Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Soviet Sleeper Network in America -- Fact or Fiction?

Did the Soviets recruit kids for a sleeper network, using a peace group as a front in the Sixties and Seventies? That was the premise for two of my "dark" thriller mysteries. They are available for the next three days at Amazon in a special download I call "Spies on the Half Shell" for free:

Spies on the Half Shell is free 5/27/15-5/29/15 at Amazon

A recent review by a reader questioned whether such a group would waste time trying to recruit someone who is resistant to the effort. I thought that was a great opening for me to explain a few things I know about recruiting tactics, whether for terror networks or for cults.

But first, is there an actual history of mind games when it comes to sleeper networks, Soviet efforts, and national security?

One of the most famous cases is probably the assassination of President John F. Kennedy by Lee Harvey Oswald. Was he pushed to commit a crime by folks who were opposed to the US efforts to stop Cuba? For decades, we've heard all about the conspiracies, but one thing we haven't talked about is the connection to an very influential woman who funded many "peace operations", and who was also involved in a number of "cosmic consciousness" studies. An heiress with an agenda...who was involved with other like-minded rich folks...did she run her own psychic research programs, which she funded privately, all while trying to get the US government to adopt her peace activism?

She was married to several men, including one very outspoken radical (and Comintern-connected) activist, a psychologist, and even a man who developed one of the most important military aircraft of our time, all while insisting that her vision for the world was a better one than the democratically elected government's.

How does Lee Harvey Oswald figure into this woman's life? Her son and daughter-in-law provided aid and assistance to the Oswalds before President Kennedy was assassinated. It was after he returned from the Soviet Union.

But is that the only murder associated with this woman and her "peace operations"? Heavens, no. There was another tragic loss of life. Holly Maddux, a young, idealistic woman was brutally murdered by Ira Einhorn, the psychic guru who was financially supported by this same wealthy heiress. Poor Holly's skeletal remains were found in a box in a closet long after her disappearance. Is that the worst thing about the case? No, the worst thing is that Ira Einhorn was on the run for too many years before he was apprehended, and throughout those years, he still had the help of his friends in that same social circle. of course, Ira claimed it was a CIA conspiracy....

If you grew up in the Sixties and Seventies, it was hard to avoid taking sides as the Vietnam War raged. Too many of our soldiers, sailors, and airmen lost their lives or came home to face a mind-blowing hostility from the American people. Many of those psychologically wounded vets were targeted by "peace groups" looking to turn the American people against the war. And the tactics used included convincing our vets that they were criminals for participating in the military actions in Southeast Asia. Many is the time I sat with vets, just to listen to their stories. I do, after all, have a background in psychology. If there is one thing I learned about war, it's this. There's a big picture and a little picture.

In the big picture, we look at the overall situation -- the threat to national security. What's going on and how does it play out for the American people? In World War II, the massive loss of American lives meant the people sacrificed to stop both the Nazis and the Japanese aggression. In Korea, the lines began to blur and the American people began to question whether we could afford to lose so many troops. Korea is also the time when psychiatrists and psychologists opposed to the military began to study the tactics used by hostile governments to turn their prisoners. And that's the time that antiwar psych warfare took hold.

By the time the Vietnam War rolled around, it became apparent to antiwar psych warfare advocates that there was a way to change public opinion by creating antiwar activists who were controllable. What role did the wealthy heiress play in this effort? She was a big advocate for "cosmic consciousness" and the role artists play in turning people against the war. The concept is simple enough. If artists have vision to see the world at peace, they should be the ones leading the charge forward.

She and her husband even got involved in UFO research and the folks who reported UFO experiences. These psychological "events" were heavily researched by university professors, including Dr. Kenneth Ring at the University of Connecticut.

Creative people are usually known for their ability to envision what might be. The dreamers among us who imagine what is not yet reality....There could be two birds in the bush, so settling is the wrong choice. This is right-brain connectivity.

Concrete thinkers are usually known for their ability to recognize reality. There is a bird right there, waiting to be taken, so even if there might be other birds in the bush, isn't it smart to go for what's there, what's practical? This is left-brain connectivity.

Ideally, we should be actively connecting both sides of our brains, in order not only to survive the here-and-now, but also as a means of improving our futures. Thus, we need both creative and concrete thought processes to enable us to live fulfilling lives.

So, how did the "peace operations" become a cover for psych warfare used by people with Soviet connections? The same heiress was involved in exchange programs between the Soviet Union and the United States government. She counted a number of influential politicians as friends. She even had her own international peace academy and engaged in diplomatic efforts in other countries.

Did the United States government pursue any of her "cosmic consciousness" research? That is how we came to have Operation Stargate and other "remote viewing" programs undertaken by the CIA, the DIA, and other intelligence entities. Who championed this in Congress? United States Senator Claiborne Pell was one of the most determined advocates. He put federal money where his mouth was, and many of his staffers were involved with the wealthy heiress's "peace operations".

Was it a way for the US government to penetrate Soviet intelligence operations? One might think so, except for the eventual outcome. The mindset of the American people was unduly influenced by the duplicity of people who used psychological research from hostile intelligence services to turn the American people against its own government.

When you look at the current world climate, when you see what Putin has done in the Crimea, Ukraine, and elsewhere, and you look at the eruption of violent Islamic jihadists, consider this. Where there is a will, there is a way. If the American people and our allies don't have the stomach to fend off threats to our national security, what will happen to the world? Will we reset the clock back to a time of tyranny? If those who would terrorize the world are able to recruit the young, the naïve, the vulnerable, whether for suicide bombings or beheadings, how do we stop them?

Psych warfare has always been a head game. It's always relied on the principles of psychological understanding that when fear experienced by the target is maximized, control can be complete. What is the antidote to such psych warfare efforts? A firm grip on reality. When push comes to shove, the stronger player wins.

Which brings me back to the comment by the reader, who thought it was more likely that any group using psych warfare techniques would likely drop any subject that was resistant and find someone else to manipulate. In the world of psych warfare, security for the effort is paramount. That means that if you are part of an old Soviet sleeper network and you play a role in manipulating minds, you can't afford to let a resistant test subject get away, because the second anyone figures out what's happening, there will be a concerted effort to thwart it.

Was there such a Soviet sleeper network in the United States during the Sixties and Seventies? Does it still exist today? The best way to know this is to know your genealogy. When you look at the creators of the antiwar movement in the United States and elsewhere, are there links directly to the former Soviet Union? In the case of "psychic research" programs from the Sixties and Seventies, the answer is yes. You are more than welcome to do your own Google, but you will find that many of the folks who were involved did, in fact, have direct family connections to the former Soviet Union or to the former Comintern apparatus. If you are a history junkie, you will find that many of the subsequent government scandals exposed in the last four decades, including efforts to stop the CIA from carrying out its duties in effectively collecting information on hostile intelligence operations worldwide, were directly connected to those former Comintern families. In spy terms, "it's a small world, after all."

There's a quote by Churchill from his 1939 radio address that sums up the current situation involving Putin's Russia best. It is:

"I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest."

Would the Soviet Union planned, implemented, and maintained a sleeper network over half a century in anticipation that would restore its interests? Maybe we were lulled by the fall, when independence seemed to offer hope to Russia and the other separate nations. We had, after all, managed to co-opt a number of Soviet spies. What if that was just an illusion, to convince us it was okay to let our guard down? What if we celebrated the breakup of Communism a little too soon. When you look at the events in Crimea and Ukraine, when you see the mind games played out as a covert war half a world away, taking innocent lives every day, ask yourself whether it is possible that psych warfare was used to destabilize America and its allies in anticipation of regaining what was lost by the fall of the Soviet Empire. Look at the current situation in the Middle East, where there is a massive effort to create an Islamic State. We can only hope there is not a secret partnership between Putin and our enemies, but the fact is that such a strategic move would, in fact, bring the world even closer to destruction. We can't fight an enemy we can't perceive, and by the time we realize what's going on, it will be, as Churchill suggested so long ago, too late. There is no do-over in life. Those who are committed to democratic principles understand the weight of that responsibility. Freedom isn't free. It comes at a price, one that each of us must recognize, lest we all perish.