Even for students of the history of the Intelligence Community (IC), Robert Blum is all but forgotten except as a bureaucrat, a professor, and the head of a philanthropic foundation with ties to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). In reality, he was a counterintelligence chief who worked for several agencies, built large pieces of the United States’ foreign economic policies, had the Director of Central Intelligence fired, and redesigned a significant portion of the IC, including its mechanisms for covert action and propaganda.
Latvian Forest BrothersRecently declassified documents from the archive of the Central Intelligence Agency detail financial and material support given by the United States to groups of armed guerrillas in Soviet Latvia in the 1950s. The documents, initially marked ‘Top Secret’ but now declassified, show that the CIA was aware and supported the activities of an anti-Soviet guerrilla army known as ‘the Forest Brothers’. Known also as ‘the Forest Brethren’, the group was formed in the Baltic States in 1944, as the Soviet Red Army established Soviet control over the previously German-occupied states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The Soviet Union had previously occupied and annexed the three Baltic countries, in a failed attempt to pre-empt Germany’s eastward military expansion. Groups like the Forest Brothers consisted of the most militant members of anti-Soviet groups in the Baltic States, many of whom were ideologically opposed to Soviet Communism.
The role of the CIA in funding and helping to organize anti-Soviet groups inside the USSR has been known for decades. But the recently released documents, unearthed by Russian-language service of Latvian state television, shed light into the CIA’s early understanding of the identity, strength and operations of these groups. They also contain new information about the background and structure of underground anti-Soviet groups like the Forest Brothers in Latvia.
The first declassified CIA document that contains information on anti-Soviet resistance in Latvia is dated November 29, 1949, and is titled “The Organization of the Underground Resistance Movement in Eastern Europe”. It was soon followed by two other documents, entitled “Latvian Resistance to Russian Occupation” and “Request for [Support] to the Latvian Resistance Movement”. The latter document was produced in mid-1950, after the CIA was able to establish contact with anti-Soviet Latvian expatriates living in Germany and Sweden. From these contacts, the CIA was able to determine that active (and possibly armed) resistance to the Soviet Red Army in Latvia was limited to approximately 5,000 individuals, many of whom conducted periodic guerrilla attacks against Soviet troops or installations. However, the CIA report said that, as of 1950, the majority of these armed guerrillas remained dormant, “waiting for a more opportune moment” to return to action. The CIA memorandum also stated that clandestine radio communication existed between the leadership of Latvia’s anti-Soviet underground in Riga and exile Latvian communities in Sweden.
Latvia Forest BrothersThe role of the CIA in funding and helping to organize anti-Soviet groups inside the USSR has been known for decades. But, as intelNews explained in part I of this article, a batch of recently released documents, unearthed by Russian-language service of Latvian state television, sheds light into the CIA’s early understanding of the identity, strength and operations of these groups. They also contain new information about the background and structure of underground anti-Soviet groups like the Forest Brothers in Latvia.
Judging that Latvia’s anti-Soviet underground movement could be “of considerable operational value”, the CIA initiated project ZRLYNCH in the summer of 1950. Operated out of the CIA’s Munich station in Germany, ZRLYNCH was intended as a long-term project supervised by the Office of Policy Coordination, an early Cold War covert operations outfit that in 1952 was absorbed into the CIA’s Directorate of Operations. The Latvia operation was part of a wider effort by the CIA, which was aimed at subverting Soviet power in Eastern Europe.
For the first year of ZRLYNCH, the CIA’s Office of Policy Coordination asked for —and received— a budget of $30,000. The top-secret document unearthed recently by Latvian state television states that the budget was to be used primarily for intelligence collection inside Soviet territory, as well as for covert operations by the Forest Brothers (for information about the group, see part I of this post). The latter were to conduct sabotage activities as part of organized guerrilla warfare. These activities are not specified in the CIA documents. By the end of the first year, it appears that the CIA had recruited three Latvian agents in Europe (one in Sweden and two in Germany), who were acting as mediators between the CIA and the Forest Brothers inside the USSR. Less than three years later, the ZRLYNCH budget had risen to $134,000, with $52,000 going toward covert —mostly psychological— operations and the rest being used to fund intelligence collection efforts. The CIA was also funding the travel expenses of leading Latvian émigré figures in the US, and was diverting tens of thousands of dollars toward Latvian émigré conferences in America, which aimed to unite the various political factions of the fragmented Latvian community in the States.
But the CIA officers behind ZRLYNCH were extremely concerned about operational security. They did not want the Kremlin finding out that the Agency was behind efforts to stir up armed resistance against Soviet power in the Baltic region. One CIA document states that there would be no tolerance for “any breaches of security” that compromised ZRLYNCH. Consequently, any action that uncovered the link between the US government and the Forest Bothers would lead “to an immediate cessation of financial support” for ZRLYNCH, states the memo.
Ultimately, ZRLYNCH failed to seriously challenge Soviet power in Latvia. Most of the members of the Forest Brothers were killed during Red Army counterinsurgency operations, and much of the organization’s structure was penetrated by agents of Soviet intelligence. Eventually, the Forest Brothers became extinct in 1957, when their last members emerged from the forest and surrendered to Latvian and Soviet authorities.
AUGUST 10, 2017 BY JOSEPH FITSANAKIS
In the 50s and 60s, Soviet and American spies waged a secret war of espionage across the city of Toronto.
At the height of the Cold War, Toronto was the site of an elaborate game of espionage played between the U.S and the Soviet Union, declassified CIA documents show.
The records provide new details about how the CIA and the KGB spied on the city’s growing community of eastern European immigrants.
And those details came as a surprise to at least one Toronto target who learned she was the subject of the CIA investigations.
“I’m amazed. I’m absolutely in shock,” says Ukrainian-born Natalie Bundza, 78, who worked as a travel agent at an agency on Bloor St. when the CIA first began to monitor her travels.
Because of her line of work, Bundza was used to being singled out by Soviet authorities. But when the Star showed her the declassified CIA file bearing her name, Bundza was stunned. The depth and breadth of the information that had been collected on her was startling.
In one of Bundza’s trips to Ukraine in the late ’60s, the CIA had amassed enough intelligence to describe everything from the people she met with overseas to the content of her suitcase, even going as far as to mention the art books she had packed.
“Took many books to Ukraine: several copies of Archipenko’s monograph Hnizdovsky monograph, poetry collections of the New York group, a Bible for Ivan Mykolaychuk,” the file reads.
As a young travel agent in her early 30s, Bundza, who now lives in a bungalow in Etobicoke, would often accompany performance groups and tourists across the Iron Curtain and to the Soviet Union. She believes her job and her friends in the art world made her an attractive target for CIA spies.
Mykolaychuk, an actor, and her other friends, she says, were part of what she calls the “Ukrainian intelligentsia.”
They included famous sculptor Ivan Honchar, poet Ivan Drach, and prominent political activist Dmytro Pavlychko — names which were all dutifully noted by the CIA spy.
“I was constantly followed (by the Soviets). They just knew my background. They knew I was a patriot, that I wasn’t a communist,” she says.
She kept abreast of news from her home country, and she wasn’t afraid to take risks. In her early 30s, Bundza was “all guts, no brains,” she remembers. “I would have knocked on the president’s door if I had to.”
“We were great tourist guides. We took no BS from (the Soviets),” she says.
During one of her organized trips, she noticed that a Soviet customs official had been eyeing the stack of Bibles she carried with her. And so, without prompting, Bundza handed him a copy.
Still, as far as Bundza remembers, she never divulged the minutiae of her travels to anyone — let alone an American spy. How, then, was the CIA able to monitor her travels?
In Toronto, many served as the agency’s eyes and ears.
“This was a period of time when the United States did not know nearly as much about the Soviet Union, whether it be its intentions or its capabilities,” said Richard Immerman, a Cold War historian at Temple University in Philadelphia. For the CIA, the goal was to “put different pieces (together) in the hope that one pattern would emerge.”
Eyewitness accounts were deemed especially important by American intelligence officials.
At the time, it was not uncommon for those venturing beyond the Iron Curtain to spy on behalf of the CIA, says Immerman. “Our aerial surveillance was limited (so) in many cases, those who did travel to the Soviet Union willingly co-operated with the CIA to provide information — whatever information,” he says. “These could be tourists. These could be businessmen. This was not a time when thousands of people from the West would travel to the Soviet Union.”
But for the CIA, Toronto was also rife with potential enemies. In a 1959 declassified file, an American spy describes how 18 Canadians, 11 of whom lived in Toronto, were suspected of working for the KGB. According to the CIA agent, the Canadians had secretly travelled to the Soviet Union and received special training, only to return years later as undercover KGB operatives.
Other suspected KGB spies, such as Ivan Kolaska, had apparently immigrated to Toronto as part of a bold Soviet plan to infiltrate Ukrainian communities overseas. Kolaska, along with other alleged KGB operatives, one of whom lived a double life as a Toronto City Hall employee, regularly met with Soviet diplomats in Toronto, the files say.
In one of those meetings with Soviet embassy staff, the files say, Kolaska revealed the identities of dozens of Ukrainian students who had held a secret meeting in Kyiv. They were later arrested by Soviet authorities, according to the files.
In many of the declassified documents, the CIA’s informants are named. Bundza’s file contains no such information, leaving only one clue as to the identity of the mysterious spy: Bundza’s full name.
There is no mention of a “Natalie Bundza” in the file. Her name is listed as “Natalka” instead.
Only another Ukrainian, she says, would have known her as “Natalka.”
“It must have been someone from the community here.”
By: Laurent Bastien Corbeil Staff Reporter, Published on Thu Jul 02 2015
© Copyright Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd. 1996-2015
The true story of how CIA infiltrated the National Student Association is even worse than we thought. Here’s why
At this point in our history, most Americans are quite familiar with the Central Intelligence Agency’s habit of being creative with (or, depending on your ideological leanings, outright contemptuous of) the rule of law. But although it was certainly the case by the late 1960s that Americans were beginning to look askance on their government like never before, a bombshell report from Ramparts Magazine in 1967, which found that the CIA had infiltrated and co-opted the National Student Association (NSA), still came to many as a shock. In a post-”enhanced interrogation” world, that might seem a little quaint; but a better angle might be to see it as a warning, unheeded, of worse things to come.
The CIA’s relationship with the NSA has not been as widely remembered as other government scandals of the era, but in her new book “Patriotic Betrayal: The Inside Story of the CIA’s Secret Campaign to Enroll American Students in the Crusade Against Communism,” political scientist and the American Prospect contributing editor Karen Paget shows that there’s much about the CIA’s meddling with the NSA that we still don’t fully grasp. Moreover, what Paget found after years of meticulous research is that much of what we’ve been told about the controversy in the decades since has been incomplete — or outright untrue.
Recently, Salon spoke over the phone with Paget to discuss the NSA, the CIA’s involvement, and how the relationship between the two organizations evolved with and reflected the changing currents of the Cold War. Our conversation is below and has been edited for clarity and length.
Can you tell me a little bit about what the USNSA was and what kind of work they did? What kind of person was drawn to that organization?
It was founded in 1947 and it was structured so that student governments belonged to the National Student Association, not individual students on campus. That was very deliberate in its founding because anti-Communist attitudes were very crucial in the formation of the NSA. It claimed, however, to speak for all American students. Probably between 400 and 1,000 of any given year attended huge NSA congresses which mimicked political party conventions and where both domestic and international issues were debated, where the officers were elected.
NSA presented itself as kind of an exemplar of student self-government, which was sort of new after the war. There were many colleges and universities that didn’t have a student government, including Yale, as a matter of fact. I think from ’47 to ’67, one thing that was true for just about all generations is how exciting it was to meet people from other parts of the country. Remember, no social media, no cell phones; most people didn’t read the New York Times; you didn’t really have access to other American students and very few people had access to foreign students. You find people talking about how exciting it was.
This was also a period of time in which very smart people were attracted to student government. Many of the people that I listened to in the mid-60s were unbelievable orators; if you made a list of the people that came out of NSA, many of them would be familiar to younger generations even today — Barney Frank, or the journalist Jeff Greenfield — so these annual gatherings were a real induction into political debate on the issues of one’s time. The composition of the delegations changed over time. One fact very salient to the unfolding of this story is that just after World War 2, 50 percent of all students on campus were returned veterans, so that made it a very unique student population.
What was it about this organization that also drew the CIA’s attention?
The very simple answer is that the Soviets were interested in students. In fact, the National Student Association was really created in response to an international event, which was the 1946 founding of the International Union of Students based in Prague. At that point, IUS represented about 70 countries and it was very broadly based. Most European unions joined and there was a big debate over whether it was Communist-dominated because of the location— although Czechoslovakia was not then a Communist country.
There was an American delegation that attended in 1946 but it was ad-hoc, drawn from both campuses and other student and youth groups. They were very diverse, politically, from the left to the center to even some of the conservative Catholics, but the one thing that they could agree on was that if American students were to have any influence in this organization they had to found a national student organization of their own.
So the story really starts well before the actual founding of the USNSA?
I tried for almost five years to start the story in 1947 — I thought it was logical because that’s when the Constitutional Convention was held and that’s when the CIA was founded— but I kept seeing all these hidden hands. At that point, I knew I had to knit everything backwards, which I did do. To foreshadow a much more complicated story, I think the sheer number of agencies and organizations behind the scenes prior to the formation of the NSA is stunning: it ranges from the American Catholic Bishops to the Vatican to the State Department to multiple intelligence agencies.
I would also distinguish this early period from the covert operation that was run through and with NSA. Initially, the CIA had determined that covert actions were outside the charter that Congress had granted them. The first covert office was not really up and running until 1948, and then over the next few years the relationship with NSA became more and more clandestine; more and more secret; more and more formal, and then it grows and morphs into many different operations.
How much did the student members of the NSA know that they were working with the CIA?
There were absolutely two distinct groups of NSA students. The people who worked consciously, knowingly, with the CIA were made witting. Students who were going to fill the roles that the CIA wanted filled within the NSA were recruited through different means and each person underwent this ritual where any person who had passed the security background examination was either taken out to some posh place, usually with a former NSA person who had gone inside the agency to be a career staff, often helping to oversee the relationship.
Let’s just say they were an elected officer; they were told that there were aspects of their new position that were important to the United States government and the older NSA person would say, I’d like to tell you about those aspects. Neither I nor most of the students who entered this way knew why the US government was interested, didn’t know what they were going to learn, but after they signed, they learned that the CIA funded and ran the international program of the United States National Student Association. Anyone who crossed that boundary not only knew but reported to a CIA case officer, had code names, reporting requirements, and ops meetings.
Could you be a higher-up in the NSA and not be brought into the fold?
There were such people; I can’t say for sure but it looks like most of the people had something in their background that made the agency balk at making them witting. The president was always made witting and the international affairs vice-president was always made witting. In 1967, as part of the constructed cover-up, the agency tried to say they only made two officials witting but that is misleading. The word “officials” means elected officials, because by then there was a large international staff and there were overseas NSA representatives.
You were made witting if you were those elected positions but you could be recruited by several other mechanisms. One was in 1953, a six-week seminar called the International Student Relations Seminar. People were very carefully selected for that seminar and while they were learning about international student politics in eye-glazing detail they were undergoing background security investigations.
At the end of the summer, a number of the students would be offered jobs on the international side of NSA, which is what happened with my husband; he did not know anything about the CIA or the U.S. government when he took the job. To my surprise, there were also career agents— particularly in the 60s— that came out of Langley headquarters and became NSA overseas representatives. Part of the explanation for that is that NSA was operating on so many continents and so many countries in the 60s, and it was such a time of seething anti-colonial sentiment that they were just desperate for students who could operate.
Some of the officers were only involved for the one year that they were elected officials of the NSA. Others spent five years with the agency because if you did that, apart from basic training, you got an exemption from the draft. That had great meaning during the Korean War, as several former participants explained to me. They said, look, it kept me out of Korea! Others still stayed far longer and became career officers.
Is there any truth to the various explanations given by the government of the CIA’s operations within the NSA?
The cover story that was constructed in 1967, which has four crucial elements. One of them is essentially a denial that these were operations. The claim people still try to stick to is that the CIA just gave NSA “a few travel grants” but I don’t think you can read this book and conclude that that was the case. A lot of the agents argued that they never exercised any control over the students, but that’s a complicated question. Most participants were hardened Cold Warriors who, once they learned of it, were true believers in the anti-Communist cause.
In terms of the construction of a cover-up in ’67, the third was that they never compromised the independence of NSA; again, I don’t think you can read this book and come to that conclusion. They always claimed that there was Presidential approval of these operations but the evidence is mixed and I now have declassified documents that show how the State Department, the CIA, and the White House all scrambled to find that Presidential authority in 1967 — and they could not find specific authority in any of their files. The then-Senator from New York, Robert F. Kennedy, saved them by coming out and saying that all the past presidents had approved, but he had no way of knowing that, really. He himself was an advocate of these kinds of operations so he did have first-hand information about NSA and had met, in fact, with some of their officers during that time.
What I’m trying to say is that the critical elements of the cover story are absolutely refuted by this book.
Why has it been so difficult for you to find information from this time period? Why is there still a desire to sweep this under the rug?
There are two different answers. One is this claim that the documents would reveal sources and methods, which is a generic national security claim. I found three 1948 reports that had been reclassified in 2001 and it took nine years to get two of the three declassified. There was just nothing in them… The two that got declassified were about what the “bad boys” were doing to us and the one that didn’t get declassified a second time I think was about what we were doing to the bad guys. In that broad-brush national security claim, there is a lot of instinct to protect people or to not be embarrassed.
There is also a grey area, as one of the career people said to me; it’s not clear these were legal operations. His first reaction was, how can they possible be legal? since the agency was forbidden to operate domestically. He found people inside the agency defensive about the question and finally concluded that it was definitely a grey area.
What criticism did you hear about the CIA’s operations from NSA members?
The early Cold Warriors, up to the mid- to late 50′s are pretty unambiguous about still supporting what they did, but they don’t particularly look at the strategies. When you get into the time between ’58 and ’67, these are the participants who offer a much more nuanced and often devastatingly critical analysis of the strategies they used, even if they might defend their attempt. It’s a distinction between motivation and consequences.
For example, one of the people who surprised me the most was one of the two people that was involved in making me witting: Robert Kiley. However much he might have believed in the Algerian revolutionaries’ right to self-determination, he said specifically that none of those people amounted to a hill of beans. He also criticized the policy of not having any contact with the Communist international organization; he actually said that he felt it was a truly paranoid view within the agency.
There was a massive amount of intelligence reporting that came into the agency from specific countries or the International Student Conference, but who else in the agency besides the Covert Action Unit got to see all this reporting? Where did those reports go? That really bothers a lot of participants because nobody knows. It deeply troubles them.
Did you have assumptions about the program that became complicated by your research?
I didn’t really have too many assumptions because my knowledge was very rough-hewn. I knew it wasn’t what people said in 1967 who were defending the agency; I knew there was more to it, but I didn’t know what the more to it meant. Absolutely critical to my process is this ginormous collection of international NSA papers at the Hoover Institute at Stanford University…
I couldn’t help but be surprised at the high-level attention the CIA gave; there is a declassified memo that detailed the conservative influence in the National Student Association in the early 60s when the Young Americans for Freedom was formed. First they tried to take over NSA and then they tried to destroy it by having campus-by-campus disaffiliation votes. This was the highest levels of the CIA worrying about the conservatives, and the reason they were so concerned is that it was crucial for international credibility that NSA always be able to speak int he name of American students.
FRIDAY, APR 3, 2015 02:00 PM +0200
ELIAS ISQUITH Follow
Copyright © 2015 Salon Media Group, Inc.
The CIA’s manipulation of the National Student Association foreshadowed other forms of Cold War blowback that compromised democracy at home.
This book review appears in the Winter 2015 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here.
Patriotic Betrayal: The Inside Story of the CIA’s Secret Campaign to Enroll American Students in the Crusade Against Communism
By Karen M. Paget
552 pp. Yale University Press $35
In its March 1967 issue, Ramparts, a glossy West Coast muckraking periodical that expired in 1975, and that strongly opposed American involvement in the war in Vietnam, published an exposé of the close relationship between the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Student Association. This other NSA—not to be confused with the National Security Agency—was then the leading American organization representing college students, with branches on about 400 campuses. Its ties with the CIA were formed in the early years of both institutions following World War II, as the Cold War was getting under way.
According to Ramparts, the CIA had been providing much of the funding for the NSA through various “conduits.” NSA officers, many of them wittingly, had served the interests of the CIA by participating actively in international youth and student movements. The NSA’s activities were financed by the Agency both to counter communist influence and also to provide information on people from other countries with whom they came in contact. The disclosures about the CIA’s ties to the NSA were the most sensational of a number of revelations in that era that exposed the Agency’s involvement in such institutions as the Congress for Cultural Freedom; the International Commission of Jurists; the AFL-CIO; Radio Free Europe; and various leading philanthropic foundations. Karen Paget’s new book, Patriotic Betrayal, is the most detailed account yet of the CIA’s use of the National Student Association as a vehicle for intelligence gathering and covert action. (See author’s endnote.)
With the passage of half a century, it may be difficult to understand why so many political and cultural organizations, led by individuals with a generally liberal or leftist outlook, covertly collaborated with the CIA in the 1950s and first half of the 1960s, before exposés in Ramparts and other publications put an end to most such arrangements. After all, many of the activities of the Agency in that era are among those that we now regard as particularly discreditable. These include the CIA’s cooperation with the British intelligence services in overthrowing the democratically elected government of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953; its cooperation with the United Fruit Company in overthrowing the democratically elected government of Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz in 1954; and its cooperation with the Republic of the Congo’s former colonial rulers, the Belgians, in overthrowing the country’s newly elected prime minister, Patrice Lumumba, in 1960.
Several factors seem to me to have played a part. Press reporting on these events in that era tended not to focus on the role of the CIA. It was only years later, after the Senate’s 1975-1976 Church Committee investigations, after long-after-the-fact investigations by journalists and scholars, and after the mid-1980s development of the National Security Archive and its extensive and effective use of the Freedom of Information Act, that many otherwise well-informed Americans grasped the role of the CIA in these events.
It was a struggle that had to be won, not only on the military battlefield, but also in intellectual and ideological combat with the communists.
Also during the 1950s and the 1960s, the CIA, paradoxically, was the federal agency that seemed most ready to enlist liberals and leftists in its activities. In contrast, the State Department, which had been the main target of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s attacks on those he accused of being communist sympathizers, probably would not have risked involvement with many of the young people who collaborated with the CIA. Above all, there was the atmosphere created by the Cold War. It was a struggle that had to be won, not only on the military battlefield, but also in intellectual and ideological combat with the communists.
Finally, it may be that covert activities had their own appeal. Those who were in on the secret were an elite, deriving satisfaction comparable to that provided by membership in an exclusive club.
This was also a period in which many other Americans with similar views collaborated with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the CIA’s counterpart in the domestic intelligence field. In this era, the Bureau relied extensively on informers to accumulate its vast dossiers on the political associations and personal lives of millions of Americans. When I was executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in the 1970s, we discovered through documents we obtained under the Freedom of Information Act that three officials of the ACLU in the 1950s had given the FBI information on others within the ACLU they suspected of being communists. They seem to have rationalized their conduct, at least in part, on the basis that cooperation with the FBI would help protect the ACLU against irresponsible congressional investigative bodies such as the House Un-American Activities Committee. The FBI’s COINTELPRO, a program the Bureau established secretly in 1956 to foster jealousies and feuds in organizations whose activities the Bureau wished to disrupt, depended in part on its ability to collect personal data from informers within those organizations. The atmosphere created by the Cold War, in which the FBI and its allies in Congress and the media portrayed domestic subversives allied with foreign enemies as being the greatest threat to the United States, probably played a large part in persuading so many Americans to act as informers.
A number of young CIA collaborators who figure in Paget’s story later achieved prominence. One of the book’s virtues is that we get a clear picture of how well-educated and successful young Americans got involved in clandestine activities, and how they conducted themselves. But a frustrating aspect of the book is that, in most cases, Paget does not mention their subsequent careers. At least one leading academic figure’s undisclosed youthful relationship with the CIA could be considered relevant to his later published work.
One of those collaborators Paget discusses is Allard Lowenstein, president of the NSA from 1950 to 1951, who became a leading civil rights and anti-war activist, a one-term member of Congress, and the organizer of the “Dump Johnson” movement that helped deter President Lyndon Johnson from running for re-election in 1968. A charismatic figure, he inspired many others to become activists in the causes that mattered to him. In 1980, Lowenstein was assassinated in his office by a deranged gunman who had become obsessed with him. Though some have previously speculated that Lowenstein initiated the NSA relationship with the CIA, Paget’s research does not support this view. She finds that he may have obstructed such a relationship, and, if it took place when he was a leader of the NSA, he was probably not aware. Following the Ramparts disclosures, when 12 former presidents of the NSA issued a press release defending the covert relationship with the Agency, Lowenstein did not sign. Among those rumored or confirmed to have covertly collaborated with the CIA, Lowenstein stands out in Paget’s book as the principal figure whom she clears of suspicion.
In discussing Robert Kiley, who was vice president of the NSA from 1957 to 1958, Paget never mentions that he eventually became a leading figure in urban transit, heading New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority and then, on the other side of the Atlantic, heading London Regional Transport. Paget discusses only how Kiley as a student leader cooperated closely with the CIA and subsequently went to work directly for the Agency, playing a leading role in identifying Africans who might collaborate with it. During his tenure on the CIA staff, in which he rose to become an aide to Director Richard Helms, Kiley helped manage the relationship with the student organization of which he had previously been an officer, sometimes in what seems a heavy-handed way.
Of those mentioned by Paget as knowing participants in the relationship between the NSA and the CIA, the most lustrous name is that of Gloria Steinem. Her connection has long been known. She acknowledged it following the disclosures by Ramparts. Steinem then told Newsweek: “In the CIA, I finally found a group of people who understood how important it was to represent the diversity of our government’s ideas at Communist festivals. If I had the choice, I would do it again.” Operating through a CIA front organization, established in cooperation with former NSA officers, Steinem recruited young Americans to participate in the 1959 communist-organized World Youth Festival in Vienna, and did the same a couple of years later when another such festival was held in Helsinki. Apparently, she did her job well, choosing American participants who were very effective in countering the communists. To her credit, Steinem, unlike several others, was candid; and this history hardly implicates the CIA in the rise of feminism.
Paul Sigmund, a longtime professor of politics at Princeton, died last April at the age of 85. He was particularly known for his many books and articles on Latin America, especially Chile. Sigmund wrote extensively about the overthrow of the Salvador Allende regime in Chile, which brought General Augusto Pinochet to power. In a lengthy article in the January 1974 Foreign Affairs, he attributed the September 1973 coup to Allende’s misdeeds. He argued: “What [the Allende government] cannot do is blame all its problems on foreign imperialists and their domestic allies, and ignore elementary principles of economic rationality and effective political legitimacy in its internal policies. No amount of foreign assistance can be a substitute for these, and no amount of foreign subversion or economic pressure can destroy them if they exist.”
According to Paget, Sigmund collaborated with the CIA over a period of several years. His role included drafting a plan for a six-week summer seminar conducted by a front group through which the Agency could screen other students who might be enlisted in its activities. (Sigmund’s relationship to the CIA had come to light in the wake of the Ramparts exposé, but he did not cite it years later when he wrote about these events in which the CIA played a leading role.) Paget, though, does not mention Sigmund’s subsequent career. She interviewed him and says, “He explained his willingness to cooperate with the CIA in pragmatic terms: ‘It kept me out of Korea.’” Whatever his motivations, the question arises whether Sigmund’s relationship to the Agency in the 1950s affected his subsequent scholarly work. We learned a long time ago that the Nixon administration primarily relied on the CIA to promote the overthrow of Allende. Should the professor of politics at Princeton have acknowledged his own past relationship with the CIA in an essay rebutting allegations of a central U.S. role in what happened in Chile? How would such a disclosure have affected reader assessment of his Foreign Affairs essay and his other writing on the subject?
Among the other NSA leaders named by Paget who subsequently became prominent are James P. Grant, the longtime and widely admired executive director of UNICEF who died in 1995; James Scott, professor of political science and anthropology at Yale who is highly regarded for his writing on Southeast Asia; Crawford Young, professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin and well-known scholar of African studies; Luigi Einaudi, an American diplomat who served as acting secretary general of the Organization of American States; and Duncan Kennedy, professor of law at Harvard, whose emergence as a leading critical theorist is mentioned by Paget and who has been open about his onetime association with the CIA.
Should disclosure of such relationships be considered obligatory for those who present themselves as independent scholars? Certainly, it should be incumbent on someone like Sigmund to disclose his covert connection to the CIA. Even if that relationship was long past, writing an essay exculpating that agency from a charge of subversion without such disclosure raises ethical issues.
Aside from whether such persons should subsequently disclose that they once had a covert connection to the CIA, there is the question of whether it was appropriate to enter into such a relationship in the first place. Certainly, there was an idealistic component. Countering communism, I believed at the time and still do today, was the right thing to do. Yet doing so by covertly manipulating domestic organizations compromised American freedom of association. This contradiction, as more and more students came to oppose the Vietnam War, led to the eventual rupture of the NSA and its CIA patrons.
We don’t know how the constituents of the NSA would have felt about their officers’ secret relationship with the CIA. What we can surmise, however, is that some would have been strongly opposed. The NSA’s members could not debate whether to enter into the relationship, and those opposed could not express their views because they were not in on the secret. Disclosure would have killed the program. Whatever one thinks about the importance of having had such means to wage the battles of the Cold War, it seems difficult to justify the deception that was central to its operation.
Author’s Note: I was not shocked by the disclosures in Ramparts. Though I lacked definite information, I had been generally aware that there was a relationship between the CIA and the NSA. In 1957, as a student at Cornell, I became national president of the Student League for Industrial Democracy, a small organization with a social democratic bent that had chapters on several college campuses. Paget describes SLID as “fiercely anticommunist.” Yes, but we were also civil libertarians and vigorously opposed the college bans on communist speakers prevalent in that era. In 1959, I took the lead in relaunching SLID as Students for a Democratic Society, but I soon lost influence in SDS to Tom Hayden and others, who took it in a more radical direction. These activities put me in contact with some leaders of the NSA named by Paget. Though I did not know who wittingly collaborated with the Agency, I recall being quite sure that the Foundation for Youth and Student Affairs, the main source of funding for the NSA, was a CIA front.
As Karen Paget notes in her “Acknowledgments,” her early work on this book was supported by a fellowship from the Open Society Institute when I was its president.
ARYEH NEIER APRIL 14, 2015
Find this story at 14 April 2015
Consider the following strategic dilemma. You are a superpower that hopes to convert other nations to principles you hold vital—these might be individual liberty, private property, and free markets. There is another superpower out there that is hoping to do the same thing, to persuade other nations to embrace its principles—for example, social equality, state ownership, and centralized planning.
One day, you realize that this rival superpower has been busy creating international organizations and staging world congresses and festivals in the name of peace and democracy, and inviting people from other nations to participate.
These organizations and festivals are fronts. Their membership, their programs, and the political positions they enthusiastically adopt are all clandestinely orchestrated by the rival superpower, which is pumping large amounts of money into them. What’s more, in your view that rival superpower is not a peace-loving democracy at all. It’s a totalitarian regime. Yet its slogans attract unwary writers and artists, intellectuals, students, organized labor—people who believe in world peace and international coöperation.
You believe in those things, too. But you think that the slogans are being used to advance your rival’s interests, one of which is to rob you of your superpowers. What do you do? Doing nothing is not an option. Remember, you are a superpower.
The obvious response is to create your own international organizations and sponsor your own world congresses and festivals, and use them to promote your interests. Sadly, however, you cannot do this in a public and transparent way. For it happens that your citizens are not all that taken with the ideals of world peace and international coöperation, and they would not be pleased to see you spend their tax dollars to support the kind of people who advance that agenda. They would prefer to see their tax dollars spent on defense. In fact, they would prefer for there to be no tax dollars at all.
There is also the problem that one of your principles as a superpower is the belief that governments should not interfere with the activities of voluntary associations, such as writers’ congresses and student groups. You don’t believe in fronts. This is a key point of difference between you and your rival superpower. So your hands appear to be tied.
Unless you could do it all in secret. Suppose you directed taxpayer dollars through back channels, disguised as gifts from private benefactors and foundations, to organizations that operated internationally, and that reached out to groups in other countries in the name of the principles you believe in. You would want to be sure that the people running those organizations either didn’t know where the money was coming from or could be trusted to keep it a secret. You might need to pull strings occasionally to get the right people in charge and the right positions enthusiastically adopted.
Wouldn’t that be like creating fronts? Sort of. But here’s the thing: fundamentally, everyone would be on the same page. They just might not be knowingly on the same page. No one would be forced to do or say anything. After you succeeded in stripping your rival of its superpowers, there would no longer be a need for secrecy. Until that day arrived, however, national security might demand this tiny bite out of the principle of transparency. The only people who could object would be people who were already on the wrong side.
After the Second World War, our superpower solved this dilemma in exactly this way and on exactly this line of reasoning. From the more or less official start of the Cold War, Harry Truman’s speech to Congress in March, 1947, announcing his policy “to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures”—that is, Communist aggression—the United States created fronts and secretly infiltrated existing nongovernmental organizations in order to advance American interests abroad.
Almost exactly twenty years after Truman’s speech, in February, 1967, the government’s cover was spectacularly blown by a college dropout. The dropout’s name was Michael Wood, and the operation he exposed was the C.I.A.’s covert use of an organization called the National Student Association. The revelation had a cascading effect, and helped to mark the end of the first phase of the Cold War.
The C.I.A. had its eye on the N.S.A. from the start—both were born in 1947, a few months after Truman’s speech—and the relationship gained steadily in strength and intimacy until the day the secret became public. Its story is now told in detail for the first time, in Karen M. Paget’s “Patriotic Betrayal” (Yale).
“Patriotic Betrayal” is an amazing piece of research. Paget has industriously combed the archives and interviewed many of the surviving players, including former C.I.A. officials. And Paget herself is part of the story she tells. In 1965, her husband, a student-body president at the University of Colorado, became an officer in the N.S.A., and, as a spouse, she was informed of the covert relationship by two former N.S.A. officials who had become C.I.A. agents.
She was sworn to secrecy. The penalty for violating the agreement was twenty years. Paget describes herself back then as “an apolitical twenty-year-old from a small town in Iowa,” and she says that she was terrified. Fifty years later, she is still angry. She has channelled her outrage into as scrupulous an investigation of the covert relationship as the circumstances allow.
One circumstance is the fact that a good deal of material is classified. Paget was able to fish up bits and pieces using the Freedom of Information Act. But most of the iceberg is still underwater, and will probably remain there. So there is sometimes an aura of vagueness around who was calling the tune and why.
The vagueness was also there by design. It was baked into the covert relationship. There was a lot of winking and nodding; that’s what helped people believe they were on the same page. But it means that much of the history of what passed between the C.I.A. and the N.S.A. is irrecoverable. Still, “Patriotic Betrayal” is a conscientious attempt to take the full measure of an iconic piece of Cold War subterfuge.
It’s a dense book. Readers will be glad for the three-page guide in the back to abbreviations and acronyms. (There are also nearly ninety pages of endnotes, with more references accessible online.) Organizationally, the N.S.A.-C.I.A. affair was quite complex. There were a number of quasi-independent parts—another reason, besides the secrecy, that it was hard to see what was really going on.
The parts included the World Federation of Democratic Youth, or W.F.D.Y., a Soviet front organization created right after the war; the International Union of Students, or I.U.S., formed at a world congress of students in Prague in 1946, with a Czech Communist elected president; and the N.S.A. itself, which was founded at a student convention in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1947, in order to represent the United States in the I.U.S.
The Madison convention also created an N.S.A. subcommittee on international affairs and gave it authority to deal with international issues. The key move was the separation of the main N.S.A. office, which was in Madison, from the international division, which was housed in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was the Cambridge branch of the N.S.A. that received most of the C.I.A.’s funding and did most of the C.I.A.’s bidding. Madison was kept out of the loop.
In 1948, there was a Communist coup in Czechoslovakia, a crucial event in the hardening of postwar relations. When the I.U.S. refused to condemn the coup, the N.S.A. withdrew and set about forming a rival group, the International Student Conference, or I.S.C. These two organizations, the I.U.S. and the I.S.C., became superpower proxies in the looking-glass war that was the Cold War. Through the N.S.A., the C.I.A. tried to orchestrate what happened in the I.S.C., just as the I.U.S. was responsive to the demands of the Kremlin.
The N.S.A. was never a virgin. Paget reveals that, even before Prague, American students were subject to surveillance and scheming by three groups of grownups: the State Department, the F.B.I., and the Catholic Church. It can be forgotten how influential a role the Church’s highly disciplined anti-Communism played in Cold War affairs. The Holy Father took a personal interest in the danger of Communist infiltration of youth organizations, including the N.S.A.; the bishops kept a close eye on Catholic student leaders; and Catholics usually voted as a bloc in N.S.A. and I.S.C. meetings.
The Pope’s anti-Communism was too rigid for the C.I.A. The agency also had little use for J. Edgar Hoover, with whom the Church collaborated in investigating students’ backgrounds, or for Senator Joseph McCarthy and his hunt for Communists in the government. Agency politics—or, rather, the politics of agency policies—were farther to the left.
The N.S.A., for example, was a forthrightly liberal organization. Civil rights was part of the agenda early on. The N.S.A.’s second president (1948-49), James (Ted) Harris, was an African-American (and a Catholic). Its fourth president (1950-51) was the future civil-rights and antiwar activist Allard Lowenstein (not a Catholic). The N.S.A. helped found the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, a principal organizer of the march from Selma that led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act, in 1965. And the N.S.A.’s politics were typical of most of the organizations in the C.I.A.’s covert network: they were socially progressive, anti-colonialist, and sometimes even socialist.
One customary explanation is that the people who ran covert operations at the C.I.A. from 1947 to 1967 were not right-wing jingoists. They were liberal anti-Communists, veterans of Roosevelt’s Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the C.I.A. They were good guys who despised the Soviet Union as a traitor to progressive principles.
If people held this belief about the C.I.A., the agency exploited it. C.I.A. officials used to tell N.S.A. students who were in the know—the agency’s term for them was “witting” (or “witty”)—that, while the State Department supported authoritarian dictatorships, the C.I.A. supported foreign students who were involved in democratic resistance and national liberation movements. This was supposed to make the N.S.A. students feel that they had bargained with the right devil.
The students were being misled. The C.I.A. is part of the executive branch. Its director reports to the President; its operations and expenditures are subject to congressional oversight. The director of the C.I.A. during the nineteen-fifties, Allen Dulles, was the Secretary of State’s brother. The notion that the C.I.A. was running its own foreign policy, or that it was a “rogue elephant,” as one senator later called it, is absurd.
After the revelations of the nineteen-sixties and seventies, when many of the C.I.A.’s undercover operations were exposed, people began talking about the agency as though it were some kind of underground cell, an organization with no accountability, up to its own dirty tricks. But a report on the C.I.A.’s covert operations made immediately after the 1967 revelations concluded that the agency “did not act on its own initiative.” In 1976, a more critical congressional report, which was never officially released, stated, “All evidence in hand suggests that the CIA, far from being out of control, has been utterly responsive to the instructions of the President and the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs.”
It’s true that the C.I.A. did not always fully inform Administrations about what it was up to, but the agency had reason to believe that there were some things Administrations preferred not to know. Deniability is a crucial ingredient of covert operations. The C.I.A. used the N.S.A. to further the policies of the American government. If it had been found doing anything contrary to the wishes of the President, its plug would have been pulled very fast.
So what, exactly, was the N.S.A. useful for? This is where things get murky. According to Paget’s account, the N.S.A. was apparently not used for what the C.I.A. called “political warfare.” The agency did create a front organization called the Independent Research Service (inventing titles that are as meaningless as possible is part of the spy game) for the purpose of recruiting American students to disrupt Soviet-controlled World Youth Festivals in Vienna, in 1959, and Helsinki, in 1962. The person in charge was the future feminist Gloria Steinem, who knew perfectly well where the money was coming from and never regretted taking it. “If I had a choice I would do it again,” she later said.
“What is friendship if not constant amateurish psychoanalysis?”
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But that operation did not involve the N.S.A. Nor was the N.S.A. used only to promote American principles abroad, although that was part of the reason for funding it. The C.I.A. embedded agents in the N.S.A., and it worked behind the scenes to insure that pliable students got elected to run the association and that the desired policy positions got adopted. It took the extra precaution of starting up a covertly funded summer program, called the International Student Relations Seminar, and using it to groom future N.S.A. leaders. A number of N.S.A. members who went through the seminar went on to have careers at the agency.
Essentially, the N.S.A. functioned as a glove that concealed the American government’s hand and allowed it to do business with people who would never knowingly have done business with the American government. These people thought that they were dealing with a student group that was independent of the government. They had no idea that the N.S.A. was a front.
And what did this permit the C.I.A. to do? First, the N.S.A. was used as a cutout. The C.I.A. funnelled financial support to favored foreign-student groups by means of grants ostensibly coming from the N.S.A. Second, the N.S.A. was a recruitment device. It enabled the agency to identify potential intelligence sources among student leaders in other countries. And, third, N.S.A. members who attended international conferences filed written reports or were debriefed afterward, giving the C.I.A. a huge database of information.
The C.I.A. did not buy into the adage that the student leader of today is the student leader of tomorrow. It calculated that the heads of national student organizations were likely some day to become important figures in their countries’ governments. When that happened (and it often did), the American government had a file on them. “Over time, witting staff reported on thousands of foreign students’ political tendencies, personality traits, and future aspirations,” Paget writes. “They submitted detailed analyses of political dynamics within foreign student unions and countries.”
This may seem benign enough, but there was a problem. It had to do with the “State Department bad guys, C.I.A. good guys” routine. The State Department deals with nations with which the United States has diplomatic relations. Having diplomatic relations with a foreign government prohibits you from negotiating with, or acknowledging the legitimacy of, groups committed to that government’s overthrow. This is why it’s convenient to have an agency that operates clandestinely. The C.I.A. could cultivate relations with opposition groups secretly, and this permitted the American government to work both sides of the street.
Paget thinks that, in some cases, the information the C.I.A. gathered about students who were political opponents of a regime may have ended up in the hands of that regime, which could then have used the information to arrest and execute its enemies. She suspects that this may have happened in several countries where the American government was involved in regime change, including Iraq, Iran, and South Africa.
But it’s all speculation. There are no smoking guns in Paget’s book—no specific cases in which the C.I.A. made students’ names available to a foreign government. And the reason, of course, has to do with the classified material. No intelligence agency will ever release documents that reveal the identities of people with whom it had contacts. That information is at the very bottom of the iceberg.
It’s odd that the relationship remained secret as long as it did. The N.S.A. was one of many organizations covertly funded by the C.I.A. Over the life of those relationships, hundreds of people must have been in the know. But until Michael Wood spilled the beans no one ever spoke up publicly. This is a testament to something: in the case of the N.S.A., the naïveté of the students; the arrogance of the grownups (at the C.I.A., N.S.A. students were referred to as “the kiddies”); the power of anti-Communism to trump every scruple.
One thing it is not a testament to is the C.I.A.’s tradecraft. The evidence of the agency’s covert funding system was hidden in plain sight. The world got a peek in 1964, when a House of Representatives subcommittee ran an investigation into the tax-exempt status of philanthropic foundations. The committee had trouble getting information from the I.R.S. about a certain New York-based charitable foundation, the J. M. Kaplan Fund.
The chair of the committee, a Texas congressman named Wright Patman, surmised that the reason the I.R.S. was not coöperating was that the C.I.A. was preventing it. Patman didn’t appreciate the disrespect; in retaliation, he made public a list of eight foundations that, between 1961 and 1963, had given almost a million dollars to the J. M. Kaplan Fund.
“PATMAN ATTACKS ‘SECRET’ C.I.A. LINK: Says Agency Gave Money to Private Group Acting as Its Sub-Rosa ‘Conduit’ ” was the headline in the Times, which published the names of the eight “conduit” foundations. After a closed-door meeting with representatives from the C.I.A. and the I.R.S., Patman emerged to announce that if there was a C.I.A. connection it was no longer of interest to his subcommittee, and that he was dropping the matter.
But the cat was partway out of the bag. As their transparently invented names suggest—the Gotham Foundation, the Borden Trust, the Andrew Hamilton Fund, and so on—these eight foundations were C.I.A. cutouts. The agency had approached wealthy people it knew to be sympathetic and asked them to head dummy foundations. Those people were then put on a masthead, a name for the foundation was invented, sometimes an office was rented to provide an address, and a conduit came into being. The members of the phony boards even held annual meetings, at which “business” was discussed, expenses paid by the agency.
The dummy foundations were used to channel money to groups the agency wanted to support. Sometimes the C.I.A. passed funds through the dummies to legitimate charitable foundations, like the Kaplan Fund, which in turn passed it along to groups like the National Student Association. Sometimes the cutouts existed solely to write checks to the C.I.A.’s beneficiaries.
The C.I.A.’s name did not appear anywhere. The giveaway was the dollar-for-dollar equivalence of the amount received from the dummy and the amount granted to the target group. If the expenses side of Kaplan’s books showed a two-hundred-thousand-dollar grant to the N.S.A., the income side would show a two-hundred-thousand-dollar donation from one of the agency’s dummy foundations.
The Times published an editorial saying that “the practice ought to stop. . . . The use of Government intelligence funds to get foundations to underwrite institutions, organizations, magazines and newspapers abroad is a distortion of C.I.A.’s mission on gathering and evaluating information.” In 1966, the paper ran a series of articles on the C.I.A.’s spying operations, in which it revealed that the C.I.A. was funding the Congress for Cultural Freedom and its many European-based magazines. The paper also reported that the agency had funded some American academics when they travelled abroad. The C.I.A. seems to have done nothing in response to these stories, and nothing came of them.
Then Michael Wood made his appearance. Wood was from Glendale, California. In 1964, he had dropped out of Pomona College to become a civil-rights organizer in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. His work there attracted the attention of the National Student Association, and it offered him a job.
By then, the N.S.A. represented about a million students from more than four hundred American colleges. It had just moved its offices (with help from the C.I.A.) to Washington, D.C., to adjoining four-story town houses near Dupont Circle. Wood was soon promoted to the position of director of development—fund-raising.
He discovered something strange. No one at the N.S.A. seemed terribly interested in raising money. Grant proposals were perfunctory, and Wood learned that the president of the N.S.A., Philip Sherburne, the man who had hired him, was negotiating for donations on his own. Wood confronted Sherburne and told him that unless he was given control of all fund-raising activities he would have to resign. Sherburne invited him to lunch. This was in March, 1966.
Sherburne had grown up on a dairy farm in Oregon. Wood liked him. They met in a restaurant on Connecticut Avenue called the Sirloin and Saddle, where Sherburne violated his secrecy agreement and told Wood about the C.I.A. He told Wood that he was desperately trying to terminate the relationship (which was true), and asked him to keep their conversation secret.
Wood knew that if he revealed the contents of the conversation Sherburne could go to jail. But he hated the thought that the C.I.A. had financial leverage over the N.S.A. That fall, Wood was fired from the N.S.A. Paget reports that he was not getting along with people at the office. But he had already decided to go public, and had begun surreptitiously making copies of N.S.A. financial records.
Paget doesn’t explain how Wood contacted the press. The story is that he met Marc Stone, a public-relations man who happened to be the brother of the investigative journalist I. F. Stone, and who represented a West Coast magazine called Ramparts. Though only four years old, Ramparts had become a slick muckraker with a New Left slant and a rapidly growing circulation under its young editor, Warren Hinckle.
The magazine began looking into Wood’s story, which seemed hard to believe and impossible to confirm. But its researchers discovered records showing that some of the eight dummy foundations named by Patman two years before were donors to the N.S.A. The C.I.A. had not even bothered to change their names. By February, 1967, the magazine had a story ready to go.
The C.I.A. got wind of the magazine’s investigation. It gathered past presidents of the N.S.A. and scheduled a news conference at which the presidents were to admit receiving C.I.A. money but swear that the C.I.A. had never influenced N.S.A. policy. They thought this would defuse any story that the magazine eventually published.
Ramparts, in turn, got wind of the C.I.A.’s plan to scoop its scoop. Hinckle bought ads in the New York Times and the Washington Post. These ran on February 14th, Valentine’s Day; they announced, “In its March issue, Ramparts magazine will document how the CIA has infiltrated and subverted the world of American student leaders.” Placing the ad tipped off the Times and the Post, and their reporters called the C.I.A. for comment. And so, on the same day the Ramparts ads appeared, both newspapers ran articles on the C.I.A.’s covert funding of the N.S.A.
This time, the story caught fire. Wood went on ABC’s “Issues and Answers,” where he was asked whether he thought that he had destroyed the C.I.A. as an effective instrument in the Cold War. CBS News broadcast an hour-long program, hosted by Mike Wallace, called “In the Pay of the CIA.” The major news magazines ran cover stories.
Once the N.S.A. thread had been pulled, the whole tapestry of C.I.A. covert operations started to unravel. Reporters discovered that the money trail wound through some eighteen dummy foundations and twenty-one legitimate foundations. The Los Angeles Times found more than fifty grantees. The agency gave money to the National Council of Churches, the United Auto Workers, the International Commission of Jurists, the International Marketing Institute, the American Friends of the Middle East, the Pan American Foundation, the American Newspaper Guild, the National Education Association, the Communications Workers of America, and the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Church Outside Russia.
Some of the funded groups were creatures of the C.I.A. Radio Free Europe and the Free Russia Fund, which regularly appealed to the public for contributions, had actually been created by the government and were funded by the C.I.A. Other organizations had C.I.A. agents planted in them. A few groups had no idea about the real source of the funds they lived on. An organization headed by the socialist Norman Thomas got money from the C.I.A.
The Ramparts story effectively killed the covert-funding system. As Hinckle put it in his delightful memoir, “If You Have a Lemon, Make Lemonade,” “It is a rare thing in this business when you say bang and somebody says I’m dead.” More than that, the revelations meant that the whole covert-funding operation had backfired. An effort to curry the allegiance of foreign élites ended up alienating them almost completely. After 1967, every American venture in international cultural relations, official or unofficial, became suspect. The cultural Cold War came apart.
Paget struggles at the end of her book to find an upside to the story she tells, some case in which C.I.A. involvement in the N.S.A. helped the United States win the Cold War. The record, she concludes, “is mixed at best and frequently dismal.” There is no evidence, for example, that the N.S.A. ever persuaded anyone to renounce Communism. The most that can be said, she thinks, is that the Soviet Union did not get to have the field of international student affairs all to itself. There was another front in the game.
A Critic at Large MARCH 23, 2015 ISSUE
BY LOUIS MENAND
Patriotic Betrayal: The Inside Story of the CIA’s Secret Campaign to Enroll American Students in the Crusade Against CommunismPatriotic Betrayal: The Inside Story of the CIA’s Secret Campaign to Enroll American Students in the Crusade Against Communism by Karen M Paget
When I was growing up in the 1960’s my parents used to tell me stories about their activities in the National Student Association in the late 40’s and early 50’s. Liberal Democrats, they would tell us about parliamentary tactics deployed by Communist members to try to take control of the organization (late night quorum calls, for instance) and the efforts of anti-Communist liberals to prevent the organization converted to one whose activities would be dictated by the Soviet Union. I haven’t seen his letters (one of my brothers has them) I believe my father was at the organization’s constitutional convention in Madison in 1947.
What I’m sure they didn’t know at the time was that, while the NSA was devoted to spreading democratic values around the world, and especially in nonaligned countries emerging from colonialism, and despite the fact that the NSA followed democratic forms and procedures for the elections of officers, the actual activities of the organization were determined and funded by the CIA, with help from the Catholic Church to promote its own conservative agenda. Each year the elected president would be taken to a mysterious and secret meeting in which they were brought into the fold, told to sign a security oath, and, in the parlance of the organization, made “witting”. It was only then that the president and other top officers of the organization would be taught that the CIA was making the decisions, funneling money for travel and other activities through pliable charities, and truly acquainted with the shadowy older men–former students–who seemed to have hung around the NSA far beyond the time that most people would be interested in working with an organization for college students.
The secret was maintained for twenty years, until a few courageous officers and a major investigative effort by Ramparts magazine revealed the extent of CIA domination of this allegedly democratic organization. During that time the NSA was used to provide scholarships for promising foreign student leaders to study in the United States and to disrupt conventions staged by a rival, Soviet-dominated international student organization for propaganda value.
The husband of the author of Patriotic Betrayal was elected vice-president and made witting, and the author followed within months. Consequently, the author has a wealth of personal information about the inner workings of the NSA, which she supplemented by over 150 interviews of other participants in the events recounted here and research documented in the 100+ pages of end notes.
In the pages of Patriotic Betrayal we meet characters familiar and unfamiliar and, in most cases, whether they were in on the CIA factor. For instance, my parents’ friend and former liberal Congressman Allard Lowenstein (they called him Al) was considered to be an obstacle to CIA domination when he was president in 1950-51, although it is not known whether he was witting. Tom Hayden, working with the SDS, also tried to push the NSA to the left, while Gloria Steinem was working for the CIA when she directed CIA-funded activities in the late 50’s and early 60’s. We also see appearances by people who would later become important nationally or internationally, including Fidel Castro, future Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, and notorious right-wingers Howie Phillips and Richard Viguerie.
Patriotic Betrayal goes into exhaustive detail of the inner workings of the NSA from year to year, and often from week to week. While this level of detail establishes the breadth and depth of the author’s knowledge, it could be debated whether she has trimmed enough of the details from what the author has told us was earlier even much longer. The author does successfully give us the final conflict as a real-life spy thriller, with insiders trying to wrest control from the CIA and expose the CIA’s role in the NSA, the CIA and its agents trying to block the effort and to punish the organization for these efforts, and a ragtag band of journalists and activists literally risking assassination to get the story into print.
At fifty years’ remove from most of these events it’s hard to imagine so much effort and money invested in an organization of student governments to make sure the Commies’ student organization didn’t gain the upper hand. It’s almost Spy v. Spy stuff. It’s also ironic, of course, that the CIA’s idea of promoting democracy in even this voluntary group was to install its own men into positions of power, fund them, and tell them what to do. Ultimately this is the most important lesson: the dangers of secret government setting up secret activities to subvert democratic institutions. When Ramparts broke the story the secret government and its allies in Congress cooperated to squelch or neutralize the revelations. Patriotic Betrayal is an important revelation of these Cold War events.
by: Jack McCullough
Sat May 02, 2015 at 10:28:15 AM EDT
A lawsuit accusing Central Intelligence Agency employees of murdering military scientist Frank Olson in 1953 after he raised concerns about testing chemical and biological weapons on people without their consent was dismissed.
The suit, brought by Olson’s family in federal court in Washington, was filed too late and is barred under an earlier settlement, a judge ruled today. Eric and Nils Olson alleged their father, who the CIA admitted was given LSD a few days before his death, didn’t jump from a 13th floor window of the Statler Hotel in New York, but rather was pushed.
“While the court must limit its analysis to the four corners of the complaint, the skeptical reader may wish to know that the public record supports many of the allegations that follow, farfetched as they may sound,” U.S. District Judge James Boasberg said in the ruling.
Olson’s family has tried to piece together the circumstances surrounding Frank Olson’s death ever since a 1975 government report on CIA activities in the U.S. said he committed suicide after being given LSD without his knowledge. They claim the agency has covered up the cause of their father’s death for almost six decades.
In 1976, the Olsons threatened to sue the government unless they received answers and a financial settlement, according to the complaint.
Their lawsuit, filed Nov. 28, included one claim of negligent supervision by the agency. Each member of Olson’s family was paid $187,500 as part of a settlement, according the complaint.
Scott Gilbert, a lawyer for the Olson family at Gilbert LLP in Washington, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail message seeking comment on the decision.
The case is Olson v. U.S., 12-cv-01924, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).
By Tom Schoenberg July 17, 2013
©2014 BLOOMBERG L.P.
OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) – The CIA asked a federal judge to dismiss it from a case in which U.S. veterans claim the government used them as human guinea pigs in Cold War-era drug experiments. The CIA claims veterans can’t sue the it because they cannot prove they took “secrecy oaths.”
Vietnam Veterans of America filed a class action against the Army and CIA in 2009, claiming that at least 7,800 soldiers had been used as guinea pigs in “Project Paperclip.”
Soldiers were administered at least 250 and as many as 400 types of drugs, among them Sarin, one of the most deadly drugs known, amphetamines, barbiturates, mustard gas, phosgene gas and LSD.
Using tactics it often attributed to the Soviet enemy, the U.S. government sought drugs to control human behavior, cause confusion, promote weakness or temporary loss of hearing and vision, induce hypnosis and enhance a person’s ability to withstand torture.
The veterans say that some soldiers died, and others suffered seizures and paranoia.
The CIA sought summary judgment and dismissal, claiming the Vietnam Veterans’ remaining claim on the validity of “secrecy oaths” had no merit.
The agency claimed the veterans “have not identified any service member who purportedly had such an oath with the CIA” and do not have “specific facts to support this claim at the time they filed their complaint (or at the present time).” (Parentheses in original.)
“This record makes clear that plaintiffs have never seriously pursued their ‘secrecy oath’ claim against the CIA,” Justice Department attorney Kimberly Herb wrote for the CIA. “Due to the absence of allegations concerning the CIA with regard to this sole remaining claim and plaintiffs’ own admissions that they do not have specific facts to support it, the CIA has repeatedly asked plaintiffs to voluntarily withdraw the claim.”
Herb added: “With regard to the seven individual plaintiffs, the Third Amended Complaint devotes over eighty paragraphs to their individual claims, but not once does it ever allege that one of them has or had a secrecy oath with the CIA. …
“The only other allegations in the Third Amended Complaint regarding the nature of the secrecy oaths allegedly administered to test participants not only fail to mention the CIA, but also make clear that plaintiffs are alleging that [the Department of Defense] was responsible for the administration of such oaths.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to a reporting error, the original version of this story erroneously reported that U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken had granted the CIA’s request. Actually, Judge Wilken had not ruled; the reporter read the CIA’s proposed order as a judicial order. Here is the veterans’ response to the CIA’s proposed order, which the veterans filed on Aug. 11. Courthouse News regrets the error.)
By NICK MCCANN
It’s pretty obvious why British governments have been anxious to keep the history of their secret service secret for so long. In the case of decolonisation, which is the subject of Calder Walton’s book, revelations about dirty tricks even after fifty years might do irreparable damage to the myth carefully cultivated at the time: which was that for Britain, unlike France, say, or the Netherlands, or Belgium, the process was smooth and friendly. Britain, so the story went, was freely granting self-government to its colonies as the culmination of imperial rule, which had always had this as its ultimate aim – ‘Empire into Commonwealth’, as the history books used to put it. If for no other reason, the myth was needed in order to make ordinary Britons feel better.
Vol. 35 No. 7 · 11 April 2013
From David Lea
Referring to the controversy surrounding the death of Patrice Lumumba in1960, Bernard Porter quotes Calder Walton’s conclusion: ‘The question remains whether British plots to assassinate Lumumba … ever amounted to anything. At present, we do not know’ (LRB, 21 March). Actually, in this particular case, I can report that we do. It so happens that I was having a cup of tea with Daphne Park – we were colleagues from opposite sides of the Lords – a few months before she died in March 2010. She had been consul and first secretary in Leopoldville, now Kinshasa, from 1959 to 1961, which in practice (this was subsequently acknowledged) meant head of MI6 there. I mentioned the uproar surrounding Lumumba’s abduction and murder, and recalled the theory that MI6 might have had something to do with it. ‘We did,’ she replied, ‘I organised it.’
We went on to discuss her contention that Lumumba would have handed over the whole lot to the Russians: the high-value Katangese uranium deposits as well as the diamonds and other important minerals largely located in the secessionist eastern state of Katanga. Against that, I put the point that I didn’t see how suspicion of Western involvement and of our motivation for Balkanising their country would be a happy augury for the new republic’s peaceful development.
Harper, 411 pp, £25.00, February, ISBN 978 0 00 745796 0
[*] Cambridge, 449 pp., £25, December 2012, 978 1 107 00099 5.