Jailed Spy: CIA Paid Developer to Make Anti-Middle East Games

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Jailed Spy: CIA Paid Developer to Make Anti-Middle East Games

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A man detained in Iran on suspicion of spying for the U.S. claims he worked for Kuma Games.

If the story Amir Mirza-Hekmati told on Iranian national television on Sunday is true, then he has led a crazy life worthy of an action movie starring Kal Penn. Iranian officials announced Mirza-Hekmati's arrest on December 7th and yesterday published excerpts from his "confession" in the Tehran Times.

Amir Mirza-Hekmati was born in Arizona before moving to live near Detroit, Michigan, and, after finishing high school there, he joined the U.S. army. Because of his heritage and ability to speak Farsi, his commanding officers asked that he learn Arabic. Mirza-Hekmati then went to Iraq in an Army uniform but worked as an intelligence analyst before eventually he was recruited by DARPA - the main military research branch of the U.S. armed forces. After that, he was hired to work at Kuma Games in New York City, which Mirza-Hekmati alleges receives money from U.S. to sway public opinion against Islamic countries.

"I went to Kuma Games Company," Mirza-Hekmati said. "This computer company was receiving money from the CIA to [produce] and design and distribute for free special movies and games with the aim of manipulating public opinion in the Middle East. The goal of the company in question was to convince the people of Iran and the people of the entire world that whatever the U.S. does in other countries is a good measure."

Kuma Games has made a few games which bleed into the politcal sphere, such as a recreation of the missions that ended in the death of Osama Bin Laden and Muammar Gaddafi in their free downloadable game Kuma/War, but the company also produces titles like Street Soccer and branded work for television networks like Mobsters (Bio.) and I.Predator (Animal Planet). In 2006, Kuma executives admitted to doing contract work for the U.S. government, but never once stated that they are, in fact, supported through CIA money.

Mirza-Hekmati's father denies that his son was ever a spy for the CIA, and that he was visiting family when he was detained in Iran. "He is not a spy. It's a whole bunch of lies on my good son," said Ali Hekmati, a professor from Flint, Michigan. "They have lied about any American ... captured in Iran for visiting or tourism, or for any other reason."

The CIA, the U.S. government and Kuma Games have all declined to comment on Mirza-Hekmati's statements, but clearly there is some high-level spy work going on here. I think we need to send in James Bond or Jack Bauer to rescue Mirza-Hekmati and clear Kuma Games good name.

Source: Tehran Times and Daily Telegraph

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I just checked the Kuma site. They have a game about shooting dinosaurs.

Oh shit... Iran has a secret Dinosaur army!

All kidding aside, I can actually believe this. The CIA has a long history of funding weird projects.

Even if everything they said is true about Kuma Games that still doesn't make him a spy, just a propagandist. Although it is a bit suspicious that someone with such heavy ties to the US military would be in Iran anyway, even if his family came from there.

Normally I wouldn't believe anything Iran says about a jailed American, but I'm inclined to believe most of the story in this case. I mean come on...the guy works for years in the army and then moves on to DARPA, only to suddenly make a totally strange career pivot to work at a videogame company?

The most damning piece of evidence is the fact that people who speak Arabic are highly coveted in the American armed forces. They are rarer and more important than almost any other people.

Does anybody remember the huge uproar that occurred when it was revealed back in 2007 that Arabic translators had been ousted from the armed forces because they were gay? If not, read this article by one of those translators: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/08/opinion/08benjamin.html

This article also corroborates my statement about the importance of such translators, reading, "But the military has a desperate shortage of linguists trained to translate such invaluable information and convey it to the war zone. The lack of qualified translators has been a pressing issue for some time - the Army had filled only half its authorized positions for Arabic translators in 2001. Cables went untranslated on Sept. 10 that might have prevented the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. Today, the American Embassy in Baghdad has nearly 1,000 personnel, but only a handful of fluent Arabic speakers."

Also from the article: "The result [of the military discovering he and several others were gay] was the termination of our careers, and the loss to the military of two more Arabic translators."

So, the army gives up one of its most coveted assets so he can become a videogame developer? Seriously? That's not even close to passing muster. This story appears to be true by any objective measure.

whether its true or false we are pretty unlikely to ever get a clear picture of the outcome of this situation. But yea government funded game developing with prejudice agendas.........color me shocked but not really cause thats pretty much how it goes down. I wonder if Kuma employs lobbyists. Mostly because im not surprised that the government would fund game developing but more on the lines of who would authorize the government funding of game developing? Thats essentially hemorrhaging money. Id like to see how that falls under 10th amendment rights.

CapitalistPig:
whether its true or false we are pretty unlikely to ever get a clear picture of the outcome of this situation. But yea government funded game developing with prejudice agendas.........color me shocked but not really cause thats pretty much how it goes down. I wonder if Kuma employs lobbyists. Mostly because im not surprised that the government would fund game developing but more on the lines of who would authorize the government funding of game developing? Thats essentially hemorrhaging money. Id like to see how that falls under 10th amendment rights.

Why would this fall under the 10th Amendment? Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't see how this could be a 10th Amendment issue.

Dr. Witticism:

CapitalistPig:
whether its true or false we are pretty unlikely to ever get a clear picture of the outcome of this situation. But yea government funded game developing with prejudice agendas.........color me shocked but not really cause thats pretty much how it goes down. I wonder if Kuma employs lobbyists. Mostly because im not surprised that the government would fund game developing but more on the lines of who would authorize the government funding of game developing? Thats essentially hemorrhaging money. Id like to see how that falls under 10th amendment rights.

Why would this fall under the 10th Amendment? Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't see how this could be a 10th Amendment issue.

Well unless some lobbyists changed the laws ( which is where my curiousity comes into play about Kuma lobbyist roles) there is no law that expressly allows the government to fund gaming which under tenth amendment rights would delegate this right to the states and individuals which would be state gov and entrepreneurs. so im asking A: does this company employ lobbyists to legally get funded by the government and B: if A is false wouldn't that be a constitutional violation?

Assuming all his backround information is correct, it's hard to deny it. Kuma games did admit to working with the government.

Than again, it doesn't matter if this is true. It's been showed many times that the government sometimes tries to sway public opinion.

I mean, look at their military recruitment ads.

I don't know what I find more unbelievable, a confession obtained by the Iranians, or the idea that this guy was stupid enough to go to Iran in the first place. The Iranian government is willing to use Mountain climbers as hostages and this guy thought they were gunna let a former American intelligence analyst slip through their fingers? Don't ask Mr. Mirza-Hekmati for change, cuz the man has no sense!

Sixcess:
I just checked the Kuma site. They have a game about shooting dinosaurs.

Oh shit... Iran has a secret Dinosaur army!

All kidding aside, I can actually believe this. The CIA has a long history of funding weird projects.

Actually, that's Germany

Does the CIA really need to create its own anti-Middle east games? Aren't the CoD games and the million or so CoD clones doing a great enough of a job depicting everyone that is not the West as inane madman who want to take over the world?

Christmas just came early for Kuma Games.. because Dinodday looks to be an indie hit!

Wow, the more I read about this, the less I cared. Anyway, I want a better plot for a spy film.

Creating propaganda games to show Iranians the West is right and their government is made up of a bunch of dilholes is an awesome idea. The idea that the CIA is actually motivated and imaginative enough to implement it? Plausible but doesn't feel likely. The idea that Iran just apprehended some poor guy who they are using for their own propaganda machine to show their people and others the West is bad and their own government is a bunch of awesome guys protecting them from the capitalist tyrants seems just about more likely.
Without honest disclosure from all parties involved, we aren't about to know all of the truth. Either case, it seems quite likely that Amir is a pawn in all of this and I hope his life isn't being destroyed in all of this brouhaha.

... Because working for the CIA automatically means that you're a spy. Ugh.

Never mind misconceptions about Muslims and people of the Middle East (not to say they aren't an issue), people around the world have ridiculous ideas about the intelligence community.

Well, that's probably the least worst thing CIA ever did.

Hey guise, I've got an idea. Let's totally treat something the Iranian government is releasing as if it were in any way related to reality.

Kahunaburger:
Hey guise, I've got an idea. Let's totally treat something the Iranian government is releasing as if it were in any way related to reality.

Because everything that the American government says is always the gospel of truth.

Hardcore_gamer:

Kahunaburger:
Hey guise, I've got an idea. Let's totally treat something the Iranian government is releasing as if it were in any way related to reality.

Because everything that the American government says is always the gospel of truth.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non_sequitur_(logic)#Non_sequitur_in_everyday_speech

I'm talking about whether we buy a "confession" from someone who was in Iranian custody.

Kahunaburger:

Hardcore_gamer:

Kahunaburger:
Hey guise, I've got an idea. Let's totally treat something the Iranian government is releasing as if it were in any way related to reality.

Because everything that the American government says is always the gospel of truth.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non_sequitur_(logic)#Non_sequitur_in_everyday_speech

I'm talking about whether we buy a "confession" from someone who was in Iranian custody.

Got any proof that the Iranians forced him to confess?

I know Iran isn't a shinning example of human rights and all, but I am sick of hearing people talk about the place like its some kind of a Middle Eastern North Korea. Almost half of everything that people keep saying about Iran is just some propaganda bullshit.

The CIA has a legacy of using propaganda and misinformation as a weapon against America's enemies, so there is nothing about this news story that strikes me as far fetched.

Hardcore_gamer:

Kahunaburger:

Hardcore_gamer:

Because everything that the American government says is always the gospel of truth.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non_sequitur_(logic)#Non_sequitur_in_everyday_speech

I'm talking about whether we buy a "confession" from someone who was in Iranian custody.

Got any proof that the Iranians forced him to confess?

I know Iran isn't a shinning example of human rights and all, but I am sick of hearing people talk about the place like its some kind of a Middle Eastern North Korea. Almost half of everything that people keep saying about Iran is just some propaganda bullshit.

The CIA has a legacy of using propaganda and misinformation as a weapon against America's enemies, so there is nothing about this news story that strikes me as far fetched.

Here's a link to a relevant book on Iran's history with using torture (and other forms of coercion) to elicit false confessions and the like. The point is not that the story is or isn't far-fetched (this sounds like exactly the sort of project the CIA would be dumb enough to fund) but that this guy's testimony has nothing to do with reality and everything to do with what the Iranian government wants him to say.

http://books.google.com/books?id=-QJgbEeoLfEC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Abrahamian,+Ervand+tortured+confessions&hl=en&sa=X&ei=uw_yTt_0FqPz0gGZ-vCOAg&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Abrahamian%2C%20Ervand%20tortured%20confessions&f=false

Hardcore_gamer:
Does the CIA really need to create its own anti-Middle east games? Aren't the CoD games and the million or so CoD clones doing a great enough of a job depicting everyone that is not the West as inane madman who want to take over the world?

That's the point I was going to make. I don't believe this news because I don't think CIA is paying for fucking CoD games. In fact, CoD games do pretty well without the help of any goverment agency, and they use negative stereotypes and cliches like crazy.

Hardcore_gamer:

Kahunaburger:

Hardcore_gamer:

Because everything that the American government says is always the gospel of truth.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non_sequitur_(logic)#Non_sequitur_in_everyday_speech

I'm talking about whether we buy a "confession" from someone who was in Iranian custody.

Got any proof that the Iranians forced him to confess?

I know Iran isn't a shinning example of human rights and all, but I am sick of hearing people talk about the place like its some kind of a Middle Eastern North Korea. Almost half of everything that people keep saying about Iran is just some propaganda bullshit.

The CIA has a legacy of using propaganda and misinformation as a weapon against America's enemies, so there is nothing about this news story that strikes me as far fetched.

Especially when we're talking about the company that developed Kuma War -- you know, the unabashed propaganda piece? Ordinarily I wouldn't be inclined to trust anything a nation that is on the verge of war with the US says about us[1], but the fact that they picked the company that is most known for making Kuma War tells me there's probably at least a grain of truth here, in that the government probably did request that Kuma studios make that particular game for them. I mean, I wasn't even aware that Kuma Games made anything aside from Kuma War prior to reading this article.

[1] do a search for "Cyber War." The first hit should be an ABC news article talking about some serious shit going down between the US and Iran, shit serious enough that it would be considered acts of war on both sides if the laws were up to date regarding the internet

Kahunaburger:
Hey guise, I've got an idea. Let's totally treat something the Iranian government is releasing as if it were in any way related to reality.

Hardcore_gamer:

Because everything that the American government says is always the gospel of truth.

How is that proof to the contrary? If one government lies, all opposing governments must be telling the truth?
I see that crap in US republican/democrat flame wars all the time. Makes no freaking sense.

Marmooset:

Kahunaburger:
Hey guise, I've got an idea. Let's totally treat something the Iranian government is releasing as if it were in any way related to reality.

Hardcore_gamer:

Because everything that the American government says is always the gospel of truth.

How is that proof to the contrary? If one government lies, all opposing governments must be telling the truth?
I see that crap in US republican/democrat flame wars all the time. Makes no freaking sense.

I think he was pointing out that this is a he-said-she-said deal coming from two governments, neither of which are exactly known for honesty when dealing with covert operations. It's like trying to mediate an argument between Hitler and Stalin; you can't trust either one of them, they're both known liars.

Edit: No invocation of Godwin's law was intended here. If there were a pair of famous pathological liars that I knew of, I would have mentioned them instead.

"They have lied about any American ... captured in Iran for visiting or tourism, or for any other reason."

One does not simply tours into Persia...

People play games for fun. Brainwashing just doesn't work in video games. Especially not in FPS games. They are too shallow to brainwash people. Do people really hate Russians after playing CoD 4, MW2 and MW3? No they don't. TV news and newspapers are far more successful in brainwashing. It just doesn't work on hardcore gamers. We're a smart bunch. And casual gamers don't play as much to be influence by any political message in games.

Adam Jensen:
It just doesn't work on hardcore gamers. We're a smart bunch.

Sorry, but this comment was kind of a WTF moment. Flip over to the current thread about the war on used games to see a bunch of gamers who now believe something because of a propaganda campaign. Besides, nobody said Kuma War was meant to brainwash people; it's just a propaganda piece. So was the Donald Duck cartoon Der Fuhrer's Face, and that's actually a pretty well loved cartoon.

Edit: Just a warning, this is a pretty racist cartoon, but it's an American cartoon made as anti-Axis (especially Nazi, but the most racist part of it is the part with the Japanese caricature) propaganda piece; I didn't link to some piece of pro-Nazi propaganda.

Edit Edit: Also, CoD never came into the discussion. We're talking about Kuma War here, which is a much more blatant propaganda piece.

It is possible that the CIA would fund a company to make an anti-middle east game. Absolutely. The fact that a middle eastern country extracted a confession out of him means that we now have the EXACT same amount of evidence that the CIA is doing so as we did before the confession: 0. Maybe they did, maybe they didn't, but we have 0 reason to expect so any more then we did before we read this.

Seriously, a false confession to making a propaganda game is hardly unusual when extracted confessions make innocent men confess to rape and murder in America. And in many places in the middle east, elaborate false, forced confessions are about as common as Miranda warnings.

yeah, i have trouble believing some confessions by american police agencies do you really think i'm going to believe a confession from an american being held in Iran? and this only weeks after the escapists had an article about Iran wanting to make a game about attacking Israel because america is Zionist and it would really piss us off? http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/114746-Rumor-Iran-Responding-to-Battlefield-3-with-Anti-Israel-Game

yeah not gonna believe them../

Well I used to work in a cafe, and we were secretly planning on taking over the world, so why not Kuma?!

Hardcore_gamer:

Kahunaburger:
Hey guise, I've got an idea. Let's totally treat something the Iranian government is releasing as if it were in any way related to reality.

Because everything that any government says is always the gospel of truth.

Fixed that for you, try to get it right next time.

Well its definately an experimentive idea! Would be nice to know if it would actually work?

Also, what was with the picture of Portmeirion on the main page next to this article? It doesn't seem to have any relevance what so ever!! That saying, alot of the pictures that appear nect to links to articles don'e seem to have much relevance...?

The Cheshire:

Hardcore_gamer:
Does the CIA really need to create its own anti-Middle east games? Aren't the CoD games and the million or so CoD clones doing a great enough of a job depicting everyone that is not the West as inane madman who want to take over the world?

That's the point I was going to make. I don't believe this news because I don't think CIA is paying for fucking CoD games. In fact, CoD games do pretty well without the help of any goverment agency, and they use negative stereotypes and cliches like crazy.

This about sums it up. If the CIA are funding this, then I can safely say that there's no need. Other developers are doing it for free.

Anyways, I can believe the CIA would do something as dumb and spiteful as this, but I can also believe that the Iranian government would force a "confession" out of an innocent man.

But then there's this, which I'm going to quote because anyone commenting on this story needs to be made aware of it, and I can only hope that people doing so try to read through the first few pages at least....

Dr. Witticism:
Normally I wouldn't believe anything Iran says about a jailed American, but I'm inclined to believe most of the story in this case. I mean come on...the guy works for years in the army and then moves on to DARPA, only to suddenly make a totally strange career pivot to work at a videogame company?

The most damning piece of evidence is the fact that people who speak Arabic are highly coveted in the American armed forces. They are rarer and more important than almost any other people.

Does anybody remember the huge uproar that occurred when it was revealed back in 2007 that Arabic translators had been ousted from the armed forces because they were gay? If not, read this article by one of those translators: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/08/opinion/08benjamin.html

This article also corroborates my statement about the importance of such translators, reading, "But the military has a desperate shortage of linguists trained to translate such invaluable information and convey it to the war zone. The lack of qualified translators has been a pressing issue for some time - the Army had filled only half its authorized positions for Arabic translators in 2001. Cables went untranslated on Sept. 10 that might have prevented the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. Today, the American Embassy in Baghdad has nearly 1,000 personnel, but only a handful of fluent Arabic speakers."

Also from the article: "The result [of the military discovering he and several others were gay] was the termination of our careers, and the loss to the military of two more Arabic translators."

So, the army gives up one of its most coveted assets so he can become a videogame developer? Seriously? That's not even close to passing muster. This story appears to be true by any objective measure.

While I personally wouldn't go so far as to say this is true, I would say that the CIA have some s'plaining to do, as usual.

Am I the only one who gets very, very depressed that the most powerful nation in the world which was originally founded on some actually incredibly excellent ideals (U.S. Constituation? fuck yes) is run by corrupt, self-interested dicks? I mean, surely there must be Americans out there who are sadder than I am about it. I know Britian isn't exaactly a bloody shining beacon of hope, but America could change the whole damned planet if it wanted to.

he he
the CIA was always one to support stuff like dictators and drug cartels
but a video game company?
thats gold

besides, why would they need to do that?
pretty much every movie/game/tv show that came out after 9/11 had a muslim screaming incomprehensive stuff and shooting an AK-47 in an attempt to "kill freedom" or whatever

Adam Jensen:
People play games for fun. Brainwashing just doesn't work in video games. Especially not in FPS games. They are too shallow to brainwash people. Do people really hate Russians after playing CoD 4, MW2 and MW3? No they don't. TV news and newspapers are far more successful in brainwashing. It just doesn't work on hardcore gamers. We're a smart bunch. And casual gamers don't play as much to be influence by any political message in games.

it's not like that dude
it's not like after you play CoD you will intantly start to hate muslims and whatnot, but it makes you get used to the idea...
you are probably smart enough to know that that being muslim does not turn you into a terrorist, but you see so many times on tv, movies, games, whatever, muslims being portraided as terrorist that you don't even question why anymore

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