Haakon Lie

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Person.png Haakon Lie  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(spook, politician)
Haakon Lie.jpg
Born22 September 1905
Died25 May 2009 (Age 103)
Interest ofBjarne Braatoy
powerful party secretary for the Norwegian Labour Party from 1945 to 1969. A CIA collaborator, he was the most prominent organizer of McCarthyism in the 1950s, and set up an extensive surveillance apparatus in the Labour movement and unions.

Employment.png Norwegian Labour Party/Party Secretary

In office
1945 - 1969
Succeeded byRonald Bye
Cold warrior who purged the labour movement in collaboration with the CIA

Haakon Lie (pronounced Lee) was a Norwegian politician who was party secretary for the Norwegian Labour Party from 1945 to 1969. A CIA collaborator, he was the most prominent organizer of McCarthyism in the 1950s, and set up an extensive surveillance apparatus in the Labour movement and unions.


Lie was known for his harsh language and ruthless methods. Accusations of being a "danger to democracy", "fifth colonists" and "unreliable citizens"[1] Enemies were to be "cracked like a louse".


Haakon Lie led the Cold War drive against communists influence in the labour movement. He was an ardent supporter of NATO, and was eager for Norway to continue to maintain close military ties with the United Kingdom and the United States. He gave strong support to Israel from its creation in 1948, and arranged for supplies to the Israeli nuclear weapons program.

He wanted US nuclear weapons stationed in Norway, and later strongly supported the war in Vietnam.

Arranging for the birth of Mossad

Together with fellow Labour Party leaders Trygve Bratteli and Martin Tranmæl, and Jens Chr. Hauge, Lie made possible training camps on Norwegian soil for what later became the Isreali spy service Mossad. During the summer of 1948, the Haganah, under cover of a Norwegian-Jewish Youth Organization, arranged a military training camp in Skui, near Oslo. Many of the participants came from displaced persons camps abroad. The weapons and supplies were borrowed from the Norwegian army. The training was not only to get recruits for the Israeli army, but aimed at trainging young Jews for "special missions", and became the core of the new Mossad. [2]

Israel Krupp, who later was involved in the Lillehammer assassination of Ahmed Bouchikhi in 1974, was also present at the camp.

This "birth help" might explain the unusually close relations between the Israeli and Norwegian Labour Movements.

Early life

A party member since 1921, in 1929, Haakon Lie was employed as secretary at the Labour Party's party office, with information work as his main responsibility. In the 1930s, he was one of the most active men in party work, but formally remained an ordinary party worker without a place in either the central government, the national government or elected bodies.

Much as a result of his own visits to Spain, Germany and the Soviet Union, Haakon Lie became increasingly preoccupied with foreign and security policy in the latter half of the 1930s.

This perception was further strengthened by his activities during the Winter War in Finland. When the war broke out on November 30, 1939, he was already in place in Finland on December on behalf of the newly started paramilitary aid organization Norwegian People's Aid. Once again, he became a frontrunner in a giant fundraiser for food, clothing, medicine and sanitation.

World War 2

After the German occupying authority in Norway started cracking down harder on opposition in 1941, Lie had to flee the country. From Sweden he made his way to the United Kingdom, where he worked as a propaganda secretary for the exiled Norwegian labour movement in London.

He made two visits to the United States to gather support and financial aid, the first time he went from New York City to Seattle where he held a series of lectures and radio-interviews before he travelled through Canada from the west- to the east coast. He made contact with the American trade union movement, especially the connection with the Jewish Labor Committee because it became an important door opener and link to the major unions AFL and CIO. In this way, for example, he made contact with Walter Reuther, who was the powerful leader of the car workers' union. Such contacts between US and foreign labour union leaders were later a very useful entry method for the CIA in the Cold War battle to control and tame the international labour movement.[3]

Back in London in 1943, Haakon Lie took an active part in the government's planning for the post-war period.

The second trip to the US was as a labour attaché with diplomatic status.

In the United States, he was recruited by the intelligence organization OSS [4], the predecessor of the CIA.

Israeli nuclear weapons

Full article: Israel/Samson Option

Lie was close to Israel and the Israeli Labor Party through his personal friend David Ben-Gurion, the country's first Prime minister, and directly contributed to the realization of the Israeli nuclear weapons program by selling 20 tonnes of heavy water to Israel in the late 1950s.

Personal Life

Lie was married twice – first in 1929 to Ragnhild Halvorsen, a companion from the labour youth movement. They divorced in 1951 because when he was in America he met Minnie Dockterman, who would be his future wife.[5]


Even since the 1940s, accusations of Lie being a CIA agent were frequently voiced by his opponents.

In 1988, a dozen declassified documents from the National Archive in Washington revealed that Haakon Lie was the person who worked as the central Norwegian rapporteur for the American embassy at the time. On October 28, 1948, Party Secretary Lie reported directly to First Secretary Parsons at the US Embassy in Oslo about the upcoming election and the ongoing Herøya strike.[6]

Declassified American documents from 2009 revealed that Lie was a long standing agent of influence for the CIA, giving the Americans classified materials and coordingating in political activities Lie worried the CIA connection might become known. His CIA handler wrote that Lie stressed "the information channel must remain between him and me".[7].

When the state broadcaster NRK wanted an answer from Lie about "a poorly hidden secret", that Haakon Lie's name was linked to the post-war structure of the Labour press (a chain of several dozen daily newspapers), with help from a front company linked to the CIA, he told the journalist to "go to hell".[8]

In his retirement, he spent part of the year at his "cabin" in Florida, which might have been a way to use US currency that couldn't be declared in Norway. Officially, the "cabin" was bought with money inherited from his American wife's father, who was a New York dock worker.

Break with former friends

In the decades after WW2, Lie worked closely with PM Einar Gerhardsen to align Norway in the transatlantic system and push out communist and left-wing influence in the Labour movement.

But over the decades, Gerhardsen, who tried to keep a softer image, had grown more and more frustrated at Lie's hard-line tactics against communists and perceived Soviet sympathisers, as well as his attempts to stifle foreign policy debate within the Labour Party's Central Committee. Lie on his part grew embittered over what he perceived was the Gerhardsen-couple protecting key leftists, such as Trygve Bull. According to Bull, Lie and Gerhardsen hardly spoke to each other after 1957.

At the national party convention of 1967, Gerhardsen openly attacked Lie, to which Lie reportedly responded by threatening to "break" Gerhardsen "like a louse" ("Jeg skal knekke deg som en lus").

Lie resigned as party secretary in 1969, and Gerhardsen retired from active politics the same year. It was not until 1985, at the behest of former defence minister Jens Chr. Hauge, that the pair officially reconciled.

Foreign Aid

In 1952, Lie took the initiative for a Norwegian development aid program to poor countries, partially given impetus by a US-led Cold War need for global influence[citation needed].


A Quote by Haakon Lie

Norwegian Labour Party“The Labour Party is no damn Sunday school.”1975


Event Participated in

Congress for Cultural Freedom/Founding Conference26 June 195029 June 1950Founded the Congress for Cultural Freedom. The participants had a "a culpable incuriosity about funding" of the luxurious conference, which was later exposed as CIA money.
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