The 61

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Group.png The 61
(Intelligence agency)
Formation February 13, 1977
Founder • Brian Crozier
• Nicholas Elliott
• Vernon Walters
• Peter Tennant
Extinction 1988
Subgroups Coalition for Peace through security
Membership • Georges Albertini
• Peter Caddick-Adams
• Brian Crozier
• John Edmonds
• Nicholas Elliott
• Harry Fibbs
• Hans Graf Huyn
• Edward Leigh
• Julian Lewis
• Paul Mercer
• Robert Moss
• Richard Stilwell
• Peter Tennant
• Jean Violet
• Vernon Walters
• William Wilson
• [[..|“..”.]]
Brian Crozier's private intelligence agency, which he used to oppose the nuclear disarmament movement.

The 61 was a private "international agency", in its founders' words "created and funded to bypass the official intelligence services".[1] Brian Crozier reports that he started it with fellow Le Cercle member Nicholas Elliott and then recently retired Deputy Director of Central Intelligence General Vernon Walters together with "a leading figure in a major City of London bank", possibly Peter Tennant.[2]

Origins

The groups started after a meeting in 1977. The members agreed that this organization should be created and that it should be kept very secret to any outsiders.[2]

Funding

The group was privately funded, and aimed to raise $5 million a year, though its actual income was more like $1 million/year.[3][2] Nicholas Elliott was a major fund raiser, though it is unclear how he got the money, though some is generally reckoned to have come from the CIA.[1] The suggestion that both MI6 and the CIA funded The 61 is made by the Langemann papers, which note that "It must therefore be concluded that MI6 is fully aware of, if not indeed one of the main sponsors of" Crozier's "diverse circle of friends in international politics."

Membership

Brian Crozier reported that the group had a slight overlap with Le Cercle, but Joël van der Reijden writes that "this seems to be misleading, as many of the key individuals of Le Cercle were part of The 61, including Brian Crozier, Jean Violet, Georges Albertini, Count Huyn, and General Stilwell. Others in the know were Nicholas Elliot, Robert Moss, William Wilson, General Fraser, and probably quite a number of others."[4]

Activities

The group is known to have infiltrated Militant Tendency (a Trotskyist grouping within the Labour party) and its primary target, CND, as well as the pentagon.


We planned both to initiate secret operations in our various countries, and to coordinate the existing overt actions of the many private groups involved in the resistance to Soviet propaganda and Active Measures. At that time, we had no plans to operate as an espionage agency in the Soviet bloc countries. We felt that this was still a task that could be entrusted to our existing Intelligence services, including the CIA. Our main mission was in the field of countersubversion. Inevitably, we expected to pick up occasional items of secret intelligence. These we would pass on, at our discretion, to interested Allied agencies. We intended also to supplement the analyses made available to the American, British and other Allied governments by the official secret agencies. In many cases, these analyses would prove different. To this extent, they would provide an alternative assessment of current dangers for the special benefit of presidents and prime ministers.

Unlike existing agencies, we would not be hampered by prohibitions on functioning in our own or Allied countries. Security would be rigorously observed. In particular, the media, whatever they might guess or speculate upon, would never be told of our existence, or of the work we were doing. We would be concerned equally with home-grown subversion and the other kind. Soviet power and influence had been spreading, not only because of conscious efforts to that end by the KGB and its huge network of conscious ('witting') agents, but also spontaneously.

The prevailing ideology, among our intellectuals and media people, was heavily influenced, whether they knew it or not, by one variety or another of Marxism-Leninism. It was our job to counter this. Partly because of it, but also because the natural and commendable role of the press in a free society is to be critical of our governments, there was a tendency to give the other side (the Soviet bloc) the benefit of any doubt. There was no question, however, of interfering with freedom of the press or speech. The aim was to make alternative facts and opinions more widely available to our own leaders.

Opposing CND

The 61 also created fake "peace" groups to counter the work of CND. One such group, the Coalition for Peace Through Security, was set up by Edward Leigh (who went on to become a Thatcherite MP) and Julian Lewis (introduced to Crozier by Norris McWhirter), who became The 61's leading activist in Britain.

In Belgium, The 61 set up an organisation called Rally for Peace in Freedom, whose influence spread rapidly not only through the Belgian Parliament but into the country's schools, with the distribution of officially approved booklets on defence.

In West Germany, The 61 liaised with the Bonn Peace forum, providing posters and banners for demonstrations which warned students of "the dangers of unconditional pacifism".

In France, The 61 set up a link with the Comite Francais Contre le Neutralisme, which brought together some 75 well-known personalities from politics, the media and education.

In Britain, Julian Lewis and his cronies wrote letters to the press, hired light aircraft trailing anti-CND slogans, organised counter demonstrations and heckled Bruce Kent and other speakers at CND rallies. Anti-CND propaganda was produced in the form of booklets, pamphlets, posters and folders, such as one entitled "30 questions.. and honest answers about CND". [5]

Opposing the Labour Party

The group "fought hard to oppose Michael Foot",[6] and may some sources have connected it with the formation of the Social Democratic Party.

Brian Crozier

Closure

Joël van der Reijden reports that the group was wound up in 1988.[4]  

Related Documents

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
File:Rogue Agents (3rd edition, 2011, full).pdfWikiSpooks Page2011David TeacherA book about the activities of the covert European groupings responsible for the realisation of the European Union between the end of World War II and the mid 1990's.
File:Rogue Agents (4th edition, 2015, full).pdfbook2014David TeacherA book about the activities of the covert European groupings responsible for the realisation of the European Union between the end of World War II and the mid 1990's


References