Friday, August 26, 2011

Posted by xCHIPxSEM | File under :
One our loyal readers sent this in to me last month (sorry for taking so long Jamie) and I'm finally getting to it now. This is an interview conducted with Chicago's MK Ultra from April of 1998 by our reader, Jamie. Thanks to them for allowing us to us it.

This interview was conducted with Kirk Syrek, Jeff Jelen, Frank Hanney, and Ebro Virumbrales of MK-Ultra in Washington, DC in April 1998. I shelved the tape, considering it unusable, but it was restored recently with the generous help of Kirk. The interview will also appear in the forthcoming issue of Severity 'zine #7.

Since you guys take a lot of stances on political issues, I was wondering what you thought about the Mideast situation. I know there's no clear-cut answers, but I'd be interested on hearing your opinions on... whether there's any solutions at all. It seems like a solution-less problem.

JEFF: One solution is obviously not to do what we did a few years ago (Gulf War I), and what we're trying to do again. They're going about it the wrong way now. You don't see much about it right now.

EBRO: The thing people don't think about is the fact that we're not fighting Saddam Hussein. We're fighting against the people who live in Iraq. Frank actually mentioned that last night when we played. Basically, working-class people -- people who have regular lives -- they're the ones who get caught up fighting the wars for the rich. Saddam isn't going to the be the one fighting the war. I think people just think he's some kind of evil monster, and we're going to go kill him. But a lot of people who don't want to be caught up in it are going tol be killed because of it. That's not the solution. Saddam and Iraq, when they were at war with Iran had access to these "Weapons of Mass Destruction" (laughs) that everyone's been talking about, but they were at a bloody standstill for 8 or 9 years. They were fighting constantly and nothing happened. But when he took over Kuwait, people were freaking out as if he was going to take over the world. But... I don't see it. The only reason, why the US even cared was because Kuwait was a political ally. Well, Saddam Hussein used to be a political ally! I guess it's kind of simple to equate it with oil... but that's basically what it was. Since it threatened the convenience of the people in U.S... because oil and fuckin' gas prices would go up.

JEFF: They tried to tell us that it's not... that it's to protect the people of Kuwait. But actually this government wouldn't give a shit about the people in Kuwait if it didn't benefit them economically.

EBRO: Everyone's talking about how it's for freedom and shit, but if you look there's a whole list of human rights violations: the way women are treated, the way people are treated... that doesn't go with freedom.

JEFF: I say kill them all and let God sort them out! (laughter)

EBRO: Exactly. Don't get mad, nuke the bastards! (laughs) I don't know...

You bring up a good point though. We're always saying that we don't want to have diplomatic relations with countries who have a bad history with human rights, yet if you want to take that to the extreme, every country has customs that violate human rights: female genital mutilation in the Middle East, shitting on women in general. Or stuff that culturally we look down on, abuse of people, all of the countries that we deal with do that. We complain that China has human rights violations, but look at the business we do with them, compared to Cuba where we have economic embargoes.

EBRO: Well, they're a bunch of commies. (laughs)

But, you have to ask, who's making these policies?

EBRO: People who aren't really in touch with the normal man...

People looking to make the most money...

EBRO: I think it's based on that more than anything. I mean the US used to be allies with Saddam Hussein. I don't know why all of a sudden he turned into a bad guy, because he was as much of a bastard when we were allies with him.

JEFF:That's the way the media is... They show you who the bad guy is.
Jamie: It was probably a bad question, and I phrased it wrong, but when I was talking about the Middle East problem, I was thinking about the Palestinian/Israel conflict, the internal problems. Probably not a good question, but I'd be interested in hearing your opinions on it. Like I said, there's no right or wrong answer.

EBRO: Well, I mean, I think the Palestinians are getting fucked over and that's wrong. But, like you said, I don't know what could be done to change it. I think about all of this shit, and I think it's wrong, but I have trouble finding solutions, and even if I did, I don't think it would change anything.

At this school (George Washington) they have classes and classes just on the history because it's so complex, but it always seems to go back to ridiculous disagreements between religious beliefs that turned into territorial conflicts, that got more and more out of hand, and the killing just goes on.

EBRO: Well, we can learn about it through a book, but... there's certain things that go on in the parts of the world where if you're not there living it and don't have first hand knowledge of it, what you say about it isn't really going to affect it.

Well, maybe the people killing each other don't know the whole story...

EBRO: People just grew up thinking, "Oh, I hate those people." That's what people have been telling them.

JEFF: If someone's really into your religion, you can just tell that person, "Well, let's all just get along."

FRANK: There's a pretty different situation here than there is in that part of the world. There, there's a lot of confrontation and it's not necessarily frowned upon to start throwing rocks at people when religious views collide. Here it's a lot different because there's so many different factions of religion, but they've been fighting for thousands upon thousands of years and it's been passed on from generation to generation.

EBRO: My other band was in Ireland, and there's that conflict going on... We met a lot of different people who talked about it, and people asked us if we were going to talk about it when we played, but we just felt like it wasn't our place because... you know, it's kind of a touchy thing...

FRANK: It's hard for you to say stuff about it... I wouldn't dream to criticize people in Ireland for what they're doing, when there are so many more things here that are fucked up that can be spoken upon.

EBRO: I guess, that's a bit different from the Palestinian situation...

FRANK: And I guess, that's why I'm mad at Bono (laughter), because he had the audacity to talk about Martin Luther King's assassination here, when people are being killed on a regular basis over there. I think that's ridiculous for people from other countries to point fingers at America.

EBRO: It's the greatest nation in the world! (laughter)

FRANK: I mean, America's a pretty fucked up place, but clean up your own back yard before you go knocking on your neighbor's door

EBRO: When we were in Europe, people brought that shit up all the time... and it's like, "I know that, I live there."

FRANK: They brought up America?

EBRO: To me. I'd be like, "What's wrong with it?" And they'd be like, "Well, this is wrong and this is wrong." And I'd be like, "I know that. I agree with you." But... I don't need some fuckin' French kid to tell me that. There's so much fucked up shit going on everywhere.

JEFF: (Getting back to the topic of the Israeli/Palestinean conflict) I mean, you can't intervene in something like that. Us telling another culture how they can solve their differences? We really don't have any idea about it.

You brought up something that I was really interested in before: the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Something I think about a lot is the epistemological problems we have with -- this whole rash of assassinations in the 60's. There's the question of was it some internal government assassination or was it one man acting alone? It could be either one. We have no fuckin' idea.

FRANK: Well, the family of Martin Luther King is asking the government to reopen the case with all this new evidence.

EBRO: But the thing is, they're going to reopen it, but then they're just going to cover it back up again. Of course, people might think this is a conspiracy theory, or whatever, but I think it was the government that did all this shit. Personally I think they can control... do whatever they want. There's a bunch of shit we don't know about. Maybe that's paranoid, but I think it's true.

JEFF: I mean, they've done it before. Why not...

It seems to me... that's the interesting thing: we on the bottom will never know. The people at the top will know the truth. They'll know exactly what happened with the Robert Kennedy, MLK Jr., John Kennedy -- all these assassinations -- but we'll have no idea. I mean, you can reopen a case, but we have so much proof that the justice system doesn't work, we'll never come to an answer.

FRANK: Eventually a little bit of the truth will start to trickle out.
(Someone hums X-Files theme music.)
The truth has come out about a lot of things in history. We still want to turn our backs, close our eyes to the fact that our government does assassinations of leaders of other countries, and does install puppet dictators. We do have control over the economies of other countries. They want to say "that's in our past now," but it obviously still goes on. We still have an embargo on cuba, where people are obviously suffering. It's just to knock out Fidel Castro. I mean, we've had tons of assassination attempts on him. Iraq: obviously people are suffering there and they don't have any choice of what leader they want. They're stuck with Saddam Hussein, "the Mad Man." I think it's ridiculous that we place embargoes on these countries. It's obvious that it's not squeezing (the leaders) out. He's obviously not suffering at all.

The people are, but he's not. He still lives in the palaces that are the size of Washington, DC.

FRANK: That's one of the things that's a general problem with the people in this country is that we can't see that it's other human beings that are suffering. We just think, "Oh, it's an evil empire.."

EBRO: Well the government doesn't show the suffering of people when there's a war because then people would realize what the fuck's going on. They show it as if you're fighting a video game or something, where you kill people. I think that all of this shit is put in place to desensitize people, so that you don't think about it. I mean, I love video games, but I think that there's a fascination with violence. When it comes down to it... we just killed a bunch of people.

JEFF: The way that the media shows it is very impersonal.

FRANK: All you see is a bomb going down a chimney. You don't see who died from it. Obviously we probably killed quite a few children in Operation Desert Storm, but you'll never hear about it.

EBRO: Those were all accidents.

FRANK: All you see was people with their arms raised walking towards troops, surrendering, but you didn't see the thousands upon thousands of people that were killed.

We have these scandals (Monica Lewinsky) with the President (Clinton) , and everyone makes a joke out of it. All these tabloid shows and late night talk show hosts all laugh at it. But really, this guy has control of all these nuclear weapons, the richest country on Earth that has billions of dollars... I was wondering what you thought of this guy being mocked, the target of jokes.

FRANK: I think there's been a lot of presidents who have had marital infidelities, and it hasn't really affected... I don't think that the President is the moral leader of the country.

KIRK: I don't think the President has much to say... I mean, maybe he did 20 years ago, but nowadays he just a scapegoat.

EBRO: I don't think his personal life has any bearing on the way he's governing the country. I'm not saying he's doing a good job or anything.

KIRK: It's not him running the country. At all. It's his clique of 20 people. He's the one who has to go on TV, so if something happens to him, he's going to get bashed for it.

EBRO: Shit like that is just another thing that they throw out to people to think about. There's always some scandal or something stupid that comes up. That's what people worry about. They don't worry about other shit. Especially when everyone's into, like, Jerry Springer and shit like that. (Laughs) Ebro.

FRANK: Everyone thrives on scandals. Everyone wants to have a bit of gossip about everybody else.

JEFF: I'm not saying it's right or wrong, but there's always been stuff going on, and it really has nothing to do with how this country is run. Just get over it, already.

FRANK: I think it's easier for people to think about silly scandals like that than for people to think about the real scandals that are going on that are probably bilking people out of millions of dollars. It turns the spotlight away from issues like welfare reform and stuff like that which would be a more interesting discourse than whether or not he got a fucking blowjob in the Lincoln bedroom. It really doesn't matter; the point is moot. Since it's out there, he's already been convicted of it more or less. I just think it turns people's attention away from the real problems in the America. On the other hand, it can really spur a lot of thought in people about who's really running the show, and is this really the type of person you want running the country. But, I really don't see an answer to that question. You can't expect somebody to be perfect. If it was anyone else in the world, it would not matter. It's not a crime. Adultery is a reason people get divorced, but he can't go to jail for it. He can go to jail for perjury, for saying that he didn't in this case..

EBRO: But, like I said, what bearing does that have on him making decisions...

FRANK: Well, if he's a liar -- if he's convicted as a liar, which is what a perjurer is...

EBRO: But seriously, what politician isn't a liar? (laughter)

FRANK: Uhh... Newt Gingrich. (laughter)

FRANK: Another interesting thing: One of our Congressmen in Illinois, Henry Hyde, just went to bat as a character witness for this guy that is being charged for bombing abortion clinics. He said that if a law is unjust, which he believed that the abortion law is unjust, that this man was a hero for killing these people in a bombing. And this is person who's a representative of our state, and therefore our country, and his beliefs... I mean, that probably won't make the news here, it barely made the news in Illinois where this trial was being held, but I think things like that are way more scary than... consensual sex. I mean, Clinton does have a ring on his finger, but when somebody like that says that killing people that provide abortions for people is acceptable, and that the law is unjust, and that violence is the answer, I think that's infinitely more scary than somebody getting a hummer.


Update from Kirk on what the band members are up to now, 7/2011

Aside from our personal lives, after Mk-Ultra we all went on to do various other bands. Franks most recent band was The OSS from Arizona where he lives now. They just released a 7" on King of the Monsters. The rest of us still reside in Chicago. I am currently in Sick/Tired. We have an LP on To Live a Lie Records and 2 new 7"s planned for Fall of 2011. Jeff and Ebro formed Punch in the Face who have long since broken up, but are currently doing a new band with all of the same members. They have not yet played their 1st show.