By M.K. Styllinski
“All these people that run studios – they go to Washington, they hang around with senators, they hang around with CIA directors, and everybody’s on board.”
A rather infamous military unit with a less than all-American, apple pie history has been assigned to implement the directives of the US Army’s Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (Airborne), or USACAPOC (A). The umbrella unit for Psychological Operations (PSYOPS) the unit is known to have been deployed in Central America, Afghanistan and the Balkans and is currently authorized to use computer network attacks, psychological activities and deception, as well as facilities and staff of the military global public affairs apparatus that are now “officially” mandated. Control of the Internet, the development of electronic warfare against disobedient media, and the control of commercial satellites are also part of its remit.
In March 2000 the independent web journal Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting published the story from the French Intelligence newsletter and the Dutch newspaper Trouw that several officers from the PSYOPS unit at Fort Bragg were allowed to work at CNN with more than 1,500 unconfirmed instances. The story received little coverage.
In the 1980s, officers from the 4th Army PSYOPS group staffed the National Security Council’s Office of Public Diplomacy (OPD), where stories were planted in the US media in order to strengthen and support Reagan’s controversial Central American policies. An investigation by the congressional General Accounting Office found that OPD had engaged in “prohibited, covert propaganda activities,” and as the Iran-Contra scandal broke and the subsequent investigations that followed, the office was eventually shut down. However, the 4th PSYOPS unit is still very much in operation and with, it seems, a new lease of life. Yet another example of splitting apart essentially one military into smaller and smaller divisions, the very concept of PSYOPS has now been outsourced to various companies networked with think-tanks, mercenaries, private armies and the burgeoning securities business.
On May 1st 2002, in a premature display of bravado, President George W. Bush honoured the gung-ho premise of the movie Top Gun by swaggering across the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and posed for photographers. Photos of Bush with a “thumbs up” sign appeared in magazines and internet sites. One could almost hear the cheesy rendition of the movie’s soundtrack: “highway to the danger-zone.” Better still, we could buy a George Bush doll in authentic “Elite Force Aviator” attire for the bargain basement price of $39.99! What price the life of Iraqi civilians? A plastic “George Bush” for American kids and cluster bombs for Iraqi children six thousand miles away.
The Top Gun type mentality along with all the other gun-slinger clichés are on show here. Osama and Saddam were the designated villains and the Middle East as the town that was only big enough for Bush and his magnificent seven. It remained to be seen whether Bush Jr. would ride off into a desert sunset with his less than stable spoils or ransack the next town as self-appointed sheriff. In any event, the Neo-Conservative administration availed itself of one of the most potent moulders of our perceptions: Movies.
The entertainment industry has long since been the tool of successive shadow administrations and affiliated “think-tanks.” The CIA secretly subsidizes many authors, media critics and journalists via private foundations and front organizations which are indirectly or directly linked to the Hollywood industry. The present propaganda machine has advanced this medium into a potent weapon of subliminal yet often ham-fisted mass programming to a greater degree than ever before. For instance, did you ever wonder why there was a steady flurry of war movies spear-headed by Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan in 1998? From 2000 to 2002 there was a tangible increase in war film production both in the cinema and on T.V. reaching a peak prior to 9/11 including: Windtalkers, Black hawk Down, U-571, Band of Brothers (T.V.) The Patriot, We Were Soldiers, K-19, Hart’s War, Behind Enemy Lines, to name but only a few. The pièce de résistance of the most blatant movie propaganda came in the form of Jerry Bruckheimer’s epic Pearl Harbour (2001) where the US rewrote history in true “Forest Gump” style. This latter movie was designed to elicit the response of “America under attack” and the accompanying mass expression of righteous indignation that was required just prior to the modern day version of Pearl Harbour: the September 11 attacks.
Since 9/11, more than one third of Hollywood productions have been war movies designed to whip up patriotic fervour and associated fear mongering. The Sum of All Fears directed by Phil Alden Robinson, and released in 2002 is a case in point. A group of terrorists get their hands on a nuclear device which they explode in a US city, hoping to start a war with Russia. It received the endorsement and support of both the Pentagon and the CIA since Russia is set to become the bogey man for a new cold war in the sights of Anglo-American strategists. 
Spawned from the Fox News network and syndicated worldwide, the hugely successful 2001 – 2010 US TV series “24” was an example of Neo-Conservative propaganda at its most obvious. Jack Bauer, Played by Keifer Sutherland is an agent of the Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU) foiling dastardly plots by Al-Qaeda during a 24hr day. The series’ depiction and celebration of torture, terror plots falling from the sky on a daily basis and the negative portrayal of all Muslims did create its fair share of criticism but its success all but drowned out dissenting voices. The heavy emphasis on torture as an ideal solution was criticised by human rights activists, academics and even military officials who were apparently concerned that US soldiers were imitating the torture techniques depicted in the show.  (Somehow I think that was already going on before Kiefer came along).
Though sprinkled with plotlines that depict evil CIA turncoats or nasty oil men financing terrorist acts, the overwhelming narrative of the series was supporting the idea of a War on Terror and the gallant protection of the Homeland under siege. After all, the fear required for the terror hoax to work means that the mass mind must believe that there are terrorists crawling out of the cracks in one’s loft and settling in for the night under your children’s beds and loitering with intent on every street corner. The overall answer to all this terrorism is that you must fight fire with fire and violate the U.S. Constitution, suspend Habeas Corpus and follow the dictates of your beloved government. Most of all, be afraid of Al-Qaeda and Osama as the greatest threat to the American way of life. Gallant Mr. Bauer, the lead character, killed 112 people in the first five seasons of the show confirming a distinctly American idea of act first and think about the consequences much later – if at all. (Or better still, outsource someone else to do it for you.) 
How perceptions filtered through entertainment sanctions otherwise brutal and inhuman assaults on human beings can best be summarised by ex-president Bill Clinton who stated in an interview that while he did not feel there was a place for torture in US policy he nonetheless gave the practice a blessing to carried out covertly because: “If you’re the Jack Bauer person, you’ll do whatever you do and you should be prepared to take the consequences.”  This is exactly how the mass population justifies state-mandated behaviour. The latter is largely based on ignorance whereas the former is sourced from an Establishment perception that “the end justifies the means.” Presumably, this would include a scene from season 1 where Jack Bauer patriotically decapitates a villain’s head with a hacksaw. Drawn from the CIA handbook perhaps?
In June 2006, 24 cast and crew members met with U.S. government officials to run PR for the War on Terror. Half the Bush administration rolled up to the televised event so that they could heap praise and adoration on the show for displaying dedication to the cause of protecting the Homeland. Arch-Zionist Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, right-wing talk show host Rush Limbaugh and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas were some of the Neo-Conservative luminaries to rub shoulders with their fantasy counterparts. Even Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld were grinning like cheshire cats probably not understanding what it was they were meant to be praising other than it was good PR. It is unlikely that will we see a clearer display of self-congratulatory blend of entertainment and government policy than at this Heritage foundation sponsored event. 
En masse, some of these films may have played a minor role in moulding the psyche of this troubled nation, just as they did during the intense paranoia of the cold war era. They may serve to engender a sense of patriotism, and an erroneous star spangled heroism that inflates the national pride, whilst creating the need for an emotional outlet. If the democrats are afraid to speak out against the present erosion of civil liberties for fear of not supporting the troops (most of whom are demoralised and utterly desperate to return home) then the same can be said of the public at large where the herd mentality can be at its strongest involving God, the military, and the beloved home soil. In this sense, Hollywood is US culture.
By the same token, the deification of the movie market ensures that it is not simply a way to relax and enjoy our leisure time – they have become the incessant analgesic and anaesthetic to our own imagination and creativity; numbing our cognitive abilities with bland, iconic formulas for living; programming trite solutions for love and relating; substituting voyeurism, violence and titillation for high quality entertainment which has the potential to cultivate true understanding and greater awareness. Once we rely more and more on the buffering arena of entertainment we become progressively open to the subtle tinkering of our already pliable emotions. It seems this objective fact has not been lost on politicians and it’s military.
BBC News picked up on this stratagem in a report from October 2001. We discover that US intelligence specialists sought in secret, “advice on handling terrorist attacks from Hollywood film-makers.” According to the trade paper Variety “a discussion group between movie and military representatives was held at the University of Southern California…” And further: “The group is said to have been set up by the US Army to discuss future terrorist activity in the wake of the attacks of 11 September.” Regardless of the wisdom of consulting Hollywood for advice on anything let alone military tactics, is this not rather strange for such a plan of action to take place barely a month after the 9/11 attacks? Unless, that is, it represented a single stage within a long-term strategy. The piece continues: “Among those reported to have been involved were Die Hard screenwriter Steven E.De Souza and Joseph Zito, director of Delta Force One and Missing in Action. Other, more conventional, feature makers were also said to have been present, including Randal Kleiser, who made Grease.” 
Perhaps the military will dance and sing their way into Syria? If only.
The fact that military intelligence are considering the advice of B-movie writers and directors is disturbing enough, it becomes especially worrisome when we consider the bizarre reversal of those that are in the business of killing, looking for advice from those who present killing as sure-fire entertainment. It surely becomes apparent that such an exercise would prove a potential asset if they were considering how to capitalize on future terrorist attacks along with the associated emotional manipulation that could be carried out within such scenarios. As a Variety spokesman mentions: “the entertainment industry can offer expertise in understanding plot and character, as well as advice on scenario training.” Sound familiar? Evidence strongly suggests, not only did members of Bush-Cheney administration know about the imminent attack on the Twin towers, there was also substantial circumstantial and solid empirical evidence that this may have been carefully crafted within certain factions of the Anglo-American Establishment. In other words, 9/11 was largely manufactured to achieve ideological and political goals most of which we are now witnessing.
Finally, the end piece of the report allows us to read between the lines:
The US Army is also behind the university’s [of Southern California] Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT). The ICT calls upon the resources and talents of the entertainment industry and computer scientists to help with virtual reality scenario simulation. Variety reported that the ICT’s creative director James Korris confirmed that the meetings between the film-makers and the US Army were taking place. However, the paper added that Mr Korris had refused to give details as to what specific recommendations had been made to the US government. 
Obviously more than his job’s worth.
The above piece is only the tip of the iceberg. Rather than the Army seeking advice it is far more likely a case of the US military offering their services (military hardware, locations etc.) in return for entraining the public with propaganda. When we tie this in with the NSA classified surveillance and PSYOPS technology that is far in advanced of anything we see in the market place then such pooling of entertainment utilities to bolster this same insider technology is not at all far-fetched. But more importantly, it becomes another tool by which the unconscious of the mass mind can be manipulated with relative ease.
The power of Hollywood imagery is seldom debated. To the conscious mind movie symbols do not register but to the subconscious they are clear commands drawn from decades of psychology and mind control studies. When the mind is in a fearful or excited state it is wide open for re-programming. Thousands of films and video games are currently bombarding human consciousness with the idea that an outside threat comes from an evil terrorist that openly announces themselves. The hero archetype is wheeled in to defeat the enemy because the public – ordinary men and women – are always powerless and have to place their hopes, dreams and wishes onto an authority figure. And authority is in state government which will sometimes have to discard the rule of law in order to save society from the evil doers. This theme was seen most clearly in the 2008 film Dark Knight, the second installment in the Batman trilogy and one of the most successful films in history. It was also replete with propaganda messages.
We have Bruce Wayne, secretive banker industrialist by day, who is the Batman by night desperately trying to save Gotham City from the evil Joker seeking to destabilise society and reduce the city to chaos. The Joker is anarchist, non-conformist, anti-corporate protagonist and so of course, he has to be a psychopathic terrorist who hates freedom. Batman is “forced” to fight fire with fire when the law becomes corrupted and no longer a viable tool for civic emancipation. By developing a system to hack into cell phones and hijacking audio microphone systems they are used as a vast sonar system that would produce a 3D surveillance view of the city. The virtual Christ figure of the Dark Knight is able to save the city but not before violating everyone’s rights through warrantless spying to tackle the ubiquitous presence of the so-called terrorists, exactly what the Bush and Obama administrations continue to do. In other words, dear old Bat man is the Established order and the unjustly vilified government:
We, the US government have sacrificed so much and been attacked for eroding civil liberties and creating a police state…But it was only ever for your protection…Look at Batman. Can’t you understand his predicament? Can you therefore not understand what we must do?
The traditionally spook-ridden Wall St. Journal unsurprisingly picked up on this theme and reinforced the line: The Dark Knight is “a paean of praise to the fortitude and moral courage that has been shown by George W. Bush in this time of terror and war,” where he: “sometimes has to push the boundaries of civil rights to deal with an emergency, certain that he will re-establish those boundaries when the emergency is past.”  It’s all the most abject nonsense of course. The government is misunderstood all right but not for the reasons it would like you to believe. And the movies play their back up role in shaping mass consciousness, suitably wide open over tubs of pop-corn.
The US has been in a state of emergency since September 2001 and there is no sign that there will be any return to pre-911 legislation – quite the opposite. Writer David S. Goyer stated that the primary theme of The Dark Knight is “escalation.” This fits very well with the idea of “order meeting chaos” and the creation of suitable bogeymen to ensure such “order” remains in the hands of traditional authority figures be it the saviour of comic heros or your friendly put upon cop and government official. Revolution is also required in order to deliver the punishment from the Big Daddy state which is then able to impose further draconian laws on its populace as a response to such instability. But to do that you need to create mythical enemies that keep the public in a state of fear so that the order can be strengthened in times of engineered chaos. We must be encouraged to love our servitude and understand that the curtailment to liberty and freedom are only for our long-term benefit. The super-heroes are in fact the authority of the state protecting the powerless and enfeebled children under its care. Government should at all times be supported.
Since the Second World War we are now observing a “bleed-through” of such experimentation across all intelligence and military endeavours which must necessarily include the moulding of the population through all means at their disposal. Or in the words of one President Abraham Lincoln: “Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment nothing can fail. Without it nothing can succeed. He who moulds opinion is greater than he who enacts the laws.” And when you have control of both the laws and all possible outlets for propaganda then public opinion is effectively the clay that is permanently on the potter’s wheel. The waters of our sedentary lifestyles on the one hand and the ever-increasing storms of hardship on the other act to keep the clay manageable and open to “problem-reaction-solution” scenarios such as the rightly dramatic but Hollywood laden overtones of the twin towers attack.
 The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives by Zbigniew Brzezinski Published by Basic books, 1997: “For America, the chief geopolitical prize is Eurasia… Now a non-Eurasian power is preeminent in Eurasia – and America’s global primacy is directly dependent on how long and how effectively its preponderance on the Eurasian continent is sustained.” (p.30)
“America’s withdrawal from the world or because of the sudden emergence of a successful rival – would produce massive international instability. It would prompt global anarchy.” (p.30)
“Two basic steps are thus required: first, to identify the geostrategically dynamic Eurasian states that have the power to cause a potentially important shift in the international distribution of power and to decipher the central external goals of their respective political elites and the likely consequences of their seeking to attain them;… second, to formulate specific U.S. policies to offset, co-opt, and/or control the above…” (p.40)
“To put it in a terminology that harkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires, the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together.” (p.40)
“Henceforth, the United States may have to determine how to cope with regional coalitions that seek to push America out of Eurasia, thereby threatening America’s status as a global power.” (p.55)
[Referring to an area he calls the “Eurasian Balkans” and a 1997 map in which he has circled the exact location of the current conflict – describing it as the central region of pending conflict for world dominance] “Moreover, they [the Central Asian Republics] are of importance from the standpoint of security and historical ambitions to at least three of their most immediate and more powerful neighbors, namely Russia, Turkey and Iran, with China also signaling an increasing political interest in the region. But the Eurasian Balkans are infinitely more important as a potential economic prize: an enormous concentration of natural gas and oil reserves is located in the region, in addition to important minerals, including gold.” (p.124)
 ‘Normalizing Torture on “24”’. by Adam Green The New York Times, May 22, 2005. | “’24’ is fictional. So is the idea that torture works’. By Ben Macintyre, The Times, April 23 2009.
 ‘What a difference a day makes’ By Stephanie Merritt, The Observer, July 2, 2006.
 ‘Torture like Jack Bauer’s would be OK, Bill Clinton says’. By Michael McAuliff, New York Daily October 1, 2007.
 ‘Calling On Hollywood’s Terrorism ‘Experts’’ By Paul Farhi, Washington Post, June 24, 2006.
 ‘Army turns to Hollywood for advice’ BBC News, October 8, 2001.
 ‘What Bush and Batman Have in Common’ by Andrew Klavan, The Wall Street Journal. July 25, 2008