Friday, September 08, 2017

The Dark Files: Tonight at 10:00

About a year ago, I was invited to co-host The Dark Files, a special the History Channel was planning that would focus on the Montauk legends--allegations about US government experiments on unwitting human subjects, carried out at Camp Hero, a now-abandoned military base on Montauk, Long Island.

It wasn't a topic I knew much about, and I doubted we'd be able to prove or disprove the legends, which range from the completely believable (mind-control experiments like MKUltra) to the way-out-there (time travel and aliens). But I was curious about what it would be like to make a television special, and intrigued by the opportunity to co-host with independent filmmaker Christoper Garentano, writer and director of The Montauk Chronicles, and with investigative reporter Steve Volk, author of Fringeology: How I Tried to Explain Away the Unexplainable--And Couldn't. Most of all, I was attracted by the opportunity to use the Montauk legends as a vehicle to explore the hidden history of human experimentation in America.

What's that, you say? Human experimentation? In America?

The question itself reveals the problem. Most Americans would have difficulty believing that our own government could behave in ways we exclusively associate with Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan's infamous Unit 731. But if we allow ourselves to be seduced by this comforting--and false--belief, we increase the likelihood that our own society could engage in such barbarities in the future, as we have in the past.

Because yes, the US government has allowed syphilis to proceed unchecked in hundreds of poor black men it told were receiving treatment, to see what happens when the disease is untreated. It has subjected prisoners to gruesome dermatological agents and hallucinogens, to study the effects chemical warfare agents. It has fed radioactive material to mentally handicapped children to learn about the impact of nuclear fallout.

And these are just a few examples. There is much, much more.

One of the things I find most disturbing about the history of human experimentation in America is that the experimenters are always the cream of American academia and science--people who doubtless look in the mirror and see only paragons of morality looking back. And their victims are always helpless and marginalized: Prisoners. Children in orphanages. The poorest minorities. The mentally ill.

So the question about Montauk isn't whether human experimentation happened. The question is whether human experimentation also happened there.

If America's dark chapters prove anything, they prove that when no one is looking, the wealthy and powerful will prey on the poor and powerless. These experiments were always conducted in secret, after all. Meaning whatever their own rationalizations, the people who carried them out understood intuitively that the wider society would not approve.

It follows that our best defense against a recrudescence of these horrors is to shine a light on the darker truths of our own history--and our own humanity. I hope The Dark Filespremiering tonight on the History Channel at 10:00 eastern time, will be an important contribution to that effort.


Jacklyn Cornwell said...

Bravo! I have come to see America as a huge laboratory where the unwitting populace are being used as lab rats and continue to be lab rats even now. The elites have poisoned our food, water, and land and poison our minds with media involvement and nothing we see as real and valid are real or valid.

Carolyn Dane said...

"If America's dark chapters prove anything, they prove that when no one is looking, the wealthy and powerful will prey on the poor and powerless."

This is not exactly news. I long ago gave up my childhood faith that America was morally better than other nations. Yes, we have a better system in the Constitution, but the unscrupulous haven't let that stand in the way and the daily news demonstrates it anew.

Tyler said...

Barry, I missed the airing of "The Dark Files" but am a huge fan of your work, and would like to see it. I have checked every available place I know of, but cannot find it. Will it ever air again? Maybe be posted to your website, or on Netflix or something?

Barry Eisler said...

Thanks Tyler, I'm not sure. My best guess would be if you have any kind of subscription to the History Channel, whether through cable, KindleFire TV, or AppleTV...?

Kelly J. Crawford said...

I’ve been working off and on as a hard news journalist, fiction writer (as a screenwriter, mostly) and undercover investigative reporter for decades, and I’ve always been drawn to conspiracy theories about mind control, genetic manipulation, astral projection, psychics (and exposing fakes/scammers), prophecy and time travel etc. I really enjoyed “The Dark Files”. I saved the program on my DVR and have watched it six times since it first aired, late last year. I appreciate your sane, philosophical and well-educated approach to the subject matter, Barry, and now consider myself a fan of yours.