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Marine Corps emails on The Sum of All Fears - Spy Culture

2002's The Sum of All Fears was the fourth major film adaptation of Tom Clancy's spy novels and perhaps the most visually spectacular. The part where terrorists nuke the Super Bowl, destroying Baltimore in the process, is one of the best nuking-a-city scenes ever committed to film.

‘Miss Spears was not a public item during Desert Storm’ – Marine Corps Movie Script Notes - Spy Culture

In early 2009 independent film makers Jon Stevens and Frank Jones approached the US Marine Corps entertainment liaison office with a request to review their comedy script Beverly Hills Marine, set during Operation Desert Storm.

Hollywood Hyperreality: Operation Gotham Shield Sends People Batshit - Spy Culture

Or How I learned to stop worrying because The Avengers accidentally created a conspiracy theory. Conspiracy theorists gone done it again. Having learned abso-fucking-lutely nothing from the Jade Helm nonsense, the 2012 Olympics hype and the predictions of a New World Order false flag to stop Trump from winning the election, Operation Gotham Shield has become a magnet for their attention.

ClandesTime 107 – An Alternative History of Al Qaeda: The TRADEBOM Investigation - Spy Culture

This week we take a look at TRADEBOM, the FBI's investigation into the World Trade Center bombing. We examine how the case broke after one of the bombers foolishly went back to the rental company to try to get a refund on the van they had blown up. Then we look at some of the problems the FBI encountered, from extremely dubious eyewitnesses to their own explosive expert giving false testimony.

Air Force One – Tom Secker on Uncle the Podcast - Spy Culture

Uncle and Aaron invited me back to drink Hoegaarden and discuss the movie Air Force One. This typically chaotic discussion focused on how the Air Force rewrote parts of the film in exchange for their support, why Hoegaarden reminds me of happy times, and how terrorists open locked doors on planes (hint: it involves plastic explosive).

Homeland Season 6 finale – Tom Secker on PPR - Spy Culture

In our final analysis and review for Homeland season 6 Pearse and I dissect the last two episodes, looking at the shifting loyalties and role reversals around the attempted assassination of the president-elect. We look at how Homeland has latched onto a number of ideas that have become popular in recent months, most obviously the notions of Fake News and the Deep State, and portrayed these ideas in a subtle and complex light.

‘Keep to the Reduced Silhouette Path’ – CIA on Request for Film Production Assistance - Spy Culture

In 1981 White House aide Joe Holmes contacted the CIA as part of his scheme to encourage the production of 'pro-hero' movies and TV series. A Hollywood studio wanted CIA assistance for a spy film but CIA Director Bill Casey refused the request. Internal Agency memos reveal that they were concerned about 'negative blowback' from such a project, and that Casey was urged to 'keep to the reduced silhouette path' that had served them so well.

ClandesTime 106 – An Alternative History of Al Qaeda: The FBI and the WTC bombing - Spy Culture

The WTC bombing in 1993 was a massive embarrassment for the Bureau. It emerged at the resulting trials that the Bureau had an informant deep within the Al Kifah group, but fired him months before the bombing took place. This week we take a closer look at Emad Salem, the former Egyptian intelligence officer hired by the FBI to infiltrate the Blind Sheikh's circle.

CIA Open Source Records on Executive Action - Spy Culture

Executive Action is perhaps the most famous conspiracy thriller about the John Kennedy assassination, with the exception of Oliver Stone's JFK. Recently released CIA records in the CREST database show that they were keeping an eye the production and how it was being received.

ClandesTime 105 – An Alternative History of Al Qaeda: The Blind Sheikh - Spy Culture

The Blind Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman was an Egyptian cleric who played a critical role in the early years of Al Qaeda. Rahman and his followers took over the New York branch of the MAK, an international fundraising and recruiting organisation that was central to the CIA's Operation Cyclone.

How the Pentagon rewrote Goldeneye - Spy Culture

Goldeneye is possibly the best of the Pierce Brosnan James Bond films, but like two others in the Brosnan period it relied on US military support. This entailed the Pentagon reviewing the script and demanding two changes - one political, one promotional - in exchange for helping to shoot one brief scene with uniformed soldiers and military vehicles.(Read more...)

Subscriber Podcast #6 – Under Siege (no, not that one) - Spy Culture

In this month's subscriber-only podcast Pearse and I discuss the 1986 TV movie Under Siege. Co-written by former Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward on the surface this is a liberal take on the Reagan White House, but underneath is a profoundly neoconservative film.

Alt Truth and the Deep State on Homeland – Tom Secker on PPR - Spy Culture

In our latest dissection of season 6 of Homeland, I joined Pearse on Porkins Policy Radio to discuss the latest few episodes. With the revelation that Dar Adal has been running a sock puppet click farm to manipulate US public opinion, Homeland has dragged this season right up to date. It is no longer a series about spies pursuing terrorists, but about how deep politics is conducted and the increasingly important role of big data.

The Second Best Secret Agent in the Whole Wide World - Spy Culture

From the Donald Trump school of naming things came The Second Best Secret Agent in the Whole Wide World, a 1965 spoof of the James Bond movies. Like many 1960s spy thrillers The Second Best Secret Agent was on the radar of the CIA. (Read more...)

Top Secret File on Government Censorship of Panorama - Spy Culture

In the summer of 1980 the BBC's flagship documentary series Panorama was developing a TV special about British intelligence. This was the first film of its kind, and perhaps unsurprisingly Thatcher's government was not happy about it. Downing Street put pressure on the film-makers via BBC Director-General Ian Threthowan, and an MI5 lawyer previewed the film and provided detailed feedback on what to remove.

Subscriber Podcast #5 – The Pentagon’s Hollywood Database - Spy Culture

In this month’s subscriber podcast I talk about the Pentagon’s database on their collaboration with Hollywood – what it is, how I got it and what it contains. I highlight some of the more provocative and politically relevant entries and provide details on how the Pentagon rewrote elements of films such as Forrest Gump and […] (Read more...)

‘We only show the CIA killing nasty agents’ – Michael Winner - Spy Culture

While I have written about 1973 thriller Scorpio before, documents made available on the CIA CREST database shed new light on this, the first movie to film at Langley. The CIA were not just spying on media coverage of the film as it developed but also had assets within the MPAA keeping an eye on things.

‘Well Dressed Negroes’ and ‘Dignified Natives’ – How Luigi Luraschi Rewrote Movies for the CIA - Spy Culture

In 1953, in the early weeks of the Eisenhower administration, the CIA conducted an operation to alter the content of Hollywood films to help promote positive images of America to foreign audiences. A series of letters addressed to a CIA officer named 'Owen' were written by an executive at Paramount - now known to be Luigi Luraschi - outlining the changes to movies that he made and attempted to make on their behalf.

‘No Overt Recognition of the Force as Marines’ – Marine Corps folder on assistance to Die Another Day - Spy Culture

Die Another Day is widely considered to be one of the worst James Bond films ever made. It's the one with the invisible car in the ice cave and Halle Berry. The production got limited supported from the US Marine Corps, who recently released a short folder to me from their entertainment liaison office archive.

Review: The Double-Cross System - Spy Culture

In my opinion, the importance of the intelligence war in World War 2 cannot be overstated. Economically, Britain was essentially bankrupt by the end of the war. Militarily they were not as well resourced and equipped as Germany with the exception of naval warfare, where the odds were much closer than in World War 1. The most decisive factor in Britain being on the victorious side of WW2 was their superior intelligence capabilities.

The CIA and Hollywood 08 – The Quiet American - Spy Culture

In this first episode of the new season Pearse and I discuss the 1958 spy drama The Quiet American, adapted from the novel by Graham Greene. We focus in on the role of Air Force and CIA officer Ed Lansdale's relationship with the film-maker Joseph Mankiewicz, and how the CIA were involved in assisting Mankiewicz the first major American movie to be filmed in Vietnam.

ClandesTime 083 – The CIA and Hollywood season 2 - Spy Culture

Tomorrow we begin releasing season 2 of The CIA and Hollywood so in this short episode I preview what is coming, announce the launch of my Patreon campaign and rant about Angelina Jolie.  I outline how the new season of The CIA and Hollywood is split between films that were made with CIA support or […](Read more...)The post

The CIA and Hollywood – Season 2 Linkchart - Spy Culture

We will begin releasing season 2 of The CIA and Hollywood this weekend, and to give you a taste of what's to come we have produced a linkchart combining data and connections from both season 1 and the forthcoming season 2. New additions include The Rock, Angelina Jolie and former Sony executive Amy Pascal, along with self-confessed (though officially denied) CIA agent Chuck Barris.

‘Bin Laden Burial’ Took Place on Top Gun Ship - Spy Culture

Following the raid in Abbottabad in May 2011 the body of 'Osama Bin Laden' was flown to Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan, where Admiral William McRaven did not initially recognise him. From there the body was flown to the USS Carl Vinson, an aircraft carrier, where an autopsy was performed before a burial at sea.

ClandesTime 082 – The Foreigner - Spy Culture

The Foreigner stars Jackie Chan and former James Bond Pierce Brosnan, and is directed by two-time Bond director Martin Campbell. In February the film-makers blew up a bus in central London in a sequence that was spookily reminiscent of the 7/7 London bombings of 2005. To see if this similarity was a concern for the government agencies who approved and assisted The Foreigner filming in London, I filed a series of FOIA requests.

Graham Greene’s FBI File - Spy Culture

Graham Greene was one of the most important novelists of the 20th century, and one of the greatest spy novelists of all time. He also holds the dubious honour of having worked for MI6 during WW2 but being spied on by the FBI as a suspected Communist. Few spies have FBI files, so Greene is in a very small and distinct club.

Blazing Saddles, Dick Jokes and Racism in the US Navy - Spy Culture

Blazing Saddles is one of the greatest American spoofs of all time, satirising not just Westerns and the whole cowboy archetype but also the racism prevalent in much of Western society. It remains one of my favourite comedies, and possibly Mel Brooks' best film. While the film itself was not sponsored by the state (at least as far as I know) it did turn up in a recent Navy investigation into misconduct by a senior officer.

Bernie Sanders did NOT lose 5,000 votes in Kentucky - Spy Culture

The Kentucky primary saw HR Clinton win by a slender margin, and one controversy has persisted - the matter of Bernie Sanders suddenly losing 5,000 votes. This has become a youtube video and a social media meme, based on video taken from rolling news coverage of the vote.

ClandesTime 080 – United 93 - Spy Culture

United 93 was one of the first major films on the 9/11 attacks, and was praised for its in-depth research and docudrama realism. However, underneath the engrossing cinéma vérité style is a story of the US air defences that morning based almost entirely on the 9/11 Commission.

Pentagon Production Assistance Agreement for Man of Steel - Spy Culture

Sometimes the support of the DOD can improve a film. When the Pentagon provided Michael Bay with script notes and suggestions on Transformers III he 'was very receptive to our notes and expressed his desire for us to “help (him) make it better.”' However, Man of Steel was not so lucky. Whether in spite of or because of the Pentagon's support it was hands down the worst Superman film of all time.

Review: The CIA in Hollywood - Spy Culture

Tricia Jenkins' The CIA in Hollywood was one of the books that inspired me to start this site, and the recently published second edition expands considerably on the original. Because the CIA is resistant to FOIA requests and other forms of inquiry, Jenkins amassed a wide range of open source materials and interviewed various people both from the CIA (or formerly of the CIA) and from the entertainment industry.

ClandesTime 079 – Wild Things - Spy Culture

Wild Things is a 1998 erotic thriller which is usually seen as a tacky, trashy sex movie set in the glossy upper class world of Blue Bay, Florida. This week we take a closer look at this film, examining its complex plot as a clue to what lies beneath the bikini-clad surface. We examine various aspects of the film that are hallmarks of classical theatre, from the soundtrack as a Greek chorus to the theme of water as a form of catharsis that runs throughout the film.

ClandesTime 078 – Chase Brandon: The CIA’s Man in Hollywood - Spy Culture

Chase Brandon was the CIA's first Entertainment Industry Liaison. From 1996 to early 2007 he was the CIA's man in Hollywood, working on a dozen major movies and numerous high-profile TV shows. In this episode we examine the background of the CIA in the entertainment industry and how they founded their Entertainment Liaison Office and appointed Brandon in charge of it.

Review: Silver Screen Saucers - Spy Culture

Have you ever wondered about the relationship between UFOs or aliens in movies and the real-life experiences of people who report contact or abduction or witnessing these things? Have you ever wondered whether the government is using UFO movies to influence people's perceptions of these fringe but popular and captivating phenomena?

ClandesTime 077 – Phil Strub: DOD Entertainment Liaison - Spy Culture

Phil Strub has been the Pentagon's Hollywood liaison since 1989, in which time the entertainment liaison offices have helped produce over 100 films. In this episode we take a closer look at Phil Strub, his background, how he came to be the DOD's Hollywood liaison and his curious habit of downplaying or minimising the role of the Pentagon in the entertainment industry.

ClandesTime 076 – Walt Disney and the FBI - Spy Culture

Disney are one of the world's largest movie studios and producers of entertainment. They have enjoyed this status for decades, recently acquiring both the Star Wars and Marvel franchises, among the most profitable in the cinema industry. The relationship between the corporation and government agencies has been almost continuous for more than half a century.

US Customs and Border Protection Film and TV list - Spy Culture

Since 2003 the US Customs and Border Protection agency has become part of the Department of Homeland Security. They have their own entertainment liaison office - the DHS Office of Public Affairs Multi-Media Division. While the DHS are not very forthcoming about the productions they have worked on the CBP recently provided me with a list of projects they have assisted since 2003.

Review: The Writer With No Hands - Spy Culture

In June 1997 Hollywood screenwriter Gary Devore disappeared while driving home through the middle of the Mojave desert. Devore had connections to the Pentagon and CIA and was working on a screenplay that threatened to reveal devastating truths about the 1989 US invasion of Panama. His disappearance left no trace - of him, of his car, of his work. Just over a year later his car was found at the bottom of an aqueduct with what appeared to be Devore's body inside, but his hands were missing.