Tag Archives: anti-communism

The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #82

During President Kennedy’s Alliance for Progress in Latin America “[t]he CIA used an entire news organization, Copley News Service, as a cover for its agents,” according to investigative journalists Joseph Trento and David Roman.

“’The Agency’s involvement with the Copley organization is so extensive that it’s almost impossible to sort out,’” one CIA official said of the Agency’s relationship with the entity. Other CIA officials confirmed that James S. Copley, the news chain’s owner, was directly involved in making cover arrangements for Copley journalists to serve as CIA assets.

In the 1950s, Trento and Roman explain, Copley personally offered his news organization to President Eisenhower to perform as “the eyes and ears” against “the Communist threat in Latin and Central America” for “our intelligence services.” James Copley was also intimately involved in the InterAmerican Press Association, a CIA-backed entity with close relations to rightwing owners of South American newspapers.

Trento and Roman were among the first journalists to elaborate on CIA infiltration of news media in a 1977 article published in Penthouse magazine, “The Spies Who Came In From the Newsroom.”

Joseph J. Trento, A Secret History of the CIA, New York: Prima Publishing/Random House, 2001.

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The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #61

Airbrushed History: Unsurprisingly, the New York Times 1994 obituary of publisher Frederick A. Praeger makes no reference of the publishing house’s documented ties to the Central Intelligence Agency.

Despite the CIA’s charter forbidding it to operate within the United States, the Agency’s symbiotic relationship with virtually every facet of the media industries suggests how almost since its inception the organization allowed itself to run out of control with little-if-any suggestion of remorse. In fact, when it came to propaganda the CIA effectively “acted as its own State Department,” author Darrell Garwood argues, by allowing Agency-sponsored books to circulate in the US because they might qualify as propaganda abroad, thereby violating diplomatic agreements. One of the CIA’s most favored book publishers in the 1950s-1960s was Frederick A. Praeger Inc. Praeger, president of the company, attests that in the late 1950s the Agency financially backed “’fifteen or sixteen’” Praeger titles.

When knowledge of this arrangement became public Mr. Praeger met with the press to “’put the matter in perspective,’” arguing that the number of books published under CIA auspices was less than one percent of the overall catalog of titles published during the specified time. Although Praeger maintained that the CIA-sponsored books “’were developed according to the standards that we apply to all our books,’” he left unmentioned whether less obvious selection methods might be in play.

In the 1970s E. Howard Hunt informed the Senate Intelligence Committee “that CIA-sponsored books directed at Communist China ‘had to circulate in the United States because Praeger was a commercial US publisher … and we had a bilateral agreement with the British that we wouldn’t propagandize their people.’ This seemed to be showing a lot of admirable consideration for the British,” author Garwood notes, “but none at all for Americans.”

Darrell Garwood, Under Cover: Thirty-Five Years of CIA Deception, New York: Grove Press, 1985, 259, 260.

 

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