Posts Tagged ‘Congress for Cultural Freedom’

Lobster Review of Book on the CIA’s Massive Covert Activities in Post-Colonial Africa

October 5, 2021

Also in the latest issue of Lobster is main man Robin Ramsay’s fascinating review of Susan Williams’ White Malice: The CIA and the Covert Recolonisation of Africa, (London: C. Hurst & Co 2021). Ramsay begins by quoting Williams’ own summary of the book’s contents, which he says he can’t better. This summary says

‘Nevertheless, pressing on a range of sources has produced some extraordinary findings in relation to the Congo, Ghana and other African territories during their transformation from the status of colony, occupied by a European power, to independence. The best sources have been university archives and individuals who decided to speak about their past involvement with the CIA in Africa, most notably John Stockwell. It appears that the years of finding freedom—between the independence of Ghana in 1957 and the CIA-backed overthrow of Nkrumah in 1966—were also the years of an intense and rapid infiltration into Africa by the CIA. The agency’s operations took place in the territories themselves and at the
UN in New York.

The uncovered information reveals an extent and breadth of CIA activities in Africa that beggars belief. These activities took various forms and were performed by an extensive network that included Americans at agency headquarters in Washington; American agents operating under cover; American agents under non-official cover in the field and at the UN; Africans brought to the US and then recruited for use in various countries and situations, such as the Kenyan Washington Okumu; African assets recruited and used locally; third-country agents such as QJWIN and WIROGUE; and cultural patronage through Paris and elsewhere.

Underpinning the success of these activities were dollars. “Money ran the game”, notes [Lise] Namikas. “Even by 1960 standards the CIA had a reputation for spending”. Estimates of how much the CIA spent, she adds are hard to gauge. In 2014, Stephen Weissman wrote that between 1960 and 1968, CIA activity in the Congo “ranked as the largest covert operation in the agency’s history, costing an estimated $90–$150 million in current dollars”. But this did not include the cost of “the aircraft, weapons, and transportation and maintenance services provided by the Defense Department”.

CIA money was distributed, both within the US and in Africa, through a range of conduits, including dummy organisations and pass-throughs such as the Farfield Foundation. Bribes were handed out to selected politicians, to union leaders and to diplomats at the UN. CIA funds were
used to pay for soldiers’ wages and for weapons. They paid for front organisations, such as Imbrey’s public relations office in New York, Overseas Regional Surveys Associates. The funds were used to set up
airlines under cover and to buy and deliver aircraft, including the Fouga that may have shot down the plane carrying UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld.

Active intervention fostered division between different political groups, such as Holden Roberto’s UPA, heavily backed by the CIA, and the MPLA—both of which were fighting for the freedom of Angola from
Portuguese rule. The consequent strife sowed the seeds for decades of suffering in Angola.
Plans were implemented for assassinations. Governments were overthrown. The UN secretary general’s communications were accessed in real time in Washington, when he was on a flight in any part of the world, courtesy of the cipher CX-52 machine.

Propaganda and covert influence operations formed a thick web, frequently facilitated by CIA fronts dedicated to Africa, which were set up with the collaboration of powerful businessmen with interests in Africa. The fronts included the African-American Institute, with its headquarters conveniently located just minutes from UN headquarters in New York, and the American Society of African Culture. Both organisations published Africa-focused journals, perfect for covers and heavy with propaganda.
Highly respected organisations such as the American Fund for Free Jurists were penetrated by CIA officials using false pretences and were used to funnel funds secretly.

Cultural and educational centres, such as the Mbari Centres in Nigeria and the Institut d’Études Congolaises in Brazzaville, were set up. They organised conferences and events, such as the seminar in Ibadan, Nigeria, attended by an unwitting Lumumba, and the first Congress of African
Writers and Intellectuals at the University of Makerere, Uganda. Underpinning all these activities was the hand of the Congress for Cultural Freedom, a CIA front with an Africa programme based in Paris and with
fingers in most parts of the world.’ (pp. 509-11)

This shows just how extensive and nefarious the CIA’s activities were during this period of African history. Not that it was the Americans alone who were engaging in dirty tricks in Africa. Rory Cormac also describes the activities of the British state to manipulate African politics through vote rigging, espionage and propaganda in his book Disrupt and Deny: Spies, Special Forces, and the Secret Pursuit of British Foreign Policy.

Were the Gaitskellites Willing Collaborators with the CIA During the Cold War?

October 5, 2021

Over the years Lobster has published a series of well-researched, properly sourced pieces on the infiltration of the trade unions and western socialist parties by the CIA during the Cold War in order to combat any communist influence. There is ample evidence that the deep state and the intelligence agencies were very much engaged in a covert war on the left. The magazine has described the propaganda put out by IRD, a department of the British government linked to the intelligence agencies. This smeared left-wing Labour MPs, like Tony Benn, as communists, Soviet stooges and IRA sympathisers. In his ‘View from the Bridge’ column, main man Robin Ramsay has put up a piece suggesting that Rita Hinden, the founder of the Fabian Society’s Colonial Bureau and the editor of Socialist Commentary, a Gaitskellite magazine, was connect to the CIA. She may have been tasked to give a bad review to a piece by George Padmore, who was suspected of still having communist sympathies. The piece runs

“The CIA and the Labour Party
In Susan Williams’ majestic White Mischief there is a little snippet about Rita Hinden, founder of the Fabian Society’s Colonial Bureau in 1940 and later editor of the Gaitskellite magazine Socialist Commentary.
‘Criticism of [George] Padmore had appeared in Encounter long before his death. A scathing review of his 1956 book Pan-Africanism or Communism? described it as “infuriating”; it classified Padmore among
those “who have revolted against Communist conduct and cynicism, but can never free themselves from Communist ideology”. The review was written by Rita Hinden, who was carefully selected for the task. Michael Josselson, the CIA agent who had set up the Congress for Cultural Freedom, had told Irving Kristol, the coeditor of Encounter, that he should run a review “by one of ‘our’ people”; elsewhere, Josselson described Hinden as “one of us”.’ (Williams, p. 147)
Which looks awfully like Hinden was CIA and is another little piece of support for the thesis that the Gaitskellites were, in effect, a CIA operation within the Labour Party.”

See: https://www.lobster-magazine.co.uk/free/lobster82/lob82-view-from-the-bridge.pdf?cache=3

The book, White Mischief, which is reviewed elsewhere in that issue of Lobster, describes the extensive covert CIA operations in Africa around the time the former colonies were gaining their independence in what Williams’ describes as a colonisation.

Hugh Gaitskell was the right-wing leader of the Labour party, who decades before Tony Blair tried to have Clause IV dropped from the party’s constitution. There’s rumour and speculation that Keef Stalin is in league with British intelligence to destroy the Labour party, or socialism within the Labour party. Stalin’s very establishment career, his membership of the elite Trilateral Commission and the history of such deep state operations by US and British intelligence against the Labour left, make this all too plausible.