Wednesday, March 29, 2023

The Great Game - An Act of Man, God or Magic?




“The day they blew the brains of the king
Thousands were watching, no one saw a thing
It happened so quickly, so quick, by surprise
Right there in front of everyone’s eyes
Greatest magic trick ever under the sun
Perfectly executed, skillfully done…..”

                 – Bob Dylan – “Murder Most Foul”

I’d like to rephrase the argument from simply conspiracy or not, to whether the president was murdered as the result of the spontaneous actions of a deranged lone-nut without any discernable motive, or was he killed by a well planned, practiced and successfully executed covert intelligence operation that was designed to decieve?

Instead of pointing fingers at suspects or trying to identify the actual killers of President Kennedy, forget the names of the shooter(s) or even the mastermind of the operation, although their names will eventually emerge in this study, we will assume for the sake of argument, that the assassination was an act of espionage, and try to describe how the murder took place by identifying and outlining the intelligence network that was behind the assassination and responsible for the murder.  

In order to understand what really occurred at Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas at 12:30 pm CST on November 22, 1963, you must understand other, similar Deep Political events, (as Peter Dale Scott describes them)  and it is easy to assimulate aspects of the Kennedy assassination with Watergate and Iran-Contra, since some of the characters participated in all of them.

To add to related deep political events I would like to include uncovering the identity of the Third Man - Kim Philby and the Cambridge Spy Ring among those deep political events.. While it may seem like a step away from Dealey Plaza, some of the characters are also involved in the assassination drama, and the gradual revelations in the unfolding of that drama provides a means of understanding the assassination and how it should be understood.

One of the best things about looking in hindsight at such deep political events as Watergate, Iran-Contra, 9-11 and the Cambridge Spy Ring is that the rear view mirror clearly illustrates the Crafts of Intelligence – how covert operations work – the gears in the mechanism,  the tricks of the trade.  These crafts, trade secrets  of espionage, can and should be applied to the assassination of President Kennedy as they certainly fit.

Most of the general public only know of such things, not from reading Allen Dulles’ “Craft of Intelligence,”  Sun Tzu’s “Art of War,” or Edward Litwack’s “Coup d’etat – A Practical Handbook,” but from reading spy fiction of Ian Fleming, John LeClare, and now Ben MacIntyrie author of Spy Among Friends, and seeing the major motion pictures that are based on them.

In comparing the fairy tales of the films to the real life adventures of spys we can see how the real things actually work, and that has been done for us by Frederick P. Hitz in his book “The Great Game – The Myths and Reality of Espionage.” (Vintage,2005).

As Hitz points out, the bizarre fantasies portrayed in the 007 films are actually overshadowed  by the real, though still secret events.

You should get college credit for reading Hitz’s book, and indeed, it began as a freshman seminar at Princeton, where Hitz is a professor.

Hitz begins his study of spy fiction with Rudyard Kipling’s "Kim," - the boy-spy, as I do, with the quote – “When he comes to the Great Game he must go alone – alone, .... at peril of his head…. a lust to go abroad at the risk of their lives and discover news – ….These....ì are very few; and of these few, not more than ten are of the best….We of the Game are beyond protection. If we die, we die. Our names are blotted from the book…When everyone is dead the Great Game is finished. Not before.”

As Kim Philby, probably the greatest and best known spy after James Bond, was named after Kipling’s Kim, so it is appropriate to use Philby's defination of espionage - "the collection of, secret information from foreign countries by illegal means.”

What is “secret information” or secret intelligence," as it os now caklled? Well, it could be anything, but Sherman Kent, of the CIA’s Board of National Estimates says, “it ought to be information requiring ‘action!’”

So to be of value, secret intelligence must be “actionable,” and requiring a move on the Chessboard of what is called the Great Game.

To Kipling’s Kim it was secret knowledge of the enemy’s plan, on which the destiny of a battle would be determined.

To those who arranged the killing of the president it was no secret, simply that he would be traveling in an open vehicle and a suitable target for snipers.

But for real secret intelligence – and it’s a BIG but, you have to recognize it when you see, hear or stumble upon it, even if it is just a tidbit of information deep in a story.

In his CIA lectures to prospective secret agents David Atlee Phillips describes recognizing such intelligence, by telling a joke – “Grandmother’s on the Roof.”  It’s the story of two brothers, one of whom comes to America as an immigrant and receives a letter from his brother telling him his beloved cat went up on the roof, fell off and died. Writing  back he says not to tell him such bad news all at once but gradually break it to him. The next letter merely said, “Grandmother’s on the roof.”

And that’s what it’s like to recognize key secret intelligence.

In this light, the details of the president’s assassination are espionage secrets that must be kept, and the only way of discerning them, other than being informed by a participant, is to utilize the Counter-Intelligence procedures that uncovered the Third Man, the Cambridge Spy Ring, Watergate, Iran-Contra, etc. 

As Hitz points out, “In the popular mind, espionage most often connotes human source intelligence, or HUMINT,….it is information obtained from human agents, or spies, usually under an arrangement in with the agents participate wittingly or unwittingly.”

Today, in addition to HUMIT intelligence there is SIGNET intelligence, or information picked up from wiretaps, phone taps, satellites, etc., and photo and film intelligence, that the CIA ran from the National Photo Interpretation Center (NPIC) but is now referred to as the Geospatial intelligence.

The Great Game is often called the second oldest profession.  As Allen Dulles mentions in the very beginning of his book “Craft of Intelligence,” such crafts are not new, but have been used for centuries, and quotes Sun Tzu from his book, “The Art of War,” in which five types of secret agents are defined.

There are native, inside, living, expendable and double agents, each with its own style. Native being someone of the area you are working in, living being an agent who goes there and comes back with intelligence, expendable is one who is given false information to give to the enemy and may not come back, and double agents work for both sides.  I will name individual characters in the JFK assassination story that fits each of these roles.

Sun Tzu says that when all are working together at the same time it is known as “The Divine Skein,” with skein being a net, and the agents forming a network, a term that is still used today.  And it is “divine,” because to those not involved, and sometimes including those involved, it appears to be an act of God.

And there was distributed in the Cuban community of Florida shortly before the assassination that said “an Act of God” would be good for the Cubans.

Some countries did conduct counter-intelligence investigations into the assassination of President Kennedy, and all of them, except in the USA, discarded the notion of the deranged lone nut.

In their book Fairwell America, French Intelligence officers Philippe de Vosjoli, M. Andre Ducret wrote, “President Kennedy’s assassination was the work of magicians. It was a stage trick complete with actor’s accessories and props. And when the curtain fell the actors and even the scenery, disappeared. But the magicians were not illusionists, but professionals, artists in their own right.”

Friday, March 24, 2023



Photos of Kim Philby, Nicholas Elliot and the Spy Among Friends cover. 

After writing my first impressions of the first part of the new British TV series Spy Among Friends, I’ve seen two more installments and have learned a few things.

I’ve since learned that John Newman’s new book Uncovering Popov's Mole contains many more details on these subjects, and look forward to reading it.

 I thought I had read most of the classic works on Kim Philby and the Cambridge spy ring, and have to catch up by reading Newman’s book as well as the Ben MacIntyre's book the TV serial is based on.

I’ve also learned that the English literary giant Malcolm Muggeridge has a chapter devoted to Kim Philby in his autobiographical memoirs, and Muggeridge may have been reporting to Philby.

Muggeridge in turn, was a British agent who knew and probably was the MI6 case officer for German Barron Werner Von Albenslaben, who owned the Safari land hunting grounds in Africa and was with Dallas oilman D. H. Byrd, the owner of the Texas School Book Depository (TSBD), at the time of the assassination.

As one of the main issues brought to the forefront by this story is the use of journalists and writers as spies, I also recalled an article I wrote with John Judge many years ago that also delves into this subject in detail – “Bottlefed by Oswald’s NANA,” that I will update presently.

Was Oswald Bottle-fed by NANA? | COPA   ]

The CIA’s use of journalists and media outlets was one of what they called “The Family Jewels,” along with the use of clergy, the mafia-CIA plots to kill Castro, and MKULTRA - the use of drugs and hypnosis to control subjects.

Not a new idea, the British often used journalists as spies and the media as a cover, and have been doing it for years, - generations.

Rudyard Kipling is a good place to start. Kipling was an adventurer who wrote marvelous stories about his travels, many about India when it was a British colony – “Jungle Book,” of which a dozen movies have been made, “The Man Who Would Be King,” that starred Michael Caine and Sean Connery and featured Kipling himself as a character, along with “Kim,” the story of the boy-spy who Kim Philby was named after.

The British literary circle included Muggeridge, Somerset Maugham (“The Razor’s Edge), Graham Green (“Our Man in Havana,”), Noel Coward, Cyril Connolly, and the brothers Fleming, Ian of 007 fame.

By the end of WWII the intelligence agencies didn’t just recruit reporters and writers, but went right to the top and made deals with the owners, publishers and broadcasters, as Carl Bernstein detailed in his landmark article in Rolling Stone magazine.

In the Spy Among Friends, it is quite curious how Ian Fleming is brought into the picture. Nicholas Elliot is seen entering a large indoor swimming pool room, where Fleming is monitoring a scuba diver at the bottom of the pool. When he surfaces and takes off his scuba gear and wet suit, he is dressed in a wrinkle free tuxedo, much like the seen in Goldfinger where Sean Connery blows up an oil refinery with a time bomb and is at a black tie party when it happens.

Ian Fleming and Nicholas Elliot were much closer associates than that, but Spy Among Friends is not Fleming’s story but Elliot’s, though there is another Fleming connection worth mentioning.  When the Philby and Cambridge spy ring was in the news, Fleming visited his wife in the hospital where she was having their son Casper, after wards paying his respects to an old friend, Whitney Straight.

Michael Stright’s older brother Whitney reflects the Whitney family’s fortune, who was a trans-continental playboy while a student at Cambridge – the first American to drive in a Grand Prix auto race, WWII pilot, and with his brother Michael, owned the American political commentary magazine The New Republic.

According to one of his official biographers, Fleming stopped to talk to Whitney Straight about Philby – and apparantly how the British MI-6 should deal with such a catastrophic disaster as having an enemy agent in their midst for so long.

Once Michael Straight came clean, the whole Cambridge cell was exposed, at first only to those in the inner-circle, like Elliot and Fleming, but eventually we all got to know the sored story.

And while all of Fleming’s official biographers who knew him and used to work with him say that he began to write the 007 spy novels on a whim, “to take his mind off his impending marriage,” I would contend that Fleming intended to portray the British Secret Service as he would like it perceived, and he began to write the 007 novels to boost the public’s view and the morale of the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS).

While writing his novels over the course of his two months (January and February) in Jamaica, his first story Casino Royale, involves a women – Vesper Lynn, ostensibly an ally who it turns out, was a real snake who worked for the opposition, and is killed in the end. 

It’s also peculiar how he entwines the names and characters of people he knew into the stories, beginning with James Bond himself, the Philadelphia ornithologist, Cambridge Pitt Club member and author of the book “Birds of the West Indies,” from where Fleming took the name for his 007 hero. Bond’s boo, he said, was kept on his breakfast table, and James Bond seemed to be the simple and bland name for his secret agent.

Other characters in Fleming’s books include CIA philanthropic bursar Cummings Catherwood, who is portrayed as a villian, and Felix Leiter, whose cover as a jazz and classical musicologist was taken from Henry Pleasants, a former music critic for the Philadelphia Bulletin, New York and London Times.

Well, I await a copy of John Newman’s Uncovering Popov’s Mole that I will read and review, as well as Malcolm Muggeridge’s chapter on Philby in his autobio. I will update the article I did with John Judge on these topics – Bottlefed by Oswald’s NANA - that I think clearly indicates the importance of the Kim Philby and the Spy Among Friends in the story of President Kennedy’s murder and how similar tradecrafts must be used to understand both. 

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Spy Among Friends at Dealey Plaza


                               Kim Philby - William Harvey 

Spy Among Friends is a six part TV series about double-agent Kim Philby that premiered in England last year is now being featured on HBO.  Kim Philby and the saga of the Cambridge Spy Ring has some JFK assassination connections that I will get into but don't expect them to be part of this program. 

While it is being billed as a spy suspense drama based on a true story it’s actually boring, though the subject matter is worth knowing about, especially those aspects of the story that come into play in the Kennedy assassination chronicles.  

Kim Philby, one of a half-dozen known to be a part of what is called the Cambridge Spy ring, is the key figure in this drama, but he takes a back seat to his good friend and colleague Nicholas Elliot.

Philby, Donald MacLean, Guy Burgess, Anthony Blunt, John Carncross and probably a few others were all Cambridge University students in the 1930s who were recognized as liberals with a socialist bent who were recruited by a Soviet KGB agent, some say a Catholic priest. All of them were instructed to discard their communist ideology, go underground for a few years, and then get jobs in the government, and all succeeded in that task.

Philby was probably the most successful as he got a job in the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) and made his way up the MI-6 Military Intelligence foreign branch, where he was even considered for a possible directorship.

During WW2 Philby and other SIS officers helped train Americans who were in Colonel William Donovan’s Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the espionage and sabotage branch of the US Army.

Philby’s main student was James Jesus Angleton, who like many OSS officers, came out of an Ivy League University (Yale), and Philby indoctrinated Angleton on the basics of Counter-Intelligence and spy catching.  After their lessons, or perhaps during them, Philby introduced Angleton to the three-martini lunch, something of a James Bond -007 – “Shaken not stirred” cliche.

Colonel Bill Donovan assigned Angleton to Italy where he worked for the OSS for most of the war, and afterwards, when the CIA was formed, like most OSS officers, he became part of the CIA and was made chief of the CIA’s Counter-Intelligence directorate, a position he kept for over two decades.

When Philby was appointed the SIS-MI6 liaison officer to the CIA 1949-51, he resumed his association with Angleton and the three-martini lunches, some of which also included William Harvey,  Harvey’s secretary Maggie Crane, Gordon Campbell, J.C. King and other high level CIA officers. Maggie Crane told Bradley Ayers that she sat on the floor when she drank martinis because that’s where she always ended up.

Eventually Philby’s Cambridge school mate and fellow spy Guy Burgess was sent to America on assignment and Philby invited Burgess to live with him. Unlike most of the Cambridge spy ring that were members of the Apostles secret society, Burgess, and the real James Bond, were members of the Cambridge Pitt Club, whose main interests were said to be hunting and fishing, as well as drinking. 

And boy, did Burgess like to drink. He was also a notorious homosexual and had a tendency to get into all sorts of trouble. One evening the three martini for lunch crowd met one night for a party at Philby’s house, some bringing their wives.

There the party got out of hand, not only from the drinking, but because of a quick sketch Burgess made of William Harvey’s wife, an unflattering cartaculture that was not very flattering, that enraged Harvey and sparked him to strangle Burgess, needing three men to pull them apart.

When the MI-5 - FBI counter-spies were beginning to close in on Burgess and MacLean, who was a high level  British State Department official, they were tipped off and fled England together, only to resurface in Moscow. Only a few  top Secret Intelligence Service officers knew they were on to Burgess and MacLean, and so the investigation began as to the identity of who they called “The Third Man,” with most of those familiar with the subjects focusing on Kim Philby.

William Harvey was one of the first to brand Philby a KGB Double-agent and the Third Man, but his suspicions were not immediately vindicated.

Philby denied the charges, called a press conference, and was supported by many of his friends, including fellow MI-6 officer Nicholas Elliot.

Elliot was also close friends with Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond -007 novels, that included numerous characters based on real people known to Fleming including James Bond, an ornithologist and Cambridge man as well as the author of The Birds of the West Indies. Bond was actually at the Bay of Pigs birdwatching shortly before the invasion.

JFKcountercoup: The Real James Bond - A True Story of Identity Theft, Avian Intrigue and Ian Fleming

Elliot also ran the secret operation to have scuba diver Buster Crabb  inspect the hull of the Russian ship that delivered Premier Khrushchev to London for a parley. Crabb never returned from that mission, his body was never found, and Nicholas Elliot couldn’t explain how or why the operation failed.

Although Philby did resign from the SIS when  he was accused of being the Third Man, he got a job as a journalist and foreign correspondent based in Beirut, Lebanon, where he lived and worked for years.

In the meantime newly elected President Kennedy appointed Michael Straight to head the National Foundation for the Arts, a prestigious position in the administration. Michael Straight was from a wealthy family, and like his older brother, was educated at Cambridge in England, where he made the acquaintance of Burgsss in the Pitt Club, Philby and Anthony Blunt, all in the Cambridge spy circle.

When he received his appointment to join the Kennedy administration, Straight turned down the position, confessing that when a student at Cambridge, Anthony Blunt attempted to recruit him into the spy ring, that he knew Philby was also a part of.

The British SIS was informed of Straight’s confession, and confronted now Sir Anthony Blunt, surveyor of the Queen’s art, who was stripped of his knighthood but his role as a KGB spy was kept secret for another dozen or so years.

There was a debate in the SIS as what to do about Philby, and while some wanted him arrested immediately, Nicholas Elliott was instead sent to Beirut to confront Philby and get a confession, which he did. Since he wasn’t immediately arrested, Philby took the opportunity to skip town, and was sneaked out of Beirut by his Armenia gypsy friends. Resurfacing in Moscow, Philby began to write his memoirs, published as My Silent War.

And that is what this TV series Spy Among Friends is about – the personal friendship between Philby and Elliott.

In his memoirs, Philby recounts a meeting with Frank Wisner, then the head of the CIA’s covert operations branch, where Wisner explained to Philby how the CIA secretly funded their activities through ostensibly philanthropic foundations that were set up by riich and patriotic Americans.

In their book The Invisible Government, David Wise and Thomas Ross included a list of many of the CIA’s foundations, including the Philadelphia based Catherwood Fund.

[  ]

A perusal of the newspaper clips that mention Cummins Catherwood and his foundation the projects that the CIA was associated with clearly stand out, especially  the Cuban Aid Relief (CAR), that was set up to provide assistance to Cuban professionals who had relocated to the United States.    ]

One of the Cuban professionals who received assistance from the CIA through the Catherwood Fund was Julio Fernandez, Sr., who published a newspaper in Cuba before he came to America, where he got a job teaching Spanish in a high school in central Pennsylvania.

[     ]

Shortly after the assassination Robert Steel of Altoon, Pennsylvania walked into the local Pennsylvania State Police barracks and reported that his sister had found some papers that included the names Ruby and Lee Oswald. They investigated and Mrs. Margret Hoover explained that she found the papers in her backyard, and showed them to her grown daughter, speculating that Ruby and Lee Oswald were women her recently divorced husband was seeing. Then she realized that the papers were blown into her yard from a neighbor who was burning papers in his backyard.

Both women said they saw the names Ruby and Lee Oswald and the Silver Slipper, and an AMTRACK train ticket to Florida, among other things, so the State Troopers went to the neighbor’s house and interviewed Mr. Julio Fernandez, Sr., the Cuban newspaper publisher in exile, who said he was a staunch anti-Communist and didn’t know Ruby or Oswald, but did indeed burn some trash in his backyard. The local FBI office also investigated, and Fernandez said the train ticket was from his son, Julio Fernandez, Jr., who was an art student at Penn State University, who traveled to Florida to attend a conference there.

The conference of Cuban journalists at the University of Miami, home of the CIA’s JMWAVE, was co-sponsored by the Catherwood Foundation and the Pan Am Foundation.

And while I believe it was a coincidence, when Julio, Jr. was studying art at Penn State, one of the visiting professors was none other than Sir Anthony Blunt, Surveyor of the Queens Pictures and Art and one of the double-agents in the Cambridge spy ring.

The CIA’s Miami JMWAVE base maintained three commando raider teams, each of which was co-sponsored by a rich and patriotic American millionaire – including mobster John Roselli, industrialist William Pawley, and journalist and wife of the publisher of Time-Life Clare Booth Luce.

Luce later revealed that on the evening of the assassination she received a very late night phone call from the leader of the JMWAVE comanado team she sponsored whose name she gave as Julio Fernandez.  Fernandez told her that one of the anti-Castro Cuban groups he was affiliated with, probably the DRE, had tape recordings of the accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, as well as photos and other documents that confirm Oswald’s Cuban Communist leanings.

US Army Ranger Captain Bradley Ayers, in his book The Zenith Secret, says that Julio Fernandez as the leader of the commado  team that he trained in small boat maneuvering among other things.

While Julio Fernandez is probably a common name in Cuba, it turns up in a number of places in the JFK assassination story. The Julio Fernandez, Sr., Cuban newspaper publisher who burnt his trash in his backyard, including one that mentioned Ruby and Lee Oswald, was probably too old to be the same Julio Fernandez who was a JMWAVE commando team leader who both Clare Booth Luce and Bradley Ayers mentions. But his son, Julio Fernandez, Jr., who attended a conference of Cuban journalists at the University of Miami in the summer of ’63, could fit that bill.

Until the Cuban Missile Crisis (October 1962), all of the JMWAVE commando teams were overseen by the CIA’s William Harvey, who was fired by Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy for ordering his commando teams into Cuba during the Crisis, and was re-assigned to Italy as the CIA’s man in Rome, where James Jesus Angleton worked for the OSS during WW2 and where Clare Booth Luce had served as ambassador.

And it was William Harvey who was one of the first to voice his suspicion that Kim Philby was a KGB Double-agent and the Third Man who tipped off Burgess and MacLean.

It was Harvey’s replacement, Desmond FitzGerald,  as head of the CIA’s Cuban Desk who assumed control over the JMWAVE commando teams in Florida, and it was FitzGerald who informed the Joint Chiefs of Staff that the CIA was undertaking a detailed study of the German military’s July 20, 1944 Valkyrie plot to kill Hitler, that they were going to redirect to Fidel Castro in Cuba.

Just when I thought I had covered all the Cambridge spy ring to Dealey Plaza along came V. Mitrokin, a former KGB archivist who should have known a lot of secrets and wanted to give them up. 

After the CIA turned him down, the British took the bait and where did they send him? To Cambridge of course. There, with the assistance of a professor, they wrote the Mitrokin Files. 

In order to establish his bonafides Mitrokin had to give up something good, like a double agent, and he did, National Security Agency file clerk named Lipka, who by then was retired. After admitting he turned over thousands of NSA documents to the KGB over the course of years, he was arranged before a judge in Pennsylvania, and mentioned that he saw an NSA document that named the real assassin of President Kennedy, that resulted in the judge banging his gavel and calling an end to the hearing.

As he was being taken out of the court a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer asked him what the name was of JFK's real assassin, and he said, Luis Angel Castillo.

Now Castillo deserves his own story, that will be forthcoming if you stay tuned.

JFKcountercoup: Luis Angel Castillo Revisited


FBI Repoert: 124-10187-10208.tif

Now, what needs to be done is a complete review of newspaper articles and CIA records on the Miami conference of Cuban journalists and the dozens of non-profit philanthropic  foundations that were used to funnel funds to covert CIA operations worldwide, as I have done for with the Catherwood Foundation. I would suspect that a review of the Texas based San Jacinto Fund would yield similar results.

I will try to find my copy of The Invisible Government  (1964 – Random House by David Wise and Thomas Ross) and post the list of CIA affiliated foundations, each of which should reveal some Cold War CIA secrets.

In any case, it’s quite clear to me that the assassination of the President at Dealey Plaza must be studied and investigated as a Counter-intelligence operation, much like the way that the Cambridge spies - Philby-Burgess-MacLean and company were eventually identified, and though most of them slipped away, we did learn most of the truth of what they did and how they did it.

I just don’t think Spy Among Friends is interesting enough to explain the tricks of the counter-intelligence trade, though I’ve only seen part one of 6, and it may run for even more instalments. 

Friday, March 10, 2023

U.S. Special Forces Want to Use Deepfake Videos for Psy-Ops


The U.S. government spent years warning deepfakes could destabilize democratic societies.

Sam Biddle
March 6 2023, 12:59 p.m.

U.S. SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND, responsible for some of the country’s most secretive military endeavors, is gearing up to conduct internet propaganda and deception campaigns online using deepfake videos, according to federal contracting documents reviewed by The Intercept.

The plans, which also describe hacking internet-connected devices to eavesdrop in order to assess foreign populations’ susceptibility to propaganda, come at a time of intense global debate over technologically sophisticated “disinformation” campaigns, their effectiveness, and the ethics of their use.

While the U.S. government routinely warns against the risk of deepfakes and is openly working to build tools to counter them, the document from Special Operations Command, or SOCOM, represents a nearly unprecedented instance of the American government — or any government — openly signaling its desire to use the highly controversial technology offensively.

SOCOM’s next generation propaganda aspirations are outlined in a procurement document that lists capabilities it’s seeking for the near future and soliciting pitches from outside parties that believe they’re able to build them.

“When it comes to disinformation, the Pentagon should not be fighting fire with fire,” Chris Meserole, head of the Brookings Institution’s Artificial Intelligence and Emerging Technology Initiative, told The Intercept. “At a time when digital propaganda is on the rise globally, the U.S. should be doing everything it can to strengthen democracy by building support for shared notions of truth and reality. Deepfakes do the opposite. By casting doubt on the credibility of all content and information, whether real or synthetic, they ultimately erode the foundation of democracy itself.”

“When it comes to disinformation, the Pentagon should not be fighting fire with fire.”

Meserole added, “If deepfakes are going to be leveraged for targeted military and intelligence operations, then their use needs to be subject to review and oversight.”

The pitch document, first published by SOCOM’s Directorate of Science and Technology in 2020, established a wish list of next-generation toys for the 21st century special forces commando, a litany of gadgets and futuristic tools that will help the country’s most elite soldiers more effectively hunt and kill their targets using lasers, robots, holographs, and other sophisticated hardware.

Last October, SOCOM quietly released an updated version of its wish list with a new section: “Advanced technologies for use in Military Information Support Operations (MISO),” a Pentagon euphemism for its global propaganda and deception efforts.

The added paragraph spells out SOCOM’s desire to obtain new and improved means of carrying out “influence operations, digital deception, communication disruption, and disinformation campaigns at the tactical edge and operational levels.” SOCOM is seeking “a next generation capability to collect disparate data through public and open source information streams such as social media, local media, etc. to enable MISO to craft and direct influence operations.”

SOCOM typically fights in the shadows, but its public reputation and global footprint loom large. Comprised of the elite units from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force, SOCOM leads the most sensitive military operations of the world’s most lethal nation.

While American special forces are widely known for splashy exploits like the Navy SEALs’ killing of Osama bin Laden, their history is one of secret missions, subterfuge, sabotage, and disruption campaigns. SOCOM’s “next generation” disinformation ambitions are only part of a long, vast history of deception efforts on the part of the U.S. military and intelligence apparatuses.

Special Operations Command, which is accepting proposals on these capabilities through 2025, did not respond to a request for comment.

THOUGH SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND has for years coordinated foreign “influence operations,” these deception campaigns have come under renewed scrutiny. In December, The Intercept reported that SOCOM had convinced Twitter, in violation of its internal policies, to permit a network of sham accounts that spread phony news items of dubious accuracy, including a claim that the Iranian government was stealing the organs of Afghan civilians. Though the Twitter-based propaganda offensive didn’t use deepfakes, researchers found that Pentagon contractors employed machine learning-generated avatars to lend the fake accounts a degree of realism.

Provocatively, the updated capability document reveals that SOCOM wants to boost these internet deception efforts with the use of “next generation” deepfake videos, an increasingly effective method of generating lifelike digital video forgeries using machine learning. Special forces would use this faked footage to “generate messages and influence operations via non-traditional channels,” the document adds.

While deepfakes have largely remained fodder for entertainment and pornography, the potential for more dire applications is real. At the onset of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a shoddy deepfake of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy ordering troops to surrender began circulating on social media channels. Ethical considerations aside, the legality of militarized deepfakes in a conflict, which remains an open question, is not addressed in the SOCOM document.

As with foreign governmental “disinformation” campaigns, the U.S. has spent the past several years warning against the potent national security threat represented by deepfakes. The use of deepfakes to deliberately deceive, government authorities warn regularly, could have a deeply destabilizing effect on civilian populations exposed to them.

At the federal level, however, the conversation has revolved exclusively around the menace foreign-made deepfakes might pose to the U.S., not the other way around. Previously reported contracting documents show SOCOM has sought technologies to detect deepfake-augmented internet campaigns, a tactic it now wants to unleash on its own.

Perhaps as provocative as the mention of deepfakes is the section that follows, which notes SOCOM wishes to finely tune its offensive propaganda seemingly by spying on the intended audience through their internet-connected devices.

Described as a “next generation capability to ‘takeover’ Internet of Things (loT) devices for collect [sic] data and information from local populaces to enable breakdown of what messaging might be popular and accepted through sifting of data once received,” the document says that the ability to eavesdrop on propaganda targets “would enable MISO to craft and promote messages that may be more readily received by local populace.” In 2017, WikiLeaks published pilfered CIA files that revealed a roughly similar capability to hijack into household devices.

The technology behind deepfake videos first arrived in 2017, spurred by a combination of cheap, powerful computer hardware and research breakthroughs in machine learning. Deepfake videos are typically made by feeding images of an individual to a computer and using the resultant computerized analysis to essentially paste a highly lifelike simulacrum of that face onto another.

“The capacity for societal harm is certainly there.”

Once the software has been sufficiently trained, its user can crank out realistic fabricated footage of a target saying or doing virtually anything. The technology’s ease of use and increasing accuracy has prompted fears of an era in which the global public can no longer believe what it sees with its own eyes.

Though major social platforms like Facebook have rules against deepfakes, given the inherently fluid and interconnected nature of the internet, Pentagon-disseminated deepfakes might also risk flowing back to the American homeland.

“If it’s a nontraditional media environment, I could imagine the form of manipulation getting pretty far before getting stopped or rebuked by some sort of local authority,” Max Rizzuto, a deepfakes researcher with the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, told The Intercept. “The capacity for societal harm is certainly there.”

SOCOM’S INTEREST IN deploying deepfake disinformation campaigns follows recent years of international anxiety about forged videos and digital deception from international adversaries. Though there’s scant evidence Russia’s efforts to digitally sway the 2016 election had any meaningful effect, the Pentagon has expressed an interest in redoubling its digital propaganda capabilities, lest it fall behind, with SOCOM taking on a crucial role.

At an April 2018 hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Gen. Kenneth Tovo of the Army Special Operations Command assured the assembled senators that American special forces were working to close the propaganda gap.

“We have invested fairly heavily in our psy-op operators,” he said, “developing new capabilities, particularly to deal in the digital space, social media analysis and a variety of different tools that have been fielded by SOCOM that allow us to evaluate the social media space, evaluate the cyber domain, see trend analysis, where opinion is moving, and then how to potentially influence that environment with our own products.”

While military propaganda is as old as war itself, deepfakes have frequently been discussed as a sui generis technological danger, the existence of which poses a civilizational threat.

At a 2018 Senate Intelligence Committee hearing discussing the nomination of William Evanina to run the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said of deepfakes, “I believe this is the next wave of attacks against America and Western democracies.” Evanina, in response, reassured Rubio that the U.S. intelligence community was working to counter the threat of deepfakes.

The Pentagon is also reportedly hard at work countering the foreign deepfake threat. According to a 2018 news report, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the military’s tech research division, has spent tens of millions of dollars developing methods to detect deepfaked imagery. Similar efforts are underway throughout the Department of Defense.

In 2019, Rubio and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., wrote 11 American internet companies urging them to draft policies to detect and remove deepfake videos. “If the public can no longer trust recorded events or images,” read the letter, “it will have a corrosive impact on our democracy.”

Nestled within the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 was a directive instructing the Pentagon to complete an “intelligence assessment of the threat posed by foreign government and non-state actors creating or using machine-manipulated media (commonly referred to as ‘deep fakes’),” including “how such media has been used or might be used to conduct information warfare.”

Just a couple years later, American special forces seem to be gearing up to conduct the very same.

“It’s a dangerous technology,” said Rizzuto, the Atlantic Council researcher.

“You can’t moderate this tech the way we approach other sorts of content on the internet,” he said. “Deepfakes as a technology have more in common with conversations around nuclear nonproliferation.”


Wednesday, March 8, 2023

U.S. Navy School for Assassins


By Walter H. Bowert, 1978

p. 161 – Chapter Eleven


      The cryptocracy recruited their assassins from among people who had already demonstrated a  violent nature, people who had few reservations about taking human life. No homicidal maniacs were recruited because they could not be controlled. The cryptocracy needed killers who would not murder on impulse, but only upon command.

      Once selected, the assassin candidates were turned over to the military, where, under the guise of “combat readiness” training, they underwent a complete program of conditioning. Graduates of the program would forever after act with ruthless efficiency. They would eliminate local political leaders in a foreign country, or undertake “search and destroy” missions in violation of national and international laws. They would be given the cover that would allow them to enter the Foreign Service, or they would pose as embassy marine guards.

     In July, 1975, the Sunday Times in London quoted a U.S. Navy psychologist who admitted that U.S. Navy Intelligence had taken convicted murderers from military prisons, conditioned them as political assassins, and then placed them in American embassies around the world. This admission came shortly after the Senate Intelligence Committee had scolded the CIA for plotting a number of political assassinations around the world. From the congressional reports, however, one got the feeling that the cryptocracy was being chastised not for the assassinations it had successfully accomplished, but for those which it had attempted, but failed. The attempts on the life of Fidel Castro drew the greatest notice from the congressional committees and the press.

     According to the Sunday Times story, naval psychologist Lt. Comdr. Thomas Narut was assigned to the U.S. Regional Medical Center at Naples, Italy. When he first made public the navy’s part in programing assassins, he was attending a NATO conference in Oslo on “Dimensions of Stress and Anxiety.” In attendance at that conference were 120 psychologists of all descriptions and from many countries. Many of them were involved in research on how to improve man’s ability to cope with stress, but none of them felt compelled, as Narut didn't, to discuss their work so fully or so frankly.

The stated objective of the conference was to exchange information on how soldiers and people in difficult jobs could cope with stress. Dr. Narut’s talk was on “The Use of Symbolic Model and Verbel Intervention in Inducing and Reducing Stress.” His speech began with a plug for the navy. He knew, he said, that many of the scientists present had often encountered problems in their purely scientific research because of the military’s inclination to research that would yield quick and useful results. He sympathized with those who had trouble getting subjects, funds, or both, out of the military from their purely scientific research. But things were different in the navy, he said.

In the navy, Narut bragged, there were plenty of captive personnel who could be used as guinea pigs. In the navy there was a computerized record of each man’s background and psychological profile, so that a quick selection of men with suitable psychological inclinations for experiments could be made. Navy psychologists not only had access to computerized records, but also to psychological tests and background data on a large number of people. In the navy, Narut said, funds were plentiful, and there were no problems with transporting subjects for study to nearly any place in the world. Narut stated proudly that the U.S. Navy provided scientists with the most advanced research facilities in the world.

A Canadian psychologist at the conference later remarked, “Narut’s message was loud and clear – ‘Join the navy and study the world.’”

In his brief discourse, Dr. Narut did no more than hint at the work he had been doing in teaching “combat readiness units” to cope with the stress of killing. Later, however, during private questioning with a small group of listeners (reporter Peter Watson of the Sunday Times, a former psychologist, among them), Narut unfolded the amazing story of the navy’s programming of assassins on an assembly-line basis.

In his mid-thirties, Dr. Narut had just completed his doctoral dissertation on the question of whether certain films provoke anxiety, and whether forcing a man to do irrelevant tasks while watching violent films would help him cope with the anxiety they produced.

When pressed by Watson to explain the details of this kind of conditioning, Narut said that he had worked with “combat readiness units” which included men being programmed for commando-type operations and for undercover placement at U.S. embassies. These, Narut said, were “hit men and assassins” (Narut’s words) made ready to kill in selected countries should the need arise. Dr. Alfred Zitani, an American delegate to the conference, was very surprised by Narut’s disclosure. “Do you think Dr. Narut realizes what he has just said?” Zitani asked. “That kind of information must be classified.”

The conditioning of Narut’s assassins was accomplished by audio-visual desensitization, a standard behavior modification process. These men were “desensitized” to mayhem by being shown films of people being killed or injured in a number of different ways. At first the films would show only mild forms of bloodshed. As the men became acclimated to the scenes of carnage, they would see progressively more violent scenes. The assassin candidates, Narut explained, would eventually be able to dissociate any feeling they might have from even the goriest scenes they viewed.

Narut said that of course U.S. naval psychologists would have first selected the candidates for training by their psychological makeup. Those selected for assassination assignments were often from submarine crews and paratroops. Others were convicted murderers from military prisons who had already shown a proclivity for violence.

Still others were men who had been given awards for valor. World War II Medal of Honor winner Audie Murphy was a subject of extensive research.

The best killers, according to Narut, were men whom psychologists would classify as “passive-aggressive” personalities. These were people with strong drives that were usually kept under tight control. Such types were usually calm, but from time to time would exhibit outbursts of temper during which they could literally kill without remorse. Narut said that through psychological testing, he and his colleagues were looking for more such men, for further conditioning.

Among the tests used by the navy to determine violent natures was the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), which is used widely by educators and businessmen to determine psychological qualities of students and employees. The tests consist of hundreds of questions designed to measure such personality traits as hostility, depression and psychopathy.

According to Narut, the men selected by the tests, or by evidence of past violence, were taken for programming to the navy’s neuropsychiatric laboratory in San Diego, California, or to the Naples medical center which employed Dr. Narut.

Audio-visual desentitization was the major technique used in programming the assassins. Psychological indoctrination completed the programming by instilling the desired prejudicial attitudes.

The audio-visual desensitization began with the subject strapped to a chair with his head clamped so that he could not look away from the screen. A special mechanism prevented the subject’s eyelids from closing.

The candidate was then shown a film of an African youth being crudely circumcised by fellow members of his tribe. The youth was circumcised with a blunt knife, painfully and without anesthetic. This well-known film is used widely in psychological experiments to create stress. Afterwards the candidate was asked about the details of what he had seen. He was asked for example, to describe the color of the belt on the doctor’s trousers, or the motif on the handle of the knife that cut off the foreskin.

The next film showed a man in a sawmill, where planks were sliced from huge logs. In the operation of the saw the man slipped and cut off his fingers.

As the films progressed in gruesomeness, the reactions of the candidate were measured by sensing devices. Heartbeat, breathing rate, the brain waves were recorded, very much as on a polygraph. If the psychological responses, which might have been great in the beginning, slowed down and resumed normal patterns as the more bloodthirsty scenes were viewed, the candidates were judged to have completed this stage of conditioning.

The last phase of conditioning, Narut said, was to indoctrinate the candidates to think of their potential enemies as inferior forms of life. By this stage, the candidates would have already been selected for assignment to particular countries. They would be shown films and given lectures which portrayed the customs and cultural habits of the foreign countries in a biased fashion. The people in those countries would be portrayed as enemies of the United States and were always spoken of in demeaning terms. They were often presented as if they were “less than human.” Their customs were ridiculed, and local leaders were presented as evil demagogues, even if they were legitimate political figures.

According to Dr. Narut it took only a few weeks to indoctrinate susceptible candidates by this process. Those who were not susceptible to the conditioning were dropped earlier in the program and returned to other assignments. Narut admitted that he did not have the necessary “need to know” as to where all the programmed men were sent, although at one point in his conversation with Peter Watson, Narut specified that programmed assassins have been installed in the Athens embassy. He said that his busiest time was when a large group of men went through such training towards the end of 1973, at the time of the Yom Kippur War.

After the Oslo conference interview, Watson returned to London to file his story. Writing up the details, he found a few points which needed clarification, but he could not reach Narut either at his home or in his laboratory in Naples. Watson then asked the U.S. embassy in London to comment on the information Narut had volunteered. The embassy passed the buck to the U.S. Navy.

Within a few days the Pentagon issued a categorical denial hat the U.S. Navy had ever “engaged in psychological training or other types of training of personnel as assassins.” They also denied that any such training had ever taken place either in San Diego or Naples. They said they too had been unable to contact Lieutenant Commander Narut, but they did confirm that he was on the staff of the U.S. Regional Medical Center in Naples as a psychologist. But Dr. Zitani later offered to testify about what Narut had told him to “appropriate authorities.” Watson was also approached later by a psychologist in Los Angeles who said that he had seen the Pentagon denials so thought Watson would like to know that he had lent the San Diego psychologists a copy of his film on circumcision which was used in the desensitization conditioning.

A few days later Narut was located. He flew to London to discuss the matter ostensibly with Watson’s paper, The Sunday Times, but instead he held a press conference saying only that he had been talking in “theoretical and not practical terms.”  He then flew back to the Naples base.

After his return to Naples, U.S. naval headquarters in London offered the official explanation for Narut’s statement. Narut had “personal problems.” A few days later Watson was able to contact Narut at he U.S. hospital in Naples, but he refused to elaborate on his disclosure.

During the Oslo conference interview, Narut had said several times that what he was saying about the assassins was “coming out anyway.” He was referring to the congressional disclosures about CIA assassination plots. But the fact that the navy had been operating along lines similar to the CIA was not known to the public nor has it subsequently been admitted. The details of the story that Lieutenant Commander Narut related have been strongly and categorically denied in all subsequent queries of the navy.

It came as no surprise to many that the navy had been interested in psychological research to help me cope with “stress.” Several years before, one of the organizers of the Oslo conference, Dr. Irwin Sarason, had been approached by the navy to work on projects similar to Narut’s. At the time, the navy had said nothing to him about programming assassins, it said it wanted him to adapt his work for applications to “spies.”

In response to that request, Sarason devised a film that showed how successful students asked questions in school. The film was shown to a group of juvenile delinquents for a period of time until they too, learned how to pose the right questions. As a result, over the next two years they did much better in their studies and got in less trouble. The control group who had not seen the films did just as poorly in school as they’d always done and were just as delinquent.

Since his “symbolic modeling” study had been successful, Sarason wanted to continue his research, and applied to the Office of Naval Research for more funding. A few weeks after his application was received, Sarason was called by a navy official who asked him if he would object to having his work classified. Sarason wondered why, and the navy official told him his research would be most valuable to the navy’s neuropsychiatric laboratory in California, as spies were being trained there to resist interrogation. The navy official said that if Sarason would allow his work to be classified, he’d get all the funds he needed.

But Sarason was interested in the peaceful scientific nature of his work, not its military applications, so he refused to have the project classified. His goal was the exception rather than the rule……

For more on t his see: Operation Mind Control p. 161 - 

Wednesday, March 1, 2023



Just as Jeff Morley, despite their differences over the assassination, has maintained his friendships with Gerald Posner and Max Holland because he enjoys their dialogs, I am a member of a JFK assassination Facebook Group – Truth Be Told –

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It  is administered by a number of dedicated Lone Nut believers, many of them very knowledgeable about the case.  It is far more interesting there than at the many conspiracy groups that, like the dedicated lone nutters, have also known who killed JFK and have closed their minds to the matter.

One of the more interesting reactions I got was when I mentioned that I read all the books on the assassination and have found something new and interesting in most of them, including Gerald Posner and Vincent Bugliosi, some of which I use in my own work, and enjoy citing them as a source.

In the course of reading all books on the assassination, I generally ignore the opinions of the author and concentrate on identifying anything new – names, places, events, dates – that haven’t appeared anywhere else before.

The most recent issue was when I cited Vincent Bugliosi as the source for the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Washington DC correspondent Joseph Goulden as having called Assistant Dallas DA William Alexander and questioning him as to whether he was going to charge Oswald with “furthering a commu8nist conspiracy.”  Alexander replied that from the records they obtained from Oswald’s apartment and Mrs. Paine’s garage he was clearly a “communist bastard,” and yes, Alexander was considering the communist conspiracy charge

JFKcountercoup: Joe Goulden and Assistant Dallas DA Bill Alexander

This of course, continues the early trend to attempt to blame Castro Cuban Commies for the assassination that was expected to be considered a conspiracy, what Peter Dale Scott calls the Phase One Cover Story, that was quickly over run by the equally false but more easily digested Phase Two – Deranged Lone Nut Cover Story.

In my article The Tipping Point –     [   JFKcountercoup: The Tipping Point  ]

It quotes Bugliosi in full in regards to the Goulden-Alexander phone exchanges, and how it was resolved by LBJ, who when he learned of the possible charge of communist conspiracy, he had his aide Cliff Carter call Texas Federal Attorney Barefoot Sanders who tracked DA Henry Wade down at a Dallas restaurant and told him NOT to charge Oswald with a communist conspiracy or it could start WWIII.

Of course Bugliosi doesn’t tell you that Goulden had previously tried to float the false balloon that Oswald had an FBI informant’s number and was a media asset of David Atlee Phillips, and is now responsible for Phillips’ papers.

When it comes to Gerald Posner, one thing in Case Closed  jumped out at me, and that’s where Posner says that when Oswald was in the custody of Dr. R. Herzog as a juvenile delinquent in New York City, he was given the Minnesotta Multi-Phasic Personality Inventory  (MMPP) test, which isn’t the type of test you can get right or wrong answers or pass or fail, but rather it asks questions that indicate what type of personality trait you have.

I was given the MMPP test before entering the University of Dayton as a freshman, and it appears to be very similar to the written test that the Parallax organization gave to Warren Beatty in the movie Parallax View,  a test they have a maniac killer take in order to get Beatty into the program.  The Parallax View book was written by Alan Sagnar, a former OSS agent during WWII who told Len Osanic on Black Op Radio that the tests were based on the tests the OSS gave him.

According to Posner, and I don’t recall reading this anywhere else, Herzog concluded that according to Oswald’s MMPP results he had a “Passive-Aggressive” type of personality.

This didn’t mean much at the time, but when I read the pulp paperback Operation Mind Control, by    Walter H. Bowert.  

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There’s a chapter (that begins on page. 161) on School for Assassins, based on an article in the London Sunday Times. The Times reporter, at a NATO conference, talked with US Navy Lt. Commander Thomas Narutt, who was associated with the US Navy Neurological Institute in San Diego, where they selected targeted individuals to train as assassins, and assigned them to embassies abroad.

Narut told the reporter they used films of violence to de-sensentize the subjects, much like Beatty was strapped to a chair and forced to watch a film in the Parallax View.

And what struck me the most was the fact that Narut said that the best subjects for such training tested “Passive-Aggressive” in the MMPP test. And if Herzog gave Oswald the MMPP test, and I took it as a college freshman, I think the Marines gave all incoming recruits the MMPP test as well. 

KELLY NOTES: I intend to retype the entire chapter in Operation Mind Control and post it on line as I think it is that significant.

Well we know from Posner and Herzog that Passive-Aggressive was Oswald’s MMPP personality type, we know that was the type of person the Navy was looking for to train as assassins, we know the USMC comes under the department of the Navy, and that Oswald was stationed in San Diego at the same time as Narut before and after his service at Atsugi, and that in the end he stands accused of being a presidential assassin.

When the US Secret Service commissioned a psychological study of all presidential assailants to see if there was a personality type that could be identified, they failed to consider what I call the COP personality – the Covert Operational Personality that I believe Oswald fit to a Tee.