Feature

Why conspiracy theorists think Ben Affleck is a covert U.S. agent

The assault on Argo continues with the claim that the film is a CIA-sponsored propaganda piece

Argo, Ben Affleck's blockbuster film and this year's Academy Award-winner for Best Picture, is nothing more than a propaganda piece developed to incite hatred of Iran.

At least that's what some conspiracy theorists have posited. And as BuzzFeed first reported, they believe that Affleck, in addition to his day job in Hollywood, may also be a secret government operative.

Writing for Iranian state news agency PressTV on Wednesday, Kevin Barrett presented a dubious case to support that claim. Citing a "leading [expert] on ultra-secretive covert operations," but offering no hard evidence, Barrett ripped the film and wondered if Affleck should be "brought to justice" for his role in producing it.

"If the makers of Argo are deposed under oath, they may be forced to reveal that their film — like the fictitious film-within-the-film — is a covert operation disguised as a movie," he wrote.

Barrett's expert is Barbara Honegger, a former Bush and Reagan staffer with a reputation for promoting conspiracies based on scant evidence. In her book October Surprise, she claims that officials close to Reagan colluded with Iran to prolong the infamous hostage crisis until after the 1980 election, in a deliberate attempt to weaken incumbent Jimmy Carter.

In an interview on Barrett's radio show, Honegger said the point of Argo was to stoke Americans' fear of Iran, and, by swaying public opinion, lay the groundwork for a military campaign there.

"In my opinion, Affleck is a propaganda arm of the Central Intelligence Agency, and worse, probably," she said.

That purported "worse," she said, could be the "Bush crime family" or perhaps the Israeli Mossad. However, she did not offer anything other than speculation to bolster that speculation.

Barrett, a noted 9/11 truther, ran with the argument and tried to tie Affleck to another American military campaign. Affleck's 2001 film Pearl Harbor, he said, was a propaganda piece aimed at rallying support pre-9/11 for a war in the Middle East. His evidence? Solely that Donald Rumsfeld reportedly hyped the movie, and that the government framed the attacks as a 21st century Pearl Harbor.

It's the latest in a string of recent criticism leveled against Argo. Earlier this month, Iran's first post-revolution president wrote in the Christian Science Monitor that the film would harm relations between the U.S. and Iran. Then this week, reports surfaced that the Iranian government was considering a lawsuit against Affleck and the film's makers, saying it was an attack "against our nation and entire humanity."

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