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Video Games As Propaganda

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the koopa-troopas-are-terrorists dept.

United States 251

SharkLaser writes "A video game developer working for Kuma Reality Games has admitted that the company has been receiving money from the CIA to design and freely distribute special movies and games with the aim of manipulating public opinion in the Middle East. Amir Mizra Hekmati, a former U.S. Marine, moved to work for Kuma after working for DARPA and has said the goal of the company was to convince people that whatever the U.S. does in other countries is a good measure. Kuma officials have declined to comment, while Hekmati himself is locked in Iran. The United States government has demanded the release of Hekmati, but Iran has sentenced him to death for spying, which he confessed to."

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AHA! (-1, Flamebait)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642210)

Well... at first I saw the story of this guy and thought "Maybe he is a spy? If he is, then guess what, we kill spies too"....

Now I see, he is not a spie, he is a PR guy..... death is way too good for such a man.

Re:AHA! (1, Funny)

alphatel (1450715) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642404)

My name is Amir Mizra Hekmati, you killed my video games, prepare to die.

Eye for an eye.` (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38642244)

If they kill an American, we should kill an Iranian.

Re:Eye for an eye.` (5, Insightful)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642350)

So you want to kill some random person because of his nationality if his nation does something bad? Do you think that killing of Iraqi civilians justifies the killing of American civilians? Retribution may feel good. But it accomplishes very little. At the end of the day, when you kill someone you are killing someone's son or daughter. You are killing someone' mother or father. You are killing a fellow human being.

Re:Eye for an eye.` (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38642782)

Retribution only accomplishes nothing if you merely strive to achieve parity. Have one of your people killed? You kill ten of the enemy. At least this way, they'll run out before you do.

yeah (5, Interesting)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642848)

we see how well it is working for israel. if not for the inordinate amounts of american taxpayers' money they have been gulping since their founding, they would have been overrun by 10-12 nations decades ago.

stupidity. priceless.

Re:yeah (2)

SplashMyBandit (1543257) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643376)

Actually when the US withheld weapons during the initial stages of the 1967 'Six Day War' the Israelis decided to create their own defense industry (and supporting scientific facilities). Now many of the innovations that people attribute to the US actually are designed in Israel (mainstream Intel CPUs, helmet-mounted sights, laser weaponry, advanced SAMs). I understand some Israeli politicians would like the US aid to stop since it comes with strings. It is not the US funding that is keeping Israel going - it is the sheer 'bloody-mindedness' of the Israeli citizens that kept them from being overrun (well before the US supplied any money). This bloody-mindedness is both a great strength and a great weakness.

Re:Eye for an eye.` (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38642842)

Methinks you missed the movie quote.... (HINT: Think Andre the Giant)

Re:Eye for an eye.` (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38643076)

Kill an American, get your desert glassed.

The civvies don't support the assholes in power? Then they better rise up and do something, or they're going to be dope for the glassware.

Re:Eye for an eye.` (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38643260)

Americans probably want to be careful with that kind of philosophy considering the actions of their government.

Re:Eye for an eye.` (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38643304)

MAD's an interesting thing.

And before you start: a nuke or two does not induct you into the MAD club. When the nukes required to glass a fraction of us would glass yourself and your neighbor(s), then it's not really mutually assured destruction, now is it?

Re:Eye for an eye.` (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38643306)

Maintaining a healthy economy requires killing to keep industry demand and r&d working at a healthy pace. That is especially important for the American economy, since it is dominated by defense contracting work (inputs and processing, including subcontractors, etc.). Also, keep in mind that the government is similar to a company, except it is much more conservative. Companies are unable to last much longer than 100 years, however, governments have a goal of stability that should last longer than 2-3 generations, but the only type of government bankruptcy is facilitated with war. So wars help to eliminate problematic governments, reducing the competition for natural resources, helping to expand the ruling elite and further suppresses the working class (middle/low classes), which means wars help to maintain order and reduce freedom. In culture that focuses on personal desires, rather than the desires of the community, war just seems like a naturally necessary occurrence to help support the class structure (i.e., the ruling elite).

check the propaganda games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38643360)

If you ask me he was working on propaganda games. Have you checked the place where he worked? I am not saying that he was actually spying, that would be rather stupid given his profile that could easily attract attention.

check these 'games': http://www.kumawar.com/

Re:Eye for an eye.` (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38642358)

He admitted to being a spy. Capture and possible execution is part of the job.

If they kill an American, we should kill an Iranian.

Really? On what grounds? Being an Iranian? Why stop there - let's just kill anyone who isn't us. Oh, wait. We're not us. We're them living here.

Every. Single. One. Of. Us.

Re:Eye for an eye.` (2, Insightful)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642584)

He admitted to being a spy. Capture and possible execution is part of the job.

If I imprison you, torture you, and threaten your family, I'm pretty sure I can get you to admit to being a spy. Doesn't mean you are one. I didn't realize imprisonment and execution as a political propaganda tool came along with simply visiting family.

Re:Eye for an eye.` (1)

Loether (769074) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642770)

Exactly, In fact if he really was a spy he would be far more likely to withstand torture and interrogation.

Depends what kind of spy he is. (3, Interesting)

raehl (609729) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642948)

If he's the kind of spy who is paid by the CIA to create and distribute propaganda material (in this case, video games) to subvert a country's government, that might be exactly the kind of spy who doesn't get much interrogation training.

Is the person stationed at a US Embassy abroad who goes to all the elite social dinners with various parties of state and covertly sends intel reports back to the CIA a spy? Most would say yes.

Is the Iranian former-marine helping develop propaganda for Iranian consumption under contract with the CIA a spy?

I don't think you'd say he's definitely NOT a spy...

Death seems a bit extreme however. Deportation would seem more appropriate. And hopefully this is all just a bunch of diplomatic posturing and deportation in exchange for some other consideration is what this comes out to.

Re:Depends what kind of spy he is. (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642994)

You mean when the war is imminent, they would show good will and release him? On what ground?

Re:Depends what kind of spy he is. (4, Insightful)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643328)

American and Israeli spies have arranged for "accidents" to happen to Iranian scientists, it's not unrealistic at all for them to act very aggressively against caught spies and suspected spies.

Re:Eye for an eye.` (0)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642690)

No. He admitted it with a gun to his head. Not much of an admission is it. And that is based on what the Iranian gov is claiming.

Re:Eye for an eye.` (1)

Lanteran (1883836) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643078)

We're not us. We're them living here.

Every. Single. One. Of. Us.

Bitch, please.
-Native Americans

except for those dirty Canananadians! (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642378)

North America is best America!

Re:except for those dirty Canananadians! (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642684)

except for those dirty Canananadians!

North America is best America!

Don't forget the Mexicans!

Re:except for those dirty Canananadians! (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643016)

What about Alaska? You have very "famous" people there too..

Re:Eye for an eye.` (3, Informative)

Bacon Bits (926911) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642824)

Actually, the phrase "eye for an eye" carried an original meaning of a call for just punishment which suited the crime rather than excessive or retributive punishment. That is, it was meant "only an eye for an eye" instead of "a life for an eye". This "Chicago way" of escalating responses leads to conflict, and that's not the goal of criminal justice.

In our modern times, "one death for one death" is generally excessive, especially if it's "death of an innocent for death of a 'spy'".

Re:Eye for an eye.` (1)

Bucky24 (1943328) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642958)

Hmmm... but what if we killed an Iranian spy? I'm sure we have some locked up in secret facilities... Or at least someone who is willing to say they are.

Re:Eye for an eye.` (1)

Bucky24 (1943328) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642940)

Didn't we already kill Iranians?

Re:Eye for an eye.` (1)

lexsird (1208192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643314)

Which one though? Selective targeting is best for maximum desired results.

If they think snatching up one person and calling him a spy and threatening to kill him is going to make us leave the Middle East, they are very high. All it's going to do is piss us off, giving our propaganda machines more to work with. Seriously, the American war machine is desperate for a hot war to perpetuate it. By all means be stupid enough to put your balls out there so it can shoot them off.

And Monkey Island was fully funded by .. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38642266)

The pirate party

Why is /. repeating Iran's propaganda for them? (4, Insightful)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642272)

Seriously, all of the "evidence" in this case comes from the man's forced confession. Given Iran's record on human rights, he was most likely tortured into confessing. Why on Earth is this being reported as fact?

Re:Why is /. repeating Iran's propaganda for them? (3, Insightful)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642286)

It fits in with the slashdot narrative.

Re:Why is /. repeating Iran's propaganda for them? (1)

alphatel (1450715) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642346)

Or / wrote it, sent it to Iran, and republished incognito.

Re:Why is /. repeating Iran's propaganda for them? (1, Insightful)

ugen (93902) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642298)

Because this is /. , reflexively anti-American regardless of right/wrong/otherwise. If it takes siding with Iran to stay the course, then so be it.

Re:Why is /. repeating Iran's propaganda for them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38642304)

We all know confessions obtained through torture are reliable.

Re:Why is /. repeating Iran's propaganda for them? (1)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642952)

If they aren't, why does so much of the world rely on them? Yes, America included, though they're hardly the only ones.

And if they aren't reliable (they aren't reliable, but in the interests of neutrality I'll pretend otherwise) then every nation that carries out torture, or sponsors other nations to carry it out for them, is guilty of serious crimes against humanity. Strangely, a number of these nations are not signatories to the International Court of Justice (you may even be living in one) and thus outside any legal framework for protecting the victims of torture or abuse. Also strangely, a number of nations with strong laws protecting victims of governmental abuse have also passed laws exempting those the government wants to victimize in this way from any protection of the legal system. Which defeats the purpose of there being laws in the first place, but there ya go.

In other words, most nations are guilty of extra-judicial killings and other abuses of individuals who have zero involvement in any activity that is hostile to, well, pretty much anyone. Singling out one is stupid and ignores the reality of the real issue. The real issue is that zealots and paranoid schizophrenics rule most of the world because otherwise sane, rational people voted the zealots and paranoid schizophrenics into office.

I'm not even going to blame those in office - they're ill and they need treatment, their actions are not meaningful choices but merely symptoms of their disease. The blame goes entirely to the healthy people who regard it as amusing to torture the mentally ill in this way. It *is* torture, it is cruelty and it is abuse, just as much as the abuse that the ill then mete out to the innocent is.

Re:Why is /. repeating Iran's propaganda for them? (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643050)

Like, if you don't confess, we will take your kids, you will loose your job, loan, mortgage, fancy car, computer, iPhone......oh wait, what was the question?

Re:Why is /. repeating Iran's propaganda for them? (1)

DCTech (2545590) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642308)

It's not new that US uses entertainment as propaganda. See Hollywood, the largest propaganda machine ever created. It's not a surprise that they want to extend it to games too.

Re:Why is /. repeating Iran's propaganda for them? (0)

bfandreas (603438) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642590)

Or the /. hive mind hasn't forgotten America's Army.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/America's_Army [wikipedia.org]

Now imagine you weren't a US citizen and you first got wind of this...thing. How would you react? It might have been a good game but it was also quite blatant.

Using all types of media for propaganda is even older than the word "propaganda" itsself. Move along, there is nothing to be seen here.

Re:Why is /. repeating Iran's propaganda for them? (1)

lwsimon (724555) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642970)

I always liked AA, except for the fact that you couldn't play Opfor :( I ended up spending half the game trying to get an AK-74su every time.

Re:Why is /. repeating Iran's propaganda for them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38642370)

Strange how when people are tortured and confess to 9/11 everyone is happy to take it at face value.
Being tortured doesn't make you innocent. Confessing under torture doesn't make you guilty.

Re:Why is /. repeating Iran's propaganda for them? (1)

Tanktalus (794810) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642452)

Confessing under torture doesn't make you guilty.

Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, confessions resulting from torture are still allowed as evidence at trial. Personally, I think that sweating a suspect in an interrogation room for 8+ hours, when the cops can lie to him and spell each other off (so they're always relatively fresh), is still psychological torture. While not nearly as bad as water-boarding or other Geneva-convention-listed forms of torture, I'm not convinced that what cops regularly do isn't torture. If you think that the only way to get out of the interrogation room is to tell the cops what you think they want to hear, it's a coerced statement.

I'm sure Iran was more, um, forceful than that,of course.

That's not torture. (0)

raehl (609729) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643006)

That's interrogation. There isn't a stark line between the two, but one of the points of interrogation is to make the subject uncomfortable/stressed, with the idea that even a stressed individual won't have difficulty recalling the truth, while it's more difficult for a stressed individual to maintain a false story.

Obviously you wouldn't want to spend your Saturdays being interrogated, but I'm willing to accept contributing the occasional few hours answering some questions as part of the process.

Anyway, merely being made uncomfortable is not torture.

Re:Why is /. repeating Iran's propaganda for them? (5, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643198)

Of course it is torture. Indeed, that was part of the basis of the appeals by the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four. The fraudulent "confessions" sealed the fate of the prosecution's case (the statements were shown to have been tampered with afterwards with the signatures of the defendants edited in) but the courts were utterly horrified by the police treatment - which was no different from what you're describing.

Indeed, even in a prior appeal that failed, heard by the late Lord Denning, it failed because Lord Denning ruled that torture and abuse on such a scale was too horrific to contemplate, too savage to imagine. And, no, I'm not exaggerating his remarks. He really did say that what you're describing for police behaviour was too horrific to contemplate. Lord Denning naively concluded that it was better to refuse the appeal than to even think about police cruelty. With all respect, I disagree. It is better to imagine the unimaginable so that you can stop it, or - if it's not taking place - then at least be sure that the safeguards exist to ensure it never does.

Given that torture does take place, I am of the opinion that confessions should never be allowed in court at all. Evidence collected as a result of a confession, sure, but not the confession itself. If the police can't maintain conduct of a standard better than "too horrific to contemplate", then they should not be able to directly use in trial anything that is likely tainted by such conduct. Simple as that. Eliminate the incentive. That should go for any evidence involving methods established to have suspect credibility. Dubious crime labs get the press from time to time, for example. When standards improve, remove the bar. It is the only way you will ever get the police motivated to operate in a clean manner.

Re:Why is /. repeating Iran's propaganda for them? (4, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642400)

Given Iran's record on human rights, he was most likely tortured into confessing.

I thought torture is a useful and valuable tool in extracting actionable intelligence from terrorist suspects.
Why wouldn't it work on an American spy too?

Re:Why is /. repeating Iran's propaganda for them? (1, Insightful)

Loopy (41728) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642656)

Disingenuous at best. There's a big difference between confirming suspected intel and turning a prisoner into propaganda. There is also a tremendous gulf between broadly applied and completely opportunistic use of it and the "graded escalation" the US goes through before utilizing distasteful tools. Of course, such fine distinctions aren't exactly helpful to The Cause, are they?

Re:Why is /. repeating Iran's propaganda for them? (4, Insightful)

Bucky24 (1943328) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642980)

I don't see the difference. They suspected he was an American spy. He confessed under torture. So using torture they confirmed suspected intel.

Wrong. (3, Informative)

khasim (1285) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643182)

There's a big difference between confirming suspected intel and turning a prisoner into propaganda.

Torture does NOT get "intel".

Torture gets CONFESSIONS.

This guy confessed to being a CIA spy working in Iran. By your "logic", they "confirmed" the "intel" they had on him.

The same as our people did with the people we tortured.

Which is the reason why we should NEVER use torture. It does NOT work in gathering accurate information and it DOES cloud the issue of who actually did what, when, where and why.

Confessions are ONLY useful in propaganda.

There is also a tremendous gulf between broadly applied and completely opportunistic use of it and the "graded escalation" the US goes through before utilizing distasteful tools.

No. Once you resort to torture you have given up on getting accurate information and you're just looking for a confession or revenge.

Re:Why is /. repeating Iran's propaganda for them? (3, Informative)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643288)

There's a big difference between confirming suspected intel and turning a prisoner into propaganda

No there's not. Torture never confirms anything. Torture is a way of getting your prisoner to say what you want to hear. Confirmation bias is built into it, so it can never reasonably be used as actionable evidence. The only thing it is good for is propaganda.

Re:Why is /. repeating Iran's propaganda for them? (1)

poity (465672) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643112)

Your attempt at sarcasm to point out hypocrisy is disingenuous and falsely accusatory by the very fact that you are using the moral positions of two different and unrelated people, i.e. policy makers who support torture, and the GP poster. The fact that your post has been modded so highly "Insightful" indicates either a deeply flawed sense of logic in the /. community, or a childish penchant for ill thought out potshots.

Your post can only be relevant under two circumstances: 1) GP having a history of supporting torture, or 2) Policy makers who support torture now pointing out the unreliability of Hekmati's confession. Neither is true.

Incorrect. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643280)

Your post can only be relevant under two circumstances: 1) GP having a history of supporting torture, or 2) Policy makers who support torture now pointing out the unreliability of Hekmati's confession. Neither is true.

Bullshit.

Option 3 - pointing out that the same people who claimed that "enhanced interrogation" was necessary when we did it will now claim that such a confession was "tortured" out of an "innocent" man by the "evil" Iranians.

Even if those people were NOT "Policy makers".

Re:Why is /. repeating Iran's propaganda for them? (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642480)

Yep, it's not at all suspicious after they banned battlefield 3 [dailystar.com.lb] . Not at all, these people are just asking for a US invasion, or is it our media that's telling us? :)

Re:Why is /. repeating Iran's propaganda for them? (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642510)

Because no one loves spies. The prevailing feeling is, if you were a good spy, you wouldnt have gotten caught anyways. If you do get caught, well you were a shitty spy so who gives a fuck about you?

Re:Why is /. repeating Iran's propaganda for them? (4, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642582)

If you had bothered to look at their wikipedia entry [wikipedia.org] , you would see that Kuma Reality Games suddenly took a turn a couple of years ago, designing Middle Eastern-oriented games in Arabic exclusively. You'll also see that these new games focus on things like fighting "political corruption." Seems to strongly bolster his confession. The CIA has done stuff like this for decades, of course. IIRC they even did special comic books back in the 60's with anti-Russkie propaganda that they spread behind the iron curtain.

Unfortunately, this kid decided to go into field operations too. And Iran is hunting down CIA and Mossad operatives pretty hard right now (probably pissed about all those dead nuclear scientists). I suspect the death sentence is just a bargaining ploy for Iran, though. I hope they don't actually execute him.

Re:Why is /. repeating Iran's propaganda for them? (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642798)

Just because Kuma Reality was anti curruption doesn't mean they working for the CIA. Most of the occupy wallstreet prostestors are against curruption but they are not getting checks from the CIA. Also anyone can edit wikipedia including Iran and the CIA.

Re:Why is /. repeating Iran's propaganda for them? (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643026)

The true believer believes what he wants to believe. If you want to believe that this guy had nothing to do with the CIA, that it's just a coincidence that his company suddenly started designing Arabic games, that he was just on vacation to see grandma, etc. then more power to you, buddy. I bet you think those three jews they caught on the Iranian border a while back were really just on a "nature hike" too, and that spy drone just accidentally strayed across the border, and all those Iranian nuclear scientists who started turning up dead just accidentally fell onto bullets and shrapnel, and Stuxnet just happened to sabotage a bunch of Iranian uranium centrifuges.

Re:Why is /. repeating Iran's propaganda for them? (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643134)

This is still just speculation, even if the company is a propaganda device, it's not necessary the CIA that is behind them. And if they were, they wouldn't just tell it to every developer. The whole point of a front company is to keep the identity of its owner a secret.

Re:Why is /. repeating Iran's propaganda for them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38642944)

Forced rendition, that'll get the truth out of him. Works for the US, right?

Re:Why is /. repeating Iran's propaganda for them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38643268)

Timing is everything.

Iran is suffering from the recent round of US economic sanctions. To offset the loses, they antagonize the international Oil market to raise the price of Oil. For example, by conducting "War Games" in or threatening to close the Straits of Hormuz (a major Oil trade route). Or by threatening to execute prominent "spies". Basically anything to destabilize the area and cause a spike in Oil speculation.

Similar to Hollywood? (2)

E IS mC(Square) (721736) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642282)

Not surprised to see games with propaganda. Hollywood is doing this successfully for years, albeit (probably) without US Government asking for it.

In fact, in my opinion, Hollywood is the most successful PR machine the US has ever created. It's cultural impact on other countries and cultures is massive. People may politically dislike the US/US government/US military - but at the same time, a lot of them want to mimic The American as defined by Hollywood blockbusters.

It's a different discussion if this is good or bad, but it's certainly working for the US.

I am not surprised gaming industry is following it up - with active support from the government.

Not a reliable confession (4, Insightful)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642300)

This guy is in prison in Iran. This would not be the first time that a regime has coerced people to say things that aren't true and to sign false confessions. The US has in the last decade done it also. In the US, even when there is no torture, false confessions can be extracted even in murder cases- http://www.innocenceproject.org/understand/False-Confessions.php [innocenceproject.org] . It wouldn't surprise me at all if this sort of program really did exist, but the fact that someone in Iranian custody confessed to it isn't good evidence for the claim.

Got what he deserved (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38642302)

"Mr. Hekmati’s family in the United States told American news media that he had traveled to Iran to visit his grandmothers and was not a spy."

What kind of idiot American actually travels to Iran anymore?

Re:Got what he deserved (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642406)

Plenty of people do, and most of them don't have any problems coming or going or during their stay for that matter. Whenever you go to another country things can go bad. Just look at what Amanda Knox went through in Perugia, Italy if you don't believe me. At least in theory Italy being a EU country that sort of sham shouldn't have happened, and yet it did.

Or the US where TX in recent memory executed a foreign citizen who hadn't been informed of his right to contact the embassy when it was still early enough in the process to make a difference. Granted in that case he might well have been guilty, but still it doesn't lead one to the conclusion that foreign travel is without risk.

Re:Got what he deserved (1)

jesseck (942036) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642560)

I think part of the problem with this guy traveling overseas is that he is a US Marine- I would think he'd be more paranoid and not travel to Iran. Those Iranians don't look fondly upon the US.

Re:Got what he deserved (1)

St.Creed (853824) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643350)

I'm still not so sure about the "sham" thing with mrs. Knox. She went out of her way to make herself suspicious in any possible way. That attitude would not have gotten anyone off in the US either. She's lucky that in Italy, they don't (usually) shoot first and ask questions later. The fact they couldn't make it stick doesn't mean she didn't do it, either. However, there were errors in the investigation so she was released. She wasn't tortured either.

Would you suggest that a random EU citizen would get better treatment in any US jail when behaving as suspicious as mrs. Knox? Given the way things happen in US courts according to the news we see and hear, I strongly doubt it.

Re:Got what he deserved (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642658)

What kind of idiot American actually travels to Iran anymore?

The same kind that goes on a "nature hike" on the Iranian border: a spy.

Re:Got what he deserved (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642666)

My neighbors do all the time. Some of them go 2x a year. They still love the ppl, just differ with the government.

Re:Got what he deserved (1)

Bucky24 (1943328) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643002)

just differ with the government.

With a government like Iran that's not a good attitude to hold when travelling there. At least not held openly.

He told them he was a soldier... (5, Informative)

Saishuuheiki (1657565) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642310)

They actually discussed this on NPR earlier. When applying to enter the country, he told them about his military history and asked if it would be ok. Telling Iran that you were formerly in the US army is not the kind of thing you would do if you were an actual spy.

Not to say entering Iran and telling them you used to be in the military is a good idea.

Re:He told them he was a soldier... (1)

n1ywb (555767) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642646)

Not to say that entering Iran at all is a good idea if you're American.

Re:He told them he was a soldier... (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642854)

Telling Iran that you were formerly in the US army is not the kind of thing you would do if you were an actual spy.

Unless, of course, you are the type of person who would feign having military experience because Iran is the type of country to assume if you did that that you weren't a spy.

What it boils down to, is are you the type of guy who would put the military experience in your own dossier? Or would you instead put the military experience in my dossier?

Truly, I have a dizzying intellect.

* Besides which, we know that we shouldn't make the second greatest mistake, which would be to get involved in a land war in Asia.

Admitted under duress to Iranian captors (2)

GabrielF (636907) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642322)

Hekmati "admitted" this while he was in Iranian custody - as reported by the Tehran Times. Given the history of the Iranian regime (they seem to arrest people for spying for Israel or the US every couple of weeks) I think we should take this with a grain of salt. Considering that making video games and infiltrating a foreign country require completely different skill sets, I find it hard to believe that the CIA would send their video game developer deep into Iranian territory. (According to the NY Times, he was visiting his Iranian grandparents.)

Nothing new (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38642324)

... company has been receiving money from the CIA to design and freely distribute special movies and games with the aim of manipulating public opinion ...

The CIA also financed [wikipedia.org] the 1954 Animal Farm movie [youtube.com] (especially the end of the story is different from the book).

Just going to say (4, Funny)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642332)

I'm pretty sure making pro-American video games is better than invading and occupying countries for decades at a time. I am 100% in favor of military-sponsored video games replacing our current military strategies.

Uhhh... (3, Informative)

Shoten (260439) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642342)

Shouldn't the text be something along the lines of "An American that was visiting his family in Iran who has been sentenced to death by a Sharia court for spying on behalf of the CIA has also claimed in the same prepared statement that he was a video game developer who made games for the CIA, even though there don't seem to be more than a single game that would align itself with Western interests." I mean, let's face it. Trusting Fars (a semi-official Iranian news agency)...these guys have backed their President's view that the Holocaust didn't happen, for Christ's sake...is NOT exactly relying on an unbiased source. For Fars to complain about propaganda is like the pot calling kettle black.

Re:Uhhh... (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642736)

even though there don't seem to be more than a single game that would align itself with Western interests.

Did you even read their Wikipedia entry [wikipedia.org] ? Their last two games were both in Arabic and aimed at a middle eastern audience. And in one of them, the entire goal of the game is to fight "political corruption." That's a pretty odd turn for a company that did English speaking games exclusively until a few years ago.

Misleading summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38642396)

I think the fact that this guy is in the custody of the Iranian "Revolutionary Court" should have been mentioned in the summary. The brutal treatment handed out by the Iranian "justice" system is not a secret (think Abu Ghraib but still ongoing), and it makes any statements this guy may have made highly suspect. The story here is not that the Americans are trying to do P.R. with games (nothing wrong with that, though concealing it is not good) but rather that the Iranian government is going to murder someone over it.

Transformers (1)

Dukenukemx (1342047) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642408)

I figured that out a long time ago. It seems that a lot of modern games and movies that are aimed at potential solders, seems to include a lot about American armies and how bad ass they are. If you've seen the Transformer movies, they were able to somehow involve the US army. As if that's the only army in the world.

Forget it, I'm playing Skyrim.

The CIA is as clueless as ever (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38642420)

During Viet Nam the CIA conducted war in Laos, placed sensors which looked like a turd on the Ho Chi Minh trail, and
generally wasted a lot of time and money. It didn't change the outcome of the Viet Nam war on damned bit.

None of their tricky methods are going to work now, either.

The waste of money is bad, the waste of lives is worse. It will all be a huge waste, that's obvious to anyone with a brain,
regardless of where that person lives.

I just have one thing left to say : Ron Paul 2012

Re:The CIA is as clueless as ever (0)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642498)

During Viet Nam the CIA conducted war in Laos, placed sensors which looked like a turd on the Ho Chi Minh trail, and generally wasted a lot of time and money. It didn't change the outcome of the Viet Nam war on damned bit.

Nothing anyone could have done would have won the Vietnam War for us. Hell, it was already won, but politicians lost it for us. If all Ron Paul supporters are as ignorant of history as you are, then its a good thing he has no chance in hell of winning.

Accused of "Waging war on God" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38642444)

What, God can't defend himself?

I'll never understand fundies. In one breath they'll say "God is great and all-powerful" and in the next they they freak out claiming that a pitiful human is "waging war" on him.

Re:Accused of "Waging war on God" (1)

jesseck (942036) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642630)

The god has to be real first.

Re:Accused of "Waging war on God" (1)

Pentium100 (1240090) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642672)

Well, there is a logical explanation would be that God, while all-powerful is so incredibly dumb and/or lazy that he would not do anything even if a human found a way to kill him and actually attempted it. That is why it is up to the fundies to
1. Find out what God wants (since he is too lazy to say it or maybe not able to speak because of stupidity (maybe, while immortal (naturally, that is, he can still be killed, but won't die of old age), he is still susceptible to age related degradation and given that he is so old, maybe he is in a coma).
2. Try to implement it.

Re:Accused of "Waging war on God" (1)

tjbp (2499800) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643106)

Yeah, that rampant inconsistency of theirs can't have anything to do with their use of theocracy as a disguise for tyrannical rule by a megalomaniac elite. No siree, they just haven't thought about God long enough. Eventually they'll realise their error and come over our place for beer and hamburgers.

Impressive resume (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642474)

Apparently, not only did he work for the CIA and, according to this summary, as a video game developer, but his family has also said that he owns a linguistics company (as reported by CNN). Remember, Iran loves to arrest Americans and charge them with espionage, even if they are just a few naive hikers who got lost.

And what if it was? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38642476)

I love how the original post assumes that what the U.S. does isn't for the best.

What, you never considered that the U.S.'s actions are for the best? We have a word for that here. It's called biased.

The U.S. wins conflicts and then gives back the country to their people, going back decades. What part of 'evil empire' is 'give it back', anyhow? Just curious. 'Empire' and 'return' seem pretty mutually exclusive.

Well... (4, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642488)

...as sympathetic as I am to the guy, since he was there to see his grandmother, he's going to have a hell of a time persuading anyone he was not working for the CIA if indeed the CIA was funding the company he worked for, and that he was aware the company was involved in psy ops*. Doesn't matter if the company wasn't part of the CIA, we know the CIA runs companies as fronts (from previous CIA scandals) and since the CIA would have to be incredibly stupid to reveal all the companies that were fronts.

Iran, therefore, is in a difficult position. The guy is essentially being paid CIA money for carrying out CIA-commissioned tasks, which is not going to go down well there no matter what. Psy ops also require some form of feedback - you can't manipulate in a vaccuum, which is a major factor in North Korea's isolation - and that means feet on the ground at some point. It must have been obvious to everyone involved (except for the poor guy involved) as to what would happen next.

I honestly doubt he really is a spy, they're generally not stupid enough to be that obvious, but I do believe he's "collateral damage" that the US considers wholly acceptable for intelligence-gathering purposes.**

*Manipulating the perception of another, rather than giving them information and free choice, is a "psychological operation" of the kind believed to be used in covert ops. Doesn't matter if it's merely the opinion of a boss or the opinion of a sponsor that's being expressed, with no military or intelligence involvement at all, it is still a psy op because it is still about manipulation and not choice. Had I not put in an explanation, but relied entirely on emotive description, that would also be psy op/manipulation. Because I am stating what is meant and why the choice of words, there is information and therefore freedom of choice and therefore it is not manipulative.

**Intelligence gathering will always involve collateral damage. You can't avoid it. Totally innocent people will inevitably be sacrificed, which is why this idea that you control your destiny is such a laugh. All nations gather intelligence from all nations (themselves as much as anyone else), all nations need to at this point in history, and therefore all nations will have wholly innocent victims. The British have been investigating a whole host of scandals and "collateral damage" from internal investigation by the police recently, after a couple of undercover operatives defected to the organizations they were spying on and blew the lid on some very shady dealings.

Re:Well... (1)

medv4380 (1604309) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642728)

Totally innocent people will inevitably be sacrificed, which is why this idea that you control your destiny is such a laugh.

As much as most, if not all, of what you're saying is spot on. Why try to draw a correlation between the loss of innocent life, and a philosophical perspective like Free-Will and control of your own Destiny? It's a completely different argument.

given (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38642538)

his work history he was a fool to visit iran

Re:given (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642640)

Why? Was he working against Iran? If not, then he should have little to fear.

So much for .... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642578)

... intelligence gathering.

The CIA is supposed to be monitoring events and gathering intelligence to support our administration's decision making process. Ideally, it should be a neutral observer, reporting facts discovered in various nations be they good, bad or whatever. Asking the CIA to effect changes in governments or foreign groups and then asking them to report the outcome is just plain bad management. Now they'll be motivated to bias the data to make their missions appear successful. And to hide their mistakes, right up to the point at which we trigger a revolution or terrorism in response to our meddling.

Its even worse when they have to convince the public at large that their missions are needed and productive. If the CIA wants to be in the active intervention and propaganda business, then we're going to need an entire department of Bradley Mannings to report back the truth about their performance.

But that's impossible! Obama is President! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38642588)

We all know President Obama always tells the absolute truth, and is always fighting to improve rights and oppose the rich. He would never stoop to propaganda.

Oh, I am sure that it is all true (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642616)

After all, the fact that he has a gun to his head, a gov. appointed lawyer (in spite of the family hiring a private one), and most likely loads of torture, has ZERO bearings on his saying these things.

Lets get it over with and just bomb Iran. All of this foreplay gets SO old. Heck, if we must, lets move an old carrier into position and allow Iran to take it out and then we cans send in loads of bombs there.

Don't care. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38642680)

After some of the info that has come out about US methods...
We have no more moral high ground on which to stand and denounce any other country for anything. Including torture.

It's impossible to even pretend we are the 'good guys' anymore. And if we don't have that image to deal with now..
We might as well be the best bad guys we can be.

Lets go all out. Nuke the middle east. Big smoking craters all over. Fuckem. Give them something to really hate.
Enough of this 'winning the hearts and minds' crap. Lets win the destroyed ruins.

(i can't even tell if im being scarcastic anymore. my country is no better than the barbaric assholes we're fighting. All of us disgust me.)

Darn, not CoD then (1)

tjbp (2499800) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642878)

Who was honestly hoping the videogame in question might be one we'd heard of? I was hoping the real news item would be about blowing open an intelligence body manipulating game developers covertly. Not so. This is their site:

http://www.kumawar.com/

"Kuma War is a series of playable recreations of real events in the War on Terror. Nearly 100 playable missions bring our soldiers' heroic stories to life, and you can get them all right now, for free. Stop watching the news and get in the game!"

Free games that are openly biased towards the US campaign, all the while encouraging you to not watch the news. CIA-funded? Wait, REALLY?! Gasp.

The Iranian way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38642886)

They rescue your fishermen from pirates, you execute one of their "spies". That's the Iranian way.

On a completely unrelated note (1)

WillgasM (1646719) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642890)

Who plays America's Army!? http://www.americasarmy.com/ [americasarmy.com]

is there info on the actual games? (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643034)

As a fan of propaganda videogames [molleindustria.org] , this is relevant to my interests.

well, can some explain (1)

superwiz (655733) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643074)

what is the difference between propaganda and marketing?

orly? (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643318)

"which he confessed to"

Did he give the confession freely or was it beaten out of him for political reasons to make the US look bad?

It's no secret that Iran hates their guts.

Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38643386)

I have no sympathy for this guy... Trying to spread US propaganda.
The US government is the world's largest terrorist organization. They started two wars that have killed over a hundred thousand civilians each, they don't respect human rights, they spy on and lie to their "allies", etc. Anybody fighting for the US government or helping them in any way, such as spreading propaganda, is an enemy of the world and of humanity. I don't wish the guy to be killed, but whatever happens to him won't stop me from sleeping at night.

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