You know that film/book The Manchurian Candidate?

Well, it may sound stupid, but did something like that actually happen (in case you don’t know, it involved brainwashing people to commit crimes)? Cause I seem to remember seeing something on TV a while ago, saying stuff about America persuing a program to create a Manchurian Candidate in the sixtees or something, and that the person who killed Bobby Kennedy may have been a Manuchurian candidate. Can someone tell me if what I remember is correct, or was it all some strange dream, or complete bullshit…?

It was quite a popular fiction theme in the 60s, Ian Fleming used it as a subplot in a James Bond book for instance. I think consensus today is that it’s not possible to plant post-hypnotic suggestions (or brainwash) to that extent.

It’s certainly possible to “brainwash” eager young terrorists into thinking that if they kill themselves along with the enemy that they will enter into a happy paradise of nubile young whatevers. It’s possible to take emotions already present, and to play on them and distort them. But it’s not possible to implant a totally alien emotional response (in the movie, a loyal and patriotic American is turned into a political killing machine, compelled by brainwashing and post-hypnotic suggestion.)

I wonder if that consensus exists because the CIA, KGB and their ilk funded so much research to find out for sure? :stuck_out_tongue:

Narinmay have heard a description of a popular urban legend–or cluster of such legends–which have been circulated by conspiracy theorists for some years now.

Sirhan Sirhan is said to have scribbled notes to himself in which he doodled checks which showed fabulous amounts of money made payable to him. There is said to have been two people–a man and a woman–hanging around the building where Robert F. Kennedy was killed in the hours prior to the shooting. At least one witness claimed that the woman ran down a staircase shouting “we’ve shot Robert Kennedy” or words to that effect, immediately after the killing, and fled the building.

When questioned under hypnosis about the shooting Sirhan is said to have babbled “the woman…the woman…there was a woman…” or something of the kind.

Numerous researchers have claimed that there are ambiguities with regard to the physical evidence at the crime scene–most specificually, with the placement of bullet holes–which suggest that there could have been a second gunman on the scene.

From such meager material conspiracy theorists have sought to “prove” that Sirhan was the pawn of a conspiracy.

In The Manchurian Candidate a brainwashed ex-P.O.W. has been trained to respond to the sight of a playing card which would be shown him when it was time for him to follow orders.

During the 1950s the CIA is known to conducted a number of highly unethical experiments in “mind control”, including subjecting unsuspecting persons with LSD to see if it could be an aid in manipulating behavior.

Conspiracy theorist who favor the idea of a grand conspiracy behind multiple, seemingly-unrelated killings noted that John Hinckley Jr. and Mark David Chapman were both obssessed with J.D. Salinger’s novel Catcher in the Rye.

Both young men had read the book many times. Immediately after shooting John Lennon, Chapman opened his dog-eared copy and read it until interupted by the police. He later issued a sort of “manifesto” in which he said that reading Salinger’s book had inspired him to despise pretense and hypocrisy and that he had decided Lennon as a sell-out and a phony. Hinckley has been quoted as harboring similar opinions.

Either Hinckley or Chapman (I’m sorry I no longer recall which), had inquired about having his name legally changed to “Holden Caulfield”, that being, of course, the name of the narrator of Catcher in the Rye. One of them had inscribed his copy of the novel “From Holden Caulfield to Holden Caulfield”.

Some consliracy theorists have suggested, on no proof, that a conspiracy had “programmed” the young men to kill and was somehow using the book in much the same way that a playing card was used in The Manchurian Candidate. Off hand, it seems like a poor analogy; the whole point to the playing card is that the brainwashed killer would not see it all the time, while Chapman and Hinckley, as said, kept reading their copies of the book constantly.

Some theorists (I’m sorry I can’t be more specific off hand)have argued that Hinckley’s fixation with actress Jodie Foster was induced by his programmers; it does appear that he somehow thought that killing Reagan would somehow help him “win” her.

Such speculations were an influence on the script of Conspiracy Theory, a not-very-good movie thriller in which Mel Gibson plays a cab driver who is unaccountably obsessed with uncovering conspiracies. He also has an unaccountable compulsion to buy copy after copy of Catcher in the Rye, a book he has never actually read.

To buy the theory, one must also accept that a powerful malevolent conspiracy would mark John Lennon for death.

There is no doubt that there was a powerful animus for Lennon in some right wing circles. During the years that the U. S. government sought to deport John Lennon on the basis of his “no contest” plea to marijuana possession in Great Britain, he was the only foreigner the U.S. was seeking to expel on a marijuana charge. At the time Lennon claimed the real reason the government wanted him out of the country was that he was a peace activist.

Subsequent events have proved him right. Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act in recent years have shown that the government’s efforts to remove Lennon started at the suggestion of Senator Strom Thurmond, who wrote President Nixon urging that Lennon be deported so that he could not continue in his efforts to encourage young people to register to vote. The 1972 election was the first in which 18-year-olds were allowed to vote, and Thurmond expressed fear that if too many young men who were of an age to be drafted and sent off to Vietnam actually exercised their right to cast a ballot, it might undermine the war effort.

Efforts to expel Lennon included the preparation by the F.B.I. of a package of information about him which was sent to the New York Police Department, along with the suggestion that he be kept under surveillance. It was a little as though they were issuing a wanted poster on a man who wasn’t, as yet, wanted for anything. Oddly, although Lennon was a world famous figure at the time, the information the F.B.I. provided the N.Y.P.D. listed an address for Lennon where he had never lived and included a photograph of a local street performer in Manhattan which was misidentified as a picture of Lennon.

Chapman shot Lennon, however, in 1981, roughly nine years after the U. S. pulled out of Vietnam, which raises serious questions as to why the dark and vast conspiracy would still be after him.

This is, of course, but one of many objections which may be raised to this Manchurian Candidate conspiracy theory. On the face of it, there does not seem to be any evidence, really, supporting it, only a handfull of interesting details which add up to an entertaining and imaginative story.

It was Chapman. See the book “Who Killed John Lennon?” by Fenton Bresler.