Origins of Congress CIA Covert Operations Cold War
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The Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF) was an anti-communist advocacy group founded in 1950. In 1962, the World Marxist Review published an article entitled, "Who Financed Anti-Communism?" by Ernst Henri which revealed the United States and the Ford foundation as the secret financial backers of the CCF. In 1966, the New York Times published an article exposing the CIA as secretly funding the CCF's British magazine Encounter. Finally, in 1966, it was revealed (first by the New York Times and later by Ramparts as well as mainstream news outlets) that the United States Central Intelligence Agency was instrumental in the establishment and funding of the group (through organizations such as the Ford Foundation), and it was subsequently renamed the International Association for Cultural Freedom (IACF). At its height, the CCF/IACF was active in some thirty-five countries and also received significant funding from the Ford Foundation.
The Congress was founded at the Titania Palace in West Berlin on 26 June 1950 to find ways to counter the view that liberal democracy was less compatible with culture than communism. It may have been started in response to a March 1949 peace conference at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City at which many prominent U.S. leftists and pacifists urged for peace with Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union. Some of the leading lights attending the Titania Palace conference included Franz Borkenau, Karl Jaspers, John Dewey, Ignazio Silone, James Burnham, Hugh Trevor-Roper, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Bertrand Russell, Ernst Reuter, Raymond Aron, Alfred Ayer, Benedetto Croce, Jacques Maritain, Arthur Koestler, James T. Farrell, Richard Löwenthal, Robert Montgomery, Melvin J. Lasky, Tennessee Williams and Sidney Hook. There were conservatives among the participants, but left-wingers were more numerous. "Godfather of Neoconservatism" Irving Kristol was also a member of the Congress.
The Congress managed to obtain enough funding to permit it to operate offices in thirty-five countries, maintain a large staff, sponsor events internationally, and produce numerous publications. In the early 1960s, the CCF mounted a campaign against the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, an ardent communist. The campaign intensified when it appeared that Neruda was a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1964.
In April 1966 the New York Times ran a series of five articles on the purposes and methods of the CIA. The third of these articles from 1966 began to detail false-front organizations and the secret transfer of CIA funds to, for example, the US State Department or to the United States Information Agency (USIA) which 'may help finance a scholarly inquiry and publication, or the agency may channel research money through foundations--legitimate ones or dummy fronts.' The New York Times cited, amongst others, the CIA's funding of the Congress for Cultural Freedom, Encounter magazine, 'several American book publishers', the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Center for International Studies, and a foreign-aid project in South Vietnam run by Michigan State University.
In 1967, the magazine Ramparts and the Saturday Evening Post reported on the CIA's funding of a number of anti-communist cultural organizations aimed at winning the support of supposedly Soviet-sympathizing liberals worldwide. These reports were lent credence by a statement made by a former CIA covert operations director admitting to CIA financing and operation of the CCF. The CIA web site states that "the Congress for Cultural Freedom is widely considered one of the CIA's more daring and effective Cold War covert operations."
In May 1967 Thomas Braden, head of the CCF's parent body the International Organizations Division, responded to the Ramparts article by publishing an article entitled, I'm Glad the CIA is "Immoral", in the Saturday Evening Post, where he defended the activities of the International Organizations Division unit of the CIA. Braden admitted that for more than 10 years, the CIA had subsidized Encounter through the CCF, which it also funded, and that one of its staff was a CIA agent.
Today, records of the International Association for Cultural Freedom and its predecessor the Congress for Cultural Freedom are stored at the Special Collections Research Center of the University of Chicago's Library.
Some of the Congress publications include: