A Fiat Lux Seminar - Winter 2006

.Cultural Complexity:
Espionage, Cryptology and Psychological Operations
Human Complex Systems 19
Schedule of Classes
Social Sciences Computing - ClassWeb

Nicholas Gessler, Ph.D. gessler@ucla.edu

Wednesdays, 10:00 – 10:50
Films: Wednesdays, 11:00 - 11:50 tba
CLICC Classroom A - Powell 307

Click on image for a view of the back..

"The world is a safer place because of successful intelligence on all sides."
Several Anonymous Persons in the Trade

"In times of fear people turn to fundamentalist mindsets, and I don't mean that only in terms of religion. There's economic fundamentalism; there's political fundamentalism, and so forth. And that's really a reducing of the complexity to very clear black versus white, right versus wrong, issues. When that happens, it is very easy for people to take stark, and harshly polarized, points of view and simply lob bombs back and forth at one another verbally. I think there is no question, that that is, to some extent, the nature of the discourse in this country right now. And I long to have us move to an understanding of the complex nature of these things."
Rusworth Kidder (President, Institute for Global Ethics). Radio Interview, "The World," November 22, 2005

"Espionage, Cryptology and Psychological Operations," or what we might, more benignly, call “Intelligence, Secure Communications and Propaganda” are the senses, thoughts and actions of the state, a complex macrocosm of individuals who seek to decipher their adversaries’ will while concealing their own and imposing their own will on target populations.  So secret is this work that only now are we beginning to see how these operations were carried out in World War II, and how their complexity led to the origins of computing.  The classified dealings among nations today will probably only become known several decades from now, when those in power today have retired or died, when the information (or disinformation) is no longer strategic, and when the details have become irrelevant to the invasive technologies of the future. 

We will explore the “intel,” “codes,” and “psyops” of the “dark world” from a variety of sources.  We will examine actual cryptographic machines and related artifacts (from the instructor’s own collection), observe and decrypt some enciphered messages, read reports, declassified and captured government documents, study private accounts in print and on the web,  and separate fact from fancy in contemporary film, all in order to understand how nations play these high-stakes games.  We will focus on the 20th and 21st centuries and discuss the implications of these activities, which occur on a lesser scale in the everyday life of individuals, for today’s social scientists and informed citizens.  How do we “really “know” what is going on?  How do we ethically make changes?    

The course will meet one hour each week in a PC equipped classroom where we will discuss questions raised by participants based upon assigned material.  We will get together another hour each week to view films (probably the hour after class). Two books will be required; both are critiques recently published by the CIA, which deal with the cultural and psychological biases that prevent us from understanding other cultures.  Other materials (some included in a course reader) will be selected from print publications, the Internet, recordings, documentary and fictional films according to the specific interests that develop as the course progresses.  Depending upon circumstances, we will include topics that may arise in the news, activities in and around campus, and if possible bring in guest speaker(s).

Grading:  Pass/Fail based upon classroom participation, discussions and presentations.


  1. Heuer, Richards J. Jr.  Psychology of Intelligence Analysis.  Center for the Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, Washington, D.C. (1999).  paperback, 183 pages
  2. Johnston, Rob.  Analytical Culture in the U.S. Intelligence Community – An Ethnographic Study.  Center for the Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, Washington, D.C. (2005).  paperback, 161 pages


Print Publications:

  1. Daughtery, Williem E. and Morris Janowitz.  A Psychological Warfare Casebook.  Tactics Division, Technical Memorandum ORO-T-360.  Published for Operations Research Office, The Johns Hopkins Press, Baltimore (1958).
  2. Friedman, William F. and Charles J. Mendelsohn.  The Zimmerman Telegram of January 16, 1917 and its Cryptographic Background.  The War Department, Office of the Chief Signal Officer, US Government Printing Office, Wachington (1938).
  3. Garnett, David.  The Secret History of PWE: The Political Warfare Executive 1939-1945.  St. Ermin’s Press, London (2002).
  4. Headquarters, Department of the Army.  “Psychological Operations, Techniques and Procedures.”  Department of the Army Field Manual, FM 33-5, October 1966.
  5. Headquarters, Department of the Army.  “Counterintelligence Operations.”  Department of the Army Field Manual, FM 30-17, February 1968.
  6. Headquarters, Department of the Army.  “Intelligence Interrogation.”  Department of the Army Field Manual, FM 30-15, March 1969.
  7. Howe, Ellic. The Black Game: British Subversive Operations Against the Germans During the Second World War. Queen Anne Press, London (1982).
  8. Kahn, David.  Kahn on Codes – Secrets of the New Cryptology.  MacMillan, New York (1986).
  9. Kahn, David.  “Big Ear or Big Brother.”  In David Kahn, Kahn on Codes – Secrets of the New Cryptology.  MacMillan, New York (1986). 
  10. Lerner, Daniel.  Psychological Warfare against Nazi Germany: The Sykewar Campaign, D-Day to VE-Day.  MIT Press, Cambridge (1949 and 1971).
  11. Psywar Society – An International Association of Psychological Warfare Historians and Collectors of Aerial Propaganda Leaflets.  “The Falling Leaf Magazine.” (Various issues)
  12. Roberts, Martin.  “’Cornflakes’: Using Postal Forgeries to Place Anti-Nazi Literature on German Breakfast Tables.”  In The American Philatelist, August 1984.
  13. Schlesinger, Stephen.  “Cryptanalysis for Peacetime: Codebreaking and the Birth and Structure of the United Nations.”  In Selections from Cryptologia – History, People and Technology, by Cipher A. Deavours, David Kahn, Louis Kruh, et al, Editors. Artech House, Boston (1998).
  14. Yardley, Herbert. The American Black Chamber. Bobbs-Merrill, Indianapolis (1931).

Internet Resources:

  1. Center for Cryptologic History, National Security Agency. http://www.nsa.gov/cch/
  2. Miscellaneous: http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/geog/gessler/topics/crypto.htm
  3. Miscellaneous: http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/geog/gessler/topics/cryptology.htm
  4. National Cryptologic Museum, National Security Agency. http://www.nsa.gov/museum/
  5. National Cryptologic Museum Foundation. http://www.nationalcryptologicmuseumfoundation.com/
  6. The Psywar Society an international association of psychological warfare historians and collectors of aerial propaganda leaflets.  http://www.psywarsoc.org/
  7. Rouse, Ed. Home of the Psywarrior: “Persuade-Change-Influence” Psychological Operations. “Capture their minds and their hearts and souls will follow” http://www.psywarrior.com/
  8. Richards, Lee.  Psychological Warfare, Psychological Operations (PSYOP), Black Propaganda, and Aerial Propaganda Leaflets. http://www.psywar.org/
  9. Kirchner, Klaus.  Propaganda Leaflets – The Leaflet Collector.  http://www.propaganda-leaflets.com/
  10. International Spy Museum, Washington, D.C. http://www.spymuseum.org/siteintro.asp


  1. The Conet Project – Recordings of Shortwave Numbers Stations.  Irdial-Disc 59ird tcp1, England (2002).

Documentary Films:

  1. Decoding Nazi Secrets – Secrets that Changed the War – and the World.  Nova (1999), distributed by WGBH Boston Video.
  2. Mostow, Jonathan, Director, A Submariner’s WWII Experience: Vice Admiral Patrick Hannifin, USN.  Bonus materials on the Collectors Edition of Mostow et al U-571.
  3. Mostow, Jonathan, Director, Britain Captures the U-110: Lt. Commander David Balme, R.N.  Bonus materials on the Collectors Edition of Mostow et al U-571.
  4. Kahn, David.  Inside the Enigma.  Bonus materials on the Collectors Edition of Mostow et al U-571.
  5. Spies - Codebreaking: From the Ultra Spies File and From the Magician and The Samurai File.  The Columbia House Company (1993), Distributed by MPI Home Video.
  6. U.S. Navy Archives, Capturing the U-505.  Newsreel.  Bonus materials on the Collectors Edition of Mostow et al U-571.
  7. Woollard, William.  Breaking the Codes: The Rise of Enigma; The Triumph of the Codebreakers.  Inca, London (2001), distributed by Delta Entertainment. 

Fictional Films:

  1. Baer, Robert and Stephen Gaghan, Screenwriters.  Syriana (a.k.a. See No Evil).  Warner Brothers Pictures (2005).
  2. Mostow, Johathan, Sam Montgomery and David Ayer, Screenwriters.  U-571.  Universal Studios (2000), Distributed by Universal Pictures.
  3. Semple, Lorenzo, Screenwriter, 3 Days of the Condor.  Dino de Laurentiis (1975), distributed by Paramount Pictures.
  4. Stoppard, Tom, Screenwriter, Enigma.  Manhattan Pictures International (2002), Distributed by Sony Pictures.