2016 will no doubt be remembered for many, many things, few of them especially positive. But there is no doubt in my mind that two TV series that aired over the course of this strange year will be seen as prophetic in the years to come. One was a rival of one of the most revered and influential shows of the past quarter century while the other was an upstart series that premiered on Netflix, which will no doubt be at the forefront of cutting edge entertainment as the old Hollywood system continues to wither on the vine.
I am of course referring to The X-Files event series and Stranger Things. The former was as good of an assessment of the United States in 2016 as one could hope to find. It depicted a nation tearing apart at the seams, awash in disinformation (the Tad O'Malley Show chillingly depicted the rise of the far right "alternative media"), hopelessly divided along class (the gentrification of "Home Again") and ethnic/religious lines ("Babylon"), with the specter of an out-of-control national security apparatus gearing up for the final putsch ("My Struggle I & II") looming over the whole thing.
The X-Files thrived during the Clinton years and returned to the air just as the Clinton train was about to go permanently off the rails. Longtime Clinton insider John Podesta raised the specter of the UFO question during the campaign trail and even flirted with Tom DeLonge's revived Disclosure project like it was 1999. This marked the first serious discussions the political elite have had concerning the UFO question since the last Clinton presidency. But as the end of the year approaches, Podesta is increasingly linked to even more sinister interests, least of all "spirit cooking."
Stranger Things would go a step further, effectively offering up a take on the CIA/Pentagon ARTICHOKE and MKOFTEN experiments that did not fall prey to the mind control red herring. Instead, it boldly embraced the little discussed psi and nonhuman intelligence components that underlined these experiments, as was addressed here. The use of Eleven to breach the "Upside Down World" eerily hinted at Andrija Puharich's contacts with The Nine, which were almost surely carried out under the auspices of ARTICHOKE (noted before here).
While Stranger Things was set in the 1980s and was largely based upon experiments that had already been concluded by the time Ronnie Raygun was elected president, it re-introduced the ARTICHOKE and OFTEN projects (as well as the much more well known but not nearly as significant MKULTRA experiments) to the national conscience at a time when they seem especially relevant.
Increasingly, the Trump administration is looking like a junta dominated by the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). As was noted before here, General Michael T. Flynn, Trump's handpicked choice for the powerful position of National Security Advisor, cut his teeth in the JSOC. He was the chief intelligence officer for General Stanley McChrystal during his tenure heading the JSOC and played a key role in the institution's use of drone warfare and "enhanced" interrogation methods. But Flynn is not the only former military man close to Trump with ties to the JSOC.
McChrystal himself was at one point being considered for Trump's VP slot (along with his "former" intelligence chief, Flynn). McChrystal reportedly declined not only the Veep spot, but any role Trump might offer him in his administration back in July. Still, McChrystal is reportedly being considered for a slot in Trump's cabinet, possibly the prestigious post of Secretary of State.
|General Stanley McChrystal|
|Betsy prince DeVos|
"Although the CIA would take much of the credit and criticism for the US drone program in Pakistan, it was not the only player. JSOC had its own intelligence operations inside Pakistan and, at times, conducted its own drone strikes. At the center of both the JSOC and CIA targeted-killing programs were members of an elite division of Blackwater, who assisted in planning the assassinations of suspected Taliban and al Qaeda operatives, 'snatch and grabs' of high-value targets and other sensitive actions inside Pakistan. Some elite Blackwater SELECT personnel worked for the CIA at 'hidden bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where the company's contractors assemble and load Hellfire missiles and 500-pound laser-guided bombs on remotely piloted Predator aircraft.
"Blackwater operatives also worked for JSOC on a parallel program that was run out of Bagram Air Base in neighboring Afghanistan. US military intelligence and company sources told me that some Blackwater personnel were given rolling security clearances above their approved level. Using Alternative Compartmentalized Control Measures (ACCMs), the Blackwater personnel were granted entry to a Special Access Program. 'With an ACCM, the security manager can grant access to you to be exposed to and operate within compartmentalized programs far above "secret" – even though you have no business doing so,' a US military intelligence source told me. It allowed Blackwater personnel who 'do not have the requisite security clearance or do not hold a security clearance whatsoever to participate in classified operations by virtue trust,' he added. 'Think of it as an ultra-exclusive level above top secret. That's exactly what it is: a circle of love.' As a result, Blackwater had access to 'all source' reports that were culled in part from JSOC units in the field. 'That's how a lot of things over the years have been conducted with contractors,' said the source. 'We have contractors that regularly see things that top policymakers don't unless they ask.'
"The military intelligence source said that the Blackwater-JSOC operation in Pakistan was referred to as 'Qatar cubed,' in reference to the US forward operating base in Qatar that served as the hub for the planning and implementation of the US invasion of Iraq. 'This is supposed to be the brave new world,' he told me. 'This is the Jamestown of the new millennium and it's meant to be a lily pad. You can jump off to Uzbekistan, you can jump back over the borders, you can jump sideways, you can jump Northwest. It's strategically located so that they can get their people wherever they have to be without having to wrangle with the military chain of command in Afghanistan, which is convoluted. They don't have to deal with that because they're operating under a classified mandate.'
"In addition to planning drone strikes and operations against suspected al Qaeda and Taliban forces in Pakistan for both JSOC and the CIA, the Blackwater teams also helped plan missions for JSOC inside Uzbekistan against the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. Blackwater did not actually carry out the operations, the military intelligence source told me, which were executed on the ground by JSOC forces. 'That piqued my curiosity and really worries me because I don't know if you notice but I was never told we are at war with Uzbekistan,' he said. 'So, did I miss something? Did Rumsfeld come back in the power?' When civilians are killed, 'People go, "Oh, it's the CIA doing crazy shit again unchecked." Well at least 50 percent of the time, that's JSOC [hitting] somebody they've identified through HUMINT or they've culled the intelligence themselves or it's been shared with them and they take that person out and that's how it works.'
"CIA operations were subject to congressional oversight, unlike the parallel JSOC ops. 'Targeted killings are not the most popular thing in town right now in the CIA knows that,' my source told me in 2009. 'Contractors and especially JSOC personnel working under classified mandate are not [overseen by Congress], so they just don't care. If there's one person they're going after and there's thirty-four [other] people in the building, thity-five people are going to die. That's the mentality.' He added, 'They're not accountable to anybody and they know that. It's an open secret, but what are you going to do, shut down JSOC?' "
(Dirty Wars, Jeremy Scahill, pgs. 251-252)
Boykin has longstanding ties to the Joint Special Operations Command, having been one of the first members of the Delta Force. He commanded the JSOC at one point and eventually became the commander US Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg from 1998 to 2000. From 2000 to 2003 he was the commander of the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center, also located at Fort Bragg. During the 1990s, he was also the Deputy Director of Special Activities for the CIA. The Special Activities Division (SAD) is the CIA's primary paramilitary arm.
Boykin would end his service as the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Intelligence under the notorious Stephen Cambone, a key architect of the Bush II "enhanced" interrogation methods. Boykin was apparently involved in these endeavors.
"Boykin was a career military officer, one of the first Delta force commandos who rose through the ranks to become head of the top-secret Joint Special Operations Command. He had served in the Central Intelligence Agency, and during the war on terror, had been in charge of Army Special Forces before joining Rumsfeld's close-knit leadership team, where he was placed in charge of hunting 'high-value targets.' Boykin was one of the key U.S. officials in establishing what critics allege was death-squad-type activity in Iraq. Asked in a Congressional inquiry about the similarities between the U.S. Phoenix program in Vietnam and special operations in the war on terror, Boykin said: 'I think we're running that kind of program. We're going after these people. Killing or capturing these people is a legitimate mission for the department. I think we're doing what the Phoenix program was designed to do, without all the secrecy.' ... When Boykin came under fire for his anti-Muslim comments, Rumsfeld and other Pentagon brass vigorously defended him. 'Boykin was not removed or transferred. At that moment, he was at the heart of secret operation to "Gitmoize"... the Abu Ghraib prison,' wrote former Clinton senior adviser Sidney Blumenthal. 'He had flown to Guantánamo, where he met Major General Geoffrey Miller, in charge of Camp X-Ray. Boykin ordered Miller to fly to Iraq and extend X-Ray methods to the prison system there, on Rumsfeld's orders.' "
(Blackwater, Jeremy Scahill, pgs. 376-377)
|General William "Jerry" Boykin|
It is likely then that Boykin already has a working relationship with Flynn and McChrystal. Mercifully, however, he is such a lightening rod for controversy that he will almost surely not be offered a role in the Trump presidency. While the media does not seem especially concerned with Boykin's role in a state-sanctioned torture program, they were deeply offended by his anti-Muslim sentiments and references to the US military as a "Christian army."
Another general definitely being considered for a role in Trump's cabinet is General David Petraeus, the former commander of US Central Command and CIA director. Despite attacking Trump during the election, Petraeus has indicated that he would be interested in either the Secretary of State or the Secretary of Defense gigs if they were offered to him. Petraeus has longstanding ties to US Special Forces, but does not appear to have ever actually been a member of the JSOC. Still, he did much to strengthen its authority during the Obama administration, when he first served as Commander of US Central Command, and later as head of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. On Petraeus' watch, the JSOC gained a truly international scope.
"... Genera Petraeus signed a seven-page secret order authorizing small teams of US Special Operations Forces to conduct clandestine operations off the stated battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. It was marked 'limdis,' for limited distribution. Hard copies were given to about thirty people. Its original code name was 'Avocado.' The directive, known as a Joint Unconventional Warfare Task Force (JUWTF) Executive Order, served as a permission slip of sorts for US military Special Operations teams to conduct clandestine actions without the president's direct approval for each operation. 'Unlike covert actions undertaken by the CIA, such clandestine activity does not require the president's approval or regular reports to Congress,' reported Mark Mazzetti of the New York Times, who was allowed to read the executive order...
"In addition to authorizing direct actions by Special Operations Forces, the Petraeus order also focused on intelligence gathering, including by American troops, foreign businesspeople, academics and others, aimed at identifying insurgents or terrorists and their locations. The order, which Petraeus drafted in coordination with Admiral Eric Olson, head of the US Special Operations Command, laid out a plan for clandestine operations 'that cannot or will not be accomplished' by regular US military forces or intelligence agencies...
"Colonel Lang said that at the time the order was issued, JSOC's forces in Afghanistan believed they had already killed or captured their way through the high-value targets in Afghanistan, at a minimum forcing them into other countries. 'That's why it becomes very tempting to start going after people in other countries. Because you've got these highly skilled operators going after targets that are not really worthy of their skills,' he told me. 'The temptation for the leadership – the three-star [general] and above level – is to look for places to employ their lads in greener fields.' Lang, who is a former Green Beret, described the men from JSOC would fight Petraeus's small wars as 'sort of like Murder, Incorporated,' adding, 'Their business is killing al Qaeda personnel. That's their business. They're not in the business of converting anybody to our goals or anything like that.' "
(Dirty Wars, Jeremy Scahill, pgs. 282-283)
|General David Petraeus|
"On September 6, 2011, General David Petraeus was sworn in as the director the CIA. A decade after 9/11, the agency had been transformed as a result of its behind-the-scenes turf war with JSOC. And for some veteran intelligence officials, Obama's selection of Petraeus was an ominous symbol. 'The CIA has become more militarize, and is working very closely with JSOC, to the extent that they're even using CIA cover, which would have been unimaginable ten years ago,' former CIA case officer Phil Giraldi told me. 'A considerable part of the CIA budget is now no longer spying. It supporting paramilitaries who work closely with JSOC to kill terrorists, and to run the drone program.' The CIA, he added, 'is a killing machine now.'
"A State Department liaison who worked extensively with JSOC described Petraeus's vision for running the CIA as transforming the Agency into 'a mini-Special Operations Command that purports to be an intelligence agency.' For all the praise Petraeus won for his counterinsurgency strategy and the 'surge' in Iraq, the liaison told me, Petraeus's most significant contribution was as a 'political tool,' and enabler of those within the national security apparatus who wanted to see a continuation and expansion of covert global small wars. Pointing to the 'mystique that surrounds JSOC' and Admiral William McRaven, the liaison said, 'Petraeus was trying to implement that kind of command climate at the CIA.'
"Colonel Patrick Lang told me that once Petraeus arrived at Langley, he 'wanted to drag them in the covert action direction and to be a major player.' "
(Dirty Wars, Jeremy Scahill, pg. 498)In other words Petraeus wanted to remake the CIA in the image of the JSOC and, in some areas, make the Agency subservient to the Joint Special Operations Command. In some accounts, this did not sit well with the hierarchy of the CIA, which played a role in Petraeus's resignation as DCIA just a little over a year after he had been sworn in. Superficially, the resignation was over an extramarital affair he was having his biographer and his leaking of classified material (which ironically would be used to bring down Hillary as well) but in reality it seems to have been related to the changes he wanted to make to CIA:
"Perhaps the most startling accusation in the book is that Petraeus' affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell was leaked by the members of his personal protection detail.
"The authors say that senior intelligence officers working on the 7th floor of Central Intelligence headquarters in Langley, Virginia, used their political clout to ensure that the FBI investigated the former Army general's personal life.
"They then told Petraeus that they would publicly humiliate him if he didn't admit the affair and resign.
"'It was well known to Petraeus’s Personal Security Detachment (bodyguards) that he and Broadwell were having an affair. He wasn’t the only high-ranking Agency head or general engaged in extramarital relations, but when the 7th floor wanted Petraeus out, they cashed in their chips,' Webb and Murphy write.
"The book continues: 'The reality of the situation is that high-ranking CIA officers had already discovered the affair by consulting with Petraeus’s PSD and then found a way to initiate an FBI investigation in order to create a string of evidence and an investigative trail that led to the information they already had—in other words, an official investigation that could be used to force Petraeus to resign.'
"Webb and Murphy said the CIA bureaucracy wanted Petraeus out of the CIA. Senior officials were furious over the way he had been running the agency since he was appointed in September 2011.
"He was turning the agency's focus from intelligence gathering and analysis to paramilitary operations, including drone strikes.
"Additionally, he ran the CIA like a four-star general, instead of treating it like a political institution, the authors say. His management style made countless powerful enemies within the CIA."
|Paula Broadwell, Petraeus's mistress|
Hence, there may be something to the rumors that his ousting from the CIA was also meant to destroy his political career. And it all revolved around an FBI investigation that he had leaked classified files to his mistress. And now Obama is on the way out and his chosen successor and her political dynasty have been laid low by a similar scandal while Petraeus is poised to return to the centers of power. Dare I say pay back is a bitch?
But back to the matter at hand. It seems evident that the JSOC has emerged as a major player in the deep state and that it is poised to wield enormous power in the Trump regime. This is an especially ominous development when one considers just how much of JSOC's agenda is a result of the legacy of the infamous Project ARTICHOKE and related programs.
As was noted before here, ARTICHOKE had two particular objectives that are especially relevant to the JSOC: the pursuit of "special" interrogation methods and the creation of what would now be referred to as "supersoldiers."
The former are very much the basis for the "enhanced" interrogation methods rolled out by the JSOC under banner of the "Copper Green" program (noted before here) and like operations. In many ways Copper Green, which included the bizarre methods employed at Abu Ghraib, was a modern revival of aspects of ARTICHOKE and similar programs. Certainly it represents the potential for the most ambitious wave of human experimentation since the infamous Vietnam-era Phoenix program, which modern JSOC operations have frequently been compared too. The Phoenix program in turn was very much based upon the methods "pioneered" by ARTICHOKE and MKULTRA.
"The program expanded in 1967 when the CIA, working with other agencies, established a centralized pacification bureaucracy, Civil Operations and Rural Development Support. Under this umbrella, the CIA drew all the scattered counterinsurgency operations --OPS police training, military intelligence, the CIO, and its own interrogation units – into CORDS and then used this labyrinthine bureaucracy as cover for a murderous covert operation called the Phoenix program. With limitless funding and unrestrained powers, Phoenix represented an application of the most advanced interrogation techniques to the task of destroying the Vietcong's revolutionary underground. From its overall strategy to its specific interrogation techniques, Phoenix was the culmination of the CIA's mind control project."
(A Question of Torture, Alfred McCoy, pgs. 63-64)
As for the supersoldiers, this requires some clarification. In season eight, the last great season of the original series, The X-Files strikingly introduced the concept of the supersoldier. One of this researcher's major disappointments with the revival series was that the show did not pick back up the supersoldier plot line, but given that it was initially rolled out during the show's down years and is not especially revered by many fans, this is hardly surprising. Besides, The X-Files depiction of supersoldiers does not appear to be especially accurate. Eleven from Stranger Things appears to be much closer to the actual conception of the super soldier, which put more emphasis on mental than physical prowess.
|Knowle Roohrer (Adam Baldwin), The X-Files' most notorious supersoldier (top) and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) from Stranger Things (bottom)|
" 'A supersoldier,' said Glenn. 'A Jedi Warrior. He would know where all the lights are. He would know where all the power outlets are. Most people are poor observers. They haven't got a clue about what's really happening around them.
" 'What's a Jedi Warrior?' I asked
" 'You're looking at one,' said Glenn.
"In the mid-1980s, he told me, Special Forces undertook a secret initiative, codenamed Project Jedi, to create supersoldiers – soldiers with superpowers. One such power was the ability to walk into a room and instantly be aware of every detail; that was level one.
" 'What was the level above that?' I asked
" 'Level two,' he said. 'Intuition. Is there some way we can develop you so you make correct decisions? Somebody runs up to you and says, "There's a fork in the road. Do we turn left or do we turn right?" And you go' – Glenn snapped his fingers – ' "We go right!" ' "
(The Men Who Stare at Goats, Jon Ronson, pgs. 14-15)Project Jedi was reportedly run out of Fort Bragg, the eventual headquarters of the JSOC. This may not have been JSOC's only link to Jedi and other such fringe military programs either. There has of course been much speculation that the closely-related remote viewing program was revived in some form or another for the Global War on Terror. And Ronson would allege in The Men Who Stare at Goats that some of the techniques employed at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere were based as much of methods described in the legendary First Earth Battalion Field Manual, which also envisioned supersoldiers, as ARTICHOKE and MKULTRA. The concepts of Colonel Jim Channon, author of the First Earth Battalion manual, and Colonel John Alexander, a major proponent of the field manual, were specifically singled out by Ronson as still influencing military thinking in the Global War on Terror.
Even more curious was a particular think tank Ronson heard rumblings that General Peter Schoomaker was considering establishing.
"In early 2004 I heard a rumor that Jim Channon had begun privately meeting with General Pete Shoemaker, the new Chief of Staff of the United States Army.
"President Bush had appointed General Shoemaker to the post on August 4, 2003. His arrival message, to use the military vernacular for an acceptance speech, included the following sentences:
War is both a physical reality and a state of mind. War is ambiguous, uncertain and unfair. When we are at war, we must think and act differently. We must anticipate the ultimate reality check – combat. We must win both the war and the peace. We must be prepared to question everything. Our soldiers are warriors of character... Our azimuth to the future is good.
"Azimuth? I looked it up. It is 'the direction of a celestial object.' News of General Schoomaker's meetings with Jim Channon did not come as a great surprise to me. (In addition to the linguistic clues, in fact, the timeline of General Schoomaker's career fit. He had been a commander of Special Forces at Fort Bragg between February 1978 and August 1981, and also in the latter half of 1983, during the periods when the Jedi Warriors and the goat starers were at their most active within his corner of the base. I can't believe he hadn't known about, or indeed sanctioned, their endeavors.)
"The rumor was that General Schoomaker was considering bringing Jim back from retirement to create, or contribute to, a new and secret think tank, designed to encourage the Army to take their minds further and further outside the mainstream...
"Jim e-mailed to say that the General Schoomaker think-tank rumors were true. 'The idea had come about,' he explained, 'because Rumsfeld has now openly asked for creative input on the war on terrorism...mmmm.'...
"But Jim did offer some information about his input into George W. Bush's foreign policy:
The Army has requested my services to teach the most highly selected Majors. The First Earth Battalion is the teaching exemplary choice. I have done that in the presence of General Pete Schoomaker... I am in contact with players who are or have recently been in Afghanistan and Iraq. I have sent in exit strategy plans based on Earth Battalion ideals.
I talk weekly with a member of a stress control battalion in Iraq who carries the manual and uses it to inform his teammates of their potential service contribution. Remember, the battalion mythology operates like folklore. It is passed on in stories, not assignments or real world artifacts. The results are ubiquitous, infectious, but not archived well by definition.
(The Men Who Stare at Goats, Jon Ronson, pgs. 159-162)Beyond these rumors, General Peter Schoomaker is an interesting figure. He had previously retired from the Army in 2000, but was called back into service in 2003 to become the Army's Chief of Staff, This is the most senior uniformed military officer in the US Army and also a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It is rather uncommon for a previously retired officer to be called back into service to serve as the Army's Chief of Staff. What's more, Schoomaker was the first officer from a purely special operations background to hold the Army Chief of Staff post, and only the second such individual from such a background to sit of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Schoomaker's Special Forces background may explain why he was brought out of retirement to effectively head the Army just as the Iraq war was beginning to unfold.
Unsurprisingly, Schoomaker had headed the Joint Special Operations Command from 1994 till 1996 and from there took over the Special Operations Command (which the JSOC is a part of) from 1997 till 2000, when he initially retired. Then he was brought back into the Army just as the JSOC was becoming the principal agency used to conduct the Global War on Terror. One suspects that Schoomaker's return was driven by a desire to have someone with a close working relationship with the JSOC in charge of the Army at a time when the JSOC was acquiring unprecedented power.
|General Peter Schoomaker|
This raises the specter of both a new ARTICHOKE project and a new Project Jedi being initiated by the JSOC to assist with the Global War on Terror. And now it appears that the JSOC crowd is firmly in control of the Trump White House. The long term consequences of these developments could make the initial wave of CIA/Pentagon human experimentation up through the Vietnam era look tame by comparison. Dark and strange days are lay ahead dear reader. While it is impossible to say where all of this is going, The X-Files revival and Stranger Things give us some disturbing clues.