Forum World Features

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Group.png Forum World Features Powerbase
Formation 1965
Founder Brian Crozier
Extinction July 1975
Type front
A London based CIA propaganda operation which operated as a professional news service from 1965 to 1975.

Forum World Features was a London based CIA propaganda operation which operated as a professional news service from 1965 to 1975. It was run by the anti-communist crusader, later European Chair of Le Cercle, Brian Crozier.

Origins

Forum World Features was set up in 1965. It grew out of a previous CIA funded operation called Forum Information Services, which was run by the Congress for Cultural Freedom. [1] In a 1968 report to CIA Director Richard Helms, the London station chief Cord Meyer wrote that: 'FWF was created from the residue of Forum Service, an activity of the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF), from which the CIA withdrew its support in 1966.' [2] Forum Information Services was itself the outgrowth of Information Bulletin Ltd, a Congress for Cultural Freedom operation whose 'principal director' was Walter Laqueur (who would later emerge as an important "terrorism" expert). [3]

It would appear that Forum World Features was created to shift that earlier operation after the Congress's lead magazine Encounter had come under suspicion. [4]

Forum World Features was part of a world wide CIA propaganda operation overseen by Kermit Roosevelt, the CIA agent who had engineered the overthrow of the democratic government of Iran in 1953. Roosevelt approached wealthy American families asking for money to fund CIA propaganda operations abroad, asking: 'Are you patriotic?' [5] One man who agreed was the millionaire businessman John Hay Whitney, a former U.S. Ambassador to Britain and publisher of the International Herald Tribune. He set up a CIA 'propriety' in Delaware called Kern House Enterprises. With the knowledge and co-operation of British intelligence, Kern House Enterprises established a London subsidary Kern House Enterprises Ltd. That the British operation was the sole purpose of Kern House Enterprises is clearly evidenced by the fact that the British subsidiary was based at Kern House, 61-62 Lincoln's Inn Fields. [6] The Managing Director of the company was Iain Hamilton, [7] a former editor of the British conservative weekly The Spectator.

Kern House Enterprises established Forum World Features, the full title of which was Kern House Enterprises (Forum World Features) Ltd. The Australian born journalist Brian Crozier was appointed chairman of the company. He was a fervant anti-communist who had worked for the Economist and the BBC. [8] Crozier was assisted by John Tusa - later to become head of the BBC's World Service. Tusa, who was reportedly unaware of the CIA connection, resigned after an argument over editorial policy. [9]

Crozier signalled his intention to resign from FWF in a letter to Iain Hamilton on 10 March 1966. The reason for his resignation was apparently tension between Crozier and an FWF director John Hunt, who also headed the Paris office of the Congress for Cultural Freedom. Crozier was reportedly urged to stay by four employees; John Tusa, Patricia Stonebridge, and Robert Gene Gately, who was in charge of FWF’s finances. [10]

Activities

News service

Forum World Features, was ostensibly a small commercial news service, selling weekly packets of stories to as many as 50 newspapers around the world, including at one time about thirty in the U.S. According to The Observer ‘Forum bought articles from a wide range of journalists and placed them in English language newspapers. Many of them were innocuous in order to retain the agency’s credibility as a bona fide news syndicate. But others, particularly those aimed at Asia, were heavily slanted towards support for the US cause in Vietnam’ [11] In his 1976 essay 'The CIA Makes the News', Steve Weissman writes:

...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.[12]

Brian Crozier’s good friend (and fellow member of Le Cercle) Robert Moss wrote news agency articles for FWF including an article describing Brussels as a ‘centre of subversion’ warning of ‘widespread recruiting by Trotskyite 4th International’, and an interview with the racist British politician Enoch Powell. [13]

Secret financial conduit

According to ‘intelligence sources’ consulted by The Observer FWF was also used designed as a conduit for secret payments to foreign journalists working for the CIA. [14]

Publishing

It also published a journal called Conflict Studies and established a subsidiary company called the Current Affairs Research Services Centre, said to have been a research library. In 1970 the Current Affairs Research Services Centre became the Institute for the Study of Conflict, which also took over publication of Conflict Studies.

FWF also published books with David Higham Associates acting as its literary agent. [15] According to The Guardian FWF started its publishing operation through an arrangement with the publishing house of Secker and Warburg. Secker and Warburg published three books in the ‘World Realities’ series, until the arrangement lapsed in 1969. In 1971 FWF struck up a new relationship with the publishing company of David and Charles in Newton Abbot, Devon. A contract was agreed in February 1972, and the ‘World Realities’ series was renewed. [16]

In the course of 1973-4 FWF’s publishing activities were transferred to a new company Rossiter Publications Ltd, which was originally Bridoon (Butchers) Ltd before Crozier changed its name. [17]

FWF published a book on Taiwan and negotiated money from the Taiwan government prior to the book being written. Iain Hamilton had told the Taiwan government that they would want to purchase a considerable number of copies of the book because the work would be ‘objective’. [18]

Another notable publication was Chile's Marxist Experiment by Robert Moss which was published shortly after the CIA back coup against the democratic government of Salvador Allende. The introduction to Chile's Marxist Experiment stated that Washington had nothing to do with the military coup – something later conceded by Moss. [19] The book was used extensively as an English and Spanish language propaganda tool by the mlitary government.

The Chilean ambassador in London negotiated an order of 10,000 copies of the book, double the original print run. 8,500 of those copies were to be sent directly to the Chilean Embassy in Washington and 1,500 were sent to the Chilean Embassy in London. Both Embassies made the book available free of charge as part of ‘a package of glossy Government publications defending the military junta’s record on human rights and economic development.’ The Chilean Embassy in London told The Guardian: “Mr Moss is a very good friend of ours…We give the book away because it is an objective study and it is also good for us.’ [20]

In December 1976 The Guardian reported that ‘bewildered academics in America have received as many as three copies of the book.’ [21]

A Chilean publishing house called Gabriela Mistral regime published 15,000 copies of the book. The publishing house was wholly owned by the military regime and run by a Chilean man called Thomas P. McHale. Before the coup McHale had run the books department of the Institute for General Studies in Santiago, which received 75 percent of its funding from the CIA in 1973 and according to a US Senate Committee was staffed by ‘CIA collaborators’. [22]

Moss had been involved in propaganda operations in Chile prior to the coup. On 20 March 1973 the CIA subsidised weekly SEPA aimed at Chilean military officers published a front page article by Moss carrying the headline: ‘Robert Moss. An English Recipe for Chile – military control.’ Moss was identified as a British sociologist. After the coup against Allende’s democratic government, the editor of SEPA Raphael Otero became the military regime’s official spokesperson and began distributing Moss’s book on Chile free of charge. [23]

Funding

The older CIA front group the Congress for Cultural Freedom provided an initial “surge fund” after which funding came from the CIA via Delaware based Kern House Enterprises, headed initially by John Hay Whitney. In 1966 Whitney’s charity had provided $225,000 to the Congress for Cultural Freedom. [24] In 1968 Richard Mellon Scaife agreed to replace John Hay Whitney as the head of the parent firm of Forum World Features. [25] Money to support Forum World Features's publishing activities came from the National Strategy Information Center in New York. [26] The accounts for FWF in 1972 noted that if the Kern House subsidy was withdrawn “it would seriously damage our financial viability.” [27]

Although organised and indirectly funded by the CIA, it was clearly the intention that FWF would develop into a commercially viable operation so as to maintain cover as a propaganda operation. On 19 March 1966 Crozier wrote to Michael Josselson of the Congress for Cultural Freedom stating his opinion that: ‘the path of wisdom lies in consolidating the professional and commercial standing of the organisation before using it to any degree for other purposes.’ [28]

Forum World Features exposed

Steve Weissman's 1976 essay 'The CIA makes the News' provides a contemporary viewpoint on the exposure of this operation. For Weisman the first inkling about Crozier emerged in April 1975, when a team of British journalists from the TV series World in Action went to Washington to do a story on the CIA. The team uncovered a 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 — which proved to be authentic — also mentioned in a handwritten note that Forum was "run with the knowledge and cooperation of British Intelligence". 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 beyond. [29]

According to The Observer FWF ‘closed abruptly' in July 1975, six months before the Congressional hearings into the CIA propaganda operations were due to begin. [30]

Resources

References

  1. ‘Crozier replies to Guardian’, The Guardian, 31 Dec 1976
  2. Fred Landis, 'Georgetown's Ivory Tower for Old Spooks', Inquiry, 30 September 1979
  3. Fred Landis, 'Georgetown's Ivory Tower for Old Spooks', Inquiry, 30 September 1979
  4. Steve Weissman, 'The CIA Makes the News', in Philip Agee and Louis Wolf (Eds.) Dirty Work: C.I.A. in Western Europe (New York: Dorset Press, 1978) p.206
  5. Brian Freemantle, CIA: The Honourable Company (London: Michael Joseph, 1983) p.189
  6. Brian Freemantle, CIA: The Honourable Company (London: Michael Joseph, 1983) p.189
  7. Brian Freemantle, CIA: The Honourable Company (London: Michael Joseph, 1983) p.189
  8. ‘CROZIER, Brian Rossiter’, Who's Who 2009, A & C Black, 2008; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2008
  9. Richard Norton-Taylor, 'With the right on his side', The Guardian, 4 August 1993
  10. ‘Crozier replies to Guardian’, The Guardian, 31 Dec 1976
  11. Ian Mather, ‘Secret Service story led to deport’, The Observer, 21 November 1976, p.1
  12. Steve Weissman, 'The CIA Makes the News', in Philip Agee and Louis Wolf (Eds.) Dirty Work: C.I.A. in Western Europe (New York: Dorset Press, 1978) p.206
  13. ‘Only the views we want you to read’, The Guardian, 20 December 1976
  14. Ian Mather, ‘Secret Service story led to deport’, The Observer, 21 November 1976, p.1
  15. ’Only the views we want you to read’, The Guardian, 20 December 1976
  16. ’Only the views we want you to read’, The Guardian, 20 December 1976
  17. ‘Crozier replies to Guardian’, The Guardian, 31 Dec 1976
  18. ’Only the views we want you to read’, The Guardian, 20 December 1976
  19. ‘Only the views we want you to read’, The Guardian, 20 December 1976
  20. Peter Chippindale and Martin Walker, ‘Tory's book funded by CIA’, The Guardian, 20 December 1976, p.1
  21. ‘Only the views we want you to read’, The Guardian, 20 December 1976
  22. ‘Only the views we want you to read’, The Guardian, 20 December 1976
  23. ‘Only the views we want you to read’, The Guardian, 20 December 1976
  24. ‘Crozier replies to Guardian’, The Guardian, 31 Dec 1976
  25. Ira Chinoy and Robert G. Kaiser, 'Decades of Contributions to Conservatism', Washington Post, 2 May 1999
  26. Brian Freemantle, CIA: The Honourable Company (London: Michael Joseph, 1983) p.190
  27. ’Only the views we want you to read’, The Guardian, 20 December 1976
  28. ‘Crozier replies to Guardian’, The Guardian, 31 Dec 1976
  29. Steve Weissman, 'The CIA Makes the News', in Philip Agee and Louis Wolf (Eds.) Dirty Work: C.I.A. in Western Europe (New York: Dorset Press, 1978) p.205-6
  30. Ian Mather, ‘Secret Service story led to deport’, The Observer, 21 November 1976, p.1