Tag Archives: Office of Strategic Services

The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #85

The CIA’s Office of Policy Coordination (OPC) oversaw the Agency’s various propaganda efforts and from its formation in 1947 recruited and trained US journalists as media assets while helping to establish and maintain friendly relations with news industry executives throughout the Cold War. Among OPC Director Frank Wisner’s most favored programs was covert propaganda. The former Wall Street attorney and OSS veteran famously referred to these activities as his “Wurlitzer,” after the popular organ and jukebox manufacturer.

In an effort to conceal such activities from public view certain front groups with virtuous-sounding titles were created by US diplomats Joseph C. Grew and Dewitt C. Poole, under advisement of George Kennan and then-Secretary of State Dean Acheson. In 1949 Grew and Poole established the National Committee for a Free Europe (NCFE), with Allen Dulles elected as its first president.

In the following year the NCFE formed a subsidiary for broadcasting in Europe, Radio Free Europe (RFE), with headquarters in New York and production arm in Munich. With the assistance of Franklin A. Lindsey, a CIA representative and liaison to the British, another public face for transmitting propaganda directly into the Soviet Union was established in 1951, the American Committee for Freedom for the Peoples of the USSR; its broadcast outlet became known as Radio Liberty.

John Prados, Presidents’ Secret Wars: CIA and Pentagon Covert Operations From World War II Through the Persian Gulf, Chicago: Elephant Paperbacks, 1996, 34-35.

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The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #80

The CIA’s well-known MKULTRA mind control experimentation program that began in the early 1950s. Operation MKU was partly justified by the Agency and DCI Allen Dulles through a propaganda campaign using the news media to push the false notion that communist forces were carrying out similar tests on US prisoners of war.

Indeed, the term “’brainwashing’ was coined by Edward Hunter, a CIA-employed journalist who authored many emotionally-charged books and articles on the subject,” according to authors Martin Lee and Norman Solomon. During World War II Hunter worked with the Office of Strategic Services, in propaganda operations.

When he launched his crusade to bring “the facts about brainwashing … to the people,” Hunter was working for U.S. intelligence. Popularizing the concept of brainwashing was part of his job as a CIA operative, despite U.S. Army studies which”failed to reveal even one conclusively documented case of the actual ‘brainwashing’ on an American prisoner of war in Korea.” Indeed, it appears that the communist brainwashing scare was a propaganda ploy, a kind of “brainwashing” or mind control in its own right designed to dupe the American people.

Martin A. Lee and Norman Solomon, Unreliable Sources: A Guide to Detecting Bias in News Media, New York: Carol Publishing, 1992, 118.

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