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Editors Introduction On Brainwashing: Mind Control, Media, and Warfare

ANDREAS KILLEN AND STEFAN ANDRIOPOULOS As the film The Manchurian Candidate (1962) nears its conclusion, army intelligence officer Bennett Marco tries to free Raymond Shaw, a decorated Korean War hero, from the hidden compulsions implanted in him by Communist brainwashers. Marco first elicits from Shaw the story of how he was programmed, then tells him that he is tearing out the wires . . . all the beautifully conditioned links. Shortly thereafter, Marco returns to the headquarters of his operation. The camera shows, in a medium shot, a dingy set of offices strangely festooned with wires and cables that crisscross the ceiling and dangle down nearly into the center of the camera frame. In the background a TV set transmits a live broadcast of the excited crowd gathered at the Republican National Convention, where the assassination Shaw has been programmed to commit will occur. The dangling wires seem both to materialize the circuitry in Shaws brain and to allude to the wider conditioning of audiences and publics that is one of the films themes. They provide visual confirmation of the way this film continually blurs the boundaries between external and internal threat, juxtaposing Chinese techniques of mind control with American advertising and television. How exactly are we to account for the sense of threat associated with brainwashing? From the beginning this was an unstable construct. In 1975, brainwashing specialist Louis Jolyon West, expert witness at the trial of Patricia Hearst, heard his own words (originally written in 1963) quoted back to him: Perhaps the most insidious threat posed by brainwashing is the tendency of Americans to believe in its power.1 This scene of reversal can serve as an initial point of departure for an inquiry into the history of this construct in political and cultural discourse from the Cold War to the present. Accordingly, one of the questions posed in this special issue is, Why and how did Americans come to believe in the power of brainwashing? How can we explain the surprising longevity of this notion, which persisted long after the imme-

Grey Room 45, Fall 2011, pp. 617. 2011 Grey Room, Inc. and Massachusetts Institute of Technology

diate crisis that gave birth to it? To what older narratives and anxieties did it relate? In short, how can we contextualize this term? One answer lies in the outbreak of the Cold War and the sense of panic it created in American society. Efforts to master this panic found expression in the rapid creation of a massive new intelligence infrastructure and in new frameworks of discourse, knowledge, and terminology. But if the notion of brainwashing emerged out of this conjuncture, it also resonatedand continues to resonatein numerous other contexts, and one of the aims of this collection of essays is to explore these as well. In addition to its place in the political demonology of the early Cold War, as prime emblem of the paranoid style that invaded political culture in the 1950s, another context that was constitutive of the emergence and acceptance of the term brainwashing was the contemporaneous literature on public relations and advertising. In this form the notion served as part of a critique of capitalist and technological modernity, an expression of anxieties about mass media and other forms of programming. The notion of brainwashing then reemerged in the 1970s, in connection with the discourse surrounding cults (in which Patty Hearst served as the main exhibit), but also, following the Church hearings that grew out of Watergate, in the exposure of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agencys (CIA) clandestine mind control programs, which had been implemented in the 1950s and 1960s.2 Most recently, the term has gained a new currency in accounts of radical Islam as a new totalitarian enemy that recruits followers through techniques of propagandistic and educational brainwashing. At the same time, the revelations surrounding the techniques adopted by the United States in its war on terror testify to the longevity of the paranoid practices associated with the term. Today, brainwashing has become part of the prehistory of contemporary techniques of enhanced interrogation or torture.3 A growing body of literature has traced these practices back to the CIAs KUBARK training manual, which was issued in 1963 and was itself the end result of a series of experiments, projects, and debates extending back to the beginning of the 1950s.4 The reverberations of these historical moments within political and cinematic narratives of mind controlbeginning with The Manchurian Candidate itself and extending to the Jason Bourne series, Shutter Island (2010), and Inception (2010) attests to the continual fascination exercised by the glimpse such narratives seem to offer into the secret operations of modern warfare. Edward Hunter, a CIA operative with a journalist cover, offered just such a glimpse in his first book about Communist brainwashing.5 Based on Hunters travels in and encounters with citizens of the Far

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East, the book provided for the American public a cognitive map of the new terrain of psychological warfare, a field that included propaganda (Hunters own specialty) and morale-building but also more covert programs, as well as the tactics of Communist interrogation and indoctrination that CIA director Allen Dulles dubbed brain warfare. Such operations defined a conflict that encompassed much of the globe and was untethered from any conventional battleground. Hunters new construct was perfectly matched to this new postwar geopolitical situation; it both grew out of and provided dramatic confirmation of the conceptual shift that marked the onset of the Cold War. As numerous scholars then and since have noted, the Cold War signaled a new era of conflicts not over direct domination but over spheres of influence. War was reconceived as having shifted from a battle to conquer geography to a battle to persuade hostile minds.6 Once the invention of brainwashing as a propaganda notion and practice is placed within a longer historical frame, it can be seen as part of a shift in forms of governmentality that made population rather than territory the key focus of administration and that correspondingly emphasized new methods of mass mobilization, ideological interpellation, and surveillance.7 At the same time, the birth of the national security state was marked by the institutionalization of a new and permanent state of emergency. One key moment in this development was the drafting in 1950 of National Security Council Report 68, a policy analysis that defined the new Cold War state of exception in terms of a paradigm that replaced containment with a global sense of threat and the need for forceful response.8 As U.S. specialists realized, this unending state of emergency demanded new forms of mental preparedness.9 Yet for a populace weary of conflict and still harboring deep isolationist tendencies, such preparedness and the sacrifices it implied demanded more than mere propaganda. As few other concepts could, brainwashing provided virtual laboratory demonstrations of what was at stake in the superpower conflict. Confined at first to Chinese citizens or to the trials of prominent Eastern Europeans like Cardinal Jzsef Mindszenty, the problem remained abstract. But it was soon brought closer to home with the first revelations of the strange behavior of U.S. Korean War POWs. Despite the considerable destruction and loss of life that marked this first test of the new national security paradigm, what turned the war into a major crisis for the United States was the spectacle of brainwashed American servicemenwhether confessing to germ warfare on radio broadcasts or refusing repatriation.10 From the first reports in the early 1950s the problem was cast as one in which

Killen and Andriopoulos | Editors Introduction: On Brainwashing

ordinary Americans, naive to the ways of a depraved world, were disadvantaged by a lack of knowledge. This knowledge deficit became a structural element of the discourse about brainwashing; it is made plain in a classified document from the mid1950s that circulated in U.S. intelligence circles. Titled Report on Brainwashing from a Psychological Viewpoint, the report blamed U.S. soldiers inability to resist Communist interrogation on a basic lack of awareness: they were unprepared to face, did not know, had not been taught, and so on.11 On the one hand, the problem called for a massive public education campaign (such as that offered by Hunters writings) as a means of stiffening resolve and creating a consensus for sacrifice. On the other hand, this problem demanded the mobilization of governmental and institutional resources on a large scale and a new alliance between the state and a host of social science disciplines. On both fronts, brainwashing quickly assumed its place as one of the essential forms of knowledge of the enemy, an indispensable trope in the discursive construction of the Cold War as a battle for the mind.12 But what did this knowledge consist of? In his early writings, Hunter assembled a wide range of materials to make a case for the plausibility of brainwashing: interviews with Chinese citizens and analysis of pamphlets; the practice of stage hypnosis; contemporaneous developments in psychiatry and cybernetics.13 Over time, more elaborate theories, and forms of evidence, found their way into the writings of Hunter and other authors, many of whom, such as Joost Meerloo and William Sargant, had credentials as psychiatric specialists.14 One strand of this discourse, which is analyzed by Andreas Killen in this issue, stressed the paradigmatic role of Ivan Pavlovs researches on reflex conditioning. At the same time, as Stefan Andriopoulos and Timothy Melley argue, discussions of brainwashing frequently made recourse to fictional accounts. Given the absence of compelling proof of the phenomenon, novels such as 1984 and Brave New World served a crucial role in authenticating allegations of Communist mind control. In a strange circularity, brainwashing discourse fell back on works of imagination to help document what had emerged as a strategic fiction in the first place. Rapidly assuming the status of a political axiom, a central fact of the Cold War, yet one lacking clear empirical basis, brainwashing inhabited a strange conceptual limbo, an epistemological Manchuria (a status it shared with other concepts, such as the missile gap).15 Counteracting the feared mind control gap, and at the same time addressing the evidentiary questions surrounding brainwashing, became the task of a small army of academic researchers contracted by the government to carry out analyses, write

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case studies, and conduct experiments. This Manhattan Project of the mind proved a bonanza for behavioral scientists, who soon expanded their original mandate in order to study the problem from an offensive standpoint, experimenting with hypnosis, drugs, and sensory deprivation in search of advantages in the field of brain warfare.16 Under the auspices of MK-ULTRA and other clandestine programs, many leading figures in the Cold War sciences of the mind became caught up in this enterprise. The new state of exception proved highly propitious for ambitious researchers, a handful of whommotivated by anti-Communist fervor but equally by a desire to penetrate the mysteries of the human organism, a powerful will to knoweven entertained the tantalizing possibility of terminal experiments.17 Much of their work, conducted in the name of defending democracy and human rights, pushed far beyond the boundaries of the ethically permissible, violating the very principles the Cold War was ostensibly fought to uphold. These contradictions are reflected in the terms such figures chose to describe their research. Ewen Cameron, a president of the American Psychiatric Association, compared his work as clinician to that of a Communist brainwasher and pursued an accordingly dark research program. Rebecca Lemov details how CIA-funded research into mind control culminated with Camerons experiments in psychic driving, in which patients were subjected to a barrage of electroshocks, LSD, and drug-induced sleep, as well as endlessly repetitive tape loops, in an effort to wipe their brains clean and instill a new program. As with the wiring in Raymond Shaws brain, we here encounter a conception of the brainwashed mind as a highly conditioned mechanism. In brainwashing discourse, to invert the subtitle of Marshall McLuhans Understanding Media , we see a conception of the human brain as an extension of our technical media. The Cold War experimentalization of the self in all its aspectsmemory, cognition, perceptionradically instrumentalized the idea of the human. At the same time, in a strange twist, the notion of brainwashing preserved a charismatic conception of selfhood via the figure of the brainwasher, who was often represented as the possessor of remarkable persuasive or hypnotic powers or as the representative for the sublime and terrifying agency of inscrutable forces.18 The obverse of the brainwashed subjects zombie-like Mindszenty gaze was the penetrating gaze of the brainwasher, who serves as a personification of various hypnotic technologies such as cinema and television.19 This constitutive link between mind control and media is analyzed in this issue in Killens, Andriopouloss, and Branden Josephs essays. The latter puts its focus on fantasies of programming and control that pervaded both brainwashing research funded by

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the CIA and avant-garde practices of biomusic. Yet despite the considerable resources invested in MK-ULTRA, its aims remained chimerical. Early fears that the Eastern bloc had discovered an esoteric new superweapon in the field of brain warfare proved exaggerated, and American hopes of designing a Manchurian operative gave way to a more limited view of the possibilities of mind control. When the results of a decades worth of research were finally distilled in the CIAs KUBARK manual in 1963, they amounted to a fairly prosaic inventory of interrogation methods, including stress, isolation, and sleep deprivation.20 Only in the 1970s did the scope of the CIAs mind control program become widely known. The resulting scandal might well have laid to rest the Manchurian candidate scenario, though ultimately it seemed to refuel many of the more lurid Cold War conspiracy theories. The Cold War dream, or nightmare, of brainwashing as a method of absolute mind control proved mythical. Yet, the demystification of brainwashing as a mere propaganda construct that served the political needs of the U.S. Cold War intelligence community fails to acknowledge the way this cultural fantasy took on a life of its own, becoming part of an ongoing feedback loop between paranoid fiction and paranoid practice.21 The purely ideological debunking of brainwashing also fails to account for the way this construct resonated with other anxieties of everyday life in the Cold War, anxieties that were crucial for the American invention and acceptance of brainwashing as a believable concept. A major site for the articulation of concerns about thought controlconcerns as paranoid, in their own way, as those of Hunter was the burgeoning field of public relations and advertising. The year Hunters first book appeared (1951) also marked the publication of McLuhans The Mechanical Bride, whose analysis of the efforts of advertising experts to get inside the collective public mind in order to manipulate, exploit, control sketched a reality as sinister as Hunters. The 1950s thus saw the appropriation and legitimatization of brainwashing as a scientific notion in conceptualizations of American society and its pathologies. The writings of Vance Packard and others identified a domestic social menace as disturbing as that posed by the Communists: the new media and sciences of publicity and their increasingly pervasive influence on American society.22 In describing publicity as a black art and warning darkly of its political ramifications, Packard posited a close affinity between advertising and the clandestine services.23 The issue posed so melodramatically by Raymond Shaws casethe degree to which we are masters of our own actions and thoughtswas precisely the issue at the heart of Packards book. McLuhan similarly revealed the spontaneity

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of our impulses to be a mirage by highlighting the insidious power and allure of advertising. In these analyses, humanist ideals of autonomous selfhood are placed in extreme jeopardy by the combined pressures of mass politics, modern science, and new forms of media and corporate power. Ideological contamination and consumerist manipulation, mind control both Communist- and capitalist-style, became an oft-invoked diagnosis of the age, an extreme formulation of a widely feared annexation of the self by ominous new forces.24 Viewed from this perspective, brainwashing becomes intelligible as a deeply rooted anxiety, a cultural fantasy that revolves around fears concerning the extent to which the I is always already other-directed, in the more sinister sense of the term.25 As Melley suggests, the fantasy of brainwashing helped negotiate a fundamental impasse of postwar liberal political culture: the wish to salvage individual agency and sovereignty in the face of impersonal forces of control and persuasion. The Cold War sciences of the mind, different facets of which are explored in each of the papers in this issue, had a highly ambiguous relation to this notion of an autonomous self threatened with the loss of its freedom. The mobilization of these sciences represented a response to the fear of possession by external forces. Yet, given the extent to which these sciences were themselves entangled in a range of invasive practices, from behaviorist psychology and public relations to electroshock, psychotropics, and lobotomy, they also became a principal factor in the acceleration of this condition. To find in Alison Winters genealogy of Cold War forensic hypnosis a practice that emerged against the backdrop of a deep preoccupation with mind control and yet asserted the essential stability and permanence of human memory is all the more striking. Nowhere is the conceptual ambiguity traced abovethe construction of brainwashing as knowledge of the enemy and as knowledge of American postwar modernity more fully realized than in The Manchurian Candidate, the most resonant of the paranoid fictions to emerge from this period and one with its own complex relation to paranoid practice.26 The figure of Bennett Marco serves as an assertion of selfhood that is beleaguered but that ultimately overcomes the programming and brainwashing to which it has been subjected. But the specter of mind control remains central to a narrative that renders the Soviet Union and the United States ultimately interchangeable. In its depiction of both Communist and capitalist mind control, of implanted memories and hystericized crowds, army intelligence men doubling as public relations officers, and Chinese brainwashers ironically paraphrasing cigarette ads, The Manchurian Candidate maps out a strange new space created in

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Cold War America by the convergence of new forms of state power, warfare, media, and science. In its refusal to ascribe a single origin to the practice of brainwashing, The Manchurian Candidate provides a model for how to think about this recent episode in political demonology. The present issue offers a series of soundings in a topic that has remained largely neglected by most professional historians, quarantined from the real history of the Cold War.27 Collectively these papers speak to a common desire to take brainwashing seriously as a topic of historical and theoretical study, and they navigate a critical path through the diverse materials that have emerged as crucial for a historiography of mind control, materials that include covert state projects such as MK-ULTRA, cultural artifacts such as The Manchurian Candidate, and the individual careers of iconic scientists such as D. Ewen Cameron. By historicizing and contextualizing the reciprocal exchanges among politics, science, culture, and the emergence of new media technologies, the papers in this issue offer a genealogy of a concept that cuts across different cultural realms of the Cold War era. At the same time, this special issue is also informed by an awareness of the way in which the partially occluded memory and history of the Cold War persists in our present state of exception. In the modern era war has always involved mind control, and the current wars are no different in this respect.28 This persistence of Cold War practices and notions can be observed on several levels, as is made clear by press reports of the Pentagons orchestration of media coverage of the war in Iraq and by accounts of CIA interrogation techniques, with their basis in a theory of learned helplessness rooted in experiments directly traceable to the earliest days of the Cold War.29 A largely forgotten chapter in history has now returned, and this return is marked by a sense of familiarity and strangeness: the weird feelings Hunter described in his first accounts of brainwashing, the uncanny sense of encountering something already known, have become our own weird feelings as the paradigms of the Cold War have morphed into those of the war on terror.

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Notes

We thank the editors of Grey Room for their support of this special issue, which is largely based on a colloquium that took place under the auspices of the Consortium for Intellectual and Cultural History at Deutsches Haus, Columbia University, in March 2010. We also thank the Rifkind Center at the City College of New York. 1. Charles P. Ewing and Joseph T. McCann, Minds on Trial: Great Cases in Law and Psychiatry (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2006), 38. 2. John Marks, The Search for the Manchurian Candidate (New York: Times Books, 1979); Alan Scheflin and Edward M. Opton Jr., The Mind Manipulators (New York: Paddington Press, 1978); and Walter Bowart, Operation Mind Control (New York: Dell, 1978). 3. See Jack Hitt, The Return of the Brainwashing Defense, New York Times, 15 December 2002, http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/15/magazine/the-year-in-ideas-return-of-the-brainwashingdefense-the.html. See also Tim Weiner, Remembering Brainwashing, New York Times, 6 July 2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/06/weekinreview/06weiner.html. 4. Jane Mayer, The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals (New York: Doubleday, 2008); Alfred McCoy, A Question of Torture (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2006); and Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2007). All are indebted to John Markss classic study. See also CIA, KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation (July 1963), in National Security Archive, George Washington University, http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB122/#kubark. 5. Edward Hunter, Brainwashing in Red China (New York: Vanguard Press, 1951); and Edward Hunter, Brainwashing: The Story of the Men Who Defied It (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Cudahy, 1956). 6. Ellen Herman, The Romance of American Psychology (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1996), 30. This point was originally made by, among others, Robert Tucker, in his Stalin and the Uses of Psychology (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corp., 1956). 7. See, for instance, Peter Holquist, Information Is the Alpha and Omega of Our Work: Bolshevik Surveillance in Its Pan-European Context, The Journal of Modern History 69 (1997): 415450; and Graham Burchell, Colin Gordon, and Peter Miller, eds., The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991). 8. See John Lewis Gaddis, Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of Postwar American National Security Policy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982). For a somewhat different view, see Melvyn Leffler, A Preponderance of Power: National Security, the Truman Administration, and the Cold War (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992). 9. Catherine Lutz, Epistemology of the Bunker, in Inventing the Psychological, ed. Joel Pfister and Nancy Schnoog (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997), 245270. 10. A recent study of this conflict is Bruce Cumings, The Korean War: A History (New York: Modern Library, 2010). 11. Brainwashing: The Communist Experiment with Mankind, attachment to Operations

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Coordinating Board, memorandum, Report on Brainwashing from a Psychological Viewpoint, 19 April 1953, in Box 124, OCB 702.5, Brainwashing and Psychological Examination, Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Abilene, KS. 12. See Eva Horn, Knowing the Enemy: The Epistemology of Secret Intelligence, Grey Room 11 (Spring 2003): 5885; and Ron Robin, The Making of the Cold War Enemy: Culture and Politics in the Military-Intellectual Complex (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001). Among the basic texts contributing to this knowledge of the enemy was Hannah Arendts Origins of Totalitarianism, published the same year (1951) as Hunters first book. For the Cold War as a battle for the mind, see, among others, William Sargant, Battle for the Mind: A Physiology of Conversion and Brainwashing (London: Heinemann, 1957). 13. Hunter, Brainwashing in Red China , 43. 14. Joost Meerloo, Rape of the Mind (New York: World Publishing Co., 1956); and Sargant. 15. Marks suggests the title of Richard Condons novel The Manchurian Candidate was inspired by a CIA source who informed Condon of a meeting at which reference had been made to individuals suffering a blank period of disorientation while passing through a special zone of Manchuria. Marks, 910. 16. McCoy, 7. 17. Marks, 19899. 18. For more on this, see Timothy Melley, Empire of Conspiracy: The Culture of Paranoia in Postwar America (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2000). 19. For an analysis of how an older set of fears concerning films power as a medium of dangerous influences was updated in the investigation by the House Un-American Activities Committee into Hollywoods role in spreading sedition, see Michael Rogin, Kiss Me Deadly : Communism, Motherhood, and Cold War Movies, in Ronald Reagan, The Movie: And Other Episodes in Political Demonology (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1988). For an analysis of early representations of cinema as a hypnotic medium, see Stefan Andriopoulos, Possessed: Hypnotic Crimes, Corporate Fiction, and the Invention of Cinema (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008). 20. CIA, KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation. See, however, Richard Helmss Strangelovean catalogue of Soviet mind control methods in his report to the Warren Commission. Bowart, Operation Mind Control, Appendix I. 21. For a purely demystifying approach to brainwashing, see, for instance, Scheflin and Opton, 216. 22. Marshall McLuhan, The Mechanical Bride (New York: Vanguard, 1951); Vance Packard, The Hidden Persuaders (New York: David McKay Co., 1957); Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisited (New York: Harper and Row, 1958); and Daniel Boorstin, The Image, or What Happened to the American Dream (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1961). 23. Packard, 201. 24. For other contemporary resonances, see Jean-Paul Sartre, preface to Frantz Fanon, Wretched of the Earth, trans. Constance Farrington (New York: Grove Press, 1963) (as well as Fanons text itself). See also Guy Debord, The Struggle for Control of New Techniques of Conditioning, Situationist International 1 (1958), reprinted in Christopher Gray, ed. and trans., Leaving the Twentieth Century:

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The Incomplete Work of the Situationist International (London: Rebel Press, 1998), 911. 25. David O. Riesmans The Lonely Crowd (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1950) defines the other-directed personality as being oriented toward others, but we use the term here as denoting a state of being controlled by external forces. 26. Among the uncanny effects generated by this film were rumors of its withdrawal from circulation a year after its release, following the assassination of John F. Kennedy by Lee Harvey Oswald, a figure who bore all the hallmarks of a sleeper agent and whose stay in the Soviet Union made him a candidate for status as a Manchurian operative. On Oswalds trigger-films, see Rogin, Kiss Me Deadly. 27. Recent studies have begun to redress this situation. See, for instance, Matthew F. Jacobson and Gaspar Gonzlez, What Have They Built You to Do? The Manchurian Candidate and Cold War America (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006); and Susan Carruthers, Cold War Captives: Imprisonment, Escape, and Brainwashing (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2010). 28. Christopher Simpson, The Science of Coercion: Communication Research and Psychological Warfare, 19451960 (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1996); Michael Geyer, The Militarization of Europe 19141945, in The Militarization of the Western World, ed. John Gillis (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1989); and Holquist, 415450. 29. See David Barstow, Behind TV Analysts, Pentagons Hidden Hand, New York Times, 20 April 2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/20/us/20generals.html. See also Jane Mayer, The Secret History, The New Yorker, 22 June 2009, http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/06/22/090622fa_ fact_mayer.

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