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Spy Culture

Spy Culture - 2018-04-22 - Original post - cached version
This week I review the most recent Star Wars film The Last Jedi and analyse its politics. I discuss its anti-war and progressive tokenism, and why this is ultimately undermined by being symbolic, and not narrative-based.  None of the ‘progressive’ character moments or dialogue in the film have any...
Spy Culture - 2018-04-16 - Original post - cached version
I recently joined Robbie Martin of Media Roots to discussion the Salisbury poisoning, the Skripals, the Syrian airstrikes and the general state of politics and Russophobia.  We covered many of the reasons to be sceptical of the official story about the poisoning of the Skripals, how this relates...
Spy Culture - 2018-04-15 - Original post - cached version
In this month’s subscriber-only podcast I take a look at three TV series which predicted or reinforced various aspects of the official story of the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal.  I examine Salvation, Homeland and Strike Back have featured dialogue and storylines about Litvinenko, Russian...
Spy Culture - 2018-04-08 - Original post - cached version
On March 4th Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in the sleepy British city of Salisbury, by forces currently unknown. The British government immediately blamed Russian intelligence, leading to weeks of accusations and counter-accusations, diplomatic expulsions and lots of...
Spy Culture - 2018-04-08 - Original post - cached version
I am joined today by Robbie Martin and Pearse Redmond to talk about the 2008 9/11 conspiracy thriller The Reflecting Pool. We pick on various aspects of the film that relate or comment on the 9/11 truth movement, including the bizarre consensus that thermite brought down the WTC which has...
Spy Culture - 2018-04-05 - Original post - cached version
Newly released documents in the JFK files have cast fresh light on the CIA’s plots to kill Fidel Castro.  One interview with William Harvey – known as ‘America’s James Bond’, reveals that Robert Kennedy invoked 007 while trying to urge the Agency forward in its anti-Castro operations. William King...
Spy Culture - 2018-04-01 - Original post - cached version
Russiagate has become both the gift that keeps on giving and the scandal that will not die. This week we take a look at the allegations, the perceptions and the misconceptions, examining how the ‘fake news’ crisis grew out of the claim that the Russian government hacked the 2016 US presidential...
Spy Culture - 2018-03-31 - Original post - cached version
In this special podcast just for Pearse’s patreon subscribers (also available to my subscribers) we discuss all things Cambridge Analytica, Alexander Nix and Christopher Wylie.  Fundamentally we ask whether their activities are new or unique, or merely the most well-known when dozens of other...
Spy Culture - 2018-03-31 - Original post - cached version
In our mid-season review and analysis of Homeland season 7, Pearse and I get into various strands of the show including the Brett O’Keefe/Waco arc, the Russiagate conspiracy, how the CIA should be portrayed as having utterly failed the country but have somehow dressed themselves up as the heroes,...
Spy Culture - 2018-03-19 - Original post - cached version
I was recently invited onto the Rory O'Connor podcast to talk about National Security Cinema, the research methods we employed to get the information and documents, and the difference between the DOD and the CIA's approaches to Hollywood.

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Spy Culture - 2018-03-18 - Original post - cached version
On this month’s subscriber-only podcast I talk about my new job and why it means I’ve been unable to produce much content recently, and about the US Air Force’s competition to name the in-development B-21 strategic bomber. From the Trumpnator to Bomby McPlaneFace, a lot of the suggestions are very...
Spy Culture - 2018-03-06 - Original post - cached version
Professor CJ invited me onto his Dangerous History Podcast recently to discuss the research behind National Security Cinema, what we found, and what it means. We talk about conspiracy theories, how I got into this line of research, what methods I employed, the nature of the entertainment liaison...
Spy Culture - 2018-03-04 - Original post - cached version
From racism and sexism to the military-industrial complex, the politics both within the Marvel Cinematic Universe and surrounding it here in the real world are a constant source of news stories and controversy. This week we look at how the world’s biggest film franchise is both the source and the...
Spy Culture - 2018-02-27 - Original post - cached version
David Sirota invited me onto his podcast to talk about National Security Cinema and how the DOD and CIA secretly shape pop culture. This was a rapid-fire conversation where we got into examples of political censorship by government agencies, the operations of the entertainment liaison offices,...
Spy Culture - 2018-02-25 - Original post - cached version
Cambridge Analytica are a big data marketing firm who, according to numerous media commentators, were the critical factor in the election of Donald Trump. They are the subject of many officially-endorsed, fully-mainstreamed conspiracy theories proposed by different segments of the political-media...
Spy Culture - 2018-02-19 - Original post - cached version
Keelan Balderson invited me back onto the WideShut Webcast to chat about the research that went into National Security Cinema, as well as the response and reception the book has enjoyed.  We get quite deeply into the notion that the CIA are cultivating a ‘bad boy image’ through Hollywood, and how...
Spy Culture - 2018-02-18 - Original post - cached version
Spy is a 2004 BBC gameshow where ordinary members of the public are trained and tested by real life ex-spooks and ultimately some are eliminated until there’s a winner. Spies is a 2017 Channel 4 gameshow where ordinary members of the public are trained and tested by real life ex-spooks and...
Spy Culture - 2018-02-14 - Original post - cached version
Continuing our long-running commentary, Pearse invited me back onto Porkins Policy Radio to talk about the first episode of the new season of Homeland.  For the first time in several seasons Homeland maintained the storyline from the previous season rather than rebooting the show’s storyline and...
Spy Culture - 2018-02-11 - Original post - cached version
On this month’s subscriber-only podcast I talk about my political and personal motives for doing this sort of work as well some of my thoughts on strategies for tackling political problems. I discuss the history of anarchism – both intellectual and terroristic – and how I see my work fitting into...
Spy Culture - 2018-02-07 - Original post - cached version
A recently released document from the JFK files has confirmed an old rumour: that the CIA helped arrange the affair between actress Susan Cabot and King Hussein of Jordan.  The memo records how the man directly involved was the CIA’s on-the-ground fixer in Hollywood, Robert Maheu. The Affair Cabot...
Spy Culture - 2018-02-04 - Original post - cached version
Ted Kaczynski is most famous for both being the most prolific serial bomber in US history and for writing the Unabomber Manifesto – a political-philosophical tract that was published by major newspapers and by the FBI. This week I take a look at the life of Ted Kaczynski and conduct a...
Spy Culture - 2018-02-01 - Original post - cached version
Pearse invited me back onto Porkins Policy Radio to chat about my research into the little-known Science and Entertainment Exchange.  We discussed how SEEX got started, their stated mission and aims and how they contrast sharply with what SEEX actually does, their ability to influence scripts and...
Spy Culture - 2018-01-28 - Original post - cached version
Aside from Ian Fleming, there is no more influential spy author than Tom Clancy. Clancy’s books (and the films and computer games based on them) benefited from his close contact with the US government. This week we shed light on his relationships with the CIA and the NSA, and ask whether the CIA’s...
Spy Culture - 2018-01-24 - Original post - cached version
Leaked documents from JTRIG (the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group) show that GCHQ's operations are not only bigger, more invasive and more manipulative than previously realised, but also that they name their tools and techniques after films, TV shows and even genres of music.

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Spy Culture - 2018-01-17 - Original post - cached version
Just as with James Bond and Ian Fleming, the CIA’s CREST database is littered with reference to Tom Clancy.  In preparation for this weekend’s podcast I put together a collection of over 100 pages of internal Agency memos and open source records that record Clancy’s relationship with the CIA for...
Spy Culture - 2018-01-14 - Original post - cached version
On this month's subscriber-only podcast I explain my criticisms of 21st Century Wire and Patrick Henningsen in particular. I outline their disturbing habit of denying the suffering of non-white people, often by claiming they are mere 'crisis actors', their implicit and explicit endorsement of...
Spy Culture - 2018-01-10 - Original post - cached version
In 1987, as part of a typical politician’s attempts to seem down with the kids, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher did an interview with the pop magazine Smash Hits.  There was just one problem: Thatcher knew absolutely nothing about pop music, or anything even close.  So her advisors drew...
Spy Culture - 2018-01-07 - Original post - cached version
The Science and Entertainment Exchange (or SEEX) has consulted on over 1300 films and TV shows in less than 10 years, but outside of Hollywood few people know who they are and what they do. This week we pull back the curtain to look at their activities and their agenda. Are they merely concerned...
Spy Culture - 2018-01-03 - Original post - cached version
Officially, the Science and Entertainment Exchange (or SEEX) is the outreach program of the National Academy of Sciences – a non-governmental, non-partisan, non-profit honorific body who give awards and the like.  In reality it is a government-funded entertainment liaison office who work closely...
Spy Culture - 2017-12-28 - Original post - cached version
Pearse invited me onto PPR to talk 2017: the highs, the lows, the overrated, the underrated, and Trump.  We discuss our favourite film and TV of the year, the most overblown news stories, the most important news that didn’t get the attention it deserves and reflect on why this has been a good year...
Spy Culture - 2017-12-27 - Original post - cached version
Tom Clancy was a good friend of US intelligence.  After the publication of his enormously successful Hunt for Red October in 1984, he was repeatedly invited to speak at the CIA, NSA and FBI.  The CIA even paid him a $500 honourarium for his ‘performance’ for speaking at Langley in 1986 – but...
Spy Culture - 2017-12-24 - Original post - cached version
What is fake news? Where did it come from and why is it so profitable? In this week’s episode I consider whether fake news is a new thing, or simply a newly-popular name for methods of deceit that have existed for centuries. I explore the idea that it is simply a popular recognition of an […]...
Spy Culture - 2017-12-20 - Original post - cached version
In 2015 Admiral Robert Papp, the State Department’s Arctic envoy, spoke multiple times about trying to broker a deal with Disney to use characters from Frozen to promote climate change issues to children.  Recently released State Dept. documents show that negotiations broke down because of...
Spy Culture - 2017-12-17 - Original post - cached version
This week I welcome Martin Darlington, co-host of the History by Hollywood podcast, which reviews and analyses films claiming to be based on real events. We talk about Martin’s adopted homeland of Qatar, his views on history and politics, how he and his co-host Andrew prepare and produce the...
Spy Culture - 2017-12-13 - Original post - cached version
The latest files to be released by the National Archives include one on Kinsgley Amis - the former novelist and critic who was knighted in 1990. Amis was a member of the Communist party while at Oxford university in June 1941, though he renounced Marxism in 1956-7. MI5's monitoring of Amis,...
Spy Culture - 2017-12-11 - Original post - cached version
Long answer: probably, with an ‘if’. Short answer: yes, with a ‘but’. A recently-published report into the terrorism in Britain in the run-up to this year’s general election has found that the Manchester bombing might have been prevented. The review says that MI5 had planned to discuss the...
Spy Culture - 2017-12-10 - Original post - cached version
Lone Survivor is one of very few recent DOD-supported films that is based on real events from the war on terror.  In a period where the Pentagon is more interested in Transformers and superhero movies, Lone Survivor is an exception.  Reports from the military Hollywood offices called it ‘a two...
Spy Culture - 2017-12-06 - Original post - cached version
One of the first films to be made with the help of former CIA officers was 1985's The Man With One Red Shoe. This badly-written, weakly-executed action-comedy depict the Agency running surveillance on a musician played by Tom Hanks, who they believe is a CIA agent who is going to testify in a...
Spy Culture - 2017-12-03 - Original post - cached version
Of all the US intelligence agencies, the FBI has the longest-running relationship with Hollywood. From spying on A-listers as to helping blacklist screenwriters, through to manipulating scripts for PR and propaganda purposes, the Bureau’s influence on Tinseltown is very broad. Using documents from...
Spy Culture - 2017-11-29 - Original post - cached version
Newly released documents shed light on the FBI's entertainment liaison office - officially titled the Investigative Publicity and Public Affairs Unit (IPPAU), including how they work on dozens of popular films and TV shows, and reject requests for support for PR reasons, just like the Pentagon....
Spy Culture - 2017-11-28 - Original post - cached version
I am proud to announce that Critical Sociology have today published an article I co-wrote with Matt Alford that sums up the major findings from our research for National Security Cinema.  Titled ‘New Evidence for the Surprisingly Significant Propaganda Role of the Central Intelligence Agency and...
Spy Culture - 2017-11-27 - Original post - cached version
In our review of the final season of the original House of Cards, Pearse and I discuss whether Urquhart is a psychopath, or someone so brutalised by the military and ruling class life that he is indistinguishable from one. We look at The Final Cut’s depiction of British foreign policy – a new...
Spy Culture - 2017-11-26 - Original post - cached version
Arthur Ransome was a well-known children’s author, best known for his series of adventure books beginning with Swallows and Amazons. He was also close friends with the Bolshevik leadership and married Trotsky’s secretary. Meanwhile, he was spying for British intelligence, and being spied on by...
Spy Culture - 2017-11-23 - Original post - cached version

Arthur Ransome was a very well-known author of children's books, best known for his series beginning with Swallows and Amazons. He was also a spy for British intelligence and a close enough friend to the Bolshevik leadership that he married Leon Trotsky's secretary. These security service...

Spy Culture - 2017-11-22 - Original post - cached version
November 22nd is the 27th anniversary of a European Parliament resolution condemning Operation Gladio. For decades, secret armies in over a dozen NATO countries carried out terrorist attacks to influence the political landscape and manipulate elections. In this article I look back at Gladio,...
Spy Culture - 2017-11-20 - Original post - cached version
I was recently interviewed by Michael Morisy the co-founder of MuckRock, the world's premier FOIA site. It was an interesting conversation about how to use FOIA, what works and what doesn't, how my use of the FOIA developed over time and why I've had so much success with FOIA requests. We also...
Spy Culture - 2017-11-19 - Original post - cached version
Today I am joined by old friend Pearse Redmond to review and discuss the Netflix TV series American Vandal, a mockumentary that satirises the true crime genre. Pete Maldonado is a student at a high school in California who starts making a documentary about a fellow student, Dylan Maxwell, who was...
Spy Culture - 2017-11-16 - Original post - cached version
This week I joined Pearse on his radio show to discuss the new Netflix movie about Anders Breivik and the aftermath of the massacre on Utoya in 2011. We get into director Paul Greengrass's background, especially United 93, the Norwegian government's support for the film and the legacy of Breivik'...
Spy Culture - 2017-11-15 - Original post - cached version

The long-running ABC show The F.B.I. was perhaps the greatest success of the FBI's entertainment liaison office during Hoover's time as head of the Bureau. The deal struck between the FBI and the producers granted Hoover approval and veto power over scripts, casting and even sponsors. In...

Spy Culture - 2017-11-13 - Original post - cached version
In this extra bonus podcast for subscribers Pearse and I discuss the second season of the British House of Cards – To Play the King.  Our review covers numerous parallels between what happens in the series – when a left-wing King rises to challenge Urquhart and how the PM and the security services...

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