Foreign Policy Fallout From CIA Funding Disclosures, 1967

Today’s post was written by David Langbart, archivist in Research Services at the National Archives at College Park, MD.

In mid-February 1967, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Chicago Tribune published articles revealing that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had been supporting various international youth groups and student organizations with financial assistance.  As a Cold War measure, the U.S. Government, through the CIA, had been funding those private organizations to help counter similar organizations supported by the Communist bloc.  In its March issue, advertised in the New York Times and the Washington Post at the same time the articles appeared in those newspapers, the magazine Ramparts published a major expose on the issue.  The result was a firestorm of controversy. 

In response, President Lyndon Johnson established a committee chaired by Under Secretary of State Nicholas Katzenbach.  (The Under Secretary was the second-ranking official in the Department.)  The major recommendation of the committee, which the President accepted, was that no agency of the U.S. Government should provide covert financial assistance or support to any American educational or private voluntary organization, in either a direct or indirect manner.

The revelations of CIA funding and the surrounding controversy had the potential for serious negative impact on U.S. foreign relations.  Indeed, the Soviet Union almost immediately began exploiting the news in its propaganda efforts.  To brief U.S. diplomats overseas about Soviet actions, in April,the Department of State prepared the following informational report.

Soviets recently stepped up anti-US propaganda
propaganda used to discredit US non-govt orgs abroad
propaganda targeting Voice of America, Natl Studen Assoc, Internatl Student Conf
propaganda on CIA is mostly abroad
Airgram from Department of State regarding Soviet Propaganda Treatment of CIA Funding Disclosure, April 14, 1967

Dealing with this controversy continued.  For more detail on the report to the President prepared by Under Secretary of State Katzenbach and other related actions, see Foreign Relations of the United States, 1917–1972, Volume VII, Public Diplomacy, 1964–1968. Given the number of controversies involving the CIA since then, it may seem that the criticism of that agency has never stopped since. 

Source: Department of State to All American Diplomatic Posts, the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, the U.S. Mission in Geneva, and the Consulate General in Hong Kong, Circular Airgram 7929, April 14, 1967, file POL 13-2 US, 1967-69 SUBJECT-NUMERIC FILE (NAID 580618), RG 59: General Records of the Department of State.

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