, Afghanistan where she’s assigned to interrogate ALI BIN HOC, a captured low-level Mujhedin EC (Enemy Combatant).

Her first encounter with Ali ends badly. He refuses to speak to her because she’s a woman, and she, in turn, loses her temper with him. Her Sergeant, GEORGE BADER, who doesn’t like women interrogators, terminates her interrogation of Ali and won’t let her continue until she undergoes anger management counseling by the base chaplain. Reluctantly she does so and discovers from the chaplain that Sergeant Bader has set her up. She uses this information against Bader to gain his permission to continue her interrogation of Ali.

Using skills she’s learned in training and information from the Quran, she overcomes Ali’s reluctance to talk to her, and in so doing, discovers that a U.S. bombing raid on his village killed his family. They have something in common.

Over the weeks that follow, Dawn gets more and more humintel out of Ali and a bond forms between the two of them. But, Bader gives Dawn a hard time. He doesn’t trust the information that Ali gives her. He points out subtle inconsistencies in Ali’s stories, and shows her records that no civilian casualties ever occurred in Ali’s village. Dawn digs deeper and discovers that Ali is not the little fish everyone thought him to be.

In a stunning display of subtle interrogation and the unauthorized use of “stress and duress” techniques, she learns Ali is really NADIR SPAK, a Mujhedin commander who, before he was captured, led a recent raid on the air base. She also learns there’s another al-Qaeda attack planned for American soil, one that‘s designed to wipe out the top levels of all branches of our government in one shot.

When Nadir breaks his trust in Dawn by refusing to talk about the coming attack, a military tribunal sentences him to be executed for his role in the attack on the base. Sergeant Bader seizes on the fact that Dawn broke the rules of interrogation to get her information and cuts papers to have her transferred back to the states. In a last ditch effort, with the help of the chaplain, Dawn bargains with the military tribunal to have Nadir’s sentence commuted if he will give up details of the attack. She discovers that another prisoner who recruited Nadir into al-Qaeda killed Nadir’s family in order to overcome his initial resistance and get him to join the group. She shows Nadir the video tape of the prisoner’s confession and Nadir describes the planned attack: the detonation of a nuclear device in Washington on the day the President delivers his State of the Union Address.

After saving her country, the military betrays Dawn. Nadir is killed in a bogus escape attempt set up by the tribunal. In reaction, Dawn deserts the Army and travels to Nadir’s village to work with wounded and maimed women and children, the real victims of the war.

Script Excerpt
Written by:
Format:
Screenplay
Starring Roles For:
Drew Barrymore
Christian Bale
Tim Robbins
In the Vein Of:
Courage Under Fire
Blackhawk Down
The Interpreter
Posted:
08/11/2003
Updated:
01/30/2020
Author Bio:
2005 graduate of UCLA TFT's MFA Program in Screenwriting. Grad. of UCLA TFT's Advanced Prof. Program in Screenwriting, 2001. Teaching Assistant to Disney screenwriter Dee Caruso in UCLA's Department of Theater, Film and Television Summer Screenwriting Program, 2000. AFI's Screenwriting Course of Study, 1998. Consulting Producer/Writer, Cohen Brown Picture Company, Los Angeles, CA. Consulting Producer on L. A. Dreams, a 14-episode documentary series on the lives of Chinese foreign students in America, at Palette Studios, Los Angeles, CA.

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Contest Results:
Scriptapalooza Features/Shorts (Finalist, 5th Annual Competition - 2003) [2003]
Cinestory Feature (Finalist, Screenwriting Awards 2004) [2004]
Screenplay Festival (Finalist, 2004) [2004]
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