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The Perfect Assassin:

Lee Harvey Oswald, The CIA and Mind Control


by Jerry Leonard



Excerpt:  The CIA and the Press: Complicity in the JFK Assassination Cover-Up?



Over the years following the Kennedy assassination, many people have expressed incredulity at the notion that a CIA-inspired covert action that resulted in the death of an American president would not have been uncovered and reported on by the U.S. press. Such a belief overlooks the extent to which the mass media has been infiltrated and manipulated by the intelligence community throughout the Cold War period.[1] This belief is also based on a superficial understanding of both the lack of desire and the lack of legal freedom the media has to report on intelligence-related matters. Indeed, there are numerous precedents for stories far less damaging to the CIA than its role in the Kennedy assassination being quietly and systematically suppressed.


            Sarah Lyall, writing in December 1998 in the New York Times, reported that, “In Britain, journalists say, the intelligence services have traditionally enjoyed cozy relations with a select group of editors and reporters, who provide sympathetic coverage in exchange for special access and exclusive stories.”[2] This statement was prompted by allegations that the editor of the British paper the Sunday Telegraph was a British spy for MI6. Although Lyall seems to think it is, this close relationship between the intelligence infrastructure and the media is not restricted to Britain. The extensive and decades-long CIA influence over the U.S. media has been used to great effect for numerous purposes over the last several decades including: censoring news stories about CIA power and covert operations throughout the world, spreading CIA propaganda both internationally and domestically and gathering intelligence through journalists stationed throughout the world.


            In the 1970s, several mainstream press outlets including the New York Times, the Columbia Journalism Review and Rolling Stone Magazine published extensive investigations of CIA-manipulation of the media that revealed an amazing degree of intelligence control over reporting and reporters.[3] Over a period of three days in 1977, the New York Times published seven articles on the breadth of CIA-infiltration of the mass media as part of its far-flung intelligence gathering and propaganda operations.

            The first article, published on Christmas day, revealed the following information regarding the CIA’s influence over newspapers, publishing houses and journalists:


¨      “The C.I.A. has at various times owned or subsidized more than 50 newspapers, news services, radio stations, periodicals and other communications entities, sometimes in this country but mostly overseas, that were used as vehicles for its extensive propaganda efforts, as ‘cover’ for its operatives or both. Another dozen foreign-based news organizations, while not financed by the C.I.A., were infiltrated by paid C.I.A. agents.”


¨      “Nearly a dozen American publishing houses, including some of the most prominent names in the industry, have printed at least a score of the more than 250 English-language books financed or produced by the C.I.A. since the early 1950’s, in many cases without being aware of the agency’s involvement.”


¨      “Since the closing days of World War II, more than 30 and perhaps as many as 100 American journalists employed by a score of American news organizations have worked as salaried intelligence operatives while performing their reportorial duties.”[4]


            As the Times disclosed, this level of CIA infiltration of the media and the corresponding influence over information was not limited to the United States. The CIA had created an international media empire/propaganda machine that included the use of many news outlets, reporters and editors all over the world. As John Crewdson of the New York Times summarized:


 “We ‘had’ at least one newspaper in every foreign capital at any given time,” one C.I.A. man said, and those that the agency did not own outright or subsidize heavily it infiltrated with paid agents or staff officers who could have stories printed that were useful to the agency and not print those it found detrimental.[5]


            In fact, the CIA’s influence in the international media was probably much greater than its influence in the U.S. This was because the CIA was prohibited by law from certain actions in the U.S.,[6] whereas it was relatively unrestrained outside the country.


            Investigations into the relationship between the media and the CIA have consistently exposed a pattern of high-level cooperation between the two institutions through both formal and informal channels. Formal channels of cooperation existed through outright CIA-ownership and control of media outlets, news wires and publishing outlets as well as through having paid CIA agents pose as journalists at legitimate media outlets.

            In addition to the many news organizations that the CIA owned outright, there were many others, including those in the elite establishment media such as the New York Times[7] and Washington Post, with which the CIA had much informal influence. This informal influence[8] was useful at one level for gathering information through the routine debriefing of reporters on their return from overseas assignments[9] and through having open access to the photo libraries and archives of numerous press organizations.

            At higher levels, informal cooperation between the CIA and corporate media executives was often instrumental in censoring the publication of information that the CIA found objectionable. This informal cooperation was made easier by the fact that, in addition to the cozy relationship shared between the CIA and reporters,[10] the executives at many of the nation’s largest press outlets such as CBS, the New York Times, the Washington Post, U.S. News and World Report, Time, Newsweek and Life magazines were intimate friends with individuals at the highest levels of management at the CIA. The New York Times summarized in 1977 that “most C.I.A. directors, especially Richard Helms and the late Allen Dulles, have been close friends with the chief executives of some of the nation’s most influential news organizations.”[11] Kathryn Olmsted, who did her Ph.D. thesis on the subject of the relationship between the intelligence community and the press, was more specific with respect to the ties between the CIA elite and the elite that owned and managed establishment papers such as the Washington Post and the New York Times:


For example, Post editor Ben Bradlee’s brother-in-law was [CIA] covert operations chief Cord Meyer; Post publisher Phil Graham was probably the closest friend of Frank Wisner, the man who directed the Agency’s propaganda machine; and the Times publishing family, the Sulzbergers, socialized with CIA chiefs Allen Dulles, John McCone, and Richard Helms.[12]


            The media-elite and the government-elite shared a similar worldview that, in addition to long-standing social ties, also made informal cooperation much easier, especially when it came to national security-related issues. As media-scholar Olmsted observed:


From the 1940s to the 1960s, journalists and politicians alike had shared common assumptions about the Communist threat and the need to protect the operations of America’s clandestine soldiers in the Cold War. At times, news organizations had censored themselves to keep these secrets. Many publishers and editors socialized with the Ivy League-educated CIA officials and believed strongly in the integrity of these men. They accepted CIA Director Richard Helms’s 1971 statement, made in a speech to newspaper editors, that “the nation must, to a degree, take it on faith that we... are honorable men devoted to her service.”[13]


            The common worldview, background and interests of the media and CIA-elite made deep-felt suspicion of the CIA’s motives and operations on the part of the press rather rare. Few in the media would dare to publicly accuse their establishment counterparts in the intelligence world of CIA-backed assassinations of foreign leaders, let alone the assassination of an American president. As Olmsted noted: “For journalists who had gone to the same schools and the same parties as the top CIA brass, it was hard to believe that these men could be threatening the Republic.”[14]


*    *    * 


            Media cooperation with the CIA (and the intelligence community as a whole) was also made easier by the “revolving door” between the CIA and the media corporations that allowed reporters and media managers to rotate between jobs as CIA employees or operatives and “objective” journalists.[15]

            The Columbia Journalism Review related that, at the time its exposé was published, the Pentagon correspondent for US News & World Report, the Newsweek diplomatic correspondent in Washington, the publisher of the New Republic and the executive editor of the Philadelphia Bulletin (a former Newsweek staffer) were all ex-CIA employees. (Robert J. Myers, publisher of  the New Republic, had been a CIA station chief in Southeast Asia.) In addition to these ties documented by the Columbia Journalism Review, it has become well known that William F. Buckley, long associated with the founding of the “conservative” National Review, had been a former CIA agent.[16] Tom Braden, a syndicated columnist and later “liberal” co-host of CNN’s Crossfire program,[17] had not only been hired early on as future director Allen Dulles’s assistant at the CIA[18] but had headed up the original CIA program designed to use the media for propaganda purposes[19] (note the CIA’s bipartisan media influence[20]).[21]

            Authors Hinckle and Turner note that Life magazine’s publisher, C.D. Jackson, had been “president of the CIA’s Free Europe Committee in the 1950s and was also special assistant to President Eisenhower for psychological warfare working on anti-Communist propaganda for Eastern Europe.”[22] Frances Stonor Saunders referred to Jackson as “one of the most influential covert strategists in America.” Having been “one of America’s leading psychological warfare specialists” during World War II, his new position as a top-level advisor to Eisenhower made him “an unofficial minister for propaganda with almost unlimited powers.”[23]

Eisenhower’s choice to head up the U.S. psychological warfare effort was Nelson Rockefeller, who had extensive and extremely high-level ties to both the intelligence establishment and the media. For example, Rockefeller had chaired the powerful National Security Council committee, which was responsible for overseeing the CIA’s covert activities. He later served as the head of a presidential committee investigating abuses of the intelligence agencies. This position conveniently allowed Nelson to control what facts the public was allowed to see with respect to CIA abuses (including political assassinations) that occurred while he was overseeing the agency.[24] Rockefeller’s position on the presidential investigative committee presented a major conflict of interest since the CIA abuses investigated by Rockefeller’s commission included the mind-control studies that were conducted on the American public by the CIA. These mind-control studies were conducted while Rockefeller chaired the CIA oversight committee that was briefed on plans for the human experimentation, many of which were conducted through the department of Health Education and Welfare (HEW) and often funded through Rockefeller foundations at the time Rockefeller was heading up HEW.[25]

            In addition to his impressive connections to the intelligence world, Rockefeller’s connections with the media were substantial. The Rockefeller family dynasty had influence over numerous powerful media corporations through its long-running control of Chase Manhattan Bank (where David Rockefeller, Nelson’s brother, was director). During the controversy over Nelson Rockefeller’s appointment as vice president by President Gerald Ford, the Washington Post noted the rather large potential for undue Rockefeller media influence through Chase:


If the television networks give “Vice President” Rockefeller a bad time, he might turn to a friend at Chase Manhattan. According to a Senate subcommittee’s study of corporate ownership, the bank controls respectable minority blocks of stock in CBS, ABC and NBC, not to mention modest bites of The New York Times and Time-Life, Inc.[26]



            In addition to the flow of personnel from the intelligence world to the media, traffic also went the other way. For example, Wallace Deuel, Washington correspondent for the Chicago Daily News and St. Louis Post-Dispatch, joined the CIA in 1953. Joseph Goodwin, a former Associated Press Washington correspondent, joined the CIA in 1966 and Richard Helms, a former United Press correspondent, became director of the CIA during the Johnson administration.

            In an interesting three-step process, Joseph Ream left his job as an executive vice president at CBS to take a job as the deputy director of the super-secret National Security Agency, which many researchers believe to be far more powerful than the CIA. As deputy director, he was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the NSA. After his stint at this extremely powerful position (which he listed as “retirement” in his CBS bio), he returned to head up CBS’s Washington office. He later headed up CBS’s programming department.[27]



*    *    *


            In 1974, the Columbia Journalism Review noted hypocrisy inherent in the “non-reporting” by journalists on the subject of CIA-influence in the media:


American journalists relentlessly pursued every allegation they could find in the 1960’s to document the Central Intelligence Agency’s infiltration of student organizations, trade unions and foundations. Yet, when it was reported last November that newsmen themselves were on the payroll of the CIA the story caused a brief stir, and then was dropped.[28]


The CJR continued: “The journalistic failure to investigate the CIA’s use of the news business contrasts sharply with the aggressive exposure of ethical tangles in non-journalistic institutions.”

            The clubby atmosphere that existed at the apex of the American establishment no doubt made it difficult for one component of the establishment (the press) to seriously question another part (the intelligence establishment). As Olmsted summarized:


In short, the news media in the 1950s and 1960s had close ties with the CIA as an institution and with the Ivy League alumni who ran it. They went to the same colleges, attended the same dinner parties, joined the same country clubs, and shared the same assumptions about the CIA’s role in the world.[29]


Olmsted went on to observe: “As Tom Wicker has pointed out, the press, as a member of the establishment, does not want to risk establishment disapproval.”[30]


            The journalistic failure to investigate the CIA’s use of the news business described by the Columbia Journalism Review does in fact have major ramifications for a democracy. As it was later put by the New York Times:


...using reporters as agents offends and confounds the principles of American democracy. Under constitutional protections, the press is the chronicler of and check on government, not its instrument. If the United States Government does not honor that distinction, who anywhere will believe it really exists?[31]



            The extensive CIA media infiltration and manipulation does make one wonder as to whether there is a worthwhile distinction between the press and the government. It also gives pause as to whether the cozy relationship between the press and the CIA threatens the free flow of information necessary for the functioning of a healthy democracy.

            Blurring the distinction between the government, the CIA and the press certainly makes it easier for the CIA to suppress uncomfortable facts and threatening stories. At critical times during the Cold War, the CIA was able to use its influence with the media to do just that by censoring articles which threatened to shed light on its day-to-day operations and its role in instigating international events (such as the overthrowing of democratically elected governments) through covert activities. In some cases, CIA management put pressure on publishers to suppress stories. In many cases the media simply censored itself. In other cases, the press outlets themselves voluntarily submitted CIA-related stories to the CIA for editing prior to publication.

            An example of this latter form of self-censorship occurred when the editors of Collier’s submitted an impending article about the operations of a network of overseas CIA “front” companies to the CIA management for censorship prior to publication. In a similar manner, the New York Times submitted an exposé of the CIA it was preparing (ironically, on the subject of whether the CIA constituted an invisible government) to the ex-director of the CIA, who deleted parts of the story.

            Another example of media publishers censoring their own work occurred when the publisher of the New York Times, Arthur Hays Sulzberger, helped the CIA out in a time of need by reassigning a Times reporter whom the CIA feared might expose its impending overthrow of the democratically elected government of Guatemala. In another case, the CIA managed to prevent the publication of an exposé in the Miami Herald on its preparations for the Bay Of Pigs invasion. Two of these events, the overthrow of the regime in Guatemala and the Bay of Pigs invasion, bear indirectly on the Kennedy assassination.[32] But there are more direct ways in which the CIA has attempted to suppress the dissemination of information relevant to its alleged role in the JFK assassination. One of these methods included direct media-orchestrated propaganda campaigns to discredit vocal critics[33] who dared suggest that the CIA might have had a hand in the killing of Kennedy.

            The three-day New York Times exposé published in 1977 provided a glimpse into a CIA-run disinformation campaign aimed at rogue “conspiracy theorists.” According to the Times, one campaign was conducted after the CIA unsuccessfully tried to persuade the publishers of Random House to let it buy up an entire run of an unflattering book about the agency entitled The Invisible Government.  The CIA reportedly used its influence with editors and reporters in the media at-large to initiate a propaganda campaign[34] “to encourage reviewers to denigrate the book as misinformed and dangerous.”[35]  

            This was not the only time that the CIA initiated a smear campaign to denigrate authors of books critical of the CIA. In fact, it initiated such a campaign specifically targeting authors who adopted a conspiratorial viewpoint of the Kennedy assassination.

            On December 26, 1977, the New York Times published an article about the numerous ways in which the CIA attempted to discredit Kennedy assassination conspiracy theorists. Powerful people in the agency were upset over the fact that various independent researchers were suggesting Oswald might have been working for the CIA and that the Warren Commission had done a less than honorable job in its report by insisting that Oswald was a “lone-nut assassin.”[36] To confront and discredit these theories,[37] a memo was dispatched from CIA headquarters to encourage its agents and operatives to use their influence with the press to refute and discredit such arguments.[38] Consequently, a large propaganda operation was implemented to attack critics of the Warren Commission as amateurish, self-interested[39] and in some cases even Communist-inspired.[40]

            In addition to supplying ready-made, CIA-friendly arguments about the Kennedy assassination, the agency recommended attacking conspiracy theorists through book reviews and press articles as part of its disinformation campaign.[41] CIA headquarters recommended that agents use influence with editors and politicians to discourage the international dissemination of such conspiracy-minded assassination theories.[42]


            The CIA was not the only federal agency relevant to the Kennedy assassination that actively attempted to manipulate and control the press. The FBI also routinely engaged in covert media manipulation to influence public opinion. This included cultivating cozy relationships with “friendly” reporters and editors, planting stories in the press that were favorable to the FBI and campaigning to get stories killed that were critical of the agency.[43] Techniques also included targeting individuals and groups for discrediting or disruption through the media.[44]

            One technique for discrediting was opening FBI files on targeted individuals to journalists so that derogatory stories could be printed. In one case that created a stir within elite journalistic circles, the FBI offered the surveillance tapes it had made of Martin Luther King to several reporters in the hopes that they would spread derogatory information about the civil rights activist.[45]

            Like the CIA, the FBI targeted critics of its investigations for discrediting and censorship.[46] And like the CIA, the FBI attempted to use the media to discredit critics of the establishment line on the Kennedy assassination. For example, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Activities reported that the FBI tried to discredit a public meeting about the Kennedy assassination by maligning a member of the audience:


After a public meeting in New York City, where “the handling of the [J.F.K. Assassination] investigation was criticized,” the F.B.I. prepared a news item for placement “with a cooperative news media source” to discredit the meeting on the grounds that “a reliable [F.B.I.] source” had reported a “convicted perjurer and identified espionage agent as present in the audience.”[47]



*    *    *


            The intricate web of press outlets and personalities that the CIA owned or influenced has been effective at suppressing news of the various illegal activities that the CIA has engaged in over the years.[48] It is not difficult to see that such a level of control would come in handy to prevent disclosure of illegal acts committed in the U.S., such as complicity in the assassination of a president.

            Olmsted, writing in Journalism History, relates how members of the media censored themselves when given a sensitive briefing by President Ford about CIA assassination plots against foreign leaders,[49] as well as how considerable pressure was brought to bear on a New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter named Seymour Hersh who broke the story of the CIA’s illegal domestic espionage and surveillance efforts within the United States (through the CHAOS project described earlier).[50] Even greater abuse was piled on then-CBS reporter Daniel Schorr, who leaked news of a classified congressional report critical of the CIA.



            These efforts on the part of the CIA and their willing accomplices in the media to suppress stories relating to its misdeeds and mistakes[51] hold valuable lessons for students of the Kennedy assassination.

            If, as is suggested, Oswald was involved in illegal, U.S.-based CIA spying activities against Cuba and pro-Cuban American groups that, in some shape or form were still ongoing in the 1980s,[52] then similar national security considerations would come into play in any attempts on the part of the press to expose Oswald’s role in these operations.

            If reporters such as Seymour Hersh, who had leaked news of the CIA’s ongoing infiltration of undercover agents into American dissident groups, and Schorr, who had illegally leaked classified House Select Committee on Intelligence reports and news of the CIA’s assassination efforts against foreign leaders, were scorned and punished by their self-righteous peers and bosses in the establishment media, one can only imagine what might happen to a “lesser” journalist who leaked secret information that a famous CIA-backed operative was not only involved in the infiltration of American political groups but was also the assassin of an American president. (This of course assumes that such a journalist’s editor and publisher would print such a blockbuster story to begin with... thereby risking the wrath of their colleagues in the intelligence establishment.)[53]

            In addition to these considerations, there is another dimension, a legal one, to the problem of the media’s lack of freedom to freely report information about Oswald’s alleged connections to the CIA with respect to the Kennedy assassination. If Oswald was indeed an operative with ties to sensitive or ongoing CIA covert operations, or even if he was an independent traitor who had revealed sensitive information to the Soviets, it may actually have been illegal for the press to report on his connections to the CIA or the extent of the CIA’s knowledge and monitoring of his “illegal” actions. Such reporting could have compromised ongoing operations, spying capabilities or sensitive networks of informants and operatives.

            Such considerations restrained media coverage of the Pelton spy trial in the 1980s. In fact, William Casey, the director of the CIA, threatened to prosecute the Washington Post “if it published an advance story on the Pelton trial, which went into details about the eavesdropping operations he allegedly revealed to the Soviets.” Similar restrictions and considerations[54] might very well have applied to the Oswald case if he had been involved in a sensitive CIA-sponsored mission into the Soviet Union involving the U-2 reconnaissance plane (for example, if he had revealed sensitive information to the Soviets about the plane) or if he had been a part of a CIA anti-Castro network within the United States. (This latter consideration is especially relevant since such networks were reportedly operational well into the 1980s.) Similarly, it may be illegal to report on the sensitive methods used to track and monitor Oswald during his stay in the Soviet Union.



*     *     *



            Although the extensive CIA use of the media was supposed to have ended in 1977 when an executive order was signed that restricted such abuses, more recent reports indicate this law restricting CIA-infiltration of the media had loopholes that allowed the CIA to continue to covertly infiltrate the media. USA Today related in 1996 that “the CIA has secretly waived the law, which also covers members of the clergy.”[55] (No mention was made of how the CIA obtained the power to secretly waive U.S. laws designed to regulate its actions.)

            According to Stansfield Turner, ex-director of the CIA, journalists have on rare occasions been used by the CIA despite the alleged ban (which, according to Gerald Seib, writing in The Wall Street Journal “generally discouraged the practice but allowed for exceptions.”)[56]

            As troubling as these violations of the spirit of the law have been, even more disturbing developments are in the works. Barriers between the CIA and the press, as permeable they are, may soon be torn down completely. A study group of the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations recommended in early 1996 that the law restricting CIA infiltration of the press be rescinded and that the CIA be given free reign to infiltrate the media once again.[57] This decision has been justifiably criticized by journalists writing in the New York Times[58] and the Wall Street Journal,[59] mostly because they themselves had been incorrectly accused of being spies while on assignment in Iraq and Iran respectively and recognized the inherent danger of such CIA/media manipulation to other U.S. journalists (who might also be falsely accused and unjustly punished) working abroad.

            The decision by the influential Council on Foreign Relations has unfortunately emboldened the CIA to reconsider actions that have long-been controversial, including covert use of the media. USA Today reported during the height of the recent debate on CIA use of the media before a congressional committee that “CIA director John Deutch said ...he’ll recruit journalists as spies when he feels it’s necessary.”[60]


            Given what is at stake, it is a sad state of affairs that the establishment press outlets such as the New York Times have not reported more extensively on these proposed changes in legislation that would seriously corrupt journalism at the hands of the intelligence agencies.[61] Alan Saracevic, writing in Mother Jones, provided a fitting summary of the current situation (as well as the historic one) when he noted: “The Times, it appears, is afraid of being too hard on our intelligence agencies. That includes the FBI.”[62]





            Given such widespread CIA and FBI media influence,[63] it is no wonder that the shortcomings of the Warren Commission’s conclusions and the deliberate CIA misrepresentation of the facts before congressional investigative committees have gone unreported for so long by the establishment press. In light of the information summarized above, it should be obvious that any serious investigation into the assassination of President Kennedy would be incomplete without an uncensored investigation into CIA and FBI manipulation of the press. A good place to start would be to declassify the material the Church Committee buried on the subject.


For the complete story of how the “Manchurian Candidate” scenario depolarizes the false dichotomy in the JFK assassination investigation and solves the case, see:

The Perfect Assassin

by Jerry Leonard




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[1] This manipulation is so extensive that, at times, the mainstream press appears to act as an extension of the CIA. As Carl Bernstein noted in a major investigation published in Rolling Stone magazine: “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.” [emphasis added] Carl Bernstein, “The CIA And The Media,” Rolling Stone, October 20, 1977.

[2] Sarah Lyall, “British Press Uncovers Spy Scandal Of Its Own,” New York Times, 12/20/98

[3] One of these studies was conducted by Carl Bernstein and published in Rolling Stone Magazine (Carl Bernstein, “The CIA And The Media,” Rolling Stone, October 20, 1977). Another was written by John Crewdson and published on the front page of the New York Times on three consecutive days–December 25-27, 1977. The Columbia Journalism Review also published several investigations of CIA/media infiltration and cooperation. See: “The CIA, the FBI and the Media,” Columbia Journalism Review, July/August, 1976, pp. 37-42 and Stuart H. Loory, “The CIA’s Use of the Press: a ‘Mighty Wurlitzer’,” Columbia Journalism Review, September/October, 1974, pp. 9-18.

[4] John M. Crewdson, “The C.I.A.’s 3-Decade Effort To Mold the World’s Views: Agency Network Using News Organs, Books and Other Methods Is Detailed,” New York Times, 12/25/77

[5] John L. Crewdson, “Worldwide Propaganda Network Built by the C.I.A.,” New York Times, 12/26/77

[6] As was documented previously, the illegality of domestic covert actions was not necessarily a deterrent to CIA behavior.

[7] John Crewdson reported: “In the Times’s study it appeared that the C.I.A. relied on its connections with Time, Newsweek, CBS News and The Times itself more extensively than on its contacts with other news organizations.” [John M. Crewdson, “CIA: Secret Shaper Of Public Opinion:  C.I.A. Established Many Links To Journalists in U.S. and Abroad,” New York Times, 12/27/77] Carl Bernstein made similar observations writing that “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.”

[8] As Kathryn Olmsted reported: “But even when a newspaper or network did not have a formal relationship with the CIA, the Agency could still have close ties and mutual interests with its reporters and editors.” Kathryn Olmstead, “Challenging the Secret Government: Congress and the Press Investigate the Intelligence Community, 1974-1976,” (Ph.D. diss., University of California, Davis, 1993), p. 32.

[9] As a recent editorial in the New York Times stated: “During the cold war, a pattern of informal collaboration developed between some journalists and the Central Intelligence Agency. Foreign correspondents and the C.I.A. station chiefs sometimes swapped information. In 1976, a Senate committee headed by Frank Church learned that this practice had gotten out of hand. Fifty journalists at various times had been paid by the C.I.A., and many more were used as “unwitting sources.” “No Press Cards for Spies,” New York Times, 3/18/96

[10] The Columbia Journalism Review described the situation as “the whole tangled web of relationships between reporters and intelligence agents.”

[11] John M. Crewdson, “C.I.A. Established Many Links To Journalists in U.S. and Abroad,” New York Times, 12/27/77

[12] Kathryn Olmstead, “Challenging the Secret Government: Congress and the Press Investigate the Intelligence Community, 1974-1976,” (Ph.D. diss., University of California, Davis, 1993), p. 33.

[13] Kathryn Olmsted, “‘An American Conspiracy’: The Post-Watergate Press and the CIA,” Journalism History, vol. 19, no. 2, 1993, p. 52.

[14] Ibid., p. 54.

[15] The Columbia Journalism Review summarized the situation in the following manner: “The open flow of personnel between the news business and the CIA is known to many Washington journalists but is accepted and no particular point is made of it.” Stuart H. Loory, “The CIA’s Use of the Press: a ‘Mighty Wurlitzer’,” Columbia Journalism Review, September/October, 1974, p. 10.

[16] Chris Weinkopf, “William F. Buckley Jr.,”, Sept. 3, 1999.

[17] Given that Braden was intimately involved with the CIA’s attempts to pre-empt the legitimate left with a manufactured Non-Communist Left, it is natural to wonder if Braden was himself playing a similar role—posing as a liberal media pundit, much like Oswald posed as a Marxist defender of Cuba in the media in New Orleans after he was exposed as a U.S. defector with Russian sympathies.

[18] Frances Stonor Saunders, The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters, (New York: The New Press, 1999), p. 95.

[19] John Crewdson, “Worldwide Propaganda Network Built by the C.I.A.,” New York Times, 12/26/77

[20] Propaganda expert and MIT linguistics professor Noam Chomsky has summarized the utility of constraining debate within such manufactured bounds: “Any expert in indoctrination will confirm, no doubt, that it is far more effective to constrain all possible thought within a framework of tacit assumption than to try to impose a particular explicit belief with a bludgeon.” And, specifically with respect to the establishment media: “the system has created the illusion of free and open debate while in fact ensuring that only a narrow spectrum of opinion and analysis reaches a broad public.” Noam Chomsky, Towards a New Cold War, (New York: Pantheon Books, 1982), p. 81; Noam Chomsky, Language and Politics, (New York: Black Rose Books, 1988), p. 294.

[21] In 1967, Braden penned an article summarizing the extent of covert CIA manipulation in the Saturday Evening Post. In the article titled “I’m Glad the CIA is ‘Immoral’”, Braden wrote, “By 1953 we were operating or influencing international organizations in every field.” Apparently very disillusioned, Braden, who had actively campaigned for the creation of the CIA, would later advocate its dissolution. Summarizing his views in a 1975 Saturday Review article he stated, “It’s a shame what happened to the CIA. It could have consisted of a few hundred scholars to analyze intelligence, a few hundred spies in key positions, and a few hundred operators ready to carry out rare tasks of derring-do. Instead, it became a gargantuan monster, owning property all over the world, running airplanes and newspapers and radio stations and banks and armies and navies…” Saunders, pp. 95, 398, 423.

[22] Hinckle and Turner, p. 185.

[23] Frances Stonor Saunders, The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters, (New York: The New Press, 1999), pp. 146-7.

[24] As the Washington Post noted (with respect to the explosive issue of CIA-backed international assassinations) while covering the hearings: “The Rockefeller commission has decided to keep secret all of the evidence it has compiled about the Central Intelligence Agency’s involvement in assassination plots, it was disclosed last night.” When Nelson was accused by Frank Church of “playing down the CIA’s misdeeds” during the investigation he responded (while holding a copy of the report): “I don’t think there is very much that hasn’t been uncovered and discussed in this report...” George Lardner, Jr. “Rockefeller Unit to Keep Slaying Plot Data Secret,” Washington Post, 6/6/75

[25] Gerard Colby, Charlotte Dennett, Thy Will Be Done, The Conquest of the Amazon: Nelson Rockefeller and Evangelism in the Age of Oil, (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 1995), pp. 265-66.

[26] William Greider, Thomas O’Toole, “Rockefeller Family Holdings Touch Every Economic Sphere,” Washington Post, 9/22/74

[27] James Bamford, The Puzzle Palace: Inside the National Security Agency, America’s Most Secret Intelligence Organization, (New York: Penguin Books Ltd, 1986), pp. 119, 428-429.

[28] Stuart H. Loory, “The CIA’s Use of the Press: a ‘Mighty Wurlitzer’,” Columbia Journalism Review, September/October, 1974, p. 9.

[29] Kathryn Olmstead, “Challenging the Secret Government: Congress and the Press Investigate the Intelligence Community, 1974-1976,” (Ph.D. diss., University of California, Davis, 1993), p. 33.

[30] Kathryn Olmsted, “‘An American Conspiracy’: The Post-Watergate Press and the CIA,” Journalism History, vol. 19, no. 2, 1993, p. 52.

[31] “No Press Cards for Spies,” New York Times, 3/18/96

[32] Guatemala was used as a base for training many of the soldiers who fought in the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. As Colby and Dennett summarized: “[M]any of the same CIA operatives that had overthrown the Arbenz government [of Guatemala] returned to Guatemala to begin preparations for another CIA invasion.” (Colby and Dennett, p. 321.) According to many researchers it was the Bay of Pigs operation that made the Kennedy brothers suspicious of and hostile towards the CIA. Various operatives such as E. Howard Hunt and Frank Sturgis who were involved in these covert actions seem to reappear in investigations of the Kennedy assassination.

[33] In the mid 1960s, Ramparts magazine published an exposé of how the CIA used tax-exempt foundations to fund an international network of front groups. To discredit the story and its source, the CIA covertly attacked the magazine’s publishers. As Saunders reported: “For more than a year the CIA did everything it could to sink Ramparts. ‘I had all sorts of dirty tricks to hurt their circulation and financing,’ Deputy Inspector General Edgar Applewhite later confessed. ‘The people running Ramparts were vulnerable to blackmail. We had awful things in mind, some of which we carried off… We were not the least inhibited by the fact that the CIA had no internal security role in the United States.’” Saunders, p. 382.

[34] The CIA approached Random House and attempted to buy up all the copies of the book in advance. Random House offered to let the CIA buy up the first printing run but promised a second and third printing.

[35] John M. Crewdson, “The C.I.A.’s 3-Decade Effort To Mold the World’s Views: Agency Network Using News Organs, Books and Other Methods Is Detailed,” New York Times, 12/25/77

[36] As the New York Times reported: “But a C.I.A. document, recently declassified under the Freedom of Information Act, provides a detailed account of at least one instance in which the agency mustered its propaganda machinery to support an issue of far more concern to Americans, and to the C.I.A. itself, than to citizens of other countries....This was the conclusion of the Warren Commission that Lee Harvey Oswald alone was responsible for the assassination of President Kennedy.”  “Cable Sought to Discredit Critics of Warren Report,” New York Times, 12/26/77

[37] Alarmingly, this effort may have been a CIA-backed psychological warfare effort aimed at the American people. A similar “psywar” effort using the media was leveled against the people of Guatemala in the overthrow of the Arbenz government in 1954 and against the Cuban people as part the Bay of Pigs invasion. There are links between personnel involved in these psywar operations against Cuba and Guatemala and personnel involved in the Kennedy assassination. For example, E. Howard Hunt, who was involved in both of these operations (and, it is alleged by some authors, the Kennedy assassination) was a member of Eisenhower’s psychological warfare committee designed to facilitate the overthrow of the Guatemalan and Cuban governments. Hunt also headed up (as its first chief) the CIA’s Domestic Operations Division–the very agency that participated in much of the covert action aimed at spying on American dissidents (which he claims actually began in 1962 under Kennedy). If Oswald was in fact working for the CIA or FBI as part of this domestic infiltration of anti-war groups, he may very well have been working for Hunt. Interestingly Hunt, as part of his service in the Domestic Ops Division, participated in, according to the New York Times “the secret financing of a Washington news agency.” See: Lawrence C. Soley, “Radio Warfare: OSS and CIA Subversive Propaganda,” (New York: Praeger, 1989), pp. 222-223; Seymour Hersh, “Hunt Tells of Early Work For a C.I.A. Domestic Unit,” New York Times, 12/31/96

[38] “Conspiracy theories have frequently thrown suspicion on our organization, for example by falsely alleging that Lee Harvey Oswald worked for us. The aim of this dispatch is to provide material for countering and discrediting the claims of the conspiracy theorists, so as to inhibit circulation of such claims in other countries.” Memo from CIA dated April 1, 1967 quoted in: “Cable Sought to Discredit Critics of Warren Report,” New York Times, 12/26/77

[39] “These critics and others, the C.I.A. said, should be depicted as ‘wedded to theories adopted before the evidence was in,’ politically or financially ‘interested’ in disproving the commission’s conclusion, ‘hasty or inaccurate in their research, or infatuated with their own theories.’”  “Cable Sought to Discredit Critics of Warren Report,” New York Times, 12/26/77

[40] The Times reported: “Among the arguments that the agency suggested were that the Warren Commission had conducted ‘as thorough an investigation as humanly possible, that the charges of the critics are without serious foundation, and that further speculative discussion only plays into the hands of the opposition.’”

[41] In light of this CIA memo that recommended the use of editorials and book reviews to further the Agency’s propaganda goals, the near universal acclaim that Gerald Posner’s CIA-favorable book Case Closed received from the establishment media organizations deserves closer attention. (The cover of Newsweek Magazine on Aug. 30- Sept. 6, 1993, sported the headlines: “CASE CLOSED: AFTER 30 YEARS OF CONSPIRACY THEORIES, A BRILLIANT NEW BOOK FINALLY PROVES WHO KILLED KENNEDY.”) This favorable press should be compared with stunning silence with which John Newman’s recent book Oswald and the CIA has been greeted by the same media outlets. Apparently, Newman made the mistake of actually bothering to read and report on the mountains of recently declassified documents that clearly show that the CIA has been less than forthcoming about its knowledge of Oswald’s activities prior to the assassination.

[42] “The C.I.A. was careful to caution its stations overseas not to initiate a discussion ‘of the assassination question’ where such a discussion was ‘not already taking place.’ But where such discussions were under way, C.I.A. officers abroad were directed to ‘discuss the publicity problem with liaison and friendly elite contacts, especially politicians and editors,’ and to ‘employ propaganda assets to answer and refute the attacks of the critics.’” “Cable Sought to Discredit Critics of Warren Report,” New York Times, 12/26/77

[43] Final Report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Activities, Excerpts reprinted in “The CIA, the FBI and the Media,” Columbia Journalism Review, July/August, 1976, pp. 37-42.

[44] “The FBI has attempted covertly to influence the public’s perception of persons and organizations by disseminating derogatory information to the press, either anonymously or through ‘friendly’ news contacts.” Final Report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Activities, Excerpts reprinted in “The CIA, the FBI and the Media,” Columbia Journalism Review, July/August, 1976, p. 39.

[45] Final Report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Activities, Excerpts reprinted in “The CIA, the FBI and the Media,” Columbia Journalism Review, July/August, 1976, p. 42.

[46] “The bureau sometimes used its media contacts to prevent or postpone the publication of articles it considered favorable to its targets or unfavorable to the FBI. For example, to influence articles that related to the FBI, the bureau took advantage of a close relationship with a high official of a major national magazine, described in an FBI memorandum as ‘our good friend.’ Through this relationship, the FBI ‘squelched’ an ‘unfavorable article against the Bureau’ written by a free-lance writer about an FBI investigation; ‘postponed publication’ of an article on another FBI case; ‘forestalled publication’ of an article by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and received information about proposed editing of King’s articles.” Final Report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Activities, Excerpts reprinted in “The CIA, the FBI and the Media,” Columbia Journalism Review, July/August, 1976, p. 41.

[47] Final Report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Activities, Excerpts reprinted in “The CIA, the FBI and the Media,” Columbia Journalism Review, July/August, 1976, p. 40.

[48] The ability of the CIA to censor the press has continued despite laws regulating CIA infiltration of the media (see below). As the Boston Globe reported as late as 1989: “William Baker, a former information officer... told a Harvard University audience that improved relations between the press and the CIA had helped him to persuade three major newspapers or their reporters to kill, alter or delay articles concerning CIA operations.” Stephen Kurkjian, Jeff McConnell, “Restraining the Media at the CIA,” Boston Globe, 8/22/89

[49] In this case, editors were given a luncheon-briefing on CIA assassination plots by President Ford (a member of the Warren Commission) and asked not to write about it. They complied. Kathryn Olmsted, “‘An American Conspiracy’: The Post-Watergate Press and the CIA,” Journalism History, vol. 19, no. 2 1993, pp. 51-58.

[50] One of the articles which got Hersh in trouble appeared on the front page of the New York Times in 1974:  Seymour M. Hersh, “Huge C.I.A. Operation Reported In U.S. Against Antiwar Forces, Other Dissidents In Nixon Years,” New York Times, 12/22/74

[51] Olmsted relates how the CIA brass intervened with the prestige-media’s editors and owners to squelch impending stories relating to the CIA’s embarrassing attempts to raise a sunken Soviet sub. Arguing that they would be exposing a potentially ongoing national security related operation, CIA management was able to convince many editors within the elite national press corps to self-censor the sub stories.

[52] The violent anti-Castro paramilitary operations of the CIA-backed group Alpha-66 were reported to be ongoing into the 1980s.

[53] There is another dimension to the media’s lack of independence when it comes to reporting on covert activities. That dimension is the media’s active participation in covert actions. In the case of the anti-Castro activities that are highly relevant to the Kennedy assassination, the actions of the media Goliath of Time-Life must be considered. This media giant was not an independent observer of the paramilitary activities against Castro’s Cuba. The media outlet’s owner, Henry Luce, used his publishing empire to directly aid these activities as well as to prepare the American people to support them. For example, Luce directed employees of Time, Inc. to provide logistical and financial assistance to the anti-Castro effort. Life purchased ship-to-shore radios for the commandos participating in the raids and provided insurance for both the commandos and the reporters covering the operations. The pages of Life magazine were also used to glamorize the commando raids against Cuba. (President Kennedy asked Luce to curtail these stories to avoid unwanted publicity of the ongoing paramilitary operations. Luce was reportedly greatly offended at this suggestion.) These considerations should make it apparent that the Time-Life media monolith would not exactly be a neutral institution reporting on the anti-Castro efforts or the Kennedy assassination since the corporation’s owner took direct action in the anti-Castro efforts and was at odds with President Kennedy over coverage of the raids. [See: Hinckle and Turner, pp. 184-188.] Recall it was Life magazine which on February 21, 1964 published the famous and incriminating backyard photos of Oswald “proudly holding a Trotskyite newspaper, The Militant, in one hand and rifle he used to shoot President Kennedy in the other.” The day after the assassination, Life purchased exclusive television and movie rights to the famous Zapruder film of the assassination and controlled publication of frames from the home-movie.

[54] According to the journal Editor & Publisher, it is a crime “to publish information about U.S. communications intelligence.” Editor & Publisher, June 7, 1986, p. 13.

[55] Steve Komarow, “CIA Chief: Journalists Can Be Spies,” USA Today, 2/23/96

[56] Gerald F. Seib, “Reporters, Spies and the Reasons They Don’t Mix,” The Wall Street Journal, 3/6/96

[57] Frank Smyth, “My Spy Story,” New York Times, 2/22/96

[58] Ibid., 2/22/96

[59] Gerald F. Seib, “Reporters, Spies and the Reasons They Don’t Mix,” The Wall Street Journal, 3/6/96

[60] Steve Komarow, “CIA Chief: Journalists Can Be Spies,” USA Today, 2/23/96

[61] To its credit, the New York Times did produce one editorial sharply criticizing renewed attempts to remove the barriers between the CIA and the media. The Times editorialized: “The prohibition on paying accredited journalists for intelligence work should be absolute. The same applies to issuing bogus press credentials to a covert agent.” “No Press Cards for Spies,” New York Times, 3/18/96

[62] Alan Saracevic, “All the News That’s Safe to Print,” Mother Jones, Jan./Feb. 1996, p. 14.

[63] As the Times summarized: “A decade ago, when the agency’s communications empire was at its peak, it embraced more than 800 news and public information organizations and individuals.” John Crewdson, “Worldwide Propaganda Network Built by the C.I.A.,” New York Times, 12/26/77