Summer Days With Coo

Summer Days with Coo movie poster.

Summer Days with Coo movie poster.

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a movie review, and since ‘Black Friday’ and other assorted consumer-fests are on the horizon, I’d like to draw readers’ attention to another excellent Japanese movie, Summer Days With Coo.

This is the story of an orphaned water sprite, called a ‘kappa’, whose resilience in the face of suffering teaches a Japanese pre-teen about what it means to love and respect other people.

Traditional Japanese rendering of a 'kappa' water sprite.

Traditional Japanese rendering of a ‘kappa’ water sprite.

If you’re tired of vampy Disney princesses who whine about their personal responsibilities, then Summer Days With Coo will be very refreshing. The movie is free of obnoxious ‘American values'; it’s a sympathetic introduction to Japanese culture and mythology; and has great (original!) storytelling.

One of these costumes didn't have to be modified for the 'Adult' market.

One of these costumes didn’t have to be modified for the ‘Adult’ market. Try Summer Days with Coo instead of Frozen this year.

The downside to Summer Days with Coo is the price. The cheapest version available on Amazon is US$40.00; but if that’s outside your budget, some kind person has put up a high-quality English-subtitled version on Youtube:

Having said that, this film is worth more than two copies of ‘Frozen’ and I encourage people to support quality film-making. Coo was directed by Keiichi Hara, while Masao Kogure wrote the story.

Traditional European rendering of the Snow Queen by Edmund Dulac.

Traditional European rendering of the Snow Queen by Edmund Dulac.

If you’re interested in the good things I have to say about Studio Ghibli, another Japanese animation studio, check out my post here. Summer Days With Coo is not a Ghibli film, but a co-production between several companies. It’s also not a film for under-5’s, because there’s some violence at the very beginning. If you’ve got very young children, I suggest My Neighbour Totoro instead of ‘Frozen’; for kids between 5-12 I suggest Spirited Away instead of ‘Frozen’, if Coo’s initial samurai violence is too much for you. (Disney ‘presents’ Ghibli films in the US, but Ghibli execs don’t let Burbank destroy their films– good story there.)

The uplifiting news is that if you’re willing to step away from the Disney monolith, there’s a lot of good children’s programing out there: ethical kids need ethical entertainment.


P.S. If you’re interested in the history of Disney and the Franklin Delano Roosevelt administration’s cooperation with the KGB, you’ll enjoy Walt and El Grupo.


The Cult of Intelligence

While looking into Philip Zimbardo’s writing for my previous post, I came across the latest edition of the International Journal of Cultic Studies, the “Traumatic Narcissism” issue. The point of the issue is to look at how narcissistic cult leaders control their followers, or as Zimbardo would put it, how the cult leaders establish “systems of control“. Narcissism comes into play because, whatever the group’s stated intention, their only goal is self-aggrandizement of the leader(s).

I have never worked for any intelligence agency, but I was struck by how similar ex-cult-members’ stories of abuse paralleled stories I’d heard from the handful of people I’ve known who grew up and worked in the ‘intelligence community’. One writer in particular, Daniel Shaw, wrote a very thoughtful account of his decade in Siddha Yoga, the Eat, Pray, Love guru’s cult, titled The Relational System of the Traumatizing Narcissist.

Shaw writes about the cult for an audience of psychoanalysts and that irony is not lost on him. Shaw tells how one inlaw responded to his decision to become a psychoanalyst in his early forties: “Great! You’ve left one cult, and now you’re joining another!”

I’m not going to speak to the psychoanalytic merits of the theories presented in this edition of the journal; it’s the personal recollections of the authors that intrest me most. Unlike some of the other contributors, Shaw doesn’t paint cult followers as blameless “altruists” who are victimized by a manipulating narcissist. Shaw is brave enough to suggest that there’s something narcissistic about cult followers too; his description of ‘traditional’ narcissistic behavior could just as easily apply to cult followers:

A thin-skinned, shame-prone, or deflated pathological narcissist… may mascochistically seek approval and recognition from idealized, grandiose others.

Shaw’s observation about why people willingly choose to join cults parallels my own belief about the usefulness of ‘narcissism’ to exploitative organizations.

Shaw’s writing is courageous: it’s hard to admit that one has been a fool, it’s doubly hard to admit foolishness when something ugly about ones’ self made that foolishness possible. What makes men like Shaw exceptional is that they matured enough to take a step back and realize their cult leader wasn’t giving them anything of value in return for their devotion. That back-step is a difficult step to take, and anyone who pulls themselves out of a cult-like situation deserves respect, especially if that person had the misfortune to be born into the cult.

I can’t broach the ‘intelligence cult’ topic without addressing John Marks’ and Victor Marchetti’s book The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence, which I believe they wrote with the blessing of CIA director William Colby. Colby praised Marks’ and Marchetti’s conclusions in his autobiography in 1978, in which Colby claimed that *the rest of the CIA*, but not himself, suffered from a cult-like culture.

"The challenging thing about being very important is that you're surrounded by crazy."

“The challenging thing about being very important is that you’re surrounded by lunatics.”

Anyone who trusts Bill Colby does so at their own risk, however, the best propaganda contains an element of truth and I believe that the intelligence community is hobbled by its cult-like culture. Colby was part of this culture, he used it throughout his career and used it one last time to deflect criticism from himself in his autobiography.

You may be surprised by the nature of the anecdotes in this post. In a nutshell, leaders of the intelligence community do not respect the personal boundaries of ‘intelligence community’ members, much like cult leaders don’t respect their followers’ boundaries. Intelligence community members, like cult-followers, dont’ expect to have any boundaries between themselves and their bosses. I’ll remind readers of Quinn Norton’s observations on the “IC” (“Intelligence Community”, for those of us who don’t belong to it):

The IC are some of the most surveilled humans in history. They know everything they do is gone over with a fine-toothed comb — by their peers, their bosses, their lawyers, other agencies, the president, and sometimes Congress. They live watched, and they don’t complain about it.

A person who has never lived in a cult environment may assume that Quinn Norton is talking about being ‘micro-managed’ at work, or ‘hemmed in by a pile of paperwork’. Not so. The ‘combing’ is not just about work-related things: it’s who you marry; how you spend your free time; what your political beliefs are. Nothing about the “IC” professional is private. Everything has to serve the master. This is how Shaw describes cult environments:

Followers in cults are traumatized in various ways by the different kinds of abuses they are exposed to as they accept the leader’s control over them; these abuses typically include intimidation, belittling and humiliation, and, more concretely, severe overwork and deprivation of sleep and proper nutrition. The follower’s rewards, which are recognition from the leader and the ensuing prestige the followers gain within their group, are bestowed and rescinded at the leader’s whim, keeping the follower in a state of instability and fear about displeasing the leader and thereby losing status and favor.

Bearing what Shaw says in mind, here is the first of my anecdotes: An agent wanted to marry someone who was a clear security risk. Quite sanely, “IC” leaders said “no”. Also sanely, the agent said “I’m going to marry this person.” The sanity ends here, because instead of asking the agent to drop their badge by the front door, the “IC” tried to shame them into changing their mind about the marriage by demoting the agent to a low-prestige clerical job, which the agent carried out dutifully. After several months, the “IC” suddenly changed its mind, let the agent marry the security risk and gave the agent back a ‘worthy’ job. (I don’t know if it was the same job.)

Several things could have happened here, the “IC” may have eventually decided that they could use this marriage to spread disinformation– I just don’t know. However, the “IC’s” actions tell us that the most important thing to them was ensuring that the agent was still reliable: the “IC” decided that they could roll the dice with a security risk as long as the agent proved their continued reliability through a shaming exercise. My understanding is that these shaming exercises are not uncommon and are used to ‘correct’ undesirable political opinions too.

Imagine how distressing a demotion like the one I just described would be to someone with narcissistic tendencies! (Narcissism is unusually prevelant in the military community, and therefore is likely prevelent amongst spooks as well.) Never the less, the agent jumped through every hoop, no matter how arbitrary, and probably did so with full knowledge that the marriage was allowed so that it could be used.

The weirdness doesn’t end there– Shaw makes the following observation about cults and their intolerance of independent thinking:

The more successful and powerful a particular cult becomes, the greater the risk of public exposure, and therefore, the more urgent and hysterical the culture becomes. The leadership of the group becomes more shameless and without boundaries, demanding more and more time, money, and energy of the followers; defining enemies of the group to eventually include anyone not in the group; and becoming increasingly punitive of deviance within the ranks.

Quinn Norton gives us an example of the “IC’s” sweeping definition of their ‘enemies':

The question is who gets to be part of the “we” that are being kept allegedly safe by all this exploiting and listening and decrypting and profiling.When they [the ‘intelligence community’] attacked Natanz with Stuxnet and left all the other nuclear facilities vulnerable, we were quietly put on notice that the “we” in question began and ended with the IC itself. That’s the greatest danger.

When the IC or the DOD or the Executive branch are the only true Americans, and the rest of us are subordinate Americans, or worse the non-people that aren’t associated with America, then we can only become lesser people as time goes on.

In that same vein, here’s my second anecdote and again it’s about “IC” powers interfering in members’ marriage choices: A few decades ago, two well-connected young people wanted to get married. They both had family in the higher echelons of the intel business; had shown great promise in their respective fields; and were set to enjoy a lifetime of being ‘plugged-into’ the intel sphere. However, both of them– independently– had shown a tendency to be critical of “IC” policies on ethical grounds. They were made aware that their marriage would be frowned upon by the “IC” because partnering up could aggravate their unreliable tendencies– no security risks, mind you, just “deviance” in their thinking. Result? The couple is still happily married, but ostracized from the intelligence community, the community they grew up in. A loss for the USA– and for the “IC”.

I’ve been highlighting the word ‘reliability’ here because reliability is the indispensable characteristic that the ‘intelligence community’ looks for in recruits. It’s not the same as loyalty: only a healthy, mature person can give loyalty. Reliability is about putting the wishes of the cult leader above all else, regardless of anything else. As Daniel Shaw describes:

The follower’s deficiencies are grouped under the umbrella of “the ego,” or a similar idea using different words, which is regarded as a harmful appendage or blockage of the true self, and which must therefore be purified by the leader for the follower to reach her potential. Purification in the case of cults typically means being subjected to various forms of sadistic belittling and humiliation, including, in some cases, beatings. Purity may also be judged by one’s willingness to give over most of any money one might have, or willingness to be subjected to sexual abuse, or both. Leaders do not have to be grateful for anything they are given or for anything they take from followers– when taking, they are understood to actually be giving.

It's an honor to serve in Her Majesty's Secret Service.

It’s an honor to serve in Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Here I’d like to remind readers what Peter Wright, a second-generation lifetime spook, said about his employer’s one-way demands: “MI5 expects its officers to remain loyal unto the grave, without necessarily offering loyalty in return.”

I’ll also point out that you don’t have to read many books on espionage before you’re fed up with glowing war-stories about women and men who used themselves, or their fortunes, in pursuit of ‘state secrets’. If you’re willing to drop your pants for Allen Dulles’ goals, then you’re truly ‘chosen’!

One of the more interesting parts of this IJCS issue is the exploration of what type of person typically joins a cult. Both cults and the intelligence community like to recruit people who won’t recognize or object to abuse because 1) they are too young to know themselves or their own interests or 2) they were born into a cult-like environment. College students are the perfect target for type 1) recruiting, according to Shaw:

For years, cults have recruited on college campuses, because this is where they can find intelligent recruits who are likely to be struggling with identity issues, with idealism, with social adjustments– and with separation issues, and all the complicated fears and rebellions that are part of growing up.

College campuses are/were a favorite recruiting ground for US, Russian and British intel operations; I suspect all spook outfits sometimes recruit this way. College students are notoriously malleable and have little life experience, so they make the perfect target for indoctrination.

A lot of people go to college, but not all of them wind up in a cult or at the CIA. What about type 2) recruiting, going after people who were raised in cultish environments? To help explain type 2) recruiting, I offer a quote from another IJCS contributor, Shelly Rosen: (Her paper is titled Cults: A Natural Disaster– Looking at Cult Involvement Through a Trauma Lens)

For second-generation cult members (those born and raised in cultic groups), this dynamic is magnified. They have been raised in an encompassing community whose culture is defined by the needs and abusive practices of the leader during times of critical social and emotional development for them. In addition, their own parents will likely transmit some of the traumatizing and immobilizing aspects of the group in their own efforts to be good soldiers.

Here’s a summary of some of the characteristics Rosen identifies with people who are drawn to cults:

- They come from an “Idealistic” community; one that appeals to people with a predisposition to “religiosity”.

- They come from an environment that fosters anxiety about competition; is isolating; that discourages individuals from recognizing manipulation.

I wish that Rosen would elaborate on what she means by “religiosity”, because it has struck me how many prominent intelligence people have come from Mormon, Jewish and Catholic communities, all of which have stronger in-group identification than your typical WASP congregation.

My final anecdote is about an “IC” subordinate (who came from one of those three backgrounds) and their boss: One day this subordinate startled their boss by asking for sex. Why? The subordinate’s job required them to be absent from other people and the subordinate had been this way for so long that they were desperate for any type of companionship. The request was a cry for help. The boss behaved ethically in as far as they didn’t take advantage of the subordinate. However, when the boss related this story to me, they were somewhat bemused by my pity for the subordinate: “What? They’re okay.”

I don’t believe the boss was trying to be callous or cruel: they simply did not recognize that this type of emotional pain was a problem. The boss was second-generation intel, they’d grown up in the spook milieu: good spooks “soldier” on, regardless of the situations that they’re put in. Nothing is too much to ask from an agent. In their own way, that boss was as ignorant and vulnerable as Shelly Rosen’s ex-cult client who reached 18 years old without knowing which state she was living in.

I put it to the intelligence community that burning out your staff like this is a problem, as it is in any other industry, because the strain will eventually affect employees’ judgement and make them less effective. If what the intelligence community does really is of exceptional importance, then it’s not only ethically unacceptible to abuse employees like this, but it’s also a *real* danger to national security.

Accultration issues are not the only issues that may make somebody an appealing recruitment target. Both Shaw and Rosen observe that traumatic events during adolescence, like the death of a parent, may have an emotionally stunting effect which may lead the child to crave authority figures and security. British agent Aleister Crowley’s life fits this pattern perfectly; I suspect that his cult experiment in Sicily– which provided inspiration for the 1960s cultural revolution in the USA– had research goals similar to those of the CIA with their MK ULTRA program.

Why does any of this matter? It matters because, if I’m correct, then the general public is faced with a two serious problems:

1) We cannot expect the “IC” to maintain ethics which the population at large can live with.

2) We cannot expect the “IC” to police itself.

Cults don’t self-regulate, they spin off into delerium as their leaders get drunk on their own power. I recognize that intelligence work often involves ethically ‘grey’ activity, but in order to keep things ‘grey’, there needs to be *real* debate inside the “IC” about what intel programs are appropriate, otherwise “IC” activity will spin out of control into the ethically ‘black’ region, as evidenced by programs like PRISM.

Cults don’t police themselves. Their members believe that they’re the good guys and the rest of us (at best!) need guidence. This arrogrance is typical of the intelligence community, who are often complaicent about their intellectual superiority and ability to weigh ‘pros’ and ‘cons’. In the 1970s, we had a half-*ssed attempt at self-policing with the FISA court, which unsurprisingly turned out to be a sad joke. (Frankly, I’m not sure that this court was meant to be anything other than a fig-leaf.)

If I am right, and the “IC” is a cult, then the only option left for US citizens is to push for the IC’s dissolution. Take away the money.

Cults can’t function at the high level which a democracy needs intellegence outfits to function on. Cults are a corrosive type of institutional culture that won’t change with new management. Intel pros who were molded in the cult environment need to be removed from positions of influence. The culture has to be erased.

The USA made it through the first 160 years of its existence without organizations like the CIA or NSA; we were actually quite popular before these institutions came into being after WWII. We got what intel we needed from our military and diplomatic organs; we didn’t need to profile our own citizens or map voting trends in friendly nations. An “IC-free” world is possible, and if we as a nation want any quality of life in the future, we need to work toward that possiblity. Otherwise, it won’t be long before, like the Chinese Communists, we’re swatting swallows and knocking the heads off Buddhas.



Next week… was MK ULTRA a one-off, or the culmination of decades of pre-WWII ‘mind control’ research?


The Banality of Mind Control

Philip Zimbardo, courtesy of, his think tank which studies street gangs, amongst other things.

Philip Zimbardo, courtesy of his think tank, which studies street gangs, amongst other things.

I’ve written about the MK ULTRA programs a lot recently; they’re an easy subject to write about because they’re so theatrical and unlikely. Magic mushrooms creating the perfect soldier? Psychokinesis undermining the Evil Empire? It all sounds made for Hollywood…

… which should be a red flag. We know that the MK ULTRA release in 1977 opened only a fraction of the program up to public scrutiny. John Marks (therefore, Bill Colby) says that Richard Helms destroyed a good deal of the MK ULTRA evidence around 1973. We don’t really know much about what MK ULTRA, the ‘mind control’ program, was investigating. We don’t really know if the CIA found out anything useful or not.

The showmanship surrounding the MK ULTRA project was designed to dazzle with ridiculous projects and then dissuade further investigation with claims of fruitless research. The point of this post is to suggest that the CIA did ‘discover’ something about ‘mind control'; something social observers have been aware of since the time of Plato. Mind-control is not a mystery: it’s an everyday occurance through social pressure, education and the arts. The most effective techniques are the most commonplace, which brings me to a paper by Susan M. Andersen and Philip G. Zimbardo titled On Resisting Social Influence.

The thesis of this essay is that “mind control” exists not in exotic gimmicks, but rather in the most mundane aspects of human experience. If this is true, it implies that people can learn to resist untoward influences, which are defined here as influences in which intentions are hidden and the subtle constraints of individual behavior are profound. When information is systematically hidden, withheld, or distorted, people may end up making biased decisions, even though they believe that they are freely “choosing” to act. These contexts may thus involve “mind control.” Although resisting cleverly crafted social influences is not easy, it is argued here that it is possible to reduce susceptibility to unwanted interpersonal controls by increasing vigilance and by utilizing certain basic strategies of analysis.

What if all those MK ULTRA files that Helms burned were about shuffling the boards of media companies; or working with the Department of Education; or buying recording studios; or employing advertizing consultants? What if  MK ULTRA was about the CIA turning itself into the best-organized political lobby ever?

Zimbardo and Andersen’s paper was first published in Cultic Studies Journal, 1984, Volume 1, Number 2. Philip Zimbardo himself was one of the National Academy of Science’s personal sources for their biography of Carl Hovland (Zimbardo was a student of Hovland’s before taking a professorship at Stanford in 1968); Zimbardo was also president of the American Psycological Association, an organization which gets a lot of (bad) play in the MK ULTRA saga. (The APA is currently involved in an ongoing CIA-torture scandal.)

On Resisting Social Influence is an abridged version of a report Zimbardo and Andersen did for the Office of Naval Research, a US military/private industry collaborative organization . (The Office of Naval Research funded Zimbardo’s famous– and creepy– ‘Prison Experiment‘ in 1971, shortly after he got his first professorship. It seems Zimbardo was well connected with the military from day one.)

I’m not saying Philip Zimbardo is necessarily a CIA asset himself, but he learned and worked in their milieu, so I think it would be prudent to carefully consider Zimbardo’s observations on ‘mind control':

Formidable quests to gain control over the human mind have often employed exotic technology. Exquisite torture devices, electroshock therapy, mind altering drugs, hypnosis, and sensory deprivation have all been used to get targeted persons to do the bidding of various agents and agencies of control. Indeed, these methods carry enough wallop to distort and sometimes destroy the mind’s normal functioning. But they are not adequate for the task of reliably directing behavior through specific scenarios as designated by would-be manipulators.

John Marks’ expose of the CIA’s secret mind control program (see The Search for the “Manchurian Candidate”) suggests that no foolproof way of “brainwashing” another person has ever been found. After a decade of intensive, costly research into the technology of such control, the CIA’s MKULTRA program was deemed a failure. Covert operations could claim little more than being capable of turning unsuspecting victims into “vegetables.”

Effective mind control exists in most mundane aspects of human existence: the inner pressures to be bonded to other people, the power of group norms to influence behavior, the force of social rewards (such as smiles, praise, a gentle touch). We influence one another, intentionally or unintentionally, using the most basic principles of social psychology, motivation, and social learning. It is people in convincing social situations and not gadgets or gimmicks that control the minds of other people. The more worried we are about being seen as ignorant, uncultured, untalented or boring, and the more ambiguous the events are that are to be evaluated, the more likely we are to take on the beliefs of those around us in order to avoid being rejected by them.

What Zimbardo appears to be saying is that social pressures like ‘political correctness’ are a form of mind control. Could it be that the CIA found obscure strands of Mexican hallucenogenic mushrooms but missed age-old knowledge of crowd psychology? I think not.

I do think that Zimbardo is in an excellent position to give us some insight into what the destroyed MK ULTRA documents might have contained. In this post I’m going to summarize Zimbardo and Andresen’s paper and offer some suggestions– not proof, but suggestions– on how these manipulative practices might be used now.

Zimbardo’s paper discusses two “basic principles of social psychology”:

1) “Basic Training in Compliance”

Etiquette and protocol are powerful inhibitors of unconventional action. When people around us behave alike and as they are expected to, it becomes difficult for us to evaluate their actions critically or to deviate from what is expected of us in the situation… It is the wiser course of action, we are taught, to go with (or around) power, not to challenge it.

Those who occupy social roles that carry prestige and credibility in our eyes can work wonders. The most potent influences are eased around to us by our buddies or by reputable “experts,” rather than by those whom we think of as “enemies.” A neighbor tells us to stop by for a chat with some interesting people, our doctor prescribes a new antibiotic, a businessman offers us exciting financial prospects, brother says he’s impressed with a new pastor. Such testimonials encourage us to take the first step along most of the paths we’ve chosen for ourselves, good and bad, because such influences are basic to being engaged in social life.

To this day in every major American university with a Philosophy department you can find ‘experts’ touting ‘critical theory’, which is mostly just the revolutionary politics espoused by the CIA-affiliated Frankfurt School intellectuals. There’s very little consistent philosophy in ‘critical theory’– its confusion is even admitted by friendly biographer Martin Jay*– yet academics still take ‘critical theory’ seriously… I propose, readers, that academics adopt this view because ‘everybody else’ appears to.

For another example of Zimbardo’s observations in practice, consider Charlotte Iserbyt’s recollections about her time as a “change agent” for the U.S. Department of Education, where she was taught how to “con the community”.


2) “Saturation and Detachment”

Unlike our response to “overtly” persuasive communicators who may beseech us to buy the latest gourmet cookware, to jog daily, to elect particular politicians, or to give to certain charities, situations with “normal appearances” (see Goffman,Relations in Public) don’t seem to require skepticism, resistance, or even our conscious attention. We often move through them “on automatic” and are thus prone to being influenced without our slightest knowledge.

Perhaps we don’t want to be wholly critical and alert at all times, but mindlessness is often promoted as a way of encouraging passive acceptance at the expense of individual discretion. The hook is that when we are faced with complex problems we often yearn for simple answers and rules of thumb for how best to proceed. Immersing ourselves in the teachings of a powerful leader, in the say-so of the dominant partner in a relationship, or in the total ideology of any highly cohesive group can be comforting.

What if Dick Helms was burning reems of paper on the CIA’s work with the Ad Council, for example.


The ‘total ideology’ of the Ad Council makes a tattered flag.

Zimbardo’s and Andresen’s paper goes on to describe some of the ways Navy personnel (and the rest of us) can resist social influences. The antedotes may tell us something about the poison:

A) “Developing a Critical Eye”

To acquire the kind of sensitive skepticism needed to detect undesirable influences when they arise, people must learn to be vigilant to discontinuities between the ideals people espouse and their concrete actions…

The biggest lies are often hidden by a compelling context and are discovered later on the basis of discontinuities that in hindsight are obvious.

Discontinuities like “neoconservative” political sociologists who want to teach others about avoiding “racism, prejudice and political extremism”.

B) “Resisting Persuasion: Confidence, Clarity, and Persistence”

The best persuaders always appear to be just like us. They understand our problems, empathize with our predicament; in fact, they were there once themselves. They speak our language, share our needs, and know the inside jokes. When someone appears to share our concerns, he or she becomes a cohort, an ally, someone we can trust and give the benefit of the doubt. The tactic is powerful because attitude change, like all socialization, is most effective when it goes unnoticed.

This persuasive tactic is, I believe, the one George Orwell picked up on in his essays on power worship and writing for children: the fairytale of the supreme leader involves a number of ‘good’ sidekicks, one of which any given child can identify with. In this way the author ‘speaks the language’ of the reader, who then becomes more receptive to indoctrination. Are you a Hermione Granger; or a Cho Chang; or one of the Weasleys; or perhaps a member of the “Order”?

See anyone here you can identify with?

See anyone here you can identify with?

Another manipulative technique is forceful communication:

Research shows that powerful people express confidence and self-assurance across all channels of communication – through body language, through words, and paralinguistically. Regardless of someone’s “real” credibility, what we end up responding to is how competent, confident, honest, and stable he or she appears to be.

An example of this would be those intelligence professionals who shouted their confidence in Saddam Hussein’s “weapons of mass destruction”. They’re the experts, right?

Continuing in the WMD vein, confusion is a useful manipulative tool:

Mind control typically involves coming to accept a new reality… Elaborate but inadequate justifications for recommended actions can be very confusing. Once confused, we can easily be persuaded by false analogies, semantic distortion, and convenient rhetorical labels because we will tend not to question them and to think about them creatively, but to accept them at face value.

The final prong to this psychological attack is closely paired with confusion: belittling the victim’s confidence in their own powers of judgement.

Susceptibility to control becomes greater with increased self-consciousness. When people are induced to focus attention on themselves by being made to feel awkward, deviant, or silly, and to worry excessively about what others think, they can be led to resolve opinion disparities with others in the favor of the other person’s opinion.

Consider the chilling effect of the following slurs: ‘racist’, ‘anti-Semitic’, ‘homophobic’, ‘authoritarian’, etc. These slurs are used to divert attention away from what’s being said by ‘shaming’ the speaker.

C) Resisting Manipulation by Fear

Manipulating fear is the demagogue’s favorite tactic, consider Sen. Mary Landrieu’s or Rep. Charlie Rangel’s latest spewings.

Zimbardo’s take:

By making us feel fearful or anxious, the manipulator is in a position to ease our discomfort by providing reasonable explanations and soothing solutions. Much advertising is based on this principle. So are many social interactions.

Famous graphic designer Paul Rand's advertizement for ABC's broadcast of talk show host Drew Pearson's program "in the presence of" George Governor Ellis Arnall.  Rand, born Peretz Rosenbaum, was a favorite designer of IBM and the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, which organized Walt Disney's South American tour during WWII.

Famous graphic designer Paul Rand’s advertisement for talk show host Drew Pearson’s program “in the presence of” Georgia Governor Ellis Arnall, as broadcast by ABC. Pearson’s 1946 talk show attacked the Ku Klux Klan; just like Superman was doing at the same time. Rand, born Peretz Rosenbaum, was a favorite ad designer for IBM and the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, which organized Walt Disney’s South American tour during WWII.

D) Resisting Manipulation through Feelings of Guilt

Gnawing feelings of guilt can also provide a powerful impetus for personal change. Feelings of self-disgust, a desire to confess, to do penance, or perhaps even to experience suffering, are all potent persuaders in their own right. Simply being in the presence of those less fortunate can often be influential, particularly if we are somehow made to feel responsible for their plight. Professional beggars make it their business to make passersby feel guilty for being well dressed and well fed.

Observers like Norman G. Finkelstein have noticed how Jewish suffering during WWII has been used to push for policies of dubious moral nature. The use of the Holocaust to further Zionist causes is interesting, considering how close Zionism was to the hearts of some intelligence operatives in the 1960s, and perhaps even as far back as the 1920s.

What the MK ULTRA documents do tell us is that the CIA was very interested in how Chinese Communists maintained their power by manipulating China’s national character. (This fascinating study is contained under subproject 108, MORI ID# 17364). The Chinese are famous for using public displays of guilt– ‘struggle sessions‘– for ‘re-education’. Why was the CIA interested in control via manipulating a nation’s character?

E) Identify False Choices

Once aware that their prey is bagged, they emphasize the victim’s freedom of choice – after tactfully constraining the alternatives…

Skillful persuaders may also deny us our freedom in order to control our behavior with the help of the reactance principle. Studies have shown that when we perceive severe limitations on our behavioral freedom we sometimes move to reassert this freedom by advocating the opposite position, which may be exactly what the opposition wants.

freedom isnt free

Finally, Zimbardo talks about “systems of control”, which touches on the ‘cult’ psychology work that he’s well known for. These observations will have particular meaning for readers who enjoyed my post Great Users of People, and I’ll be writing more about intelligence “systems of control” in the future. In the meantime…

The behavior of large numbers of people must be managed efficiently. For this reason, persuaders develop “systems of control” that rely on basic rules and roles of socialization and that impart a sense of belonging. When interaction among people is restricted to interchange between their social roles, however, it becomes easier for ethical, moral, and human concerns to take a back seat.

Perhaps those NSA employees who willingly participate in the dragnet spying against their fellow citizens are victims of such manipulation; perhaps these agents’ ethical lapses have something to do the highly-persuasive, cult-like, environment they live and work in?

When a group of people becomes more preoccupied with seeking and maintaining unanimity of thought than with carefully weighing the pros and cons of alternative actions, raising moral issues, and critically appraising decisions, unanimous resolutions are often reached prematurely. As part of the package, members may be led to support these decisions for better or for worse. When tightly-knit groups are insulated from outside sources of information and expertise and their leaders endorse prospective policies before members have a chance to air their views, decision-making processes deteriorate.

Decision-making processes at the NSA deteriorated to the point where dragnet spying programs were approved in the first place. As much as I dislike the ‘intelligence community’ in general, I do believe that it’s leadership in previous generations was smarter and a little more restrained about ‘pushing the envelope’ with Checka-like surveillance programs.

Finally, I remind readers that the Checka had a habit of turning on their own:

The tighter a system is, the more likely that minor challenges will be met with retaliation. In prisons, mental hospitals, religious or political cults, military establishments, concentration camps, and so on, some people have virtually total control over the existence of others, and minor deviations or threats to that power are intolerable.

As I stated at the beginning of this post, I haven’t given any hard proof of  what the MK ULTRA files Helms burned contained. However, I think Zimbardo and Andersen’s observations are better informed than most. I think that some of the discontinuties in American cultural and political life suggest that researchers at the CIA were not so out of touch as Bill Colby would have us believe.



* See chapter 2 “The Genesis of Critical Theory”, page 82 of Martin Jay’s The Dialectical Imagination: A History of the Frankfurt School and the Institute of Social Research, 1973.

CIA: Profiling Voters For Your Safety

manchurian candidateTODAY: More on MK ULTRA subprojects that John Marks didn’t want to talk about!

MK ULTRA Subproject 127 was never mentioned by John Marks in his book The Search for the Manchurian Candidate: The CIA and Mind Control, the book designed to present MK ULTRA material to the American public.

In subproject 127 CIA researchers analyzed fifty years of voting records for individuals in a low-literacy, USA-friendly, developing democracy. They were trying to figure out what would make people vote different ways over time.

I’m concerned about Project 127 because I don’t see any reason why the CIA should be worried about voter behavior in a friendly nation, especially when the goal of such a study is to distill general information about voter behavior over long periods which could be used to manipulate voters in the United States. Is the CIA in the business of manipulating allies’ democratic governments in the long-term? Are they in the business of manipulating American voters?

Subproject 127 was designed “to study the open voting records of [REDACTED] registered voters over a fifty year period.” [MORI #ID 17385, page 9] From the same document:

2. This study is an attempt to do a longitudinal study of the factors that affect the voting of people over a considerable period of time. The results of the study could contribute to [REDACTED]. In addition, the data represents a unique gold mine of information to study some of the fundamental behavioral characteristics of people.

Subproject 127 analyzed voters based on “ecological patterning” (you’ll remember that’s CIA for ‘race‘), “social standing” and affiliation to established parties, which ran from “conservative” to “Communist”. In order to vote in this friendly country, you had to be male, over thirty and own a house.

The study was focused on what it takes to get voters to change who they vote for; one advisor pushed for data on “individual turnover and population succession”. This means looking at how aging, migration and “activation of non-voters” changes the political landscape. They also wanted to look at how hot-button issues and political personalities can shift the scene.

I probably don’t have to tell readers this, but “population succession” issues have been at the heart of American politics for the last fifty years; these issues got going due to 1960s immigration reform.

Subproject 127 shows the CIA ‘gearing-up’ to meddle in another democracy. This meddling might bother me less if I didn’t know that the agency was interested in manipulating politics back home in the USA, as evidenced by their interest in inner city youth and projects like MH CHAOS. I am very suspicious of an unaccountable, clandestine government agency which concerns itself with multi-generational voter behavior.

Some CIA people at the time of the study were nervous about  Project 127 too. The MK ULTRA documentation contains a letter from Project 127’s mysterious lead researcher to the CIA directors in charge of funding:

I may note that we have not asked any other foundation to support this project. So far our experience with [REDACTED] foundations has been that they react unfavorably to research in the field of political sociology. [MORI ID# 17385, page 11]

While most of the CIA grant-givers showed “unqualified enthusiasm” about the operational possibilities of the “Voting” project, one correspondent was concerned that getting an American foundation to fund such a study would raise red flags inside the target nation:

My own reaction to the project is that it might possibly be considered a little inappropriate for an American foundation to participate in a study of voting in a friendly nation. If some of the results from the study turned out to be surprising and politically important, it is conceivable to me that a question might be raised concerning the support of the study by funds coming from outside the country.

There was also *something* unsavory about the way Agency researchers got access to the voter data in question: something happened to make this data available, and correspondents made it clear that such an opportunity might not present itself again. The circumstances suggest that the data was obtained unethically.

As always, I don’t expect readers to take my word about Project 127, and have provided photographs of the 20 documents in question here. The results of the study were not included in the MK ULTRA file, so we can’t be sure that the CIA found anything useful– but we know that such uncertainty was important to Colby’s damage control strategy. Neither can we be sure that the study was conducted exactly according to the design laid out here, however page 12 tells us that the CIA did shell out around $7,500.00  for the research in 1960, so we know it went ahead in some form. We also know that money was still being given to the project in 1962 [page 5].

Whatever the researchers found or didn’t find, we can be sure the CIA was very interested in this type of voting data and we should to ask ourselves: “Why?”

Why does the CIA have to know what motivates voters’ choices over 50 years? I think it’s entirely reasonable that spooks ‘war game’ out different political situations overseas that might affect American interests, but we don’t need the Agency to become a repository of ‘tricks’ to change voters’ choices over time. The CIA can’t handle that type of power.

Bearing the limitations of this clandestine organization in mind, projects with goals such as “contributing to the general field concerning voting behaviors” really scare me. Who was helping the CIA reach this goal?

All the names in Project 127 have been blacked out except that of MK ULTRA big-wig “Sid G.”, who is ‘Sidney Gottlieb’. Who might the CIA have gone to for ‘the latest’ in voter behavior research 1959/60? A book by Pippa Norris of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, Electoral Engineering: Voting Rules and Political Behavior states the following:

Part I: Theories of Social Cleavages and Voting Behavior
The seminal sociological studies of voting behavior developed during 1960s by Seymour Martin Lipset and Stein Rokkan emphasized that social identities formed the basic building blocks of party support in Western Europe.
Seymour Martin Lipset

Seymour Martin Lipset

My guess is that the CIA’s man was Seymour Martin Lipset. My evidence follows:

1) Seymour Martin Lipset was an anti-Stalinist leftist, a political persuasion which was very popular with the CIA after WWII. (Interested? Read Francis Stonor Saunders’ Cultural Cold War.)

Lipset was also a fervent supporter of the state of Israel, whose work “explored racism, prejudice and political extremism“, and who was “one of the first intellectuals to be called a neoconservative“. You can get a full list of his accolades from the Hoover Institution.

2) Seymour Martin Lipset enjoyed prestige across American academia, which is pretty typical for somebody who can make it rain Agency money:

He occupied prestigious academic positions at Columbia, Berkeley, Harvard, Stanford, George Mason, the Hoover Institution and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

He was the only person to be president of both the American Sociological Association and the American Political Science Association. (New York Times, Jan 4th 2007)

3) Seymour Martin Lipset had the right research style to be the CIA’s mystery researcher.

There is only one working reference which hasn’t been blacked out in the MK ULTRA release [p.16]: “The Lazarsfeld-type of panel, based on interviews, is a much better tool..”

Later in his career, Seymour Martin Lipset would go on to become president of the Paul F. Lazarsfeld Society in Vienna. Lipset embraced the same methodological ideologies that are extolled in the CIA documentation.

4) Seymour Martin Lipset ran with the CIA crowd.

A) In the 1940s Paul F. Lazarsfeld (the same guy who formulated the paneling method used by Lipset’s CIA ‘Voting’ project and whose Viennese admiration society eventually asked Lipset to be president) worked with Herbert Marcuse and Leo Lowenthal on “anti-Semitism in American Labor” for the Jewish Labor Committee.* Herbert Marcuse had been an OSS agent since 1942 and was a CIA agent at least until 1952. Paul Lazarsfeld, Lipset’s icon, ran with a spooky set.

Paul Lazarsfeld

Paul Lazarsfeld

Leo Lowenthal, Lazarsfeld’s co-worker, wrote a book with Seymour Martin Lipset one year after the CIA’s “Voting” project began, which was titled Culture and Social Character.  (See the bibliography below.) Lowenthal was a prominent member of the exiled Frankfurt School intellectuals along with CIA-agent Herbert Marcuse.

During WWII, Leo Lowenthal worked for the US Office of War Information (OWI), the same propagandists who employed Carl Hovland, who inspired MK ULTRA project 102, which focused on mapping the politics of inner-city youth (the ‘riot’ demographic). In fact, Paul Lazarsfeld and Carl Hovland are both considered fathers of communication research in the USA and their professional relationship was cemented through their mutual OWI work.

B) Seymour Martin Lipset got money from the same private political organizations as OSS/CIA-agent Marcuse, namely, the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee. (See the bibliography below.) According to Thomas Wheatland’s The Frankfurt School in Exile:

As Neumann recounted to Horkheimer:

“I have just come back from a two hour conference that Graeber and I had with Dr. David Rosenblum, chairman of the public relations committee of the Anti-Defamation League and of the American Jewish Committee. The outcome is briefly this: It is likely that we shall get a grant of $10,000 for the execution of the Anti-Semitism project if this sum is matched by an equal sum supplied by the institute… I am confident that we have a very big chance of getting the $10,000 and though your presence here might not be indispensible I feel, that in this situation, every step should be done to ensure a happy conclusion of our endeavors.”

‘Horkheimer’ relates to the preeminent Frankfurt School member Max Horkheimer, ‘Neumann’ is Franz Neumann, another Frankfurt School-er to join the OSS. Seymour Martin Lipset himself would later become a consultant to the American Jewish Committee.

Seymour Martin Lipset has all the right friends to be a covert CIA asset. Here’s a taster of some of the scholarship that resulted from Lipset’s *probable* 1960 work with the CIA. I’ve highlighted Lipset’s Anti-Defamation League work, Lipset’s work with Lowenthal and works by Lipset which have a similar flavor to research done by Herbert Marcuse and his team, such as Prophets of Deceit.

Partial S. M. Lipset Bibliography:

LIPSET S. M., RAAB E., Prejudice and Society, New York, Anti-Defamation League, 1959.
LIPSET S. M., Political Man : The Social Bases of Politics, New York, Doubleday, 1960.
LIPSET S. M., GALENSON W., Labor and Trade Unionism, New York, John Wiley and Sons, 1960.
LIPSET S. M., SMELSER N., Sociology : The Progress of a Decade, Englewood Cliffs, Prentice-Hall, 1961.
LIPSET S. M., LOWENTHAL L., Culture and Social Character, New York, Free Press, 1961.
LIPSET S. M., (Abridged modem edition of Harriet Martineau), Society in America, Garden City, Doubleday-Anchor, 1962.
LIPSET S. M., The First New Nation : The United States in Historical and Comparative Perspective, New York, Basic Books, 1963.
LIPSET S. M., (Abridged modem edition of M. Ostrogorski), Democracy and the Organization of Political Parties, volumes I and II, Garden City, Doubleday-Anchor, 1964.
LIPSET S. M., WOLIN S., The Berkeley Student Revolt, Garden City, Doubleday-Anchor, 1965.
LIPSET S. M., Estudiantes universitarios y politica en el tercer mundo, Montevideo, Editorial Alfa, 1965.
LIPSET S. M., BENDIX R., Class, Status and Power : Social Stratification in Comparative Perspective, New York, Free Press, 1966.
LIPSET S. M., SMELSER N., Social Structure, Mobility and Development, Chicago, Aldine Publishers, 1966.
LIPSET S. M., SOLARI A., Elites in Latin America, New York, Oxford University Press, 1967.
LIPSET S. M., ROKKAN S., Party Systems and Voter Alignments, New York, Free Press, 1967.
LIPSET S. M., Student Politics, New York, Basic Books, 1967.
LIPSET S. M., Revolution and Counterrevolution, New York, Basic Books, 1968.
LIPSET S. M., HOFSTADTER R., Turner and the Sociology of the Fronder, New York, Basic Books, 1968.
LIPSET S. M., HOFSTADTER R., Sociology and History : Methods, New York, Basic Books, 1968.
LIPSET S. M., The Left, the Jews and Israel, New York, Anti-Defamation League, 1969.
LIPSET S. M., Politics and the Social Sciences, New York, Oxford University Press, 1969.
LIPSET S. M., ALTBACH P., Students in Revolt, Boston, Houghton, Mifflin, 1969.
LIPSET S. M., RAAB E., The Politics of Unreason : Right-Wing Extremism in America 1790-1970, New York, Harper and Row, 1970.

What I’ve hope I’ve shown today is that John Marks, and ultimately Bill Colby, wanted to steer the American public away from a project that has much more importance than goofy psychic studies or LSD as a  truth-serum. I have not answered the question: “Why did Colby want this information released, only to ignore it?”

I can, however, offer a speculative guess as to ‘why’. Both subproject 127, and the ‘riot demographic’ subproject 102 which I wrote about last week, involve academic researchers who travelled in similar spheres– specifically, friends of Carl Hovland, Paul Lazarsfeld– and who shared similar political ideas. (Muzafer Sherif was just as ‘anti-Nazi’ as any of the Frankfurters.)

It may be that Colby and friends included these subprojects as ‘sleepers’ to use against CIA patrons of the aforementioned academics should they ever attack Colby et alia in the future– much like Colby outed MH CHAOS and HT LINGUAL to attack James Angleton. (See Cold Warrior by Tom Mangold.) Since these subprojects haven’t been aired in over thirty years, my guess is that Colby and that group stayed cordial until the CIA director’s untimely death.

Next week… did the CIA really not find anything through MK Ultra research?



*Paul Lazarsfeld was instrumental in resettling the Frankfurt School intellectuals in the United States. Lazarsfeld’s ‘Radio Research Project’ at Princeton University and later Columbia employed Frankfurt academic Theodor Adorno.

The CIA and Race Riots

Muzafer Sherif

Muzafer Sherif

Today I’m going to pick up where John Marks left off in The Search for the Manchurian Candidate: The CIA and Mind Control. I’m going to talk about a subproject that John Marks didn’t explore thoroughly and spread misleading information about. This subproject looks at “Human Ecology” which is the CIA’s name for studying inter-group conflict or race relations.

In the late 1950s the CIA began to profile groups of 14-17 year old inner city and non-English speaking youths who were roaming the streets. They wanted to find out what these boys’ political push buttons were and they engaged the help of a well-connected social psychologist to ‘map’ the boys’ attitudes.

This profiling work was done under the auspices of MK ULTRA; it was given the financial designation of “Subproject 102″. The declassified MK ULTRA files give these documents reference number (MORI ID#) 17358, I’ve provided photographs of all subproject documentation on this page. (So you don’t have to take my word for their existence!)

“Inner city youths of the age 14-17″ will strike anyone who’s lived in a ‘depressed’ American urban neighborhood as a very interesting demographic to target, because this is the ‘riot demographic’. If you’re looking for a group of people who are easy to ignite, this is it. 14-17 year olds are the indiscriminate crime demographic: misguided kids who are bored, have bad attitudes and often embrace a culture of criminality. These are the kids who will go around trashing cars, breaking windows or attacking weak-looking people just because they can. They’re the kids who’ll suddenly decide to rush old folks, as we saw in Milwaukee last year– but this pattern is repeated all over the USA, all the time.

There is crime amongst other age groups too, but 20-somethings and older are less likely to engage in indiscriminate crime– they shoot other criminals over drug disputes and the like. (In fact, neighborhoods where drugs are sold are often safer because the dealers keep the hooligans in check in order to avoid police attention.)

For more examples of the “riot demographic” at work, consider the youths rioting in London; or the youths rioting in Paris; and the 1994 Los Angeles riots. The same pattern olds true for urban rioting during the 1960s.

The American race riots of the 1960s have a lot in common with riots that are happening across the Western world today–  the sequence of events is strikingly similar: a cop shoots a youth under strained circumstances; rioting ‘spontaneously’ starts and destroys the local economy; the neighborhood ends up being on lock-down for the next 40, 50, 60 years. It’s a great way of spreading the police state and inciting distrust between races. This distrust is politically useful for demagogues and FBI informants like Rev. Al Sharpton.

Of course, I’m not saying all riots are caused by 14-17 year old ‘inner city’ males, nor am I saying that once a riot starts only 14-17 year olds maintain the riot– plenty of older people get in on the action. I’m saying that it’s relatively easy to start these young lads rioting and the CIA was all over them in the early 1960s. (The CIA were also all over militarizing the police, which came out in Colby’s Family Jewels leak.)

So what does John Marks have to say about Subproject 102? A lot of misinformation. I’ll let Bill Colby’s pet writer speak in his own words:

In other instances, the Society [Human Ecology Society, CIA front] put money into projects whose covert application was so unlikely that only an expert could see the possibilities. Nonetheless, in 1958 the Society gave $5,570 to social psychologists Muzafer and Carolyn Wood Sherif of the University of Oklahoma for work on the behavior of teen-age boys in gangs. The Sherifs, both ignorant of the CIA connection,* studied the group structures and attitudes in the gangs and tried to devise ways to channel antisocial behavior into more constructive paths. Their results were filtered through clandestine minds at the Agency. “With gang warfare,” says an MKULTRA source, “you tried to get some defectors-in-place who would like to modify some of the group behavior and cool it. Now, getting a juvenile delinquent defector was motivationally not all that much different from getting a Soviet one.”

*[Footnote] According to Dr. Carolyn Sherif, who says she and her husband did not share the Cold War consensus and would never have knowingly taken CIA funds, Human Ecology executive director James Monroe lied directly about the source of the Society’s money, claiming it came from rich New York doctors and Texas millionaires who gave it for tax purposes. Monroe used this standard cover story with other grantees.

– From The Search for the ‘Manchurian Candidate: The CIA and Mind Control, Chpt 9 ‘Human Ecology’ page 159.

Marks’ explanation of Subproject 102 is almost entirely bunk, and I’ll explain why.

To begin with, the part that isn’t bunk: The MK ULTRA documents which were released to Marks did not include the names of Muzafer and Carolyn Wood Sherif. All names associated with subproject 102 were blacked out. However, this sentence was included in a letter from the agency scout/consultant who brought the Sherifs to the attention of MK ULTRA directors at the CIA:

In my opinion Dr [REDACTED]’s project is highly significant because of its concentration on group behavior in a natural setting with a very minimum of interference or artificiality. It may not be apparent from your correspondence with Dr [REDACTED] that his wife will be a very active participant also. Mrs [REDACTED] [REDACTED] in the near future. The two of them represent a most able team of field investigators.

MK ULTRA MORI ID #17358 file 21.

Either Marks worked out who this couple were from his knowledge of social psychology (!? Marks’ previous career was in the US State Department) or his ‘MKULTRA source’ told him the names of the pair.

Very little in the MK ULTRA documentation supports Marks’ source’s assertion that the goal of the Sherifs’ work was to help inner city youths “cool” it by identifying boys who might moderate group behavior (see emboldened text in the quote from Manchurian Candidate). At most, the Sherifs’ summary suggests that ‘channeling antisocial behavior’ is one way the data they’re collecting might be used. Psst, Marks! Your insincerity is showing! Marks describes MK ULTRA on page 20 of Manchurian Candidate as an “assault on the human mind”– is it likely that such an assault would include honest inner-city charity work, John?! Naturally, Marks’ “MKULTRA source” didn’t want to disclose their name.

The CIA recruited Sherif because of his research into group psychology; work which he conducted with WWII-era propagandist Carl Hovland. (The results of their collaborative work were finally published in 1961.) Prior to Hovland’s collaboration with Sherif, Hovland’s research involved analyzing how wartime audiences would respond to messages in propaganda movies such as Why We Fight. This is how one author on describes Hovland’s contribution to the war effort: “Like many other early communications theorists, he worked with the U.S. War Department during World War II to study the effectiveness of persuasive films and audience resistance to those films.”

Sherif’s 1950s/60s work focused on group attitudes and how to change group attitudes. He and Hovland are considered fathers of social judgement theory, which offers a framework for tailoring messages to groups so that the messages will have maximum impact. In 1959 Sherif and his wife were mapping inner-city boys’ prejudices and political attitudes so that CIA messages could achieve “maximum influence”.

This is how the same CIA talent scout describes Muzafer Sherif’s cunning:

Dr. [REDACTED] made an unusually good impression on community workers in [REDACTED][REDACTED], where he worked last year. More than any other investigator that I have seen in recent years, he was able to obtain the confidence of [REDACTED] minority groups in getting their full support of his research activities. He uses relatively naive but highly motivated observers who are given special training for this purpose. As a result his data are quite fresh and most revealing of things that are often hidden from the individual in more professional observer roles.

MK ULTRA MORI ID #17358 file 21.

I’ll now provide a series of quotes from the Sherifs’ research summary as it appears in the actual MK ULTRA documentation, you can judge for yourself what’s going on:

Operation Report to the [REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED]

Description of Research Work on Natural Groups 1958-1959 [REDACTED][REDACTED]

This report describes social-psychological research on natural groups in different socio-cultural  settings in different [REDACTED] cities during the period of October 1958- August 15th 1959 while the writer was [REDACTED].

…three kinds of data were collected:

(1) Data related to specific settings. (e.g. living conditions, family size and stability, income, education, mobility.)

(2) Data related to group structure (organization) and to group products. (e.g. shared practices, values or norms, reactions to deviation), based on the actual behaviors of individual members during the course of their interaction.

(3) Data related to self-attitudes, aspirations and goals of age-mates of group members living in areas representing the same and different settings.

The later aspect of the study was strategic in linking ecological data mentioned under (1) and group behavior mentioned under (2).

Natural groups formed in socio-cultural settings undergoing differing degrees of transition are most suitable for this purpose. This consideration determined that cities be chosen that were in the process of salient and accelerated transition and that areas within them be selected whose populations are themselves in varying stages of acculturation to dominant features of American life (e.g. [REDACTED] rapidly growing city.)

While the present project is mainly concerned with theoretical and methodological issues, namely integrating conceptual tools and methods of field and laboratory studies, it is assumed that substantial advances in these respects are bound to have implications for more realistic and effective handling of (a) problems of intergroup relations in actual settings and for (b) devising measures for channeling socially undesirable modes of behavior… into more constructive modes…

In all cases, data were collected by persons who were perceived by group members or respondents, as the case might be, as “one of us”.

1. The area of study was specified to the observer. His initial task was to identify a group in that area composed of no less than 7 and no more than 12 male members within the age range of 14-17 years.

(a) Procedure for identification of groups: Observers did not identify groups by questioning of members or local adults. Groups were identified by direct observation “at a distance” through repeated inspection of possible gathering points in the area (e.g. playground, recreation center, vacant lot, drugstore). The initial criterion for selecting a group for observation was simply observed frequency and recurrence of association at specified locations in the area. At no time during this stage did the observer directly converse or question group members.

(B) Establishing contact and rapport with the group: Once a group was identified on the basis of observed frequency of association, the observer set about to establish contact and a plausible pretext for his presence in the area… For example, one observer observed a group of boys associating frequently to play basketball. After thus identifying a group for study, he appeared on the scene with a new basketball, which soon attracted their attention. His pretext for being on the scene was that he needed the exercise to lose some weight.

2. The first focus of observation being status structure of the group… Status Rankings: On the basis of repeated observations of the group the observer was able to specify at least the top three and bottom positions in the group… independent rankings of school authorities provided such a check.

3. The second focus of observation was group products such as common practices, values or norms and sanctions. The criteria for such products were observed recurrences over a period of time of common terms, common modes of apparel, common procedures in activities, and specific reactions to deviations, sanctions, from such customary behaviors on the part of a member.

One finding concerning reaction to deviation, to be expanded in the reporting of the study, is of particular interest. In the lower socio-economic area in [REDACTED] the group observed had considerably greater importance in the lives of its members than other aspects of the social organization in the area… Consequently, the group member suspected (as one was) of “squealing” on the group was in trouble. On the other hand, the norms of the group in the somewhat higher socio-economic area [REDACTED] were less comprehensive in the activities covered and observed reactions to deviation were of a milder nature.

III. Questionnaire Data Self-Radius-Goals Schedule… A schedule was prepared for administration in high schools, designed to be easily read and completed. The items pertained to self-conceptions, aspirations and goals of adolescents. Topically the contents can be grouped according to the content of the socio-cultural data. Thus, there were items pertaining to residence and housing conditions, language use and cultural preferences, attitudes toward educational and occupational achievement, toward parents and authority figures, conceptions of financial achievement and deprivation, and finally friendship preferences as related to intergroup affinities and rejections…

For example, the median estimate of weekly income needed to be “really well off” varies from $82.60 in the low socio-economic level [REDACTED]-speaking area, to $332.14 in the upper level English-speaking area. Such data, representing relatively “free” estimates of respondents, are clearly significant psychologically…

I encourage readers to read the full report for themselves, which is available here: Subproject 102 . Am I saying that every riot since 1959 has been a CIA plot? No, I’m not. I’m saying that in 1959 an agency which likes to implement regime change through civic revolt was very interested in a group of boys who happen to fit the typical riot demographic. A few years after this 1959 study, the USA experienced a rash of riots which followed similar patterns; we continue to experience these riots to this day. Globally since 1959 a number of regimes which the CIA didn’t like have been toppled after sudden civilian rioting, mostly in urban centers. I’m saying that in 1959 the CIA had prepared itself– done its social psychological mapping– to be involved in some of these riots.

How did Muzafer Sherif get into bed with the CIA? Muzafer was born in 1906 to a wealthy family in Odemis, Izmir, Turkey. His given name was Muzafer Sherif Basoglu, but he changed it later to ‘Muzafer Sherif’ for reasons that are unclear to this writer. Muzafer studied at Harvard and Columbia University in the 1930s and was an outspoken critic of the Nazis, which lead to him being imprisoned for a short time in Turkey. The US State Department sprung him from jail in Turkey and then gave him a fellowship at Princeton University. In 1946 Muzafer became resident fellow in psychology at Yale University, home of Rockefeller-funded professor Carl Hovland.

Carl Hovland

Carl Hovland

Carl Hovland had been a psychology professor at Yale before taking a three-year leave of absence to work for the War Department during WWII. After the fighting was done, he returned to Yale where it’s likely that Muzafer came under his patronage. Carl Hovland was often retained as a consultant to various government and corporate institutions who wanted to devise policies that involved group psychology and manipulation, according to the National Academy of Sciences:

Hovland also served as an insightful and trusted consultant to numerous governmental and educational agencies, industrial organizations, and philanthropic foundations.

So, Mufazer was plugged into government work from the earliest days of his relationship with the State Department. This strongly suggests that his wife, Carolyn, is lying about their ignorance of the Human Ecology Society’s CIA funding. She had doubts enough to ask James Monroe about the source of the Society’s funding; but she and her husband didn’t seek the advice of her husband’s seasoned patron? If I was worried about who I might be working for, Carl Hovland would be the first person I’d bounce my concerns off of…

Perhaps this is just a coincidence, but when Colby et alia wanted to leak the Sherifs’ work to the public in 1977, they went to another State Department boy– John Marks– to do the dirty job of ‘spinning’ Agency race-profiling. Is John Marks now living a life on the lam, having outed some of the CIA’s most precious secrets? Is he running scared that some day a MONARCH baby will shoot him with a poisoned dart gun, or drive a stake through his heart? No, he’s not. Marks spent his career running a comfortable think-tank out of Washington D.C. called ‘Search for Common Ground’. (No longer searching for ‘Manchurian candidates’!) Perhaps you’d like to donate some money to Marks’ non-profit, or take advantage of one of their limited time offers?

John Marks handing out awards at his think-tank circa 2007.

John Marks handing out awards at his think-tank circa 2007.

I’m writing this as the latest reincarnation of the typical American inner-city riot hits critical point: Ferguson, Missouri rioters’ cause célèbre was the death of Micheal Brown, an 18-year old with a criminal past who was shot during an altercation with a police officer. His parents are appearing before the United Nations– Earth’s Alien Ambassadors– this week suggesting that their son’s death should be on the UN Committee on Torture’s agenda.

I don’t think that the UN is going to do anything to slow the militarization of police in the United States, nor anywhere else. However, I promise this will happen: black neighborhoods in Ferguson, Missouri will be destroyed; the police force will become more ‘diverse’ and much better armed; nutballs like the FBI’sNew Black Panther Party‘ will infect local politics with their hate and prevent rational civic discourse, ensuring the need for even more draconian policing… citizens everywhere will lose.

I hope I’ve given readers of a better perspective on how the USA, and the rest of Europe, lost our way. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with one thought: gasoline needs a match to start it burning. Here’s a picture of aggressive protestors outside an up-scale shopping mall near Ferguson, Missouri called ‘Frontenac’. This photo was taken on Oct 13th 2014. What do you think is going on? ‘Cause I think some of those protesters were probably protesting in the 1960s too. ;)

ferguson frontenac 1

David Obst Talks Again

It’s been a fun day at a.nolen HQ: I’ve just found a 1974 article in which David Obst brags about being a literary agent for John Marks, author of The Search for the ‘Manchurian Candidate': The CIA and Mind Control. In Obst’s own words:

On the front burner right now I’ve also got books by Sam Dash, the majority Watergate counsel; the two sons of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who are writing about their parents; and then, of course, there’s the superb book on the CIA written by Victor Marchetti and John Marks, The Cult of Intelligence.

This is huge, readers, because ‘The Obst Connection’ places John Marks’ and his co-author Victor Marchetti’s motivation in question. Marchetti, a one-time CIA employee, had worked his way up from the notorious Soviet Division to Dick Helms’ special assistant, but had become ‘disillusioned’ and decided to write a ‘defamatory’ book about the agency, The Rope Dancer, which was published in 1971.

In the 1970s, Obst was the go-to literary agent for authors who’d been given ‘leaked’ information. In reality, many of these ‘leaks’ are better described as ‘placements’ of infomation by CIA big-wig William Colby. Obst had a special relationship with Colby– he would ‘place’ leaks from Colby at the appropriate media venue. These leaks were designed to distract from Colby’s criminality at the expense of the CIA in general AND give ammunition to Obst’s KGB patrons. You can read all about that in my posts Managed OppositionDid William Colby Help the KGB?; and  Why is Lloyd Shearer a Family Jewel?

In the meantime, I’ll remind you what Seymour Hersh, another Obst client, said about his buddy David:

“Whether it be My Lai, Watergate, The Pentagon Papers, or any of the other tumultuous events of that era, Obst seems to be in the middle of it.”

In this post I’m going to explain why I suspect that John Marks and Victor Marchetti are ‘managed opposition’ to intelligence community excesses, just like Obst’s other clients Prof. Alfred McCoy (Politics of Heroin) and Seymour Hersh.  The ‘red flags’ are: 1) Obst doesn’t talk about Victor Marchetti or John Marks in his 1998 autobiography; 2) Marks/Marchetti’s book The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence was praised by Colby in his 1978 autobiography; 3) the CIA’s incredibly cooperative attitude towards Marks’ MK ULTRA work; and 4) Marks’ book on MK ULTRA obscured politically sensitive CIA operations *inside the United States* while showcasing relatively minor ones.

 Obst and his Autobiography

David Obst is a man who likes to talk. The article which I quoted from above appeared in The Spokesman-Review as part of Pamela Swift’s “Keeping up… With Youth” column. Below, you’ll see the charming picture of David in his tennis whites which graced the center of Swift’s gossip page. (You look a little preppy for the commune, David. Perhaps your youth wasn’t “Too Good to be Forgotten”?)

David Obst Words and Money Headshot

The Institute for Policy Studies groupie who likes words and money… but not in that order!

David Obst also likes ‘the good life’ and rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous. Despite this weakness, he never mentions John Marks nor Victor Marchetti in his  autobiography, Too Good to Be Forgotten: Changing America in the ’60s and ’70s. Obst never mentions his famous client-duo even though he makes time for Leni Riefenstahl and Stan Lee. (Obst does say he lived with a ‘John Marks’ for a while, but this is a misspelling of ‘John Marx’– a mistake Obst’s editor missed 2:1!)

Why the silence, David? I know you were quiet about Derek and Lloyd Shearer because of Derek’s unsavory KGB connections, but why the reticence about Marks and Marchetti? Clearly, you were happy to talk about your relationship to them in 1974, but by 1998 your attitude had changed dramatically…

I don’t think that Obst’s caginess comes from Mark’s and Marchetti’s Colby connection specifically– many of Obst’s big-name clients have CIA/Colby connections and that doesn’t stop Obst bragging about them. Obst knows something particularly unsavory about Marks and Marchetti that makes Obst worried about associating himself with them. (Perhaps Marchetti’s later political work?) I haven’t found the reason for David’s silence, but I’m sure I’ll discover why in time  somewhere David’s already told us why.

Glowing Reviews from Bill Colby

David Obst’s reasons for silence aside, we know from his 1974 interview that he did represent Marks and Marchetti. So what were John Marks and well-connected CIA operator Victor Marchetti doing hanging around David Obst and the KGB-affiliated Shearer clan in 1974? Nothing that didn’t have the blessing of CIA director William Colby.

How were Marchetti and Marks useful to Colby? Their book, The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence (1974), deflected negative attention away from Colby at a pivotal time: the first months of Colby’s tenure as Director of Central Intelligence (DCI). When Cult of Intelligence came out, Colby’s one-time patron and former DCI Richard  Helms had just finished burning evidence of his own wrongdoing related to MK ULTRA. The next man in line, James Schlesinger– the guy who’d made the ‘Family Jewels’ list of every CIA activity with “flap potential”– had only held the DCI position a year before getting the hell out.  ‘DCI’ Colby probably felt  like he’d been handed a hot potato, so he did what he’d always done: protected himself with a media offensive that blamed “the CIA in general” for unethical (and illegal) behavior.

This is how Wikipedia– a popular quick-refence– summarizes The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence:

Victor Marchetti used the expression “cult of intelligence” to denounce what he viewed as a counterproductive mindset and culture of secrecy, elitism, amorality and lawlessness within and surrounding the Central Intelligence Agency in the service of American imperialism.

Colby liked Marks’/Marchetti’s book so well that he aped its conclusions about the CIA in his 1978 autobiography Honorable Men: My Life in the CIA:

Considering the importance and all-consuming nature of the work I was doing at the Agency; considering the missionary zeal [Eleanor and ISIS! -a.nolen], sense of elitism and marvelous camaraderie among my colleagues there; considering above all that I was strictly forbidden to talk about what I was doing with anyone outside the Agency and thus couldn’t share my concerns or just sit around shooting the breeze in shop talk with anyone in the outside world– considering all of this, one can see how easy it would have been for me to drop out of that world and immerse myself exclusively in the cloak-and-dagger life. And some of my colleagues at the Agency did just that. Socially as well as professionally they cliqued together, forming a sealed fraternity. They ate together at their own special favorite restaurants [this is a particular dig at Angleton- a.nolen]; they partied almost only among themselves; their families drifted to each other, so their defenses did not always have to be up. In this way they increasingly separated themselves from the ordinary world and developed a rather skewed view of the world. Their own dedicated double life became the proper norm, and they looked down on the life of the rest of the citizenry. And out of this grew what was later named– and condemned– as the “cult” of intelligence, an inbred, distorted, elitist view of intelligence that held it to be above the normal processes of society, with its own rationale and justification, beyond the restraints of the Constitution, which applied to everything and everyone else. As I saw this develop, I remembered a talk I had with Donovan several years before. I had asked him how you get young paratroopers to behave like choir boys on Saturday night after spending six days learning to be aggressive, devious and heroic. He answered that he didn’t know, but nevertheless it just had to be done. It would be many years before I would have to develop a better answer than Donovan’s.

That I didn’t fall into this “cultist” attitude– at least not to the degree I might have– I have to attribute solely to Barbara.

Always on the outside, Bill, but you still managed to claw your way to the top! I think the quote above shows readers very clearly why Colby put Helms’ old assistant Marchetti and Marks onto their first book project: C.Y.A. for Colby… at the expense of the rest of the CIA. By the way, Barbara is Colby’s first wife, who he ditched after his career at the CIA ended and he didn’t need her anymore…

The CIA Finds Dirt on Itself!

John Marks’ book with Marchetti wasn’t his only claim to fame. It’s John Marks’ post-1974 work, or rather his lawyers’ work, that got the CIA to release the MKULTRA files a few years after the Rockefeller Commission delivered rudimentary evidence of the mind-control program in the wake of Colby’s ‘Family Jewels’ leak. The story goes that Marks’ lawyers worked for several months to get the CIA to release 50 documents under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request; the fabled “seven boxes” of MKULTRA documentation would follow a few years later, when the CIA suddenly announced they’d found more evidence and decided to tell Marks about it!

Those seven boxes– almost 20,000 documents that each needed ‘sanitization’ and clearance for their release– were probably in preparation during that one year when George Herbert Walker Bush ruled Langley; the seven boxes were then released during the first months of DCI Stansfield Turner’s tenure. Turner worked hard to stop criticism of the CIA’s role in Vietnam and William Colby. (While Colby left the CIA in 1976, he was still a powerful figure in organized crime through the 1980s.)

Directors Colby/Bush/Turner all went out of their way to deliver 20,000 ‘incriminating’ documents to one lone little man, John Marks, and however many lawyers Marks could afford at Fried, Frank, Shriver, Harris and Kampelman. CIA cooperation like that *never* happens for independent researchers.

If readers have ever filed a FOIA request with the CIA, you’ll know what an arduous, and arbitrary, process it is. The CIA has special staff who deal with the public with regard to these requests: they have a list of files which are pre-approved for release and are (fairly) quickly mailed out on CDs to whoever asks for them. MKULTRA files are one of these ‘quick release’ files. However, if you request files on something that hasn’t been pre-approved for public consumption, the CIA will find some excuse to refuse to release information. The agency prefers not to tell you directly that the info won’t be released– that would be tantamount to admission that the CIA had a working relationship with an organization/the person in question. Instead, they’ll make impossible demands. Once, when I made an FOIA request about an academic who was *probably* a CIA asset in the 1950s, I was telephoned by the agency and told that they knew whose file I was requesting and that they’d process my request if I could find this academic’s social security number. This academic had been an American citizen for a few years during the 1950s.

“Where would you go to find a Social Security number under these circumstances?” I asked the (very polite) representative.

“It’s probably somewhere in the National Archives,” was his answer!

(That’s a joke in research circles, because the US National Archives is such a mess. The last time I visited there were notices in my particular reading room asking the public to look out for several boxes of classified documents that went missing somewhere on campus…)

My point is, readers, that  Colby wanted to release 50 MKULTRA documents to Marks shortly after the 1974 scandals and DCIs Bush and Turner were happy to continue to use Colby’s tactics through 1977.

Marks’ 1980 book The Search for the Manchurian Candidate mentions William Colby three times: once in reference to the ex-Director’s bringing a neat-o dart gun to his congressional testimony; once in reference to a saccharine quote Colby made about the touchy-feely business of graduating working relations between handlers and spook-assets; and finally when Marks states that Colby said the Cuban economic sabotage programs ended around the time Colby’s own CIA directorship started. Ya don’t say, Bill.

**It’s incredible that John Marks doesn’t have more to say about the CIA’s number one narcotics dealer in a book about drugs and mind control.**

On the other hand, Marks wastes no time saying bad things about Colby’s former patron who’d destroyed any MK ULTRA evidence against himself, Richard Helms:

He [Richard Helms] would become the most important sponsor of mind-control research within the CIA, nurturing and promoting it throughout his steady climb to the top position in the Agency. [p.13]

Gottlieb would preside over arcane fields from handwriting analysis to stress creation, and he would rise through the Agency along with his bureaucratic patron, Richard Helms. [p.17]

Richard Helms, Sid Gottlieb, John Gittinger, George White and many others would undertake a far-flung and complicated assault on the human mind. [p. 20]

(To be fair, the MKULTRA program ran from the early 1950s-1973, under the directorship of:  Allen W. Dulles (Marks mentions him 15 times in Manchurian Candidate), John A. McCone (mentioned 5 times), William F. Raborn (never mentioned), and Richard M. Helms (mentioned 17 times). Marks claims most projects had ended by 1963, three years before Helms became DCI. )

You don’t have to get far into Search for the Manchurian Candidate to know who Marks wants to paint as the bad guys.

If the first 50 MKULTRA files were released because Colby wanted them to be released, why did Colby want them released? Probably because Colby, like Helms before him, knew something was going to come out and reasoned it would be better to control what came out rather than leave that to somebody else. What’s the safest way to spin MKULTRA? “Yeah, we did it. But we didn’t find anything.”

I think John Marks says it best:

The Kennedy [Senator Edward Kennedy, Subcommittee on Health and Scientific Research, 1975] hearings added little to the general state of knowledge on the CIA’s behavior-control programs. CIA officials, both past and present, took the position that basically nothing of substance was learned during the 25-odd years of research, the bulk of which had ended in 1963, and they were not challenged. That proposition is, on its face, ridiculous, but neither Senator Kennedy nor any other investigator has yet to put any real pressure on the Agency to reveal the content of the research– what was actually learned– as opposed to the experimental means of carrying it out. In this book, I have tried to get at some of the substantive questions, but I have had access to neither the scientific records, which Gottlieb [Sidney Gottlieb] and Helms [Richard Helms] destroyed, nor the principal people involved.

Marks is being somewhat honest here: a careful reading of Search for the Manchurian Candidate shows that Marks holds the same opinion as the CIA– nothing of substance was discovered. In fact, Marks indirectly flatters the agency quite often. A reader could easily come away from Manchurian Candidate with the impression that the CIA is filled with brilliant, if sometimes misguided, patriots who have to make tough choices. I encourage readers to look to the end of chapters 10 “The Gittinger Assessment System”; 9 “Human Ecology”; 7 “Mushrooms to Counterculture”; 6 “Them Unwitting: The Safehouses”; and chapter 4 “LSD” for evidence of this flattery.

Historians interested in James Angleton’s career should know that at the end of chapter 11 “Hypnosis”, Marks goes out of his way to smear Angleton, with speculative allegations against the Counterintelligence division’s use of hypnosis, should hypnosis have been proved effective. It’s almost like Colby wrote that chapter himself…

Marks did such a good job planting the meme ‘nothing was discovered’, that you can find it popping up everywhere MK ULTRA is discussed. For example, I just found this quote from one-time American Psychiatric Association president Philip G. Zimbardo’s and Susan M. Andersen’s paper ‘Resisting Social Influence’, which was published in the Cultic Studies Journal, 1984, Volume 1, Number 2, pages 196-219:

John Marks’ expose of the CIA’s secret mind control program (see The Search for the “Manchurian Candidate) suggests that no foolproof way of “brainwashing” another person has ever been found. After a decade of intensive, costly research into the technology of such control, the CIA’s MKULTRA program was deemed a failure. Covert operations could claim little more than being capable of turning unsuspecting victims into “vegetables.”

‘Resisting Social Influence’ is a fascinating read and I will talk about it more in later posts. Clearly, Dr. Zimbardo and Dr. Andersen have read Marks’ book on MK ULTRA; but they haven’t read the MK ULTRA files. Marks did a *great job* of discouraging people from actually reading the MK ULTRA material.

Tweaking American “Human Ecology”

Discouraging people from actually reading these files is important, because the MK ULTRA documents do contain some pretty explosive stuff– the stuff John Marks is careful not to talk about. 

What does the MK ULTRA material really contain? A long time ago I put in an FOIA request for the MK ULTRA cd and was sent a copy by the CIA’s Information and Privacy Coordinator. There are nearly 20,000 documents on a collection of three discs. I’m going to give you a rough run-down of what’s discussed. A great number of those documents are so heavily redacted that it’s difficult to give them context or even understand what’s being said.

– 54% of the documents relate to ‘ARTICHOKE’ and ‘BLUEBIRD’ material: the use of hypnosis, drugs, alcohol, interrogation techniques, psychiatric methods to get people to ‘confess'; or ‘brainwash’ people; or to make soldiers more effective in battle. There are disconnected tidbits about various investigations into said activities, including domestic investigations in places like Minneapolis MN and Detroit MI; scraps of evidence garnered from Soviet science and unidentified drugs in syringes/vials that had fallen into CIA hands. Also, correspondence with unnamed medical doctors and other civilian researches about the possibility of using the techniques listed above; selected instances of monies paid to these doctors/researchers but not exhaustive accounting records. There are also data on how ARTICHOKE and BLUEBIRD agents would be indoctrinated while working on the projects. (Of this 54%, only 4% of documents relate to the use of LSD and Swiss pharmacutical company Sandoz!)

– 8 % are summaries of subprojects to MKUltra. Some of these are quite interesting, especially the “human ecology” projects. Marks ignores or downplays the more interesting of these projects, which involved research into how different groups of people in the United States can be manipulated politically– like inner-city minorities and non-English speakers.

–4 % of documents relate to Frank Olson’s death after the CIA *allegedly* tested out mind-altering drugs on him.

–8 % of documents relate to drug addiction and useful aspects to the CIA, including the use of Codine. (This is very vague information, most of it is correspondence back and forth trying to set up an interviews with Dr. Harris Isbell at the NIMH.)

–13 % of the documents relate to behavior research in humans and animals; how drugs may affect behavior; ability of animals to manipulate electricity; Pavlovian conditioning; communication techniques of animals.

–8 % cover the use of electricity to interfere with sleep, anesthesia, ‘electronarcotics’ research, dream research, living tissue response to electricity, heart function, psychological responses to electrodermal response, electrochemical responses in living tissue, nervous system research, electric photography, research into how people respond to sound and language (including often-repeated words), light and eye research (for incapacitating), stress electroencephalographic results and biological power sources.

– 5% are “SI and H” experiments, which are also interesting and mostly unmentioned by Marks. These experiments were not conducted on a large scale: they looked at how well agents could lie or remember details of a specific situation under different conditions, for example.

I’m going to wrap this up by pointing out that there are *very concerning* projects documented in the MK ULTRA releases, particularly relating to “human ecology” inside the United States. Marks doesn’t talk about these projects, but they could throw light upon what’s happened in Ferguson, Missouri, so I’m going to talk about them in upcoming posts. I don’t understand why details of these “human ecology” projects were released.

It may be that CIA officials thought that these subprojects  wouldn’t mean much to a 1970s audience, that they would just ‘pad out’ the release and make it look more comprehensive,  but I find that hard to believe given the race riots of the 1960s.

There are other projects too, such as the CIA ‘data mining’ election results with respect to “human ecology” in order to try to understand how to get people to vote a certain way. Frankly, as an American citizen, I find these types of projects a lot more dangerous than tests of LSD’s use as a truth syrum. Why would Colby/Bush/Turner release this information when they had Marks focus on the other stuff, anyway? I don’t have an answer… yet.

In the meantime, we can throw John Marks and Victor Marchetti onto the ever-growing pile of ‘whistle blowers’ who are really just tools which members of  the ‘intelligence community’ use to manipulate the public.



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 White House 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?