[On Oscar Sunday, CAM brings you a two article special that exposes the CIA’s nefarious influence in Hollywood. See also “Black Ops in Hollywood: From Censorship to Normalization”.—Editors]
For decades, the Pentagon and CIA have rewritten scripts and censored Hollywood films—with dire consequences for humanity.
In 2012, Argo won the Academy Award for Best Picture. The film starred Ben Affleck as a CIA agent named Tony Mendez who poses as a Hollywood producer scouting locations in Iran.
He helps to rescue six Americans who slipped away from the U.S. embassy during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis—when Islamic revolutionaries stormed the U.S. embassy and took 66 Americans hostage.
With the CIA reviewing the script, Argo “took many liberties with the truth,” according to The Atlantic magazine, “all geared to make Langley more heroic.”
Left out was any hint that the CIA had created the crisis in Iran by backing a coup in 1953 that overthrew Iran’s democracy.
A decade earlier, Affleck had starred in The Sum of All Fears, a film adaptation of a Tom Clancy novel written largely by the CIA’s entertainment liaison, whose main protagonist, Deputy CIA Director Jack Ryan, stops nuclear war from breaking out.
During Argo’s filming, the CIA brought the filmmakers to Langley for a tour and offered Affleck access to Agency analysts. Former CIA Agent John Kiriakou recalled bumping into Affleck in Langley along with other Hollywood stars such as Harrison Ford.
Affleck admitted that “probably Hollywood is full of CIA agents…we just don’t know it.”
Theaters of War
Theaters of War: How the Pentagon and CIA Took Hollywood is a new documentary produced by the Media Education Foundation exposing the link between the CIA, Pentagon and Hollywood.
The film follows the journey of media professor Roger Stahl across America as he interviews people—including industry insiders—who detail how the military and CIA have tried to valorize their activities in hundreds of Hollywood films and television shows, scrubbing scripts of war crimes, corruption, racism, sexual assault, coups, assassinations and torture.
The propaganda is extremely effective because it is carried out under the guise of entertainment. Only very subtly are viewers conditioned.
Fetishizing the U.S. Military
One of the most poignant scenes of Theaters of War has Stahl bringing Oliver Stone a framed copy of a 1984 rejection letter he received by the Pentagon’s entertainment office for Platoon, a film about the disintegration of the armed forces in Vietnam. In 1987, Platoon won the Academy award.
Donald E. Baruch, the head of the Pentagon’s Office on Entertainment, wrote to Stone in the rejection letter: ”In our opinion, the script basically creates an unbalanced portrayal by stereotyping black soldiers, showing rampant drug abuse, illiteracy and concentrating action on brutality.”
Stone told Stahl that for years he had to shelve Platoon, whose script was written in 1975, along with Born on the Fourth of July, another anti-war film based on the biography of paralyzed veteran Ron Kovic.
According to Stone, the Pentagon’s entertainment office was “set up to provide accuracy to film-making about the military, but instead they do the opposite; they promote inaccuracies and lies.”
“They only want movies that glorify the American soldier, glorify our patriotism, the homeland and nationalism, this nonsense. They fetishize the military,” he said. “Nobody can say a bad word about [the military], which is wrong. You have to point out evil when it happens.”
Whitewashing Military Corruption
Stone told Stahl that, while he was having trouble getting Platoon made, he was offered the script for Top Gun, a major hit of 1986 which romanticized the life of Navy pilots and had military recruiting stations set up outside theaters where it was being screened.
The Pentagon had donated F-14s for making Top Gun, which it praised for helping to “completely rehabilitate the military’s image [after it] had been savaged by the Vietnam War.”
In 2018, the Pentagon signed a contract with the producers of a Top Gun remake scheduled for release this year that allowed it to “weave in key talking points, oversee the script and require an official screening before its release.”
The original Top Gun was directed by the late Tony Scott and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, who went on to produce Black Hawk Down (2001), a re-creation of the ambush of U.S. soldiers in Somalia.
Oliver Stone called Black Hawk Down, a “nonsense movie” and typical “whitewash of military corruption.”
After days of negotiation with Bruckheimer, Secretary of Defense William Cohen donated equipment for the film and the script was changed from the original to create heroes of the U.S. soldiers, even though the intervention was widely considered, as Stone put it, “a mess.”
According to Stahl, the Pentagon and CIA are equivalent to the Godfather: They decide what films get made and what films get shelved, and buy off film-makers by promising them access to the Pentagon’s toys.
In the 1980s, films that did not get made included a dramatization of the Iran-Contra affair and film about the reduction of Cold War tensions, which was substituted with Red Dawn, in which a group of high school students led by Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen organize themselves to fight a Soviet invasion of the U.S. (a 2012 sequel had students organizing against a North Korean invasion).
From 1989 to 2018, the Pentagon’s Office on Entertainment was directed by Phil Strub, who worked closely with favored directors such as Bruckheimer and Michael Bay, producer of Transformers (2007), and helped promote sci-fi films where superheroes saved civilization with military weapons in alliance with the U.S. military.
Strub had a scene removed from The Windtalkers (2002), where U.S. Marines took out the gold teeth of Japanese soldiers they had killed as trophies—something described in E.B. Sledge’s classic memoir, With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa (1981).
Strub also made sure that Tuskegee Airmen (1995), about Black fighters in World War II, presented the Army’s top generals as non-racists (the only racists in the film were depicted as bad apples).
The U.S. army subsidized TV series The Long Road Home (2017), meanwhile, depicted Tomas Young, a paralyzed Iraq veteran and peace activist, as a “pussy” and douchebag,” when, according to members of his platoon, he was “well liked,” and considered “cool.”
Young’s portrayal was consistent with the denigration of antiwar veterans and activists in popular culture, which the Pentagon’s Office on Entertainment was in part behind.
No Guts or Glory
Strub and his predecessor Don Baruch cultivated an academic hack, Lawrence Suid, to cover up the truth about what the Pentagon’s entertainment office did.
Suid wrote the book Guts & Glory: The Making of the American Military Image in Film (Lexington, KY: The University Press of Kentucky, 2002) which for years stood as the definitive work on the Pentagon and Hollywood.
When more independent scholars came along to challenge Suid’s interpretations, Suid savagely attacked them in academic journals and tried to ruin their careers.
Wagging the Dog
Chase Brandon, the CIA’s entertainment industry liaison from 1996 to 2007 and first cousin of actor Tommy Lee Jones, was thought to be the prototype for Robert DeNiro’s character, Conrad Breen, in Wag the Dog (1997). Breen was a CIA spin doctor who manufactures a fictional war in Albania to displace attention from a presidential sex scandal.
A forty-year CIA veteran with experience in special operations and psychological warfare, Brandon wrote most of the script for the 2003 film The Recruit, and helped set up a permanent CIA network in Hollywood that Ben Affleck hinted at.
The network included Affleck’s ex-wife, Jennifer Garner, who played CIA Agent Sydney Bristow in the hit TV series Alias (2001-2006), and filmed a recruitment video for the CIA. See video here. Alias’s writers worked with Brandon who helped “educate them on fundamental tradecraft.”
Brandon’s office also altered the script of the 2000 comedy Meet the Parents, which featured Robert DeNiro as a CIA agent whose daughter has decided to marry a goofball played by Ben Stiller.
When Stiller’s character enters DeNiro’s workspace, in the original script, he finds CIA torture manuals. However, the script was changed to show Stiller finding only pictures of DeNiro’s character meeting famous people like Bill Clinton.
Another film that Brandon helped shape was Charlie Wilson’s War (2007) which heroized the CIA for defeating the evil commies in Afghanistan. CIA agent Milt Beardon served as one of the film’s consultants.
Brandon further worked as a technical adviser and consultant for action movies that made the CIA seem exciting and noble: Mission Impossible 3 (2006), Enemy of the State (1998), The Bourne Identity (2002) and The Sum of All Fears (2002) starring Ben Affleck.
He additionally provided true to life storylines for the TV series The Agency (2001-2003), including ones focused on the drone assassinations of a rogue Pakistani General and another one about an anthrax attack in Washington D.C. which was originally scheduled to air the very day of the actual anthrax attacks in Washington that were likely part of a CIA false-flag operation.
The Good Shepherd—More Historical Distortions
Yet another film Brandon helped influence was The Good Shepherd (2006), directed by Robert DeNiro and starring Matt Damon, which while portraying CIA misdeeds, focuses largely on their impact on the personal lives of CIA agents—rather than the people of the countries affected.
The Good Shephed further distorted history by a) making it seem like the Agency supported De-Nazification when it recruited Nazis for the Cold War under the Operation Paperclip; b) depicting the head of the CIA being forced to resign because his personal business interests in Guatemala prompted the 1954 coup (CIA Director Allen Dulles whose law firm had represented the United Fruit Company, never had to resign for this reason); and c) depicting the CIA’s failure to overthrow the Castro government as the result of the Cubans being tipped off by Soviet intelligence, when there had been broad popular mobilization for Fidel Castro.
Promoting the CIA’s Favored Techniques
After the 9/11 attacks, the CIA supported Fox’s 24, which advanced the idea that torture in interrogation worked.
The CIA subsequently supported the 2012 film Zero Dark Thirty dramatizing the hunt for Osama bin Laden, which went too far for even a rabid war hawk like John McCain (R-AZ), who repudiated torture following his own alleged experience being tortured in the Vietnam War.
The CIA additionally supported the Emmy-award winning Showtime series Homeland (2011-present), Barack Obama’s favorite show. It depicted Muslims as “overwhelmingly sadistic, barbaric, and morally bankrupt,” according to The New Yorker, and drone strikes and targeted killings as morally just.
Most recently, the CIA collaborated in the production of the Jack Ryan series—a spinoff on military enthusiast Tom Clancy’s novels—on Amazon Prime.
In one episode, Ryan (played by John Krasinski from The Office) plots the overthrow of a tyrannical leader in Venezuela, who Ryan helps replace with an enlightened, pro-democratic reformer.
The latter is a stand-in for America’s boy, Juan Guaidó, who actually has extreme right-wing leanings and led violent protests against a legally elected government that is socialist.
Evasion of U.S. Law
Theaters of War ends by pointing out that the U.S. has well-established laws against propaganda which the CIA and Pentagon have clearly violated.
The consequences for society are greater than most people realize. The manipulation of Hollywood drives support for U.S. military and CIA interventions that have caused humanitarian catastrophes, and reinforces a nativist, imperialist and often racist worldview that lies at the root of repeated foreign policy disasters.
Brandon was a consultant for at least 11 TV series including:The Path to 9/11, Alias, JAG, Air America, Covert Action, Top Secret Missions of the CIA, Stories of the CIA, Spies Above Us and Greatest Intelligence Agency. ↑
- CIA agent Milt Beardon served as a consultant to the film. ↑
Homeland’s cast visited Langley where the show held its premiere. Some scenes were also shot at Langley and CIA agents served as consultants to the show. ↑
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About the Author
Jeremy Kuzmarov is Managing Editor of CovertAction Magazine.
He is the author of four books on U.S. foreign policy, including Obama’s Unending Wars (Clarity Press, 2019) and The Russians Are Coming, Again, with John Marciano (Monthly Review Press, 2018).
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
[…] [On Oscar Sunday, CAM brings you a two article special that exposes the CIA’s nefarious influence in Hollywood. This is part of an ongoing series where CovertAction Magazine delves into the operations of the entertainment liaison offices of the American security state, which work with Hollywood to produce mass perception management under the guise of films and TV. See also previously published “Hollywood is Full of CIA Agents,” Says Ben Affleck.—Editors] […]
[…] Ele também forneceu histórias verdadeiras para a série de TV The Agenc y (2001-2003), incluindo algumas focadas nos assassinatos por drone de um general paquistanês desonesto e outra sobre um ataque de antraz em Washington DC, que estava originalmente programado para transmitir o próprio dia dos ataques reais de antraz em Washington que provavelmente faziam parte de uma operação de bandeira falsa da CIA .  […]
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Right on target article! MARCH 16, 2016 The History of Hollywood: Propaganda for White Supremacy at Home and US Militarism Abroad
Ever since the Lumiere brothers first developed film in 1896, it has been an astoundingly effective racial propaganda tool. As the first universal mass medium it efficiently utilized high drama through the fixation of emotional sequences. Put simply, effective propaganda starts precisely where critical thinking ends.
Wait, you mean Hollywood is a bunch of prostituting profiteers? Who knew?
Well, that, and almost all at some level, double or triple agents, covered by the Mob.
Not nearly enough know THAT.
Or greet your own very personalized blacklist.
Believe me, I know. VHA. Welcome to the New Age “Virtual House Arrest”. That’s what the lockdowns, contract tracing, and passports are all about. I’ve experienced since the cradle.
But resistance is not impossible, and may, like hope itself, bring richest dividends.
It’s key that more citizens know that we live in a total “Wilderness of Mirrors” to use the pet phrase of Angleton (supposedly profiled in “The Good Shepherd, but way way WAY weirder: see last two pages of 2025 “The Devil’s Chessboard”). They surround us with all kinds of counterfeits, across the board. At ALL… levels.
L. Fletcher Prouty gave us the scoop 50 years ago in his landmark CIA insiders explosé, “THE SECRET TEAM: The CIA and it’s Allies in Control of the United States and the World”.
They have the means, motive, and madness to put their spin on everything. All news, all media, all films, all radio.l et al, all And it’s all a Nazi imperialist enterprise.
Understanding their very deep methods of control, basically simple but pervasive, is core homework for Americans, or anybody, who wants to pry us free of their rather fell grip.
Sure, every nation needs some agency, but not this worldwide web of crime partners….
Chessboard, sorry, was Talbot in 2015. Not 2025, obviously, unless Nick Tesla really discover time travel. Probably not.
Are you on Twitter or telegram? Ever since the 2016 election, I’ve grown more and more interested in finding the actual truth on our government, intelligence, and the things that aren’t ever talked about.
Thanks for asking, Joey, but I more or less shun social media. I don’t even have my own website, though it is tempting.
I had a fellow approach me while I was busking several years ago, I’m a musician and have sung and performed a lot in public. This was on the starlit pier in Newport Beach, Ca. After a bit of ice-breaking, this 30-something fellow chatted me up to publish me, said he was publisher of a pretty widely circulated magazine. He traced his family back to a Secretary of War, as they were called in the late 1800s, in the T. Roosevelt era, and other glowing references.
I said, sure, I’d publish at his mag, if he would let me write a tell-all about the Bobby Kennedy assassination, since I have some unique personal connections to people who know about that in depth, and I worked for Bobby as a teenager and would cherish an op to spill the beans.
I always use it as my “litmus” test, whenever someone shows interest in my writing. With a line like that you can shed agents that way, most often, faster than my dog sheds hair, which is with historical celerity.
He began slowly to develop a facial expression, as we leaned over the side rail of the Pier, gazing at the moonlit surf, that you would see only on an astronaut with a fart in his spacesuit.
A few niceties and chaste frowns later, he took off with his girlfriend in his toney leather jacket, much like scalded cats. Not amused. “You’ve got my phone number!”
I know for a fact that we are so overrun with CIA and Intel meddling at every turn, these days, that I chart my course rather low profile, at least whenever I can. They don’t let me very often, bless their spooky little hearts!
Shakespeare said most famously that all the world’s a stage.
In this age, trust me, all the world’s a black op.
Exposing the names of every agent and allowing the chips to fall where they might, would be a great thing for the overall safety of the human species. Same for all the FBI and NSA folks.
They’re way ahead in thinking that through: you’d have your hands full, exposing about half the people in the land. It would be a “Where’s Waldo?” extravaganza, they have compromised, much like the Nazis did the German people, so many thousands of people, by blackmail and other techniques, it would be more practical to identify who is NOT an agent moonlighting for them.
Seriously, I started some years ago assuming everyone we talk to is an agent, of some stripe, and try to walk it back carefully from there.
It really makes more sense to start at the other end, of things.
So, expose the world. You can see that to expedite their crimes they use almost everybody as a human shield.
I’m something of an exception. But that’s because I found out eventually, with a father ( ecjlaw.com ) who appears to have been attorney to Operation Monarch (MKILTRA, aka Mind Control) starting in the late ’40s, I’ve been under VHA (Virtual House Arrest) since the cradle, 1952. I have a letter from the Dean of the Harvard Law School of whom my father was a key protegé, offering me admission to Harvard Law, sent him when I was…. two weeks old.
But I’ve bucked their sly, fell System for nearly that long, it’s innate in me, no doubt from my mother’s Bavarian art genes.
It is the Art Spirit they fear most. Her mother’s nephew was Roman Bohnen, whom they killed clandestinely, and then the HUAC blacklisted him….posthumously, as founder of Actors Laboratory in 1950s Hollywood’.
You can look it up. His Wikipedia bio conveniently omits the items that Actors Lab burned down shortly after his death at 44 and the safe went missing, forcing its closure.
Which casts a long shadow on the rest of their “official” story.
But they are using all these devices to take the world by stealth. Let’s at least expose that.
ERRATUM: MKULTRA, not “iltra”, above, naturally (or not).. (Sometimes such typos slip past me while typing on a phone, but that one above all needed correctness!) This article below is a pretty useful overview in any “case”, though the sins of omission are always many and glaring when “Wikipedia”, ah, ‘handles’ such topics. I wonder if they have immunity….
One can hardly wonder at the nearly absolute lack of knowledge of the world and the U.S.’s role in it when one reads about these movies. We now have a populace so imbecilic that a woman nominated for the U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t know what a woman is. And young women sign up for the military apparently thinking it is the equivalent of a slumber party.
Well, it has, indeed, become a form of slumber party, morally. For many. I worked twenty years ago with a young Latino security guard, at the time that of the Iraq invasion, and he offered: “I thought if enlisting but I’m worried I’d be fighting on the wrong side.”
But those gung-ho? Comatose consciences? Vulnerability to wicked propaganda? That was what bedeviled France in the Nazi Occupation, 1940s.
But, as Joe Bageant points out in “Deer Hunting with Jesus”, the poverty draft afflicts many poor youngsters with the either/or options of military service or prison time, all whilst falling through the (growing) cracks of the economy. As he notes in telling the sad story of Lyndie England’s conviction (Abu Graibh) , it began with her going to high school in fatigues and sporting a wardrobe of war chic: “If life gives you s*** to eat, might as well bring your own fork.”
It would seem so, anyway, ever since Uncle $(c?)am went full rogue with our 2003 Iraq preemptive war (though that kind of belligerence had existed long before, if we are to consider such reliable testimony as most highly decorated General Smedley Butler 1930s book/speech: “War is a Racket”).
Mark Twain said something close to this: “It is a curious thing that physical courage is so common and moral courage so rare.”
Perhaps because amoral courage, that is abdicating deep sustained thought, is a kind of mere servile obedience, and moral courage takes a long-term commitment to an independently developed conscience?
Whatever the answer, I’m with Mark on that. It’s curious.
GK Chesterton: “My country right or wrong is like saying ‘my mother, sober or drunk'”.
Why was my comment not posted? The numbers showed that it was, but it doesn’t appear. Just wondering…..
Please explain, if you would be so kind, the disappearance of my original comment: about the roots of Intel infiltration in old time Hollywood, long long long before the “red dawn” of CIA in ’47. My attorney father was immersed in it, and paid the price, though I was only a teen on the outer periphery, and a tangential witness. But through a form of “forensic history” have connected many fits, as my(disappeared/unposted) comment shows.
“Inquiring minds want to know”.
Or should. LOL.
I am certain every reader, friend or foe, would find it speaks volumes about the pith of this issue, though only by way of a few paragraphs.
Erratum: “many firs” above should read “many dots” though it seems both work! LOL
[…] “Hollywood is Full of CIA Agents,” Says Ben Affleck […]
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Theaters of War is a new documentary. Where can it be purchased or seen in Canada (or the USA?)
Top Gun was about the Navy and naval aviators, not the Air Force and its pilots. The F-14s in the film were flown only by the Navy and were later replaced by F-18s. The Air Force had (and still has) F-15s and F-16s. Any recruiting stations set up outside of theaters would have been Navy, not Air Force.
The 2012 remake (not sequel) of Red Dawn was originally written to portray a Chinese invasion of the US, but the Chinese government made it clear that it would not allow such a film to be shown in China, which is a huge market. The film’s story was changed to portray a North Korean invasion, which was absolutely ridiculous because North Korea completely lacks any such capability. Apparently the Chinese have some “pull” in Hollywood as well.
The film Windtalkers was about the US Marine Corps’ Navajo code talkers, not US Army soldiers. To create unnecessary drama for the story line, the unit commander, played by Nicholas Cage, is ordered to kill any Navajo code talker Marines in danger of being captured. No such order ever existed, and in reality there were indeed code talkers who were taken prisoner by the Japanese. No fellow Marines ever considered shooting them to prevent their capture.
The aircraft in The Tuskegee Airmen were fighters, not fighter-bombers. The fillm appears to have been an attempt to recruit more blacks into the military by portraying the 332nd Fighter Squadron as far more than it actually was.
I recall during the early part of the Iraq occupation the Army asked Fox to tone down the number of torture scenes in 24 which seemed to be featured in every episode. Apparently its soldiers, avid TV watchers, were being inspired to torture captives to extract information out of them. This was too much, even for the Army, which probably recognized that information gained from torture was largely useless.
The Transformer films act like recruitment advertising for the military, particularly the Air Force. Military personnel are shown as smart, brave, selfless, moral, etc., in the face of overwhelming alien invasions, and the USAF’s advanced aircraft and other weapons systems are very positively portrayed. The military is not able to defeat the evil Decepticons only because the enemy has much more advanced technology. (Subtle message: Taxpayers should spend more on weapons technology.)
While I knew many good people in the military, there was also no shortage of liars, thieves, drunks, druggies, slackers, dummies, adulterers, perverts, etc. The areas outside of most military bases with large troop populations is indicative of what those in the military seek, particularly the younger soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines. Visit Killeen, Texas, outside of Fort Hood, or Fayetteville, North Carolina, next to Fort Bragg and you’ll see for yourself.
This is not true at all locations. For example, Scott AFB, IL, is mainly a HQ base for various commands and is full of senior officers and NCOs, not junior troops. There is no sleazy area just outside of the base appealing to the lowest desires. Go to Korea, however, and you’ll find that married people with spouses back in the States seem to forget their wedding vows and adultery is absolutely rampant. This will, of course, never be portrayed in any US-made film, but anyone who has been stationed there, and is willing to tell the truth, will confirm this is the reality.
Thank you very much for your very insightful post. I am a 70-year-old retired industrial electrician and was never in the military. I had a college deferment and when I lost that, I got a very high lottery number, the first year of the draft lottery. The second year I got a low number but fortunately, Nixon got us out of Vietnam; one of the very few good things that he ever did as president.
Before reading this column, I was well aware of the CIA’s involvement in Hollywood, TV, the newspapers and “news magazines.” I do not watch ANY TV, nor do I read any of the MSM media’s “news,” since it is all controlled by the CIA and at best, they only tell half the story, or more accurately, what they want the viewers to “know.” I go to alternative-news web sites and my criteria for them is that they condemn BOTH political parties equally, since both “parties” have been bought off 100% by the Big Money interests, the CIA, etc.
In the past 10 years, I have been doing a lot of studying on REAL history, both of the USA and also world history. It has taken me a long time to wake up to what is going on, but,even though I am powerless to change anything, I still try to educate myself. For this reason, I no longer take part in the charade called “voting” and NONE of the politicians in either party (or our “government”) speak for ME.
I have watched a few good videos on YouTube that have really opened my eyes. Among them are “All Wars Are Bankers’ Wars,” “JFK to 9/11: Everything Is A Rich Man’s Trick,” “Corporate Fascism” and “Freedom to Fascism.” I have great respect for Oliver Stone’s work. I admire him greatly, as I do John Pilger.
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