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Review – War School: The Battle for Britain’s Children

It isn't often that I see a film that angers and educates me in equal measure. War School: The Battle for Britain's Children is a new documentary exploring the growing peace movement in the UK, and the militarisation of British schools for propaganda and recruitment purposes.

Top Gun ‘Rehabilitated the Military’s Image’ After Vietnam, According to the Pentagon

The late Cold War classic Top Gun is one of the most well-liked military movies of all time. It's combination of romance, comedy and never-seen-before aerial action was made possible by extensive support from the DOD, particularly the US Navy.

ClandesTime 159 – The Founder

The Founder is a 2016 biopic of Ray Kroc, the man who created McDonald’s. Or did he? In this episode I examine this ambiguous film, one of the best examples of cultural capitalism to come out of Hollywood in recent years.

FBI Say They Cannot Find Their File on Radical Author Sam Greenlee

Sam Greenlee is perhaps most famous for writing the novel The Spook Who Sat By the Door, which was adapted into a film in the 1970s.  Greenlee believed that the CIA and FBI suppressed the film because it portrayed them in such a bad light, and promoted b

The US Navy say they have 20,000 Pages of Documents on Top Gun 2

I recently filed a FOIA request for documents on Top Gun 2. Going through the entertainment liaison office reports it is clear that - just as on the original film - the Navy are taking the lead on military support.

Does the CIA use Hollywood Movies as Training Films?

In September 1977 the renowned Hollywood gossip columnist Rona Barrett appeared on Good Morning America to talk about spy films. Sat alongside her was CIA director Stansfield Turner, who commented that Hollywood movies would make poor training films for CIA spies.

The ’24 Mentality’: The CIA, Torture and the ‘Ticking Bomb’ Scenario

Just as politicians start to believe their own speeches, intelligence agencies start to believe their own propaganda. Nowhere is this clearer than in the CIA's black stite torture program initiated in the wake of 9/11.

How Product Placement Serves the Military-Industrial Complex

Wings (1927) was one of the first Hollywood films to benefit from full military support, was the first film to include sound effects on a film reel alongside the in-theater orchestra, and was the first film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.

War Machine vs Charlie Wilson’s War – Tom Secker on Around the Empire (Part 2)

Joanne invited me on the Around the Empire podcast to do a ‘high level compare and contrast’ of two war comedy films set in different wars in Afghanistan: Charlie Wilson’s War and War Machine.

ClandesTime 158 – Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan

The new Amazon series Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan is the first TV show to film at CIA headquarters for several years, in keeping with the Agency’s long-time support for adaptations of Clancy’s work.

War Machine vs Charlie Wilson’s War – Tom Secker on Around the Empire

Joanne invited me on the Around the Empire podcast to do a 'high level compare and contrast' of two war comedy films set in different wars in Afghanistan: Charlie Wilson's War and War Machine.

Jack Ryan is the Latest TV Show to Film at CIA Headquarters

Amazon's new headline streaming series Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan is the first TV show to film at CIA headquarters for several years, after a fairly disastrous run that saw two awful movies along with an awful TV programme film there circa 2014.

What does the CIA’s Office of Public Affairs Actually Do?

The CIA's Office of Public Affairs is - ironically - very tight-lipped about what they actually do, so I was pleased that they recently responded to a 3 year old FOIA request and provided me with a document summarising their activities from 2014 to 2016.

ClandesTime 156 – The Pentagon and Pitch Perfect 3

To unsuspecting movie audiences Pitch Perfect 3 is a piece of lighthearted family-friendly entertainment to be enjoyed and then forgotten almost immediately.

How the Pentagon Rewrote Pitch Perfect 3 - Spy Culture

Pitch Perfect 3 appears on the surface to be a family-friendly piece of lighthearted, forgettable entertainment. But beneath that surface lies a carefully-crafted piece of military PR, aimed at recruiting people the DOD usually finds it hard to attract.

Change ‘One Male and One Female’ to ‘Two Male’ – Pentagon Production Notes for Transformers 3 - Spy Culture

Going back through some documents released by the Army on the Transformers films I noticed that some of the notes weren't script notes from pre-production, but were production notes from while Transformers: Dark of the Moon was filming.

ClandesTime 154 – Hollywood Goes to Space Command - Spy Culture

As part of their outreach efforts the Air Force's entertainment liaison office has started running annual tours for dozens of Hollywood bigshots. Recently released documents detail last year's tour to US Space Command.

Swiss Lab Spy Games Support the Theory that Novichok WASN’T Used in Salisbury - Spy Culture

The last 24 hours of the Novichok saga has seen a new twist — European media are widely reporting that two Russian spies were caught attempting to either hack or break into the Spiez laboratory in Switzerland that was e

CIA: Where Are Our Passes to Disney’s Magic Kingdom Club? - Spy Culture

The story of the relationship between Disney and the various branches and agencies of the US government is long and complex.  A recently uncovered memo adds one more episode to the relationship between Disney and the CIA, and revolves around a question that was critical for national security: How would

‘ollywood Propaganda – New edition of Reel Power in French - Spy Culture

Reel Power broke the mould for books covering the role of Hollywood in promoting militarism, war and the political status quo.  It took the Chomsky/Herman propaganda model and adapted it to film and TV, showing how Hollywood&

Map to the Stars: Hollywood Insiders Tour US Space Command - Spy Culture

The US Space Force took one step closer to becoming a hyperreality when nearly 40 major Hollywood players went on an 'Industry Leader Tour' of US Space Command.

How the Pentagon Uses Hollywood to Cover Up its Alcohol Problem - Spy Culture

The US military has a drinking problem, but like most of its problems it's OK because the entertainment liaison offices are there to make sure Hollywood doesn't draw attention to it.

ClandesTime Special – Rorschach Politics: The War in Syria - Spy Culture

In this special episode I reflect on the war in Syria and the propaganda emanating from governments on both sides.  In particular I focus in on how the apparently anti-war Left has been fooled into becoming de facto propagandists for the Russian and Syrian security states, and how the same binary narratives ar

ClandesTime 151 – Rules of Engagement - Spy Culture

The military legal drama Rules of Engagement is perhaps the greatest modern example of racist, warmongering propaganda. Unsurprisingly, it benefited from full Pentagon support, in exchange for numerous script changes.

US Marine Corps Entertainment Liaison Office script notes on Rules of Engagement - Spy Culture

Rules of Engagement is notable for being possibly the most violent, racist, colonialist film Hollywood has made since the end of the Cold War.  It pre-empted two real life terrorist attacks in Yemen including one on the

ClandesTime 150 – The Weather Underground - Spy Culture

The Weather Underground were the most active and successful militant left-wing group in US history. As part of their anti-Vietnam war operations they bombed the Pentagon, the State Department, corporate headquarters and other high-profile targets.

How the FBI Rewrote Weather Underground Movie The Company You Keep - Spy Culture

The Weather Underground were the most successful Leftist militant group in history, a radical offshoot of the SDS and the anti-Vietnam War movement.  As a result, Hollywood has almost no interest in telling stories about them and the only recent