Activision Defends Oliver North in Black Ops 2

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Activision Defends Oliver North in Black Ops 2

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Activision says it "made sense" to use the Iran-Contra colonel as a consultant on the upcoming Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.

Oliver North is a polarizing figure, to put it very mildly. Back in the 80s, he was the face of the Iran-Contra scandal, an unprecedented political disaster in which the United States was busted selling weapons to Iran in exchange for the release of American hostages and then funneling the money to the Contra rebels in Nicaragua. President Ronald Reagan rather improbably denied knowing anything and while several officials with his administration were eventually indicted and convicted of various charges (which were later vacated or pardoned), it was Lt. Colonel Oliver North, who steadfastly refused to roll over on anyone, who became the face of the affair.

He's a hero to some and a traitor to others, but either way he's also a consultant on the upcoming Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, and that apparently has some people in a knot. Activision says his participation only makes sense, however, because like him or not, he was a central figure in the real black ops community.

"When we create the fictions that we create, we do a bunch of research and try to talk to subject matter experts on it. And part of that research is reading and watching documentaries and movies and everything else," Treyarch studio boss Mark Lamia told Kotaku. "[North] rises to the top as someone who was probably, obviously the most well-known covert operations [person]. So it made sense for us from a game development point of view to spend the time and be able to talk to [him]."

"We're not trying to make a political statement with our game. We're trying to make a piece of art and entertainment," he continued. "If you're trying to create that fiction, for us to have met with him as we're creating our fiction is totally appropriate."

I would have to agree. North may or may not have broken a whole pile of laws, but his real crime was simply that he got caught. It sounds cynical, but the fact is that governments do unsavory things all the time; we just happen to live in such a "reality"-obsessed culture that those deeds become entertainment fodder faster than ever before. If Treyarch is building a game around the real-life black ops world of the 1980s, and one of the central players from that period is willing to offer insight into it, it would be foolish not to take advantage.

Interestingly, Lt. Col. Hank Keirsey, the military advisor on the Call of Duty franchise since the 2004 release of United Offensive, briefly stepped up to defend North before being shut down by an Activision public relations rep. Suggesting that modern gamers likely consider North a traitor simply because he's on Fox News, Keirsey said, "Do they know what he really did? I guess I'm out of line even coming into the interview, but the man was involved in a crux of history..." at which point he was "waved off" by the PR guy and left the room.

A polarizing figure indeed. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 comes out on November 13 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.

Source: Kotaku

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Doesn't really bother me. If anyone knows how to make a good espionage story, it would be this guy.

Why not hire an expert in what happened?

Sure he did something wrong, but he probably knows more than a great many people about this.
Also LOL the "enter the following" thing is SAVE FACE for me.

Activision are still idiots for using the guy though; there are TONS of special ops they could have consulted, but instead they bring on THIS whackjob? They're just using North to get attention, like a child who draws graffiti on the wallpaper.

Okay, is it okay that I have a slight migrain after reading Activisions defense, and it makes sense?

Aiddon:
Activision are still idiots for using the guy though; there are TONS of special ops they could have consulted, but instead they bring on THIS whackjob?

What makes this guy a whackjob though? What he was doing? As said in the article, it was only bad because he got caught. Hell, this is probably minor compared to some of the shit the US government had done that we dont know about.

Does that mean Im going to defend this guy, hell no, but im not going to pretend that he's the devil.

I think the only people who really care about them getting advice from North and are making a fuss about it are idiots who try to be sensationalist.

Andy Chalk:

I would have to agree. North may or may not have broken a whole pile of laws, but his real crime was simply that he got caught.

Nope. His real crime was selling weapons to the Ayotollah, despite their being an embargo at the time with Iran (thus breaking international law), to fund drug-smuggling, torturing, raping, murdering rebels in Nicuragua. According to Sen. John Kerry, there's evidence to suggest that North got the US actively involved in the Contra's drug smuggling schemes. At the very least, it was his funding that allowed them to go round burning down villages, raping women and children, killing innocent civilians, and capturing and torturing whoever they felt like.

This is no different than if Dice, ahead of their next Battlefield game, were to go "We really wanted to know what the experience of fighting insurgents is like in Afghanistan... so we invited several key members of the Taliban to come and advise us on what sort of missions they do, insurgency tactics, etc."

North is a criminal. He was tried for war crimes. The only reason he wasn't convicted was because of a ridiculous plea-bargain he made beforehand that meant the US could bring him to trial, so long as they didn't convict him. Fuck him, and fuck Activision for supporting him in any way. Black Ops is not such a true-to-life game that the developers need to consult war criminals to get the campaign right.

WanderingFool:
Okay, is it okay that I have a slight migrain after reading Activisions defense, and it makes sense?

Aiddon:
Activision are still idiots for using the guy though; there are TONS of special ops they could have consulted, but instead they bring on THIS whackjob?

What makes this guy a whackjob though? What he was doing? As said in the article, it was only bad because he got caught. Hell, this is probably minor compared to some of the shit the US government had done that we dont know about.

Do you know anything about the Contra scandal? This wasn't just your usual political scandal. This was the US being caught actively supporting a rebel movement that habitually used murder, torture, rape and imprisonment of civilians as tactics for their cause. They were also heavily involved in drug trafficking. And they did this by selling weapons to the Ayotollah of Iran who, need I remind you, are a bunch of whackjobs and nutters themselves.

This is no different than if the US were found to be sending money to South American drug criminals, by selling weapons to the Taliban. That's the level of fucked up that the Iran/Contra affair reached, and this guy North was behind it. Anyone who is responsible for the rape and torture of the people of an entire nation deserves to rot in jail, not get paid to develop videogames.

Bullshit Activision. You are constantly scavenging for controversy.

2 things I think need to be asked:

*Why couldn't you get a Spec Ops who hasn't been disgraced and hasn't got a buttload of controversy surrounding him?

*Even if he's your source for all things black ops, why didn't you just keep him at that level. WHY DID YOU THROW HIM INTO THE MARKETING ASPECT AS WELL?

This reeks of commercialism, hoping to stir up a hornets nest of free advertisement. Stop defending it like its an aspect of integrity. It isn't...

The man broke both US and international law and funneled arms to two groups of equally distasteful people; one a theocratic dictatorship harboring deep antagonism towards to the US that was under an arms embargo and the other a group of rebels who had committed numerous human rights violations along with being one of the leading forces in international drug trade.

Oliver North should have been tired at The Hague and be rotting in a prison cell somewhere near Genevra along with anyone else directly involved with the stunt. This is why people think the US makes a mockery of international law. Because they usually do.

Maybe this clears things up a bit :P

Using him as a consultant? That's perfectly understandable and doesn't really have any real problems with it -- he really would know his stuff and would be a great source of information.

Now, using him in commercials trying to sell the game? That's when you start with the possibly unfortunate implications...

Don't know who he is, don't really care who he is, and I give even less of a shit about his past. He's an old bastard likely to die in a few years anyway, if we can pick his brain for some historical insight before that time then I say let's do it. The people on their moral crusade over a long dead and forgotten issue are just getting angry for the sake of it it would seem.

Scrumpmonkey:
Maybe this clears things up a bit :P

Golden... and informative, if the blatant satire doesn't blow over you that is.

KeyMaster45:
Don't know who he is, don't really care who he is, and I give even less of a shit about his past. He's an old bastard likely to die in a few years anyway, if we can pick his brain for some historical insight before that time then I say let's do it. The people on their moral crusade over a long dead and forgotten are just getting angry for the sake of it it would seem.

Thats all well and good, in fact I couldn't give a shit if he was the director of their games. However, what has putting his ass in front of a camera to advertise a game got to do with historical insight?

EDIT: ALSO... LONG DEAD? Blood is still been shed because of what he has done.

Clarification: Not literally because of what he did, but his actions are still a contribution to a vile military campaign and an entire countries suffering. He also gave weapons to Iran... yeah.

wait, if hes the most well known covert ops figure doesn't that make him the worst covert "operator" (is that the right word?)

They chose him because he matches their public image perfectly

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:
At the very least, it was his funding that allowed them to go round burning down villages, raping women and children, killing innocent civilians, and capturing and torturing whoever they felt like.

You mean like in Vietnam? Or in Iraq and Afghanistan?

I'm not saying that North was "right," just that what he did was no more than a fairly conventional application of foreign policy. He just happened to get caught with his dick in the jar. And in the eyes of the law, he did his time.

I think it's also little disingenuous to suggest that he was somehow a lone gunman in all this.

This is no different than if Dice, ahead of their next Battlefield game, were to go "We really wanted to know what the experience of fighting insurgents is like in Afghanistan... so we invited several key members of the Taliban to come and advise us on what sort of missions they do, insurgency tactics, etc."

But isn't that exactly what what Atomic did with Six Days in Fallujah - which many gamers defended against the backlash from "outside the community?"

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:

WanderingFool:
Okay, is it okay that I have a slight migrain after reading Activisions defense, and it makes sense?

Aiddon:
Activision are still idiots for using the guy though; there are TONS of special ops they could have consulted, but instead they bring on THIS whackjob?

What makes this guy a whackjob though? What he was doing? As said in the article, it was only bad because he got caught. Hell, this is probably minor compared to some of the shit the US government had done that we dont know about.

Do you know anything about the Contra scandal? This wasn't just your usual political scandal. This was the US being caught actively supporting a rebel movement that habitually used murder, torture, rape and imprisonment of civilians as tactics for their cause. They were also heavily involved in drug trafficking. And they did this by selling weapons to the Ayotollah of Iran who, need I remind you, are a bunch of whackjobs and nutters themselves.

This is no different than if the US were found to be sending money to South American drug criminals, by selling weapons to the Taliban. That's the level of fucked up that the Iran/Contra affair reached, and this guy North was behind it. Anyone who is responsible for the rape and torture of the people of an entire nation deserves to rot in jail, not get paid to develop videogames.

Pretty much this. Also, if you don't know about the Ayotollah, think Saddam in the 80's.

Trivia; I was born around the time of the trial.

KeyMaster45:
Don't know who he is, don't really care who he is, and I give even less of a shit about his past. He's an old bastard likely to die in a few years anyway, if we can pick his brain for some historical insight before that time then I say let's do it. The people on their moral crusade over a long dead and forgotten issue are just getting angry for the sake of it it would seem.

Sorry, what? I didn't realise that the crimes of treason, breaking international law, destroying evidence before going to trial and the funding rape, torture and murder aren't worth getting angry over. Silly me, I thought we lived in a Western society where we could still hold our leaders accountable. I was under the impression that things like human rights and international law still had meaning. I'm glad you proved me wrong. Let's totally forget that the Iran/Contra affair ever happened.

/sarcasm

By allowing people in authority to get away with this kind of shit, we only give them yet more reasons to try it again in future. If we can't even properly convict a guy for treason, then what's to stop the US or other Western governments from just selling weapons to the Colombian coke gangs, the Mexican cartels, or frankly any criminal network that takes their pick. Because that's the example we're setting.

Seriously people, wake the fuck up!

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:
*snip*

Grats dude, you've established that we all understand that he is a very bad man. I also imagine this fact was established way back in the 80's when it all happened. It happened, the country got pissed at how the government handled it and we moved on. Getting so angry about it 30 years plus down the line does nothing productive for anyone.

KeyMaster45:

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:
*snip*

Grats dude, you've established that we all understand that he is a very bad man. I also imagine this fact was established way back in the 80's when it all happened. It happened, the country got pissed at how the government handled it and we moved on. Getting so angry about it 30 years plus down the line does nothing productive for anyone.

Without even trying to not avoid repeating myself, What has putting his ass in front of a camera to advertise a game got to do with being productive? Clearly, due to the controversy, it ISN'T BEING PRODUCTIVE. It's a harmful association... People don't just forget these things.

Just because you can nonchalantly dismiss treason and assisted war crimes, doesn't mean the rest of us compassionate and empathetic folk have to or even want to.

Just don't shove his ugly ass in our faces. Use him to advise how you wipe for all I care, I don't want to see that cretin.

Andy Chalk:

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:
At the very least, it was his funding that allowed them to go round burning down villages, raping women and children, killing innocent civilians, and capturing and torturing whoever they felt like.

You mean like in Vietnam? Or in Iraq and Afghanistan?

I do indeed. And at least with Iraq and Afghanistan, some small effort has been made to actually punish the soldiers responsible for raping and killing civilians. Not a huge effort, true, but better than the complete lack of justice that was brought to the Iran-Contra affair.

And seriously, talk about damning with faint praise. You think maybe, just maybe, the fact that the US has been involved in so much civilian slaughter makes a mockery of the idea of international law?

I'm not saying that North was "right," just that what he did was no more than a fairly conventional application of foreign policy. He just happened to get caught with his dick in the jar. And in the eyes of the law, he did his time.

In the eyes of the law, he weaselled his way out by destroying evidence and copping a plea-bargain. The only reason he went to trial was because he agreed to stand, as long as he wasn't found guilty. That's pretty much the entirety of what his pre-trial plea amounted to, and it meant that he didn't do any time at all. In fact, he got off scot-free. This is like O.J Simpson, if Simpson had been responsible for mass genocide and slaughter.

I think it's also little disingenuous to suggest that he was somehow a lone gunman in all this.

He was the Colonel in charge of the operations, who was responsible for deciding to sell weapons directly to the Ayotollah, breaking international law in doing so, and according to John Kerry was not only responsible in directing funds to the Contra, but may well have been involved in their Cocaine trafficking. I'm sure this was the work of many hands, but he was the one directing them. Well, possibly Reagan as well, but when has a US President ever been brought to trial for war crimes?

But isn't that exactly what what Atomic did with Six Days in Fallujah - which many gamers defended against the backlash from "outside the community?"

No. Atomic spoke to veteran soldiers of the Afghanistan conflict. They may well have spoken to Aghani civilians too, I don't know. But they could not have spoken to Taliban insurgents. For them to actually bring on Taliban soldiers in an advisory position would have broken about a million international laws, first among them being that you can't financially support individuals or groups recognised around the world as being terrorists. Second among them being you don't give money to an enemy you're currently fighting in the Middle East. Atomic would have been tried for treason.

And this is the issue. All that this issue shows is that you can commit the most terrible war crimes, and shit all over international agreements, and American corporations will reward you by making you a consultant on their news channels, and hiring you to advise their videogames. It makes a complete mockery of the idea that the people in charge of the military can be brought to justice, just like anyone else.

Justice is supposed to be blind. Apparently in this case, its only blind in one eye.

KeyMaster45:

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:
*snip*

Grats dude, you've established that we all understand that he is a very bad man. I also imagine this fact was established way back in the 80's when it all happened. It happened, the country got pissed at how the government handled it and we moved on. Getting so angry about it 30 years plus down the line does nothing productive for anyone.

So I guess that means that anyone who commits any crime should be able to get away with it if they avoid justice for long enough? I mean, if this guy can get away with supporting genocide, then surely everything else is ok by default? Rape a woman? As long as you're not caught in the first ten years, we'll let that slide. Murder a family? Give it twenty years, we'll let that slide. Torture someone for shits and giggles? Just don't get caught jaywalking, and we'll shut our eyes to that misdemeanour.

Justice does not come with a fucking expiration date. If someone commits a war crime, then they deserve to be brought to justice, whether it be one year or thirty years later. Anything else is just an insult to the thousands of people who died in Nicaragua, and many more whose lives were made a living hell by this prick.

Their explanation makes sense for using him as a consultant... but not so much as a figurehead for their ad campaign. That was misguided at the very least.

But I agree with Mr. Chalk in the sense that pretty much everyone with experience in this field that Activision could have asked in most likely has their hands just as dirty, if not more so, than Oliver North. They were just never caught. Guys, the whole point about 'deniable ops' is that if it was all above board, then they wouldn't need to be 'deniable' would they?

Also that last part is... intriguing.

Andy Chalk:
but his real crime was simply that he got caught.

I thought his real crime was involvement in "selling weapons to Iran in exchange for the release of American hostages and then funneling the money to the Contra rebels in Nicaragua" :D

Ragsnstitches:

Without even trying to not avoid repeating myself, What has putting his ass in front of a camera to advertise a game got to do with being productive? Clearly, due to the controversy, it ISN'T BEING PRODUCTIVE. It's a harmful association... People don't just forget these things.

Just because you can nonchalantly dismiss treason and assisted war crimes, doesn't mean the rest of us compassionate and empathetic folk have to or even want to.

Just don't shove his ugly ass in our faces. Use him to advise how you wipe for all I care, I don't want to see that cretin.

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:
*snip*

He's not advertising the game he's a consultant, and his picture is only on the article here because most of us will go "Oliver who? Oh, I guess he's that old guy in the picture". You guys are getting mad because Activision sat down and thought to themselves who might know the most about secret under-handed shady government stuff and this guy was their choice. Despite being a scumbag they felt that since he wasn't in prison his knowledge should at least be put to work doing something positive.

Though I still don't really care what this guy did, so to make up for that I'm going to give the two of you something special.

Will the profit from Black Ops 2 also be used to funnel crack to American inner-city neighborhoods?

Andy Chalk:
North may or may not have broken a whole pile of laws, but his real crime was simply that he got caught.

So it's okay for me to help to black teens into crack heads and funnel weapons to countries that sponsor terrorists as long as I don't get caught? Thanks for the great advice Andy! And hey, if it's not illegal, it can't possibly just be wrong now could it?

"Ask no questions, hear no lies" Indeed!

To add to the sentiment many others have posted, Oliver North was completely unneeded for the ad campaign. P. W. Singer showed he was fully capable of doing it himself, as well as being an expert in modern military tactics.

KeyMaster45:

Ragsnstitches:

Without even trying to not avoid repeating myself, What has putting his ass in front of a camera to advertise a game got to do with being productive? Clearly, due to the controversy, it ISN'T BEING PRODUCTIVE. It's a harmful association... People don't just forget these things.

Just because you can nonchalantly dismiss treason and assisted war crimes, doesn't mean the rest of us compassionate and empathetic folk have to or even want to.

Just don't shove his ugly ass in our faces. Use him to advise how you wipe for all I care, I don't want to see that cretin.

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:
*snip*

He's not advertising the game he's a consultant,

You were saying...?

and his picture is only on the article here because most of us will go "Oliver who? Oh, I guess he's that old guy in the picture". You guys are getting mad because Activision sat down and thought to themselves who might know the most about secret under-handed shady government stuff and this guy was their choice. Despite being a scumbag they felt that since he wasn't in prison his knowledge should at least be put to work doing something positive.

Though I still don't really care what this guy did, so to make up for that I'm going to give the two of you something special.

You know, I think it's that last sentence that says the most about you. A quick Google of the name Oliver North, or the term 'Iran-Contra' would not only tell you everything you need to know about the affair, it would also be pretty clear why you should care. The fact that you seemingly don't give a fuck about a war-criminal going against Congress, illegally selling weapons to Iran, funding drug-traffickers and rapists in Nicuragua, destroying evidence before being brought to trial, and being allowed to get away scot-free... if that's the sort of stuff you don't care about, then I suggest that perhaps you need to take another look at your priorities in life.

Civilians died in Nicuragua. They died in large numbers as part of a systematic campaign to intimidate an entire country. They were also tortured and murdered. Because this man Oliver North allowed them to do so. That is monumentally fucked up.

KeyMaster45:

Ragsnstitches:

Without even trying to not avoid repeating myself, What has putting his ass in front of a camera to advertise a game got to do with being productive? Clearly, due to the controversy, it ISN'T BEING PRODUCTIVE. It's a harmful association... People don't just forget these things.

Just because you can nonchalantly dismiss treason and assisted war crimes, doesn't mean the rest of us compassionate and empathetic folk have to or even want to.

Just don't shove his ugly ass in our faces. Use him to advise how you wipe for all I care, I don't want to see that cretin.

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:
*snip*

He's not advertising the game he's a consultant, and his picture is only on the article here because most of us will go "Oliver who? Oh, I guess he's that old guy in the picture". You guys are getting mad because Activision sat down and thought to themselves who might know the most about secret under-handed shady government stuff and this guy was their choice. Despite being a scumbag they felt that since he wasn't in prison his knowledge should at least be put to work doing something positive.

Though I still don't really care what this guy did, so to make up for that I'm going to give the two of you something special.

Oh... delicious:

That's an Ad.

And to quote another very bad advertisement ploy:

"Suck it down"

EDIT: Also going to quote this cause it's just fucking retarded

"I don't want to worry about a guy who wants to hijack a plane, I want to worry about the guy who hijacks ALL the planes"

-Oliver North, Black Ops 2 teaser trailer.

NOOOOOOOO, I don't give a shit about Activision and Oliver North but this means another episode of Gameoverthinker bitching about COD and FPS games.

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:
And this is the issue. All that this issue shows is that you can commit the most terrible war crimes, and shit all over international agreements, and American corporations will reward you by making you a consultant on their news channels, and hiring you to advise their videogames. It makes a complete mockery of the idea that the people in charge of the military can be brought to justice, just like anyone else.

That's kind of my point - not that North was "right" or redeemed or anything, but that this isn't uncommon. Bad men are rewarded for bad deeds all the time. And bad men do bad things for what they perceive to be good reasons all the time. Justice is not blind. Eliot Spitzer leaps to mind; his crimes were nowhere near the magnitude of North's, but he was a hypocritical piece of shit of the worst kind, and it landed him a hot gig on CNN.

Justice is not blind.

I maintain that if we don't have a problem with Activision making videogames based on the real-life events of the "black ops world" of that era, then it's hypocritical to take offense when guys like North are involved in the process.

Oh, and as far as the 6 Days in Fallujah thing goes, it's based solely on the word of the dev, so take it for what it's worth:

http://www.gamepolitics.com/2009/04/14/insurgents-contributing-quotsix-days-fallujahquot-says-developer

Andy Chalk:

I maintain that if we don't have a problem with Activision making videogames based on the real-life events of the "black ops world" of that era, then it's hypocritical to take offense when guys like North are involved in the process.

Thing is, games like Black Ops are fiction. Pure fiction. Sure, they may take place in historical settings, but they're about as historically accurate as Braveheart. They're fundamentally harmless, and pieces of throwaway entertainment. I don't think a single person has died because of Black Ops.

People like North aren't involved in the fiction, they're involved in the real history of these things. And in North's case, the Iran-Contra affair is a big part of that. People died because of the Contras. Quite a few people at that. It's not hypocritical to demand that developers make games set in recent history without resorting to hiring war criminals to make them. That would be no different to a Hollywood studio making a film set in WWII, only to hire a former SS commander to advise them. It's in bad taste, and insults the people who died because of this prick's attempts to bypass Congress.

I refuse to buy this game, simply because the thought of my money in any way being used by Activision to support the man responsible for the Iran-Contra affair makes my blood boil. That't not hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is when a country claims to follow international law, only to fail to adequately bring those who break it to justice.

Oh, and as far as the 6 Days in Fallujah thing goes, it's based solely on the word of the dev, so take it for what it's worth:

http://www.gamepolitics.com/2009/04/14/insurgents-contributing-quotsix-days-fallujahquot-says-developer

Reading that, I feel ill. I hope the guys at Atomic were bullshitting, because I'm pretty sure there's an entire book of international law they broke there.

I bet activision respect his input because of the time he sold the explosives that killed 220 of his fellow marines in Beirut.
hmmm, probably some other reason.

Wow.... the amount of hostility towards this is far from what I expected. But then again, I did a University Research project on the Iran-Contra Affair, and I ended up with quite a different perspective on Oliver North and his actions than what has been voiced here. Yes, what he did was illegal, but calling him a war criminal? That's going too far. North was a patriot who ended up being involved in dirty affairs at the behest of his political masters. Those people got in serious trouble for what they did, and rightly so. North might have gotten immunity, but he was also the man who was, in effect, the chief witness of the entire affair. His testimony helped bag the people responsible for that scandal.

Suffice to say, North is a controversial figure. As for Activision using him, let em. Iran-Contra was over a quarter century ago. Let this man live his life for goodness sakes.

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