TBR News January 20, 2014

Jan 20 2014

The Voice of the White House



            Washington, D.C. January 20, 2014: “Aside from citizens who are denizens of clinics and life on pills, most Americans pay little or no attention to the print and television media. These entities have long ago sold out to politicians and business interests and publish, or air, only what what they are to to. If anyone doubt tis, look at the Guardian or Novosti websittes and compare their contents to the front pages of the New York Times or the Washington Post. And the waffling in the White House over the NSA mass snoopings is not difficult to understand when it is realized that these wholesale spying ventures are not to catch “terrorists” but to pinpoint potential resistance on the one hand and to spy on potential enemies of the Administration. Also, one group of American businessmen, with proper connections, can steal the business secrets of their rivals without a problem.”





How Americas Most Powerful News Media Worked Hand in Glove with the Central Intelligence Agency and Why the Church Committee Covered It Up


by Carl Bernstein 



In 1953, Joseph Alsop, then one of America’s leading syndicated columnists, went to the Philippines to cover an election. He did not go because he was asked to do so by his syndicate. He did not go because he was asked to do so by the newspapers that printed his column. He went at the request of the CIA.


Alsop is one of more than 400 American journalists who in the past twenty-five years have secretly carried out assignments for the Central Intelligence Agency, according to documents on file at CIA headquarters. Some of these journalists’ relationships with the Agency were tacit; some were explicit. There was cooperation, accommodation and overlap. Journalists provided a full range of clandestine services—from simple intelligence gathering to serving as go-betweens with spies in Communist countries. Reporters shared their notebooks with the CIA. Editors shared their staffs. Some of the journalists were Pulitzer Prize winners, distinguished reporters who considered themselves ambassadors without-portfolio for their country. Most were less exalted: foreign correspondents who found that their association with the Agency helped their work; stringers and freelancers who were as interested in the derring-do of the spy business as in filing articles; and, the smallest category, full-time CIA employees masquerading as journalists abroad. In many instances, CIA documents show, journalists were engaged to perform tasks for the CIA with the consent of the managements of America’s leading news organizations.


The history of the CIA’s involvement with the American press continues to be shrouded by an official policy of obfuscation and deception for the following principal reasons:


– The use of journalists has been among the most productive means of intelligence-gathering employed by the CIA. Although the Agency has cut back sharply on the use of reporters since 1973 primarily as a result of pressure from the media), some journalist‑operatives are still posted abroad.


– Further investigation into the matter, CIA officials say, would inevitably reveal a series of embarrassing relationships in the 1950s and 1960s with some of the most powerful organizations and individuals in American journalism.


Among the executives who lent their cooperation to the Agency were Williarn Paley of the Columbia Broadcasting System, Henry Luce of Tirne Inc., Arthur Hays Sulzberger of the New York Times, Barry Bingham Sr. of the LouisviIle Courier Journal, and James Copley of the Copley News Service. Other organizations which cooperated with the CIA include the American Broadcasting Company, the National Broadcasting Company, the Associated Press, United Press International, Reuters, Hearst Newspapers, Scripps-Howard, Newsweek magazine, the Mutual Broadcasting System, the Miami Herald and the old Saturday Evening Post and New York Herald Tribune.


By far the most valuable of these associations, according to CIA officials, have been with the New York Times, CBS and Time Inc.


The CIA’s use of the American news media has been much more extensive than Agency officials have acknowledged publicly or in closed sessions with members of Congress. The general outlines of what happened are indisputable; the specifics are harder to come by. CIA sources hint that a particular journalist was trafficking all over Eastern Europe for the Agency; the journalist says no, he just had lunch with the station chief. CIA sources say flatly that a well-known ABC correspondent worked for the Agency through 1973; they refuse to identify him. A high-level CIA official with a prodigious memory says that the New York Times provided cover for about ten CIA operatives between 1950 and 1966; he does not know who they were, or who in the newspaper’s management made the arrangements.


The Agency’s special relationships with the so-called “majors” in publishing and broadcasting enabled the CIA to post some of its most valuable operatives abroad without exposure for more than two decades. In most instances, Agency files show, officials at the highest levels of the CIA usually director or deputy director) dealt personally with a single designated individual in the top management of the cooperating news organization. The aid furnished often took two forms: providing jobs and credentials “journalistic cover” in Agency parlance) for CIA operatives about to be posted in foreign capitals; and lending the Agency the undercover services of reporters already on staff, including some of the best-known correspondents in the business.


In the field, journalists were used to help recruit and handle foreigners as agents; to acquire and evaluate information, and to plant false information with officials of foreign governments. Many signed secrecy agreements, pledging never to divulge anything about their dealings with the Agency; some signed employment contracts., some were assigned case officers and treated with. unusual deference. Others had less structured relationships with the Agency, even though they performed similar tasks: they were briefed by CIA personnel before trips abroad, debriefed afterward, and used as intermediaries with foreign agents. Appropriately, the CIA uses the term “reporting” to describe much of what cooperating journalists did for the Agency. “We would ask them, ‘Will you do us a favor?’”.said a senior CIA official. “‘We understand you’re going to be in Yugoslavia. Have they paved all the streets? Where did you see planes? Were there any signs of military presence? How many Soviets did you see? If you happen to meet a Soviet, get his name and spell it right …. Can you set up a meeting for is? Or relay a message?’” Many CIA officials regarded these helpful journalists as operatives; the journalists tended to see themselves as trusted friends of the Agency who performed occasional favors—usually without pay—in the national interest.


“I’m proud they asked me and proud to have done it,” said Joseph Alsop who, like his late brother, columnist Stewart Alsop, undertook clandestine tasks for the Agency. “The notion that a newspaperman doesn’t have a duty to his country is perfect balls.”


From the Agency’s perspective, there is nothing untoward in such relationships, and any ethical questions are a matter for the journalistic profession to resolve, not the intelligence community. As Stuart Loory, former Los Angeles Times correspondent, has written in the Columbia Journalism Review: ‘If even one American overseas carrying a press card is a paid informer for the CIA, then all Americans with those credentials are suspect …. If the crisis of confidence faced by the news business—along with the government—is to be overcome, journalists must be willing to focus on themselves the same spotlight they so relentlessly train on others!’ But as Loory also noted: “When it was reported… that newsmen themselves were on the payroll of the CIA, the story caused a brief stir, and then was dropped.”


During the 1976 investigation of the CIA by the Senate Intelligence Committee, chaired by Senator Frank Church, the dimensions of the Agency’s involvement with the press became apparent to several members of the panel, as well as to two or three investigators on the staff. But top officials of the CIA, including former directors William Colby and George Bush, persuaded the committee to restrict its inquiry into the matter and to deliberately misrepresent the actual scope of the activities in its final report. The multivolurne report contains nine pages in which the use of journalists is discussed in deliberately vague and sometimes misleading terms. It makes no mention of the actual number of journalists who undertook covert tasks for the CIA. Nor does it adequately describe the role played by newspaper and broadcast executives in cooperating with the Agency.


THE AGENCY’S DEALINGS WITH THE PRESS BEGAN during the earliest stages of the Cold War. Allen Dulles, who became director of the CIA in 1953, sought to establish a recruiting-and-cover capability within America’s most prestigious journalistic institutions. By operating under the guise of accredited news correspondents, Dulles believed, CIA operatives abroad would be accorded a degree of access and freedom of movement unobtainable under almost any other type of cover.


American publishers, like so many other corporate and institutional leaders at the time, were willing to commit the resources of their companies to the struggle against “global Communism.” Accordingly, the traditional line separating the American press corps and government was often indistinguishable: rarely was a news agency used to provide cover for CIA operatives abroad without the knowledge and consent of either its principal owner, publisher or senior editor. Thus, contrary to the notion that the CIA insidiously infiltrated the journalistic community, there is ample evidence that America’s leading publishers and news executives allowed themselves and their organizations to become handmaidens to the intelligence services. “Let’s not pick on some poor reporters, for God’s sake,” William Colby exclaimed at one point to the Church committee’s investigators. “Let’s go to the managements. They were witting.”  In all, about twenty-five news organizations including those listed at the beginning of this article) provided cover for the Agency.


In addition to cover capability, Dulles initiated a “debriefing” procedure under which American correspondents returning from abroad routinely emptied their notebooks and offered their impressions to Agency personnel. Such arrangements, continued by Dulles’ successors, to the present day, were made with literally dozens of news organizations. In the 1950s, it was not uncommon for returning reporters to be met at the ship by CIA officers. “There would be these guys from the CIA flashing ID cards and looking like they belonged at the Yale Club,” said Hugh Morrow, a former Saturday Evening Post correspondent who is now press secretary to former vice-president Nelson Rockefeller. “It got to be so routine that you felt a little miffed if you weren’t asked.”


CIA officials almost always refuse to divulge the names of journalists who have cooperated with the Agency. They say it would be unfair to judge these individuals in a context different from the one that spawned the relationships in the first place. “There was a time when it wasn’t considered a crime to serve your government,” said one high-level CIA official who makes no secret of his bitterness. “This all has to be considered in the context of the morality of the times, rather than against latter‑day standards—and hypocritical standards at that.”


Many journalists who covered World War II were close to people in the Office of Strategic Services, the wartime predecessor of the CIA; more important, they were all on the same side. When the war ended and many OSS officials went into the CIA, it was only natural that these relationships would continue. Meanwhile, the first postwar generation of journalists entered the profession; they shared the same political and professional values as their mentors. “You had a gang of people who worked together during World War II and never got over it,” said one Agency official. “They were genuinely motivated and highly susceptible to intrigue and being on the inside. Then in the Fifties and Sixties there was a national consensus about a national threat. The Vietnam War tore everything to pieces—shredded the consensus and threw it in the air.” Another Agency official observed: “Many journalists didn’t give a second thought to associating with the Agency. But there was a point when the ethical issues which most people had submerged finally surfaced. Today, a lot of these guys vehemently deny that they had any relationship with the Agency.”


From the outset, the use of journalists was among the CIA’s most sensitive undertakings, with full knowledge restricted to the Director of Central Intelligence and a few of his chosen deputies. Dulles and his successors were fearful of what would happen if a journalist-operative’s cover was blown, or if details of the Agency’s dealings with the press otherwise became public. As a result, contacts with the heads of news  organizations were normally initiated by Dulles and succeeding Directors of Central Intelligence; by the deputy directors and division chiefs in charge of covert operations—Frank Wisner, Cord Meyer Jr., Richard Bissell, Desmond FitzGerald, Tracy Barnes, Thomas Karamessines and Richard Helms himself a former UPI correspondent); and, occasionally, by others in the CIA hierarchy known to have an unusually close social relationship with a particular publisher or broadcast executive.1


James Angleton, who was recently removed as the Agency’s head of counterintelligence operations, ran a completely independent group of journalist‑operatives who performed sensitive and frequently dangerous assignments; little is known about this group for the simple reason that Angleton deliberately kept only the vaguest of files.


The CIA even ran a formal training program in the 1950s to teach its agents to be journalists. Intelligence officers were “taught to make noises like reporters,” explained a high CIA official, and were then placed in major news organizations with help from management. “These were the guys who went through the ranks and were told ‘You’re going to he a journalist,’” the CIA official said. Relatively few of the 400‑some relationships described in Agency files followed that pattern, however; most involved persons who were already bona fide journalists when they began undertaking tasks for the Agency.


The Agency’s relationships with journalists, as described in CIA files, include the following general categories:


– Legitimate, accredited staff members of news organizations—usually reporters. Some were paid; some worked for the Agency on a purely voluntary basis. This group includes many of the best-known journalists who carried out tasks for the CIA. The files show that the salaries paid to reporters by newspaper and broadcast networks were sometimes supplemented by nominal payments from the CIA, either in the form of retainers, travel expenses or outlays for specific services performed.  Almost all the payments were made in cash. The accredited category also includes photographers, administrative personnel of foreign news bureaus and members of broadcast technical crews.)


Two of the Agency’s most valuable personal relationships in the 1960s, according to CIA officials, were with reporters who covered Latin America—Jerry O’Leary of the Washington Star and Hal Hendrix of the Miami News, a Pulitzer Prize winner who became a high official of the International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation. Hendrix was extremely helpful to the Agency in providing information about individuals in Miami’s Cuban exile community. O’Leary was considered a valued asset in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Agency files contain lengthy reports of both men’s activities on behalf of the CIA.


O’Leary maintains that his dealings were limited to the normal give-and-take that goes on between reporters abroad and their sources. CIA officials dispute the contention: “There’s no question Jerry reported for us,” said one. “Jerry did assessing and spotting [of prospective agents] but he was better as a reporter for us.” Referring to O’Leary’s denials, the official added: “I don’t know what in the world he’s worried about unless he’s wearing that mantle of integrity the Senate put on you journalists.”


O’Leary attributes the difference of opinion to semantics. “I might call them up and say something like, ‘Papa Doc has the clap, did you know that?’ and they’d put it in the file. I don’t consider that reporting for them…. it’s useful to be friendly to them and, generally, I felt friendly to them. But I think they were more helpful to me than I was to them.” O’Leary took particular exception to being described in the same context as Hendrix. “Hal was really doing work for them,” said O’Leary. “I’m still with the Star. He ended up at ITT.” Hendrix could not be reached for comment. According to Agency officials, neither Hendrix nor O’Leary was paid by the CIA.


– Stringers2 and freelancers. Most were payrolled by the Agency under standard contractual terms. Their journalistic credentials were often supplied by cooperating news organizations. some filed news stories; others reported only for the CIA. On some occasions, news organizations were not informed by the CIA that their stringers were also working for the Agency.


– Employees of so-called CIA “proprietaries.” During the past twenty‑five years, the Agency has secretly bankrolled numerous foreign press services, periodicals and newspapers—both English and foreign language—which provided excellent cover for CIA operatives. One such publication was the Rome Daily American, forty percent of which was owned by the CIA until the 1970s. The Daily American went out of business this year,


– Editors, publishers and broadcast network executives. The CIAs relationship with most news executives differed fundamentally from those with working reporters and stringers, who were much more subject to direction from the Agency. A few executives—Arthur Hays Sulzberger of the New York Times among them—signed secrecy agreements. But such formal understandings were rare: relationships between Agency officials and media executives were usually social—”The P and Q Street axis in Georgetown,” said one source. “You don’t tell Wilharn Paley to sign a piece of paper saying he won’t fink.”


-Columnists and commentators. There are perhaps a dozen well known columnists and broadcast commentators whose relationships with the CIA go far beyond those normally maintained between reporters and their sources. They are referred to at the Agency as “known assets” and can be counted on to perform a variety of undercover tasks; they are considered receptive to the Agency’s point of view on various subjects. Three of the most widely read columnists who maintained such ties with the Agency are C.L. Sulzberger of the New York Times, Joseph Alsop, and the late Stewart Alsop, whose column appeared in the New York Herald-Tribune, the Saturday Evening Post and Newsweek. CIA files contain reports of specific tasks all three undertook. Sulzberger is still regarded as an active asset by the Agency. According to a senior CIA official, “Young Cy Sulzberger had some uses…. He signed a secrecy agreement because we gave him classified information…. There was sharing, give and take. We’d say, ‘Wed like to know this; if we tell you this will it help you get access to so-and-so?’ Because of his access in Europe he had an Open Sesame. We’d ask him to just report: ‘What did so-and-so say, what did he look like, is he healthy?’ He was very eager, he loved to cooperate.” On one occasion, according to several CIA officials, Sulzberger was given a briefing paper by the Agency which ran almost verbatim under the columnist’s byline in the Times. “Cy came out and said, ‘I’m thinking of doing a piece, can you give me some background?’” a CIA officer said. “We gave it to Cy as a background piece and Cy gave it to the printers and put his name on it.” Sulzberger denies that any incident occurred. “A lot of baloney,” he said.


Sulzberger claims that he was never formally “tasked” by the Agency and that he “would never get caught near the spook business. My relations were totally informal—I had a goodmany friends,” he said. “I’m sure they consider me an asset. They can ask me questions. They find out you’re going to Slobovia and they say, ‘Can we talk to you when you get back?’ … Or they’ll want to know if the head of the Ruritanian government is suffering from psoriasis. But I never took an assignment from one of those guys…. I’ve known Wisner well, and Helms and even McCone [former CIA director John McCone] I used to play golf with. But they’d have had to he awfully subtle to have used me.


Sulzberger says he was asked to sign the secrecy agreement in the 1950s. “A guy came around and said, ‘You are a responsible newsman and we need you to sign this if we are going to show you anything classified.’ I said I didn’t want to get entangled and told them, ‘Go to my uncle [Arthur Hays Sulzberger, then publisher of the New York Times] and if he says to sign it I will.’” His uncle subsequently signed such an agreement, Sulzberger said, and he thinks he did too, though he is unsure. “I don’t know, twenty-some years is a long time.” He described the whole question as “a bubble in a bathtub.”


Stewart Alsop’s relationship with the Agency was much more extensive than Sulzberger’s. One official who served at the highest levels in the CIA said flatly: “Stew Alsop was a CIA agent.” An equally senior official refused to define Alsop’s relationship with the Agency except to say it was a formal one. Other sources said that Alsop was particularly helpful to the Agency in discussions with, officials of foreign governments—asking questions to which the CIA was seeking answers, planting misinformation advantageous to American policy, assessing opportunities for CIA recruitment of well‑placed foreigners.


“Absolute nonsense,” said Joseph Alsop of the notion that his brother was a CIA agent. “I was closer to the Agency than Stew was, though Stew was very close. I dare say he did perform some tasks—he just did the correct thing as an American…. The Founding Fathers [of the CIA] were close personal friends of ours. Dick Bissell [former CIA deputy director] was my oldest friend, from childhood. It was a social thing, my dear fellow. I never received a dollar, I never signed a secrecy agreement. I didn’t have to…. I’ve done things for them when I thought they were the right thing to do. I call it doing my duty as a citizen.


Alsop is willing to discuss on the record only two of the tasks he undertook: a visit to Laos in 1952 at the behest of Frank Wisner, who felt other American reporters were using anti-American sources about uprisings there; and a visit to the Phillipines in 1953 when the CIA thought his presence there might affect the outcome of an election. “Des FitzGerald urged me to go,” Alsop recalled. “It would be less likely that the election could be stolen [by the opponents of Ramon Magsaysay] if the eyes of the world were on them. I stayed with the ambassador and wrote about what happened.”


Alsop maintains that he was never manipulated by the Agency. “You can’t get entangled so they have leverage on you,” he said. “But what I wrote was true. My view was to get the facts. If someone in the Agency was wrong, I stopped talking to them—they’d given me phony goods.” On one occasion, Alsop said, Richard Helms authorized the head of the Agency’s analytical branch to provide Alsop with information on Soviet military presence along the Chinese border. “The analytical side of the Agency had been dead wrong about the war in Vietnam—they thought it couldn’t be won,” said Alsop. “And they were wrong on the Soviet buildup. I stopped talking to them.” Today, he says, “People in our business would be outraged at the kinds of suggestions that were made to me. They shouldn’t be. The CIA did not open itself at all to people it did not trust. Stew and I were trusted, and I’m proud of it.”


MURKY DETAILS OF CIA RELATIONSHIPS WITH INDIVIDUALS and news organizations began trickling out in 1973 when it was first disclosed that the CIA had, on occasion, employed journalists. Those reports, combined with new information, serve as casebook studies of the Agency’s use of journalists for intelligence purposes. They include:


-The New York Times. The Agency’s relationship with the Times was by far its most valuable among newspapers, according to CIA officials. From 1950 to 1966, about ten CIA employees were provided Times cover under arrangements approved by the newspaper’s late publisher, Arthur Hays Sulzberger. The cover arrangements were part of a general Times policy—set by Sulzberger—to provide assistance to the CIA whenever possible.


Sulzberger was especially close to Allen Dulles. “At that level of contact it was the mighty talking to the mighty,” said a high-level CIA official who was present at some of the discussions. “There was an agreement in principle that, yes indeed, we would help each other. The question of cover came up on several occasions.  It was agreed that the actual arrangements would be handled by subordinates…. The mighty didn’t want to know the specifics; they wanted plausible deniability.


A senior CIA official who reviewed a portion of the Agency’s files on journalists for two hours onSeptember 15th, 1977, said he found documentation of five instances in which the Times had provided cover for CIA employees between 1954 and 1962. In each instance he said, the arrangements were handled by executives of the Times; the documents all contained standard Agency language “showing that this had been checked out at higher levels of the New York Times,” said the official. The documents did not mention Sulzberger’s name, however—only those of subordinates whom the official refused to identify.


The CIA employees who received Times credentials posed as stringers for the paper abroad and worked as members of clerical staffs in the Times’ foreign bureaus. Most were American; two or three were foreigners.


CIA officials cite two reasons why the Agency’s working relationship with the Times was closer and more extensive than with any other paper: the fact that the Times maintained the largest foreign news operation in American daily journalism; and the close personal ties between the men who ran both institutions.


Sulzberger informed a number of reporters and editors of his general policy of cooperation with the Agency. “We were in touch with them—they’d talk to us and some cooperated,” said a CIA official. The cooperation usually involved passing on information and “spotting” prospective agents among foreigners.


Arthur Hays Sulzberger signed a secrecy agreement with the CIA in the 1950s, according to CIA officials—a fact confirmed by his nephew, C.L. Sulzberger. However, there are varying interpretations of the purpose of the agreement: C.L. Sulzberger says it represented nothing more than a pledge not to disclose classified information made available to the publisher. That contention is supported by some Agency officials. Others in the Agency maintain that the agreement represented a pledge never to reveal any of the Times’ dealings with the CIA, especially those involving cover. And there are those who note that, because all cover arrangements are classified, a secrecy agreement would automatically apply to them.


Attempts to find out which individuals in the Times organization made the actual arrangements for providing credentials to CIA personnel have been unsuccessful. In a letter to reporter Stuart Loory in 1974, Turner Cadedge, managing editor of the Times from 1951 to 1964, wrote that approaches by the CIA had been rebuffed by the newspaper. “I knew nothing about any involvement with the CIA… of any of our foreign correspondents on the New York Times. I heard many times of overtures to our men by the CIA, seeking to use their privileges, contacts, immunities and, shall we say, superior intelligence in the sordid business of spying and informing. If any one of them succumbed to the blandishments or cash offers, I was not aware of it. Repeatedly, the CIA and other hush‑hush agencies sought to make arrangements for ‘cooperation’ even with Times management, especially during or soon after World War II, but we always resisted. Our motive was to protect our credibility.”


According to Wayne Phillips, a former Timesreporter, the CIA invoked Arthur Hays Sulzberger’s name when it tried to recruit him as an undercover operative in 1952 while he was studying at Columbia University’s Russian Institute. Phillips said an Agency official told him that the CIA had “a working arrangement” with the publisher in which other reporters abroad had been placed on the Agency’s payroll. Phillips, who remained at the Times until 1961, later obtained CIA documents under the Freedom of Information Act which show that the Agency intended to develop him as a clandestine “asset” for use abroad.


On January 31st, 1976, the Times carried a brief story describing the ClAs attempt to recruit Phillips. It quoted Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, the present publisher, as follows: “I never heard of the Times being approached, either in my capacity as publisher or as the son of the late Mr. Sulzberger.” The Times story, written by John M. Crewdson, also reported that Arthur Hays Sulzberger told an unnamed former correspondent that he might he approached by the CIA after arriving at a new post abroad. Sulzberger told him that he was not “under any obligation to agree,” the story said and that the publisher himself would be “happier” if he refused to cooperate. “But he left it sort of up to me,” the Times quoted its former reporter as saying. “The message was if I really wanted to do that, okay, but he didn’t think it appropriate for a Times correspondent”


C.L. Sulzberger, in a telephone interview, said he had no knowledge of any CIA personnel using Times cover or of reporters for the paper working actively for the Agency. He was the paper’s chief of foreign service from 1944 to 1954 and expressed doubt that his uncle would have approved such arrangements. More typical of the late publisher, said  Sulzberger, was a promise made to Allen Dulles’ brother, John Foster, then secretary of state, that no Times staff member would be permitted to accept an invitation to visit the People’s Republic of China without John Foster Dulles’ consent. Such an invitation was extended to the publisher’s nephew in the 1950s; Arthur Sulzberger forbade him to accept it. “It was seventeen years before another Times correspondent was invited,” C.L. Sulzberger recalled.


– The Columbia Broadcasting System. CBS was unquestionably the CIAs most valuable broadcasting asset. CBS President William Paley and Allen Dulles enjoyed an easy working and social relationship. Over the years, the network provided cover for CIA employees, including at least one well‑known foreign correspondent and several stringers; it supplied outtakes of newsfilm to the CIA3; established a formal channel of communication between the Washington bureau chief and the Agency; gave the Agency access to the CBS newsfilm library; and allowed reports by CBS correspondents to the Washington and New York newsrooms to be routinely monitored by the CIA. Once a year during the 1950s and early 1960s, CBS correspondents joined the CIA hierarchy for private dinners and briefings.


The details of the CBS-CIA arrangements were worked out by subordinates of both Dulles and Paley. “The head of the company doesn’t want to know the fine points, nor does the director,” said a CIA official. “Both designate aides to work that out. It keeps them above the battle.” Dr. Frank Stanton, for 25 years president of the network, was aware of the general arrangements Paley made with Dulles—including those for cover, according to CIA officials. Stanton, in an interview last year, said he could not recall any cover arrangements.) But Paley’s designated contact for the Agency was Sig Mickelson, president of CBS News between 1954 and 1961. On one occasion, Mickelson has said, he complained to Stanton about having to use a pay telephone to call the CIA, and Stanton suggested he install a private line, bypassing the CBS switchboard, for the purpose. According to Mickelson, he did so. Mickelson is now president of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, both of which were associated with the CIA for many years.


In 1976, CBS News president Richard Salant ordered an in‑house investigation of the network’s dealings with the CIA. Some of its findings were first disclosed by Robert Scheer in the Los Angeles Times.) But Salant’s report makes no mention of some of his own dealings with the Agency, which continued into the 1970s.


Many details about the CBS-CIA relationship were found in Mickelson’s files by two investigators for Salant. Among the documents they found was a September 13th, 1957, memo to Mickelson fromTed Koop, CBS News bureau chief  in Washington from 1948 to 1961. It describes a phone call to Koop from Colonel Stanley Grogan of the CIA: “Grogan phoned to say that Reeves [J. B. Love Reeves, another CIA official] is going to New York to be in charge of the CIA contact office there and will call to see you and some of your confreres. Grogan says normal activities will continue to channel through the Washington office of CBS News.” The report to Salant also states: “Further investigation of Mickelson’s files reveals some details of the relationship between the CIA and CBS News…. Two key administrators of this relationship were Mickelson and Koop…. The main activity appeared to be the delivery of CBS newsfilm to the CIA…. In addition there is evidence that, during 1964 to 1971, film material, including some outtakes, were supplied by the CBS Newsfilm Library to the CIA through and at the direction of Mr. Koop4…. Notes in Mr. Mickelson’s files indicate that the CIA used CBS films for training… All of the above Mickelson activities were handled on a confidential basis without mentioning the words Central Intelligence Agency. The films were sent to individuals at post–office box numbers and were paid for by individual, nor government, checks. …” Mickelson also regularly sent the CIA an internal CBS newsletter, according to the report.


Salant’s investigation led him to conclude that Frank Kearns, a CBS‑TV reporter from 1958 to 1971, “was a CIA guy who got on the payroll somehow through a CIA contact with somebody at CBS.” Kearns and Austin Goodrich, a CBS stringer, were undercover CIA employees, hired under arrangements approved by Paley.


Last year a spokesman for Paley denied a report by former CBS correspondent Daniel Schorr that Mickelson and he had discussed Goodrich’s CIA status during a meeting with two Agency representatives in 1954. The spokesman claimed Paley had no knowledge that Goodrich had worked for the CIA. “When I moved into the job I was told by Paley that there was an ongoing relationship with the CIA,” Mickelson said in a recent interview. “He introduced me to two agents who he said would keep in touch. We all discussed the Goodrich situation and film arrangements. I assumed this was a normal relationship at the time. This was at the height of the Cold War and I assumed the communications media were cooperating—though the Goodrich matter was compromising.


At the headquarters of CBS News in New York, Paley’s cooperation with the CIA is taken for granted by many news executives and reporters, despite tile denials. Paley, 76, was not interviewed by Salant’s investigators. “It wouldn’t do any good,” said one CBS executive. “It is the single subject about which his memory has failed.”


Salant discussed his own contacts with the CIA, and the fact he continued many of his predecessor’s practices, in an interview with this reporter last year. The contacts, he said, began in February 1961, “when I got a phone call from a CIA man who said he had a working relationship with Sig Mickelson. The man said, ‘Your bosses know all about it.'”  According to Salant, the CIA representative asked that CBS continue to supply the Agency with unedited newstapes and make its correspondents available for debriefingby Agency officials. Said Salant: “I said no on talking to the reporters, and let them see broadcast tapes, but no outtakes.  This went on for a number of years—into the early Seventies.”


In 1964 and 1965, Salant served on a super-secret CIA task force which explored methods of beaming American propaganda broadcasts to the People’s Republic of China. The other members of the four-man study team were Zbigniew Brzezinski, then a professor at Columbia University; William Griffith, then professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology., and John Haves, then vice-president of the Washington Post Company for radio-TV5. The principal government officials associated with the project were Cord Meyer of the CIA; McGeorge Bundy, then special assistant to the president for national security; Leonard Marks, then director of the USIA; and Bill Moyers, then special assistant to President Lyndon Johnson and now a CBS correspondent.


Salant’s involvement in the project began with a call from Leonard Marks, “who told me the White House wanted to form a committee of four people to make a study of U.S. overseas broadcasts behind the Iron Curtain.” When Salant arrived in Washington for the first meeting he was told that the project was CIA sponsored. “Its purpose,” he said, “was to determine how best to set up shortwave broadcasts into Red China.” Accompanied by a CIA officer named Paul Henzie, the committee of four subsequently traveled around the world inspecting facilities run by Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty both CIA-run operations at the time), the Voice of America and Armed Forces Radio. After more than a year of study, they submitted a report to Moyers recommending that the government establish a broadcast service, run by the Voice of America, to be beamed at the People’s Republic of China. Salant has served two tours as head of CBS News, from 1961-64 and 1966-present. At the time of the China project he was a CBS corporate executive.)


– Time and Newsweek magazines. According to CIA and Senate sources, Agency files contain written agreements with former foreign correspondents and stringers for both the weekly news magazines.  The same sources refused to say whether the CIA has ended all its associations with individuals who work for the two publications. Allen Dulles often interceded with his good friend, the late Henry Luce, founder of Time and Life magazines, who readily allowed certain members of his staff to work for the Agency and agreed to provide jobs and credentials for other CIA operatives who lacked journalistic experience.


For many years, Luce’s personal emissary to the CIA was C.D. Jackson, a Time Inc., vice-president who was publisher of Life magazine from 1960 until his death in 1964.While a Time executive, Jackson coauthored a CIA-sponsored study recommending the reorganization of the American intelligence services in the early 1950s. Jackson, whose Time-Life service was interrupted by a one-year White House tour as an assistant to President Dwight Eisenhower, approved specific arrangements for providing CIA employees with Time-Life cover. Some of these arrangements were made with the knowledge of Luce’s wife, Clare Boothe. Other arrangements for Time cover, according to CIA officials including those who dealt with Luce), were made with the knowledge of Hedley Donovan, now editor-in-chief of Time Inc. Donovan, who took over editorial direction of all Time Inc. publications in 1959, denied in a telephone interview that he knew of any such arrangements. “I was never approached and I’d be amazed if Luce approved such arrangements,” Donovan said. “Luce had a very scrupulous regard for the difference between journalism and government.”


In the 1950s and early 1960s, Time magazine’s foreign correspondents attended CIA “briefing” dinners similar to those the CIA held for CBS. And Luce, according to CIA officials, made it a regular practice to brief Dulles or other high Agency officials when he returned from his frequent trips abroad. Luce and the men who ran his magazines in the 1950s and 1960s encouraged their foreign correspondents to provide help to the CIA, particularly information that might be useful to the Agency for intelligence purposes or recruiting foreigners.


At Newsweek, Agency sources reported, the CIA engaged the services of’ several foreign correspondents and stringers under arrangements approved by senior editors at the magazine. Newsweek’s stringer in Rome in the mid-Fifties made little secret of the fact that he worked for the CIA. Malcolm Muir, Newsweek’s editor from its founding in 1937 until its sale to the Washington Post Company in 1961, said in a recent interview that his dealings with the CIA were limited to private briefings he gave Allen Dulles after trips abroad and arrangements he approved for regular debriefing of Newsweek correspondents by the Agency. He said that he had never provided cover for CIA operatives, but that others high in the Newsweek organization might have done so without his knowledge.


“I would have thought there might have been stringers who were agents, but I didn’t know who they were,” said Muir. “I do think in those days the CIA kept pretty close touch with all responsible reporters. Whenever I heard something that I thought might be of interest to Allen Dulles, I’d call him up…. At one point he appointed one of his CIA men to keep in regular contact with our reporters, a chap that I knew but whose name I can’t remember. I had a number of friends in Alien Dulles’ organization.” Muir said that Harry Kern, Newsweek’s foreign editor from 1945 until 1956, and Ernest K. Lindley, the magazine’s Washington bureau chief during the same period “regularly checked in with various fellows in the CIA.”


“To the best of my knowledge.” said Kern, “nobody at Newsweek worked for the CIA… The informal relationship was there. Why have anybody sign anything? What we knew we told them [the CIA] and the State Department…. When I went to Washington, I would talk to Foster or Allen Dulles about what was going on. … We thought it was admirable at the time. We were all on the same side.” CIA officials say that Kern’s dealings with the Agency were extensive. In 1956, he left Newsweek to run Foreign Reports, a Washington‑based newsletter whose subscribers Kern refuses to identify.


Ernest Lindley, who remained at Newsweek until 1961, said in a recent interview that he regularly consulted with Dulles and other high CIA officials before going abroad and briefed them upon his return. “Allen was very helpful to me and I tried to reciprocate when I could,” he said. “I’d give him my impressions of people I’d met overseas. Once or twice he asked me to brief a large group of intelligence people; when I came back from the Asian-African conference in 1955, for example; they mainly wanted to know about various people.”


As Washington bureau chief, Lindley said he learned from Malcolm Muir that the magazine’s stringer in southeastern Europe was a CIA contract employee—given credentials under arrangements worked out with the management. “I remember it came up—whether it was a good idea to keep this person from the Agency; eventually it was decided to discontinue the association,” Lindley said.


When Newsweek waspurchased by the Washington Post Company, publisher Philip L. Graham was informed by Agency officials that the CIA occasionally used the magazine for cover purposes, according to CIA sources. “It was widely known that Phil Graham was somebody you could get help from,” said a former deputy director of the Agency. “Frank Wisner dealt with him.” Wisner, deputy director of the CIA from 1950 until shortly before his suicide in 1965, was the Agency’s premier orchestrator of “black” operations, including many in which journalists were involved. Wisner liked to boast of his “mighty Wurlitzer,” a wondrous propaganda instrument he built, and played, with help from the press.) Phil Graham was probably Wisner’s closest friend. But Graharn, who committed suicide in 1963, apparently knew little of the specifics of any cover arrangements with Newsweek, CIA sources said.


In 1965-66, an accredited Newsweek stringer in the Far East was in fact a CIA contract employee earning an annual salary of $10,000 from the Agency, according to Robert T. Wood, then a CIA officer in the Hong Kong station. Some, Newsweek correspondents and stringers continued to maintain covert ties with the Agency into the 1970s, CIA sources said.


Information about Agency dealings with the Washington Post newspaper is extremely sketchy. According to CIA officials, some Post stringers have been CIA employees, but these officials say they do not know if anyone in the Post management was aware of the arrangements.


All editors-in-chief and managing editors of the Post since 1950 say they knew of no formal Agency relationship with either stringers or members of the Post staff. “If anything was done it was done by Phil without our knowledge,” said one. Agency officials, meanwhile, make no claim that Post staff members have had covert affiliations with the Agency while working for the paper.6


Katharine Graham, Philip Graham’s widow and the current publisher of the Post, says she has never been informed of any CIA relationships with either Post or Newsweek personnel. In November of 1973, Mrs. Graham called William Colby and asked if any Post stringers or staff members were associated with the CIA. Colby assured her that no staff members were employed by the Agency but refused to discuss the question of stringers.


– The Louisville Courier-Journal. From December 1964 until March 1965, a CIA undercover operative named Robert H. Campbell worked on the Courier-Journal. According to high-level CIA sources, Campbell was hired by the paper under arrangements the Agency made with Norman E. Isaacs, then executive editor of the Courier-Journal. Barry Bingham Sr., then publisher of the paper, also had knowledge of the arrangements, the sources said. Both Isaacs and Bingham have denied knowing that Campbell was an intelligence agent when he was hired.


The complex saga of Campbell’s hiring was first revealed in a Courier‑Journal story written by James R Herzog on March 27th, 1976, during the Senate committee’s investigation, Herzog’s account began: “When 28-year-old Robert H. Campbell was hired as a Courier-Journal reporter in December 1964, he couldn’t type and knew little about news writing.” The account then quoted the paper’s former managing editor as saying that Isaacs told him that Campbell was hired as a result of a CIA request: “Norman said, when he was in Washington [in 1964], he had been called to lunch with some friend of his who was with the CIA [and that] he wanted to send this young fellow down to get him a little knowledge of newspapering.” All aspects of Campbell’s hiring were highly unusual. No effort had been made to check his credentials, and his employment records contained the following two notations: “Isaacs has files of correspondence and investigation of this man”; and, “Hired for temporary work—no reference checks completed or needed.”


The level of Campbell’s journalistic abilities apparently remained consistent during his stint at the paper, “The stuff that Campbell turned in was almost unreadable,” said a former assistant city editor. One of Campbell’s major reportorial projects was a feature about wooden Indians. It was never published. During his tenure at the paper, Campbell frequented a bar a few steps from the office where, on occasion, he reportedly confided to fellow drinkers that he was a CIA employee.


According to CIA sources, Campbell’s tour at the Courier-Journal was arranged to provide him with a record of journalistic experience that would enhance the plausibility of future reportorial cover and teach him something about the newspaper business. The Courier-Journal’s investigation also turned up the fact that before coming to Louisville he had worked briefly for the Hornell, New York, Evening Tribune, published by Freedom News, Inc. CIA sources said the Agency had made arrangements with that paper’s management to employ Campbell.7


At the Courier-Journal, Campbell was hired under arrangements made with Isaacs and approved by Bingham, said CIA and Senate sources. “We paid the Courier-Journal so they could pay his salary,” said an Agency official who was involved in the transaction. Responding by letter to these assertions, Isaacs, who left Louisville to become president and publisher of the Wilmington Delaware) News & Journal, said: “All I can do is repeat the simple truth—that never, under any circumstances, or at any time, have I ever knowingly hired a government agent. I’ve also tried to dredge my memory, but Campbell’s hiring meant so little to me that nothing emerges…. None of this is to say that I couldn’t have been ‘had.’”.Barry Bingham Sr., said last year in a telephone interview that he had no specific memory of Campbell’s hiring and denied that he knew of any arrangements between the newspaper’s management and the CIA. However, CIA officials said that the Courier-Journal, through contacts with Bingham, provided other unspecified assistance to the Agency in the 1950s and 1960s. The Courier-Journal’s detailed, front‑page account of Campbell’s hiring was initiated by Barry Bingham Jr., who succeeded his father as editor and publisher of the paper in 1971. The article is the only major piece of self-investigation by a newspaper that has appeared on this subject.8


– The American Broadcasting Company and the National Broadcasting Company. According to CIA officials, ABC continued to provide cover for some CIA operatives through the 1960s. One was Sam Jaffe who CIA officials said performed clandestine tasks for the Agency. Jaffe has acknowledged only providing the CIA with information. In addition, another well-known network correspondent performed covert tasks for the Agency, said CIA sources. At the time of the Senate bearings, Agency officials serving at the highest levels refused to say whether the CIA was still maintaining active relationships with members of the ABC-News organization. All cover arrangements were made with the knowledge off ABC executives, the sources said.


These same sources professed to know few specifies about the Agency’s relationships with NBC, except that several foreign correspondents of the network undertook some assignments for the Agency in the 1950s and 1960s. “It was a thing people did then,” said Richard Wald, president of NBC News since 1973. “I wouldn’t be surprised if people here—including some of the correspondents in those days—had connections with the Agency.”


-The Copley Press, and its subsidiary, the Copley News Service. This relationship, first disclosed publicly by reporters Joe Trento and Dave Roman in Penthouse magazine, is said by CIA officials to have been among the Agency’s most productive in terms of getting “outside” cover for its employees. Copley owns nine newspapers in California and Illinois—among them the San Diego Union and Evening Tribune. The Trento-Roman account, which was financed by a grant from the Fund for Investigative Journalism, asserted that at least twenty-three Copley News Service employees performed work for the CIA. “The Agency’s involvement with the Copley organization is so extensive that it’s almost impossible to sort out,” said a CIA official who was asked about the relationship late in 1976. Other Agency officials said then that James S. Copley, the chain’s owner until his death in 1973, personally made most of the cover arrangements with the CIA.


According to Trento and Roman, Copley personally volunteered his news service to then-president Eisenhower to act as “the eyes and ears” against “the Communist threat in Latin and Central America” for “our intelligence services.”  James Copley was also the guiding hand behind the Inter-American Press Association, a CIA-funded organization with heavy membership among right-wing Latin American newspaper editors.


– Other major news organizations. According to Agency officials, CIA files document additional cover arrangements with the following news-gathering organizations, among others: the New York Herald-Tribune, the Saturday-Evening Post, Scripps-Howard Newspapers, Hearst Newspapers Seymour K. Freidin, Hearst’s current London bureau chief and a former  Herald-Tribune editor and correspondent, has been identified as a CIA operative by Agency sources), Associated Press,9 United Press International, the Mutual Broadcasting System, Reuters and the Miami Herald. Cover arrangements with the Herald, according to CIA officials, were unusual in that they were made “on the ground by the CIA station in Miami, not from CIA headquarters.


“And that’s just a small part of the list,” in the words of one official who served in the CIA hierarchy. Like many sources, this official said that the only way to end the uncertainties about aid furnished the Agency by journalists is to disclose the contents of the CIA files—a course opposed by almost all of the thirty‑five present and former CIA officials interviewed over the course of a year.




THE CIA’S USE OF JOURNALISTS CONTINUED VIRTUALLY unabated until 1973 when, in response to public disclosure that the Agency had secretly employed American reporters, William Colby began scaling down the program. In his public statements, Colby conveyed the impression that the use of journalists had been minimal and of limited importance to the Agency.


He then initiated a series of moves intended to convince the press, Congress and the public that the CIA had gotten out of the news business. But according to Agency officials, Colby had in fact thrown a protective net around his valuable intelligence in the journalistic community. He ordered his deputies to maintain Agency ties with its best journalist contacts while severing formal relationships with many regarded as inactive, relatively unproductive or only marginally important. In reviewing Agency files to comply with Colby’s directive, officials found that many journalists had not performed useful functions for the CIA in years. Such relationships, perhaps as many as a hundred, were terminated between 1973 and 1976.


Meanwhile, important CIA operatives who had been placed on the staffs of some major newspaper and broadcast outlets were told to resign and become stringers or freelancers, thus enabling Colby to assure concerned editors that members of their staffs were not CIA employees. Colby also feared that some valuable stringer-operatives might find their covers blown if scrutiny of the Agency’s ties with journalists continued. Some of these individuals were reassigned to jobs on so-called proprietary publications—foreign periodicals and broadcast outlets secretly funded and staffed by the CIA. Other journalists who had signed formal contracts with the CIA—making them employees of the Agency—were released from their contracts, and asked to continue working under less formal arrangements.


In November 1973, after many such shifts had been made, Colby told reporters and editors from the New York Times and the Washington Star that the Agency had “some three dozen” American newsmen “on the CIA payroll,” including five who worked for “general-circulation news organizations.” Yet even while the Senate Intelligence Committee was holding its hearings in 1976, according to high-level CIA sources, the CIA continued to maintain ties with seventy-five to ninety journalists of every description—executives, reporters, stringers, photographers, columnists, bureau clerks and members of broadcast technical crews. More than half of these had been moved off CIA contracts and payrolls but they were still bound by other secret agreements with the Agency. According to an unpublished report by the House Select Committee on Intelligence, chaired by Representative Otis Pike, at least fifteen news organizations were still providing cover for CIA operatives as of 1976.


Colby, who built a reputation as one of the most skilled undercover tacticians in the CIA’s history, had himself run journalists in clandestine operations before becoming director in 1973. But even he was said by his closest associates to have been disturbed at how extensively and, in his view, indiscriminately, the Agency continued to use journalists at the time he took over. “Too prominent,” the director frequently said of some of the individuals and news organizations then working with the CIA. Others in the Agency refer to their best‑known journalistic assets as “brand names.”)


“Colby’s concern was that he might lose the resource altogether unless we became a little more careful about who we used and how we got them,” explained one of the former director’s deputies. The thrust of Colby’s subsequent actions was to move the Agency’s affiliations away from the so‑called “majors” and to concentrate them instead in smaller newspaper chains, broadcasting groups and such specialized publications as trade journals and newsletters.


After Colby left the Agency on January 28th, 1976, and was succeeded by George Bush, the CIA announced a new policy: “Effective immediately, the CIA will not enter into any paid or contractual relationship with any full‑time or part‑time news correspondent accredited by any U.S. news service, newspaper, periodical, radio or television network or station” At the time of the announcement, the Agency acknowledged that the policy would result in termination of less than half of the relationships with the 50 U.S. journalists it said were still affiliated with the Agency. The text of the announcement noted that the CIA would continue to “welcome” the voluntary, unpaid cooperation of journalists. Thus, many relationships were permitted to remain intact.


The Agency’s unwillingness to end its use of journalists and its continued relationships with some news executives is largely the product of two basic facts of the intelligence game: journalistic cover is ideal because of the inquisitive nature of a reporter’s job; and many other sources of institutional cover have been denied the CIA in recent years by businesses, foundations and educational institutions that once cooperated with the Agency.


“It’s tough to run a secret agency in this country,” explained one high‑level CIA official. “We have a curious ambivalence about intelligence. In order to serve overseas we need cover. But we have been fighting a rear-guard action to try and provide cover. The Peace Corps is off-limits, so is USIA, the foundations and voluntary organizations have been off-limits since ‘67, and there is a self-imposed prohibition on Fulbrights [Fulbright Scholars]. If you take the American community and line up who could work for the CIA and who couldn’t there is a very narrow potential. Even the Foreign Service doesn’t want us. So where the hell do you go? Business is nice, but the press is a natural. One journalist is worth twenty agents. He has access, the ability to ask questions without arousing suspicion.”




DESPITE THE EVIDENCE OF WIDESPREAD CIA USE OF journalists, the Senate Intelligence Committee and its staff decided against questioning any of the reporters, editors, publishers or broadcast executives whose relationships with the Agency are detailed in CIA files.


According to sources in the Senate and the Agency, the use of journalists was one of two areas of inquiry which the CIA went to extraordinary lengths to curtail. The other was the Agency’s continuing and extensive use of academics for recruitment and information gathering purposes.


In both instances, the sources said, former directors Colby and Bush and CIA special counsel Mitchell Rogovin were able to convince key members of the committee that full inquiry or even limited public disclosure of the dimensions of the activities would do irreparable damage to the nation’s intelligence-gathering apparatus, as well as to the reputations of hundreds of individuals. Colby was reported to have been especially persuasive in arguing that disclosure would bring on a latter‑day “witch hunt” in which the victims would be reporters, publishers and editors.


Walter Elder, deputy to former CIA director McCone and the principal Agency liaison to the Church committee, argued that the committee lacked jurisdiction because there had been no misuse of journalists by the CIA; the relationships had been voluntary. Elder cited as an example the case of the Louisville Courier-Journal. “Church and other people on the committee were on the chandelier about the Courier-Journal,” one Agency official said, “until we pointed out that we had gone to the editor to arrange cover, and that the editor had said, ‘Fine.’”


Some members of the Church committee and staff feared that Agency officials had gained control of the inquiry and that they were being hoodwinked. “The Agency was extremely clever about it and the committee played right into its hands,” said one congressional source familiar with all aspects of the inquiry. “Church and some of the other members were much more interested in making headlines than in doing serious, tough investigating. The Agency pretended to be giving up a lot whenever it was asked about the flashy stuff—assassinations and secret weapons and James Bond operations. Then, when it came to things that they didn’t want to give away, that were much more important to the Agency, Colby in particular called in his chits. And the committee bought it.”


The Senate committee’s investigation into the use of journalists was supervised by William B. Bader, a former CIA intelligence officer who returned briefly to the Agency this year as deputy to CIA director Stansfield Turner and is now a high‑level intelligence official at the Defense Department. Bader was assisted by David Aaron, who now serves as the deputy to Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter’s national security adviser.


According to colleagues on the staff of the Senate inquiry, both Bader and Aaron were disturbed by the information contained in CIA files about journalists; they urged that further investigation he undertaken by the Senate’s new permanent CIA oversight committee. That committee, however, has spent its first year of existence writing a new charter for the CIA, and members say there has been little interest in delving further into the CIA’s use of the press.


Bader’s investigation was conducted under unusually difficult conditions. His first request for specific information on the use of journalists was turned down by the CIA on grounds that there had been no abuse of authority and that current intelligence operations might he compromised. Senators Walter Huddleston, Howard Baker, Gary Hart, Walter Mondale and Charles Mathias—who had expressed interest in the subject of the press and the CIA—shared Bader’s distress at the CIA’s reaction. In a series of phone calls and meetings with CIA director George Bush and other Agency officials, the senators insisted that the committee staff be provided information about the scope of CIA-press activities. Finally, Bush agreed to order a search of the files and have those records pulled which deals with operations where journalists had been used. But the raw files could not he made available to Bader or the committee, Bush insisted. Instead, the director decided, his deputies would condense the material into one-paragraph summaries describing in the most general terms the activities of each individual journalist. Most important, Bush decreed, the names of journalists and of the news organizations with which they were affiliated would be omitted from the summaries. However, there might be some indication of the region where the journalist had served and a general description of the type of news organization for which he worked.


Assembling the summaries was difficult, according to CIA officials who supervised the job. There were no “journalist files” per se and information had to be collected from divergent sources that reflect the highly compartmentalized character of the CIA. Case officers who had handled journalists supplied some names. Files were pulled on various undercover operations in which it seemed logical that journalists had been used. Significantly, all work by reporters for the Agency under the category of covert operations, not foreign intelligence.) Old station records were culled. “We really had to scramble,” said one official.


After several weeks, Bader began receiving the summaries, which numbered over 400 by the time the Agency said it had completed searching its files.


The Agency played an intriguing numbers game with the committee. Those who prepared the material say it was physically impossible to produce all of the Agency’s files on the use of journalists. “We gave them a broad, representative picture,” said one agency official. “We never pretended it was a total description of the range of activities over 25 years, or of the number of journalists who have done things for us.” A relatively small number of the summaries described the activities of foreign journalists—including those working as stringers for American publications. Those officials most knowledgeable about the subject say that a figure of 400 American journalists is on the low side of the actual number who maintained covert relationships and undertook clandestine tasks.


Bader and others to whom he described the contents of the summaries immediately reached some general conclusions: the sheer number of covert relationships with journalists was far greater than the CIA had ever hinted; and the Agency’s use of reporters and news executives was an intelligence asset of the first magnitude. Reporters had been involved in almost every conceivable kind of operation. Of the 400-plus individuals whose activities were summarized, between 200 and 250 were “working journalists” in the usual sense of the term—reporters, editors, correspondents, photographers; the rest were employed at least nominally) by book publishers, trade publications and newsletters.


Still, the summaries were just that: compressed, vague, sketchy, incomplete. They could be subject to ambiguous interpretation. And they contained no suggestion that the CIA had abused its authority by manipulating the editorial content of American newspapers or broadcast reports.


Bader’s unease with what he had found led him to seek advice from several experienced hands in the fields of foreign relations and intelligence. They suggested that he press for more information and give those members of the committee in whom he had the most confidence a general idea of what the summaries revealed. Bader again went to Senators Huddleston, Baker, Hart, Mondale and Mathias. Meanwhile, he told the CIA that he wanted to see more—the full files on perhaps a hundred or so of the individuals whose activities had been summarized. The request was turned down outright. The Agency would provide no more information on the subject. Period.


The CIA’s intransigence led to an extraordinary dinner meeting at Agency headquarters in late March 1976. Those present included Senators Frank Church who had now been briefed by Bader), and John Tower, the vice-chairman of the committee; Bader; William Miller, director of the committee staff; CIA director Bush; Agency counsel Rogovin; and Seymour Bolten, a high-level CIA operative who for years had been a station chief in Germany and Willy Brandt’s case officer. Bolten had been deputized by Bush to deal with the committee’s requests for information on journalists and academics. At the dinner, the Agency held to its refusal to provide any full files. Nor would it give the committee the names of any individual journalists described in the 400 summaries or of the news organizations with whom they were affiliated. The discussion, according to participants, grew heated. The committee’s representatives said they could not honor their mandate—to determine if the CIA had abused its authority—without further information. The CIA maintained it could not protect its legitimate intelligence operations or its employees if further disclosures were made to the committee. Many of the journalists were contract employees of the Agency, Bush said at one point, and the CIA was no less obligated to them than to any other agents.


Finally, a highly unusual agreement was hammered out: Bader and Miller would be permitted to examine “sanitized” versions of the full files of twenty‑five journalists selected from the summaries; but the names of the journalists and the news organizations which employed them would be blanked out, as would the identities of other CIA employees mentioned in the files. Church and Tower would be permitted to examine the unsanitizedversions of five of the twenty-five files—to attest that the CIA was not hiding anything except the names. The whole deal was contingent on an agreement that neither Bader, Miner, Tower nor Church would reveal the contents of the files to other members of the committee or staff.


Bader began reviewing the 400‑some summaries again. His object was to select twenty-five that, on the basis of the sketchy information they contained, seemed to represent a cross section. Dates of CIA activity, general descriptions of news organizations, types of journalists and undercover operations all figured in his calculations.


From the twenty-five files he got back, according to Senate sources and CIA officials, an unavoidable conclusion emerged: that to a degree never widely suspected, the CIA in the 1950s, ‘60s and even early ‘70s had concentrated its relationships with journalists in the most prominent sectors of the American press corps, including four or five of the largest newspapers in the country, the broadcast networks and the two major newsweekly magazines. Despite the omission of names and affiliations from the twenty-five detailed files each was between three and eleven inches thick), the information was usually sufficient to tentatively identify either the newsman, his affiliation or both—particularly because so many of them were prominent in the profession.


“There is quite an incredible spread of relationships,” Bader reported to the senators. “You don’t need to manipulate Time magazine, for example, because there are Agency people at the management level.”


Ironically, one major news organization that set limits on its dealings with the CIA, according to Agency officials, was the one with perhaps the greatest editorial affinity for the Agency’s long-range goals and policies: U.S. News and World Report. The late David Lawrence, the columnist and founding editor of U.S. News, was a close friend of Allen Dulles. But he repeatedly refused requests by the CIA director to use the magazine for cover purposes, the sources said. At one point, according to a high CIA official, Lawrence issued orders to his sub‑editors in which he threatened to fire any U.S. News employee who was found to have entered into a formal relationship with the Agency. Former editorial executives at the magazine confirmed that such orders had been issued. CIA sources declined to say, however, if the magazine remained off-limits to the Agency after Lawrence’s death in 1973 or if Lawrence’s orders had been followed.)


Meanwhile, Bader attempted to get more information from the CIA, particularly about the Agency’s current relationships with journalists. He encountered a stone wall. “Bush has done nothing to date,” Bader told associates. “None of the important operations are affected in even a marginal way.” The CIA also refused the staffs requests for more information on the use of academics. Bush began to urge members of the committee to curtail its inquiries in both areas and conceal its findings in the final report. “He kept saying, ‘Don’t fuck these guys in the press and on the campuses,’ pleading that they were the only areas of public life with any credibility left,” reported a Senate source. Colby, Elder and Rogovin also implored individual members of the committee to keep secret what the staff had found. “There were a lot of representations that if this stuff got out some of the biggest names in journalism would get smeared,” said another source. Exposure of the CIA’s relationships with journalists and academics, the Agency feared, would close down two of the few avenues of agent recruitment still open. “The danger of exposure is not the other side,” explained one CIA expert in covert operations. “This is not stuff the other side doesn’t know about. The concern of the Agency is that another area of cover will be denied.”


A senator who was the object of the Agency’s lobbying later said: “From the CIA point of view this was the highest, most sensitive covert program of all…. It was a much larger part of the operational system than has been indicated.” He added, “I had a great compulsion to press the point but it was late …. If we had demanded, they would have gone the legal route to fight it.”


Indeed, time was running out for the committee. In the view of many staff members, it had squandered its resources in the search for CIA assassination plots and poison pen letters. It had undertaken the inquiry into journalists almost as an afterthought. The dimensions of the program and the CIA’s sensitivity to providing information on it had caught the staff and the committee by surprise. The CIA oversight committee that would succeed the Church panel would have the inclination and the time to inquire into the subject methodically; if, as seemed likely, the CIA refused to cooperate further, the mandate of the successor committee would put it in a more advantageous position to wage a protracted fight …. Or so the reasoning went as Church and the few other senators even vaguely familiar with Bader’s findings reached a decision not to pursue the matter further. No journalists would be interviewed about their dealings with the Agency—either by the staff or by the senators, in secret or in open session. The specter, first raised by CIA officials, of a witch hunt in the press corps haunted some members of the staff and the committee. “We weren’t about to bring up guys to the committee and then have everybody say they’ve been traitors to the ideals of their profession,” said a senator.


Bader, according to associates, was satisfied with the decision and believed that the successor committee would pick up the inquiry where he had left it. He was opposed to making public the names of individual journalists. He had been concerned all along that he had entered a “gray area” in which there were no moral absolutes. Had the CIA “manipulated” the press in the classic sense of the term? Probably not, he concluded; the major news organizations and their executives had willingly lent their resources to the Agency; foreign correspondents had regarded work for the CIA as a national service and a way of getting better stories and climbing to the top of their profession. Had the CIA abused its authority? It had dealt with the press almost exactly as it had dealt with other institutions from which it sought cover — the diplomatic service, academia, corporations. There was nothing in the CIA’s charter which declared any of these institutions off-limits to America’s intelligence service. And, in the case of the press, the Agency had exercised more care in its dealings than with many other institutions; it had gone to considerable lengths to restrict its role to information-gathering and cover.10


Bader was also said to be concerned that his knowledge was so heavily based on information furnished by the CIA; he hadn’t gotten the other side of the story from those journalists who had associated with the Agency. He could be seeing only “the lantern show,” he told associates. Still, Bader was reasonably sure that he had seen pretty much the full panoply of what was in the files. If the CIA had wanted to deceive him it would have never given away so much, he reasoned. “It was smart of the Agency to cooperate to the extent of showing the material to Bader,” observed a committee source. “That way, if one fine day a file popped up, the Agency would be covered. They could say they had already informed the Congress.”


The dependence on CIA files posed another problem. The CIA’s perception of a relationship with a journalist might be quite different than that of the journalist: a CIA official might think he had exercised control over a journalist; the journalist might think he had simply had a few drinks with a spook. It was possible that CIA case officers had written self-serving memos for the files about their dealings with journalists, that the CIA was just as subject to common bureaucratic “cover-your-ass” paperwork as any other agency of government.


A CIA official who attempted to persuade members of the Senate committee that the Agency’s use of journalists had been innocuous maintained that the files were indeed filled with “puffing” by case officers. “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.” This same official estimated that the files contained descriptions of about half a dozen reporters and correspondents who would be considered “famous”—that is, their names would be recognized by most Americans. “The files show that the CIA goes to the press for and just as often that the press comes to the CIA,” he observed. “…There is a tacit agreement in many of these cases that there is going to be a quid pro quo”—i.e., that the reporter is going to get good stories from the Agency and that the CIA will pick up some valuable services from the reporter.


Whatever the interpretation, the findings of the Senate committees inquiry into the use of journalists were deliberately buried—from the full membership of the committee, from the Senate and from the public. “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.’”


Bader’s findings on the subject were never discussed with the full committee, even in executive session. That might have led to leaks—especially in view of the explosive nature of the facts. Since the beginning of the Church committee’s investigation, leaks had been the panel’s biggest collective fear, a real threat to its mission. At 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. “It was as if we were on trial—not the CIA,” said a member of the committee staff. 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. A similar decision was made to conceal the results of the staff’s inquiry into the use of academics. Bader, who supervised both areas of inquiry, concurred in the decisions and drafted those sections of the committee’s final report. Pages 191 to 201 were entitled “Covert Relationships with the United States Media.” “It hardly reflects what we found,” stated Senator Gary Hart. “There was a prolonged and elaborate negotiation [with the CIA] over what would be said.”


Obscuring the facts was relatively simple. No mention was made of the 400 summaries or what they showed. Instead the report noted blandly that some fifty recent contacts with journalists had been studied by the committee staff—thus conveying the impression that the Agency’s dealings with the press had been limited to those instances. The Agency files, the report noted, contained little evidence that the editorial content of American news reports had been affected by the CIA’s dealings with journalists. Colby’s misleading public statements about the use of journalists were repeated without serious contradiction or elaboration. The role of cooperating news executives was given short shrift. The fact that the Agency had concentrated its relationships in the most prominent sectors of the press went unmentioned. That the CIA continued to regard the press as up for grabs was not even suggested.






1 John McCone, director of the Agency from 1961 to 1965, said in a recent interview that he knew about “great deal of debriefing and exchanging help” but nothing about any arrangements for cover the CIA might have made with media organizations. “I wouldn’t necessarily have known about it,” he said. “Helms would have handled anything like that. It would be unusual for him to come to me and say, ‘We’re going to use journalists for cover.’ He had a job to do. There was no policy during my period that would say, ‘Don’t go near that water,’ nor was there one saying, ‘Go to it!'” During the Church committee bearings, McCone testified that his subordinates failed to tell him about domestic surveillance activities or that they were working on plans to assassinate Fidel Castro. Richard Helms was deputy director of the Agency at the time; he became director in 1966.


2 A stringer is a reporter who works for one or several news organizations on a retainer or on a piecework basis.


3 From the CIA point of view, access to newsfilm outtakes and photo libraries is a matter of extreme importance. The Agency’s photo archive is probably the greatest on earth; its graphic sources include satellites, photoreconnaissance, planes, miniature cameras … and the American press. During the 1950s and 1960s, the Agency obtained carte-blanche borrowing privileges in the photo libraries of literally dozens of American newspapers, magazines and television, outlets. For obvious reasons, the CIA also assigned high priority to the recruitment of photojournalists, particularly foreign-based members of network camera crews.


4 On April 3rd, 1961, Koop left the Washington bureau to become head of CBS, Inc.’s Government Relations Department — a position he held until his retirement on March 31st, 1972.  Koop, who worked as a deputy in the Censorship Office in World War II, continued to deal with the CIA in his new position, according to CBS sources.


5 Hayes, who left the Washington Post Company in 1965 to become U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland, is now chairman of the board of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty — both of which severed their ties with the CIA in 1971.  Hayes said he cleared his participation in the China project with the late Frederick S. Beebe, then chairman of the board of the Washington Post Company.  Katharine Graham, the Post’s publisher, was unaware of the nature of the assignment, he said.  Participants in the project signed secrecy agreements.


6 Philip Geyelin, editor of the Post editorial page, worked for the Agency before joining the Post.


7 Louis Buisch, presidentof the publishing company of the Hornell, New York, Evening Tribune, told the Courier-Journal in 1976 that he remembered little about the hiring of Robert Campbell. “He wasn’t there very long, and he didn’t make much of an impression,” said Buisch, who has since retired from active management of the newspaper.


8 Probably the most thoughtful article on the subject of the press and the CIA was written by Stuart H. Loory and appeared in the September-October 1974 issue of Columbia Journalism Review.


9 Wes Gallagher, general manager of the Associated Press from 1962 to 1976, takes vigorous exception to the notion that the Associated Press might have aided the Agency. “We’ve always stayed clear on the CIA; I would have fired anybody who worked for them. We don’t even let our people debrief.” At the time of the first disclosures that reporters had worked for the CIA, Gallagher went to Colby. “We tried to find out names. All he would say was that no full-time staff member of the Associated Press was employed by the Agency. We talked to Bush. He said the same thing.” If any Agency personnel were placed in Associated Press bureaus, said Gallagher, it was done without consulting the management of the wire service. But Agency officials insist that they were able to make cover arrangements through someone in the upper management levelsof Associated Press, whom they refuse to identify.


10 Many journalists and some CIA officials dispute the Agency’s claim that it has been scrupulous in respecting the editorial integrity of American publications and broadcast outlets.





To understand the role of most journalist‑operatives, it is necessary to dismiss some myths about undercover work for American intelligence services. Few American agents are “spies” in the popularly accepted sense of the term. “Spying” — the acquisition of secrets from a foreign government—is almost always done by foreign nationals who have been recruited by the CIA and are under CIA control in their own countries. Thus the primary role of an American working undercover abroad is often to aid in the recruitment and “handling” of foreign nationals who are channels of secret information reaching American intelligence.


Many journalists were used by the CIA to assist in this process and they had the reputation of being among the best in the business. The peculiar nature of the job of the foreign correspondent is ideal for such work: he is accorded unusual access by his host country, permitted to travel in areas often off-limits to other Americans, spends much of his time cultivating sources in governments, academic institutions, the military establishment and the scientific communities. He has the opportunity to form long-term personal relationships with sources and—perhaps more than any other category of American operative—is in a position to make correct judgments about the susceptibility and availability of foreign nationals for recruitment as spies.


“After a foreigner is recruited, a case officer often has to stay in the background,” explained a CIA official. “So you use a journalist to carry messages to and from both parties”


Journalists in the field generally took their assignments in the same manner as any other undercover operative. If, for instance, a journalist was based in Austria, he ordinarily would be under the general direction of the Vienna station chief and report to a case officer. Some, particularly roving correspondents or U.S.‑based reporters who made frequent trips abroad, reported directly to CIA officials in Langley, Virginia.


The tasks they performed sometimes consisted of little more than serving as “eyes and ears” for the CIA; reporting on what they had seen or overheard in an Eastern European factory, at a diplomatic reception in Bonn, on the perimeter of a military base in Portugal. On other occasions, their assignments were more complex: planting subtly concocted pieces of misinformation; hosting parties or receptions designed to bring together American agents and foreign spies; serving up “black” propaganda to leading foreign journalists at lunch or dinner; providing their hotel rooms or bureau offices as “drops” for highly sensitive information moving to and from foreign agents; conveying instructions and dollars to CIA controlled members of foreign governments.


Often the CIA’s relationship with a journalist might begin informally with a lunch, a drink, a casual exchange of information. An Agency official might then offer a favor—for example, a trip to a country difficult to reach; in return, he would seek nothing more than the opportunity to debrief the reporter afterward. A few more lunches, a few more favors, and only then might there be a mention of a formal arrangement — “That came later,” said a CIA official, “after you had the journalist on a string.”


Another official described a typical example of the way accredited journalists (either paid or unpaid by the CIA) might be used by the Agency: “In return for our giving them information, we’d ask them to do things that fit their roles as journalists but that they wouldn’t have thought of unless we put it in their minds. For instance, a reporter in Vienna would say to our man, ‘I met an interesting second secretary at the Czech Embassy.’ We’d say, ‘Can you get to know him? And after you get to know him, can you assess him? And then, can you put him in touch with us—would you mind us using your apartment?”‘


Formal recruitment of reporters was generally handled at high levels—after the journalist had undergone a thorough background check. The actual approach might even be made by a deputy director or division chief. On some occasions, no discussion would he entered into until the journalist had signed a pledge of secrecy.


“The secrecy agreement was the sort of ritual that got you into the tabernacle,” said a former assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence. “After that you had to play by the rules.” David Attlee Phillips, former Western Hemisphere chief of clandestine services and a former journalist himself, estimated in an interview that at least 200 journalists signed secrecy agreements or employment contracts with the Agency in the past twenty-five years. Phillips, who owned a small English-language newspaper in Santiago, Chile, when he was recruited by the CIA in 1950, described the approach: “Somebody from the Agency says, ‘I want you to help me. 1 know you are a true-blue American, but I want you to sign a piece of paper before I tell you what it’s about.’ I didn’t hesitate to sign, and a lot of newsmen didn’t hesitate over the next twenty years.”


“One of the things we always had going for us in terms of enticing reporters,” observed a CIA official who coordinated some of the arrangements with journalists, “was that we could make them look better with their home offices. A foreign correspondent with ties to the Company [the CIA] stood a much better chance than his competitors of getting the good stories.”


Within the CIA, journalist-operatives were accorded elite status, a consequence of the common experience journalists shared with high-level CIA officials. Many had gone to the same schools as their CIA handlers, moved in the same circles, shared fashionably liberal, anti‑Communist political values, and were part of the same “old boy” network that constituted something of an establishment elite in the media, politics and academia of postwar America. The most valued of these lent themselves for reasons of national service, not money.


The Agency’s use of journalists in undercover operations has been most extensive in Western Europe (“That was the big focus, where the threat was,” said one CIA official), Latin America and the Far East. In the 1950s and 1960s journalists were used as intermediaries—spotting, paying, passing instructions—to members of the Christian Democratic party in Italy and the Social Democrats in Germany, both of which covertly received millions of dollars from the CIA. During those years “we had journalists all over Berlin and Vienna just to keep track of who the hell was coming in from the East and what they were up to,” explained a CIA official.


In the Sixties, reporters were used extensively in the CIA offensive against Salvador Allende in Chile; they provided funds to Allende’s opponents and wrote anti‑Allende propaganda for CIA proprietary publications that were distributed in Chile. (CIA officials insist that they make no attempt to influence the content of American newspapers, but some fallout is inevitable: during the Chilean offensive, CIA‑generated black propaganda transmitted on the wire service out of Santiago often turned up in American publications.)


According to CIA officials, the Agency has been particularly sparing in its use of journalist agents in Eastern Europe on grounds that exposure might result in diplomatic sanctions against the United States or in permanent prohibitions against American correspondents serving in some countries. The same officials claim that their use of journalists in the Soviet Union has been even more limited, but they remain extremely guarded in discussing the subject. They are insistent, however, in maintaining that the Moscow correspondents of major news organizations have not been “tasked” or controlled by the Agency.

The Soviets, according to CIA officials, have consistently raised false charges of CIA affiliation against individual American reporters as part of a continuing diplomatic game that often follows the ups and downs of Soviet-American relations. The latest such charge by the Russians—against Christopher Wren of the New York Times and Alfred Friendly Jr., formerly of Newsweek, has no basis in fact, they insist.


CIA officials acknowledge, however, that such charges will persist as long as the CIA continues to use journalistic cover and maintain covert affiliations with individuals in the profession. But even an absolute prohibition against Agency use of journalists would not free reporters from suspicion, according to many Agency officials. “Look at the Peace Corps,” said one source. “We have had no affiliation there and they [foreign governments] still throw them out

Disruptions: Looking for Relief From a Flood of Email

January 19, 2014,

by Nick Bilton

New York Times


            On Dec. 31, I had 46,315 unread emails in my inbox. On my first day back to work in the new year, I had zero.


No, I didn’t spend two weeks replying to all those messages. I deleted them — without reading a single one — and declared what is known as email bankruptcy.


Am I a bad guy for ignoring those emails? Or are the senders somehow at fault? Probably a bit of both.


For the first time in history, long-distance communication is essentially free. Sure, old-fashioned letters are nice. But few of us need paper and postage stamps for correspondence. We no longer count the minutes on long-distance telephone calls, worrying about the bill. And we certainly don’t have to travel — next door or around the world — to communicate with someone.


Email, messaging on social networks and even text messages on services like iMessages cost nothing more than the device we hold in our hand. As a result, we are deluged by messages. There is no escape: Email is probably most invasive form of communication yet devised.


According to a recent study by the Radicati Group, a technology and market research firm in Palo Alto, Calif, people send 182 billion emails each day around the world. That adds up to more than 67 trillion messages a year. That’s up from 144 billion messages a day in 2012, or 52 trillion messages. The number of active email accounts swelled to 3.9 billion last year from 3.3 billion in 2012. New accounts are expected to grow by 6 percent in each of the next four years.


Billions, trillions — it won’t be long before we’re referring to emails in terms of quadrillions.


“It’s behavioral economics 101,” said Clive Thompson, author of a new book, “Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better” and an occasional contributor to The New York Times Magazine. “You make it easy for people to do something, they will do more of it.”


Studies have shown that all this email leads to an unproductive and anxiety-ridden workplace, said Gloria Mark, an informatics professor at the University of California, Irvine, who has been studying the effects of email in the workplace since 2004. Ms. Mark’s research has found that people who stopped using email at work felt less stress and were more focused and productive.


Mr. Thompson said that in the workplace, email had become a major barrier of efficiency. “People feel the need to include 10 other people on an email just to let them know they are being productive at work,” he said. “But as a result, it ends up making those other 10 people unproductive because they have to manage that email.”


A number of start-ups are trying to solve the problems that come with the mountains of messages. But those that offer the slightest respite are often bought before they become mainstream products.


Last year, Mailbox, which made a “smart inbox,” was sold to Dropbox for an estimated $100 million. Yahoo bought the smart email start-up Xobni — the name is “inbox” spelled backward — for $48 million last year. And in 2012, Google acquired Sparrow, an intelligent mailbox app, for an estimated $25 million.


Branko Cerny, founder of SquareOne, which bills itself as a stress-free email client, said that technology could help solve the problems of email on the receiving end, which SquareOne does by presorting and flagging important messages, but that only human awareness could stop senders from inundating us.


In the past, with physical letters, people put thought into what they were going to write before they sent it, Mr. Cerny said. With digital, it’s send first, think later.


Google sent shudders down many people’s spines last week when it said it would soon let people send anyone an email, even if they did not have the person’s email address, as long as both people had a Gmail and Google Plus account.


Some people have come up with their own solutions to the problems email presents. Luis Suarez, lead social business enabler for IBM, decided to take on his inbox several years ago, and by all accounts seems to have won.


He said he had moved most of his communication to public and social platforms. When people contact Mr. Suarez by email, unaware that he is not a fan of that route, he scans their email signature for a social network they use and then responds in a public forum, whether on Twitter, Google Plus or LinkedIn. This way, he says, he can deal with several messages at once.


Over the last few years, he has managed to get his inbox down by 98 percent. He rarely uses email anymore.


“If email was invented today, it probably would not have survived as a technology,” Mr. Suarez said. “Social and public sites are much more efficient.”


For those who can’t seem to handle the onslaught of email, there is always the extreme option. When messages pile up, select all, hit delete, and declare email bankruptcy.


Email: bilton@nytimes.com. Twitter: @nickbilton






Why Are Dozens Of High Ranking Officers Being Purged From The U.S. Military?


January 16th, 2014



Since Barack Obama has been in the White House, high ranking military officers have been removed from their positions at a rate that is absolutely unprecedented.  Things have gotten so bad that a number of retired generals are publicly speaking out about the “purge” of the U.S. military that they believe is taking place.  As you will see below, dozens of highly decorated military leaders have been dismissed from their positions over the past few years.  So why is this happening?  When I was growing up, my father was an officer in the U.S. Navy.  And what is going on right now is absolutely crazy – especially during a time of peace.  Is there a deliberate attempt to “reshape” the military and remove those that don’t adhere to the proper “viewpoints”?  Does someone out there feel a need to get officers that won’t “cooperate” out of the way?  Throughout world history, whatever comes next after a “military purge” is never good.  If this continues, what is the U.S. military going to look like in a few years?


Perhaps you are reading this and you think that “purge” is too strong a word for what is taking place.  Well, just consider the following quotes from some very highly decorated retired officers…


-Retired Army Major General Paul Vallely: “The White House protects their own. That’s why they stalled on the investigation into fast and furious, Benghazi and Obamacare. He’s intentionally weakening and gutting our military, Pentagon and reducing us as a superpower, and anyone in the ranks who disagrees or speaks out is being purged.”


-Retired Army Major General Patrick Brady: “There is no doubt he (Obama) is intent on emasculating the military and will fire anyone who disagrees with him.”


-Retired Army Lt. General William G. “Jerry” Boykin: “Over the past three years, it is unprecedented for the number of four-star generals to be relieved of duty, and not necessarily relieved for cause.”


-Retired Navy Captain Joseph John: “I believe there are more than 137 officers who have been forced out or given bad evaluation reports so they will never make Flag (officer), because of their failure to comply to certain views.”


According to the Blaze, one anonymous Pentagon official has said that even young officers have been told “not to talk about Obama or the politics of the White House”…


A Pentagon official who asked to remain nameless because they were not authorized to speak on the matter said even “young officers, down through the ranks have been told not to talk about Obama or the politics of the White House. They are purging everyone and if you want to keep your job — just keep your mouth shut.”

Now this trend appears to be accelerating.  We have seen a whole bunch of news stories about military officers being dismissed lately.


Almost always, a “legitimate reason” is given for the dismissal.  And without a doubt, if a military officer is actually behaving unethically, that officer should be held accountable.


However, the reality is that everyone has “skeletons in the closet”, and if you really want to get rid of someone it is usually not too hard to find a way to justify your decision.


The following are excerpts from three news stories about military officers in trouble that have come out so far in 2014…


#1 The Air Force Times: A group of former Air Force majors, forced out this summer by a noncontinuation board, plans to file a lawsuit claiming the service had no right to separate them simply to meet end-strength numbers set by Congress.


More than 10 of the 157 dismissed majors are banding together to challenge the move in court, seeking either reinstatement or early retirement pay. All 157 had been twice passed over for promotion and were within six years of retirement.


#2 Defense News: Acting US Navy Undersecretary Robert Martinage, the department’s No. 2, has resigned under pressure, sources confirmed for Defense News.


The resignation, which Martinage announced to his staff Tuesday morning, came after allegations were made of inappropriate conduct with a subordinate woman, the sources confirmed.


#3 Huffington Post: The Air Force says 34 nuclear missile launch officers have been implicated in a cheating scandal and have been stripped of their certification in what is believed to be the largest such breach of integrity in the nuclear force.


Some of the officers apparently texted to each other the answers to a monthly test on their knowledge of how to operate the missiles. Others may have known about it but did not report it.


The cheating was discovered during a drug investigation that involves 11 Air Force officers across six bases in the U.S. and England.




Taken alone


Taken alone, it would be easy to dismiss those stories as “coincidences”.  But when you put them together with the stories of dozens of other high ranking military officers that have been purged from the U.S. military in recent years, a very disturbing pattern emerges.


The following is a list of high ranking military officers that have been dismissed over the past few years that has been circulating all over the Internet.  I think that you will agree that this list is quite stunning…


Commanding Generals fired:

General John R. Allen-U.S. Marines Commander International Security Assistance Force [ISAF] (Nov 2012)

Major General Ralph Baker (2 Star)-U.S. Army Commander of the Combined Joint Task Force Horn in Africa (April 2013)

Major General Michael Carey (2 Star)-U.S. Air Force Commander of the 20th US Air Force in charge of 9,600 people and 450 Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (Oct 2013)

Colonel James Christmas-U.S. Marines Commander 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit & Commander Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response Unit (July 2013)

Major General Peter Fuller-U.S. Army Commander in Afghanistan (May 2011)

Major General Charles M.M. Gurganus-U.S. Marine Corps Regional Commander of SW and I Marine Expeditionary Force in Afghanistan (Oct 2013)

General Carter F. Ham-U.S. Army African Command (Oct 2013)

Lieutenant General David H. Huntoon (3 Star), Jr.-U.S. Army 58th Superintendent of the US Military Academy at West Point, NY (2013)

Command Sergeant Major Don B Jordan-U.S. Army 143rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command (suspended Oct 2013)

General James Mattis-U.S. Marines Chief of CentCom (May 2013)

Colonel Daren Margolin-U.S. Marine in charge of Quantico’s Security Battalion (Oct 2013)

General Stanley McChrystal-U.S. Army Commander Afghanistan (June 2010)

General David D. McKiernan-U.S. Army Commander Afghanistan (2009)

General David Petraeus-Director of CIA from September 2011 to November 2012 & U.S. Army Commander International Security Assistance Force [ISAF] and Commander U.S. Forces Afghanistan [USFOR-A] (Nov 2012)

Brigadier General Bryan Roberts-U.S. Army Commander 2nd Brigade (May 2013)

Major General Gregg A. Sturdevant-U.S. Marine Corps Director of Strategic Planning and Policy for the U.S. Pacific Command & Commander of Aviation Wing at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan (Sept 2013)

Colonel Eric Tilley-U.S. Army Commander of Garrison Japan (Nov 2013)

Brigadier General Bryan Wampler-U.S. Army Commanding General of 143rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command of the 1st Theater Sustainment Command [TSC] (suspended Oct 2013)

Commanding Admirals fired:

Rear Admiral Charles Gaouette-U.S. Navy Commander John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group Three (Oct 2012)

Vice Admiral Tim Giardina(3 Star, demoted to 2 Star)-U.S. Navy Deputy Commander of the US Strategic Command, Commander of the Submarine Group Trident, Submarine Group 9 and Submarine Group 10 (Oct 2013)

Naval Officers fired: (All in 2011)

Captain David Geisler-U.S. Navy Commander Task Force 53 in Bahrain (Oct 2011)

Commander Laredo Bell-U.S. Navy Commander Naval Support Activity Saratoga Springs, NY (Aug 2011)

Lieutenant Commander Kurt Boenisch-Executive Officer amphibious transport dock Ponce (Apr 2011)

Commander Nathan Borchers-U.S. Navy Commander destroyer Stout (Mar 2011)

Commander Robert Brown-U.S. Navy Commander Beachmaster Unit 2 Fort Story, VA (Aug 2011)

Commander Andrew Crowe-Executive Officer Navy Region Center Singapore (Apr 2011)

Captain Robert Gamberg-Executive Officer carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower (Jun 2011)

Captain Rex Guinn-U.S. Navy Commander Navy Legal Service office Japan (Feb 2011)

Commander Kevin Harms- U.S. Navy Commander Strike Fighter Squadron 137 aboard the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln (Mar 2011)

Lieutenant Commander Martin Holguin-U.S. Navy Commander mine countermeasures Fearless (Oct 2011)

Captain Owen Honors-U.S. Navy Commander aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (Jan 2011)

Captain Donald Hornbeck-U.S. Navy Commander Destroyer Squadron 1 San Diego (Apr 2011)

Rear Admiral Ron Horton-U.S. Navy Commander Logistics Group, Western Pacific (Mar 2011)

Commander Etta Jones-U.S. Navy Commander amphibious transport dock Ponce (Apr 2011)

Commander Ralph Jones-Executive Officer amphibious transport dock Green Bay (Jul 2011)

Commander Jonathan Jackson-U.S. Navy Commander Electronic Attack Squadron 134, deployed aboard carrier Carl Vinson (Dec 2011)

Captain Eric Merrill-U.S. Navy Commander submarine Emory S. Land (Jul 2011)

Captain William Mosk-U.S. Navy Commander Naval Station Rota, U.S. Navy Commander Naval Activities Spain (Apr 2011)

Commander Timothy Murphy-U.S. Navy Commander Electronic Attack Squadron 129 at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, WA (Apr 2011)

Commander Joseph Nosse-U.S. Navy Commander ballistic-missile submarine Kentucky (Oct 2011)

Commander Mark Olson-U.S. Navy Commander destroyer The Sullivans FL (Sep 2011)

Commander John Pethel-Executive Officer amphibious transport dock New York (Dec 2011)

Commander Karl Pugh-U.S. Navy Commander Electronic Attack Squadron 141 Whidbey Island, WA (Jul 2011)

Commander Jason Strength-U.S. Navy Commander of Navy Recruiting District Nashville, TN (Jul 2011)

Captain Greg Thomas-U.S. Navy Commander Norfolk Naval Shipyard (May 2011)

Commander Mike Varney-U.S. Navy Commander attack submarine Connecticut (Jun 2011)

Commander Jay Wylie-U.S. Navy Commander destroyer Momsen (Apr 2011)

Naval Officers fired: (All in 2012):

Commander Alan C. Aber-Executive Officer Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 71 (July 2012)

Commander Derick Armstrong- U.S. Navy Commander missile destroyer USS The Sullivans (May 2012)

Commander Martin Arriola- U.S. Navy Commander destroyer USS Porter (Aug 2012)

Captain Antonio Cardoso- U.S. Navy Commander Training Support Center San Diego (Sep 2012)

Captain James CoBell- U.S. Navy Commander Oceana Naval Air Station’s Fleet Readiness Center Mid-Atlantic (Sep 2012)

Captain Joseph E. Darlak- U.S. Navy Commander frigate USS Vandegrift (Nov 2012)

Captain Daniel Dusek-U.S. Navy Commander USS Bonhomme

Commander David Faught-Executive Officer destroyer Chung-Hoon (Sep 2012)

Commander Franklin Fernandez- U.S. Navy Commander Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 24 (Aug 2012)

Commander Ray Hartman- U.S. Navy Commander Amphibious dock-landing ship Fort McHenry (Nov 2012)

Commander Shelly Hakspiel-Executive Officer Navy Drug Screening Lab San Diego (May 2012)

Commander Jon Haydel- U.S. Navy Commander USS San Diego (Mar 2012)

Commander Diego Hernandez- U.S. Navy Commander ballistic-missile submarine USS Wyoming (Feb 2012)

Commander Lee Hoey- U.S. Navy Commander Drug Screening Laboratory, San Diego (May 2012)

Commander Ivan Jimenez-Executive Officer frigate Vandegrift (Nov 2012)

Commander Dennis Klein- U.S. Navy Commander submarine USS Columbia (May 2012)

Captain Chuck Litchfield- U.S. Navy Commander assault ship USS Essex (Jun 2012)

Captain Marcia Kim Lyons- U.S. Navy Commander Naval Health Clinic New England (Apr 2012)

Captain Robert Marin- U.S. Navy Commander cruiser USS Cowpens (Feb 2012)

Captain Sean McDonell- U.S. Navy Commander Seabee reserve unit Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 14 FL (Nov 2012)

Commander Corrine Parker- U.S. Navy Commander Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 1 (Apr 2012)

Captain Liza Raimondo- U.S. Navy Commander Naval Health Clinic Patuxent River, MD (Jun 2012)

Captain Jeffrey Riedel- Program manager, Littoral Combat Ship program (Jan 2012)

Commander Sara Santoski- U.S. Navy Commander Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 15 (Sep 2012)

Commander Kyle G. Strudthoff-Executive Officer Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 (Sep 2012)

Commander Sheryl Tannahill- U.S. Navy Commander Navy Operational Support Center [NOSC] Nashville, TN (Sep 2012)

Commander Michael Ward- U.S. Navy Commander submarine USS Pittsburgh (Aug 2012)

Captain Michael Wiegand- U.S. Navy Commander Southwest Regional Maintenance Center (Nov 2012)

Captain Ted Williams- U.S. Navy Commander amphibious command ship Mount Whitney (Nov 2012)

Commander Jeffrey Wissel- U.S. Navy Commander of Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron 1 (Feb 2012)

Naval Officers fired: (All in 2013):

Lieutenant Commander Lauren Allen-Executive Officer submarine Jacksonville (Feb 2013)

Reserve Captain Jay Bowman-U.S. Navy Commander Navy Operational Support Center [NOSC] Fort Dix, NJ (Mar 2013)

Captain William Cogar-U.S. Navy Commander hospital ship Mercy’s medical treatment facility (Sept 2013)

Commander Steve Fuller-Executive Officer frigate Kauffman (Mar 2013)

Captain Shawn Hendricks-Program Manager for naval enterprise IT networks (June 2013)

Captain David Hunter-U.S. Navy Commander of Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron 12 & Coastal Riverine Group 2 (Feb 2013)

Captain Eric Johnson-U.S. Navy Chief of Military Entrance Processing Command at Great Lakes Naval Training Center, IL (2013)

Captain Devon Jones-U.S. Navy Commander Naval Air Facility El Centro, CA (July 2013)

Captain Kevin Knoop-U.S. Navy Commander hospital ship Comfort’s medical treatment facility (Aug 2013)

Lieutenant Commander Jack O’Neill-U.S. Navy Commander Operational Support Center Rock Island, IL (Mar 2013)

Commander Allen Maestas-Executive Officer Beachmaster Unit 1 (May 2013)

Commander Luis Molina-U.S. Navy Commander submarine Pasadena (Jan 2013)

Commander James Pickens-Executive Officer frigate Gary (Feb 2013)

Lieutenant Commander Mark Rice-U.S. Navy Commander Mine Countermeasures ship Guardian (Apr 2013)

Commander Michael Runkle-U.S. Navy Commander of Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 2 (May 2013)

Commander Jason Stapleton-Executive Office Patrol Squadron 4 in Hawaii (Mar 2013)

Commander Nathan Sukols-U.S. Navy Commander submarine Jacksonville (Feb 2013)

Lieutenant Daniel Tyler-Executive Officer Mine Countermeasures ship Guardian (Apr 2013)

Commander Edward White-U.S. Navy Commander Strike Fighter Squadron 106 (Aug 2013)

Captain Jeffrey Winter-U.S. Navy Commander of Carrier Air Wing 17 (Sept 2013)

Commander Thomas Winter-U.S. Navy Commander submarine Montpelier (Jan 2013)

Commander Corey Wofford- U.S. Navy Commander frigate Kauffman (Feb 2013)



America’s Black-Ops Blackout

Unraveling the Secrets of the Military’s Secret Military

by Nick Turse



“Dude, I don’t need to play these stupid games. I know what you’re trying to do.” With that, Major Matthew Robert Bockholt hung up on me.


More than a month before, I had called U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) with a series of basic questions: In how many countries were U.S. Special Operations Forces deployed in 2013? Are manpower levels set to expand to 72,000 in 2014? Is SOCOM still aiming for growth rates of 3%-5% per year? How many training exercises did the command carry out in 2013? Basic stuff.


And for more than a month, I waited for answers. I called. I left messages. I emailed. I waited some more. I started to get the feeling that Special Operations Command didn’t want me to know what its Green Berets and Rangers, Navy SEALs and Delta Force commandos — the men who operate in the hottest of hotspots and most remote locales around the world — were doing.


Then, at the last moment, just before my filing deadline, Special Operations Command got back to me with an answer so incongruous, confusing, and contradictory that I was glad I had given up on SOCOM and tried to figure things out for myself.


I started with a blank map that quickly turned into a global pincushion. It didn’t take long before every continent but Antarctica was bristling with markers indicating special operations forces’ missions, deployments, and interactions with foreign military forces in 2012-2013. With that, the true size and scope of the U.S. military’s secret military began to come into focus. It was, to say the least, vast.


A review of open source information reveals that in 2012 and 2013, U.S. Special Operations forces (SOF) were likely deployed to — or training, advising, or operating with the personnel of — more than 100 foreign countries. And that’s probably an undercount. In 2011, then-SOCOM spokesman Colonel Tim Nye told TomDispatch that Special Operations personnel were annually sent to 120 countries around the world. They were in, that is, about 60% of the nations on the planet. “We’re deployed in a number of locations,” was as specific as Bockholt would ever get when I talked to him in the waning days of 2013. And when SOCOM did finally get back to me with an eleventh hour answer, the number offered made almost no sense.


Despite the lack of official cooperation, an analysis by TomDispatch reveals SOCOM to be a command on the make with an already sprawling reach. As Special Operations Command chief Admiral William McRaven put it in SOCOM 2020, his blueprint for the future, it has ambitious aspirations to create “a Global SOF network of like-minded interagency allies and partners.” In other words, in that future now only six years off, it wants to be everywhere.


The Rise of the Military’s Secret Military


Born of a failed 1980 raid to rescue American hostages in Iran (in which eight U.S. service members died), U.S. Special Operations Command was established in 1987. Made up of units from all the service branches, SOCOM is tasked with carrying out Washington’s most specialized and secret missions, including assassinations, counterterrorist raids, special reconnaissance, unconventional warfare, psychological operations, foreign troop training, and weapons of mass destruction counter-proliferation operations.


In the post-9/11 era, the command has grown steadily. With about 33,000 personnel in 2001, it is reportedly on track to reach 72,000 in 2014. (About half this number are called, in the jargon of the trade, “badged operators” — SEALs, Rangers, Special Operations Aviators, Green Berets — while the rest are support personnel.) Funding for the command has also jumped exponentially as SOCOM’s baseline budget tripled from $2.3 billion to $6.9 billion between 2001 and 2013. If you add in supplemental funding, it had actually more than quadrupled to $10.4 billion.


Not surprisingly, personnel deployments abroad skyrocketed from 4,900 “man-years” — as the command puts it — in 2001 to 11,500 in 2013. About 11,000 special operators are now working abroad at any one time and on any given day they are in 70 to 80 countries, though the New York Times reported that, according to statistics provided to them by SOCOM, during one week in March 2013 that number reached 92.


The Global SOF Network


Last year, Admiral McRaven, who previously headed the Joint Special Operations Command, or JSOC — a clandestine sub-command that specializes in tracking and killing suspected terrorists — touted his vision for special ops globalization. In a statement to the House Armed Services Committee, he said:


“USSOCOM is enhancing its global network of SOF to support our interagency and international partners in order to gain expanded situational awareness of emerging threats and opportunities. The network enables small, persistent presence in critical locations, and facilitates engagement where necessary or appropriate…”


In translation this means that SOCOM is weaving a complex web of alliances with government agencies at home and militaries abroad to ensure that it’s at the center of every conceivable global hotspot and power center. In fact, Special Operations Command has turned the planet into a giant battlefield, divided into many discrete fronts: the self-explanatory SOCAFRICA; the sub-unified command of U.S. Central Command in the Middle East SOCCENT; the European contingent SOCEUR; SOCKOR, which is devoted strictly to Korea; SOCPAC, which covers the rest of the Asia-Pacific region; and SOCSOUTH, which conducts special ops missions in Central and South America and the Caribbean, as well as the globe-trotting JSOC.


Since 2002, SOCOM has also been authorized to create its own Joint Task Forces, a prerogative normally limited to larger combatant commands like CENTCOM. These include Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines, 500-600 personnel dedicated to supporting counterterrorist operations by Filipino allies against insurgent groups like Abu Sayyaf.


A similar mouthful of an entity is the NATO Special Operations Component Command-Afghanistan/Special Operations Joint Task Force-Afghanistan, which conducts operations, according to SOCOM, “to enable the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the Afghan National Security Force (ANSF), and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) to provide the Afghan people a secure and stable environment and to prevent insurgent activities from threatening the authority and sovereignty of GIRoA.” Last year, U.S.-allied Afghan President Ha­mid Karzai had a different assessment of the “U.S. special force stationed in Wardak province,” which he accused of “harassing, annoying, torturing, and even murdering innocent people.”


According to the latest statistics made available by ISAF, from October 2012 through March 2013, U.S. and allied forces were involved in 1,464 special operations in Afghanistan, including 167 with U.S. or coalition forces in the lead and 85 that were unilateral ISAF operations. U.S. Special Operations forces are also involved in everything from mentoring lightly armed local security forces under the Village Stability Operations initiative to the training of heavily armed and well-equipped elite Afghan forces — one of whose U.S.-trained officers defected to the insurgency in the fall.


In addition to task forces, there are also Special Operations Command Forward (SOC FWD) elements which, according to the military, “shape and coordinate special operations forces security cooperation and engagement in support of theater special operations command, geographic combatant command, and country team goals and objectives.” These light footprint teams — including SOC FWD Pakistan, SOC FWD Yemen, and SOC FWD Lebanon — offer training and support to local elite troops in foreign hotspots. In Lebanon, for instance, this has meant counterterrorism training for Lebanese Special Ops forces, as well as assistance to the Lebanese Special Forces School to develop indigenous trainers to mentor other Lebanese military personnel.

This year, Special Operations Command has plans to make major inroads into yet another country — the United States. The establishment of SOCNORTH in 2014, according to the command, is intended to help “defend North America by outpacing all threats, maintaining faith with our people, and supporting them in their times of greatest need.” Under the auspices of U.S. Northern Command, SOCNORTH will have responsibility for the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and portions of the Caribbean.


While Congressional pushback has thus far thwarted Admiral McRaven’s efforts to create a SOCOM satellite headquarters for the more than 300 special operators working in Washington, D.C. (at the cost of $10 million annually), the command has nonetheless stationed support teams and liaisons all over the capital in a bid to embed itself ever more deeply inside the Beltway. “I have folks in every agency here in Washington, D.C. — from the CIA, to the FBI, to the National Security Agency, to the National Geospatial Agency, to the Defense Intelligence Agency,” McRaven said during a panel discussion at Washington’s Wilson Center in 2013. Referring to the acronyms of the many agencies with which SOCOM has forged ties, McRaven continued: “If there are three letters, and in some cases four, I have a person there. And they have had a reciprocal agreement with us. I have somebody in my headquarters at Tampa.” Speaking at Ronald Reagan Library in November, he put the number of agencies where SOCOM is currently embedded at 38.


“Given the importance of interagency collaboration, USSOCOM is placing greater emphasis on its presence in the National Capital Region to better support coordination and decision making with interagency partners. Thus, USSOCOM began to consolidate its presence in the NCR [National Capitol Region] in early 2012,” McRaven told the House Armed Services Committee last year.


One unsung SOCOM partner is U.S. AID, the government agency devoted to providing civilian foreign aid to countries around the world whose mandate includes the protection of human rights, the prevention of armed conflicts, the provision of humanitarian assistance, and the fostering of “good will abroad.” At a July 2013 conference, Beth Cole, the director of the Office of Civilian-Military Cooperation at U.S. AID, explained just how her agency was now quietly aiding the military’s secret military.


“In Yemen, for example, our mission director has SVTCs [secure video teleconferences] with SOCOM personnel on a regular basis now. That didn’t occur two years ago, three years ago, four years ago, five years ago,” Cole said, according to a transcript of the event. But that was only the start. “My office at U.S. AID supports SOF pre-deployment training in preparation for missions throughout the globe… I’m proud that my office and U.S. AID have been providing training support to several hundred Army, Navy, and Marine Special Operations personnel who have been regularly deploying to Afghanistan, and we will continue to do that.”


Cole noted that, in Afghanistan, U.S. AID personnel were sometimes working hand-in-hand on the Village Stability Operation initiative with Special Ops forces. In certain areas, she said, “we can dual-hat some of our field program officers as LNOs [liaison officers] in those Joint Special Operations task forces and be able to execute the development work that we need to do alongside of the Special Operations Forces.” She even suggested taking a close look at whether this melding of her civilian agency and special ops might prove to be a model for operations elsewhere in the world.


Cole also mentioned that her office would be training “a senior person” working for McRaven, the man about to “head the SOF element Lebanon” — possibly a reference to the shadowy SOC FWD Lebanon. U.S. AID would, she said, serve as a facilitator in that country, making “sure that he has those relationships that he needs to be able to deal with what is a very, very, very serious problem for our government and for the people of that region.”


U.S. AID is also serving as a facilitator closer to home. Cole noted that her agency was sending advisors to SOCOM headquarters in Florida and had “arranged meetings for [special operators] with experts, done roundtables for them, immersed them in the environment that we understand before they go out to the mission area and connect them with people on the ground.” All of this points to another emerging trend: SOCOM’s invasion of the civilian sphere.


In remarks before the House Armed Services Committee, Admiral McRaven noted that his Washington operation, the SOCOM NCR, “conducts outreach to academia, non-governmental organizations, industry, and other private sector organizations to get their perspective on complex issues affecting SOF.” Speaking at the Wilson Center, he was even more blunt: “[W]e also have liaison officers with industry and with academia… We put some of our best and brightest in some of the academic institutions so we can understand what academia is thinking about.”


SOCOM’s Information Warfare


Not content with a global presence in the physical world, SOCOM has also taken to cyberspace where it operates the Trans Regional Web Initiative, a network of 10 propaganda websites that are run by various combatant commands and made to look like legitimate news outlets. These shadowy sites — including KhabarSouthAsia.com, Magharebia which targets North Africa, an effort aimed at the Middle East known as Al-Shorfa.com, and another targeting Latin America called Infosurhoy.com — state only in fine print that they are “sponsored by” the U.S. military.


Last June, the Senate Armed Services Committee called out the Trans Regional Web Initiative for “excessive” costs while stating that the “effectiveness of the websites is questionable and the performance metrics do not justify the expense.” In November, SOCOM announced that it was nonetheless seeking to identify industry partners who, under the Initiative, could potentially “develop new websites tailored to foreign audiences.”


Just as SOCOM is working to influence audiences abroad, it is also engaged in stringent information control at home — at least when it comes to me. Major Bockholt made it clear that SOCOM objected to a 2011 article of mine about U.S. Special Operations forces. “Some of that stuff was inconsistent with actual facts,” he told me. I asked what exactly was inconsistent. “Some of the stuff you wrote about JSOC… I think I read some information about indiscriminate killing or things like that.”


I knew right away just the quote he was undoubtedly referring to — a mention of the Joint Special Operations Command’s overseas kill/capture campaign as “an almost industrial-scale counterterrorism killing machine.” Bockholt said that it was indeed “one quote of concern.” The only trouble: I didn’t say it. It was, as I stated very plainly in the piece, the assessment given by John Nagl, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and former counterinsurgency adviser to now-retired general and former CIA director David Petraeus.


Bockholt offered no further examples of inconsistencies. I asked if he challenged my characterization of any information from an interview I conducted with then-SOCOM spokesman Colonel Tim Nye. He did not. Instead, he explained that SOCOM had issues with my work in general. “As we look at the characterization of your writing, overall, and I know you’ve had some stuff on Vietnam [an apparent reference to my bestselling book, Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam] and things like that — because of your style, we have to be very particular on how we answer your questions because of how you tend to use that information.” Bockholt then asked if I was anti-military. I responded that I hold all subjects that I cover to a high standard.


Bockholt next took a verbal swipe at the website where I’m managing editor, TomDispatch.com. Given Special Operations Command’s penchant for dabbling in dubious news sites, I was struck when he said that TomDispatch — which has published original news, analysis, and commentary for more than a decade and won the 2013 Utne Media Award for “best political coverage” — was not a “real outlet.” It was, to me, a daring position to take when SOCOM’s shadowy Middle Eastern news site Al-Shorfa.com actually carries a disclaimer that it “cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information provided.”


With my deadline looming, I was putting the finishing touches on this article when an email arrived from Mike Janssen of SOCOM Public Affairs. It was — finally — a seemingly simple answer to what seemed like an astonishingly straightforward question asked more than a month before: What was the total number of countries in which Special Operations forces were deployed in 2013? Janssen was concise. His answer: 80.


How, I wondered, could that be? In the midst of McRaven’s Global SOF network initiative, could SOCOM have scaled back their deployments from 120 in 2011 to just 80 last year? And if Special Operations forces were deployed in 92 nations during just one week in 2013, according to official statistics provided to the New York Times, how could they have been present in 12 fewer countries for the entire year? And why, in his March 2013 posture statement to the House Armed Services Committee, would Admiral McRaven mention “annual deployments to over 100 countries?” With minutes to spare, I called Mike Janssen for a clarification. “I don’t have any information on that,” he told me and asked me to submit my question in writing — precisely what I had done more than a month before in an effort to get a timely response to this straightforward and essential question.


Today, Special Operations Command finds itself at a crossroads. It is attempting to influence populations overseas, while at home trying to keep Americans in the dark about its activities; expanding its reach, impact, and influence, while working to remain deep in the shadows; conducting operations all over the globe, while professing only to be operating in “a number of locations”; claiming worldwide deployments have markedly dropped in the last year, when evidence suggests otherwise.


“I know what you’re trying to do,” Bockholt said cryptically before he hung up on me — as if the continuing questions of a reporter trying to get answers to basic information after a month of waiting were beyond the pale. In the meantime, whatever Special Operations Command is trying to do globally and at home, Bockholt and others at SOCOM are working to keep it as secret as possible.


Nick Turse is the managing editor of TomDispatch.com and a fellow at the Nation Institute


Region Boiling, Israel Takes Up Castle Strategy


January 18, 2014

by Jodi Rudorenjan  

New York Times


JERUSALEM — After a Katyusha rocket fired from Lebanon landed in Israel last month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Hezbollah, the Shiite militia, and its Iranian backers. But Israeli security officials attributed the attack, as well as a similar one in August, to a Sunni jihadist group linked to Al Qaeda.


That disconnect is representative of the deepening dilemma Israel faces as the region around it is riven by sectarian warfare that could redraw the map of the Middle East.


Mr. Netanyahu and other leaders continue to see Shiite Iran and its nuclear program as the primary threat to Israel, and Hezbollah as the most likely to draw it into direct battle. Still, the mounting strength of extremist Sunni cells in Syria, Iraq and beyond that are pledging to bring jihad to Jerusalem can hardly be ignored.


As the chaos escalates, Israeli officials insist they have no inclination to intervene. Instead, they have embraced a castle mentality, hoping the moat they have dug — in the form of high-tech border fences, intensified military deployments and sophisticated intelligence — is broad enough at least to buy time.


“What we have to understand is everything is going to be changed — to what, I don’t know,” said Yaakov Amidror, who recently stepped down as Israel’s national security adviser. “But we will have to be very, very cautious not to take part in this struggle. What we see now is a collapsing of a historical system, the idea of the national Arabic state. It means that we will be encircled by an area which will be no man’s land at the end of the day.”


Mr. Amidror, a former major general in military intelligence, summed up the strategy as “Wait, and keep the castle.”


Israeli leaders have tried to exploit recent events to bolster their case for a long-term military presence in the Jordan Valley, a sticking point in the United States-brokered peace talks with the Palestinians. In a speech this month, Naftali Bennett, head of the right-wing Jewish Home party, ticked off violent episodes in Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon, and concluded sarcastically, “A really excellent time to divest ourselves of security assets.”


Mr. Bennett, who opposes the establishment of a Palestinian state, might seize on any excuse to undermine the talks. But Israeli officials, and analysts with close ties to the government and security establishment, said the argument also had traction in more mainstream quarters. The deterioration in Iraq, which borders Jordan, has revived concerns about vulnerability on Israel’s eastern flank.


“From the Straits of Gibraltar to the Khyber Pass, it’s very hard to come by a safe and secure area,” Mr. Netanyahu told reporters here on Thursday. “Peace can be built on hope, but that hope has to be grounded in facts,” he said. “A peace that is not based on truth will crash against the realities of the Middle East.”


Michael Herzog, a retired Israeli general and former peace negotiator, said that “what you hear in Israeli government circles” is that the regional chaos “highlights the need for solid security arrangements.”


“The U.S. accepts the basic Israeli argument that given what’s happening in the region — suddenly jihadists are taking over Syria, and there’s no telling what will happen elsewhere — there is a legitimate cause for concern,” said Mr. Herzog, who has been consulting with the American team. “How to translate that into concrete security arrangements is something the parties are right now coping with.”


Israeli security and political officials have been unsettled by the rapid developments on the ground and in the diplomatic arena in recent weeks. Washington’s gestures toward Iran, not only on the nuclear issue but also with regard to Syria and Iraq, underscore a divergence in how the United States and Israel, close allies, view the region. At the same time, Saudi Arabia, which shares Israel’s concern about an emboldened Iran, is financing Sunni groups that view Israel as the ultimate enemy.


More broadly, the intensified fighting has convinced many Israelis that the region will be unstable or even anarchic for some time, upending decades of strategic positioning and military planning.


“Historically, Israel has preferred to have strong leaders, even if they’re hostile to Israel,” said Jonathan Spyer, a senior research fellow at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, citing President Bashar al-Assad of Syria as an example.


“It’s a problem without an address,” Mr. Spyer said of the Islamist groups often lumped together as “global jihad.” “Israel always likes to have an address. Assad we don’t like, but when something happens in Assad’s territory, we can bargain with him. These guys, there is no address. There is no one to bargain with.”


Maj. Gen. Yoav Har-Even, director of the Israeli military’s planning branch, said in an interview published this month in the newspaper Yediot Aharonot that global jihad had already “taken control of some of the arms warehouses” in Syria and established a presence in the Golan Heights. He called it a “central target” of intelligence efforts.


“I don’t have, today, a contingency plan to destroy global jihad,” General Har-Even acknowledged. “But I am developing the intelligence ability to monitor events. If I spot targets that are liable to develop into a problem, I take the excellent intelligence that I am brought, I process it for the target and plan action. And I have a great many such targets.”


Since the Arab Spring uprisings began in 2011, there have been two main schools of thought in Israel. One argues that the instability in the region makes resolving the Palestinian conflict all the more urgent, to provide a beacon on an uncertain sea. The other cautions against making any concessions close to home while the future of the neighborhood remains unclear. The camps have only hardened their positions in response to the recent developments.


“The most important lesson from the last few weeks is that you cannot rely on a snapshot of reality at any given time in order to plan your strategic needs,” said Dore Gold, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and Israel’s former ambassador to the United Nations, who recently rejoined Mr. Netanyahu’s team as a freelance foreign policy adviser. “The region is full of bad choices. What that requires you to do is take your security very seriously. And you shouldn’t be intimidated by people saying, ‘Well, that’s a worst-case analysis,’ because lately, the worst is coming through.”


Efraim Halevy, a former director of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, views the landscape differently. Iran’s involvement in Syria and Iraq could distract it from its nuclear project, he said. Hezbollah has lost fighters in Syria and faced setbacks in its standing at home in Lebanon. Hamas, the Palestinian militant faction that controls the Gaza Strip, has been severely weakened by the new military-backed government in Egypt and its crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood. Syria’s military capacity has been greatly diminished.


“If you look all around, compared to what it was like six months ago, Israel can take a deep breath,” Mr. Halevy said. “The way things are at the moment, if you want to photograph it, it looks as if some of the potential is there for an improvement in Israel’s strategic position and interests. It’s more than ever a see and wait, and be on your guard, and protect yourself if necessary.”


Correction: January 19, 2014


An earlier version of this article incorrectly quoted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. He made reference to the Khyber Pass, not the Cairo

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