Why would George W. Bush commute the death sentence of convicted serial killer Henry Lee Lucas, especially when Bush had a track record of overseeing more judicial executions than any other governor in US history? Why Lee Lucas, and why the special exception in his case? We’ll return to this question later.
In the swirling storm of the Covid pandemic the (under)world of conspiracy theories was thrust into the mainstream conversation, and many were displeased. I wrote an article defending conspiratorial thought in response to this mostly dismissive outcry. One thing I noticed in the robust cultural debate around conspiracy theories, was an analysis from voices on the political left. It said, yes, conspiracy theories are mostly outlandish claptrap that explain the world for confused and frightened people, but, they do contain a kernel of truth about a system that’s rigged for the wealthy. The real problem, these responses go, is that it’s really the unjust system of neoliberal capitalism that’s creating the conditions where a moneyed elite rule over the rest of us in obscene splendor, while the rest struggle to survive. It’s not the Illuminati, or some dark cabal of forces craftily leading the sheeple into a dystopian nightmare, but simply the very material structures of our society that create the starkly unequal conditions we’re living under. So there’s no need to try and sleuth our way to exposing the hidden machinations of supposed shadowy elites. Instead, we just need to understand the structural inequalities that are baked into late capitalism. No conspiracy theories required.
I agree that neoliberal (crony, monopoly) capitalism has been engineered to benefit a small section of the population, to the detriment of most people and the earth. But I think the left needs to also have a more clear and honest understanding of who the elites are, and what kind of dark forces are really at play behind the public curtain. And I think one of the great muckraking journalists of the left, Naomi Klein, can be the bridge upon which we can tie these two perspectives together, the critique of neoliberalism and a more conspiratorial recognition of sinister powers who run that system in often ruthless, amoral and criminal ways. In her 2007 book The Shock Doctrine, Klein began the book by talking about the CIA’s mind-control experiments MKUltra, and she noted how the economic ‘shock doctrine’ deployed by the neoliberal capitalist class looked very similar to the methods used in those often horrific experiments. We’ll talk more about MKUltra in a moment. In Klein’s book, the link between MKUltra and the shock doctrine worked mostly as a comparative metaphor, along with a sort of open possibility that maybe what was learned via MKUltra experimentation was literally used in places like Chile and other parts of South America. A recent book, Strange Tales of the Parapolitical: Postwar Nazis, Mercenaries, and Other Secret History, has cemented in my mind that knowledge from MKUltra was indeed applied in the 1973 Chile coup and beyond. We’ll get more into that book later.
Although many reviewers of The Shock Doctrine openly mocked the MKUltra dimensions of the book at the time, it looks like Naomi Klein intuited something very important and very real. In this piece we’ll touch on a whole host of grim subjects including MKUltra, Nazi’s, torture, serial killers, economic hitmen, and trauma-based entertainment, among others. Through the macabre tour of recent history that will follow, I hope to convince some folks on the left (or wherever we find ourselves politically) that a material analysis of our economic system is not enough to understand the tormented reality of our world at the moment. To achieve some sort of liberation from the unending chaos that’s constantly besieging us, especially in 2020, we need to fearlessly shine our light in the darkness and take a cold hard look at the sick reality that lurks behind the twisted veil.
Interrogations, Assassins, and the Mind Reprogrammed- MKUltra
At the heart of the whole story in this piece is MKUltra, so we’ll start with that and fan out from there. MKUltra was a series of behavioral modification experiments undertaken by the CIA from 1953 until 1973, when the program was said to be officially shut down (a point that’s debatable). The pretense for the program was the Cold War, and the belief by the CIA that the Soviet Union and Maoist China might’ve developed brainwashing techniques that could be used on their own people, and on captured soldiers, such as what seemingly happened to US soldiers during the Korean War. The CIA quickly began their own set of experiments into the realm of brainwashing and mind control. The program “engaged in many illegal activities, including the use of unwitting US and Canadian citizens as its test subjects. MKUltra research included at least 80 institutions, 44 colleges and universities, as well as hospitals, prisons, and pharmaceutical companies. The CIA operated through these institutions using front organizations, although sometimes top officials at these institutions were aware of the CIA’s involvement. The program consisted of some 149 subprojects which the Agency contracted out to various universities, research foundations, and similar institutions. At least 80 institutions and 185 private researchers participated. Most of the official records were destroyed in 1973 by order of then CIA director Richard Helms” (Horsley, Vice of Kings, p.68).
Fortunately, some documents miraculously survived this pre-emptive destruction by Helms. Over 20,000 documents were improperly filed and then discovered during a Freedom of Information Act that was filed in 1977. Much of what we know about the program comes from these documents, as well as other documents that have been declassified over time. The MKUltra program was searching for a variety of things, but chief among them were three main categories, all of which were successfully achieved by the experiments. These include: 1) To discover ways people could successfully be interrogated, i.e. to make them spill the beans when being questioned. Through MKUltra the CIA discovered many successful methods of “no-touch torture”, psychological warfare techniques such as sleep deprivation, humiliation, isolation, starvation, sexual abuse, electric shock, and prolonged stress positions, that eventually break a person down completely. These techniques went on to form the heart of the CIA’s KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation Manual, which would be used from Latin American to Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, and was taught by the CIA to the militaries of many dictatorships and other violently repressive regimes. The trail of horror from this tributary of MKUltra alone could fill a great lake with its tales of suffering, brutality, and pain.
Number 2), the CIA wanted to create an assassin that could carry out a killing and not remember it afterwards, the infamous ‘Manchurian Candidate’. The surviving MKUltra documents state that this was successfully achieved, when through hypnosis experimenters got a CIA secretary to leave her desk, fire a gun (with blanks), and then return to her desk, not remembering any of it. When we absorb this fact, we open to the possibility that many future murderers and assassins may have been programmed through MKUltra techniques, including hypnosis. In recent years the defense team of Sirhan Sirhan, the alleged killer of Robert F. Kennedy Jr, has made the case that Sirhan was actually “hynoprogrammed to do the killing”. You can watch more on the possibility of MKUltra trained assassins in this excellent breakdown of the subject by the Dark Journalist. The ‘hypnoprogrammed’ assassin could also make for a great patsy, the ‘lone nut’ killer we’ve become so familiar with. Take Mark David Chapman for instance, the supposed killer of John Lennon (I say supposed because there were more bullet holes at the crime scene than could’ve come from Chapman’s gun). After shooting Lennon he could’ve run away, but instead he just folded his jacket and sat there waiting for the police to arrive, very odd behaviour to say the least. A pair of books have recently claimed, based on increasing evidence, that Chapman was indeed a mind-controlled CIA patsy. While the world mourned the ‘senseless’ killing of John Lennon, perhaps the true killers were quietly celebrating their removal of an opponent from the grand chessboard.
A companion to the assassin still in category 2) of what the CIA hoped to achieve with MKUltra, was a courier who could be programmed to take highly sensitive information to a source, and not remember any of it. George Estabrooks, a psychology professor on the payroll of the CIA who specialized in hypnosis, boasted openly, “The key to creating an effective spy or assassin rests in splitting a man’s personality, or creating multi-personality, with the aid of hypnotism…This is not science fiction…I have done it”. The process Estabrooks discovered “allowed the intelligence community to create “Super Spies”—unwitting ‘agents’ who were willing to follow any orders unquestioningly. Among other duties, these Super Spies made ideal couriers, since they could be fed sensitive information while in a controlled dissociative state and thereafter have no conscious awareness that they were transporting important data. Even under torture, the Super Spy would reveal nothing—for as far as he (or she) was aware, there was nothing to reveal! Someone at the receiving end who was familiar with the Super Spy’s programming, however, could readily extract the information—after which the Super Spy would remain blissfully unaware that a mission had been successfully completed” (McGowan, Programmed to Kill, xvi). The Jason Bourne books and films have explored much of this overall territory, as have films such as Jacob’s Ladder and Mel Gibson’s Conspiracy Theory.
The final goal of the MKUltra experiments that I want to highlight, was to find a way to wipe clean and then reprogram the human mind. Two MKUltra doctors openly claimed to have achieved this goal, although the methods they used were less than savoury. The first was the infamous MKUltra doctor and master of horrors Ewan Cameron, who was working out of McGill University in Montreal. In The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein writes, “According to his published papers from the time, [Cameron] believed that the only way to teach his patients healthy new behaviors was to get inside their minds and “break up old pathological patterns”. The first step was “de-patterning”, which had a stunning goal: to return the mind to a state when it was, as Aristotle claimed, “a writing tablet on which as yet nothing stands written”, a tabula rasa. Cameron believed he could reach that state by attacking the brain with everything known to interfere with its normal functioning- all at once. It was “shock and awe” warfare on the mind” (p.34). Another MKUltra doctor, John C. Lily, used massive doses of LSD on his subjects (including children), among other techniques, to achieve the same goal of wiping the mind clean and reprogramming it. In his book Programming and Metaprogramming in the Human Biocomputer he claimed to have achieved success in this goal. Jay Dyer writes, “With Dr. Lilly, the human mind itself is merely a biocomputer that could be altered, and de-patterned, reprogrammed and modified at will by a handler…Far from MKUltra being a fringe operation, it is everything- the holy grail of manipulating man’s inner world of psyche, as Lilly discussed at length” (Dyer, Esoteric Hollywood 2, p.196).
From the Death Camps of Auschwitz to the Secret Labs of the US- The Nazi Connection
So we can see that these CIA experiments, often illegal and highly unethical, managed to discover many new ways of controlling and manipulating the human mind. But these kinds of experiments did not start with the CIA. Steven Kinzer, author of the 2019 book Poisoner in Chief about MKUltra doctor Sidney Gottlieb, says that the CIA experiments were “a continuation of the work begun in WWII-era Japanese facilities and Nazi concentration camps on subduing and controlling human minds”. This Nazi connection is very important, and also central to the overall topic of this piece as we’ll see. As most people are aware, the Nazi’s carried out gruesome experiments on humans in the concentration camps, with many people dying during the testing. It’s important to stop and really absorb what kind of cold sadistic mentality it must have taken, to stand and watch people die so that ‘scientific’ information could be extracted for the war effort. For example, the Nazi’s did ‘freezing experiments’ on human subjects in an attempt to learn how to prevent and treat hypothermia. During the experiments, “The subjects were immersed in ice water for hours on end. They pleaded to be shot to escape their unbearable agony”. Can you imagine just sitting there watching someone slowly die, terror in their eyes, as you calmly noted the material details of the experiment? In other experiments, Dr Sigmund Rascher did testing on the effects of high altitude on human survival. This is what he wrote in his notes about one experiment- “The fate of a 37- year-old Jew in good general condition who, at ever increasing altitudes, began to perspire, to wiggle his head, [and to suffer from severe] cramps. Breathing increased in speed and [he] became unconscious...Severest cyanosis developed...and foam appeared at the mouth. After breathing had stopped [an electrocardiogram] was continuously written until the action of the heart had come to a complete standstill. One half hour [later] dissection was started”.
These diabolical Nazi experiments didn’t end in the concentration camps. Following WWII, the United States government and military made a deal with the devil and recruited Nazi scientists through Operation Paperclip, as part of their effort to battle the Soviet Union in what would become the Cold War. In total, “1,600 former Nazis were recruited in preparation for total war with the Soviet Union. Of the 21 scientists followed in the book, six of them stood trial at Nuremberg, Haaretz notes. In other words, these were some of the most maniacally brilliant minds of the genocidal Third Reich, working side-by-side with American intelligence”. Among the Nazi’s that were brought over through Project Paperclip were those who had done human experiments in the camps. These experiments continued within the MKUltra umbrella, as documented in Annie Jacobson’s mainline book Operation Paperclip. There’s an unbroken lineage between the mind control experiments undertaken by the CIA, and the horrors that had begun in the Nazi death camps.
The US collaboration with the Nazi’s extended far beyond MKUltra. In 1946, Allen Dulles, later head of the CIA from 1953 to 1961, pushed for a deal to recruit General Reinhard Gehlen, Hitler’s top anti-Soviet spy and a “genuine monster”, into the US intelligence sphere. This resulted in the Gehlen Organization, which answered directly to the CIA. My co-writer Son of Korg, in an article entitled We’re In A Very Fascist Moment…Just Not The Way You Think, summed up the Nazi seepage into Western societies following WWII: “The Nazi (or Fascist International) state [survived] beyond the German borders [after] the end of World War II. And that transnational, extra-territorial Nazi/Fascist state embedded itself within the deepest layers of the Western (esp. Anglo-American) system: corporate, intelligence, military, scientific and technological, even in the realms of the paranormal/occult…The Fascist International’s deep ties to the criminal underworld set the template for the nexus of the CIA and other Western intelligence agencies to work with the criminal underground and self-fund off books black operations through the global drug trade, human slavery/sex slavery, blackmail (think Epstein), and gun running”.
A large network of core Nazi’s survived World War 2, often getting away through “ratlines”, a series of escape routes often supported by the Catholic Church. That’s something we don’t hear about very often. And they managed to quietly seep their way into key positions in the global military industrial complex, including the intelligence agencies of several countries. Klaus Barbie, the Butcher of Lyon who personally tortured hundreds of people to death in France, continued his trade in Bolivia for the dictator Hugo Banzer during the 1970s. Josef Mengele, the notorious ‘Angel of Death’, took up residence in Buenos Aires where he practiced medicine, specializing in illegal abortions.
US intelligence took in over 1000 former Nazis to work as anti-Soviet spies. This is how Victor Marchetti, former CIA officer who became a critic of the organization, described the makeup and reach of this (Nazi influenced) CIA network in his 1972 book The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence: “There exists in our nation today a powerful and dangerous secret cult -- the cult of intelligence. Its holy men are the clandestine professionals of the Central Intelligence Agency. Its patrons and protectors are the highest officials of the federal government. Its membership, extending far beyond governmental circles, reaches into the power centers of industry, commerce, finance, and labor. Its friends are many in the areas of important public influence -- the academic world and the communications media. The cult of intelligence is a secret fraternity of the American political aristocracy”.
The US deal with the fascist devil created a clandestine network that became incredibly violent and ruthless in its actions across the international chessboard upon which it operated, and as we’ll argue, continues to operate. As Son of Korg somewhat solemnly said at the end of the above-mentioned article, “The history of the 21st century makes deep though horrifying sense in light of the study of the Nazis. All the noise, dissonance, disinformation and fog of confusion that lies heavy on the world in this moment is perfectly understandable with a deep study of the Nazis”. Let’s look at some further tentacles of this dark and insidious global octopus.
A Nazi Trained Yasser Arafat? The Exportation of Terrorism
Otto Skorzeny was a lieutenant colonel in the Nazi’s Waffen-SS, a paramilitary wing of the Nazi party. Skorzeny was daring, intelligent, ruthless, and Hitler’s favorite commando. He escaped an internment camp in 1948 in Darmstadt, Germany, while waiting for his ‘denazification’ trial by the Allies. After eighteen months on the run he was recruited into Reinhard Gehlen’s spy network. Following this he had an incredible hand in the widespread terrorism that besieged the globe in the second half of the 20thcentury. His influence on many heinous acts of terrorism and terrorist groups is a remarkable story that is grossly under told. According to a 1981 biography of Skorzeny by Glenn Innsfield entitled, Skorzeny, Hitler’s Commando, Skorzeny was sent by Gehlen in 1952 to be a military advisor to General Mohammed Naguid, who had just taken over Egypt. When in Egypt, Skorzeny “recruited a staff of former SS officers to mask themselves as converted Muslims and train elite young Mujahideen and the Egyptian Army in terrorist tactics…It was Skorzeny who trained Arab volunteers in guerrilla warfare tactics to use against the British troops stationed in the Suez Canal zone. Palestinian refugees also received commando training, and Skorzeny planned their initial strikes into Israel via the Gaza Strip in 1953-1954. One of these young Palestinians was Yasser Arafat, who went on to become the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)”.
The great terror teacher did not stop with his exploits in Egypt and his jumpstarting of the type of Islamicist terrorism the world has become painfully familiar with in recent decades. Skorzeny also “lived in Ireland from 1959-1969 and is suspected of training IRA militants in guerilla warfare and domestic terrorism tactics involving explosives, kidnapping, and sabotage, according to [the book] Nazis, Islamists, and the Making of the Modern Middle East”. Other groups started to copy his methods- “In West Germany, the Baader-Meinhof Group used Skorzeny’s civilian kidnapping and political disruption tactics to disrupt the West German state…Further afield, Rubin and Schwanitz report, the Weather Underground and the Symbionese Liberation Army both read up on Skorzeny’s methods when they were building their own movements”. Skorzeny even worked for the Israeli Mossad at some point. The guy got around.
During these same periods the CIA was up to similar activities. In only three of many possible examples, the CIA helped back anti-communist terrorists during Italy’s terrible ‘years of lead’ (1968-1988), a traumatic series of terrorist bombings that Italy is still trying to heal from. In the 1970s the CIA was also part of The Safari Club, an alliance of intelligence agencies who carried out anti-communist missions in Africa and the Middle East. The CIA also offered support for Operation Condor, another cooperative alliance of intelligence agencies in South America, whose operations, “Frequently involved assassinations and “disappearing” political agitators. The Condor network also maintained extensive files on “anti-regime activists”…and [they] were knee deep in drug trafficking” (Snider, Strange Tales of the Parapolitical, 73-74).
The trail of broken bodies and maimed limbs and lingering trauma from the above series of covert terror operations is incalculable. Its mostly hidden history lies painfully under the surface of countless damaged human lives strewn across the planet. These brutal actions display a total disregard for human life, and an ongoing attempt to shut down any human political free-will that’s found going against the interests of a powerful moneyed elite, and the vicious intelligence agencies that serve them with such calculated ruthlessness.
From Broken Bodies to Broken Minds- The ‘Evolution’ of Torture
As was stated earlier, the CIA learned many methods of “no-touch torture” through their MKUltra experiments. As Naomi Klein writes, the CIA KUBARK enhanced interrogation manual is “heavily based on the research commissioned by MKUltra…The manual describes several techniques that were honed to de-pattern patients in the basement of the Allan Memorial Institute…Dr. Cameron’s experiments laid the scientific foundation for the CIA’s two-stage psychological torture method” (Shock Doctrine, p.44-46). Alfred W. McCoy, historian and author of A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism (2006), writes that this kind of torture was “the first real revolution in this cruel science since the 17th century”. And although this might seem ‘gentler’ than breaking on the rack and other older torture techniques, McCoy says, “Although seemingly less brutal, no-touch torture leaves deep psychological scars. The victims often need long treatment to recover from trauma far more crippling than physical pain”.
These hideous torture techniques were quickly exported out of MKUltra and into various theaters of war around the world. The CIA deployed them during the Vietnam war in their infamous Phoenix Program, where tens of thousands of Vietnamese civilians (suspected of complicity with the enemy) were tortured and murdered. According to the book State Terrorism and Neoliberalism: The North in the South, some of the methods used included, “Rape, gang rape, rape using eels, snakes, or hard objects, and rape followed by murder; electric shock (‘the Bell Telephone Hour’) rendered by attaching wires to the genitals or other sensitive parts of the body, like the tongue; the ‘water treatment’; the ‘airplane’ in which the prisoner’s arms were tied behind the back, and the rope looped over a hook on the ceiling, suspending the prisoner in midair, after which he or she was beaten; beatings with rubber hoses and whips; the use of police dogs to maul prisoners”.
In a September 16th, 2001 interview with Tim Russert on NBC, then US Vice President Dick Cheney notoriously said that in response to the 9/11 attacks, the US would “also have to work, through, sort of the dark side, if you will. We've got to spend time in the shadows in the intelligence world”. When reading the nauseating description of torture techniques used in the Phoenix Program, one can see that the CIA started working through the dark side a very long time ago. It did carry on during the post 9/11 ‘war on terror’ years however, and many more bodies and minds were broken in places like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, all based on the techniques derived by Cameron in the MKUltra experiments. Torture has been a weapon wielded against dissidents, often from the left, all over the world in the quest for full spectrum dominance. As Naomi Klein writes, “From Chile to China to Iraq, torture has been a silent partner in the global free market crusade” (Shock Doctrine, p.18).
Chile and the Caravan of Death
On September 11th, 1973, the democratically elected socialist government of Salvador Allende was overthrown by a military coup, led by Chilean General Auguste Pinochet. The methods used by Pinochet “so thoroughly traumatized the populace that they were incapable of mounting any meaningful resistance to policies being implemented” (Snider, Strange Tales, p.191). Pinochet understood that “limited violence used in a highly public fashion was far more devastating to a nation than stealthy murdering tens of thousands of people. It was the ultimate spectacle that inspired real terror, not the ultimate body count (Ibid, p.122)…Pinochet embraced the propaganda of the deed. In the immediate aftermath of the coup, political opponents were rounded up and interred at Chile’s National Stadium where they were publicly subjected to MKULTRA-like techniques" (Ibid, p.121). At the two main football stadiums in Santiago, over 13,000 people were imprisoned for six weeks of MKUltra style horrors. The lights stayed on at all times, disorienting people so they couldn’t get a sense of time. There was the constant presence of“soldiers [who] prowled the bleachers with hooded collaborators who pointed out “subversives”; the ones who were selected were hauled off to locker rooms and skyboxes were transformed into makeshift torture chambers. Hundreds were executed. Lifeless bodies started showing up on the sides of major highways or floating in murky urban canals” (Klein, Shock Doctrine, p.89). Victor Jara, a Chilean singer poet and political activist, was among those interred at the stadium. Soldiers broke his hands so he couldn’t sing, then shot him forty times, and hung his body at the door of the stadium for others to see. The whole scene at the stadiums was one giant theatre of cruelty.
The carnage wasn't just relegated to the two stadiums though. As Naomi Klein writes, “To make sure the terror extended beyond the capital city, Pinochet sent his most ruthless commander, General Sergio Arellano Stark, on a helicopter mission to the northern provinces to visit a string of prisons where “subversives” were being held. At each city and town, Stark and his roving death squad singled out the highest profile prisoners, as many as twenty-six at a time, who were subsequently executed. The trail of blood left behind over those four days came to be known as the Caravan of Death. In short order, the entire country had gotten the message: resistance is deadly” (Shock Docrtine, p.89).
There’s been considerable debate over the years about the degree of involvement by the CIA in the 1973 Chilean coup. At a minimum the CIA knew of the coming coup, but over the years various scholars and researchers, along with a CIA whistleblower or two, have strengthened the case that the CIA’s involvement was significant and contributed to its success. We do know that the CIA sent their agent Michael Townley only months after the coup to work for the DINA, the Chilean secret police. Townley was later convicted for several assassinations. Townley’s Chilean wife Mariana Callejas, a writer and also an undercover DINA agent, used to hold famous Thursday literary salons in her home, all the while- unbeknownst to those attending- dissidents were being tortured in their basement. A Nazi connection was not far away in Chile either. Former Nazi turned evangelical cult leader Paul Schafer, set up Colonia Dignidad in Chile with his followers in 1961, after fleeing Germany for child abuse charges. The colony was reportedly in close contact with the post-war Nazi underground, often referred to as ODESSA (Snider, Strange Tales, 62). During the Pinochet regime, “Schaefer, through an informal alliance with the Pinochet regime, allowed Colonia Dignidad to serve as a torture and execution center for the disposal of enemies of the state”.
Once again, the trail from the Nazi concentration camps to MKUltra had continued on into yet another river of tears full of macabre horrors and shattered bodies. When those on the left today think that it’s simply ‘the system’ that’s creating our current unjust and cruel world, I think we can see that there’s something far deeper and darker that’s rigging the world away from a future that might be better for all.
Loans, Economic Hitmen, and the Dreaded Jackals
It has long been the bailiwick of the left to offer detailed material critiques of the unjust structures of post WWII Bretton Woods capitalism, such as those emanating out of the World Bank and the IMF. One in particular that's been the subject of important criticism, are the structural adjustment programs that come along with big loans from those two institutions. One person who worked closely with the IMF and World Bank in administering loans to ‘developing’ countries was John Perkins, author of the 2004 bestseller Confessions of an Economic Hitman. Perkins explains, through his own experience, how the process works: “I would identify countries with resources that our corporations covet, like oil, and arrange huge loans to those countries from the World Bank or one of its sister organizations…The money never actually went to the country. The money would go directly to American corporations, primarily engineering firms like Halliburton, GE, Bechtel, Westinghouse, to build big infrastructure projects in these countries, that made our corporations very wealthy…It helped a few rich people in the country, people who owned industry and commerce, because they benefitted from more electricity, better highways, better ports, the things that we built. But the rest of the country suffered, the majority of people lost out because money was diverted from health, education and other social services, to pay the interest on the debt. And in the end the principal could never be brought down. That was part of the plan. So we’d go back and say heh, you can’t pay your debts, so sell us your resources, oil or whatever, real cheap to our corporations without environmental or social regulations. Or let us build a military base on your soil. Vote with us on your next United Nations vote against Cuba, or some such thing. These things that we called conditionalities”.
Did the leaders of the targeted countries go along with all this? They did. For two reasons. One, it would benefit them and their cronies and the wealthy people who ran the country, even if the majority of the citizenry lost out. So they stayed wealthy and in power. But the other reason? If the countries didn’t play ball, the economic hit men would move aside, and the dreaded ‘jackals’ would move in, CIA sanctioned teams that would either overthrow or assassinate them. Perkins tells the story of working with the president of Ecuador, Jaime Roldus Aguilera, and the Panamanian president, Omar Torrijos, both of whom he liked very much. But both ultimately refused to cooperate with the demands of the economic hitmen. Both men subsequently died in plane crashes. Perkins claims they were killed by the jackals. When critics try and scoff at this suggestion, Perkins rightly points out that we do now know that the CIA had a hand in the assassinations of Mossadeq (Iran), Allende (Chile), Arbenz (Guatemala), Diem (Vietnam), and Lumumba in the Congo. Would a couple more be too much of a stretch? And from what we’ve read so far in this piece, do you think people who are willing to rape women with eels or dump mutilated bodies into canals as warnings, wouldn’t be willing to murder a couple of leaders who won’t comply with their program?
The kind of ‘capitalism’ that has run roughshod over the earth during the last seventy years, is one highly distorted by dark barbaric forces that are willing to rig the game at every turn, no matter what it takes. And what it has taken is a substantial amount of murder, torture, deception, skullduggery, and the callous siphoning of wealth from many countries, leaving tens of millions of people to struggle and starve. Hiding beneath the surface of the last seventy years of post-WW2 capitalism, has been one long and terrible dirty war, one where any form of popular resistance to this neo-fascist world order has been ruthlessly crushed.
Strangling Democracy- The Use of Serial Killers as a Weapon of War
Can it get any worse than the parade of ghastly stories we’ve already heard in the previous sections? Sadly, it can. In this final section of Pt.1 of this piece, I’m going to return to the beginning, and talk about the subject of serial killers. In 2004, author and researcher Dave McGowan wrote a book called Programmed to Kill- The Politics of Serial Murder. In it McGowan comes to a startling conclusion about many of the serial killers that arose in the late 1960s and beyond, mainly in the United States. These serial killers were not the ‘lone nut’ troubled madmen they’ve been portrayed to be in media and movies. Rather, these serial killers were victims of MKUltra style programming, they were steered and moulded by intelligence agencies to be the horrific killers they became.
As one piece of evidence in support of this claim, McGowan talks about the case of a US Navy psychologist Dr. Narut, who made some unauthorized comments when talking at a NATO conference in Oslo in 1975. Narut told the people who had gathered there “how the Navy was secretly programming large numbers of assassins. He said that the men he had worked with for the Navy were being prepared for commando-type operations, as well as covert operations in U.S. embassies worldwide. He described the men who went through his program as ‘hit men and assassins’ who could kill on command. Careful screening of the subjects was accomplished by Navy psychologists through the military records...and many were convicted murderers serving military prison sentences”.
Many serial killers have had horrifyingly traumatic childhoods. That part of the stereotypical serial killer profile is true. But US military intelligence scanned prisons and psychiatric wards to find those with the most traumatic childhoods, ones that had already led to a life of violence and crime. And then these people were subjected to MKUltra programming, to make them into the kind grim and sadistic killers that they became. In his recent bestselling book CHAOS- Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties, investigative journalist Tom O'Neil makes that case that Manson was one such MKUltra victim. We'll return to that book in Pt.2 of the article. What was the purpose behind programming these serial killers? It seems that the use of these killers has been at least four-fold. First, they make good assassins for targeted killings. It’s pretty easy for intelligence agencies and their criminal networks to hide safely behind the ‘senseless’ murder of a ‘lone nut’ killer. Secondly, and relatedly, they can make good patsies. Murders that they didn’t commit can be added to their tally, thus throwing the public and the media off the scent of who was really behind the crimes.
The third possible purpose is rather disturbing. Which is saying a lot given what we’ve read so far. But there’s apparently a market for both torture porn and snuff porn, and these serial killers were making it. A Scandinavian man named Patrick has been making a huge video series based on Dave McGowan’s book. In an interview on the podcast William Ramsey Investigates, he said that one overlooked and often obfuscated aspect of the stories of many serial killers, is that they had (often sophisticated and expensive) video equipment and were filming their murders. According to Patrick, Jeffrey Dahmer had such equipment, but we almost never hear that part of his story. For most of us who aren’t psychopaths, the notion of viewing this kind of material is abhorrent in the extreme. It seems almost outrageously dubious to even suggest that this is real. But alas, it is. In only one example (I’ll spare the reader), a child snuff porn ring was busted in Europe in the year 2000. Apparently, some sadistic segments of society get off on this kind of thing, and there’s big enough money to be made on this highly secretive video material, that butchers were created get the heinous job done.
The last reason for the creation of serial killers is one that could be the main reason this program was truly undertaken. To terrify the public. As McGowan writes, “With the possible exception of school and workplace shootings, nothing better serves to facilitate the promotion of a ‘law-and-order’ agenda than the palpable fear aroused by the sociopathic killer—a fear that propels the population into an every-man-for-himself mentality. Anyone, after all, could be a serial killer, hiding behind a mask of civility: a co-worker, a friend, a neighbor- even a family member…The ultimate goal, and one that we are rapidly approaching, is the destruction of all social bonds and the obliteration of any remaining sense of community—the complete atomization of society” (p.306-307). When your goal is to subjugate and control societies, especially ones that are supposed to be 'free democracies' with 'free markets', fear of our fellow man goes a long way. Nothing destroys the possible healing and generative bonds of community and human connection, then fear of our neighbor, fear to let our children play alone or in the streets, and fear of strangers. As a weapon of social engineering and psychological warfare, the serial killer was a particularly effective one.
In Pt. 2 of Naomi Klein’s Bridge- Neoliberalism, MKUltra, and the Long Trauma War, I want to turn more toward social engineering and look at how the mind control techniques discovered in the Nazi death camps of WW2, and expanded upon during MKUltra, have been turned against societies as a whole in our era. It’s too simple I’m afraid to chalk up the madhouse disaster that is our current world, to simply the unjust structures of capitalism. As I hope I made a case for in Pt.1 of this piece, there are dark forces at work under the surface of our world rigging the game at every turn, and mercilessly killing hope wherever it arises. Until we lift the veil on this wicked hidden hand, we’ll never arrive at that more beautiful world that sits groaning in our pregnant future.
Before we depart Pt.1, let’s return to the question we began with. Why did George W. Bush, the happy hangman, stave off the execution of such a hideous serial killer such as Henry Lee Lucas? It’s hard to say. But perhaps it was a favor ordered from the corridors of top secret halls, a little last minute thank you for a job well done.