The 1960s

CIA Subsidies to Private Groups (1967)

S - Z

Saunders, Frances Stonor. "Modern Art Was CIA 'Weapon.'" The Independent (UK), 22 Oct. 1995. [http://www.independent.co.uk]

"[T]he CIA fostered and promoted American Abstract Expressionist painting around the world for more than 20 years.... [I]n the propaganda war with the Soviet Union, this new artistic movement could be held up as proof of the creativity, the intellectual freedom, and the cultural power of the US. Russian art, strapped into the communist ideological straitjacket, could not compete."

Saunders, Frances Stonor. Who Paid the Piper? The CIA and the Cultural Cold War. London: Granta, 1999. The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters. New York: New Press, 2000.

Click for reviews.

Scott-Smith, Giles. "'The Masterpieces of the Twentieth Century' Festival and the Congress for Cultural Freedom: Origins and Consolidation, 1947-52." Intelligence and National Security 15, no. 1 (Spring 2000): 121-168.

Scott-Smith, Giles. The Politics of Apolitical Culture: The Congress of Cultural Freedom, the CIA and Post-War American Hegemony. London: Routledge, 2001.

Coleman, I&NS 17.3, finds that the author "understands the limitations of the intellectuals who gravitated to the CCF but he is also aware of their integrity." For Peake, Studies 48.1, "those concerned with the political-economic approach to social progress and the battle between democracy and communism" will find this "an important work, its complex theoretical narrative notwithstanding."

Scott-Smith, Giles. "'A Radical Democratic Political Offensive': Melvin J. Lasky, Der Monat, and the Congress of Cultural Freedom." Journal of Contemporary History 35, no. 2 (Apr. 2000): 263-280.

The author offers an intellectual antidote to the venom often prevalent in discussing the role of the Congress of Cultural Freedom in the immediate postwar period. Essentially, he argues that "the Congress has become a much maligned institution since the disclosures of its intimate relationship with the CIA, and this has tended to overshadow the simultaneous developments in the wider cultural and political realms which help explain the institution's character."

Sheehan, Neil.

1. "Order by Johnson Reported Ending CIA Student Aid." New York Times, 15 Feb. 1967, 1.

President Johnson orders end to CIA subsidies to National Student Association and other student groups.

2. "A Student Group Concedes It Took Aid from CIA." New York Times, 14 Feb. 1967, 1.

In wake of the Ramparts article, National Student Association President Eugene Groves acknowledges that the organization had been subsidized by the CIA.

Stern, Sol. "A Short Account of International Student Politics & the Cold War with Particular Reference to the NSA, CIA, Etc." Ramparts 5, no. 9 (Mar. 1967): 29-38.

Expose of the "unnatural" relationship between the National Student Association (NSA) and the CIA.

Van Voris, Jacqueline. The Committee of Correspondence: Women with a World Vision. Northhampton, MA: Interchange, 1989.

Warner, Michael. "Origins of the Congress for Cultural Freedom, 1949- 50." Studies in Intelligence 38, no. 5 (1995): 89-98.

The author credits Michael Josselson (and covert CIA funding) with establishing and maintaining this "daring and effective" covert operation. When the Congress convened for the first time, in Berlin on 26 June 1950, the North Koreans had just invaded the South, an event which highlighted that the time had come to choose sides. When the organization was formally established in November 1950, Josselson became the Congress' Administrative Secretary, a post he would hold for the next 16 years.

Warner, Michael. "Sophisticated Spies: CIA's Links to Liberal Anti-Communists, 1949-1967." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 9, no. 4 (Winter 1996-1997): 425-433.

This is a useful review of the issues surrounding the Ramparts (and subsequent) "revelations" in February 1967 about the CIA's subsidizing of the National Student Association and other private organizations. The CIA took flack from both sides of the political spectrum for its activities, as did the anti-Communist left.

Wilford, Hugh. The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008.

Clark comment: If you can overlook some ill-supported flights of rhetorical fancy, this is a very good rendition of the tunes played on the "mighty Wurlitzer." It is also an easy -- and even fun -- read. The front-end of Wilford's conclusion is judicious: "[T]he CIA's state-private network was built to a great extent on shared values and involved a surprising amount of self-assertion on the part of the private citizens who belonged to it. Nevertheless, no matter how much one dwells on the consensual and voluntarist aspects of the relationship, the fact remains that the front tactic was based on secrecy and deception, making it all the more problematic when undertaken in a nation avowedly dedicated to the principles of freedom and openness." He follows that, however, with a statement that is in no way supported by his narrative: "Cultural diplomacy, the winning of hearts and minds, should be left to overt government agencies and genuine, nongovernmental organizations."

Kazin, Washington Post, 27 Jan. 2008, calls this a "brisk yet thorough narrative" of the CIA's "creation and funding of front organizations.... [N]o one has written a more comprehensive or sophisticated account of the pro-American fronts from their creation in the late 1940s to the investigative report 20 years later in Ramparts magazine that first exposed the CIA's cultural offensive.... Few of the CIA fronts reliably behaved as the agency desired. Many of the subsidized individuals and groups had a moderately leftist inclination; they were determined to fight communism in their own ways and resisted direction from above."

To Goulden, Washington Times, 20 Jan. 2008, the author "shares the prevalent mindset of liberal 'scholars' that any operation carrying the CIA imprimatur was ipso bad and misguided.... Wilford vents much spleen on CIA programs to finance intellectual, labor and student groups who contested Soviet-supported fronts worldwide."

Glazer, NYT, 20 Jan. 2008, finds this to be a "remarkably detailed and researched book." The story the author tells is "fascinating, involving a surprising collection of well-known figures in American life." The reviewer notes "Wilford’s somewhat cool attitude toward what many saw, with some legitimacy, as a worldwide conflict between tyranny and freedom." Despite a few slips, "[t]here is a great deal to be learned from this book."

For Radosh, New York Sun, 6 Feb. 2008, the author "carefully shows that in almost all the cases, those funded [by the CIA] understood the high stakes of the Cold War with the Soviets. Rather than following CIA orders, most used whatever funds they received to carry on the work they had already started, and often discarded the advice of the Agency handlers." Despite some "politically motivated cheap shots," Wilford has "written a scholarly, mostly readable, and first-rate book.... One can differ with his own conclusion that covert funding 'stained the reputation' of America and still find the book of immeasurable merit."

Warner, Studies 52.2 (Jun. 2008), believes that the author has "given us the best history of the covert political action campaign to date." That is, this is a better treatment than earlier works on the subject (specifically Peter Coleman, The Liberal Conspiracy [1989], and Frances Stonor Saunders, Cyltural Cold War [2000]). Wilford's "judicious approach should set the standard" for works that may come later. After suggesting that Frank Wisner would have commended this work, Pinck, Intelligencer 16.1 (Spring 2008), terms The Mighty Wurlitzer an "insightful, well-written and modestly-told accounting of an important segment of Wisner's professional career."

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