Document:The CIA Makes the News
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The CIA Makes the News
When the American Central Intelligence Agency recently let slip that they had made extensive use of certain unnamed journalists, both for spying and for propaganda, newshounds the world over began trotting out long lists of likely suspects. One story that actually appeared in print told of the then CIA Director, William Colby, openly admitting the Agency's manipulation of the British-owned wire service, Reuters. Another story recalled earlier CIA media operations, from Radio Free Europe to the Rome Daily American, and everywhere eager young reporters tried desperately to uncover the names of those 11 — or was it 12? — full-time CIA staffers supposedly doing their dirty tricks under journalistic cover.
It was all great fun while it lasted — newsmen chasing their own tail — and thanks to some very wary editors, few new faces ever came to light. But one name that did still haunts the CIA and the world's press — a highly urbane journalist named Brian Crozier.
As far as anyone knew before the fur went flying, Crozier was just another of London's well-placed wordsmiths. An Australian by birth, he had made his mark as editor of the Economist's confidential Foreign Report, author of an admiring biography of the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, and chief of an international news service called Forum World Features and a think-tank on problems of terrorism and guerrilla warfare, the widely quoted Institute for the Study of Conflict.
This at least was how Crozier looked before he fell victim to the American penchant for slugging things out in public. The after view was a bit seamier, as several of those famous Washington leaks — and a few from London as well — revealed that the CIA secretly owned Crozier's Forum World Features and that they had also put up the money to start his Institute for the Study of Conflict. And so Crozier became the man in the middle — one of the CIA journalists who got caught making the news.
Crozier, of course, isn't the only one to be acutely embarrassed by the CIA scandals. But his story touches on what might become one of the more intriguing questions of the entire affair. For even as the Congress was investigating some of Crozier's covert propaganda activities in Latin America, he and his colleagues were helping to set up a new Institute for the Study of Conflict right in the heart of Washington, D.C. And among the Americans involved with him in this highly suspect intervention into the American political scene are two of the most likely candidates to serve as the next Secretary of State.
The first inkling that Crozier was standing in the line of fire came in April 1975, when a team of British journalists from the TV series "World in Action" descended on Washington to do a story on the CIA. The team talked to the usual assortment of insiders and soon uncovered a fascinating memo which purported to have come from inside CIA headquarters. The memo appeared to have been written in May 1968; it was addressed to the Director of Central Intelligence (at the time Richard Helms) and it gave "an operational summary" of a CIA propaganda outfit located in London and called Forum World Features (FWF).
"In its first two years," the memo explained, "FWF has provided the United States with a significant means to counter Communist propaganda, and has become a respected feature service well on the way to a position of prestige in the journalism world."
The memo also mentioned in a handwritten note that Forum was "run with the knowledge and cooperation of British Intelligence."
Further checking confirmed that the memo was authentic and that the CIA had originally created a Forum news service as part of an earlier operation, the heavily funded Congress for Cultural Freedom. Then in 1965, as the Cultural Freedom group and its lead magazine, [Encounter]], came under growing suspicion, the CIA renamed the news service Forum World Features, and shifted it to the cover of a Delaware corporation called Kern House Enterprises — a CIA "proprietary" headed by the millionaire businessman John Hay Whitney, a former U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James's and publisher of the International Herald Tribune.
The Agency turned to Crozier to oversee operations in London, and as far as anyone knew, Forum World Features was a small commercial news service, selling weekly packets of feature stories to as many as SO newspapers all over the world.
Why did the CIA go to all this trouble? Chiefly to make propaganda. Among the well-written and generally innocuous articles that Forum sent out each week, the CIA could easily slip in straight American propaganda, especially when it came to the war in Vietnam, or the campaign against the Allende government in Chile.
The Agency could also use Forum to send almost anyone anywhere as "a journalist," and to give research and other backup to good friends such as Sir Robert Thompson, the former British security chief in Malaya, and a key advisor to the Americans on Vietnam. Control, of course, remained with the Americans, who had at least one "case officer" in the Forum office — a career CIA man named Robert Gene Gately, who was last seen as a member of the CIA Station in the American Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand.
This, in brief, was the story as it came together in the spring of 1975, and when the editor of "World in Action" decided that it was too hot to handle on TV, it filtered down to the London news and entertainment weekly Time Out, and from there to the pages of the Guardian, the Irish Times, the Washington Post, and even John Hay Whitney's own International Herald Tribune.
Later, as the congressional investigations heated up, a CIA spokesman quietly admitted to the Washington Post that the story was true and that the CIA did own Forum. But by the time anyone could get to the scene of the crime, Crozier had completely shut down the entire Forum operation. As it was explained by the sympathetic London Sunday Times, costs were going up, and Forum simply ran out of money.
And so the story — like Forum itself — would have died right there if Crozier had only followed the first rule of covert operations: When your cover is blown, keep quiet. But Crozier did just the opposite. Instead of quietly nursing his wounds, he feigned innocence and angrily yelled "Rape!"
Now to most journalists — in fact, to most people — those are fighting words, and evidently someone took offense. Within days of Crozier's first blast, a weary postman trundled up to Time Out with several bundles of documents which appeared to have come from the internal files of Crozier's other operation, the Institute for the Study of Conflict.
Who had sent them? And more important, were they real? Time Out's staff were wary, and as one of the journalists on the story, I can report that we all had visions of our favorite intelligence agency doctoring up phony documents just to entrap us in criminal libel. But again Crozier saved the story. Hearing that Time Out had the documents, he charged that someone had stolen them from the Institute, and within hours two highly embarrassed police detectives — "We don't like to get involved in these journalistic disputes," they explained — were calling at my flat. The documents, it seemed, were very real indeed.
As the story later appeared in Time Out, the documents showed in intimate detail how the Institute had grown directly out of the small library and research staff that the CIA's Kern House Enterprises had financed within Forum World Features. By 1968, Crozier was calling this his Current Affairs Research Services Center, and in January 1970 he wrote to Sir Peter Wilkinson (later Coordinator of Intelligence and Security in the British Cabinet Office) and asked his help in transforming the Forum research unit into a full-fledged Institute for the Study of Conflict.
Was the Institute, like Forum, intended as a covert operation?
The evidence suggests that it was, though not necessarily an American operation. In fact, in a letter to the International Herald Tribune, the well-known foreign correspondent Bernard Nossiter claimed that he had been told by a senior official in British intelligence that Crozier's Institute was actually run by the British. Perhaps. But, as the internal documents show, the Institute worked hand in glove with Forum and the CIA.
Crozier continued to run both Forum and the Institute. The two operations shared writers, and even certain staff. And as with Forum, the money to start the Institute and its monthly "Conflict Studies" came from the CIA's Kern House Enterprises. Many of Forum's internal records ended up in the Institute's files which were delivered to Time Out.
As with many of their front organizations, the Agency evidently wanted the Institute to stand on its own feet. But as late as 1972, where the presently available records stop, Kern House was still providing a small subsidy, which the Institute's annual budget called essential to financial viability. Present records also suggest the possibility, as yet unconfirmed, of more recent CIA funding.
From the start, the CIA's interest in the Institute appears to have been less in research than in propaganda. Few, if any, of the Institute's widely quoted publications have broken any new ground intellectually. But they have given academic respectability to old anti-Communist cliches, whether on Vietnam or Angola. And they have pushed a revival of Cold War thinking in the face of detente, and a stiffening of preemptive police and military measures to combat "subversion" and industrial unrest.
The trick, of course, is in the magic word "Institute." Where the CIA used Forum to reach newspaper readers, and the earlier Congress for Cultural Freedom to woo intellectuals, Crozier's Institute offered professional and authoritative-sounding analyses, both for the general public and for more specialized audiences of academics, policy makers, police officials, and military commanders.
In 1972, for example, the Institute joined with the Confederation of British Industries to launch a private campaign against "subversive elements." The Institute then published a special report on "Sources of Conflict in British Industry," and in early 1974, just as the striking miners forced Prime Minister Edward Heath to call elections, the London Observer ran a section of the report blaming left-wing militants for Britain's industrial unrest.
It now appears from the Institute's own correspondence that most of the "evidence" for the red-baiting allegations came from the files of well-known and widely disregarded right-wing organizations.
Even closer to the bone, the Institute prepared a special manual on counterinsurgency for the British police and regularly participates in training programs at the National Defence College and the Police College. The Institute's "line" appears to encourage preemptive surveillance and other measures against a broad range of "subversives," a term which could easily include law-abiding trade union militants and anti-establishment intellectuals.
The theory, as one staff member put it, seemed to be that the police have to deal with subversion because it might lead to terrorism. Or, alternatively, one might draw a more sinister interpretation from a recent magazine article in which Crozier looked to the armed forces to step in following the breakdown of Western democracy. As Crozier sees it, the breakdown — and the subsequent military intervention — seem to be inevitable.
Like Forum, of course, the Institute's impact has extended far beyond its base in Britain. In France, a small group around former prime minister Antoine Pinay helped pay for an Institute study on "European Security and the Soviet Problem." The study took a predictably Cold War turn, and according to internal records, the aging Pinay and his friends were so delighted that they personally showed it to Nixon, Pompidou, Kissinger, and the Pope.
Similarly, in the Netherlands, Crozier and his colleagues work closely with the East-West Institute and its International Documentation and Information Centre, which has gained fame for its who's-who and what's-what listings of left-wing activities in Europe.
The Institute's records also show close contacts with top police officials in Rhodesia and South Africa, as well as with other leaders around the world. But Crozier's biggest impact could come in the United States, despite a supposed ban on any CIA-backed propaganda within the country. Crozier himself has appeared before the Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security to testify on what he called "transnational terrorism," while the Institute has consistently worked with American counterparts on joint conferences and publications. This cooperation has expanded over the years, and finally in March 1975, the Washington Institute for the Study of Conflict held its first meeting in Washington.
For all the success, however, Crozier appears to be losing his credibility. Despite his denials, too many people now know of the CIA's role in both Forum World Features and the Institute for the Study of Conflict, and every time the story is told, Crozier allows himself to show more and more of his anger in public. And no wonder. Like so many of the CIA's covert propagandists, he had a good thing going, and he's now in danger of losing it all.
- Presumably the Pinay Cercle.