Strategic Operations Inc.

When I first read about Strategic Operations Inc. (or ‘STOPS’), I thought it was a hoax. This is how their company website describes what they do:

Strategic Operations Inc. (STOPS), on the lot of Stu Segall Productions, a full-service TV / movie studio, provides Hyper-Realistic™ training services and products for military, law enforcement, and other organizations responsible for homeland security.

The company employs state-of-the-art Hollywood battlefield special effects, combat wound effects, medical simulation systems, role players, subject matter experts, Combat Training Coordinators, and training scenarios to create training environments that are the most unique in the industry.


Since 2002 STOPS has provided Hyper-Realistic™ training support to more than 700,000 Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guard personnel prior to deployment to Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

STOPS introduced “The Magic of Hollywood” to live military training by employing all the techniques of film and TV production integrated with military tactics, techniques, and procedures.

The result has influenced how live, military training is currently being conducted in the military.

Hyper-Realistic™ is now an often-stated goal to be achieved in the training world.

Strategic Operations Inc. claims that the benefit of this Hyper-Realistic™ training is that it provides “stress inoculation” for service people.

I had to find out if this military contractor was for real, so I contacted the National Defense Industrial Association. The NDIA was able to confirm that Strategic Operations Inc. is a corporate member. So, sadly, ‘yes’ STOPS is a real company.

(It may interest readers to know that STOPS also claims ‘affiliation’ with the US Naval Institute, but when I contacted the USNI they informed me that companies can’t be members. STOPS, the for-profit corporate entity, has no affiliation with the USNI.)

Before I get going I need to make something absolutely clear: I am not against better training for soldiers, especially if it legitimately decreases their chance of developing any type of illness. I have a very big problem with private contractors who promise soldiers health benefits which they have no reason to believe they can deliver. I have a very big problem with has-been Hollywood moguls who want to exploit the painfully young men and women who sign up to fight for their country.

Below is a Youtube video that STOPS created to explain their services. (Note, this video is posted as “Stu Segall Strategic Operations Video Business Card” with Segall’s company logo in the intro. However, the contact information for a different company is also provided ;; (858) 967-5666.)

I encourage you to watch the video above, because it shows the, er, ‘quality’ of the services provided. All “the magic of Hollywood”, for sure!

If you don’t have time for the Youtube video, this is a photograph of “role players” which comes from Strategic Operations Inc’s ‘Services‘ page:

Mr. Segall says: It's just like shooting the real thing!

It’s just like shooting the real thing!

Perhaps the ugliest thing about Strategic Operations Inc is their claim to provide “stress inoculation” for military clients. “Stress inoculation” sounds dangerously close to ‘vaccine for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder’. Does Strategic Operations offer any scientifically-based evidence for their claim to improve soldiers’ health? Here’s what they say:

The value of HYPER-REALISTIC™ Training

A Defense Science Board task force found that the probability of being a casualty decreases significantly after the first few “decisive combats”.  At our training laboratory you can test your equipment, your methods, and your tactics – in real world conditions – without the real world casualties.  This is the value of Hyper-Realistic™ training.

Researchers from the Naval Health Research recently studied Marines training in the Infantry Immersion Trainer (IIT) at Camp Pendleton.  They evaluated training participants for stress reactivity, mitigation, and inoculation.  The researchers measured salivary cortisol and alpha amylase levels in Marines prior to – and after – immersion in this Hyper-Realistic™ environment.  Results in this on-going study found that the “acute stress response to the IIT training is substantial”.  Salivary hormone levels also found that this type of “IIT training provided a stress inoculation effect” (“Stress Reactions and Mitigation in Immersive Training”, 31 March 2009).

STOPS appears to be comparing their stage-sets to actual battle experience. I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV… I probably don’t have to point this out to readers, but for training to desensitize a person to the threat of being shot at or blown up, that training needs to involve a credible threat of being shot at or blown up. An extra writhing in a fat suit is nothing like watching a kid bleed out or lose a leg; I believe that to suggest these two things have something meaningful in common is not only callous, but soulless. Soulless like the TV producers who turned Bulgakov’s The Embroidered Towel into slippery slap-stick around the body of a dying child.

After confusing TV with real life,  STOPS makes an extraordinary claim: that the stress induced by their stage-sets is “substantial” enough to “inoculate” soldiers against further stress. STOPS doesn’t link to the study they reference. I contacted IIT about the study and I am still waiting for IIT to get back to me; I also contacted STOPS, same problem.

Let’s give Mr. Segall’s company the benefit of the doubt: let’s say that this study exists AND that its conclusions are what STOPS claims them to be. If STOPS has been inoculating hundreds of thousands of soldiers against stress since 2002, then surely PTSD data would reflect that? Unfortunately for Mr. Segall, the data say that PTSD is getting worse.

According to the US Department of Veteran’s Affairs, PTSD incidence ‘at the time of study’ was 15.2% of males and 8.1% of females for Vietnam Veterans (study conducted 1986-88); 10.1% for Gulf War Veterans (study conducted 1995-97); and a 2008 study of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom (Afghanistan and Iraq) service members found 13.8% PTSD prevalence.

The data are even more grim if you believe the National Institute of Health, which claims the following:

The point prevalence of combat-related PTSD reported across studies of US combat veterans ranges from about 2–17%; and lifetime prevalence about 6–31% [2,3,1719,2537]. Point prevalence rates from veterans of the Vietnam War ranges from 2.2% – 15.2% [2,3,2528]. Among Persian Gulf War veterans, PTSD rates reported are between 1.9% – 13.2% [3039] and from veterans of the current conflict in the Middle East, PTSD point prevelance is reported from 4%–17.1% [1719]. See Table 1 for a summary of studies.

It seems that despite “the magic of Hollywood”, veterans’ PTSD problems are only getting worse.

But perhaps by “stress inoculation” Mr. Segall and his colleagues are being more cynical: perhaps they’re only marketing a product that will stop young people “freezing up” in battle, a sort of anti-Combat-Stress-Reaction ‘vaccine’. There’s very little scientific evidence to back up this claim either, the best I could find relates to PTSD treatment– as stated in this 2013 paper on pre-deployment training and combat stress:

 Furthermore, there has been little research examining military specific protective factors, such as pre-deployment preparedness, on PTSD treatment response.

That paper goes on to state the following:

There was preliminary support for the moderating effect of pre-deployment preparedness on the association between combat exposure and treatment response. Together, these findings suggest that increased combat exposure is associated with poor treatment response in veterans with PTSD; however, this can be reduced by elevated pre-deployment preparedness.

None of that says anti-stress, nor anti-CSR, nor anti-PTSD “inoculation” to me. Neither does it say increased battlefield effectiveness. In fact, according to the US Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventative Medicine, responses that are “simple and instinctive (like running or freezing)” are unlikely to be impaired by threatening situations, so it’s unclear to me that  a soldier with a flight/fight/freeze problem would be helped by ‘Hyper-Realistic ™’ training. (Read the US Army’s Stress and Combat Performance factsheet here: Stress-and-Combat.)

In conclusion, I think we can throw ‘Hyper-Realistic™’ training in the ‘snake oil’ basket. I’m reminded of what J. Kirk Wiebe said in his USAToday interview video on Snowden:

The other piece of this was we weren’t just trying to talk about privacy, the way that the government was going about deriving intelligence from digital data flows was poor form, uninformed. There seemed to be more of a desire to contract out, cause a money flow, than there was to actually perform the mission. And Tom [Drake] can tell you– is professionally trained in how major organizations acquire major capabilities, and he saw none of it, right Tom?

Col G.I. Wilson described contractors’ parasitism a different way in his landmark essay, Careerism and Psychopathy in the US Military Leadership:

The Department of Defense (DOD) that I have observed all too closely for over three decades is an overgrown bureaucracy committed to standing still for, if not actively promoting, poorly conceived policy agendas and hardware programs funded and supported by Congress. Coupled to that is the task of attracting the blind loyalty of senior military and civilian actors on the Washington, D.C. stage. For the careerists in America’s national security apparatus, it is all about awarding contracts and personal advancement, not winning wars.

Companies like Strategic Operations Inc. are parasites which grow fat off the “money flow” around the US military/industrial complex. Every dollar that’s spent on STOPS is one that isn’t spent on working equipment for soldiers, or healthcare for veterans. So who are these creeps?

Stu Segall

‘Stu Segall’ aka Charles Stuart Segal

Stu Segall, (born Stuart Charles Segal) STOPS President.

“Strategic Operations has changed the face of tactical training by introducing to the training world “Hollywood” movie and TV-making techniques to make live training as realistic as safely possible. This innovation has been made possible by Stu Segall who brings to Strategic Operations more than 35 years experience as a producer of feature films, television movies and shows.”

Stu makes the trashy programming that American television is infamous for. He started working with Stephen J. Cannell Productions in 1984 and produced the television series Hunter for NBC. In 1991 He made Silk Stalkings in the San Diego studio he founded. His other projects include: Renegade, Pensacola, Wings of Gold, Invisibleman, The Chronicle, 18 Wheels of Justice, High Tide, Cover Me, Rising Son, Veronica Mars, Desire and Secret Obsessions.

“Stu Segall Productions is now one of the largest independent TV and film studios in America … Stu Segall Productions has produced for ABC, Beacon, CBS, Disney Channel, Fox, NBC, Paramount, Showtime, Sony/Columbia/Tri-Star, Studios USA, Universal, UPN and Warner Brothers.” Classy character. You can contact him here.


Kit Lavell

Kit Lavell, Executive Vice President

Lavell “flew 243 combat missions as a Naval Aviator in Vietnam” and writes about warfare in his free time. He’s also found a way to make money out of affordable housing in California– who knew?!

“Kit has been an executive with the City of San Diego, has served on the board of directors of the national POW/MIA Freedom Foundation, the Vietnam Veterans Leadership Project, and has worked with disadvantaged veterans, for which he received a Presidential Citation. He has served on various boards and commissions for the City and County of San Diego.

He was the recipient of the California Affordable Housing Award presented by the Governor for innovative housing projects for the elderly and handicapped.”


Russ Lowell

Russ Lowell, Chief Financial Officer

Lowell is an accountant who served in the Navy and worked for L-3 Communications and General Electric– so he knows both sides of the military.

“Russ brings 25 years of management experience to STOPS spanning a broad spectrum of industries, including manufacturing, software development, R&D and wireless.” Let me guess…  besides keeping track of the money Russ wires up the remote-control exploding Styrofoam cars?

“For the past 10 years, he [Russ Lowell] has been associated with companies providing homeland protection, and high-tech military hardware.”


Kevin Waskow, Vice President of Contracts

Kevin Waskow

Kevin Waskow

Waskow is Segall’s adept to the magical world of military contracting, where the right connections will get you something for nothing.

“Kevin retired from the Navy as a Commander in March 2005.  During his career he was certified Defense Acquisition Workforce Level 3 in Contracting and in Business, Cost Estimating and Financial Management.  He was a selected member of the Acquisition Professional Community. ” Band of Acquisition Brothers!

“After retirement he returned to Baghdad as a contractor working at the Joint Contracting Command – Iraq/Afghanistan.  He has been with Strategic Operations since February 2007.”


John “Rick” Bowen, Training Operations

John Bowen

John Bowen

Bowen is an ex-marine who helps Segall’s team of Hollywood professionals make the “magic” happen for hundreds of thousands of US service people.

“He [John Bowen] also spent time at the Naval Air Systems Command aboard Patuxent River, Maryland as a Deputy Program Manager for Marine and Navy H-1 Helicopters where he supervised – procurement, engineering, logistics, and budget – of all H-1 support.”

“His time with the Marines included multiple deployments to locales throughout the world; to include Japan, Korea, Russia, South Africa, Switzerland, Canada, Qatar, and Afghanistan – with multiple combat tours in Iraq.  John transitioned from the Marine Corps as a Lieutenant Colonel in the summer of 2010 and joined the Strategic Operations Team as a Project Manager focusing on Marine Corps operations.”

Jeffrey “Steve” Markham, Director of Medical Products and Services

Steve Markham

Steve Markham

Markham is another Navy veteran:

“Steve is a 23 year Navy veteran who served 19 of those years as a Reconnaissance Corpsman with the Marine Corps, most recently as the Navy Senior Enlisted Leader and the acting Command Master Chief of the 1st Marine Division.”

“Deploying eight times, four into combat zones, Steve has experienced combat in both Afghanistan and Iraq. He served in leadership positions at all organizational levels in and out of combat zones that included 1st Marine Division Navy Senior Enlisted Leader, Regimental Senior Chief in Afghanistan, Recon Battalion Leading Chief Petty Officer (LCPO), Company Operations Chief, Company LPO, Assistant Platoon Sergeant, and Reconnaissance team member.”

There are more men on Strategic Operations Inc’s “team”, but they’re Canadians and Brits, so I’m going to pick my battles.

I’m less disgusted with Stu Segall, because a glance at his prior career will show readers that he’s just doing what it’s in his nature to do. I could get mad at Stu for being a soulless user of broken institutions, but that would be like getting mad at a dog for sh*tting in my front yard. Dogs poop. Men like Stu start companies like ‘Strategic Operations Inc’.

I have visceral disgust for the veterans on Stu’s “team”. You guys ought to know better. You’re participating in the exploitation of a lot of young people; young people who’ll never have the safety nets nor job opportunities that your generation enjoyed. You’re using people who are just like you were once, and you’re doing it at the taxpayer’s expense. How do you live with yourselves? Are the values you’re working by the values you want to teach your children?

Or, perhaps, this callous indifference to other people is why these men were promoted and sat out their military careers in the first place…

How do we fix this problem? I’ll quote Col. Wilson again:

Careerists serve for all the wrong reasons. They weaken national defense, rob the military of its warrior ethos and drive away the very highly principled mavericks that we need to reverse the decay. This can only be remedied by rekindling the time honored principles of military service (i.e. duty, honor, country) among both officers and civilians.

As Americans, we all must exercise more care and caution in our appraisal of our senior military officers and the Washington “suits” that exert dominating influence on the cost of defense and the conduct of American national security policy.

And where the rubber meets the road…

How do we fix this? Part of the answer is military reform ushered in by drastic budget cuts to hardware programs. Col. Michael Wyly, U.S. Marine Corps, ret., who is held in high respect, seeks a culture where a warrior class of “mavericks” is accepted and those who place themselves above the time-honored principles of military service (duty, honor, country) find themselves on the outside looking in.




Blitz Witch

About three months ago I watched a BBC documentary on Helen Duncan, the famous WWII psychic, titled The Unexplained: The Blitz Witch. Tony Robinson is the host and you can watch it for free on Youtube here:


Helen Duncan was a spirit medium who made two notable predictions about the sinking of British warships HMS Hood in May, 1941 and HMS Barham that November; these predictions ‘came true’. Helen had a well-heeled clientele, which included the head of Scottish Intelligence Brigadier Roy C. Firebrace, who was present for her prediction of the destruction of HMS Hood. (Firebrace was complicit, if not entirely comfortable, in the ‘forced repatriation’ of soldiers after WWII, which resulted in the murder of over two million men by Stalin– in my last post, Curtis Dall was quoted calling these repatriations “Eisenhower’s forced-repatriations“, see Nikolai Tolstoy’s The Great Betrayal.) Apparently, portends of the next life weighed heavily on Firebrace even prior to the Yalta conference.


Helen Duncan and some of her ‘ectoplasmic’ manifestations.

Firebrace visited Helen Duncan because, like many well-connected Brits at the time, he believed her psychic powers could give him useful information. What he heard about HMS Hood startled him, according to Firebrace’s wartime secretary Dr. Mary Austin in Tony Robinson’s Unexplained documentary:

[Tony Robinson reads from a 1959 magazine interview with  Brigadier Firebrace] During the War, I was head of intelligence in Scotland and I had the opportunity of attending a séance with Mrs. Duncan in Edinburgh…

[Dr. Austin] Tragedy! HMS Hood is sunk and all the men are sunken… something like that. [Firebrace] couldn’t wait to get back to a telephone to get the Admiralty to tell him what he’d heard, that Hood had gone down. And they said “Rubbish!” No such thing. No, no, no. Wrong.

[Tony Robinson] He got another telephone call back from the Admiralty.

[Dr. Austin] Yes. Not then, but two days later.

[Tony Robinson] And what did they say?

[Dr. Austin] She’s quite right. All was lost.

[Tony Robinson] You don’t think that there was any way that either the Brigadier or Helen Duncan could have known that the Hood was sunk?

[Dr. Austin] No, no. Quite impossible. Quite impossible.

What happened next sounds like something out of Alice in Wonderland: MI5 called in a crack team to investigate Helen Duncan which included Ian Fleming.  Over two years later, in 1944, Helen was charged with espionage but that charge was quickly changed to ‘pretending to talk to the dead’, which was illegal in Britain because of a 1735 law against witchcraft. The use of this act grabbed headlines in all the wrong ways.

Helen Duncan was the second-to-last British subject to be tried under that anti-witchcraft law. (A 72 year old woman was silenced using the same law shortly afterward.) The choice to use the Witchcraft Act to prosecute Duncan was so weird that Churchill himself wrote this to his secretary:

HOME SECRETARY [Herbert Morrison]

Let me have a report on why the Witchcraft Act of 1735 was used in a modern Court of Justice.

What was the cost of the trial to the state, observing that witnesses were brought from Portsmouth and maintained here in this crowded London for a fortnight, and the Recorder [His Lordship Sir Gerald Dodson] kept busy with all this obsolete tomfoolery…

– From Nina Shandler’s The Strange Case of Hellish Nell

Helen was given a show trial, complete with a famous comic-impersonator prosecutor (the son of a well-known comedian), and a bevy of star witnesses, including the agent provocateur and mystic debunker Harry Price. Rich patrons hired Helen a flashy, theatrical lawyer and prominent supporters of Duncan, including Blitz war-hero Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding and high-ranking Freemason Alfred Dodd, testified on her behalf. (I ask readers to remember that Duncan had high-level masonic supporters.) The Crown got what it wanted in the end: Helen Duncan was convicted and locked away until the end of WWII.

The majority of modern presentations of Helen Duncan’s story focus on 1) questions such as “Was she really psychic?” or 2) outrage over her ‘religious persecution’. These presentations willfully miss the point. Helen Duncan probably was a German spy or at least being used by German spies. What’s shocking about Helen’s story is that she *wasn’t* tried as a spy, but as a witchy fraud. Putting Duncan’s beliefs on trial was hugely dangerous for the British Government because in the 1940s Spiritualism was a politically powerful force with followers in the millions and growing. The Spiritualist movement was largely a middle-class one, making it well-funded, well-educated and *potentially* revolutionary: too many people were like Alfred Conan Doyle– searching for sons who’d died in needless wars.

In answer to Churchill’s question, the Crown took this calculated risk because talking about what Helen was doing in terms of espionage gambled with the safety of ongoing black-ops in Germany.

This post, readers, is about how networks of ‘psychics’ are used by intelligence operations– NOT for actionable intelligence, but to manipulate people who believe in psychics. Helen Duncan was charged with espionage initially because 1) her predictions were demoralizing to military/spook brass and 2) she had a suspicious habit of visiting locations that were sensitive to the planning of upcoming D-Day operations. Helen Duncan looked a lot like an enemy spook, and UK intel should know, because they were running a very similar operation against German military/spook brass at the same time. This is how Richard Crossman, Britain’s Political Warfare Executive during WWII, describes anti-German ‘psychic’ operations:

 Crossman even claimed that there was an ‘Astrological Programme’ whose audience inside Germany probably consisted of about forty individuals at most, but which it was believed was popular with senior members of the Nazi Party.33 Its aim was to play on the fact that many senior Nazis were known to have an interest in astrology, feeding them gloomy astrological predictions about their military campaigns.

Sound anything like what Helen Duncan was doing? :)

British intelligence has been involved with the occult for a very long time. Aleister Crowley had been infiltrating and disrupting ‘secret societies’ on behalf of MI5’s predecessors since the late 1890s. Harry Price, the highest-profile hostile Helen Duncan witness, had sown discord in the Spiritualist movement since 1920, when he gave up a seedy career in antiques to become a ‘debunker’ for the Society for Psychical Research, an organization which included Aleister Crowley’s spook boss, Everard Feilding, as one of its luminaries.

Harry Price, a gent who knew something about showmanship.

Harry Price, a gent who knew something about showmanship.

Why was the British secret service so interested in spiritualists and the occult in general? The best answer to that question I’ve found comes from Richard B. Spence’s book Secret Agent 666: Aleister Crowley, British Intelligence and the Occult. Secret Societies like the Masons and religious movements like Spiritualism were “gateways to the British Establishment” and feeder-pools into the intelligence community.

While Freemasonry had become a worldwide organization by the 1890s, with various branches and jurisdictions, the United Grand Lodge of England and Wales (UGLE) remained the largest regular body, and Britain the most Masonic of countries. By 1900, the UGLE boasted almost 3000 lodges with nearly 200,000 brethren.23 That was still a tiny minority out of a general population of some 33 million, but Masonic affiliation had become a virtual union card for admission to the British establishment. Thus, the proportion of Masons in governmental service (including intelligence agencies) was much, much higher than in the population generally.

(Since Helen had prominent Masonic supporters, you can understand how gingerly spooks like Fleming had to treat the Duncan trail, for fear of stepping on important toes AND outing their own unsavory ‘tricks’.)

Spence puts forward a convincing argument that Crowley was a British intelligence agent since his days at Cambridge, and that Crowley worked for William Melville, the original ‘M’. Spence suggests that domestic intelligence pros like Melville were concerned that these occult organizations would provide cover for Irish nationalist, Jacobite (‘Legitimist’) and Papist agitators and other anti-government groups. (Masonic off-shoots did count a number of  “regime change” specialists in their top ranks, such as Samuel MacGregor Mathers and Bertram Ashburnahm who, along with others, were busy running arms and fermenting revolutions across Europe in the late Victorian era.)

The Brits’ greatest competitors in using the occult sphere for intelligence work were the German secret services; in fact, the Germans appear to have been more adept:

Reuss’ [Theodor Reuss, German Intel operative] main achievement (with some help from the Austrian industrialist Karl Kellner) was the creation circa 1902 of the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO), the “Order of Oriental Templars.” Second only to the Illuminati, perhaps, the OTO has earned a reputation as a center of conspiratorial skullduggery and even the dubious title of “The World’s Most Dangerous Secret Society.” 31

Outwardly, the OTO seems to have remained rather small and exclusive, though Reuss tirelessly recruited, out of both spiritual zeal and vanity, but also to use the Order as a cover for German intelligence.

It shouldn’t be surprising that German spooks were adept at handling  subversive secret societies, seeing as they’d been dealing with organizations like ‘the Illuminati’ since 1776.

Back in Britain spymasters such as Melville, and his counterintelligence counterparts, may have reasoned that British occult movements were an unguarded back door for German spies. The circles that Crowley practiced his ‘magic’ in were so thick with German operatives that at times it was difficult for contemporary onlookers to tell which bunch of spooks, exactly, Crowley worked for!

Not only were influential Brits enamored with the paranormal, but prominent Americans were as well. Abraham Lincoln participated in séances in the White House; Woodrow Wilson consulted psychics; Franklin Delano Roosevelt was ‘read’ by a psychic FBI informer and friend of J. Edgar Hoover; and Ronald Reagan had a few psychic advisors.

What I’d like readers to take home is that influential people all over the world took this occult stuff very seriously. (Some still do!) Intelligence professionals realized that manipulating these beliefs could provide valuable information and counterintelligence protection as well providing vehicles for ‘black ops’ and disinformation of the type I described previously.

All this ‘Hellish Nell’ stuff was a lifetime ago. So why do documentaries like Tony Robinson’s, and books like The Strange Case of Hellish Nell, skirt the intelligence/occult connection? I suggest their skittishness is because such operations are still ongoing.

Here’s a Google Maps image of psychics, and psychic research institutes, which advertise and are located around London’s Whitehall district. (Whitehall Road is between the River Thames and ‘Michael Francois Psychic’.)

Whitehall psychics

Here’s a Google Maps image of practicing psychics’ location around the Capitol area of Washington D.C.

Psychics practicing near Congress.

Psychics practicing near Congress.

Each red call out box is a psychic business. There are three on the road between the Capitol building and Dupont Circle, the embassy hot-spot/upper-crust neighborhood.

Here’s a similar map of the psychics plying their trade on Wall Street.

Red dots are publically advertising psychics.

Red dots are publically advertising psychics.

Those two dots are just the psychics advertising through Google, when you actually walk those streets, it’s shocking how many seers/tarot readers work near the exchange. Here’s an October 2011 New York Magazine article documenting the phenomenon.

Millionaires are very concerned about their money,” says the psychic Frank Andrews, offering a breakdown of his new and unexpected clientele. “The billionaires, on the other hand—they come just for fun.” Such is the insecurity of the average Wall Street baron as the market roller-coasters and protesters mass at their door: Bankers are turning to the spirit world for guidance—the clairvoyant reading as an algorithm of last resort.

From later on in the same article:

Rosanna Schaffer-Shaw, a former belly dancer turned tarot-card reader and psychic who goes by “Fahrusha,” sees her Wall Street clients in her Alphabet City apartment. (Concerned with discretion, bankers are perhaps more likely to visit psychics who practice at home than they are to walk past a neon psychic sign and go into a glass-faced storefront.)

Fahrusha has a message for ­policy-makers in Washington. “If there was a better energy policy,” she says, “if there could be more investment in alternative energy … it would be fabulous. The economy could improve if people would look at green solutions.”

I ask her if that’s her professional psychic analysis or just her opinion.

“You know?” She thinks for a second and shrugs. “It’s so hard to separate the two.”

Gee– Al Gore agrees with Fahrusha! The fates decree that we should throw some more pork at alternative energy… Solyndra, cough cough. Obama’s energy disaster had filed for bankruptcy a few weeks before Fahrusha’s interview. (Good news is that Klain from the Solyndra scandal is now in charge of Ebola!)

My point with these maps is to show that there is definitely a market for the paranormal around major power centers. I’m certainly not the first person to have noticed this, and any “great user of people” would have harnessed that market long ago.

But is there an ongoing effort to protect modern ‘psychic’ operations?

I have not read every book on ‘Hellish Nell’. However, here’s a bit of background on some of the more accessible modern media concerning Helen Duncan.

1) Tony Robinson’s 2008 documentary was produced and directed by Thomas Viner for Channel Four, a British Government entity that was created to expand on the programming offered by the BBC. The BBC was set up with the help of William Stephenson, Churchill’s spymaster in NYC (See The Quiet Canadian by H. Montgomery Hyde) and founding father of what became the CIA. Viner also works for television channels Nat Geo and Discovery. Along with the History Channel, both Nat Geo and Discovery have pretty blatant intel connections, in my opinion. Viner’s documentary on Duncan focuses exclusively on the question of whether Duncan was truly psychic, with a few shout-outs to agent provocateur Harry Price thrown in for good measure.

2) Nina Shandler’s The Strange Case of Hellish Nell was published in 2006. Shandler is a psychologist turned historian, who claims to have been given ‘accidental’ access to British National Archives files on Helen Duncan that should have been secret until 2046 because they contain information vital to the UK’s “national security”. What a mistake! Shandler’s book reads more like a romance novel than an historical investigation and she doesn’t explore British Intelligence forays into the occult, even though Aleister Crowley’s spook antics have been public knowledge since Richard B. Spence’s 2000 article “Secret Agent 666: Aleister Crowley and British Intelligence in America, 1914-1918″, which appeared in the International Journal of Intelligence and Counter-Intelligence. Instead, Shandler pays undo attention to cavity searches and wrings her hands about religious persecution.

3) Finally, onto Richard B. Spence himself. Spence is a regular on the History Channel, and a consultant to Washington’s International Spy Museum– a silly tourist trap that gins up anti-Russian feelings and flatters the US ‘intelligence community’. Having said that, Spence’s book Secret Agent 666: Aleister Crowley, British Intelligence and the Occult does contain interesting factual information and gossip about ‘The Beast’s’ spook-work.

Spence’s book does not contain any mention of Helen Duncan, even though a) the details of her case were highly publicized at the time including the fact that the original charge against her was espionage AND b) Crowley’s ‘handler’ Everard Feilding’s Society for Psychical Research played an important role in the Duncan story. Why, Mr. Spence? If the gossip around Crowley and the Wych-Elm/Charles Walton murders was worth including, why not the more important and well-documented Duncan case?

When I learned about history in school, my teachers were careful to tell me that the source of information is just as important as the information itself. The sources I’ve listed may have reasons to obscure intelligence relations to the occult. In an age where presidents talk to God, the paranormal can be quite useful.

I encourage any lawmakers who consult mediums *and* read to know thyselves. If I still have Bulgakov fans reading, we can ask ourselves again: Is the Devil a German?

Aleister Crowley, a magician on and off the stage. He performed at Moscow's Aquarium Variety Theater in 1913, with the help of UK Intel asset Mikhail Lyiardopoulos, secretay of the Moscow Art Theater. Gave me goose-bumps too.

Aleister Crowley, a magician on and off the stage. Crowley performed at Moscow’s Aquarium Variety Theater in 1913, with the help of UK Intel asset Mikhail Lyiardopoulos, secretary of the Moscow Art Theater. A few years later MAT would become Bulgakov’s employer. Gave me goose-bumps too.


Eleanor and ISIS

A lady of exploitable insecurities.

A lady of exploitable insecurities.

A few days ago I read an article in Haaretz about young French girls being brainwashed into 1) joining jihad in Syria or 2) working for IS/ISIS/’Islamic State’. (Branding nightmare!) According to a French politician, the brainwashers have specific reasons for targeting young, insecure women:

French senator Nathalie Goulet is leading an inquiry into the recruiting networks, and she defends the decision to treat even young girls as terrorists.

“When people return, how can you be sure that they are detoxified? And they have to be detoxified,” Goulet says. “It’s a violent word, I know. … If you’re looking at girls, you’re right to, because they are a target population, fragile in their ability to be drawn in, then very strong once they’re in the system.”

Why are girls so strong once “they’re in the system”?

This role for girls reflects the desire of jihadists in Syria to attract not just fighters but also families, says Louis Caprioli, a former official with France’s anti-terrorist services.

“The propaganda put in place is to form a union with the jihadists, to have children and to raise future fighters,” he says.


“As soon as they manage to snare a girl, they do everything they can to keep her,” Foad [Foad El-Bahty, brother of a female 'jihadi'] says. “Girls aren’t there for combat, just for marriage and children. A reproduction machine.”

Two people have been charged in Nora’s case, including the young mother who sheltered her in Paris, according to a legal official and the family’s lawyer, Guy Guenoun. The travel agency has been questioned but not charged, Guenoun says.

“It is not at random that these girls are leaving. They are being guided. She was being commanded by remote control,” he says. “And now she has made a trip to the pit of hell.”

“The pit of hell” is Syria, a country which used to be one of the more successful Middle Eastern states before the US started funding Muslim fundamentalists there, fundamentalists who are now recruiting Western misfits through Facebook– that ‘social media’ company with close working ties to the American intelligence community. (Readers may also want to refresh their memory about the *likely* US-sponsored jihad al-nikah movement.)

What struck me about these jihadi girls is how similar their targeting and recruitment is to what was reported to have happened to Eleanor Roosevelt. Eleanor Roosevelt’s son-in-law, Curtis B. Dall, wrote a book about his time with the family titled F.D.R. My Exploited Father-In-Law. In this book Dall described how a group of bankers and socialists befriended and manipulated Eleanor in order to control Franklin; and how once Eleanor had been recruited, she was ‘strong in the system’.

Continuing with my theme of ‘exploitation’, today I’m going to write about the similarities between these ‘jihadinas’ and Eleanor. I’ll start by letting Dall speak for himself about his in-laws:

I will devote several chapters in this book to FDR, a gentleman whom I became very fond of as my then father-in-law. This was chiefly before the time when politics again entered the scene and gradually became an overpowering force…

In many respects, FDR was clearly the highly publicized political “Lead Horse.” But he was not the “Driver” of the political conveyance, the man who held the reins and cracked the whip. He might be suitably described as the long-range “gun,” the ammunition for which was duly provided by “others”… by close advisers, including his wife, and by some Council on Foreign Relations leaders.

In the first era, I knew Franklin Roosevelt in the successive roles of acquaintance, friend, father-in-law, Governor, and then President– an exploited one. In the second era, he was President of the United States and soon became a leading figure in world political affairs, heavily influenced and guided by his advisers.

In his book, Dall makes careful observations about Eleanor Roosevelt’s role exploiting her own husband, an invalid who depended on her more than most men depend on their wives. Dall also points out that Eleanor’s manipulation of her husband wasn’t her own idea.  Eleanor’s political ideas were mostly formed by her friends: Louis Howe and his peer Col. E. Mandel House; Henry Morgenthau Jr. and his wife; Nancy Cook; Marian Dickerson. This is how Dall describes Eleanor’s malleability:

It is timely to mention Louis Howe’s influence upon Eleanor Roosevelt, as I view it.

Long before 1920, Louis had become a “fixture” in FDR’s family. I couldn’t quite figure it out, and I was not much interested in political maneuvering. Clearly, that was none of my business…

I was aware that he [Louis Howe] had a daily conference with FDR and that Louis spent even more time during the evening going over political and ideological matters with Mama [Eleanor Roosevelt]! Often, through her, people “got” to FDR on certain matters.

Night after night, after the dinner hour, the lengthy conversations of Mama and Louis would take place in the third floor front room. Usually, many newspaper editorials and clippings from various newspapers on political matters were under discussion or study.  Sometimes, I joined in their confab for a few minutes, but my casual and friendly “drop-in” visits appeared to be an intrusion upon Louis’ program, and so I would soon depart.

Eleanor’s indoctrination by Louis Howe was of the international socialist kind: the last time Dall remembers seeing Howe was after Dall stumbled in on a meeting between Howe and some Russian-looking visitors at the White House, a visit which Howe was trying to keep secret between himself and Eleanor.

What sort of issues were Eleanor and Franklin used over?

Years passed, during which it became obvious to me that Eleanor Roosevelt’s political ideology had steadily moved to the Left. In contrast, mine was leaning to the conservative side, moving to the Right.

The deceptive overtones of Pearl Harbor, the pro-Soviet peace terms at the close of World War II, the refusal of General Eisenhower to let General Patton conclude a proper military objective and take Berlin, Eisenhower’s cruel unheard of forced-repatriation program; the Berlin Corridor Arrangement, Harry Hopkins’ sending abroad to the Soviets our U.S. money plates, paper and ink, for them to rob and fleece us, the tragic matter of Governor Earle (not to stop World War II sooner, to be dealt with later)– all these things did not seem proper and were most disturbing to me!

If you want more information about what FDR cronies were planning for General Patton and his likely assassination, check out my post on Cuneo and General Patton. (In a week or two I’ll talk about forced repatriations and the Spiritualist movement, but that’s for later. ;) )

Prior to her political radicalization, Dall remembers Eleanor as being a kind homemaker and highly-involved mother, albeit a lady chafing under a lack of money and ‘higher purpose’. Eleanor wanted to belong to something bigger than herself; to teach the world how to be better, just as if the rest of humanity were children awaiting her instruction.

My point with this post is to show that ISIS doesn’t have a thing on Louis Howe and the Council on Foreign Relations when it comes to exploiting women who have low self-esteem and want to be part of ‘something bigger than themselves’. These users achieve their aims by identifying insecurities in their victims and exploiting those insecurities. ISIS goes after culturally displaced girls who are searching for a sense of identity. What were Eleanor Roosevelt’s soft-spots? According to Curtis Dall:

In Albany and elsewhere, Eleanor Roosevelt’s circle of influence was enlarging. The Gold Seal of the State of New York on letter paper for state correspondence by her husband was impressive! The oblique reactions thereto were not what could be described as inconsequential!! So, the misgivings of Eleanor Roosevelt during former years, the feeling that her Oyster Bay relatives had really “made it”, whereas her and her husband had not soon faded away into the background! Larger and greener pastures for the future came into view.


Eleanor Roosevelt’s knowledge about “Southern” racial relations was very superficial. Her approach was chiefly a political one. It was a clever but regrettable vote-catching operation on her part, one which was loudly applauded, of course, by numerous far-flung communistic groups and left-wing newspapers.

And finally…

Outside the factor of being lucrative, I cannot comprehend why the objectives of the Internationalist-Socialist-Communist program attracted the strong support of Eleanor Roosevelt. All in all, the results achieved by her appear to be self-serving and quite unmindful of her country’s best interests.

When I think back to the women I’ve had as teachers or bosses, many (not all, but many!) have had similar characteristics to Eleanor Roosevelt. I don’t think Eleanor’s needs and weaknesses are unusual amongst our sex. From my experience, women are funny creatures: we’re often an unstable mix of wanting to please while also wanting to control by indirection. ‘Taking the moral high ground’ is a great way to control by indirection. Female nature makes us very susceptible to being ‘recruited’ by ‘authority figures’ to proselytize for their agenda, because being ‘right’ and on the winning team makes us feel good about ourselves (power-worship). Women love to be crusaders, whether for socially acceptable things like equality or feminism; or not-so-acceptable things, like ‘Islamic State’.

I suspect, readers, that many women’s attraction to proselytizing is rooted in the same desires that Nigella Lawson cashed in on with her ‘kept woman’ sales pitch. Obviously, Eleanor Roosevelt could never be valuable in the same way Nigella was valuable to Saatchi when she was younger, but Eleanor could still be a valuable ‘intellectual’ or ‘spiritual’ possession to her network of ‘friends’. There’s no ‘vert like a convert.

It’s uncomfortable for modern women, and particularly feminists, to square up to the exploitable aspects of our nature because it’s tantamount to admitting weakness. Never the less, history and current events show very clearly that these weaknesses do exist. Perhaps the position of true strength is to recognize our weaknesses and be wary of  political movements that claim to ‘help’ us– whether those movements be ‘Islamic State’ jihad or “the milk of FDR“.

I believe that the best defense against “great users of people” is to know thyself.

A story Clare Boothe Luce would love.

A story that one-time Vogue editor and ‘black ops’ aficionado Clare Boothe Luce would love.


Great Users of People

Wanna be like this guy?

I started to think about ‘power worship’ a couple of years ago, after having read a few essays by George Orwell on the subject. Orwell thought that an unhealthy subservience to power was infecting British cultural and political life. ‘Jack the Giant-Killer’ was no longer the fundamental Western myth, instead something ugly and fawning had taken its place… the fairytale of the supreme leader.

The fairytale of the supreme leader teaches children to identify with following one leader who is ‘good’– for modern readers, think Harry Potter, He-Man etc. The story doesn’t change much when it’s repackaged for adults, except there’s more carnality thrown into the mix: consider the pantry-erotica of Nigella Lawson; the submissive longings of Fifty Shades of Grey’s Ana; or James Bond’s slavishness to the organization of his master ‘M’. Whether child or adult, the reader is encouraged to believe validation of one’s own worth comes from being accepted by a powerful master.

That’s the story. In reality, of course, both Nigella and Ana get older, less attractive and they lose whatever prestige being owned gave them. James Bond outlives his usefulness and is denied a pension because he was never officially on Her Majesty’s books, was he? If you think I’m joking, keep reading…

This post isn’t about abusive husbands or lovers, it’s about how bad organizations use people. I’m going to take my favorite group, ‘the intelligence community’, as an example because their ethical problems are aggravated by the fact that their leadership is not really held accountable to anyone. The finance community could serve as an equally good example, however.

How is an institution abusive toward a person?

Any abuser will try to convince their target that the target ‘needs’ them to be happy, that the abuser provides some special validation to the victim. In reality, the victim’s healthy needs are not being met and that’s a painful problem for them. Instead of dealing with the source of the problem– the abuser and the unhealthy need– the victim tries to deal with their pain in other ways, not all of them helpful. Consider the propensity for military drone operators to self-destruct, for example: US version and UK version.

Institutional abuse won’t be something dramatic like bodily harm: it might be working employees in a way that makes having a healthy family life impossible; or making the ‘clearance’ process such a black box that it scares employees out of political engagement; or exploiting existing mental illness. In return, the employee is told that they’re special, unique, a ‘cut above’ the rest and part of a ‘secret team’.

This type of positive reinforcement is particularly effective against people with low self-esteem, or the character weaknesses which used to be described as ‘narcissism’. (‘Narcissism’ is exceptionally prevalent in the military community, which is the community most spooks are drawn from.) Perhaps worst of all, these abusive practices can trick weak-minded people into doing things that run against their own conscience; things that poison the soul and may also trap the individual later. Ex-intelligence agents don’t exist. Welcome to human resources in the spy business!

A critical reader may look at what I’ve written and say: “That’s just a.nolen’s opinion.” It is my opinion, but I encourage you to read the opinions of a few intelligence pros who were brave enough to be candid about their profession. Consider this anecdote about Klop Ustinov, a valuable war-time spy for the British, which is taken from Peter Wright’s bestseller Spycatcher:

(Peter Wright worked in MI5 for most of his life and his father was Engineer in Chief for the Marconi Company, so intelligence was a family business- a.nolen.)

Klop Ustinov was German by descent, but he had strong connections in the Russian diplomatic community and was a frequent visitor to the Embassy… Ustinov was recruited by MI5, and began to obtain high-grade intelligence from zu Putlitz about the true state of German rearmament. It was priceless intelligence, possibly the most important human-source intelligence Britain received in the prewar period. After meeting zu Putlitz, Ustinov and he used to dine with Vansittart and Churchill, then in the wilderness, to brief them on the intelligence they had gained. Zu Putlitz became something of a second son to the urbane English diplomat. Even after the outbreak of war Ustinov continued meeing zu Putlitz, by now working in Holland as an air attaché. Finally in 1940 zu Putlitz learned that the Gestapo were closing in and he decided to defect. Once more Ustinov traveled into Holland and, at great personal risk, led zu Putlitz to safety.

I [Peter Wright] took a taxi over to Ustinov’s flat in Kensington, expecting to meet a hero of the secret world living in honorable retirement. In fact, Ustinov and his wife were sitting in a dingy flat surrounded by piles of ancient, leather-bound books. He was making ends meet by selling off his fast-diminishing library…

“I do these things, Peter, and they leave me here. My wife and I… penniless.”

“But what about your pension?” I asked.

“Pension? I have no pension,” he flashed back bitterly. “When you work for them you never think about the future, about old age. You do it for love. And when it comes time to die, they abandon you.”

Wright wrapped up the incident this way: “But I learned a lesson I never forgot: that MI5 expects its officers to remain loyal unto the grave, without necessarily offering loyalty in return.”

Peter Wright’s disappointment with ‘the intelligence community’ doesn’t end with MI5:

The profession of intelligence is a solitary one. There is camaraderie, of course, but in the end you are alone with your secrets. You live and work at a feverish pitch of excitement, dependent always on the help of your colleagues. But you always move on, whether to a new branch or department, or to a new operation. And when you move on, you inherit new secrets which subtly divorce you from those you have worked with before. Contacts, especially with the outside world, are casual, since the largest part of yourself cannot be shared. For this reason, intelligence services are great users of people.

I share Peter Wright’s opinion that to persist in the intelligence business, you need to be comfortable using and being used. Emotionally healthy people aren’t comfortable with all this using, which brings me back to ‘narcissism’.

Mental health pros no longer consider ‘narcissism’ a mental illness; the symptoms that defined it appear to have been absorbed into the definitions of other conditions. I think one could make a strong case that ‘narcissism’ was always as much about values and choices as it was about illness, but from the point of view of society, narcissism’s cause isn’t as important as identifying narcissistic characteristics. The Mayo clinic provides a list of what these characteristics were, which includes things like “fantasizing about power” and “taking advantage of others”. Other researchers reported that ‘narcissists’ had a propensity towards pathological lying. Bearing these ‘symptoms’ in mind, consider another professional spook’s opinion– that of Philippe de Vosjoli, James Angleton’s working ally and French intelligence agent. Tom Mangold reports this conversation with de Vosjoli in Cold Warrior:

It is late, and the little Frenchman climbs into his Renault Five in the old quarter of Geneva. “Listen, I’ll tell you something. In the world of intelligence you have a lot of sick people. They cannot tell the truth. Now I’m talking to you, but what do I know about you? You may be a spy yourself, you may be working for the KGB or MI6. In this business you trust no one. You know, I stayed in that job too long. Twelve years is too long.”

De Vosjoli came to the conclusion that many other spooks were pathological liars with hidden agendas who couldn’t be trusted: “sick” people. Could that ‘sickness’ be something like the condition which used to be described as ‘narcissism’? Consider this study of narcissism in the military by  J.A. Bourgeois, M.J. Hall, R.M. Crosby and K.G. Drexler of the Air Force Medical Center (SGHAE) at Wright-Patterson Air Force base:

Various studies examining the prevalence of personality disorders in civilian inpatient and outpatient populations have consistently found narcissistic personality disorder to be one of the least common. In striking contrast to this, a recently published study showed narcissistic personality features to be among the most common personality features in a military outpatient clinic population. This paper examines several possible explanations for this finding. This surprisingly high relative incidence of narcissistic personality features may be related to a self-selection bias on the part of persons choosing a military career. Narcissistic personality traits may confer adaptive advantage in certain military professional roles. Kohut’s theory of specific transference requirements in individuals with narcissistic character structure serves as a useful explanatory model for these findings.

What is Kohut’s theory of specific transference requirements? In a nutshell:

The narcissistic adult, according to Kohut’s concepts, vacillates between an irrational overestimation of the self and irrational feelings of inferiority, and relies on others to regulate his self esteem and give him a sense of value.

If Kohut’s theory is correct, then it must be very comforting for a narcissistic person to know that the best person to “give him a sense of value” is the next guy up the food chain… Of course, Bourgeois et alia don’t discuss the preponderance of military narcissists in terms of an intentional recruiting and control strategy.

Finally, I’m going to share the observations of one friend who had far more experience dealing with the intelligence community than I have had. They explained the CIA’s institutional culture to me in this way:

“Imagine that it’s 1940 and you’re a well-connected rich kid who hears that the president is starting up a secret society which is going to do exciting things to win the war. That type of opportunity appeals to people who are 1) patriotic and/or 2) want approval from the powerful and/or 3) want in on government-sponsored organized crime.”

“Once the war was over, many of the patriotic ones dropped out. The organization was left with a large group of people whose motivations were not noble. Now imagine that organization persisting over generations, each generation self-selecting for more and more recruits who think like them; for recruits who are motivated by 2) and 3). That’s what the CIA is now.”

Generations of self-selected, damaged people are how we ended up with institutions that think drag-net spying on their fellow citizens is ‘okay’ or even ‘a necessary evil’. Only generations of self-selected, damaged people could be so sheltered and brain-washed as to not understand the mortal danger in our current situation.

I find it easy to write about General Patton, Walt Disney and Leonid Andreyev because their fates make the danger of unaccountable government crystal clear. I tend to overlook the fact that organizations like the CIA, NSA, etc. are just as poisonous to their rank-and-file as they are to my country’s intellectual health. When ‘ex-intelligence agent’ Quinn Norton wrote about the intelligence community existing to preserve itself, she left out an important fact: the intelligence community doesn’t preserve itself, it preserves a small group of people ‘on floor seven’ who decide how to implement decisions which, frankly, are probably made by the people who get them appointed. Now isn’t James Bond sexy?

Cuneo and General Patton

It seems I’ll never be short of reasons to dislike FDR’s ‘Office of Strategic Services’, the forerunner to our beloved CIA. Today I’m going to tell the sordid tale of how and why OSS/BSC heavy-weight Ernest Cuneo attacked Gen. George S. Patton in 1943.

Cuneo, a New York lawyer who represented radio personalities, used his client and BSC pet-journalist Drew Pearson to spread a story about Patton: that Patton had cruelly slapped a shell-shocked soldier during one of his hospital visits. In the original story Cuneo said that because of the attack, Patton would no longer be used in the European war theater. This is how Michael S. Sweeney explains the incident in his book Secrets of Victory: The Office of Censorship and the American Press:

Pearson publicly defended what he had published and broadcast about Welles and Hull, but privately he fretted about some of this audience abandoning him. He conferred with Ernest Cuneo, his radio lawyer, who served the government as a liaison among British intelligence, the FBI and the Office of the Coordinator of Information. Cuneo said a big, exclusive story would make people forget the president’s criticism. And since his government job gave him access to military intelligence, he suggested Pearson broadcast a Patton story he had heard.79

Pearson apparently had no doubts about the story’s authenticity. He discussed the details with the War Department which declined to issue a denial. 80 Pearson’s radio network took the story to the Office of Censorship. On the afternoon of November 14th, 1943, WMAL’s Neel sent Pearson’s script to the censors’ Broadcasting Division. The sixth and seventh pages included the following item:

Algiers– General George Patton, nicknamed “Blood and Guts,” will not be used in any European war theatre anymore. He was a bit too bloody for the morale of the Army. Inspecting an American hospital in Sicily, General Patton noticed several soldiers listed as “fatigue” patients. Fatigue means a cas of nerves or shell-shock. Patton ordered one man to stand up. The soldier, out of his head, told the General to duck down or the shells would hit him. Instead, Patton struck the soldier, knocking him down. The commanding doctor rushed in, told Patton that in the field Patton was in command of his troops, but in the hospital he, the doctor was in command of this patients. He ordered General Patton not to interfere. General Patton started to draw a gun, but was disarmed. He will not be used in important combat anymore.81

Sweeney, the author writing above, says Pearson’s story can’t be corroborated and is almost entirely false. Neither Pearson nor the US government appear to have taken any action against Ernest Cuneo. (It’s worth noting that the CIA is pleased with Sweeney’s depiction of US censorship efforts during WWII, because his book “focuses on the success of the program“.)

Sweeney suggests that Pearson’s story resulted in Patton being given less control over the European front, ultimately leaving more of Eastern Europe under Soviet control. Never the less, Patton continued to prove himself to be an excellent commander and by the end of the war he had immense prestige and popular appeal– a dangerous place to be under the FDR administration!

Why would a man like Cuneo attack Patton, especially in the middle of a war?

Ernest Cuneo with Margaret Watson.

Ernest Cuneo with Margaret Watson.

Ernest Cuneo was a trusted member for FDR’s “palace guard”, perhaps more honestly named ‘traitorous spy ring’. General William Donovan, the head of the OSS, made Cuneo a liaison between the OSS, British Security Coordination (BSC), the FBI, the United States Department of State (‘Surrogate’ to the Rooskies!!), and U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt. Prior to his spook appointment, Cuneo was a New York City lawyer/political wheeler-dealer and ‘fixer’ for the Roosevelt Administration.

General George S. Patton was the political opposite of Ernest Cuneo. Patton made a career out of the US Army: he served in the Pancho Villa Expedition, WWI and finally WWII. Patton distrusted the Soviets, Cuneo’s close-working allies. As early as 1943, one year after the OSS was officially formed, pro-Soviet OSS operatives like Cuneo were working out how to dispose of prominent Americans who didn’t support their agenda.

Gen. George Patton

Gen. George Patton

What frightened Cuneo about Patton’s views? Consider that at the end of WWII, Patton suggested the USA should protect Europe by continuing to fight the Soviets. As you can imagine, this view was an anathema to the good OSS’ers who’d “drank the milk of FDR,” as Bill Colby’s boy Carl describes them. Shortly after airing his opinion, Patton died under mysterious circumstances.

It’s incredible to me that Cuneo could get away with smearing a general like Patton during WWII, especially under Washington’s pernicious ‘self-censorship’ regime. However, Cuneo’s actions are even more creepy when you compare them to what Soviet agents were trying to do in the US at the same time. There was little difference between FDR/BSC operations and Soviet operations against the American press, except maybe that FDR/BSC operations were more successful.

To flesh out that point, I’m going to describe a Soviet operation; an operation carried out and disclosed to the FBI by USSR agent Elizabeth Bentley. I’m also going to describe how Cuneo took over a huge swath of the American press on behalf of the OSS/BSC and then finally on behalf of the CIA. By the end of this you may feel that, from the perspective of the American people, there’s little difference between Moscow and Washington.

Soviet and OSS strategies were very similar with respect to the American media: they both wanted to control as much of it as possible so that they could broadcast their own messages, messages which were similar for the most part. To put Cuneo’s OSS propaganda in context, let’s look at what Elizabeth Bentley was doing for the Soviets.

“It’s easier to fool people than to convince them they have been fooled.”

It’s easier to fool people than to convince them they have been fooled.

Elizabeth Bentley was a Soviet spy working in the 1930s- early ’40s. She was managed or ‘run’ by her lover Jacob ‘Golos’ (real name ‘Gold’). Neither of the pair were very good spooks because they were sloppy about security procedures. However, Elizabeth was given at least one interesting mission from my perspective: Gold told her to infiltrate the McClure publishing concern to find out if its editor (and owner) had ‘fascist’ sympathies– which really means Elizabeth was to find out if he could be useful to the Soviets. Kathryn S. Olmsted says this in Red Spy Queen: A Biography of Elizabeth Bentley:

Unlike [Whittaker] Chambers, Elizabeth succeeded in rationalizing and accepting the Stalinist purges and the Hitler-Stalin pact. Timmy’s [Jacob Gold's] argument that the Soviets remained anti-fascist at heart seemed persuasive, especially after Elizabeth received her next assignment.

Timmy directed her to try again to spy on New York fascists. He wanted her to infiltrate the staff of a right-wing newspaper publisher, Richard Waldo of the McClure syndicate, to determine if he was a fascist agent. Elizabeth obediently took a job as Waldo’s secretary, but she reported to her disappointed lover that she found no evidence that her boss had fascist connections.

This mission appears to have happened sometime between August 1939 and November 1943, when Waldo died. It strikes me that what the Soviets couldn’t achieve by manipulating Waldo, their sympathizers ultimately achieved through the resources of allies at the OSS, namely Ernest Cuneo, who bought the McClure syndicate in 1952 after Waldo’s widow has sold it to James L. Lenahan. Lenahan had struggled to meet financial demands associated with the syndicate’s stock. According to a 1952 ‘News of Yore’ article by Erwin Knoll:

Control of the syndicate passed to the new owners with the pur­chase of a 1,000-share block of capital stock for $47,250 by Mr. Cuneo at an auction Thursday, Sept. 4. Mr. Cuneo outbid James L. Lenahan, former president and editor of the syndicate, and Guggenheimer & Untermeyer, attor­neys for the estate of the late Adelaide P. Waldo.

The attorneys had held the block of shares as security for a debt, and had themselves offered them for sale at auction.

Whatever financial pressure Lenahan was under, it was being ‘overseen’ by Guggenheimer & Untermeyer, the infamous Wall Street law firm. Samuel Untermeyer, the firm’s namesake, was a Woodrow Wilson supporter and active in carving up Austro-Hungarian resources after WWI. Untermeyer was a Zionist like his contemporary Herman Bernstein, and also like Bernstein, he dabbled in espionage:

After the outbreak of World War I in 1914, Untermyer acted as counsel to the German and Austro-Hungarian embassies. He also assisted an agent of the German government who wished to covertly purchase newspapers to influence public opinion.[93] After America’s entry into the war, Untermyer had to temporarily suspend his sympathies with the Central Powers. After the war, however, he became counsel for an American syndicate that had acquired a one third share of the confiscated Habsburg Estates.[94] Following the resolution of a dispute between the syndicate and Archduke Frederick of Austria, Untermyer represented the Habsburg heir, who was seeking restitution of the other two-thirds of the estates.[95] He also represented eighteen of the heirs of the late Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II, who claimed ownership of oil fields in Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq).[96]

So I’m sure there were no conflicts of interest when Mr. Untermeyer’s firm took up the Waldo account!

Lenahan’s financial distress coincides with a notable period for the McClure syndicate: the later war years through 1952, when comic strips were used to promote Washington’s domestic and international agenda. Lenahan’s McClure syndicate had a special focus on distributing comic strips such as ‘Superman’, in which ‘the Man of Steel’ (who wasn’t Stalin) did fictional battle with Washington’s WWII enemies like Hitler and Emperor Hirohito.


The comic-book propaganda didn’t end inside the US border. In 1946 ‘Superman’ did battle with American domestic political opposition the Ku Klux Klan. All this government collaboration didn’t make Lenahan enough money to get out from under the debts arranged through Guggenheimer & Untermeyer, which ended up costing Lenahan the company. Shades of Disney’s ‘The Golden Touch’?

Cuneo bought McClure in 1952, after having made an initial investment in the syndicate one year earlier with his partner John F.C. Bryce. However, Cuneo’s interest in the media went back to his OSS days.

Cuneo’s OSS mission was propaganda-centered: he would manipulate a swathe of the American media, much like his boss/co-conspirator William Stephenson who used his NYC connections to pervert reporting at the Herald Tribune and other broadsheets. While working for the OSS Cuneo fed friendly journalists BRITISH propaganda. ‘Friendly journalists’ include the following: Walter Winchell, Drew Pearson, Walter Lippmann, Robert Ingersoll, Whitelaw Reid, Dorothy Thompson, Edmond Taylor; and very likely include Edward Murrow, Eric Sevareid, Charles Collingwood, Howard K. Smith and William Shirer. Cuneo worked alongside newspaperman (and Roald Dahl mentor) Charles Marsh, Eleanor Patterson (Washington Times Herald, NY Daily News, Chicago Tribune owner), A. H. Sulzberger (owner of the NYT), George Baker (owner of the New York Post), and Ogden Reid (owner of the Herald Tribune). Only Hearst publications declined to join the FDR/BSC propaganda campaign, according to Jennet Conant in The Irregulars. That would explain Orson Wells’ 1941 movie ‘Citizen Kane’!

Rosebud! I've just realized why I such a miserable old codger-- Forgive me, Franklin!

Rosebud! I’ve just realized why I’m such a miserable old codger– forgive me, Franklin!

By 1952 the OSS had become the CIA and the war was over, but the intelligence services never decolonized American media. After Cuneo and John F. C. Bryce (another old OSS agent and James Bond inspiration) purchased the McClure syndicate, Bryce was made president.

According to plans announced just before E&P went to press, John Wheeler, chairman of the board of the four affiliated Bell concerns, will serve in a similar capacity at McClure. John F. C. Bryce, who with Mr. Cuneo pur­chased a substantial interest in the group in March, 1951, will be president of the new acquisition. He holds the same title in Con­solidated News Features and Associated Newspapers. Joseph B. Agnelli, executive vice-president and general manager of the four companies, will be executive vice-president of McClure.

(Joseph B. Agnelli may actually be Gianni Agnelli, the Fiat heir. I couldn’t find *anything* on ‘Joseph B. Agnelli’, but Gianni was in NYC at about the right time to be involved in the McClure purchase– his only son was born in NYC in 1953.)

The McClure syndicate wasn’t Cuneo’s only purchase. He was on something of a newspaper-buying spree in the early 1950s: Cuneo also purchased NANA (North American Newspaper Alliance). NANA was famous for having sent communist sympathizer (and future KGB agent!) Ernest Hemingway to cover the Spanish Civil War, in which he also fought alongside the Communists. Hemingway would later become a rather lack-luster OSS agent, even by their standards.*

By the mid-1950s Cuneo and John F. C. Bryce had control of four newspaper networks: McClure, NANA, Associated Newspapers (now DMG Media, publishers of UK’s Daily Mail) and Consolidated News Features. Cuneo made sure other OSS buddies had sweet jobs in his new empire– he made BSC agent and ‘James Bond’ creator Ian Flemming NANA’s European Vice President. All this spookage has naturally lead more reflective observers like Rolling Stone and Playboy contributor Jules Siegel to question if Cuneo’s NANA was a simple CIA front.

I hope I’ve shown that what happened to Gen Patton was not an isolated instance of ‘shadow government’ overstepping its bounds and interfering in the intellectual life of a nation. What happened to General Patton is a symptom of a much larger infection; I believe that what Elizabeth Bentley tried to do was no worse than what Cuneo or any of his pet-journalists did. Of course, the dark specter hanging over all of this is Patton’s sudden heart failure on Dec 21st 1945. (What is it with spooks and heart failure?!)

I’m not an expert on the death of General Patton, however, it appears that some evidence has come to light suggesting that the General was assassinated after his initial recovery from a car accident in Germany. If you’re interested in the details, I recommend reading this article by Robert K. Wilcox. Given the vicious nature of Soviet sympathizers close to the White House– consider the case of Walt Disney and Leonid Andreyev– I can easily believe that Eisenhower worked with OSS/NKVD contacts to assassinate Patton. It certainly wouldn’t have phased the Commander in Chief!

"George, the only limit to our realization of tomorrow is your doubts today."

“George, the only limit to our realization of tomorrow is your doubts today.”

*Hemingway’s KGB work was outed by the Venona decrypts, a selection of which were made public in the mid-1990s. Some CIA-aligned historians have a hard time accepting that Hemingway would do such a thing and bend over backwards to convince themselves that Hemingway’s heart wasn’t with the KGB by pointing to Hemingway’s uselessness to the Russians. Hemingway was so useless that the KGB soon dropped him. These historians’ rosy-lensed view of Hemingway’s KGB work ignores the fact that Hemingway was all but useless to the OSS too. Hemingway apologists may find themselves in a similar dilemma to the battered wife who insists “He loves me”!

Walt and El Grupo

Walt Disney

Was Walt Disney the first American victim of FDR’s illegal spy network?

Last night I watched an old Disney cartoon called “The Golden Touch,” which is a retelling of the famous Greek myth about King Midas. This cartoon has a message: if you hoard gold, you’re not only stupid, but also immoral.

“The Golden Touch” makes a special effort to ridicule the idea that ‘Gold is Money’ by conspicuously showing ‘In Gold I Trust’ signs plastered all over the foolish King Midas’s palace.  The phrase ‘In God We Trust’ has been used on American coins and dollar bills since 1864.

I’m telling you this, because Walt Disney released “The Golden Touch” at an interesting time: the cartoon came out in March 1935, about a year after Franklin Delano Roosevelt passed his 1934 Gold Reserve Act, which was proving wildly unpopular amongst the public. The act was the last in a series of unpopular gold laws:

1) In 1933, Executive Order 6102  prohibited the “hoarding” of gold by any individual, partnership, association or corporation. Everyone, with small exceptions for tradesmen like jewelers and dentists, had to sell their gold to the Treasury before May 1st, 1933 when the price of gold was something like $23/ounce. This order was tweeked a few times in subsequent months.

2) One year later, in 1934, The Gold Reserve Act outlawed the private possession of gold. The Act also ordered the Treasury to buy gold  for $35/ounce– $12 higher than the market price before the Act became law!

Understandably, American gold owners felt cheated. The Treasury’s artificially high gold price also caused gold from all over the world to flow into the USA, where the Treasury was legally required to buy it. Some historians view FDR’s gold policy as economic warfare and part of the lead up to WWII.

So many people were outraged by FDR’s gold policy that by 1934 FDR had an epic PR battle on his hands. Franklin would need to use everything at his disposal to bend public will.

The point of this post, readers, is to suggest that Walt Disney began his collaboration with FDR well before the official date of 1941: Disney started his collaboration in 1934 when “The Golden Touch” began production and FDR desperately needed help. I argue Disney’s ‘help’ backfired on him and the Studios.

The production process for “The Golden Touch” had many unusual characteristics. Disney himself hadn’t directed a cartoon in some time, but decided to ‘get back in the game’ and oversea “The Golden Touch” personally.

According to Dave Hand, who ran one of Disney Studio’s production units:

“Well, it seems Walt got itchy fingers and decided HE would direct a picture. The fact that he had never directed any picture never occurred to him. So Walt took what I supposed to be a very good story, ‘King Midas and the Golden Touch’ from the story department. It was all pretty much ‘hush-hush’. He worked on it in his business office set-up. The thing that galled me was that he assigned every one of the ten animators to his ‘Midas’ picture. And I had to do with the beginner guys. The other two directors had to get along with second raters, also. We directors were not invited to see any preliminary animation—nothing was shown until preview time. The cost of the picture was way over budget it was rumored. So what—they were Walt’s costs. I mean to be fair minded, but to be honest, I’ve just got to say—it was a dismal flop. That was the first and last of Walt’s directorial attempts.”

Disney historian Jim Korkis disputes Hand’s version of events:

Of course, you have to be careful trusting even first-person accounts of events. Obviously, Walt had directed shorts before, just not while Hand was there at the studio. While the budget was high, the other Silly Symphonies for the year ranged from the $20,000-$35,000 so it wasn’t wildly over the cost of some of the other Silly Symphonies that year.

The Golden Touch was made at a cost of $35,458.19. Music Land that same year came in at $35,054.55 and The Tortoise and the Hare at $32,671.76. Of course, it could be argued that The Golden Touch with basically only two characters and no major special effects should have come in at a lower cost.

Walt did not steal away ten top animators. He only took two animators: the two top animators at the studio at the time.

Those two special animators were Norm Ferguson and Fred Moore, while storyboarding was done by Albert Hurter. Jack Kinney (who directed Disney propaganda cartoon “Der Fuehrer’s Face”) wrote this about “The Golden Touch” in his 1989 book Walt Disney and Other Assorted Characters :

“Burt [Gillett)]s exodus really griped Walt who said, ‘Who needs him? I’ll direct in his place.’ And so he did, using his top animators from The Three Little Pigs—Norm Ferguson and Freddie Moore. Walt moved into his own music room and started making The Golden Touch, the King Midas story.

“This was a very hush-hush operation, with just two animators, who were sworn to secrecy. The entire studio awaited this epic, and finally it was finished and previewed at the Alex Theater in Glendale. All personnel turned out to see what Walt had wrought. He had wrought a bomb! The Golden Touch laid a great big golden egg. That picture was the last Walt ever directed. We knew better than to discuss it, ever. It was forgotten and the studio went on to other things.

“Years later, Walt roared into Jaxon’s [Wilfred Jackson] office and started chewing him out about something or other. Jaxon was usually a very calm guy, but he was a redhead and this time he blew his cool. ‘Walt,’ he said, “I recollect that you once directed a picture called The Golden Touch.’ There was instant silence. Walt stared at Jaxon, then stomped out, slamming the door.

“As Jaxon described it, after a few beats, the door opened and Walt’s head popped back in. Wearing a heavy frown and very slowly punctuating his words with his finger, he said, ‘Never, ever mention that picture again.’ Then he slammed the door and clumped down the hall.

“Needless to say, it was never mentioned again.”

What I think we can take home is that “The Golden Touch” was a very secretive project that Disney was sensitive about and wanted to oversee himself. The cartoon was also a flop and I ask readers to remember that “The Golden Touch” was unprofitable for Disney.

“The Golden Touch”  itself was part of a larger propaganda campaign supporting FDR’s gold policy, which involved Good Housekeeping magazine, as well as other prominent media outlets. According to Jim Korkis:

The story [The Golden Touch] appeared in a full- page color adaptation in the November 1934 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine to publicize the upcoming release of the short. Six illustrated panels told the tale in rhyme: “A wiser, better, happier king. He’s learned that gold’s not everything.”

Nearly a decade later, in the comic book Walt Disney’s and Comics and Stories No. 20 (May 1942) there was a three-page illustrated text story of the short, using the illustrations from the Good Housekeeping magazine.

More intriguingly was that, in 1937, publisher David McKay’s Whitman Publishing Company released an entire hardcover book devoted to the story from the film. In close to a 150 pages (with a black and white illustration on each page and many full-page illustrations facing text pages, as well as six full-color pictures), an uncredited writer effectively expands on the story with some interesting additions including Midas sharing his hamburger with his cat at the end of the story: “His dining hall was no use to him now, for he could not eat gold. His bathroom was equally useless, as the water would become a liquid golden mass at his touch. His bedroom would be even more useless since who could sleep between golden sheets and wighed down by a golden eiderdown?”

“The Golden Touch” was clearly useful to FDR and his friends, but Walt Disney was not amused at being left to pay for the commercial flop. It could be that Disney was reluctant to dabble in propaganda again after getting his fingers burned on Midas…

Fast forward five years to 1940. Disney had just released to the public his personal masterpiece, Fantasia, which I wrote about here. Most critics loved it, except one in particular, Dorothy Thompson, who had switched her political allegiance to FDR one month before her review of Fantasia. (TIME called her the most influential women in the USA after Eleanor Roosevelt, FDR’s wife.) Dorothy Thompson tried to destroy Fantasia in her Herald Tribune review by claiming the film was ‘Nazi’! She painted Disney in colors which signaled to FDR’s well-monied supporters that Disney Studios should be shunned and shamed.

In 1940 Thompson’s readership was huge– in the millions– and she was one of the most widely-talked about female journalists. Just how bad was Thompson’s review of Fantasia? From Steven Watts’ The Magic Kingdom:

On November 25th 1940, Dorothy Thompson published a long review of Fantasia entitled “Minority Report”” in the New York Herald Tribune, and it set off a major imbroglio. Given the essay’s extreme sentiments, it was little wonder. “I left the theater in a condition bordering on nervous breakdown. I felt as though I had been subjected to an assault,” Thompson wrote. Disney’s film, she asserted, was “a performance of Satanic defilement,” “a remarkable nightmare, ” “brutal and brutalizing.” As she went on , she ratcheted her anger several notches higher: “All I could think to say of the ‘experience’ as I staggered out was that it was ‘Nazi.’ The word did not arise out of an obsession. Nazism is the abuse of power, the perverted betrayal of the best instincts, the genius of a race turned into black magical destruction and so is ‘Fantasia.'” Disney and his concert film, Thompson accused, had launched an attack on “the civilized world” by providing a sick caricature of the “Decline of the West.” Warming to her theme, she made two specific complaints. First the film reflected a “sadistic, gloomy, fatalistic, pantheistic,” anti-humanist philosophy where “Nature is titanic; man is a moving lichen on the stone of time.” Second, she insisted, Disney and Stokowski had concocted an assault on civilized culture that made a  mockery of great classical composers. The degradation of the Beethoven segment alone should have been “sufficient to raise and army, if there is enough blood left in culture to defend itself,” Thompson wrote angrily, before noting that she stormed out of the theater unwilling to witness the film’s concluding degradation of Mussorgsky and Schubert.

Ms. Thompson’s wild accusations of Nazism and ‘misuse’ of classical music, as well as her preoccupation with culture wars, remind me of Herbert Marcuse’s work and the ‘Frankfurt School’ political theorists. In two years’ time FDR would employ Marcuse as part of his personal propaganda and intelligence apparatus, the OSS:

Marcuse worked for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) formed in 1942 to conduct psychological warfare against the Axis Powers. After the end of World War II, the pivotal section of the OSS, the Research and Analysis Branch, was assigned to the Department of State.

Were Walt Disney and his masterwork Fantasia the first victims of FDR’s WWII propaganda machine? Did Walt Disney, who was possibly reluctant to cooperate with FDR after “The Golden Touch”, find himself on the receiving end of Franklin’s media bitch-bulldog?

William Boyd of The Guardian says that William Stephenson, the British spy and FDR’s co-conspirator in forming the OSS, used his position as head of the British Security Coordination (BSC) in New York to influence reporting at Thompson’s employer, the Herald Tribune–  influence that was well entrenched by late 1940 when Thompson wrote her take-down of Fantasia.

Dorothy Thompson, whose employer The Herald Tribune, was manipulated by British Spy and FDR crony William Stephenson.

Dorothy Thompson, whose employer The Herald Tribune, was manipulated by British spy and FDR crony William Stephenson.

But Dorothy Thompson’s attacks were not the only FDR-aligned catastrophe to hit Disney before he agreed to become Franklin’s ambassador to South America.

Fantasia was not a financial success and after 1940 Disney Studios was in need of money. On top of that, they were hit by a strike on May 29th 1941, which was lead by secret Communist Party member and Soviet spy Herbert Sorrell. (Bear in mind that FDR and Stalin were allies at this time, and secret FDR collaboration with the Soviet NKGB had started at around the time of the Disney strikes. ‘Wild Bill’ Donovan would ‘legitimize’ this informal relationship between the NKGB and the OSS in 1944.) Perhaps all FDR had to do in 1941 was make a phone call?

Disney’s daughter, Diane Disney Miller, says that this strike hit Disney completely out of the blue: he couldn’t understand where it came from and why it had such “virulence”. The strike was one of two events that Disney couldn’t recover from, she says in Walt and El Grupo.

One week after the start of the strike on June 5th, FDR ‘asked’ Walt to take part in a US propaganda mission to South America, which is the subject of the Disney Corporation’s 2008 documentary Walt and El Grupo. (In the documentary Walt Disney described the 1941 period in his life as “the toughest for me” and filled with ” a lot of disappointments”. At 08:31 you can see a brief glimpse of a memo marked “WALT” and “Bob Carr” which outlines the propaganda plans for Disney’s South American trip. Bob Carr was a mayor of Orlando, Florida who oversaw the opening of the Disney theme park there. Carr’s politics seem to align with FDR’s.)

The Disney Studios strike wasn’t resolved until the end of Walt Disney’s South American tour of duty. Disney’s father had died in the meantime. But what does that matter? FDR got what he wanted.

Walt Disney Studios would limp through WWII making propaganda cartoons for FDR and his Brit-spy buddies. Remember BSC asset Roald Dahl and his gremlins?

Hey, Airforce! Merchandise!

Hey, Air Force! Merchandise!

Walt may have been forced to participate in 1941 propaganda drives, but whether he was or not, he made sure that Disney Studios wouldn’t loose money on disastrous government propaganda films. Consider this clip from Walt and El Grupo, where J B Kaufmann describes how Walt painstakingly negotiated with the US government to make sure Disney Studios wouldn’t be stuck with the bill for a propaganda flop… like what happened with “The Golden Touch”?

Once Disney worked out the kinks in his government contracts, he cooperated fully with US Armed Forces and the Executive Branch to make many different forms of propaganda, as described here by Lisa Briner of the Army Heritage and Education Center:

An important factor ensuring America’s ultimate victory over the Axis Powers in World War II was the overwhelming and unwavering support of the Home Front. Contributing much to creating and maintaining that Home Front support were Walt Disney films. Meanwhile, morale-boosting Disney-designed insignia that soon appeared on planes, trucks, flight jackets, and other military equipment accomplished the same for American and Allied forces.

During the war Disney made films for every branch of the U.S. government. Typical of the films was the 1943 “The Spirit of ’43” produced at the request of the Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Morgenthau, Jr. The film depicted Donald Duck dealing with federal income taxes and pointing out the benefit of paying his taxes in support of the American war effort.

At the Navy’s request, the Disney Studios also produced, in just three months, some 90,000 feet of training film to educate sailors on navigation tactics. Disney animators also worked closely with Hollywood producer Frank Capra and created what many consider to be the most brilliant animated maps to appear in a series of seven highly successful “Why We Fight” films.

During the war, over 90 percent of Disney employees were devoted to the production of training and propaganda films. In all, the Disney Studios produced some 400,000 feet of film representing some 68 hours of continuous film. Included among the films produced was “Der Fuehrer’s Face” again featuring Donald Duck. It won the Oscar as the best animated film for 1943.

Perhaps the importance of the Disney Studios to the war effort is best demonstrated by the fact that the U.S. Army deployed troops to protect the facilities, the only Hollywood studio accorded such treatment.

(Emphasis is my own- a.nolen)

I think it’s more than likely that FDR called on Disney for political support in 1934; I think it’s also very likely that Disney ended up feeling cheated by FDR. When FDR’s war effort got rolling, the president had to use his British illegal spy friends and their ‘dirty tricks’ to coerce his fellow American into jumping on board.

FDR’s propaganda machine cost Disney more than just his integrity. In 1941– the year Disney became an ‘official spokesperson’ for the US government in South America– Disney Studios lost its brilliant special effects guru, Herman Schultheis, who was responsible for many of the revolutionary artistic effects in Fantasia. Herman Schultheis was German-born and probably didn’t pass the US government’s ‘security clearance’ requirements. Schultheis left Disney to work in the research library at Librascope: a huge loss for Disney Studios and American cultural heritage.

How did Walt Disney feel about his wartime propaganda efforts? He was probably too scared to ever talk about it, but I suspect the 1961 creation of kind, loveable Prof. Ludwig Von Drake with Ward Kimball (who animated Education for Death: The Making of the Nazi) was a type of personal penance.

disney and ludwig von drake

P.S. Writing this post on Disney turned up so many interesting tidbits on Dorothy Thompson that I just have to list some here.

First of all, Dorothy made her name as a suffragette in the New York political milieu that was so heavily financed by Alva Vanderbilt Belmont, who also financed the British agent provocateur and war-monger Emmeline Pankhurst, and whose family money made Winston Churchill’s career possible. Working for Alva as a suffragette also launched the career of Roald Dahl’s political bedfellow Clare Boothe Luce.

Curiously, both Dorothy Thompson and Clare Boothe Luce were given journalistic roles after their ‘suffragette’ ones: Dorothy covered Hitler for Cosmopolitan magazine (you know– it’s now a sex rag like the type George Orwell hated); while Clare Boothe Luce became an editor at both Vogue and Vanity Fair, and then covered WWII for TIME. You could say these fabulous women paved the way for journalistic mega-millionaires like’s Nick Denton.

Dorothy Thompson and Clare Boothe Luce both did a lot of ‘agenda flip-flopping’ throughout their careers– Dorothy was so bad that TIME magazine called her “iron-whimmed“, though you could argue Luce wasn’t much better. For most of her career Dorothy Thompson could be counted on to be a venomous ‘shrieker’ in support of whatever cause gained her strokes from the powerful. Dorothy paved the way for modern agenda prostitutes like Little Green Football’s Charles Johnson.

Finally, Dorothy and Clare had a famous falling out over Dorothy’s mid-campaign  switch from supporting Wendell Wilkie’s presidential bid to supporting FDR’s. Since these two women are credited with shaping many American women’s political opinions at the time, you could say that Dorothy’s switch had more than a touch of the Hegelian Dialectic about it. Dorothy Thompson and Clare Boothe Luce paved the way for modern democracy managers like the staff at BuzzFeed and their ex-editor Benny Johnson.

Mrs. Luce got into a scrap with Democrat Dorothy Thompson during the Roosevelt-Wilkie campaign, and witnessed the “almost physical pleasure” men got out of watching that fight. From this she learned that “men will turn what two women say into a hair-pulling battle, and the issue the women are fighting over will be forgotten.” (From The Christian Science Monitor, Dec. 9th 1980).

Bank Cosmos

Leonid Chernovetsky with Kiev-based evangelist Sunday Adelaja. Thank you,

Leonid Chernovetsky with Kiev-based evangelist Sunday Adelaja, founder of the Embassy of God church. Thank you,

I had a lot of fun looking into Zhanna Kobylinska last weekend, but I couldn’t do justice to Leonid Chernovetsky, the former mayor of Kiev and supporter of Ms. Kobylinska’s employer, the Embassy of God church. He’s a man that needs his own post.

The money behind Mr. Chernovesky comes from banking, and in my experience, you can tell a lot about a politician by watching the money. So let’s do that!

1. In 1992, shortly after the fall of the USSR,  Mr. Chernovetsky founded Pravex bank after having worked 1) as Kiev’s chief investigator (police) and then 2) as a professor at Shevchenko National University where he studied government corruption. Sometime while teaching, Chernovetsky banded together with other teachers and his family to start what would become Pravex. Where the money came from is unclear, but Jed Sunden’s Kyiv Post says this:

He [Leonid Chernovetsky] also started a consulting business, “Law, Economy, Sociology,” with his university colleagues, which later became Pravex.

“I made my first million in 1992. At the beginning, business wasn’t good, and there was little need for legal consulting then,” said Chernovetskiy. “At the end of 1991, the law firm started to work. It is true, though it was small money. Then there were quite a number of different projects – hard currency stores, real estate and antique auction organizations.”

Soo… we can be pretty sure that the seed money is untraceable. Wherever it came from, there was enough money to back Ukraine’s eighth largest bank and compete with the large multinationals which descended on the Ukraine after perestroika.

2. In 2008– at the same time Mohammad Zahoor was liquidating his Ukrainian steel assets– the Chernovestsky family sold Pravex bank to Italy’s megabank Intesa Sanpaolo. Why the sudden sell-offs?

In 2008 Kiev held a “snap election” after Chernovestsky had been accused of corruption– an election which Chernovestsky won and maintained his mayoral seat. Disappointed contenders included Oleksander Turchinov and famous heavyweight boxer Vitaly Klitschko, the brother of US intelligence asset Wladimir Klitschko, who flashed his dick for American foreign policy in 2009.  It seems Chernovestsky’s corruption scandal made oligarchs nervous, which may have sparked the sell-off. It also seems that whoever gave Pravex its seed-money had no problem passing the ball to the Italians.

3. On January 23rd 2014, just days before UKUSA’s ‘Maidan’ revolution got rolling in Kiev, Intesa Sanpaolo sold Pravex to Centragas AG.

It’s deals like that which give the Italians a bad name! :)

Centragas AG is Dmytro Firtash’s Swiss holding company for his firm RosUkrEnergo. You’ll remember Firtash as the oligarch who brought a libel lawsuit against Jed Sunden’s Kyiv Post, which resulted in UK readers being blocked from and set Ian Bearder from Oxford off on a self-righteous tirade. Firtash has made trouble for UKUSA spooks in the past by using the UK’s byzantine libel laws against them.

I believe 1) somebody told the Italians that Maidan was coming down the pipe, and 2) the Italians didn’t have faith that Maidan would be good for Ukraine’s economy in the long term*.  Pravex became a ‘hot potato’. The Italians found a quick buyer in Firtash, the guy ticking off UKUSA spooks.

Firtash has Russian ties: his flagship company, RosUkrEnergo, of which he owns 45%, was set up with Russia’s Gazprom. According to Voice of Russia:

In 2004, the Ukrainian businessman and Russian Gazprom jointly set up RosUkrEnergo, a company to distribute natural gas in Ukraine and in the European Union. Due to this company’s activities, Ukraine was able to acquire gas at prices well below market rates. Later that year Mr. Firtash became a major shareholder of Crimean Soda Plant (Krasnoperekopsk) and Krymskiy TITAN (Armiansk).

Cheap gas is one of the reasons that Russia will always have its hooks in Ukraine.

In 2010, Wikileaks leaked US diplomatic messages in which the “Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor allegedly wrote that gas-trading Ukrainian billionaire Dmytro Firtash told of needing permission from alleged Russian crime boss Semyon Mogilevich to do business in Ukraine during the lawless 1990s.” The Kyiv Post says Firtash denied the remarks.

This is where things get weird, because Firtash was arrested in Vienna this May on an FBI (i.e. American) warrant based on his allegedly corrupt activities in India back in 2006. The arrest may also have something to do with unsubstantiated reports that Firtash is funding Maidan revolutionaries as well as the Vitaly Klitschko-led party UDAR.

So, er, Gazprom’s man in Kiev, who is funding the anti-Russian Maidan protests, has been arrested by the Viennese on behalf of the FBI?! Fortunately, things are cleared up by the Americans at Foregin Policy, who point out that only Russia-aligned oligarchs have been ‘toppled’ by Maidan:

He [Firtash] was released after paying 125 million euros in bail, and currently remains in Austria, where he is fighting extradition to the United States.

I speculate, readers, that Maidan is working so well for the Americans that they’re scared to let moneybags Firtash anywhere near the revolution or Vitaly Klitschko, who is now Mayor of Kiev– the first real one since Leonid Chernovetsky disappeared.

Disappeared?! Yes, there’s a part of this story yet to tell. In 2011, Chernovetsky disappeared on the job. After more corruption scandals, Chernovetsky went AWOL for a few months and eventually turned up in Israel.

The eccentric mayor of Kiev, who mysteriously vanished from Ukraine and has not been spotted in public for months, has reappeared in Israel on “an unofficial holiday”, according to media reports.

Leonid Chernovetsky, who bewildered Ukrainians with his bizarre antics in office and still officially retains his post, was discovered by Ukrainian television channel 1+1 in an elite district of Tel Aviv.

Why did Chernovetsky run? Well, in November 2010, Ukranian President Viktor Yanukovych, the guy who Maidan ousted, had stripped Chernovetsky of his mayoral powers and left him as a figurehead. Chernovetsky was described as being ‘like the Queen of England’.

On top of loosing his power, Chernovetsky was displaying signs of weakness, such as posing for the press in his Speedos and cozying up to weird organizations like Nigerian pastor Sunday Adelaja’s ‘Emabassy of God’. Chernovetsky’s bizarre behavior has earned him the nickname “Lenny Cosmos”. If Chernovetsky isn’t soft in the head, then he’s very good at making people think he is. I’m sure that by late 2010, twenty years’ worth of enemies smelled blood in the water.

“They are judging me today and want me to spend the rest of my life behind the bars of a psychiatric hospital,” Mr. Chernovetsky said. “Look at my body, at how I express my thoughts. I am absolutely healthy. I think logically and philosophically.”

“They are judging me today and want me to spend the rest of my life behind the bars of a psychiatric hospital,” Mr. Chernovetsky said. “Look at my body, at how I express my thoughts. I am absolutely healthy. I think logically and philosophically.”

Which brings me to my final point about where Chernovetsky’s Pravex banking money came from. From my experience, managing money well is hard, and managing a lot of money well is even more difficult. People who manage money well don’t have time for weird media escapades, questionable charities or public office. Anytime a figure acts like Chernovetsky, you can be sure he’s just a front for someone else’s money and the real brains are elsewhere. Where? Chernovestsky sold out to the Italians and has had Israeli citizenship since 1994, two years after he got into the banking business. Also, he’s not in a Viennese jail.

*(If Ukraine-shipped Russian gas becomes unreliable, ‘Western Europe’ would depend on buying Russian energy through Moscow-aligned Belarus, or the German-aligned Nord route, or through countries like Turkey-Georgia-Azerbaijan. Or NATO-groupies could do something *totally crazy* like build a pipe through Iraq-Syria-Israel.)

Rainbow Brite does ZunZuneo

I’ve noticed an uptick in people hitting my site having searched for ‘Jed Sunden’ lately.

“Great,” I thought, “He’s back in the news.” So I did a ‘Google News’ search on Jed and came up with a surprising result. I think the story that’s prompting people to search for Jed is actually about someone else altogether: Zhanna Kobylinska.

Zhanna Kobylinska is a Ukraine-based PR pro who started her own blog in 2012; this is what Jed Sunden’s former asset, The Kyiv Post, says about Ms. Kobylinska’s new media project:

Editor’s Note: Kyiv public relations specialist Zhanna Kobylinska’s “Good News Ukraine” blog sticks to uplifting news and steers clear of controversy. Readers can send news items to Kobylinska at

The Kyiv Post lets Ms. Kobylinska write her own articles promoting her own blog which is called ‘Good News Ukraine‘. Tagline: “The greatest Ukraine’s treasure is people loving and respecting the country.”

Kobylinska’s biographic blurb states:

Kyiv resident Zhanna Kobylinska initiated the Ukrainian public project ‘Go Ukraine! Let’s Go!, which can be found on Facebook at

Zhanna Kobylinska's avatar for her Kyiv Post series on rainbows.

Zhanna Kobylinska’s avatar for her Kyiv Post series on rainbows and unicorns.

‘Good News Ukraine’ is filled with sunshine-y tidbits like international youth meet-ups, music news, and numbered lists about feel-good topics à la BuzzFeed. ‘Good News Ukraine’ reminds me of  ZunZuneo, USAID’s political psy-op in Cuba, which aimed to worm its way into the Cuban public’s trust with feel-good, gossipy news stories and then surreptitiously insert anti-Havana political propaganda.

Is that what ‘Good News Ukraine’ is about too? A Ukraine-targeted ZunZuneo?

Ms. Kobylinska’s blog is getting press attention again for some reason– take this Swiss puff-piece, for example.

It’s not a good sign that The Kyiv Post, American agent Jed Sunden’s old baby, is giving Kobylinska a weekly microphone. But where does Ms. Kobylinska come from? What is her history?

I can’t definitively answer those questions, but I can tell you that the first reference I’ve found online about Zhanna Kobylinska comes from a blurb in The Kyiv Post on April 8th 2011: (You can click on it to make the text a little larger.)

From the April 8th 2011 Kyiv Post.

From the April 8th 2011 Kyiv Post.

Note that Zhanna worked for the “SBU state security service of Ukraine” for ten years before she was a church spokesperson. Weird enough? The Embassy of God church in Kiev is supported by former mayor Leonid Chernovetsky, and appears to be a Christian Zionist organization judging by their press in The church has been accused of having ties to organized crime.

Zhanna Kobylinska’s next *probable* appearance happened through a 2012 post on a ‘Zhanna Kobylinska’ wrote this cheery piece about Easter eggs which is also great PR for the Ukraine. is the address of ‘Blue and Yellow: Life in Ukraine’ and is run by a Brit called Ian Bearder. ‘Blue and Yellow’ provides internet content about Ukraine and was started in late 2011, about the same time Jed Sunden would have begun his latest Ukrainian internet content company, ‘Internet Investments’. (Jed Sunden has removed information about ‘Internet Investments’ from his LinkedIn page since I last wrote about him.)

ian bearder

Ukraine-minded Brit Ian Bearder.

When Ian Bearder isn’t running ‘Blue and Yellow’, he’s campaigning for a seat in the European Parliament! From his Facebook profile:

Ian Bearder is a Liberal Democrat candidate for the 2014 European elections. His unique European expertise and his strong commitment to regional development make him an excellent candidate for the South East region.


Born in Hertford Heath in 1978, Ian grew up in Oxfordshire. After studying Software Engineering Management at Bournemouth University, he split his time between his work as an IT consultant and travel. Between 2003 and 2009 he visited all 49 European countries, an experience which sparked a deep interest in European affairs and international politics.

Ian has been a long-time Liberal Democrat campaigner, standing as a candidate in Oxford in 2004, 2006 and in 2008. For the past five years he has represented the UK Liberal Democrats at the annual pan-European Liberal Democrat (ELDR) party congress and is a co-opted member of the national European Liberal Democrats (LDEG) executive.

After completing a masters degree in European Politics in Hungary in 2009, Ian spent two years living and working as a broadcast journalist in Ukraine.

It should surprise no one that Mr. Bearder’s ‘Blue and Yellow’ site is extremely supportive of the Maidan revolution in Ukraine; Ian’s Facebook page is very critical of Putin.

Bearder’s “IT consultant” experience includes working for ERTICO, a partnership of big-name American and European multinationals:

ERTICO – ITS Europe represents the interests and expertise of around 100 Partners involved in providing Intelligent Transport Systems and Services (ITS). It facilitates the safe, secure, clean, efficient and comfortable mobility of people and goods in Europe through the widespread deployment of ITS.

Here’s a list of ERTICO “partners”, which include companies like IBM.

Ian Bearder, the Brit who just happened to alight in Eastern Europe after a whirl-wind tour of the continent, is a creature of UKUSA. If his publication was an early sounding board for happy-smiley Zhanna Kobylinska, then we know what she is too.

Ian Bearder has one more *possible* connection to Jed Sunden.  In late 2010, RosUkrEnergo co-owner Dmytro Firtash filed a libel lawsuit against The Kyiv Post which resulted in the website denying access to UK users for some time. An ‘Ian Bearder’ from Oxford wrote a letter to the editors of The Kyiv Post full of righteous indignation about Firtash’s actions and advice as to how The Kyiv Post should restore website access to UK readers. Read the full tirade here.

If our two Ian Bearders from Oxford are the same, they’ve been invested in The Kyiv Post’s agenda for some time.

I think it’s painfully obvious that Zhanna Kobylinska is backed by Jed Sunden’s patrons and The Kyiv Post’s creepy new owner, Mohammad Zahoor. I’ve provided circumstantial evidence that she’s connected to Ian Bearder and that Ian Bearder is aligned with Sunden/Zahoor. I suggest that these three are a pathetic troika of weak propagandists who are trying to pin a smiley face onto Anglo-American adventurism in the Ukraine.

Poor show.

P.S. For a little Saturday fun, check out this review of Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer, which also speaks to US propaganda efforts across the globe! Attention James Clapper: you should get ‘GaryReviews’ to preview + approve your projects prior to the $$$. Best. Contractor. Ever. Will save billions on ‘hearts and minds’!

A Death in Finland

Leonid Andreyev stands before one of his own drawings, 1909.

Leonid Andreyev stands before one of his own drawings, 1909.

A few months ago, I wrote about Leonid Andreyev’s final book, Satan’s Diary. This is an extraordinary work that probably inspired Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita.

What’s remarkable about Andreyev’s book is that it describes rich Americans’ role in the Russian Revolution via the fictionalized account of ‘Henry Wondergood’. Wondergood is actually Satan, who masquerades as a billionaire philanthropist from Illinois. The history which Satan’s Diary describes is dangerous to talk about even today.

The only non-fiction book I’m aware of that tries to explain rich Americans’ involvement in setting up the Bolshevik government is Anthony Sutton’s Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution. It’s not often discussed in ‘safe’ historical research, because that type of ‘research’ is usually funded by bequests from wealthy philanthropists. From

Professor Richard Pipes of Harvard said in his book, Survival Is Not Enough: Soviet Realities and America’s Future (Simon & Schuster;1984): “In his three-volume detailed account of Soviet Purchases of Western Equipment and Technology . . . [Antony] Sutton comes to conclusions that are uncomfortable for many businessmen and economists. For this reason his work tends to be either dismissed out of hand as ‘extreme’ or, more often, simply ignored.”

However, if you study Soviet/Russian literature it’s pretty hard to ignore rich Americans’ and Brits’ support of the Bolsheviks: the best Russian writers were drawn to the cynicism and hypocrisy behind the new government in Moscow.

Leonard Andreyev was a child of the revolution who ended up being ‘eaten’ by it, much like Vsevolod Meyerhold. Andreyev’s literary patron in the USSR was Maxim Gorky, a close friend of Lenin and the state’s literary gatekeeper. This is how Countess Tolstoy described Andreyev’s writing:

“The poor new writers, like Andreyev, succeed only in concentrating their attention on the filthy point of human degradation and uttered a cry to the undeveloped, half-intelligent reading public, inviting them to see and to examine the decomposed corpses of human degradation and to close their eyes to God’s wonderful, vast world, with the beauties of nature, with the majesty of art, with the lofty yearnings of the human soul, with the religious and moral struggles and the great ideals of goodness– even with the downfall, misfortunes and weaknesses of such people as Dostoyevsky depicted… In describing all these every true artist should illumine clearly before humanity not the side of filth and vice, but should struggle against them by illumining the highest ideals of good, truth, and the triumph over evil, weakness, and the vices of mankind… I should like to cry out loudly to the whole world in order to help those unfortunate people whose wings, given to each of them for high flights toward the understanding of the spiritual light, beauty, kindness, and God, are clipped by these Andreyevs.”

I hope readers will see why debased writing is useful for revolutionaries; this type of art aggravates discontent and demoralization which can then be deflected onto the targeted ‘regime’. I recommend reading the “Politicized Warfare: ‘Black’ and ‘White’ Propaganda” section of this University of Warwick essay.

Enemy soldiers were fed a diet of dance music, seedy entertainment and soft pornography (interspersed with advice on malingering) through one such ‘black’ station known as the ‘Soldatensender Calais’. Crossman even claimed that there was an ‘Astrological Programme’ whose audience inside Germany probably consisted of about forty individuals at most, but which it was believed was popular with senior members of the Nazi Party.33 Its aim was to play on the fact that many senior Nazis were known to have an interest in astrology, feeding them gloomy astrological predictions about their military campaigns.

Andreyev was celebrated by powerful revolutionaries as long as he was on their side, but when Andreyev became disillusioned with the Bolsheviks, he was blacklisted and forced into exile. By 1919, Andreyev had become a dangerous liability to the Bolsheviks and their American supporters.

The Soviet authorities are famous for how closely they spied on, and how cunningly they controlled, artists under their sway: the sad fate of Bulgakov is a testimony to this. When Andreyev ran to Finland, did his spook handlers just disappear too?

I invite readers to examine the character of Andreyev’s American translator, Herman Bernstein, who wrote this preface to his 1920 edition of  Satan’s Diary:


Leonid Andreyev’s last work was completed by the great Russian a few days before he died in Finland, in September 1919.  But a few years ago the most popular and successful of Russian writers, Andreyev died almost penniless, a sad, tragic figure, disillusioned, broken-hearted over the tragedy of Russia.

A year ago Leonid Andreyev wrote me that he was eager to come to America, to study this country and familiarize Americans with the fate of his unfortunate countrymen. I arranged for his visit to this country and informed him of this by cable. But on the very day I sent my cable the sad news came from Finland announcing that Leonid Andreyev died of heart failure.

Reading that excerpt made my hair stand on end. Why? Andreyev fled Russia for Finland ready to warn Americans about what was really going on under the Bolsheviks. He told his translator, Herman Bernstein, about his intention to talk in America; Bernstein took charge of the travel arrangements which, strangely, dragged on for over a year. A few days before Andreyev was finally set to go, he died of heart failure.

Who was Herman Bernstein?

Herman Bernstein, just prior to being made ambassador to Albania by Herbert Hoover.

Herman Bernstein, just prior to being made ambassador to Albania by Herbert Hoover.

Herman Bernstein wasn’t just any old translator, but a deeply connected political operator within the Wilson and Hoover administrations. Herman Bernstein was the Wolf Blizter of his day; he was sent with the American Expeditionary Forces to Russia to ‘report’ on the war much like Winston Churchill ‘reported’ on the Boer War and Nick Denton ‘reported’ on the fall of communism in Hungary for the FTHerman Bernstein  was a propagandist who worked for the same interests that backed Woodrow Wilson and Herbert Hoover: wealthy, Anglo-American financiers and other assorted billionaires. Henry Wondergoods.

I propose, readers, that Andreyev was being watched– and probably ‘contained’–  by friends of the Bolsheviks overseas and that Bernstein was one of these ‘watchers’.

Bernstein was a very busy man in the years leading up to Andreyev’s death. He was sent to cover the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917  as well as the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, where Germany was unjustly saddled with crushing reparations payments to the UK and France. (New York financial interests were heavily represented throughout the post-WWI peace negotiations and had spies in the US delegation who leaked confidential treaty information to favored bankers back in NYC. )

Apart from his journalistic work, Bernstein made a career out of leaking documents, a set of which were published by Alfred Knopf in 1918  as The Willy-Nicky Correspondence: Being the Secret and Intimate Telegrams Exchanged Between the Kaiser and the Tsar  which included a foreword by Theodore Roosevelt (US president 1901-1909). This leaked correspondence painted the Kaiser as a monster at a time when Anglo-American elitists were working hard to prove that Germany was solely responsible for WWI and therefore justify their demand for crushing ‘reparations’ payments. The economic privation caused by these reparations, and the economic mismanagement they resulted in (people were starving in Germany), is often credited with fueling the rise of National Socialism. Regular readers will remember that Alfred Knopf was a favored publisher amongst the FDR/Churchill spy network.

Alfred Abraham Knopf, publisher of Herman Bernstein and British 'illegal' spy Roald Dahl.

Alfred Abraham Knopf, publisher of Herman Bernstein and British ‘illegal’ spy Roald Dahl.

Bernstein ran amongst the highest levels of Anglo-American war propagandists. Bear this in mind when you evaluate the attention Bernstein paid to Andreyev in 1919: it was extremely important to America’s power elite to sanitize what Andreyev might say. The political import of Andreyev’s message was on par with painting Germany as the aggressor in WWI.

Why haven’t we all heard of Satan’s Diary?!

Bernstein had excellent literary connections in Russia and the United States, both before and after the Bolshevik Revolution. He corresponded with all the big names, from Count Tolstoy to Leon Trotsky. Bernstein’s contacts meant he had extraordinary access to writers like Andreyev, for whom he became  a literary gatekeeper responsible for translating much of Andreyev’s work into English– eight works between 1909 and 1923. Andreyev was a literary superstar who needed careful ‘handling’.

Bernstein served his masters’ interests so well that Hoover made him ambassador to Albania from 1930-1933. He spent the rest of his life championing Zionism and the state of Israel.

When I read that excerpt from the preface to Satan’s Diary, I don’t hear a concerned friend of Andreyev. I hear the words deft behind-the-scenes operator who’s just solved a problem for his bosses. It’s not good for men like Bernstein to have disillusioned Russian revolutionaries talk about ‘Henry Wondergoods’ to the conservative American masses.

IF Bernstein was a gatekeeper, why not have Andreyev’s work burned? Why take on the dangerous task of translating it into English? Andreyev was a very celebrated author; people outside of the intelligence community knew about what he was writing and his views. A book by Andreyev simply couldn’t just disappear– that’s why Andreyev was so dangerous once he became disillusioned. The next best thing for Bernstein and his patrons was to control the reception of Satan’s Diary: one way to do this was to control how it was translated. If you read Bernstein’s preface, it’s full of nebulous phrases like: [Andreyev was] “disillusioned, heart-broken over the tragedy of Russia”; [Satan's Diary is an] “absorbing satire on human life”; or “He [Andreyev] portrayed Satan coming to this earth to amuse himself and play”.

All of those phrases are grotesque generalizations designed to obfuscate: Andreyev was disillusioned, specifically, with Bernstein’s friends the Bolsheviks and their billionaires; Satan’s Diary is a satire of the Bolshevik government’s hypocritical funders; and Satan came to do exactly as the Bolshevik’s American funders did. Bernstein’s weasel-words remind me of Bill Colby’s attempt to push blame for his drug-dealing off onto ‘the CIA in general’!

I wish that I had a copy of the original Russian version of Satan’s Diary; given the provenance of Bernstein, I can’t help believe that the Russian version is far more cutting and explicit in its satire of America’s ‘great and good’.

A Call for Papers

Last week three prominent members of the US military put their support behind a study from The Palm Center which suggests that the US Military should lift their ban on openly transgendered service members.

I was not surprised by this development: considering the military’s 2011 decision to support openly gay soldiers, supporting openly transgendered ones seems like the logical next step.

What did surprise me was that these prominent military figures, which include a former Army acting surgeon general and a former chief of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps, threw their weight behind a report that says 15,500 transgender members actively serve in the military, while 134,300 “Veteran retired Guard/Reserve” are transgendered. That means one in a hundred active US military personnel are transgendered.

Jennifer Natalya Pritzker

Lt Col Jennifer Natalya Pritzker, of the billionaire Chicago family, ‘anonymously’ donated $1.35 million to the Palm Center to fund research on integrating the transgendered community into the US military, says Advocate.comThank you, for image.

15,500 active transgendered military personnel is a huge number; the estimate’s validity is bolstered by the fact that two distinguished military medical professionals– who ought to know about the populations they serve– authored the report in question.

These estimates come from UCLA Law Center’s Williams Institute, which also estimates that transgendered individuals are much more likely to serve in the military than the US population in general:

Williams Center Trans SoldiersThis is how the estimates’ creators, Gary J. Gates and Jody L. Herman, describe their findings:

By comparison, approximately 10.7% of adults in the US have served. This implies that transgender individuals are about twice as likely as adults in the US to have served their country in the armed forces. Transgender individuals assigned female at birth are nearly three times more likely than all adult women and those assigned male at birth are 1.6 times more likely than all adult men to serve.

The transgendered community’s devotion to the armed services exists despite persistent discrimination from the defense establishment: the military has banned openly transsexual people from serving. On top of that, I find it extraordinary that a persecuted minority is drawn to an organization which, at least for the past sixty years, has been used to force the will of a few people on less powerful countries around the globe.

This apparent anomaly begs the question: what is it about the US military that attracts so many transgendered individuals? Gary and Herman have provided statistical evidence that demands further research.

Are statistics for homosexual people in the military also so striking? Yes, they are. Gary Gates, the same researcher as before,  wrote a paper in 2004 for the Urban Institute, here are some select quotes:

Estimates suggest that more than 36,000 gay men and lesbians are serving in active duty, representing 2.5 percent of active duty personnel. When the guard and reserve are included,nearly 65,000 men and women in uniform are likely gay or lesbian, accounting for 2.8 percent of military personnel.

[In an entirely different paper, Gary Gates estimates that 1.7% of the US population identifies as homosexual, so gays appear strongly over-represented in the military. -a.nolen]
Continuing from Gates’ 2004 paper:

In particular, military service rates for coupled lesbians far exceed rates for other women in every military era of the later 20th century. Nearly one in 10 coupled lesbians age 63–67 report that they served in Korea, compared with less than one in 100 of other women. Even in the most recent service period from 1990 to 2000, service rates among coupled lesbians age 18–27 are more than three times higher than rates among other women

Nearly one million gay and lesbian Americans are veterans.

The District of Columbia leads all states with a rate of 10.2 gay or lesbian veterans per one thousand adults, more than double the national average.

Homosexuals have shown this eagerness to serve despite institutional discrimination:

Despite a variety of rules designed to keep gay men and lesbians out of military service, census data make clear that they are actively serving in the armed forces, in guard and reserve units, and have served in the military throughout the later part of the 20th century.

Again, homosexuals’ draw to the military– despite the organization’s historically discriminatory stance — is something that is difficult for me to understand. Are homosexuals drawn to the military for the same reasons as  transgendered service members?

Many of you know that I’m interested in ‘spooky’ things, so my next question… Is the LGBT community also overrepresented in the intelligence community? Seeing as a lot of spook talent is derived from the military, my hunch is that they are.  What’s tricky about this question is that it’s very hard to count spooks given the secretive nature of their work– you never know if you’re getting a representative sample of the intelligence community. (Unless you’re somebody like DNI James Clapper, but even he may not know about all his contractors!:) )

The best most people can do– probably the best most professional intelligence historians can do– is look to history for individuals who are now known agents and were also part of the LGBT community.

The most famous homosexual intelligence professionals  are Guy Burgess and Anthony Blunt, who were Soviet double agents and half of ‘The Cambridge Five’, of who only four are known conclusively. Burgess and Blunt were known homosexuals at a time it was illegal to be so; yet these two men also held sensitive positions in the UK government. (Between the known four spies, they infiltrated MI5, MI6, the Foreign Office, the War Ministry and Blunt  even became an advisor to the Royal Family!). I don’t want to get hung up on their traitorous actions. What I do want to point out is that even back in the 1940s homosexuals were represented amongst the UK intelligence community’s ‘best and brightest’. Both the British and the Soviets recognized something exceptional about Burgess and Blunt.

The Soviets chose to recruit and cultivate these two highly-placed, homosexual spies  over a period of thirty years. That’s a huge investment which the Russians wouldn’t have made unless the pair showed exceptional intelligence talent. There were plenty of prominent Brits with socialist sympathies; there were plenty of well-placed Brits in the Communist Party who the Soviets could have recruited (See Secrets of the Service, by Anthony Glees); but it was a group of disproportionately gay agents who were the ‘jewel in the Soviets’ crown’– agents who were  recruited despite the obvious vulnerabilities their sexuality presented at the time.

History provides far more examples of LGBT agents than just Burgess and Blunt. Gabriel Pascal, the Hollywood movie-man who put British spy Roald Dahl in touch with FDR was homosexual; Julia Child’s husband Paul Cushing Child, who was in charge of USIA propaganda in Germany after WWII was likely bisexual; FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover, who left such an indelible mark on US intelligence worldwide, was likely bisexual (and is rumored to have dressed as a woman for  sex parties); Hoover’s partner both at the FBI and domestically, Clyde Anderson Tolson was also likely gay; Joan Cassidy, the famous US Navy intelligence office was homosexual; Whittaker Chambers was homosexual. These eight people are just the intel pros I can think of off the top of my head– most of them were heavy-hitters in the intelligence community. Considering that homosexuality was frowned upon amongst the general public, there are probably many more examples.

What about less well-placed spooks? Ironically, the turmoil caused by the gradual discovery of the Cambridge Five sheds light on just how many homosexual agents have contributed to the intelligence community.The ‘Lavender Scare’ of the 1950s and 60s specifically targeted homosexuals and sought to remove them from sensitive positions in the government. In the words of Tracey Ballard, an intelligence agent who came out in the 1980s:

Hundreds of gay men and women were purged from government agencies in the ’50s and ’60s. But Ballard says that charge — that gays were a blackmail risk — was always false.

“If you do research within the community over the decades, you’ll find that it really wasn’t an issue,” she says. “LGBT people were not blackmailed in any type, any way or form. That was their way of ensuring that we were not employed.”

Trudy Ring, reporter, wrote this in a review of a documentary about the ‘Lavender Scare‘:

Cassidy was one of thousands who either resigned or were fired because of the order, which she says initiated a “witch hunt.”

From the side of the 50s-60s persecutors, a Mr. Clevenger gives this congressional testimony on April 24th, 1950:

It is an established fact that Russia makes a practice of keeping a list of sex perverts in enemy countries and the core of Hitler’s espionage was based on the intimidation of these unfortunate people.

Despite this fact however, the Under Secretary of State recently testified that 91 sex perverts had been located and fired from the Department of State. For this the Department must be commended. But have they gone far enough? Newspaper accounts quote Senate testimony indicating there are 400 more in the State Department and 4,000 in Government…

Here we find that the Commerce Department has not located any homosexuals in their organization. Are we to believe that in the face of the testimony of the District of Columbia police that 75 percent of the 4,000 perverts in the District of Columbia are employed by the Government, that the Department of Commerce has none?

[In The Haunted Wood, Weinstein and Vassiliev detail Soviet penetration of the State Department; the department which Soviets codenamed 'Surrogate'. -a.nolen]

It seems experts agree that prior to 1950s, homosexuals were well represented in the US government and at the intel-sensitive State Department in particular.* This speaks well toward their representation in the intelligence community.

What about today? Any investigation into the LGBT contribution to intelligence is hard because, of course, current agents cannot identify them selves as such. Therefore, the best anybody (besides James Clapper!) can do is make an educated guess about who works with intelligence, and amongst that subset look at who identifies as LGBT or is likely part of the community.

Here are some prominent LGBT intel candidates: Peter Thiel (Palantir co-investor with CIA’s In-Q-Tel) is gay;  high-profile Tor promoter Jacob Appelbaum is homosexual/bisexual; FBI asset/ contributor ‘Laurelai‘ and former analyst Chelsea Manning are transgendered;  intel-affliated media baron Nick Denton is homosexual; Snowden clean-up crew Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald are homosexual; the CIA’s porn king Hugh Hefner is likely bisexual; Anderson Cooper was/is a gay CIA agent. Those are nine high-profile LGBT people who are *probably* serving their country this very minute.

I have no way of knowing whether that list is a representative sample of high-profile intelligence professionals, but the fact that even I could come up with nine candidates in the time I took to type the preceding paragraph suggests that the LGBT community has an active roll in today’s intelligence ‘sphere’. I don’t think an active roll should be surprising, given exceptional LGBT participation in the military.

But what about the spook rank-and-file? Are homosexuals persecuted at government agencies today? According to Michael Barber, the CIA’s LGBT Community Outreach and Liaison program manager:

More than 200 CIA employees are members of the agency’s LGBT resource group today. The spy agency is one of the founding partners of Outserve, an organization that represents gay active military personnel, including those with the CIA.

Barber says there were always gay men and women doing important jobs at the agency, but until recently few were comfortable being out.

“Part of the reason we’re doing outreach is to change that perception in the community,” he says. “That this is no longer an issue for holding security clearance, that we want the best and the brightest regardless of your sexual orientation.”

Given intel attitudes before ‘The Cambridge Five’ and the attitude of the CIA (at least) today, perhaps it’s more accurate to say that excluding gays from intelligence work during the 50s and 60s was a deviation from the norm.

Check out this recent press release from James Clapper’s office (Director of National Intelligence), announcing an article about a transgendered CIA employee’s ‘transition’.

I’m not saying that every great intelligence professional is or was gay, nor even that homosexuals are overrepresented in the intelligence community as a whole. (It may be true, but don’t have access to that type of data!) However, having read a fair amount about the history of the Western world’s modern intelligence services, it strikes me how many prominent intelligence pros– people who are in the public eye and must therefore be exceptionally reliable– were and are homosexual, bisexual or transgendered. The prevalence of homosexuality amongst talented, prominent and celebrated intelligence professionals deserves academic study.

Now that the US military has taken steps to shake off the nearly global prejudice against LGBT people, I challenge the security-cleared research community to investigate just what role this exceptional minority has played in shaping the US military, and organizations like the CIA, NSA and FBI, into what they have become today.

Here are some questions to get the pros started:

1) Was homosexuality really a blackmail risk? If it was, why were so many LGBT agents employed by intelligence agencies prior to 1950? What was special about the 50s and 60s that changed intelligence leaderships’ perspective so abnormally?

2) What is it about the military lifestyle that appeals to the LGBT community despite active persecution?

3) Are LGBT professionals statistically overrepresented in high-trust intelligence positions?



* The D.C.’s total population in 1950 was 814,000, if at least 4000 LGBT individuals were employed by the government in D.C.’s ten square miles alone; and if Gates’ estimate of 3.5% LGBT across the population holds; and if the government accounted for 29% of D.C. employment back in the 1950s too, then the LGBT community was probably over-represented in government prior to the 50s and 60s. (4000 ‘caught’ LGBT individuals who were employed by the government makes them alone 1.7% of total government employees in D.C.) I doubt as many as one in two LGBT individuals were counted by the press or police; the 4000 figure probably represents a more vocal/outgoing segment of the LGBT population.