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Not to be confused with Double-talk.
Doublespeak is language that deliberately disguises, distorts, or reverses the meaning of words.
Doublespeak may take the form of euphemisms (e.g., "downsizing" for layoffs, "servicing the target" for bombing), in which case it is primarily meant to make the truth sound more palatable.
It may also refer to intentional ambiguity in language or to actual inversions of meaning (for example, naming a state of war "peace").
In such cases, doublespeak disguises the nature of the truth. Doublespeak is most closely
associated with political language.
1 Origins and concepts
2 Theoretical approaches 2.1 Conflict theories
2.2 Contemporary writings
3 Main contributors to Doublespeak 3.1 William Lutz
3.2 The NCTE Committee on Public Doublespeak 3.2.1 Hugh Rank
3.2.2 Daniel Dieterich
3.2.3 Critique of NCTE
4 Modern uses of Doublespeak 4.1 Doublespeak in advertising 4.1.1 The Rule of Parity
4.2 Education to combat Doublespeak 4.2.1 Intensify/Downplay pattern
4.3 Doublespeak in politics 4.3.1 The Doublespeak Award
5 See also
8 External links
Origins and concepts
The term "doublespeak" probably has its roots in George Orwell's book, Nineteen Eighty-Four. Although the term is not used in the book, it is a close relative of one of the book's central concepts, "doublethink". Another variant, "doubletalk," also referring to deliberately ambiguous speech, did exist at the time Orwell wrote his book, but the usage of "doublespeak" as well as of "doubletalk" in the sense emphasizing ambiguity clearly postdates the publication of Nineteen Eighty-Four. Parallels have also been drawn between Doublespeak and Orwell's classic essay Politics and the English Language, which discusses the distortion of language for political purposes.
Edward S. Herman, political economist and media analyst, has highlighted some examples of doublespeak and doublethink in modern society. Herman describes in his book, Beyond Hypocrisy the principal characteristics of doublespeak:
What is really important in the world of doublespeak is the ability to lie, whether knowingly or unconsciously, and to get away with it; and the ability to use lies and choose and shape facts selectively, blocking out those that don’t fit an agenda or program.
In his essay "Politics and the English Language", George Orwell observes that political language
serves to distort and obfuscate reality. Orwell’s description of political speech is extremely similar
to the contemporary definition of doublespeak;
In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible… Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness… the great enemy of clear language is insincerity. Where there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, ...
Although the theories that premise doublespeak are still indefinite, there are some theories that have parallels with the theory of doublespeak and Orwell's ideology in Nineteen Eighty-Four and might possibly provide a better understanding of where doublespeak's theories could have come from.
Due to the inherently deceptive nature of doublespeak as well as its prominent use in politics, doublespeak has been linked to the sociological perspective known as conflict theories. Conflict theories detract from ideas of society being naturally in harmony, instead placing emphasis on political and material inequality as its structural features. Antonio Gramsci's concepts on cultural hegemony, in particular, suggest that the culture and values of the economic elite – the bourgeoisie – become indoctrinated as ‘common sense’ to the working-class, allowing for the maintenance of the status quo through misplaced belief. Being himself one of the leaders of the Communist Party of Italy, (CPI), his theories had, in turn, been strongly influenced by the German social thinker Karl Marx, and have their ideological roots grounded in Marxist theory of false consciousness and capitalist exploitation. While Gramsci's views argue that culture (beliefs, perceptions and values) allows the ruling class to maintain domination, Marx's explanation is along more economic lines, with concepts such as commodity fetishism demonstrating how the ideology of the bourgeoisie (in this case, the existence of property as a social creation rather than an 'eternal entity') dominate over that of the working classes. In both cases, both philosophers argue that one view - that of the bourgeoisie - dominates over others, hence the term conflict theories.
On the other hand, Terrence P. Moran of the NCTE has compared the use of doublespeak in the mass media to laboratory experiments conducted on rats, where a batch of rats were deprived of food, before one half was fed sugar and water and the other half a saccharine solution. Both groups exhibited behavior indicating that their hunger was satisfied, but rats in the second group (which were fed saccharine solution) died from malnutrition. Moran highlights the structural nature of doublespeak, and notes that social institutions such as the mass media adopt an active, top-down approach in managing opinion. Therefore, Moran parallels doublespeak to producing an illusionary effect;
This experiment suggests certain analogies between the environments created for rats by the scientists and the environments created for us humans by language and the various mass media of communication. Like the saccharine environment, an environment created or infiltrated by doublespeak provides the appearance of nourishment and the promise of survival, but the appearance is illusionary and the promise false.
Doublespeak might also have some connections with contemporary theories as well. Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky note in their book that Orwellian Doublespeak is an important component of the manipulation of the English language in American media, through a process called ‘dichotomization’; a component of media propaganda involving ‘deeply embedded double standards in the reporting of news’. For example, the use of state funds by the poor and financially needy is commonly referred to as 'social welfare' or 'handouts', which the 'coddled' poor 'take advantage of'. These terms, however, do not apply to other beneficiaries of government spending such as tax incentives and military spending.
Examples of the structural nature of the use of Doublespeak have been made by modern scholars. Noam Chomsky argues in Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media that people in modern society consist of decision-makers and social participants who have to be made to agree. According to Chomsky, the media and public relations industry actively shape public opinion, working to present messages in line with their economic agenda for the purposes of controlling of the 'public mind'. Contrary to the popular belief that indoctrination is inconsistent with democracy, Chomsky goes so far as to argue that 'it's the essence of democracy.'
The point is that in a ... totalitarian state, it doesn't much matter what people think because ... you can control what they do. But when the state loses the bludgeon, when you can't control people by force and when the voice of the people can be heard, ... you have to control what people think. And the standard way to do this is to resort to what in more honest days used to be called propaganda. Manufacture of consent. Creation of necessary illusions.
Edward Herman's book Beyond Hypocrisy also includes a doublespeak dictionary of commonly employed media terms and phrases into plain English.
Henceforth, conflict theories demonstrates the dominating ideology of the bourgeoisie and Moran's theory highlights that doublespeak produces an illusionary effect; both theories having parallels to Orwell's ideology in Nineteen Eighty-Four. Similarly, Herman's theory of doublespeak having an inherent nature to be manipulative and Chomsky's theory of 'dichotomization' relates directly to the practice of doublespeak and how doublespeak is deliberately deceptive in nature.
Main contributors to Doublespeak
William D. Lutz, serves as the third chairman of the Doublespeak Committee since 1975 to the present. In 1989, both his own book Doublespeak and, under his editorship, the committee's third book, Beyond Nineteen Eighty-Four, were published. Lutz was also the former editor of the now defunct Quarterly Review of Doublespeak, which examines ways that jargon has polluted the public vocabulary with phrases, words and usages of words designed to obscure the meaning of plain English. His book, Beyond Nineteen Eighty-Four, consists of 220 pages and eighteen articles contributed by long-time Committee members and others whose body of work has made important contributions to understandings about language, as well as a bibliography of 103 sources on doublespeak. 
Lutz is one of the main contributors to the committee as well as promoting the term "doublespeak" to a mass audience so as to inform them of the deceptive qualities that doublespeak contains. He mentions:
There is more to being an effective consumer of language than just expressing dismay at dangling modifiers, faulty subject and verb agreement, or questionable usage. All who use language should be concerned whether statements and facts agree, whether language is, in Orwell's words 'largely the defense of the indefensible' and whether language 'is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.'" 
He also mentions that the NCTE Committee on Public Doublespeak and their works with regards to educating the public on doublespeak is responsible for "the rather awesome task of combating the advertisers, the politicians, and the major manipulators of public language in our society." 
Lutz states that it is important to highlight doublespeak to the public because "language isn't the invention of human beings to lie, deceive, mislead, and manipulate" and the "purpose of language is to communicate the truth and to facilitate social groups getting together". Thus, according to Lutz, doublespeak is a form of language that defeats the purpose of inventing language because doublespeak does not communicate the truth but seeks to do the opposite and the doublespeak committee is tasked with correcting this problem that doublespeak has created in the world of language.
The NCTE Committee on Public Doublespeak
Main article: National Council of Teachers of English
The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Committee on Public Doublespeak was formed in 1971, in the midst of the Watergate scandal, at a point when there was widespread skepticism about the degree of truth which characterized relationships between the public and the worlds of politics, the military, and business. NCTE passed two resolutions. One called for the Council to find means to study dishonest and inhumane uses of language and literature by advertisers, to bring offenses to public attention, and to propose classroom techniques for preparing children to cope with commercial propaganda. The other called for the Council to find means to study the relations of language to public policy, to keep track of, publicize, and combat semantic distortion by public officials, candidates for office, political commentators, and all those who transmit through the mass media. Bringing the charges of the two resolutions to life was accomplished by forming NCTE's Committee on Public Doublespeak, a body which has acquitted itself with notable achievements since its inception. The National Council's publications on doublespeak have made significant contributions in describing the need for reform where clarity in communication has been deliberately distorted. Such structures can be applied to the field of education, where they could conceivably initiate an anti-pollution bandwagon in educational communication and educate people on how to counter doublespeak.
William Lutz stated that "the doublespeak committee was formed to combat the use of public language by increasing people's awareness of what is good, clear, solid use of language and what is not." "The committee does more than help students and the general public recognize what doublespeak is; it dramatizes that clarity of expression reflects clarity of thought."
Hugh Rank formed the Doublespeak committee and was the first chairman of this committee. Under his editorship, the committee produced a book called Language and Public Policy (1974), with the aim of informing readers of the extensive scope of doublespeak being used to deliberately mislead and deceive the audience. He highlighted the deliberate public misuses of language and provided strategies for countering doublespeak by focusing on educating people in the English language so as to help them identify when doublespeak is being put into play. He was also the founder of the Intensify/Downplay pattern that has been widely used to identify instances of Doublespeak being used.
Daniel Dieterich served as the second chairman of the Doublespeak committee after Hugh Rank in 1975. He served as editor of its second publication, Teaching about Doublespeak (1976),which carried forward the Committee's charge to inform teachers of ways of teaching students how to recognize and combat language designed to mislead and misinform.
Critique of NCTE
A. M. Tibbetts is one of the main critics of the NCTE, claiming that 'the Committee's very approach to the misuse of language and what it calls "doublespeak" may in the long run limit its usefulness'. According to him, the 'Committee's use of Orwell is both confused and confusing'. The NCTE's publications resonate with George Orwell's name, and allusions to him abound in statements on doublespeak; for example, the committee quoted Orwell's remark that "language is often used as an instrument of social control" in Language and Public Policy. Tibbetts argues that such a relation between NCTE and Orwell's work is contradicting because 'the Committee's attitude towards language is liberal, even radical' while 'Orwell's attitude was conservative, even reactionary'. He also criticizes on the Committee's 'continual attack' against linguistic 'purism'.
Modern uses of Doublespeak
Whereas in the early days of the practice it was considered wrong to construct words to disguise meaning, this is now an accepted and established practice. There is a thriving industry in constructing words without explicit meaning but with particular connotations for new products or companies. Doublespeak is also employed in the field of politics. Hence, education is necessary to recognize and combat against doublespeak-use effectively.
Doublespeak in advertising
Advertisers can use doublespeak to mask their commercial intent from users, as users' defenses against advertising become more well entrenched. Some are attempting to counter this technique, however, with a number of systems which offer diverse views and information which highlights the manipulative and dishonest methods that advertisers employ.
According to Jacques Ellul, “the aim is not to even modify people’s ideas on a given subject, rather, it is to achieve conformity in the way that people act." He demonstrates this view by offering an example from drug advertising. By using doublespeak in advertisements, aspirin production rose by almost 50 percent from over 23 million pounds in 1960 to over 35 million pounds in 1970.
The Rule of Parity
William Lutz's book on "The Rule of Parity" illustrates how doublespeak is being employed in the advertising industry.
Lutz uses the example of parity products: products in which most, if not all, brands in a class or category are of similar quality. To highlight the uniqueness of their product, advertisers may choose to market it differently from their competitors. Advertising is used to create the impression of superiority. This is shown in the first rule of parity, which involves the use of the words "better" and "best". In parity claims, "better" means "best", and "best" means "equal to".
Lutz goes on to say that when advertisers state that their product is “good", it is equivalent in meaning to saying that their product is the best. If all the brands are similar, they must all be similarly good. When they claim that their product is the "best", they mean that the product is as good as the other superior products in its category. Using the toothpaste industry as an example, Lutz says that, because there is no dramatic difference among the products of the major toothpaste companies today, they are equal. However, if all of the different toothpastes are good and equal, there is no need to prove their claim. On the contrary, advertisers cannot market their products as “better” as it is a comparative term, and a claim of superiority.
Education to combat Doublespeak
Educating students has been suggested by experts to be one of the ways to counter doublespeak. Educating students in the English language is important to help them identify how doublespeak is being used to mislead and conceal information.
Charles Weingartner, one of the founding members of the NCTE committee on Public Doublespeak mentioned: “people do not know enough about the subject (the reality) to recognize that the language being used conceals, distorts, misleads”. There is a crucial need for English language teachers to educate and become experts in teaching about linguistic vulnerability. “Teachers of English should teach our students that words are not things, but verbal tokens or signs of things that should finally be carried back to the things that they stand for to be verified. Students should be taught a healthy skepticism about the potential abuse of language but duly warned about the dangers of an unhealthy cynicism.
According to William Lutz: “Only by teaching respect and love for the language can teachers of English instill in students the sense of outrage they should experience when they encounter doublespeak." "Students must first learn to use the language effectively, to understand its beauty and power.” “Only by using language well will we come to appreciate the perversion inherent in doublespeak.” 
This pattern was formulated by Hugh Rank and is a simple tool designed to teach some basic patterns of persuasion used in political propaganda and commercial advertising. As it was formulated to educate the public on how to counter doublespeak via education, its aim was to reach the widest possible audience of citizens. It was prepared to be incorporated within a wide variety of existing programs and textbooks in English, speech, media, communications, journalism, social studies. The NCTE has endorsed this pattern as a useful way of teaching students to cope with propaganda from any source.
The function of the Intensify/Downplay pattern is not to dictate what should be discussed but to encourage coherent thought and systematic organization. The pattern works in two ways: intensifying and downplaying. All people intensify and this is done via repetition, association and composition. Downplay is commonly done via omission, diversion and confusion as they communicate in words, gestures, numbers, et cetera. Individuals can better cope with organized persuasion by recognizing the common ways whereby communication is intensified or downplayed, so as to counter doublespeak.
Doublespeak in politics
Doublespeak is often used to avoid answering questions or to avoid the public's questions without directly stating that the specific politician is ignoring or rephrasing the question.
The Doublespeak Award
Main article: Doublespeak Award
Doublespeak is often used by politicians for the advancement of their agenda. The Doublespeak Award is an "ironic tribute to public speakers who have perpetuated language that is grossly deceptive, evasive, euphemistic, confusing, or self-centered." It has been issued by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) since 1974. The recipients of the Doublespeak Award are usually politicians, national administration or departments. An example of this is the United States Department of Defense, which won the award three times in 1991, 1993, and 2001 respectively. For the 1991 award, the United States Department of Defense 'swept the first six places in the Doublespeak top ten'  for using euphemisms like "servicing the target" (bombing) and "force packages" (warplanes). Among the other phrases in contention were "difficult exercise in labor relations", meaning a strike, and "meaningful downturn in aggregate output," an attempt to avoid saying the word "recession".
Dec 17, 2019 | countercurrents.org
In the 1920s, the influential American intellectual Walter Lippman argued that the average person was incapable of seeing or understanding the world clearly and needed to be guided by experts behind the social curtain. In a number of books he laid out the theoretical foundations for the practical work of Edward Bernays , who developed "public relations" (aka propaganda) to carry out this task for the ruling elites. Bernays had honed his skills while working as a propagandist for the United States during World War I, and after the war he set himself up as a public relations counselor in New York City.
There is a fascinating exchange at the beginning of Adam Curtis's documentary, The Century of Self , where Bernays, then nearly 100 years old but still very sharp, reveals his manipulative mindset and that of so many of those who have followed in his wake. He says the reason he couldn't call his new business "propaganda" was because the Germans had given propaganda a "bad name," and so he came up with the euphemism "public relations." He then adds that "if you could use it [i.e. propaganda] for war, you certainly could use it for peace." Of course, he never used PR for peace but just to manipulate public opinion (he helped engineer the CIA coup against the democratically elected Arbenz government in Guatemala in 1954 with fake news broadcasts). He says "the Germans gave propaganda a bad name," not Bernays and the United States with their vast campaign of lies, mainly aimed at the American people to get their support for going to a war they opposed (think weapons of mass destruction). He sounds proud of his war propaganda work that resounded to his credit since it led to support for the "war to end all wars" and subsequently to a hit movie about WWI , Yankee Doodle Dandy , made in 1942 to promote another war, since the first one somehow didn't achieve its lofty goal.
As Bernays has said in his book Propaganda ,
The American motion picture is the greatest unconscious carrier of propaganda in the world today.
He was a propagandist to the end. I suspect most viewers of the film are taken in by these softly spoken words of an old man sipping a glass of wine at a dinner table with a woman who is asking him questions. I have shown this film to hundreds of students and none has noticed his legerdemain. It is an example of the sort of hocus-pocus I will be getting to shortly, the sly insertion into seemingly liberal or matter-of-fact commentary of statements that imply a different story. The placement of convincing or confusing disingenuous ingredients into a truth sandwich – for Bernays knew that the bread of truth is essential to conceal untruth.
In the following years, Bernays, Lippman, and their ilk were joined by social "scientists," psychologists, and sundry others intent on making a sham out of the idea of democracy by developing strategies and techniques for the engineering of social consensus consonant with the wishes of the ruling classes. Their techniques of propaganda developed exponentially with the development of technology, the creation of the CIA, its infiltration of all the major media, and that agency's courting of what the CIA official Cord Meyer called in the 1950s "the compatible left," having already had the right in its pocket. Today most people are, as is said, "wired," and they get their information from the electronic media that is mostly controlled by giant corporations in cahoots with government propagandists. Ask yourself: Has the power of the oligarchic, permanent warfare state with its propaganda and spy networks increased or decreased over your lifetime. The answer is obvious: the average people that Lippman and Bernays trashed are losing and the ruling elites are winning.
This is not just because powerful propagandists are good at controlling so-called "average" people's thinking, but, perhaps more importantly, because they are also adept – probably more so – at confusing or directing the thinking of those who consider themselves above average, those who still might read a book or two or have the concentration to read multiple articles that offer different perspectives on a topic. This is what some call the professional and intellectual classes, perhaps 15-20 % of the population, most of whom are not the ruling elites but their employees and sometimes their mouthpieces. It is this segment of the population that considers itself "informed," but the information they imbibe is often sprinkled with bits of misdirection, both intentional and not, that beclouds their understanding of important public matters but leaves them with the false impression that they are in the know.
Recently I have noticed a group of interconnected examples of how this group of the population that exerts influence incommensurate with their numbers has contributed to the blurring of lines between fact and fiction. Within this group there are opinion makers who are often journalists, writers, and cultural producers of some sort or other, and then the larger number of the intellectual or schooled class who follow their opinions. This second group then passes on their received opinions to those who look up to them.
There is a notorious propaganda outfit called Bellingcat , started by an unemployed Englishman named Eliot Higgins, that has been funded by The Atlantic Council, a think-tank with deep ties to the U.S. government, NATO, war manufacturers, and their allies, and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), another infamous U.S. front organization heavily involved in so-called color revolution regime change operations all around the world, that has just won the International Emmy Award for best documentary. The film with the Orwellian title, Bellingcat: Truth in a Post-Truth World, received its Emmy at a recent ceremony in New York City.
Bellingcat is an alleged group of amateur on-line researchers who have spent years shilling for the U.S. instigated war against the Syrian government, blaming the Douma chemical attack and others on the Assad government, and for the anti-Russian propaganda connected to, among other things, the Skripal poisoning case in England, and the downing of flight MH17 plane in Ukraine.
It has been lauded by the corporate mainstream media in the west. Its support for the equally fraudulent White Helmets (also funded by the US and the UK) in Syria has also been praised by the western corporate media while being dissected as propaganda by many excellent independent journalists such as Eva Bartlett, Vanessa Beeley, Catte Black, among others. It's had its work skewered by the likes of Seymour Hersh and MIT professor Theodore Postol, and its US government connections pointed out by many others, including Ben Norton and Max Blumenthal at The Gray Zone. And now we have the mainstream media's wall of silence on the leaks from the Organization for the Prohibition on Chemical Weapons (OPCW) concerning the Douma chemical attack and the doctoring of their report that led to the illegal U.S. bombing of Syria in the spring of 2018. Bellingcat was at the forefront of providing justification for such bombing, and now the journalists Peter Hitchens, Tareq Harrad (who recently resigned from Newsweek after accusing the publication of suppressing his revelations about the OPCW scandal) and others are fighting an uphill battle to get the truth out.
Yet Bellingcat: Truth in a Post-Truth World won the Emmy , fulfilling Bernays' point about films being the greatest unconscious carriers of propaganda in the world today.
Who presented the Emmy Award to the film makers, but none other than the rebel journalist Chris Hedges . Why he did so, I don't know. But that he did so clearly sends a message to those who follow his work and trust him that it's okay to give a major cultural award to a propaganda outfit. But then, perhaps he doesn't consider Bellingcat to be that.
Nor, one presumes, does The Intercept , the billionaire Pierre Omidyar owned publication associated with Glen Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill, and also read by many progressive-minded people. The Intercept that earlier this year disbanded the small team that was tasked with reviewing and releasing more of the massive trove of documents they received from Edward Snowden six years ago, a minute number of which have ever been released or probably ever will be. As Whitney Webb pointed out , last year The Intercept hosted a workshop for Bellingcat. She wrote:
The Intercept , along with its parent company First Look Media, recently hosted a workshop for pro-war, Google-funded organization Bellingcat in New York. The workshop, which cost $2,500 per person to attend and lasted five days, aimed to instruct participants in how to perform investigations using "open source" tools -- with Bellingcat's past, controversial investigations for use as case studies Thus, while The Intercept has long publicly promoted itself as an anti-interventionist and progressive media outlet, it is becoming clearer that – largely thanks to its ties to Omidyar – it is increasingly an organization that has more in common with Bellingcat, a group that launders NATO and U.S. propaganda and disguises it as "independent" and "investigative journalism."
Then we have Jefferson Morley , the editor of The Deep State, former Washington Post journalist, and JFK assassination researcher, who has written a praiseworthy review of the Bellingcat film and who supports Bellingcat. "In my experience, Bellingcat is credible," he writes in an Alternet article, "Bellingcat documentary has the pace and plot of a thriller."
Morley has also just written an article for Counterpunch – "Why the Douma Chemical Attack Wasn't a 'Managed Massacre'" – in which he disputes the claim that the April 7, 2018 attack in the Damascus suburb was a false flag operation carried out by Assad's opponents. "I do not see any evidence proving that Douma was a false flag incident," he writes in this article that is written in a style that leaves one guessing as to what exactly he is saying. It sounds convincing unless one concentrates, and then his double messages emerge. Yet it is the kind of article that certain "sophisticated" left-wing readers might read and feel is insightful. But then Morley, who has written considerably about the CIA, edits a website that advertises itself as "the thinking person's portal to the world of secret government," and recently had an exchange with former CIA Director John Brennan where "Brennan put a friendly finger on my chest," said in February 2017, less than a month after Trump was sworn in as president, that:
With a docile Republican majority in Congress and a demoralized Democratic Party in opposition, the leaders of the Deep State are the most -- perhaps the only -- credible check in Washington on what Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) calls Trump's " wrecking ball presidency ."
Is it any wonder that some people might be a bit confused?
"I know what you're thinking about," said Tweedledum; "but it isn't so, nohow."
"Contrariwise," continued Tweedledee, "if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic."
As a final case in point, there is a recent book by Stephen Kinzer , Poisoner in Chief: Sidney Gottlieb And The CIA Search For Mind Control, t he story of the chemist known as Dr. Death who ran the CIA's MK-ULTRA mind control project, using LSD, torture, electric shock therapy, hypnosis, etc.; developed sadistic methods of torture still used in black sites around the world; and invented various ingenious techniques for assassination, many of which were aimed at Fidel Castro. Gottlieb was responsible for brutal prison and hospital experiments and untold death and suffering inflicted on all sorts of innocent people. His work was depraved in the deepest sense; he worked with Nazis who experimented on Jews despite being Jewish himself.
Kinzer writes in depth about this man who considered himself a patriot and a spiritual person – a humane torturer and killer. It is an eye-opening book for anyone who does not know about Gottlieb, who gave the CIA the essential tools they use in their "organized crime" activities around the world – in the words of Douglass Valentine, the author of The CIA as Organized Crime and The Phoenix Program . Kinzer's book is good history on Gottlieb; however, he doesn't venture into the present activities of the CIA and Gottlieb's patriotic followers, who no doubt exist and go about their business in secret.
After recounting in detail the sordid history of Gottlieb's secret work that is nauseating to read about, Kinzer leaves the reader with these strange words:
Gottlieb was not a sadist, but he might well have been . Above all he was an instrument of history. Understanding him is a deeply disturbing way of understanding ourselves.
What possibly could this mean? Not a sadist? An instrument of history? Understanding ourselves? These few sentences, dropped out of nowhere, pull the rug out from under what is generally an illuminating history and what seems like a moral indictment. This language is pure mystification.
Kinzer also concludes that because Gottlieb said so, the CIA failed in their efforts to develop methods of mind control and ended MK-ULTRA's experiments long ago. Why would he believe the word of a man who personified the agency he worked for: a secret liar? He writes,
When Sydney Gottlieb brough MK-ULTRA to its end in the early 1960s, he told his CIA superiors that he had found no reliable way to wipe away memory, make people abandon their consciences, or commit crimes and then forget them.
As for those who might think otherwise, Kinzer suggests they have vivid imaginations and are caught up in conspiracy thinking: "This [convincing others that the CIA had developed methods of mind control when they hadn't] is Sydney Gottlieb's most unexpected legacy," he asserts. He says this although Richard Helms, the CIA Director, destroyed all MK-Ultra records. He says that Allen Dulles, Gottlieb, and Helms themselves were caught up in a complete fantasy about mind control because they had seen too many movies and read too many books; mind control was impossible, a failure, a myth, he maintains. It is the stuff of popular culture, entertainment. In an interview with Chris Hedges, interestingly posted by Jefferson Morley at his website, The Deep State , Hedges agrees with Kinzer. Gottlieb, Dulles, et al. were all deluded. Mind control was impossible. You couldn't create a Manchurian Candidate; by implication, someone like Sirhan Sirhan could not have been programmed to be a fake Manchurian Candidate and to have no memory of what he did, as he claims. He could not have been mind-controlled by the CIA to perform his part as the seeming assassin of Senator Robert Kennedy while the real killer shot RFK from behind. People who think like this should get real.
Furthermore, as is so common in books such as Kinzer's, he repeats the canard that JFK and RFK knew about and pressured the CIA to assassinate Fidel Castro. This is demonstrably false, as shown by the Church Committee and the Assassinations Record Review Board, among many others. That Kinzer takes the word of notorious liars like Richard Helms and the top-level CIA operative Samuel Halpern is simple incredible, something that is hard to consider a mistake. Slipped into a truth sandwich, it is devoured and passed on. But it is false. Bullshit meant to deceive.
But this is how these games are played. If you look carefully, you will see them widely. Inform, enlighten, while throwing in doubletalk and untruths. The small number of people who read such books and articles will come away knowing some history that has no current relevance and being misinformed on other history that does. They will then be in the know, ready to pass their "wisdom" on to those who care to listen. They will not think they are average.
But they will be mind controlled, and the killer cat will roam freely without a bell, ready to devour the unsuspecting mice.
Edward Curtin is a writer whose work has appeared widely. He teaches sociology at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. His website is http://edwardcurtin.com/
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