The famous Senate committee led by Idaho Senator Frank Church tasked to review the CIA’s internal affairs and relationships with mass media was in fact overseen by former CIA officer and Ford Foundation staffer William B. Bader. Bader proceeded to effectively censor a multitude of the committee’s most damning revelations concerning Agency-media liaisons. After his service in this regard he became an upper-echelon intelligence official at the Department of Defense and chief of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Later in his career Bader was appointed by President Clinton to be Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Bader’s assistant in the Senate committee investigation was David Aaron, who previously served in Henry Kissinger’s National Security Council and went on to become a career diplomat after being deputy to President Carter’s National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski. In the 1990s Aaron was appointed ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development by Clinton.

Former CIA official and Senate Committee censor William B. Bader

One CIA official who sought to convince committee members that the Agency’s relationship with journalists was insignificant argued that the files under examination were “filled with puffing’ by case officers,” according to investigative reporter Carl Bernstein.

“You can’t establish what is puff and what isn’t,” he claimed. Many reporters, he added, “were recruited for finite [specific] undertakings and would be appalled to find that they were listed [in Agency files] as CIA operatives.”

The same CIA officer suggested that these files included descriptions of several “‘famous'” reporters and correspondents. “The files show,'” according to this official, “‘that the CIA goes to the press for and just as often that the press comes to the CIA …There is a tacit agreement in many of these cases that there is going to be a quid pro quo’” which means the reporter in question can expect to receive important stories and information from the Agency and in exchange the CIA will obtain helpful services from the reporter.

The upshot was that the Senate committee’s inquest on the Agency’s use of journalists were purposefully suppressed “from the full membership of the committee, from the Senate and from the public,” Bernstein notes.

“There was a difference of opinion on how to treat the subject,” explained one source. “Some [senators] thought these were abuses which should be exorcized and there were those who said, ‘We don’t know if this is bad or not.’”

In fact, former CIA officer Bader’s findings on the CIA’s relationship with the media were withheld froth committee, even behind closed doors in executive session because the senators were afraid that, “[a]t the slightest sign of a leak the CIA might cut off the flow of sensitive information as it did, several times in other areas), claiming that the committee could not be trusted with secrets.” As one committee staff member pointed out, “’It was as if we were on trial—not the CIA.’”

To describe in the committee’s final report the true dimensions of the Agency’s use of journalists would cause a furor in the press and on the Senate floor. And it would result in heavy pressure on the CIA to end its use of journalists altogether. “We just weren’t ready to take that step,” said a senator.

The committee also decided “to conceal the results of the staff’s inquiry into the use of academics,” and Bader himself wrote those portions of the committee’s final report. Pages 191 to 201 of that document were entitled, “Covert Relationships with the United States Media.” “’It hardly reflects what we found,’” Senator Gary Hart stated. “’There was a prolonged and elaborate negotiation [with the CIA] over what would be said.’”

Carl Bernstein, “The CIA and the Media,” Rolling Stone, October 20, 1977.

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6 thought on “The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #95”
  1. Dr. William B. Bader, Ph.D. German History, was evidently a scholar and courageous researcher who blew the whistle on the lies of President Lyndon Johnson to get us into the Viet Nam War as this Obituary of him documents:
    William B. Bader, official who helped uncover CIA, Defense abuses, dies at 84 Quote:
    By Matt Schudel March 19, 2016 Email the author
    “William B. Bader, who held high-ranking foreign-policy positions with several federal agencies and who, as a Senate staff member, helped investigate CIA abuses and events surrounding the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, died March 15 at a care facility in Sykesville, Md. He was 84.
    He had complications from Alzheimer’s disease, said a son, Christopher Bader.
    While working for Sen. J. William Fulbright (D-Ark.) in the late 1960s, Dr. Bader was among the first people to cast doubt on the official reasons given by the Defense Department and the White House for escalating U.S. military involvement in Vietnam.
    On Aug. 4, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson went on national television to announce that the U.S. military was taking action against “repeated acts of violence” by North Vietnamese forces. According to the Defense Department, Navy ships had come under fire on two occasions in the Gulf of Tonkin off the coast of Vietnam.
    The first attack, on Aug. 2, was on the destroyer USS Maddox. Two days later, defense officials said the Maddox and a second destroyer, the USS Turner Joy, had come under automatic weapons fire and torpedo attacks. The Maddox fired hundreds of shells during the nighttime incident, and U.S. jets were dispatched from a nearby aircraft carrier.
    Johnson used the episodes as justification for the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which was passed by Congress on Aug. 7, 1964. The resolution authorized the president to “take all necessary measures” to protect U.S. interests and led to a decade-long military engagement in Vietnam that claimed about 58,000 American lives.
    Dr. Bader, a onetime naval intelligence officer who worked at the CIA and State Department early in his career, was a member of Fulbright’s staff in 1967, when he began to examine Navy documents concerning the Gulf of Tonkin incidents.
    There was no doubt that the Maddox had exchanged fire with a North Vietnamese vessel on Aug. 2, 1964. But Dr. Bader helped raise questions about the second attack, finding no evidence that it had taken place.
    Fulbright, an early critic of the Vietnam War, charged then-Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara with misrepresenting evidence about the supposed assaults. Fulbright suggested that the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution had been passed under false pretenses.
    Many documents related to the episode were not declassifed until 2005 and 2006, when the doubts voiced by Fulbright and Dr. Bader almost 40 years earlier were confirmed.
    A 2008 article in Naval History magazine, written by Navy officer Pat Paterson, concluded that “high government officials distorted facts and deceived the American public” about the Gulf of Tonkin incidents.
    One of the Navy pilots sent out from the USS Ticonderoga to attack North Vietnamese vessels was James B. Stockdale, who later became a vice admiral and the 1992 running mate of independent presidential candidate H. Ross Perot.
    In his 1984 autobiography, Stockdale was clear about what he saw: “I had the best seat in the house to watch that event and our destroyers were just shooting at phantom targets . . . there was nothing there but black water and American firepower.”
    William Banks Bader was born Sept. 8, 1931, in Atlantic City, where his grandfather had been mayor in the 1920s.
    After Dr. Bader’s father was killed in an automobile accident in 1934, the family moved to Los Angeles. Dr. Bader graduated from Pomona College in Claremont, Calif., in 1953. He then studied in Europe on a Fulbright fellowship — an international academic program sponsored by the senator he would later work for.
    He served in the Navy from 1955 to 1958, received a doctorate in history from Princeton University in 1964, then worked for the CIA and the State Department for a few years. He published a book, “Austria Between East and West,” in 1966.
    In the mid-1970s, Dr. Bader was on the staff of a Senate investigative committee led by Frank Church (D-Idaho). In that role, Dr. Bader helped expose a variety of unsavory practices by the CIA, including attempts to topple governments and assassinate foreign leaders.
    Dr. Bader later worked at the Defense Department before returning to the Senate as chief of staff of the Foreign Relations Committee from 1979 to 1981. He then spent 10 years with SRI International, a research firm and government contractor. He was president of the Eurasia Foundation in Washington from 1992 to 1995 and, over the years, lectured at many universities.
    He was an assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs from 1999 to 2001.
    Dr. Bader lived for many years in Alexandria, Va., and was a member of the Cosmos Club and Western Presbyterian Church in the District.
    His wife of 60 years, sculptor Gretta Lange Bader, died in 2014. Survivors include four children, Christopher Bader of Medford, Mass., Katharine Bader of Durham, N.C., John Bader of Kensington, Md., and Diedrich Bader of West Hollywood, Calif., an actor in the cast of the HBO series “Veep”; a brother; and six grandchildren.
    In 1998, Dr. Bader spoke at a ceremony in Fayetteville, Ark., honoring Fulbright, his onetime mentor. He recalled how the Fulbright fellowship had helped shape his life and those of countless other young people.
    “None of us had ever been out of the country,” he said. “We learned, we saw and we were changed.””
    All these government lies and shenanigans illustrate again why the secret CIA must be abolished along with all government secrecy period. Haven’t we had lies and deception long enough now? Why not try openness and honesty for a change?
    Winfield J. Abbe, Ph.D., Physics.

    1. The late Captain Chaplain Charlie Angelo Liteky, who was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Lyndon Johnson in 1970, for saving the lives of 23 of his comrades in arms, while wounded himself, in about 1966 in the Viet Nam War, was unaware at the time that this same President had lied to Congress about the fake attacks in order to get us into that phony war which killed some 58,000 unwitting victims all based on the lies of Lyndon Johnson from Texas. These facts, discovered after years of study by Liteky, led him to return his medal of Honor under then President Reagan and become a peace activist. Liteky spent two approximately one year long stints in federal prison and gave up a $600 per month pension for life in demonstrating against the government lies about Viet Nam. He carried his immense courage on the battlefield to the arena of more government lies in life and did what little he could, in a peaceful way although violating the laws of the corrupt government liars, to expose the inhuman scoundrels in the U.S. Government for what they were then and still are today up to and including Israel lover liar con artist cheater draft dodger Trump. The U.S. Government is a shameful disgrace to its citizens and the world today and almost since its inception. Lie after lie after lie has been told to duped citizens to get them embroiled in virtually every war since the Founding. The only amazing thing is this hypocrite country has not been totally obliterated from the history books yet. And ponder this fact: Liar cheater con artist former disgraced President Lyndon Johnson never spent one day in federal or any other prison although it was his lies and deception which led to the enormous suffering and cost, on both sides, of the phony fake Viet Nam War! This is “Justice” in the United States of American then and now. Nothing has changed.

  2. Here’s how I pictured the CIA could infiltrate most any NEWs organization. They spot a dynamic individual just about to finish journalism school before they even get a job offer. Then they make the student an offer no one would pass up.. I can just hear it now… “You can go to work for the CIA before you even graduate and when you do, we will help place you at the Times or the Post or NBC whatever. You won’t need to do much for your second check; once in a while you will need to slant your point of view.” Multiply this scenario out 1,001 times leading up to the first Gulf War and 10,002 times leading up to the second Gulf War. Now you see how Television News and the Papers could say balderdash like “Operation Iraqi Freedom” with a straight face and eagles flying across the screen beating the war drum so hard, you would think they had stock in Blackwater and Halliburton.

  3. typo suggestion: James… go to line five…. “to censored a multitude of the committee’s most damning revelations” should read ” to censor…”. It makes me want for an edit feature on my own comments when I spot a mistake too late. Cheers… BTW…The dark side is cock blocking you severely by burying you deep in the search parameter “the memory hole” if you don’t include the “blog” part. You come up first of 3.8 million results, but no where to be seen in 5.6 million results if you don’t put “blog” with it. I saw that when I first tried to find you

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