Mind Control in the New Kind of War

by Jan Baughman

October 29, 2001

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In response to the 9-11 attacks, an expert on cults and mind control, Steven Hassan, warned of the danger of jumping to "evil" conclusions. In his statement he explains the indoctrination that can lead an individual to join a cult, or to become a suicide bomber. "Part of the cult mentality is that people see things in terms of black and white. Everything gets reduced to extremes: belief of 'good versus evil' and 'us versus them.' Cult members are indoctrinated to exercise strict blind obedience to the charismatic figure atop the pyramid structure of their group. They are in a form of trance. Basically it's mind control." Hassan described the cult-like nature of the attackers, but what about the behavior of the rest of us?

Black and White

"Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists." George W. Bush, 9/20/01.

"If you harbor a terrorist, if you aid a terrorist, if you hide terrorists, you're just as guilty as the terrorists." George W. Bush, 9/25/01.

Good versus Evil

"No threat, no threat will prevent freedom-loving people from defending freedom. And make no mistake about it: This is good versus evil. These are evildoers. They have no justification for their actions. There's no religious justification, there's no political justification. The only motivation is evil." George W. Bush, 9/25/01.

The evildoers have struck our nation, but out of evil comes good. We are a good, kind-hearted, decent people, and we're showing the world just that in our compassion and our resolve. George W. Bush, 10/17/01.

Us versus Them

"I see things this way: The people who did this act on America, and who may be planning further acts, are evil people. They don't represent an ideology, they don't represent a legitimate political group of people. They're flat evil. That's all they can think about, is evil. And as a nation of good folks, we're going to hunt them down, and we're going to find them, and we will bring them to justice." George W. Bush, 9/25/01.

Hassan goes on to explain that "Cult members believe that they are part of an elite few, that they are chosen by God for a special purpose, that they will always be remembered as heroes for what they have done."

Special Purpose

"Just three days removed from these events, Americans do not yet have the distance of history. But our responsibility to history is already clear: to answer these attacks and rid the world of evil." George W. Bush, 9/14/01, Remarks at National Day of Prayer and Remembrance.

Hassan has described the BITE theory of the indoctrination process; that is, control of Behavior, Information, Thought and Emotion. Control of behavior includes discouraging individuality and encouraging groupthink, imposing rigid rules, and enforcing the need for obedience.


"I recently received a touching letter that says a lot about the state of America in these difficult times -- a letter from a 4th-grade girl, with a father in the military: "As much as I don't want my Dad to fight," she wrote, "I'm willing to give him to you." This is a precious gift, the greatest she could give. This young girl knows what America is all about. Since September 11, an entire generation of young Americans has gained new understanding of the value of freedom, and its cost in duty and in sacrifice." George W. Bush, 10/07/01.


"In the months ahead, our patience will be one of our strengths -- patience with the long waits that will result from tighter security; patience and understanding that it will take time to achieve our goals; patience in all the sacrifices that may come." George W. Bush, 10/07/01.

The Bush administration has made no apology for the need for information control, which includes both withholding and distorting information to make it acceptable, and limiting access to other (non-cult) sources of information.


"This is an administration that will not talk about how we gather intelligence, how we know what we're going to do, nor what our plans are. When we move, we will communicate with you in an appropriate manner. We're at war. There has been an act of war declared upon America by terrorists, and we will respond accordingly. And I appreciate very much the American people understanding that. As we plan, as we put our strategy into action, we will let you know when we think it's appropriate - not only to protect the lives of our servicemen and women, but to make sure our coalition has had proper time to be noticed, as well. But we're going to act." George W. Bush, 09/15/01.


Two "accidental" bombings have destroyed Red Cross warehouses in Kabul, thereby destroying food and blankets for 55,000 Afghanis as winter approaches. The Pentagon attributed the accidents to "human error" for having picked the wrong target (reminiscent of our accidental bombing of the Chinese Embassy?) If the attacks were deliberate, the information would no doubt fall into the "withholding" category.

Access Denied

"The point to the networks -- and let me just say that I think the networks have been very responsible in the way that they have dealt with this -- my message to them was that it's not to me to judge news value of something like this, but it is to say that there's a national security concern about an unedited, 15 or 20-minute spew of anti-American hatred that ends in a call to go out and kill Americans. And I think that that was fully understood. We are still concerned about whether there might be some signaling in here, but I don't have anything more for you on that yet." Condaleezza Rice, 10/15/01, on her request to the television networks to not broadcast Al Qaeda/bin Laden messages.

Thought control was described above in the context of black and white, good versus evil and us versus them. Additional elements of thought control include providing people with a vocabulary, a "loaded" language that constricts rather than broadens understanding. Count the number of times president Bush uses the words "evil" and "evildoers" in his next speech. Think about what the words cell, harbor and terror meant before September 11. What thoughts and images does the phrase "a new kind of war" evoke in you?

Thought control also discounts alternate belief systems and prevents questioning of the leader, doctrine or policy.

"We've seen the enemy, and the murder of thousands of innocent, unsuspecting people. They recognize no barrier of morality. They have no conscience. The terrorists cannot be reasoned with." George W. Bush, 10/26/01.

"Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists..."

Fear Itself

One facet of emotional control focuses on the excessive use of fear. Fear of the outside world (flying, opening mail, large crowds and tall buildings) and fear of enemies (evildoers). We are asked to stay on full alert, while carrying on with life as usual. While knowledge is power, the withholding of information exacerbates this fear, as we walk through our days in a general sense of impending doom and distrust of those who look different or dress different from us. Total paranoia.

"I think America needs to know that we in government are on alert; that we recognize life around the White House or around the Congress is not normal, or is not the way it used to be, because we're very aware that people have conducted an act of war on our country; and that all of us urge our fellow Americans to go back to work and to work hard, but we must be on alert." George W. Bush, 09/19/01.


So how does one in the minority continue to function in an environment of mind control, where 90-some percent of the country supports the leader, doctrine and policy? Well, stay under the radar screen, keep questioning, and keep presenting the facts. Information is out there, for those willing to look for it. One day the tough questions will be answered. Meantime, as people return to flying and become impatient with hour-long airport security lines and having to put their shoes through the x-ray machine; as unemployment rises and the economy sinks; as we continue to bomb, purposefully and accidentally, yet evil continues to exist in the world; as our freedoms are chipped away, yet evil continues to exist in the world; perhaps then the deprogramming will begin and we'll still have something left on this earth to work with.


Jan Baughman is a scientist in the Biotech Industry. When Jan does not travel around the world on behalf of the company where she manages a clinical research department, she spends most of her time devouring books like candies and relaxing over the preparation of the finest recipes in Northern California. She started writing at a very young age when she found this mode of expression easier than having to answer the perpetually boring and conservative chit-chat around her. Jan's sense of observation is directly related to her sense of humor. She is a founding member and co-editor of Swans, and brings to the site wit and a lightness of being.

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Other commentaries by Jan Baughman

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Essays published in 1997

Essays published in 1996


Published October 29, 2001
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