Margin Notes on Paperclip: Edgewood, Rhodesia, and Abu Ghraib

Discovered an interesting post on Rhizzone thanks to my referring links (somebody thought the original poster of the article on Dr. Peter Bourne was me) and since I don’t post on Rhizzone I’m going to share my thoughts on the thread here, like this was a blog from 1999, before comments or permalinks existed and checking your referrer longs to see who was linking you was the only way to have a conversation between bloggers.

The person who posted this article is on the same track as me and a few other researchers I follow, connecting the CIA’s MK-ULTRA program of applied psychiatry to its origins in Operation Paperclip and concentration-camp medical experiments, and to its latter-day incarnations as programs to create psychologically-programmed psychopathic killers.

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Open Tabs Round Up, October 30, 2017

Another in a series of semi-regular posts on what I’ve been reading / researching / writing. Expect more of these and less activity on the Twitter account, which I’m taking a break from for the near future.

A few days ago Twitter banned advertisement from RT citing “election interference.”  Twitter’s own collusion with US State Department in election interference is nothing new.  In 2009, Twitter delayed a scheduled maintenance at the request of the State Department so that Twitter would not go dark during the protests against the election in Iran.

Screen Shot 2017-10-30 at 9.59.19 AM

Front and center in the replies to the tweet announcing the “off-boarding” of RT / Sputnik ad accounts is “Caroline O.” offering her services in detecting automated Twitter span from nefarious foreign-controlled entities. “Caroline O.” is one of several anti-Trump #Resistance accounts who had marginal social media presence in mid 2016 (around 1,000 Twitter followers and no connection to her real life career or identity) and exploded in popularity (over 70,000 Twitter followers by March 2017, over 230,000 followers by late October 2017, all gained without any marketing, promotion or institutional backing) in the months following the election of President Trump. But electoral shenanigans and media manipulation are only what Russians do.

The history of the CIA takeover of ABC Broadcasting in the mid 1980’s also has some resonances with Trump-Russia disinformation on Twitter. In 1986 a media holdings company called Capital Cities Communications, whose majority shareholder was CIA director William Casey, bought the much-larger American Broadcasting Corporation, in a deal that may have been prompted by ABC doing too much real journalism about the CIA. Several Capital Cities founders or executives were also major investors in a Resorts International, a company which ran a casino in the Bahamas and also a private intelligence agency called “Intertel” whose ostensible purpose was to keep organized crime out of Resorts’ casinos. In 1986, Resorts International’s owner James Crosby died and his shares were bought by Donald Trump, who became for a time a major shareholder in the world’s largest private intelligence operation. This is also around the time that the LaRouche organization, as later “discovered” by Twitter disinformationist Sarah Kendzior, believe that Trump was being cultivated by the KGB as an asset in exchange for opening a hotel in Russia.

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Open Tabs Round Up, October 20, 2017

Just a summary of some things I’ve been working on for the past few weeks – rather than scatter this stuff all over Twitter I’m going to try to get into the habit of doing semi-regular posts here of notes, interesting links and summaries of research I’m working on.

First up, an essential longread on the intertwined history of Holocaust denial and anti-Communist propaganda in the West.  Puts 2017 “Russiagate” controversy in context of 100 year campaign to delegitimize Communism.

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There Will Always Be Another Rabbit Hole

Recently I’ve been re-visiting Dave McGowan’s “Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon” and following up on some of Mae Brussell’s research into the Manson murders. As is usually the case with these kinds of investigations, what I thought was going to be a quick run-down of some links I could compile to send to a friend for a contrarian take on the Manson murders turned up a bunch of influential military-intelligence operators lurking in the heart of the California hippie scene, connecting Manson and the Laurel Canyon psychedelic music scene with the Golden Age of science fiction, Anton La Vey’s Satanism, and the one of the US Navy’s biggest shipbuilders. Digging into some of the obscure and unexamined characters that other researchers have mentioned shows that there’s always another rabbit hole to fall down when trying to get to the bottom of what was really happening in the psychedelic underground of 1960s California. This blog post is more or less a narration of my own path down a particular rabbit hole, trying to uncover the fate of a particular and very real White Rabbit.

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Yes, Kids, Cookie Monster is a Psyop


This post was derived from a Twitter thread I did a few months ago. It’s been lightly edited for clarity, with a new introduction and conclusion. It moves a little fast for a blog post given the restrictions of its medium of origin, but it provides useful background to my last post, “Winning Hearts and Minds, from the Computer’s Perspective.” This content of this post is a little redundant with the content of the previous post, but I’m not really going to state a thesis and elaborate here on this blog so much as look at the same ideas and events over and over from different perspectives and eventually let some big picture accumulate like pixels on a screen.

The following paragraph is me mildly trolling you, the reader, with a kind of clickbaity provocation to see some mundane and ubiquitous aspects of American pop culture in a new light.

Sesame Street was created by veteran officers of the US Army’s Psychological Warfare Office with the goal of blunting the force of social-justice radicalism in the United States by promoting the liberal ideology that oppression not a structural economic injustice, but a matter of poor individual character or bad social skills. In a 1970’s state-directed project to determine how humans establish cathexis with military hardware, computer engineer Alan Kay leveraged the graphical capabilities of highly-advanced prototype personal computers to display animations of one of Sesame Street’s most popular characters, Cookie Monster, because he felt this would help children see personal computers not as technological artifacts derived from Air Force weapons, but as friendly and even “magical” helpers in their lives.

Kay, who developed the PARC Alto computer and Smalltalk programming language concurrently with Xerox funding the creation of Sesame Street, 
is very clear about this in his “Early History of Smalltalk.” Building the Sesame Street characters in to the design of the Alto’s user 
interface was an evolutionary step in ARPA’s 20 year study on “Human-Computer Symbiosis.”

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Winning Hearts and Minds, from the Computer’s Perspective

XKCD: “Computer Problems”
When I was trying to come up with an image for the header of this site (which we call a “hero image” in the industry) I found two different pictures in my archive of people looking at screens that made a compelling contrast when placed side-by-side. The first picture shows an Air Force officer in the early 1960’s pointing a light gun at a weapons direction console. The second photo shows a woman in around 1970 wearing casual clothes sitting on a cushion on the floor using a prototype personal computer.

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Hello There

Inspector Columbo meets a robot.

So rather than try to group things out thematically or in a narrative, I’m probably just going to dive right in with this blog. I’ll probably start with a backlog of posts from my twitter account since recapitulating that research in chronological order will probably bring some linkages and themes to the surface between ideas.

I’m imagining there’s going to be roughly 2 different stories going on here – one is a contrarian history of the Internet, and computer networks in general, as a doomsday machine, where doomsday is the end of capitalism and the doomsday scenario that must be prevented evolves from tactical nuclear warfare between supersonic aircraft (SAGE) to counterinsurgency warfare (ARPANET) to behavioral influence across entire populations (pervasive “Social Network Software”).

The name of this blog is a Pynchon reference (a fictional Dukedom from a fictional Jacobean revenge drama featured in The Crying of Lot 49) and while this won’t strictly be a Pynchon blog, the works of Thomas Pynchon, a technical writer who worked on some of the Nazi-derived rocket technology in the SAGE system, will be a guide to this story of how Nazi technology (rockets) psychology (behavioralism and mind-altering drugs) and geopolitics (anti-Communism and an aggressive stance against the Soviet Union) were incorporated into American society over the course of the Cold War.

The second theme that this blog will cover will be how this “Fourth Reich” or “Underground Reich” manifests itself “between the Fake Left and the Alt-Right.” This will be presented as “New You Can Use” posts explaining hidden or obscured aspects of certain individuals, events or organizations (CIA operatives posing as well-known counterculture figures activist leaders, for example) .

The computer stuff might get a little technical but I’m hoping to keep this all as accessible as possible. I’m not going for exhaustive or comprehensive coverage of any of the subjects I’m writing about – I want to give just enough of a map in terms of a narrative and sources that readers can pick up some of these threads and follow them on their own.