The Depraved Spies and
of the CIA's Operation MOCKINGBIRD
by Alex Constantine
Who Controls the Media?
Soulless corporations do, of course. Corporations with grinning, double-breasted executives, interlocking directorates, labor squabbles and flying capital. Dow. General Electric. Coca-Cola. Disney. Newspapers should have mastheads that mirror the world: The Westinghouse Evening Scimitar, The Atlantic-Richfield Intelligentser . It is beginning to dawn on a growing number of armchair ombudsmen that the public print reports news from a parallel universe - one that has never heard of politically-motivated assassinations, CIA-Mafia banking thefts, mind control, death squads or even federal agencies with secret budgets fattened by cocaine sales - a place overrun by lone gunmen, where the CIA and Mafia are usually on their best behavior. In this idyllic land, the most serious infraction an official can commit is the employment of a domestic servant with (shudder) no residency status.
This unlikely land of enchantment is the creation of MOCKINGBIRD.
It was conceived in the late 1940s, the most frigid period of the cold war, when the CIA began a systematic infiltration of the corporate media, a process that often included direct takeover of major news outlets.
In this period, the American
intelligence services competed with communist activists abroad to influence
European labor unions. With or without the
cooperation of local governments, Frank Wisner, an undercover State
Department official assigned to the Foreign Service, rounded up students abroad
to enter the cold war underground of covert operations on behalf of his Office
of Policy Coordination. Philip Graham, a graduate of the
"By the early 1950s," writes former Village Voice reporter Deborah Davis in Katharine the Great, "Wisner 'owned' respected members of the New York Times, Newsweek, CBS and other communications vehicles, plus stringers, four to six hundred in all, according to a former CIA analyst." The network was overseen by Allen Dulles, a templar for German and American corporations who wanted their points of view represented in the public print. Early MOCKINGBIRD influenced 25 newspapers and wire agencies consenting to act as organs of CIA propaganda. Many of these were already run by men with reactionary views, among them William Paley (CBS), C.D. Jackson (Fortune), Henry Luce (Time) and Arthur Hays Sulzberger (N.Y. Times).
Activists curious about the workings of MOCKINGBIRD have since been appalled to find in FOIA documents that agents boasting in CIA office memos of their pride in having placed "important assets" inside every major news publication in the country. It was not until 1982 that the Agency openly admitted that reporters on the CIA payroll have acted as case officers to agents in the field.
"World War III has begun," Henry's Luce's Life declared in March, 1947. "It is in the opening skirmish stage already." The issue featured an excerpt of a book by James Burnham, who called for the creation of an "American Empire," "world-dominating in political power, set up at least in part through coercion (probably including war, but certainly the threat of war) and in which one group of people ... would hold more than its equal share of power."
George Seldes, the famed anti-fascist media critic, drew down on Luce in 1947, explaining that "although avoiding typical Hitlerian phrases, the same doctrine of a superior people taking over the world and ruling it, began to appear in the press, whereas the organs of Wall Street were much more honest in favoring a doctrine inevitably leading to war if it brought greater commercial markets under the American flag."
On the domestic front, an abiding relationship was struck between the CIA and William Paley, a wartime colonel and the founder of CBS. A firm believer in "all forms of propaganda" to foster loyalty to the Pentagon, Paley hired CIA agents to work undercover at the behest of his close friend, the busy grey eminence of the nation's media, Allen Dulles. Paley's designated go-between in his dealings with the CIA was Sig Mickelson, president of CBS News from 1954 to 1961.
The CIA's assimilation of old guard fascists was overseen by the Operations Coordination Board, directed by C.D. Jackson, formerly an executive of Time magazine and Eisenhower's Special Assistant for Cold War Strategy. In 1954 he was succeeded by Nelson Rockefeller, who quit a year later, disgusted at the administration's political infighting. Vice President Nixon succeeded Rockefeller as the key cold war strategist.
"Nixon," writes John Loftus,
a former attorney for the Justice Department's Office of Special
Investigations, took "a small boy's delight in the arcane tools of the
intelligence craft - the hidden microphones, the 'black' propaganda."
Nixon especially enjoyed his visit to a
One of the fugitives recruited by the American intelligence underground was heroin smuggler Hubert von Blücher, the son of a German ambassador. Hubert often bragged that that he was trained by the Abwehr, the German military intelligence division, while still a civilian in his twenties. He served in a recon unit of the German Army until forced out for medical reasons in 1944, according to his wartime records. He worked briefly as an assistant director for Berlin-Film on a movie entitled One Day ..., and finished out the war flying with the Luftwaffe, but not to engage the enemy - his mission was the smuggling of Nazi loot out of the country. His exploits were, in part, the subject of Sayer and Botting's Nazi Gold, an account of the knockover of the Reichsbank at the end of the war.
In 1948 he
flew the coop to
In 1951, Hubert migrated northward and
took a job at the Color Corporation of
Not really. Two the biggest financiers to stumble from the drunken dreams of world-moving affluence were, in their time, Moses Annenberg, publisher of The Philadelphia Inquirer, and his son Walter , the CIA/mob-anchored publisher of the TV Guide. Like most American high-rollers, Annenberg lived a double life. Moses, his father, was a scion of the Capone mob. Both Moses and Walter were indicted in 1939 for tax evasions totalling many millions of dollars - the biggest case in the history of the Justice Department. Moses pled guilty and agreed to pay the government $8 million and settle $9 million in assorted tax claims, penalties and interest debts. Moses received a three-year sentence. He died in Lewisburg Penitentiary.
the TV Guide magnate, was a lofty Republican. On the campaign trail in April, 1988, George Bush flew into
The commercialization of television,
coinciding with Reagan's recruitment by the Crusade for Freedom, a CIA
front, presented the intelligence world with unprecedented potential for sowing
propaganda and even prying in the age of Big Brother. George Orwell glimpsed
the possibilities when he installed omniscient video surveillance technology in
1948, a novel rechristened 1984 for the first edition published in the
Hale Boggs was investigating Operation Octopus at the time of his disappearance in the midst of the Watergate probe.
In 1952, at MCA, Actors'
Guild president Ronald Reagan - a screen idol recruited by MOCKINGBIRD's Crusade for Freedom to raise funds for the
resettlement of Nazis in the
No one ever turned a suspicious eye on Walter
Cronkite, a former intelligence officer and in the immediate postwar period UPI's
Another television conglomerate, Cap
Cities, rose like a horror-film simian from CIA and Mafia heroin
operations. Among other organized-crime Republicans, Thomas Dewey and
his neighbor Lowell Thomas threw in to launch
the infamous Resorts International, the corporate front for Lansky's
branch of the federally-sponsored mob family and the
corporate precursor to Cap Cities. Another of the investors was James Crosby,
a Cap Cities executive who donated $100,000 to Nixon's 1968 presidential
campaign. This was the year that Resorts bought into
In 1954, this same circle of investors,
all Catholics, founded the broadcasting company notorious for overt
propagandizing and general spookiness. The company's chief counsel was
"Black radio" was the phrase CIA critic David Wise coined in The Invisible Government to describe the agency's intertwining interests in the emergence of the transistor radio with the entrepreneurs who took to the airwaves. "Daily, East and West beam hundreds of propaganda broadcasts at each other in an unrelenting babble of competition for the minds of their listeners. The low-price transistor has given the hidden war a new importance," enthused one foreign correspondent.
A Hydra of private foundations sprang
up to finance the propaganda push. One of them, Operations and Policy
Research, Inc. (OPR), received hundreds of
thousands of dollars from the CIA through private foundations and trusts. OPR research was the basis of a television series that
In the 1950s, outlays for global propaganda climbed to a full third of the CIA's covert operations budget. Some 3, 000 salaried and contract CIA employees were eventually engaged in propaganda efforts. The cost of disinforming the world cost American taxpayers an estimated $265 million a year by 1978, a budget larger than the combined expenditures of Reuters, UPI and the AP news syndicates.
In 1977, the Copely News Service admitted that it worked closely with the intelligence services - in fact, 23 employees were full-time employees of the Agency.
Most consumers of the corporate media
were - and are - unaware of the effect that the salting of public opinion has
on their own beliefs. A network anchorman in time of
national crisis is an instrument of psychological warfare in the MOCKINGBIRD
media. He is a creature from the national security sector's chamber of horrors.
For this reason consumers of the corporate press have
reason to examine their basic beliefs about government and life in the parallel
universe of these