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Spy Culture

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...
Spy Culture - 2017-11-12 - Original post - cached version
In this month's subscriber podcast I look at recent spate of allegations - and in some cases more than allegations - against a string of Hollywood bigwigs and media celebrities. I examine the selective media dialogue around these events, and how it poisons everything it touches and is deeply...
Spy Culture - 2017-11-09 - Original post - cached version

In last weekend's ClandesTime I discussed how the CIA no longer allow film-makers to shoot footage of the CIA headquarters, leading the producers of Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation to re-use old footage of Langley, but it appears they may have relaxed this rule and are now allowing filming...

Spy Culture - 2017-11-05 - Original post - cached version
The first movie to film at CIA Headquarters at Langley was Scorpio in the early 1970s. The last major film was Argo in 2012. Sometime in 2014 the CIA stopped letting film-makers shoot footage on the CIA campus. This week I examine this decision by analysing the last two films that were granted...
Spy Culture - 2017-11-02 - Original post - cached version

Like most major 20th century writers the FBI has a brief file on Aldous Huxley - the 'author and social critic' behind Brave New World, Island and The Doors of Perception. Huxley was never the subject of a Bureau investigation but they kept tabs on some of his public appearances and...

Spy Culture - 2017-10-15 - Original post - cached version
Reality Winner is a former Air Force language specialist who was working for an NSA contractor when she stole a single document and sent it to The Intercept. The document described supposed Russian attempts to ‘hack the US election’ and so this one act of whistleblowing or espionage, however you...
Spy Culture - 2017-10-11 - Original post - cached version

Following their on-screen debut in the James Bond movies, and their quiet support for Thunderball, the CIA under Richards Helms adopted a more pro-active approach to Hollywood. They began spying on movie scripts depicting the CIA and considering requests from film-makers for official support...

Spy Culture - 2017-10-08 - Original post - cached version
The book of Ecclesiastes tells us, ‘The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.’ Even the idea that there is nothing new is thousands of years old. This week we’re going to look at why Hollywood...
Spy Culture - 2017-10-04 - Original post - cached version
In April 1983 MGM sent a priority cable to CIA headquarters, inviting director Bill Casey to a special screening of their new feature War Games, starring Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy. The private screening was hosted by the MPAA building in Washington D.C., and even more surprising than the...
Spy Culture - 2017-10-03 - Original post - cached version

Aaron and Uncle invited both Pearse and myself onto Uncle the Podcast for this one-of-a-kind review of Top Gun, possibly the best piece of military propaganda ever made. Despite being a promotion for the military, all four of us love the movie and we extol the virtues of the soundtrack, the...

Spy Culture - 2017-10-03 - Original post - cached version

Pearse hosted this podcast for his subscribers but I am also making it available for those of you who support me on Patreon as well. In the first of three episodes, Pearse and I examine season 1 of the original (and superior) House of Cards, which follows Francis Urquhart's rise from Chief...

Spy Culture - 2017-10-01 - Original post - cached version
Lionel ‘Buster’ Crabb, OBE, was a Royal Navy frogman and MI6 diver who disappeared while on an underwater spying mission in April 1956. For three quarters of a century the story around Crabb has remained a mystery – was he killed by the Soviets, whose ship he was spying on? Did he defect and...
Spy Culture - 2017-09-27 - Original post - cached version
Buster Crabb was a WW2 British Navy Frogman who in 1956 was recruited by MI6 to spy on Soviet ships docking in Portsmouth harbour during a goodwill visit. These files - some available here for the first time - detail the British government's interference in the inquest into Crabb's presumed death...
Spy Culture - 2017-09-24 - Original post - cached version
In 2004 three men were arrested in the UK for trying to buy red mercury – a trigger for a nuclear bomb – from an undercover journalist working with British intelligence. This plot inspired multiple films and TV programmes and the resulting trial cost over £1 million. The problem is that ‘red...
Spy Culture - 2017-09-22 - Original post - cached version
Chris Cook invited me back on Gorilla Radio to continue our conversation on all things spy-related. We talked about some of the differences between the British and American intelligence agencies, the role John Le Carré plays in the British spy fiction landscape, the new film American Made and how...
Spy Culture - 2017-09-19 - Original post - cached version
Just prior to the 2016 Presidential Election the US Air Force took several dozen Hollywood figures on a Civic Leader Tour of military facilities in Alaska, as part of their ongoing attempts to gain friends and influence in Tinseltown. While the Air Force entertainment liaison office would not...
Spy Culture - 2017-09-17 - Original post - cached version

The 2011 pandemic thriller Contagion was a massive PR boost for the CDC. In this month's subscriber-only podcast I examine the film and nearly 1000 pages of documents from the CDC about their involvement in helping to make the film, what they thought of it, and the promotional events they...

Spy Culture - 2017-09-15 - Original post - cached version

John Harrison of Sputnik radio's Level Talk invited Matt and I on to talk about National Security Cinema and the relationship between Hollywood and Washington. In this rapid-fire interview we touched on the history of this relationship, its impact on scripts, why writers and producers go...

Spy Culture - 2017-09-14 - Original post - cached version
Despite being a bit drunk and tired, I joined Pearse for the first hour of his radio show this week to discuss 9/11, the emotional impact of the anniversary and the legacy of Al Qaeda. We touched on my Alternative History of Al Qaeda series as well as asking if there is a better way to respond to...
Spy Culture - 2017-09-13 - Original post - cached version

While the 2011 plague thriller Contagion did benefit from military support it is perhaps more important for the big screen debut of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This lesser-known government agency recently released nearly 1000 pages of internal documents on their role...

Spy Culture - 2017-09-10 - Original post - cached version

This week I am joined by Robbie Martin and Pearse Redmond to review and analyse the low budget conspiracy thriller Operation Terror. We analyse the plot – where a member of the Council on Foreign Relations recruits a CIA officer to prepare and carry out the 9/11 attacks – and why this is...

Spy Culture - 2017-09-08 - Original post - cached version

The new Tom Cruise film American Made bears all the hallmarks of being CIA-Hollywood propaganda. This short video explores Cruise and director Doug Liman's connections with the CIA and how the marketing for the film suggests it'll be nothing more than a remake of Blow, but with Barry Seal's...

Spy Culture - 2017-09-04 - Original post - cached version
In recent years the Pentagon have not only expanded their operations in the entertainment industry, they have aggressively and pro-actively tried to expand their influence on Hollywood. This week we take a look at how they are trying to cozy up to studio moguls, make friends and influence people...
Spy Culture - 2017-08-30 - Original post - cached version

I recently obtained a copy of the notorious 2004 CIA recruitment video featuring Alias star Jennifer Garner. This is not available anywhere else online, and the CIA did not release it in response to my FOIA request (they claimed to be unable to find a copy). Basically, after a lot of...

Spy Culture - 2017-08-27 - Original post - cached version

The 1996 action thriller The Long Kiss Goodnight was only a modest commercial and critical success, but is a cult classic in the 9/11 ‘truth movement’ because it appears to predict the attacks. This week we analyse the film, its apparent predictive qualities, its commentary on the 1993 WTC...

Spy Culture - 2017-08-23 - Original post - cached version

In our latest film review Aaron, Uncle and I dissect the blockbuster Kong: Skull Island (in typically anarchic fashion). We talk about different kinds of monster movies, the film's anti-war message and what to expect from the MonsterVerse going forward. We also touch on the Vietnamese...

Spy Culture - 2017-08-20 - Original post - cached version
What connects Al Qaeda to the Pentagon’s Entertainment Liaison Offices? Perhaps unsurprisingly, the answer is Ali Mohamed – the triple agent who was Al Qaeda’s main terrorist trainer. This week we look at two films and a documentary to illustrate these connections and examine how they were...
Spy Culture - 2017-08-16 - Original post - cached version

After numerous requests I have uploaded (most of) the documents we used to write National Security Cinema in one handy zip file so that people don't have to search around all over this site to find them. This pack of over 4000 pages includes office diary reports from the military...

Spy Culture - 2017-08-14 - Original post - cached version

Kevin Gosztola interviewed me for Unauthorized Disclosure about National Security Cinema. This was a different kind of interview, as many of Kevin's questions and comments were about why it matters that the CIA, Pentagon and other agencies are influencing Hollywood scripts.

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Spy Culture - 2017-08-13 - Original post - cached version
In this month's subscriber-only podcast we explore the censorship of the one of the world's biggest film franchises - James Bond. The Bond movies have been subject to both moral/cultural censorship by the British Board of Film Classification, and political censorship by the Pentagon's...

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