January 16, 2014. Pyongyang. Last week, former Chicago Bull Dennis Rodman was repeatedly in the news for his trip to North Korea to play basketball against the Communist country’s national team. It was a birthday present for North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong Un. The story didn’t make sense to anyone, including the puzzled sports world and outraged regular Americans, until now.
Dennis Rodman enjoys access to Kim Jong Un at a level the CIA could only dream of, which is why some suspect he's secretly working for the agency. Image courtesy of the New York Times.
It’s against the law to expose the identity of a covert CIA operative, unless you’re employed by the RNC like the late Bob Novak when he outted Valery Plame. So this article simply asks the same question everyone has been asking in the nationwide effort to understand what the heck Dennis Rodman and his team of former NBA stars are doing in North Korea.
Dennis Rodman and North Korea
Dennis Rodman may be anti-social, but he’s not anti-American. That’s the first red flag that something isn’t right here. Second, none of the former professional athletes that traveled with Rodman to North Korea last week were paid – they made the trip and played the game as a birthday present to dictator Kim Jong Un. Generosity? From a profession known to charge poverty-stricken American children $10 just for an autograph?
The third red flag was when Rodman angrily and publicly took the side of North Korea in the controversy surrounding the country’s imprisonment of Kenneth Bae – an American-South Korean national and tour guide by profession. Bae is also a Christian evangelist, which is allegedly the reason he was in North Korea in the first place. He’s been jailed in the North for over a year on charges of perpetrating a, ‘hostile act against the state.’ And that leads to red flag #4 – Dennis Rodman is allowed to come and go from North Korea as he pleases.
The United States government doesn’t let American citizens go to North Korea, specifically for the reason of avoiding an international incident, a PR nightmare and a possible war, like Kenneth Bae’s current experience is illustrating. But for some unknown reason, Rodman has been allowed to go to the closed-off Communist country repeatedly. He’s been there four times in just the past year. Perhaps he wasn’t allowed to go. Maybe he was asked to go.
It’s no secret that North Korea is considered the most closed-off country on Earth. Its citizens are a century behind on technology and completely oblivious to the world around them. Not even six months ago, the 31 year-old Un had a number of high-ranking individuals, political dissenters and even his ex-girlfriend executed for the acts of possessing South Korean videos, and in the case of his ex, for allegedly making porn. It’s no secret that the CIA has been desperate to know what’s going on inside that black hole of a country for years, especially since the regime change that ushered in the young Kim Jong Un.
CIA and the rich and famous
The CIA has long acknowledged that it employs Hollywood celebrities, professional sports stars, billionaires, and multi-national corporate CEO’s as American spies. Agency spokespeople have explained that due to their celebrity status, those individuals have the ability to enter the highest echelons of enemy regimes that CIA agents could only dream of infiltrating. In years gone by, some of the more well known figures who have spied for the government include magician Harry Houdini, gangster Lucky Luciano, and chef Julia Child.
Today, the names have changed but the practice of celebrities working for foreign tyrants hasn’t. Beyonce, Mariah Carey and Usher were all personal performers for Libyan dictator Muammar Gadhafi in the days prior to his overthrow. Jennifer Lopez, Kanye West, Hilary Swank and others have also walked into the torture chambers of Asian and North African dictators and given personal performances for tyrannical regime leaders. J-Lo is reportedly the queen of the industry, having made a career of entertaining brutal dictators and raking in an estimated $10 million for her private, personal performances for various anti-American regimes.
We’re not suggesting that all of them were working for the CIA when they accepted millions of dollars in blood money from genocidal maniacs to perform in their personal chambers. But it’s a safe bet that at least some of them were. And the most widely suspected of all is the current fiasco with Dennis Rodman and North Korea.
Celebrity CIA collaborators
This weekend, the Chicago Tribune published an article that made no mention of Dennis Rodman, North Korea, or had anything to do with the current controversy. Strangely missing from the internet now, the article described the CIA’s long-standing practice of recruiting celebrities to work as spies in foreign countries that the agency has problems infiltrating on its own.
The article is actually a report about a new non-fiction book titled, ‘Company Man: Thirty Years of Controversy and Crisis in the CIA.’ The work was written by former CIA General Council John Rizzo and details a cozy, multi-decade relationship between Hollywood producers and the CIA. While most would insist this is proof that the government is shaping America’s thoughts and beliefs using their TV’s and movie screens, the author says the relationship was mostly used to gain access into closed-off countries like North Korea.
In the book, Rizzo writes, “The CIA has long had a special relationship with the entertainment industry, devoting considerable attention to fostering relationships with Hollywood movers and shakers – studio executives, producers, directors, big-name actors.” Rizzo didn’t name any specific names in the book due to national security, and when pressed by the Tribune in a recent interview, he again declined to give any specific examples.
Rizzo did however give the publication some examples of the types of scenarios in which the CIA uses its working relationship with celebrities. “At times, filmmakers will be asked to allow a CIA operative to pose as a member of their crew,” he said. The author and former CIA general council also confirmed that the agency produces propaganda videos under the guise of grassroots activists.
The report quotes Rizzo explaining, ‘The agency sometimes takes advantage of the door-opening cachet that movie stars and other American celebrities enjoy. A star who met a world leader, for example, might be asked for details about that meeting.’ He ended his interview by reassuring Americans that this is nothing new. “It was going on when I got there, and it was going on when I left.” Rizzo left the CIA in 2009.
All international politics aside, sports reporters are also raising red flags over the Dennis Rodman visit to North Korea. They explain that the team of former NBA all stars that Rodman assembled and brought with for Kim Jong Un’s birthday must have thrown the game against the North’s own all stars. Rodman’s NBA team reportedly lost, most likely as a birthday present to the Korean dictator and basketball fanatic.
As reported by Sports Illustrated and CNN, the team of players Dennis Rodman brought to North Korea last week included; Kenny Anderson, Vin Baker, Cliff Robinson, Doug Christie, Charles D. Smith, and Craig Hodges.
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