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Why Did the Man Who Started the CIA’s Department of Dirty Tricks Shoot Himself?

Top tier elite journalist, court historian, and Establishment Studies hagiographer, Evan Thomas, discusses his book, The Very Best Men: The Early Years of the CIA. Thomas had previously authored The Man to See: The Life of Edward Bennett Williams, and co-authored (with Walter Isaacson) The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made.

As Peter Dale Scott details in his magnificent American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection, and the Road to Afghanistan, the Council on Foreign Relation’s elite bankocracy has its deepest roots in the origins the CIA:

[Frank]Wisner and [Allen] Dulles (the latter even when not in the government) were powerful because of their central position in the New York overworld of law, banking, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the New York Social Register.

This overworld milieu pushed for the creation of the CIA, but while awaiting its creation, Allen Dulles and William Donovan took steps to establish a private alternative. There are various stories describing how Allen Dulles, as a private Wall Street lawyer after World War II, organized, “on his own authority . . . a [private] spy organization clandestinely.” According to Peter Grose, Donovan later purported to have been shocked by Dulles’ plan. But as we shall see, the evidence suggests rather that he proceeded to implement something like it: the World Commerce Corporation, which included among its founders the legendary British intelligence chief William Stephenson and Nelson Rockefeller.

As Richard Helms narrates in his memoirs, in 1946 General Vandenberg, as director of Central Intelligence (DCI), recruited Allen Dulles, then a Republican lawyer at Sullivan and Cromwell in New York, “to draft proposals for the shape and organization of what was to become the Central Intelligence Agency in 1947.” Dulles promptly formed an advisory group of six men, all but one whom were Wall Street investment bankers or lawyers. In 1948 Truman appointed Dulles chairman of a committee to review the CIA’s performance, and Dulles again appointed two New York lawyers to assist him.

In its first years the CIA, like OSS before it, was dominated internally by the aristocratic elements of the New York overworld. All seven of the known deputy directors of the CIA at the time came from the same New York legal and financial circles, and no less than six of these seven (including both Dulles and Wisner) were listed in the New York Social Register as well. (page 27)

The men Allen Dulles chose as his advisory group were Kingman Douglas, managing partner of Dillion, Read; William H. Jackson and Frank Wisner of Carter, Ledyard and Milburn; Paul Nitze of Dillon, Read; and former DCI Admiral Sidney Soucers, who in 1946 retired to become a St. Louis investment banker.

Former OSS official (and senior partner of Sullivan and Cromwell) Allen Dulles was president of the Council on Foreign Relations and chief advisor to Thomas Dewey’s 1948 GOP presidential campaign against Harry Truman. This was at the same time he was working on the Dulles-Jackson-Correa ReportHere Colonel L. Fletcher Prouty explains the significance of the Report and Dulles’s role in the founding of the CIA. Dulles helped create the OPC (which was later merged into the CIA). Frank Wisner became head of the OPC. Dulles fully expected to become CIA director when Dewey won. Truman beat Dewey in a major electoral upset. Dulles became CIA director in 1953 under Eisenhower.

It was many from this same elite milieu of Wall Street financial operatives and lawyers who first, under the direction of William J. Donovan of OSS, and later Allen Dulles of CIA, filled the top echelon of American intelligence and under their direction created the Cold War synthetic ideologies of “left” and “right” to advance the agenda of the National Security State.

Cold War Liberalism

As one observer described this synthetic ideological construct:

“Cold War liberalism,” a combination of welfare state domestic policy and ‘realist’ foreign policy, entered mainstream politics in America at the end of WWII. Realists regarded Stalin as a global menace, and international politics irresolvable in which America nevertheless had to participate. Consequently, this meant that discussion about America’s role in the world moved toward a pragmatic approach. Realism provided the intellectual basis of the Cold War, and theologian Reinhold Niebuhr took his place along with George KennanHans Morgenthau, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger, Jr. These pugnacious men were the leading philosophers of this new American realism and the primary intellectual apologists for the Cold War.

Beginning with the Truman administration and the creation of the National Security State in 1947, Cold War Liberalism became the dominant philosophy of the American intelligence establishment. The CIA actively shaped and disseminated these views through psychological warfare and media manipulation. Agency created front organizations and publications networks such as the Congress for Cultural Freedom were vital in this subversion process. These spooks believed it absolutely crucial to mold the cultural milieu of intellectuals, both in the United States as well as Europe. But covertly influencing the mass of the general public was not neglected via publications such as the Reader’s Digest, Time, Life, Look, Newsweek, and other popular magazines. Key figures in this propaganda apparat were Frank WisnerTom Braden, Cord MeyerJames Jesus AngletonPhillip GrahamJoseph AlsopStewart Alsop, and C. D. Jackson.

Organizations such as Americans for Democratic Action acted as major conduits for popularizing these ideas to an unsuspecting public. The ADA was the principal Cold War Liberal organization from 1947 (the year the CIA was created). Although it still exists, it is a shadow of its former self. If you examine the list of its “founders” most have very clear connections to the OSS and CIA or their front groups. A prominent leader of the ADA was former OSS intelligence operative Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. He was a co-founder and key player in this effort. His book, The Vital Center, became the virtual Bible of Cold War Liberalism.

Many of these highly influential individuals later composed what was informally known as the Georgetown Set.

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7:00 am on May 22, 2022