Monday, June 15, 2009
Operation Mockingbird: How the CIA Controls the Media
The Alex Constantine Article
Tales from the Crypt
The Depraved Spies and Moguls
of the CIA's Operation MOCKINGBIRD
by Alex Constantine
Who Controls the Media?
Soulless corporations do, of course. Corporations with grinning,
double-breasted executives, interlocking directorates, labor squabbles
and flying capital. Dow. General Electric. Coca-Cola. Disney.
Newspapers should have mastheads that mirror the world: The
Westinghouse Evening Scimitar, The Atlantic-Richfield Intelligentser .
It is beginning to dawn on a growing number of armchair ombudsmen that
the public print reports news from a parallel universe - one that has
never heard of politically-motivated assassinations, CIA-Mafia banking
thefts, mind control, death squads or even federal agencies with
secret budgets fattened by cocaine sales - a place overrun by lone
gunmen, where the CIA and Mafia are usually on their best behavior. In
this idyllic land, the most serious infraction an official can commit
__is a the employment of a domestic servant with (shudder) no
This unlikely land of enchantment is the creation of MOCKINGBIRD.
It was conceived in the late 1940s, the most frigid period of the cold
war, when the CIA began a systematic infiltration of the corporate
media, a process that often included direct takeover of major news
In this period, the American intelligence services competed with
communist activists abroad to influence European labor unions. With or
without the cooperation of local governments, Frank Wisner, an
undercover State Department official assigned to the Foreign Service,
rounded up students abroad to enter the cold war underground of covert
operations on behalf of his Office of Policy Coordination. Philip
Graham, __a graduate of the Army Intelligence School in Harrisburg,
PA, then publisher of the Washington Post., was taken under Wisner's
wing to direct the program code-named Operation MOCKINGBIRD.
"By the early 1950s," writes formerVillage Voice reporter Deborah
Davis in Katharine the Great, "Wisner 'owned' respected members of the
New York Times, Newsweek, CBS and other communications vehicles, plus
stringers, four to six hundred in all, according to a former CIA
analyst." The network was overseen by Allen Dulles, a templar for
German and American corporations who wanted their points of view
represented in the public print. Early MOCKINGBIRD influenced 25
newspapers and wire agencies consenting to act as organs of CIA
propaganda. Many of these were already run by men with reactionary
views, among them William Paley (CBS), C.D. Jackson (Fortune), Henry
Luce (Time) and Arthur Hays Sulzberger (N.Y. Times).
Activists curious about the workings of MOCKINGBIRD have since been
appalled to f__ind in FOIA documents that agents boasting in CIA
office memos of their pride in having placed "important assets" inside
every major news publication in the country. It was not until 1982
that the Agency openly admitted that reporters on the CIA payroll have
acted as case officers to agents in the field.
"World War III has begun," Henry's Luce's Life declared in March,
1947. "It is in the opening skirmish stage already." The issue
featured an excerpt of a book by James Burnham, who called for the
creation of an "American Empire," "world-dominating in political
power, set up at least in part through coercion (probably including
war, but certainly the threat of war) and in which one group of people
... would hold more than its equal share of power."
George Seldes, the famed anti-fascist media critic, drew down on Luce
in 1947, explaining tha__t "although avoiding typical Hitlerian
phrases, the same doctrine of a superior people taking over the world
and ruling it, began to appear in the press, whereas the organs of
Wall Street were much more honest in favoring a doctrine inevitably
leading to war if it brought greater commercial markets under the
On the domestic front, an abiding relationship was struck between the
CIA and William Paley, a wartime colonel and the founder of CBS. A
firm believer in "all forms of propaganda" to foster loyalty to the
Pentagon, Paley hired CIA agents to work undercover at the behest of
his close friend, the busy grey eminence of the nation's media, Allen
Dulles. Paley's designated go-between in his dealings with the CIA was
Sig Mickelson, president of CBS News from 1954 to 1961.
The CIA's assimilation of old guard fascists was overseen by the
Operations Coordination Board, directed by C.D. Jackson, formerly an
executive of Time magazine and Eisenhower's Special Assistant for Cold
War Strategy. In 1954 he was succeeded by Nelson Rockefeller, who quit
a year later, disgusted at the administration's political infighting.
Vice President Nixon succeeded Rockefeller as the key cold war
"Nixon," writes John Loftus, a former attorney for the Justice
Department's Office of Special Investigations, took "a small boy's
delight in the arcane tools of the intelligence craft - the hidden
microphones, the 'black' propaganda." Nixon especially enjoyed his
visit to a Virginia training camp to observe Nazis in the "special
forces" drilling at covert operations.
One of the fugitives recruited by the American intelligence
underground was heroin smuggler Hubert von Blücher, the son of A
German ambassador. Hubert often bragged that that he was trained by
the Abwehr, the German military intelligence division, while still a
civilian in his twenties. He served in a recon unit of the German Army
until forced out for medical reasons in 1944, according to his wartime
records. He worked briefly as an assistant director for Berlin-Film on
a movie entitled One Day ..., and finished out the war flying with the
Luftwaffe, but not to engage the enemy - his mission was the smuggling
of Nazi loot out of the country. His exploits were, in part, the
subject of Sayer and Botting's Nazi Gold, an account of the knockover
of the Reichsbank at the end of the war.
In 1948 he flew the coop to Argentina. Posing as a photographer named
Huberto von Bleucher Corell, he immediately paid court to Eva Peron,
presenting her with an invaluable Gobelin tapestry (a selection from
the wealth of artifacts confiscated by the SS from Europe's Jews?).
Hubert then met with Martin Bormann at the Hotel Plaza to deliver
German marks worth $80 million. The loot financed the birth of the
National Socialist Party in Argentina, among other forms of Nazi
In 1951, Hubert migrated northward and took a job at the Color
Corporation of America in Hollywood. He eked out a living writing
scripts for the booming movie industry. His voice can be heard on a
film set in the Amazon, produced by Walt Disney. Nine years later he
returned to Buenos Aires, then Düsseldorf, West Germany, and
established a firm that developed not movie scripts, but anti-chemical
warfare agents for the government. At the Industrie Club in Düsseldorf
in 1982, von Blücher boasted to journalists, "I am chief shareholder
of Pan American Airways. I am the best friend of Howard Hughes. The
Beach Hotel in Las Vegas is 45 percent financed by me. I am thus the
biggest financier ever to appear in the Arabian Nights tales dreamed
up by these people over their second bottle of brandy."
Not really. Two the biggest financiers to stumble from the drunken
dreams of world-moving affluence were, in their time, Moses Annenberg,
publisher of The Philadelphia Inquirer, and his son Walter , the
CIA/mob-anchored publisher of the TV Guide. Like most American
high-rollers, Annenberg lived a double life. Moses, his father, was a
scion of the Capone mob. Both Moses and Walter were indicted in 1939
for tax evasions totalling many millions of dollars - the biggest case
in the history of the Justice Department. Moses pled guilty and agreed
to pay the government $8 million and settle $9 million in assorted tax
claims, penalties and interest debts. Moses received a three-year
sentence. He died in Lewisburg Penitentiary.
Walter Annenbeg, the TV Guide magnate, was a lofty Republican. On the
campaign trail in April, 1988, George Bush flew into Los Angeles to
woo Reagan's kitchen cabinet. "This is the topping on the cake,"
Bush's regional campaign director told the Los Angeles Times. The Bush
team met at Annenberg's plush Rancho Mirage estate at Sunnylands,
California. It was at the Annenberg mansion that Nixon's cabinet was
chosen, and the state's social and contributor registers built over a
quarter-century of state political dominance by Ronald Reagan, whose
acting career was launched by Operation MOCKINGBIRD.
The commercialization of television, coinciding with Reagan's
recruitment by the Crusade for Freedom, a CIA front, presented the
intelligence world with unprecedented potential for sowing propaganda
and even prying in the age of Big Brother. George Orwell glimpsed the
possibilities when he installed omniscient video surveillance
technology in 1948, a novel rechristened 1984 for the first edition
published in the U.S. by Harcourt, Brace. Operation Octopus, according
to federal files, was in full swing by 1948, a surveillance program
that turned any television set with tubes into a broadcast
transmitter. Agents of Octopus could pick up audio and visual images
with the equipment as far as 25 miles away.
Hale Boggs was investigating Operation Octopus at the time of his
disappearance in the midst of the Watergate probe.
In 1952, at MCA, Actors' Guild president Ronald Reagan - a screen idol
recruited by MOCKINGBIRD's Crusade for Freedom to raise funds for the
resettlement of Nazis in the U.S., according to Loftus - signed a
secret waiver of the conflict-of-interest rule with the mob-controlled
studio, in effect granting it a labor monopoly on early television
programming. In exchange, MCA made Reagan a part owner. Furthermore,
historian C. Vann Woodward, writing in the New York Times, in 1987,
reported that Reagan had "fed the names of suspect people in his
organization to the FBI secretly and regularly enough to be assigned
'an informer's code number, T-10.' His FBI file indicates intense
collaboration with producers to 'purge' the industry of subversives."
No one ever turned a suspicious eye on Walter Cronkite, a former
intelligence officer and in the immediate postwar period UPI's Moscow
correspondent. Cronkite was lured to CBS by Operation MOCKINGBIRD's
Phil Graham, according to Deborah Davis.
Another television conglomerate, Cap Cities, rose like a horror-film
simian from CIA and Mafia heroin operations. Among other
organized-crime Republicans, Thomas Dewey and his neighbor Lowell
Thomas threw in to launch the infamous Resorts International, the
corporate front for Lansky's branch of the federally-sponsored mob
family and the corporate precursor to Cap Cities. Another of the
investors was James Crosby, a Cap Cities executive who donated
$100,000 to Nixon's 1968 presidential campaign. This was the year that
Resorts bought into Atlantic City casino interests. Police in New
jersey attempted, with no success, to spike the issuance of a gambling
license to the company, citing Mafia ties.
In 1954, this same circle of investors, all Catholics, founded the
broadcasting company notorious for overt propagandizing and general
spookiness. The company's chief counsel was OSS veteran William Casey,
who clung to his shares by concealing them in a blind trust even after
he was appointed CIA director by Ronald Reagan in 1981.
"Black radio" was the phrase CIA critic David Wise coined in The
Invisible Government to describe the agency's intertwining interests
in the emergence of the transistor radio with the entrepreneurs who
took to the airwaves. "Daily, East and West beam hundreds of
propaganda broadcasts at each other in an unrelenting babble of
competition for the minds of their listeners. The low-price transistor
has given the hidden war a new importance," enthused one foreign
A Hydra of private foundations sprang up to finance the propaganda
push. One of them, Operations and Policy Research, Inc. (OPR),
received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the CIA through private
foundations and trusts. OPR research was the basis of a television
series that aired in New York and Washington, D.C. in 1964, Of People
and Politics, a "study" of the American political system in 21 weekly
In Hollywood, the visual cortex of The Beast, the same CIA/Mafia
combination that formed Cap Cities sank its claws into the film
studios and labor unions. Johnny Rosselli was pulled out of the Army
during the war by a criminal investigation of Chicago mobsters in the
film industry. Rosselli, a CIA asset probably assassinated by the CIA,
played sidekick to Harry Cohn, the Columbia Pictures mogul who visited
Italy's Benito Mussolini in 1933, and upon his return to Hollywood
remodeled his office after the dictator's. The only honest job
Rosselli ever had was assistant purchasing agent (and a secret
investor) at Eagle Lion productions, run by Bryan Foy, a former
producer for 20th Century Fox. Rosselli, Capone's representative on
the West Coast, passed a small fortune in mafia investments to Cohn.
Bugsy Seigel pooled gambling investments with Billy Wilkerson,
publisher of the Hollywood Reporter.
In the 1950s, outlays for global propaganda climbed to a full third of
the CIA's covert operations budget. Some 3, 000 salaried and contract
CIA employees were eventually engaged in propaganda efforts. The cost
of disinforming the world cost American taxpayers an estimated $265
million a year by 1978, a budget larger than the combined expenditures
of Reuters, UPI and the AP news syndicates.
In 1977, the Copely News Service admitted that it worked closely with
the intelligence services - in fact, 23 employees were full-time
employees of the Agency.
Most consumers of the corporate media were - and are - unaware of the
effect that the salting of public opinion has on their own beliefs. A
network anchorman in time of national crisis is an instrument of
psychological warfare in the MOCKINGBIRD media. He is a creature from
the national security sector's chamber of horrors. For this reason
consumers of the corporate press have reason to examine their basic
beliefs about government and life in the parallel universe of these