Neither Confirm Nor Deny Image

Neither Confirm Nor Deny

By Anthony Francis | December 28, 2023

America is the land of the free and home of the brave. It is a country whose government is founded on the hypocrisy of being “for the people,” yet it has a long history of corruption and deception that has kept citizens in the dark through most military and political scandals. Based on the non-fiction book by David H. Sharp, first-time director Phillip Carter’s documentary, Neither Confirm Nor Deny, speaks to this unavoidable truth.

The documentary tells the story of a top-secret CIA mission to recover a nuclear-armed, sunken Soviet submarine from the Pacific Ocean and the coverup that surrounded the entire project. Under the cover of a Howard Hughes-sponsored mining project, a team of engineers worked to build the massive equipment in plain sight of a public unaware of the actual mission. As the recovery process began, the six-year-long uber-classified quest to retrieve the sub was known as Project Azorian and was surrounded by the tightest “security.”

Neither Confirm Nor Deny captures the political corruption of the era by exploring then-President Richard Nixon’s deception regarding his public diplomacy and how the investigation into the infamous Watergate affair exposed and endangered the entirety of Project Azorian. Carter’s engrossing film features candid interviews with the high-ranking players from the time. Former CIA agents David Sharp and Walter Lloyd give first-hand accounts regarding their involvement in the project. The late Curtis Cooke’s company played a big part in the mission.

“…a top-secret CIA mission to recover a nuclear-armed, sunken Soviet submarine…”

The interviews expose the many skeletons in the closet of the covert operation, finding the men “behind the curtain” and unmasking the secrets withheld from the country’s citizens. With the public in complete darkness, the harrowing mission commenced. The most dangerous aspect is that if the Soviets had discovered it, the project could have caused World War III. 

The cloak-and-dagger aspects of the true story keep Neither Confirm Nor Deny fascinating. At the time, New York Times reporter Seymour Hersch wielded the power of the freedom of the press to shine a light on the CIA’s shady procedures. While continually interesting, there are times when it becomes unclear whether the film commends or condemns the secretive manner in which the government agencies executed Project Azorian. K Krishna Kumar’s score might be trying to guide the audience’s ethical judgments, but this is the only area where the filmmaker loses focus.

The most important takeaway is how Carter and his interview subjects are dedicated to the public’s right to know. The escalating Soviet tensions of the time severely stifled this grand idea. While there are certainly more profound questions to be asked, the director unfolds this story of dangerous deception in a gripping manner.

Neither Confirm Nor Deny plays like a Tom Clancy thriller and opens a little-known door in American history. Through this absorbing true story, Phillip Carter shows how the U.S. government manipulates the flow of information to its people, not for the good of the country, but to cover their dubious actions.

Neither Confirm Nor Deny (2023)

Directed and Written: Phillip Carter

Starring: David H. Sharp, Walter Lloyd, etc.

Movie score: 7/10

Neither Confirm Nor Deny Image

"…plays like a Tom Clancy thriller..."

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  1. Thomas Blow says:

    This review starts off with “America is the land of the free and the home of the brave.” That is a tip-off to me that the writer is a patriot. However, I think it is more accurate to say America was meant to be this, and to realize this dream some changes need to take place. Since the 1950s I believe we have moved away from the Idea of America. I wrote a hundred pages on the reforms needed (IMO) to try to realize the intent of the Constitution (free at but this was after I wrote a work on the Idea Of America, Liberty, adapting the story of the origin of the Statue ( for which I am seeking out a non-ESG/DEI film studio without result. Chris says there are back channels that I would wish this work could be discussed in but I have no access and my search for same is dry. I had an interview with Tommy Tables regarding this work here but it is behind a $3 pay wall.
    I wish I had some contact with those in the film industry who are on the back channels, or who simply could represent to me what their assessment is, I am totally in the dark on this, even if the message is I must return to Groundhog Day mode and wait longer. I feel my work, Liberty, is worthy of production and I have waited a long time for a change in Hollywood and Broadway, or to find an independent filmmaker who shares the same dream I do. I seek your help on this, for which I would be very grateful, as this work is really an obsession, based on what I have thought is a shared Dream, but sometimes it is like in Miracle on 34th Street, saying to myself, “I believe, I believe…”

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