Secrets Of The Cia Documentary Review Essay

Secrets of the CIA
CIA Agents Reveal CIA Secrets in Free Documentary

"The CIA is a state-sponsored terrorists association. You don't look at people as human beings. They are nothing but pieces on the chessboard."
  -- Verne Lyon, former CIA agent in revealing documentary Secrets of the CIA

Secrets of the CIA is a revealing 45-minute Turner Home Entertainment documentary available for free viewing at the link below. In this riveting exposé, five former CIA agents describe how their initial pride and enthusiasm at serving their nation turned to anguish and remorse, as they realized that they were actually subverting democracy and killing innocent civilians all in the name "national security" and promoting foreign policy agendas.

A Notre Dame football star, an aerospace engineering senior at Iowa State, an attractive high school graduate, a young patriot, and an Olympic shooting champion all were recruited by the CIA at a young age. These five brave individuals risk retaliation in revealing the story of their gradual disillusionment and finally defection from the CIA, as they eventually became convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that they were serving neither democracy, nor the people of their country.

The Olympic shooting champion describes being put in charge of overthrowing the democratically elected government of Guatemala. The patriot relates his deep remorse for his direct responsibility in the deaths of many innocent people for which he can never make amends. The pretty high school graduate describes how her initial addiction to power and intrigue turned to disgust and horror.

This powerful documentary is a rare and remarkable look at the results of unbridled secrecy and the lengths to which some elements in government will go to achieve questionable foreign policy goals.

Secrets of the CIA is available for free viewing at:

Watch a powerful one-minute clip from the Secrets of the CIA showing a top secret CIA weapon.

Two other quality documentaries reveal powerful secrets of the CIA. The History Channel's Mind Control: America's Secret War describes secret mind control programs which had devastating effects. National Geographic's CIA Secret Experiments also covers these CIA mind control programs from a different angle.

History Channel – Mind Control: America's Secret War (45 minutes)

National Geographic – CIA Secret Experiments (45 minutes)

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What you can do:
  • Explore more on CIA secrets in the comprehensive Mind Control Information Center at this link.
  • Check out an excellent two-page summary of secret CIA mind control projects.
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Frontline’s “Secrets, Politics and Torture” – another top-notch documentary from Michael Kirk, who has extensively chronicled the legacy of Iraq and war against terrorism – really omits a vital fourth component from its title: Pop culture. Time and again, this one-hour project returns to the role played by TV and especially movies in shaping public perceptions of torture despite a raft of evidence, much culled from the Senate’s exhaustive report on the topic, that so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” don’t work. Given the politically charged nature of the debate, to avoid wading through even the 500-page summary, it’s an hour well spent.

Kirk begins, appropriately, with the movie “Zero Dark Thirty,” one of those Hollywood products (“24” being another) that have made torture look like a reasonable response to the threat faced since the Sept. 11 attacks. But California Sen. Diane Feinstein is then interviewed, saying she felt obligated to walk out of the movie “because it’s so false.”

John McLaughlin, the former deputy director of the CIA, provides a counter-argument, citing the imperative to do anything necessary to prevent future attacks. Yet as the documentary notes, the discussion within the Bush administration largely sidestepped questions of morality — skipping the “Should we?” portion of the analysis and jumping to the more legalistic “Can we?”


Sources also point to some of the bad and misleading information that detainees gave under duress, such as a tip that had the FBI looking for African-American terrorists in Montana. Only later did the subject admit that he had lied to them.

Still, the “ticking clock” scenario popularized in fiction remains a powerful image, and as the narration notes, “Its efficacy was firmly fixed in the minds of millions of Americans.” As journalist Michael Isikoff suggests, “Movies like ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ have a huge impact.”

Hollywood has a well-deserved reputation for tilting left in its politics, but when it comes to national security, its commercial interest in telling riveting stories and ratcheting up the drama has clearly been useful to those who favored employing such techniques. In some respects, that’s more interesting thread than the fairly well-known material also covered here regarding the policy rift within Bush’s White House, with Vice President Dick Cheney on one side and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on the other.

Although these issues played out years ago, the debate continues (the so-called “torture report” was released in December 2014), and the details regarding precisely what happened are sobering. Moreover, there is, oddly enough, a branding component in all of this, inasmuch as the term “enhanced interrogation” was chosen because it sounded so “deceptively bland,”as former CIA lawyer John Rizzo wrote about the program.

Kirk has already produced a handful of “Frontline” projects devoted to the war (among them “The Torture Question”), and this neatly adds to that filmography. The Senate’s full report, notably, ran more than 6,000 pages. So if you can’t read the book, at least watch the documentary before seeing another one of the movies.

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