Monthly Archives: January 2016

Blizzard In New York

Snowfall in the Bronx:

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1916 And Ireland’s Revisionists – A Counter Blast From Justine McCarthy

The Irish edition of The Sunday Times lurks behind a paywall and so, many of my readers – especially those not able to afford the newspaper – may not be aware of, much less have read this significant piece on the 1916 centenary by Justine McCarthy, writer, broadcaster and adjunct professor of journalism at Limerick University, which appeared at the weekend.

So here it is, below, reproduced for your enlightenment and entertainment, with thanks to Chris Fogarty who brought it to my attention. I hope to be re-publishing more 1916 material as the anniversary approaches.

Justine McCarthy

Justine McCarthy

I called Justine McCarthy’s article in the headline to this post, a ‘Counter Blast’ because it is just that: an articulate, factually based, strongly worded and compelling riposte to the coverage of the 1916 anniversary that so far has characterised much of the media commentary in Ireland, coverage of the rebellion that has, as she puts it, ‘spewed scorn on the Rising’.

Her point is that this view has constituted ‘the loudest (media) commentary’ on the Rising, characterising the rebellion as: ‘antidemocratic, fanatical bloodlust; Catholic fundamentalism; uncalled for and unwanted. The tone underlying each charge is one of communal self-abased apology.’

This is, in no small measure, because Ireland’s two premier dailies, The Irish Independent especially and, to a lesser extent, The Irish Times, are presenting a view of the anniversary not unlike the disapproving one they offered to the Irish people in the days and weeks after Easter Monday 1916: goodbye to William Martin Murphy, and hello to Denis O’Brien.

Since the unnecessary and bungled demise of The Irish Press twenty years ago, the Irish print media has been badly unbalanced and so a view of Ireland and its troubled relationship with Britain at odds with that of The Indo/Times, which is held by a large slice of the Irish populace, no longer finds an expression in the daily media.

How ironic is it then, that it is to the columns of one of Rupert Murdoch’s prized publications that one must turn to read an alternative commentary such as that provided by Ms McCarthy?

There are two other factors at play however, one of which Justine McCarthy touches upon in her article, to wit, Ireland’s ‘loss of economic sovereignty in 2010′, a reference to the forced austerity policies imposed on Ireland by European & US capitalism to deal with the disastrous consequences of the banks’ cavalier greed.

Thus, to celebrate in a positive way the bid for political, economic and social freedom represented by the audacious act of rebellion in 1916 would put in sharp and shameful relief the abject surrender of 2010. So, far better to belittle the former so as to disguise the extent of the latter.

The other is the impending general election in the South and with it the prospect – terrifying to many readers of the Indo and The Times – of a government that has in its  ranks, members and leaders of Sinn Fein.

And so denigrating the republican militarists of a century ago is another way of having a bash at Gerry Adams and his buddies, a proxy sortie against the hordes at the gate.

The commentariat should calm down however and settle their nerves. The Shinners may not be everyone’s notion of ideal house guests, they will undoubtedly get up to all sort of roguery should they set up store in Government Buildings and whichever party or group of independents they choose to partner with in office are deserving of much solicitude.

But the simple truth is that in Mr Adams and his colleagues there really is much less for the Irish establishment to worry about than they imagine or fear.

These are not revolutionaries who wish to upend the social and economic order, despite their history of armed struggle; the willingness to use guns does not in itself signify anything more than a readiness to end another’s life.

As republicans go, they are more Pearse than Connolly, more concerned about changing the colors of the flag that flies over the GPO than challenging how the GPO does its business, more intent on attaining power than using it to transform society.

Their track record in government office in the North, from an almost instant acceptance of public-private partnerships and cuts in the health services, through to the recent negotiation of the viciously pro-austerity ‘Fresh Start’ deal tells us that.

Sinn Fein is a party which has elevated pragmatism and expediency to art forms, disclaiming a fixed economic and social ideology in the interests of attaining and keeping office, driven more by the polls than political doctrines, one day championing the victims of austerity against the banks, the next declaring it ‘has no problems with capitalism’.

Last March, on the margins of a St Patrick’s Day bash for Hillary Clinton in Manhattan, at a time when alarmed European bankers were comparing Sinn Fein to the then Greek radicals in Syriza, Goldman Sach’s CEO, Lloyd Blankfein asked Gerry Adams for a private chat which lasted ten minutes or so.

Afterwards Blankfein confided to a fellow guest that he had come away ‘greatly impressed…..and re-assured’ by the Sinn Fein leader.

So relax, Dublin Four. Easter Monday 2016 isn’t going to be any bit as bad as Easter Monday 1916. If you don’t believe me, then trust the man who runs the most powerful and egregiously greedy bank in America! I don’t think Gerry Adams would lie to him.

Anyway here is Justine McCarthy’s article. Enjoy:

Historic revisionism means the truth is still a casualty of the Rising

by Justine McCarthy, “The Sunday Times”, 17 January 2016

The delectably named actress Perdita Weeks, who plays a classic English rose beauty in RTE’s Rebellion, has said it is “no wonder” that British school children such as herself were not taught about the Easter Rising, since England’s treatment of the Irish was “absolutely appalling”. In Ireland, this news comes as something of a thunderbolt, 100 years after the event. England was mean to Ireland? Some mistake, surely.

Since the dawn of this commemoration year, and in its bristling approach, the loudest commentary in Ireland about those five days that sowed the seeds of this independent Irish state has spewed scorn on the Rising. It has been variously disclaimed as antidemocratic, fanatical bloodlust; Catholic fundamentalism; uncalled for and unwanted. The tone underlying each charge is one of communal self-abased apology.

To whom are these apologists saying sorry? To the insurrectionists who were executed? No. To the people of Ireland whose country continued to be occupied for another six years? No. To whom then, as a baffled Weeks might wonder.

The commentariat, by and large, is mortified that England was caused bother while its back was turned, dealing with the First World War. Can you think of any other country that makes craven mea culpas to its former oppressor for exploiting an opportunity to gain its freedom? One of the glaring deficiencies of this commentary is its failure to imagine how different history might have turned out had the government in Westminster agreed to negotiate a peaceful handover of power without the need for bloodshed.

The night before he was executed in Kilmainham jail, Eammon Ceannt, one of the seven Proclamation signatories, wrote: “This generation can claim to have raised sons as brave as any that went before. And in the years to come, Ireland will honour those who risked all for her honour at Easter 1916.” Ceannt’s valedictory prophecy proves that Ireland’s patriot dead were not right about everything. Their critics, however, would have us believe they were wrong about everything.

One of the most common refrains is that the leaders of the Rising had no mandate for it. What were they supposed to do? Commission an opinion poll from Behaviour & Attitudes or, maybe, hold a referendum? Remember, just 30% of men in Ireland (compared with 60% in England) and no women whatsoever were entitled to vote in the last election held before the Rising, in 1910.

While John Redmond’s Irish Parliamentary Party won that election comprehensively, Ireland’s political landscape changed significantly in the intervening six years. Westminster had put Home Rule on the long finger once again. Edward Carson’s Ulster Volunteers, who had the support of the Tories, had smuggled in 25,000 guns, and 57 of 70 British army officers at the Curragh quit rather than take on Carson’s force.

Today’s commentators would have us believe that everyday life for the citizenry in Ireland mirrored England’s. This is a fallacy. The Rising came three years after the Lockout and its concomitant destitution, with civilians in some of Europe’s worst slums left dependent on soup kitchens. It was two years after Erskine Childers’s gun-running to Howth on the Asgard when, in response to jeering by a crowd on Dublin’s Bachelor’s Walk, British soldiers fatally shot and bayonetted four civilians and injured 38 others.

Ireland was not a benign, untroubled place. The Rising took place 68 years after a million people died in the Famine, during which Charles Trevelyan, the assistant secretary to the treasury, exported Indian rice sent to feed the starving.

Common wisdom has it that, if the British had not turned nasty and executed the leaders, the Rising would never have won popular support. This assumes that, until the executions started, the British had behaved impeccably. It is another fallacy, as evidenced by the fate of Francis Sheehy-Skeffington, a pacifist arrested while trying to stop looters. He was taken as a hostage by an army raiding party in Rathmines, which was ordered to shoot him if it came under attack. Afterwards, they shot him dead by firing squad and never bothered telling his wife, Hanna, who was left to search the city for her husband.

In the absence of elections that genuinely gave the people their say, the second-best medium for assessing public opinion in 1916 is contemporary media coverage. This is largely dependent on the pro-establishment Irish Times and William Martin Murphy’s Irish Independent. Murphy, a former Irish Parliamentary Party MP offered a knighthood by King Edward VII, was in the employers’ vanguard against James Larkin in the Lockout. He was, therefore, not ideally placed to know or to express the mood of the majority. Even after the executions had commenced in Kilmainham jail, he was still writing in the Irish Independent that more of the leaders ought be put to death.

Ireland had its own powerful conservative class at the time of the Rising. They were stolid, middle-class men who wanted to keep the status quo because it served them well. They were the guardians of the establishment, with an Irish accent.

The insurgents, on the other hand, were a mixed bag. James Connolly was born in Edinburgh, Eamon de Valera in America, Tom Clarke in Hampshire. Roger Casement and Constance Markievicz were Protestants, as were Grace and Muriel Gifford. Ceannt’s father was an RIC officer. John MacBride was a major in the Boer War. What bonded them was dissatisfaction with the status quo: they were nationalists, suffragists and intellectuals who yearned for a republic of equals. Their spiritual heirs still do.

To dismiss them as a handful of wrong-headed mavericks is a grievous fallacy. On Easter Monday, 1,200 men and women participated in Dublin’s Rising. More than 3,500 were arrested after it. Had Eoin MacNeill not countermanded the rebellion order on Easter Monday, and had Casement’s German guns not been intercepted in Kerry, who knows how many more would have taken part across the country.

Would the Rising have been the start of the Irish War of Independence? Most people do not glory in the deaths and injuries caused in 1916. Yet most people do ascribe to the right of a people to self-determination. It is a core principle of international law that a country should be free to choose its own sovereignty and political system, to set its own ethos and vision, to nurture its own culture and make its own mistakes. It is a principle rooted deep in human psychology, entangled in a mesh of self-respect and destiny, that no slanted history can undermine. When Ireland lost its economic sovereignty in 2010, the country better appreciated its hard-won self-determination.

Anti-imperialism was a growing movement around the world in the late 19th and early 20th century, but much of the analysis about Ireland suggests that independence was a mere bagatelle way down the list of a sane people’s priorities. I, for one, am happy to have grown up in a self-governing country.

In the 100 years since the Rising, Ireland has endured a war of independence, a civil war and 30 years of the Northern Ireland Troubles. The propaganda war alone is the one that endures. The truth continues to rank foremost among its casualties.

‘Making A Murder – Craigavon Style’ – Letter To The Editor

I have to admit that I have paid only passing attention to the case of the Craigavon Two – Brendan McConville and John-Paul Wooton – whose supporters say were framed for the Continuity IRA killing of PSNI Constable Stephen Carroll in 2009.

I have not investigated the background to the case or the competing claims concerning their guilt or innocence because, I suppose, these types of cases cannot really be investigated properly unless you are on the ground and can look into peoples’ eyes, so to speak. And I am not on the ground these days.

The Craigavon Two - Brendan McConville ® and

The Craigavon Two – Brendan McConville (right) and John-Paul Wooton

But there is a simple litmus test, at least in my experience gained covering other cases like Guildford & Birmingham, that should be applied to such claims and it is this: when someone insists on their innocence and keeps on doing so, year in, year out, in good weather and bad, and especially when everything seems hopeless and no-one is paying attention, the chances that they are indeed innocent are usually very strong.

Guilty people may initially make such a claim but it fades and disappears with time because ultimately it is anger at injustice that fuels such campaigns and guilty people cannot sustain anger if it is a bogus emotion.

A truly innocent person has enough anger at their being framed to keep going forever, even to climb onto a prison canteen roof in the middle of winter to proclaim their innocence and the awful injustice done to themselves.

A guilty person will inevitably adjust themselves to their new, unwelcome circumstances and settle down to serve their time.

Brendan McConville and John-Paul Wooton are now entering the sixth year of their own campaign and I think that qualifies for inclusion in the category of angry campaigners that I describe above. It is time, I suggest, for a long, hard look at the case both by the media and civil libertarians.

Goodness knows, we had enough miscarriages of justice during the Troubles; do we really want to start over again?

You can obtain more information about the case and contact their supporters at this website.

The letter below is from Belfast lawyer and human rights and trade union activist, Ciaran Mulholland who, inter alia, highlights what he says were police and prosecutorial abuses in the investigation and trial of the men:

Making a Murder – Craigavon Style

The hype of the Netflix series ‘Making A Murder’ regarding the systemic flaws of the convictions against Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey raise many similarities to the case of Craigavon men, Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton who were convicted of the murder of Constable Steven Carroll in 2009.

It is shocking the impact of a professionally well produced documentary-drama can have on the public audience. Globally people are debating and campaigning regarding the abuses of the Manitowoc County Sherriff Department, their prosecutorial system and the Wisconsin State in general. There has even been a petition to President Obama for a pardon given the unsafe convictions and how they were gained.

Meanwhile there continues to be an appeasement of a dreadful miscarriage of justice in our own country. One that involves fundamental abuses of police powers, the destruction of evidence, the use of an infamous ‘Walter-Mitty’ witness, dubious informants, attempts to conceal evidence by Crown experts, the exploitation of Public Interest Immunity Orders, selective discovery, the denial of a jury and the sabotage of an appeal, to name but a few issues!

I believe everyone accused of a crime should be entitled to the presumption of innocence, irrespective of the crime and the beliefs of the defendant. There is also the necessity for the prosecution to act with integrity and present a case fairly, regardless of the Police or Security Services agendas. This was certainly not the case in the trial and appeals of the Craigavon Two. These two men are wrongfully serving life sentences and I encourage all to study the facts of this case.

“To ignore evil is to become accomplice to it” – Justice for the Craigavon Two.

Ciarán Mulholland
Belfast
January 2016

As Iran Frees A U.S. Reporter, Why The World Suspects CIA Has Spies In The American Media

In a background article on the release of Washington Post correspondent, Jason Rezaian by Iranian authorities at the weekend, The New York Times reported, in a photo caption: ‘Foreign journalists are often assumed to be spies in Iran.’

It might perhaps have been more accurate to say ‘Foreign journalists, especially those working for US outlets, are often assumed to be spies in Iran’. And not just Iran.

Jason Rezaiain - Washington Post journalist accused by IRA of spying

Jason Rezaiain – freed Washington Post journalist, accused by Iran of spying, but innocent say his family and employer

Some forty years ago, the legendary reporter Carl Bernstein – who along with Bob Woodward helped expose the Watergate scandal for The Washington Post – published a seminal report examining the relationship between the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the US media during the Cold War era and concluded not just that the American press and the CIA ‘worked hand in glove’, but that the relationship was covered up, not least by the Church Committee which investigated assorted CIA devilries, misconduct and shenanigans in the mid-1970’s.

Suspicions linger, of course, that the CIA still uses media personnel to spy but to what extent is an unanswerable question. It would be foolish to exaggerate the claim – or to dismiss it – but there can be no doubt that if the view persists abroad that some reporters do have a relationship with the spy agency, it is undoubtedly due to the CIA’s gross abuse of the US media in the period Carl Bernstein examined. That, and the belief that old habits die hard.

In the specific case of Iran’s pursuit of Jason Rezaian, whose family and employers steadfastly deny the spying allegations, past CIA misbehaviour in that country, especially in its sponsorship of the Shah and subversion of local democracy, could only add to the conviction that every American, especially those carrying press cards, are really spooks in disguise.

Here below is the full text of Carl Bernstein’s groundbreaking piece in Rolling Stone. Enjoy:

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After leaving The Washington Post in 1977, Carl Bernstein spent six months looking at the relationship of the CIA and the press during the Cold War years. His 25,000-word cover story, published in Rolling Stone on October 20, 1977, is reprinted below.

THE CIA AND THE MEDIA

How Americas Most Powerful News Media Worked Hand in Glove with the Central Intelligence Agency and Why the Church Committee Covered It Up

BY CARL BERNSTEIN

In 1953, Joseph Alsop, then one of America’s leading syndicated columnists, went to the Philippines to cover an election. He did not go because he was asked to do so by his syndicate. He did not go because he was asked to do so by the newspapers that printed his column. He went at the request of the CIA.

Alsop is one of more than 400 American journalists who in the past twenty‑five years have secretly carried out assignments for the Central Intelligence Agency, according to documents on file at CIA headquarters. Some of these journalists’ relationships with the Agency were tacit; some were explicit. There was cooperation, accommodation and overlap. Journalists provided a full range of clandestine services—from simple intelligence gathering to serving as go‑betweens with spies in Communist countries. Reporters shared their notebooks with the CIA. Editors shared their staffs. Some of the journalists were Pulitzer Prize winners, distinguished reporters who considered themselves ambassadors without‑portfolio for their country. Most were less exalted: foreign correspondents who found that their association with the Agency helped their work; stringers and freelancers who were as interested in the derring‑do of the spy business as in filing articles; and, the smallest category, full‑time CIA employees masquerading as journalists abroad. In many instances, CIA documents show, journalists were engaged to perform tasks for the CIA with the consent of the managements of America’s leading news organizations.

WORKING PRESS — CIA STYLE

To understand the role of most journalist‑operatives, it is necessary to dismiss some myths about undercover work for American intelligence services. Few American agents are “spies” in the popularly accepted sense of the term. “Spying” — the acquisition of secrets from a foreign government—is almost always done by foreign nationals who have been recruited by the CIA and are under CIA control in their own countries. Thus the primary role of an American working undercover abroad is often to aid in the recruitment and “handling” of foreign nationals who are channels of secret information reaching American intelligence.

Many journalists were used by the CIA to assist in this process and they had the reputation of being among the best in the business. The peculiar nature of the job of the foreign correspondent is ideal for such work: he is accorded unusual access by his host country, permitted to travel in areas often off‑limits to other Americans, spends much of his time cultivating sources in governments, academic institutions, the military establishment and the scientific communities. He has the opportunity to form long‑term personal relationships with sources and—perhaps more than any other category of American operative—is in a position to make correct judgments about the susceptibility and availability of foreign nationals for recruitment as spies.

“After a foreigner is recruited, a case officer often has to stay in the background,” explained a CIA official. “So you use a journalist to carry messages to and from both parties”

Journalists in the field generally took their assignments in the same manner as any other undercover operative. If, for instance, a journalist was based in Austria, he ordinarily would be under the general direction of the Vienna station chief and report to a case officer. Some, particularly roving correspondents or U.S.‑based reporters who made frequent trips abroad, reported directly to CIA officials in Langley, Virginia.

The tasks they performed sometimes consisted of little more than serving as “eyes and ears” for the CIA; reporting on what they had seen or overheard in an Eastern European factory, at a diplomatic reception in Bonn, on the perimeter of a military base in Portugal. On other occasions, their assignments were more complex: planting subtly concocted pieces of misinformation; hosting parties or receptions designed to bring together American agents and foreign spies; serving up “black” propaganda to leading foreign journalists at lunch or dinner; providing their hotel rooms or bureau offices as “drops” for highly sensitive information moving to and from foreign agents; conveying instructions and dollars to CIA controlled members of foreign governments.

Often the CIA’s relationship with a journalist might begin informally with a lunch, a drink, a casual exchange of information. An Agency official might then offer a favor—for example, a trip to a country difficult to reach; in return, he would seek nothing more than the opportunity to debrief the reporter afterward. A few more lunches, a few more favors, and only then might there be a mention of a formal arrangement — “That came later,” said a CIA official, “after you had the journalist on a string.”

Another official described a typical example of the way accredited journalists (either paid or unpaid by the CIA) might be used by the Agency: “In return for our giving them information, we’d ask them to do things that fit their roles as journalists but that they wouldn’t have thought of unless we put it in their minds. For instance, a reporter in Vienna would say to our man, ‘I met an interesting second secretary at the Czech Embassy.’ We’d say, ‘Can you get to know him? And after you get to know him, can you assess him? And then, can you put him in touch with us—would you mind us using your apartment?”‘

Formal recruitment of reporters was generally handled at high levels—after the journalist had undergone a thorough background check. The actual approach might even be made by a deputy director or division chief. On some occasions, no discussion would he entered into until the journalist had signed a pledge of secrecy.

“The secrecy agreement was the sort of ritual that got you into the tabernacle,” said a former assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence. “After that you had to play by the rules.” David Attlee Phillips, former Western Hemisphere chief of clandestine services and a former journalist himself, estimated in an interview that at least 200 journalists signed secrecy agreements or employment contracts with the Agency in the past twenty‑five years. Phillips, who owned a small English‑language newspaper in Santiago, Chile, when he was recruited by the CIA in 1950, described the approach: “Somebody from the Agency says, ‘I want you to help me. 1 know you are a true‑blue American, but I want you to sign a piece of paper before I tell you what it’s about.’ I didn’t hesitate to sign, and a lot of newsmen didn’t hesitate over the next twenty years.”

“One of the things we always had going for us in terms of enticing reporters,” observed a CIA official who coordinated some of the arrangements with journalists, “was that we could make them look better with their home offices. A foreign correspondent with ties to the Company [the CIA] stood a much better chance than his competitors of getting the good stories.”

Within the CIA, journalist‑operatives were accorded elite status, a consequence of the common experience journalists shared with high‑level CIA officials. Many had gone to the same schools as their CIA handlers, moved in the same circles, shared fashionably liberal, anti‑Communist political values, and were part of the same “old boy” network that constituted something of an establishment elite in the media, politics and academia of postwar America. The most valued of these lent themselves for reasons of national service, not money.

The Agency’s use of journalists in undercover operations has been most extensive in Western Europe (“That was the big focus, where the threat was,” said one CIA official), Latin America and the Far East. In the 1950s and 1960s journalists were used as intermediaries—spotting, paying, passing instructions—to members of the Christian Democratic party in Italy and the Social Democrats in Germany, both of which covertly received millions of dollars from the CIA. During those years “we had journalists all over Berlin and Vienna just to keep track of who the hell was coming in from the East and what they were up to,” explained a CIA official.

In the Sixties, reporters were used extensively in the CIA offensive against Salvador Allende in Chile; they provided funds to Allende’s opponents and wrote anti‑Allende propaganda for CIA proprietary publications that were distributed in Chile. (CIA officials insist that they make no attempt to influence the content of American newspapers, but some fallout is inevitable: during the Chilean offensive, CIA‑generated black propaganda transmitted on the wire service out of Santiago often turned up in American publications.)

According to CIA officials, the Agency has been particularly sparing in its use of journalist agents in Eastern Europe on grounds that exposure might result in diplomatic sanctions against the United States or in permanent prohibitions against American correspondents serving in some countries. The same officials claim that their use of journalists in the Soviet Union has been even more limited, but they remain extremely guarded in discussing the subject. They are insistent, however, in maintaining that the Moscow correspondents of major news organizations have not been “tasked” or controlled by the Agency.

The Soviets, according to CIA officials, have consistently raised false charges of CIA affiliation against individual American reporters as part of a continuing diplomatic game that often follows the ups and downs of Soviet‑American relations. The latest such charge by the Russians—against Christopher Wren of the New York Times and Alfred Friendly Jr., formerly of Newsweek, has no basis in fact, they insist.

CIA officials acknowledge, however, that such charges will persist as long as the CIA continues to use journalistic cover and maintain covert affiliations with individuals in the profession. But even an absolute prohibition against Agency use of journalists would not free reporters from suspicion, according to many Agency officials. “Look at the Peace Corps,” said one source. “We have had no affiliation there and they [foreign governments] still throw them out”

The history of the CIA’s involvement with the American press continues to be shrouded by an official policy of obfuscation and deception for the following principal reasons:

■ The use of journalists has been among the most productive means of intelligence‑gathering employed by the CIA. Although the Agency has cut back sharply on the use of reporters since 1973 primarily as a result of pressure from the media), some journalist‑operatives are still posted abroad.

■ Further investigation into the matter, CIA officials say, would inevitably reveal a series of embarrassing relationships in the 1950s and 1960s with some of the most powerful organizations and individuals in American journalism.

Among the executives who lent their cooperation to the Agency were Williarn Paley of the Columbia Broadcasting System, Henry Luce of Tirne Inc., Arthur Hays Sulzberger of the New York Times, Barry Bingham Sr. of the LouisviIle Courier‑Journal, and James Copley of the Copley News Service. Other organizations which cooperated with the CIA include the American Broadcasting Company, the National Broadcasting Company, the Associated Press, United Press International, Reuters, Hearst Newspapers, Scripps‑Howard, Newsweek magazine, the Mutual Broadcasting System, the Miami Herald and the old Saturday Evening Post and New York Herald‑Tribune.

By far the most valuable of these associations, according to CIA officials, have been with the New York Times, CBS and Time Inc.

The CIA’s use of the American news media has been much more extensive than Agency officials have acknowledged publicly or in closed sessions with members of Congress. The general outlines of what happened are indisputable; the specifics are harder to come by. CIA sources hint that a particular journalist was trafficking all over Eastern Europe for the Agency; the journalist says no, he just had lunch with the station chief. CIA sources say flatly that a well‑known ABC correspondent worked for the Agency through 1973; they refuse to identify him. A high‑level CIA official with a prodigious memory says that the New York Times provided cover for about ten CIA operatives between 1950 and 1966; he does not know who they were, or who in the newspaper’s management made the arrangements.

The Agency’s special relationships with the so‑called “majors” in publishing and broadcasting enabled the CIA to post some of its most valuable operatives abroad without exposure for more than two decades. In most instances, Agency files show, officials at the highest levels of the CIA usually director or deputy director) dealt personally with a single designated individual in the top management of the cooperating news organization. The aid furnished often took two forms: providing jobs and credentials “journalistic cover” in Agency parlance) for CIA operatives about to be posted in foreign capitals; and lending the Agency the undercover services of reporters already on staff, including some of the best‑known correspondents in the business.

In the field, journalists were used to help recruit and handle foreigners as agents; to acquire and evaluate information, and to plant false information with officials of foreign governments. Many signed secrecy agreements, pledging never to divulge anything about their dealings with the Agency; some signed employment contracts., some were assigned case officers and treated with. unusual deference. Others had less structured relationships with the Agency, even though they performed similar tasks: they were briefed by CIA personnel before trips abroad, debriefed afterward, and used as intermediaries with foreign agents. Appropriately, the CIA uses the term “reporting” to describe much of what cooperating journalists did for the Agency. “We would ask them, ‘Will you do us a favor?’”.said a senior CIA official. “‘We understand you’re going to be in Yugoslavia. Have they paved all the streets? Where did you see planes? Were there any signs of military presence? How many Soviets did you see? If you happen to meet a Soviet, get his name and spell it right …. Can you set up a meeting for is? Or relay a message?’” Many CIA officials regarded these helpful journalists as operatives; the journalists tended to see themselves as trusted friends of the Agency who performed occasional favors—usually without pay—in the national interest.

“I’m proud they asked me and proud to have done it,” said Joseph Alsop who, like his late brother, columnist Stewart Alsop, undertook clandestine tasks for the Agency. “The notion that a newspaperman doesn’t have a duty to his country is perfect balls.”

From the Agency’s perspective, there is nothing untoward in such relationships, and any ethical questions are a matter for the journalistic profession to resolve, not the intelligence community. As Stuart Loory, former Los Angeles Times correspondent, has written in the Columbia Journalism Review: ‘If even one American overseas carrying a press card is a paid informer for the CIA, then all Americans with those credentials are suspect …. If the crisis of confidence faced by the news business—along with the government—is to be overcome, journalists must be willing to focus on themselves the same spotlight they so relentlessly train on others!’ But as Loory also noted: “When it was reported… that newsmen themselves were on the payroll of the CIA, the story caused a brief stir, and then was dropped.”

During the 1976 investigation of the CIA by the Senate Intelligence Committee, chaired by Senator Frank Church, the dimensions of the Agency’s involvement with the press became apparent to several members of the panel, as well as to two or three investigators on the staff. But top officials of the CIA, including former directors William Colby and George Bush, persuaded the committee to restrict its inquiry into the matter and to deliberately misrepresent the actual scope of the activities in its final report. The multivolurne report contains nine pages in which the use of journalists is discussed in deliberately vague and sometimes misleading terms. It makes no mention of the actual number of journalists who undertook covert tasks for the CIA. Nor does it adequately describe the role played by newspaper and broadcast executives in cooperating with the Agency.

THE AGENCY’S DEALINGS WITH THE PRESS BEGAN during the earliest stages of the Cold War. Allen Dulles, who became director of the CIA in 1953, sought to establish a recruiting‑and‑cover capability within America’s most prestigious journalistic institutions. By operating under the guise of accredited news correspondents, Dulles believed, CIA operatives abroad would be accorded a degree of access and freedom of movement unobtainable under almost any other type of cover.

American publishers, like so many other corporate and institutional leaders at the time, were willing to commit the resources of their companies to the struggle against “global Communism.” Accordingly, the traditional line separating the American press corps and government was often indistinguishable: rarely was a news agency used to provide cover for CIA operatives abroad without the knowledge and consent of either its principal owner, publisher or senior editor. Thus, contrary to the notion that the CIA insidiously infiltrated the journalistic community, there is ample evidence that America’s leading publishers and news executives allowed themselves and their organizations to become handmaidens to the intelligence services. “Let’s not pick on some poor reporters, for God’s sake,” William Colby exclaimed at one point to the Church committee’s investigators. “Let’s go to the managements. They were witting.” In all, about twenty‑five news organizations including those listed at the beginning of this article) provided cover for the Agency.

In addition to cover capability, Dulles initiated a “debriefing” procedure under which American correspondents returning from abroad routinely emptied their notebooks and offered their impressions to Agency personnel. Such arrangements, continued by Dulles’ successors, to the present day, were made with literally dozens of news organizations. In the 1950s, it was not uncommon for returning reporters to be met at the ship by CIA officers. “There would be these guys from the CIA flashing ID cards and looking like they belonged at the Yale Club,” said Hugh Morrow, a former Saturday Evening Post correspondent who is now press secretary to former vice‑president Nelson Rockefeller. “It got to be so routine that you felt a little miffed if you weren’t asked.”

CIA officials almost always refuse to divulge the names of journalists who have cooperated with the Agency. They say it would be unfair to judge these individuals in a context different from the one that spawned the relationships in the first place. “There was a time when it wasn’t considered a crime to serve your government,” said one high‑level CIA official who makes no secret of his bitterness. “This all has to be considered in the context of the morality of the times, rather than against latter‑day standards—and hypocritical standards at that.”

Many journalists who covered World War II were close to people in the Office of Strategic Services, the wartime predecessor of the CIA; more important, they were all on the same side. When the war ended and many OSS officials went into the CIA, it was only natural that these relationships would continue. Meanwhile, the first postwar generation of journalists entered the profession; they shared the same political and professional values as their mentors. “You had a gang of people who worked together during World War II and never got over it,” said one Agency official. “They were genuinely motivated and highly susceptible to intrigue and being on the inside. Then in the Fifties and Sixties there was a national consensus about a national threat. The Vietnam War tore everything to pieces—shredded the consensus and threw it in the air.” Another Agency official observed: “Many journalists didn’t give a second thought to associating with the Agency. But there was a point when the ethical issues which most people had submerged finally surfaced. Today, a lot of these guys vehemently deny that they had any relationship with the Agency.”

From the outset, the use of journalists was among the CIA’s most sensitive undertakings, with full knowledge restricted to the Director of Central Intelligence and a few of his chosen deputies. Dulles and his successors were fearful of what would happen if a journalist‑operative’s cover was blown, or if details of the Agency’s dealings with the press otherwise became public. As a result, contacts with the heads of news organizations were normally initiated by Dulles and succeeding Directors of Central Intelligence; by the deputy directors and division chiefs in charge of covert operations—Frank Wisner, Cord Meyer Jr., Richard Bissell, Desmond FitzGerald, Tracy Barnes, Thomas Karamessines and Richard Helms himself a former UPI correspondent); and, occasionally, by others in the CIA hierarchy known to have an unusually close social relationship with a particular publisher or broadcast executive.1

James Angleton, who was recently removed as the Agency’s head of counterintelligence operations, ran a completely independent group of journalist‑operatives who performed sensitive and frequently dangerous assignments; little is known about this group for the simple reason that Angleton deliberately kept only the vaguest of files.

The CIA even ran a formal training program in the 1950s to teach its agents to be journalists. Intelligence officers were “taught to make noises like reporters,” explained a high CIA official, and were then placed in major news organizations with help from management. “These were the guys who went through the ranks and were told ‘You’re going to he a journalist,’” the CIA official said. Relatively few of the 400‑some relationships described in Agency files followed that pattern, however; most involved persons who were already bona fide journalists when they began undertaking tasks for the Agency.

The Agency’s relationships with journalists, as described in CIA files, include the following general categories:

■ Legitimate, accredited staff members of news organizations—usually reporters. Some were paid; some worked for the Agency on a purely voluntary basis. This group includes many of the best‑known journalists who carried out tasks for the CIA. The files show that the salaries paid to reporters by newspaper and broadcast networks were sometimes supplemented by nominal payments from the CIA, either in the form of retainers, travel expenses or outlays for specific services performed. Almost all the payments were made in cash. The accredited category also includes photographers, administrative personnel of foreign news bureaus and members of broadcast technical crews.)

Two of the Agency’s most valuable personal relationships in the 1960s, according to CIA officials, were with reporters who covered Latin America—Jerry O’Leary of the Washington Star and Hal Hendrix of the Miami News, a Pulitzer Prize winner who became a high official of the International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation. Hendrix was extremely helpful to the Agency in providing information about individuals in Miami’s Cuban exile community. O’Leary was considered a valued asset in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Agency files contain lengthy reports of both men’s activities on behalf of the CIA.

O’Leary maintains that his dealings were limited to the normal give‑and‑take that goes on between reporters abroad and their sources. CIA officials dispute the contention: “There’s no question Jerry reported for us,” said one. “Jerry did assessing and spotting [of prospective agents] but he was better as a reporter for us.” Referring to O’Leary’s denials, the official added: “I don’t know what in the world he’s worried about unless he’s wearing that mantle of integrity the Senate put on you journalists.”

O’Leary attributes the difference of opinion to semantics. “I might call them up and say something like, ‘Papa Doc has the clap, did you know that?’ and they’d put it in the file. I don’t consider that reporting for them…. it’s useful to be friendly to them and, generally, I felt friendly to them. But I think they were more helpful to me than I was to them.” O’Leary took particular exception to being described in the same context as Hendrix. “Hal was really doing work for them,” said O’Leary. “I’m still with the Star. He ended up at ITT.” Hendrix could not be reached for comment. According to Agency officials, neither Hendrix nor O’Leary was paid by the CIA.

■ Stringers2 and freelancers. Most were payrolled by the Agency under standard contractual terms. Their journalistic credentials were often supplied by cooperating news organizations. some filed news stories; others reported only for the CIA. On some occasions, news organizations were not informed by the CIA that their stringers were also working for the Agency.

■ Employees of so‑called CIA “proprietaries.” During the past twenty‑five years, the Agency has secretly bankrolled numerous foreign press services, periodicals and newspapers—both English and foreign language—which provided excellent cover for CIA operatives. One such publication was the Rome Daily American, forty percent of which was owned by the CIA until the 1970s. The Daily American went out of business this year,

■ Editors, publishers and broadcast network executives. The CIAs relationship with most news executives differed fundamentally from those with working reporters and stringers, who were much more subject to direction from the Agency. A few executives—Arthur Hays Sulzberger of the New York Times among them—signed secrecy agreements. But such formal understandings were rare: relationships between Agency officials and media executives were usually social—”The P and Q Street axis in Georgetown,” said one source. “You don’t tell Wilharn Paley to sign a piece of paper saying he won’t fink.”

■ Columnists and commentators. There are perhaps a dozen well known columnists and broadcast commentators whose relationships with the CIA go far beyond those normally maintained between reporters and their sources. They are referred to at the Agency as “known assets” and can be counted on to perform a variety of undercover tasks; they are considered receptive to the Agency’s point of view on various subjects. Three of the most widely read columnists who maintained such ties with the Agency are C.L. Sulzberger of the New York Times, Joseph Alsop, and the late Stewart Alsop, whose column appeared in the New York Herald‑Tribune, the Saturday Evening Post and Newsweek. CIA files contain reports of specific tasks all three undertook. Sulzberger is still regarded as an active asset by the Agency. According to a senior CIA official, “Young Cy Sulzberger had some uses…. He signed a secrecy agreement because we gave him classified information…. There was sharing, give and take. We’d say, ‘Wed like to know this; if we tell you this will it help you get access to so‑and‑so?’ Because of his access in Europe he had an Open Sesame. We’d ask him to just report: ‘What did so‑and‑so say, what did he look like, is he healthy?’ He was very eager, he loved to cooperate.” On one occasion, according to several CIA officials, Sulzberger was given a briefing paper by the Agency which ran almost verbatim under the columnist’s byline in the Times. “Cycame out and said, ‘I’m thinking of doing a piece, can you give me some background?’” a CIA officer said. “We gave it to Cy as a background piece and Cy gave it to the printers and put his name on it.” Sulzberger denies that any incident occurred. “A lot of baloney,” he said.

Sulzberger claims that he was never formally “tasked” by the Agency and that he “would never get caught near the spook business. My relations were totally informal—I had a goodmany friends,” he said. “I’m sure they consider me an asset. They can ask me questions. They find out you’re going to Slobovia and they say, ‘Can we talk to you when you get back?’ … Or they’ll want to know if the head of the Ruritanian government is suffering from psoriasis. But I never took an assignment from one of those guys…. I’ve known Wisner well, and Helms and even McCone [former CIA director John McCone] I used to play golf with. But they’d have had to he awfully subtle to have used me.

Sulzberger says he was asked to sign the secrecy agreement in the 1950s. “A guy came around and said, ‘You are a responsible newsman and we need you to sign this if we are going to show you anything classified.’ I said I didn’t want to get entangled and told them, ‘Go to my uncle [Arthur Hays Sulzberger, then publisher of the New York Times] and if he says to sign it I will.’” His uncle subsequently signed such an agreement, Sulzberger said, and he thinks he did too, though he is unsure. “I don’t know, twenty‑some years is a long time.” He described the whole question as “a bubble in a bathtub.”

Stewart Alsop’s relationship with the Agency was much more extensive than Sulzberger’s. One official who served at the highest levels in the CIA said flatly: “Stew Alsop was a CIA agent.” An equally senior official refused to define Alsop’s relationship with the Agency except to say it was a formal one. Other sources said that Alsop was particularly helpful to the Agency in discussions with, officials of foreign governments—asking questions to which the CIA was seeking answers, planting misinformation advantageous to American policy, assessing opportunities for CIA recruitment of well‑placed foreigners.

“Absolute nonsense,” said Joseph Alsop of the notion that his brother was a CIA agent. “I was closer to the Agency than Stew was, though Stew was very close. I dare say he did perform some tasks—he just did the correct thing as an American…. The Founding Fathers [of the CIA] were close personal friends of ours. Dick Bissell [former CIA deputy director] was my oldest friend, from childhood. It was a social thing, my dear fellow. I never received a dollar, I never signed a secrecy agreement. I didn’t have to…. I’ve done things for them when I thought they were the right thing to do. I call it doing my duty as a citizen.

Alsop is willing to discuss on the record only two of the tasks he undertook: a visit to Laos in 1952 at the behest of Frank Wisner, who felt other American reporters were using anti‑American sources about uprisings there; and a visit to the Phillipines in 1953 when the CIA thought his presence there might affect the outcome of an election. “Des FitzGerald urged me to go,” Alsop recalled. “It would be less likely that the election could be stolen [by the opponents of Ramon Magsaysay] if the eyes of the world were on them. I stayed with the ambassador and wrote about what happened.”

Alsop maintains that he was never manipulated by the Agency. “You can’t get entangled so they have leverage on you,” he said. “But what I wrote was true. My view was to get the facts. If someone in the Agency was wrong, I stopped talking to them—they’d given me phony goods.” On one occasion, Alsop said, Richard Helms authorized the head of the Agency’s analytical branch to provide Alsop with information on Soviet military presence along the Chinese border. “The analytical side of the Agency had been dead wrong about the war in Vietnam—they thought it couldn’t be won,” said Alsop. “And they were wrong on the Soviet buildup. I stopped talking to them.” Today, he says, “People in our business would be outraged at the kinds of suggestions that were made to me. They shouldn’t be. The CIA did not open itself at all to people it did not trust. Stew and I were trusted, and I’m proud of it.”

MURKY DETAILS OF CIA RELATIONSHIPS WITH INDIVIDUALS and news organizations began trickling out in 1973 when it was first disclosed that the CIA had, on occasion, employed journalists. Those reports, combined with new information, serve as casebook studies of the Agency’s use of journalists for intelligence purposes. They include:

■ The New York Times. The Agency’s relationship with the Times was by far its most valuable among newspapers, according to CIA officials. From 1950 to 1966, about ten CIA employees were provided Times cover under arrangements approved by the newspaper’s late publisher, Arthur Hays Sulzberger. The cover arrangements were part of a general Times policy—set by Sulzberger—to provide assistance to the CIA whenever possible.

Sulzberger was especially close to Allen Dulles. “At that level of contact it was the mighty talking to the mighty,” said a high‑level CIA official who was present at some of the discussions. “There was an agreement in principle that, yes indeed, we would help each other. The question of cover came up on several occasions. It was agreed that the actual arrangements would be handled by subordinates…. The mighty didn’t want to know the specifics; they wanted plausible deniability.

A senior CIA official who reviewed a portion of the Agency’s files on journalists for two hours onSeptember 15th, 1977, said he found documentation of five instances in which the Times had provided cover for CIA employees between 1954 and 1962. In each instance he said, the arrangements were handled by executives of the Times; the documents all contained standard Agency language “showing that this had been checked out at higher levels of the New York Times,” said the official. The documents did not mention Sulzberger’s name, however—only those of subordinates whom the official refused to identify.

The CIA employees who received Times credentials posed as stringers for the paper abroad and worked as members of clerical staffs in the Times’ foreign bureaus. Most were American; two or three were foreigners.

CIA officials cite two reasons why the Agency’s working relationship with the Times was closer and more extensive than with any other paper: the fact that the Times maintained the largest foreign news operation in American daily journalism; and the close personal ties between the men who ran both institutions.

Sulzberger informed a number of reporters and editors of his general policy of cooperation with the Agency. “We were in touch with them—they’d talk to us and some cooperated,” said a CIA official. The cooperation usually involved passing on information and “spotting” prospective agents among foreigners.

Arthur Hays Sulzberger signed a secrecy agreement with the CIA in the 1950s, according to CIA officials—a fact confirmed by his nephew, C.L. Sulzberger. However, there are varying interpretations of the purpose of the agreement: C.L. Sulzberger says it represented nothing more than a pledge not to disclose classified information made available to the publisher. That contention is supported by some Agency officials. Others in the Agency maintain that the agreement represented a pledge never to reveal any of the Times’ dealings with the CIA, especially those involving cover. And there are those who note that, because all cover arrangements are classified, a secrecy agreement would automatically apply to them.

Attempts to find out which individuals in the Times organization made the actual arrangements for providing credentials to CIA personnel have been unsuccessful. In a letter to reporter Stuart Loory in 1974, Turner Cadedge, managing editor of the Times from 1951 to 1964, wrote that approaches by the CIA had been rebuffed by the newspaper. “I knew nothing about any involvement with the CIA… of any of our foreign correspondents on the New York Times. I heard many times of overtures to our men by the CIA, seeking to use their privileges, contacts, immunities and, shall we say, superior intelligence in the sordid business of spying and informing. If any one of them succumbed to the blandishments or cash offers, I was not aware of it. Repeatedly, the CIA and other hush‑hush agencies sought to make arrangements for ‘cooperation’ even with Times management, especially during or soon after World War II, but we always resisted. Our motive was to protect our credibility.”

According to Wayne Phillips, a former Timesreporter, the CIA invoked Arthur Hays Sulzberger’s name when it tried to recruit him as an undercover operative in 1952 while he was studying at Columbia University’s Russian Institute. Phillips said an Agency official told him that the CIA had “a working arrangement” with the publisher in which other reporters abroad had been placed on the Agency’s payroll. Phillips, who remained at the Times until 1961, later obtained CIA documents under the Freedom of Information Act which show that the Agency intended to develop him as a clandestine “asset” for use abroad.

On January 31st, 1976, the Times carried a brief story describing the ClAs attempt to recruit Phillips. It quoted Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, the present publisher, as follows: “I never heard of the Times being approached, either in my capacity as publisher or as the son of the late Mr. Sulzberger.” The Times story, written by John M. Crewdson, also reported that Arthur Hays Sulzberger told an unnamed former correspondent that he might he approached by the CIA after arriving at a new post abroad. Sulzberger told him that he was not “under any obligation to agree,” the story said and that the publisher himself would be “happier” if he refused to cooperate. “But he left it sort of up to me,” the Times quoted its former reporter as saying. “The message was if I really wanted to do that, okay, but he didn’t think it appropriate for a Times correspondent”

C.L. Sulzberger, in a telephone interview, said he had no knowledge of any CIA personnel using Times cover or of reporters for the paper working actively for the Agency. He was the paper’s chief of foreign service from 1944 to 1954 and expressed doubt that his uncle would have approved such arrangements. More typical of the late publisher, said Sulzberger, was a promise made to Allen Dulles’ brother, John Foster, then secretary of state, that no Times staff member would be permitted to accept an invitation to visit the People’s Republic of China without John Foster Dulles’ consent. Such an invitation was extended to the publisher’s nephew in the 1950s; Arthur Sulzberger forbade him to accept it. “It was seventeen years before another Times correspondent was invited,” C.L. Sulzberger recalled.

■ The Columbia Broadcasting System. CBS was unquestionably the CIAs most valuable broadcasting asset. CBS President William Paley and Allen Dulles enjoyed an easy working and social relationship. Over the years, the network provided cover for CIA employees, including at least one well‑known foreign correspondent and several stringers; it supplied outtakes of newsfilm to the CIA3; established a formal channel of communication between the Washington bureau chief and the Agency; gave the Agency access to the CBS newsfilm library; and allowed reports by CBS correspondents to the Washington and New York newsrooms to be routinely monitored by the CIA. Once a year during the 1950s and early 1960s, CBS correspondents joined the CIA hierarchy for private dinners and briefings.

The details of the CBS‑CIA arrangements were worked out by subordinates of both Dulles and Paley. “The head of the company doesn’t want to know the fine points, nor does the director,” said a CIA official. “Both designate aides to work that out. It keeps them above the battle.” Dr. Frank Stanton, for 25 years president of the network, was aware of the general arrangements Paley made with Dulles—including those for cover, according to CIA officials. Stanton, in an interview last year, said he could not recall any cover arrangements.) But Paley’s designated contact for the Agency was Sig Mickelson, president of CBS News between 1954 and 1961. On one occasion, Mickelson has said, he complained to Stanton about having to use a pay telephone to call the CIA, and Stanton suggested he install a private line, bypassing the CBS switchboard, for the purpose. According to Mickelson, he did so. Mickelson is now president of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, both of which were associated with the CIA for many years.

In 1976, CBS News president Richard Salant ordered an in‑house investigation of the network’s dealings with the CIA. Some of its findings were first disclosed by Robert Scheer in the Los Angeles Times.) But Salant’s report makes no mention of some of his own dealings with the Agency, which continued into the 1970s.

Many details about the CBS‑CIA relationship were found in Mickelson’s files by two investigators for Salant. Among the documents they found was a September 13th, 1957, memo to Mickelson fromTed Koop, CBS News bureau chief in Washington from 1948 to 1961. It describes a phone call to Koop from Colonel Stanley Grogan of the CIA: “Grogan phoned to say that Reeves [J. B. Love Reeves, another CIA official] is going to New York to be in charge of the CIA contact office there and will call to see you and some of your confreres. Grogan says normal activities will continue to channel through the Washington office of CBS News.” The report to Salant also states: “Further investigation of Mickelson’s files reveals some details of the relationship between the CIA and CBS News…. Two key administrators of this relationship were Mickelson and Koop…. The main activity appeared to be the delivery of CBS newsfilm to the CIA…. In addition there is evidence that, during 1964 to 1971, film material, including some outtakes, were supplied by the CBS Newsfilm Library to the CIA through and at the direction of Mr. Koop4…. Notes in Mr. Mickelson’s files indicate that the CIA used CBS films for training… All of the above Mickelson activities were handled on a confidential basis without mentioning the words Central Intelligence Agency. The films were sent to individuals at post‑office box numbers and were paid for by individual, nor government, checks. …” Mickelson also regularly sent the CIA an internal CBS newsletter, according to the report.

Salant’s investigation led him to conclude that Frank Kearns, a CBS‑TV reporter from 1958 to 1971, “was a CIA guy who got on the payroll somehow through a CIA contact with somebody at CBS.” Kearns and Austin Goodrich, a CBS stringer, were undercover CIA employees, hired under arrangements approved by Paley.

Last year a spokesman for Paley denied a report by former CBS correspondent Daniel Schorr that Mickelson and he had discussed Goodrich’s CIA status during a meeting with two Agency representatives in 1954. The spokesman claimed Paley had no knowledge that Goodrich had worked for the CIA. “When I moved into the job I was told by Paley that there was an ongoing relationship with the CIA,” Mickelson said in a recent interview. “He introduced me to two agents who he said would keep in touch. We all discussed the Goodrich situation and film arrangements. I assumed this was a normal relationship at the time. This was at the height of the Cold War and I assumed the communications media were cooperating—though the Goodrich matter was compromising.

At the headquarters of CBS News in New York, Paley’s cooperation with the CIA is taken for granted by many news executives and reporters, despite tile denials. Paley, 76, was not interviewed by Salant’s investigators. “It wouldn’t do any good,” said one CBS executive. “It is the single subject about which his memory has failed.”

Salant discussed his own contacts with the CIA, and the fact he continued many of his predecessor’s practices, in an interview with this reporter last year. The contacts, he said, began in February 1961, “when I got a phone call from a CIA man who said he had a working relationship with Sig Mickelson. The man said, ‘Your bosses know all about it.'” According to Salant, the CIA representative asked that CBS continue to supply the Agency with unedited newstapes and make its correspondents available for debriefingby Agency officials. Said Salant: “I said no on talking to the reporters, and let them see broadcast tapes, but no outtakes. This went on for a number of years—into the early Seventies.”

In 1964 and 1965, Salant served on a super-secret CIA task force which explored methods of beaming American propaganda broadcasts to the People’s Republic of China. The other members of the four‑man study team were Zbigniew Brzezinski, then a professor at Columbia University; William Griffith, then professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology., and John Haves, then vice‑president of the Washington Post Company for radio‑TV5. The principal government officials associated with the project were Cord Meyer of the CIA; McGeorge Bundy, then special assistant to the president for national security; Leonard Marks, then director of the USIA; and Bill Moyers, then special assistant to President Lyndon Johnson and now a CBS correspondent.

Salant’s involvement in the project began with a call from Leonard Marks, “who told me the White House wanted to form a committee of four people to make a study of U.S. overseas broadcasts behind the Iron Curtain.” When Salant arrived in Washington for the first meeting he was told that the project was CIA sponsored. “Its purpose,” he said, “was to determine how best to set up shortwave broadcasts into Red China.” Accompanied by a CIA officer named Paul Henzie, the committee of four subsequently traveled around the world inspecting facilities run by Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty both CIA‑run operations at the time), the Voice of America and Armed Forces Radio. After more than a year of study, they submitted a report to Moyers recommending that the government establish a broadcast service, run by the Voice of America, to be beamed at the People’s Republic of China. Salant has served two tours as head of CBS News, from 1961‑64 and 1966‑present. At the time of the China project he was a CBS corporate executive.)

■ Time and Newsweek magazines. According to CIA and Senate sources, Agency files contain written agreements with former foreign correspondents and stringers for both the weekly news magazines. The same sources refused to say whether the CIA has ended all its associations with individuals who work for the two publications. Allen Dulles often interceded with his good friend, the late Henry Luce, founder of Time and Life magazines, who readily allowed certain members of his staff to work for the Agency and agreed to provide jobs and credentials for other CIA operatives who lacked journalistic experience.

For many years, Luce’s personal emissary to the CIA was C.D. Jackson, a Time Inc., vice‑president who was publisher of Life magazine from 1960 until his death in 1964.While a Time executive, Jackson coauthored a CIA‑sponsored study recommending the reorganization of the American intelligence services in the early 1950s. Jackson, whose Time‑Life service was interrupted by a one‑year White House tour as an assistant to President Dwight Eisenhower, approved specific arrangements for providing CIA employees with Time‑Life cover. Some of these arrangements were made with the knowledge of Luce’s wife, Clare Boothe. Other arrangements for Time cover, according to CIA officials including those who dealt with Luce), were made with the knowledge of Hedley Donovan, now editor‑in‑chief of Time Inc. Donovan, who took over editorial direction of all Time Inc. publications in 1959, denied in a telephone interview that he knew of any such arrangements. “I was never approached and I’d be amazed if Luce approved such arrangements,” Donovan said. “Luce had a very scrupulous regard for the difference between journalism and government.”

In the 1950s and early 1960s, Time magazine’s foreign correspondents attended CIA “briefing” dinners similar to those the CIA held for CBS. And Luce, according to CIA officials, made it a regular practice to brief Dulles or other high Agency officials when he returned from his frequent trips abroad. Luce and the men who ran his magazines in the 1950s and 1960s encouraged their foreign correspondents to provide help to the CIA, particularly information that might be useful to the Agency for intelligence purposes or recruiting foreigners.

At Newsweek, Agency sources reported, the CIA engaged the services of’ several foreign correspondents and stringers under arrangements approved by senior editors at the magazine. Newsweek’s stringer in Rome in the mid‑Fifties made little secret of the fact that he worked for the CIA. Malcolm Muir, Newsweek’s editor from its founding in 1937 until its sale to the Washington Post Company in 1961, said in a recent interview that his dealings with the CIA were limited to private briefings he gave Allen Dulles after trips abroad and arrangements he approved for regular debriefing of Newsweek correspondents by the Agency. He said that he had never provided cover for CIA operatives, but that others high in the Newsweek organization might have done so without his knowledge.

“I would have thought there might have been stringers who were agents, but I didn’t know who they were,” said Muir. “I do think in those days the CIA kept pretty close touch with all responsible reporters. Whenever I heard something that I thought might be of interest to Allen Dulles, I’d call him up…. At one point he appointed one of his CIA men to keep in regular contact with our reporters, a chap that I knew but whose name I can’t remember. I had a number of friends in Alien Dulles’ organization.” Muir said that Harry Kern, Newsweek’s foreign editor from 1945 until 1956, and Ernest K. Lindley, the magazine’s Washington bureau chief during the same period “regularly checked in with various fellows in the CIA.”

“To the best of my knowledge.” said Kern, “nobody at Newsweek worked for the CIA… The informal relationship was there. Why have anybody sign anything? What we knew we told them [the CIA] and the State Department…. When I went to Washington, I would talk to Foster or Allen Dulles about what was going on. … We thought it was admirable at the time. We were all on the same side.” CIA officials say that Kern’s dealings with the Agency were extensive. In 1956, he left Newsweek to run Foreign Reports, a Washington‑based newsletter whose subscribers Kern refuses to identify.

Ernest Lindley, who remained at Newsweek until 1961, said in a recent interview that he regularly consulted with Dulles and other high CIA officials before going abroad and briefed them upon his return. “Allen was very helpful to me and I tried to reciprocate when I could,” he said. “I’d give him my impressions of people I’d met overseas. Once or twice he asked me to brief a large group of intelligence people; when I came back from the Asian‑African conference in 1955, for example; they mainly wanted to know about various people.”

As Washington bureau chief, Lindley said he learned from Malcolm Muir that the magazine’s stringer in southeastern Europe was a CIA contract employee—given credentials under arrangements worked out with the management. “I remember it came up—whether it was a good idea to keep this person from the Agency; eventually it was decided to discontinue the association,” Lindley said.

When Newsweek waspurchased by the Washington Post Company, publisher Philip L. Graham was informed by Agency officials that the CIA occasionally used the magazine for cover purposes, according to CIA sources. “It was widely known that Phil Graham was somebody you could get help from,” said a former deputy director of the Agency. “Frank Wisner dealt with him.” Wisner, deputy director of the CIA from 1950 until shortly before his suicide in 1965, was the Agency’s premier orchestrator of “black” operations, including many in which journalists were involved. Wisner liked to boast of his “mighty Wurlitzer,” a wondrous propaganda instrument he built, and played, with help from the press.) Phil Graham was probably Wisner’s closest friend. But Graharn, who committed suicide in 1963, apparently knew little of the specifics of any cover arrangements with Newsweek, CIA sources said.

In 1965‑66, an accredited Newsweek stringer in the Far East was in fact a CIA contract employee earning an annual salary of $10,000 from the Agency, according to Robert T. Wood, then a CIA officer in the Hong Kong station. Some, Newsweek correspondents and stringers continued to maintain covert ties with the Agency into the 1970s, CIA sources said.

Information about Agency dealings with the Washington Post newspaper is extremely sketchy. According to CIA officials, some Post stringers have been CIA employees, but these officials say they do not know if anyone in the Post management was aware of the arrangements.

All editors‑in‑chief and managing editors of the Post since 1950 say they knew of no formal Agency relationship with either stringers or members of the Post staff. “If anything was done it was done by Phil without our knowledge,” said one. Agency officials, meanwhile, make no claim that Post staff members have had covert affiliations with the Agency while working for the paper.6

Katharine Graham, Philip Graham’s widow and the current publisher of the Post, says she has never been informed of any CIA relationships with either Post or Newsweek personnel. In November of 1973, Mrs. Graham called William Colby and asked if any Post stringers or staff members were associated with the CIA. Colby assured her that no staff members were employed by the Agency but refused to discuss the question of stringers.

■ The Louisville Courier‑Journal. From December 1964 until March 1965, a CIA undercover operative named Robert H. Campbell worked on the Courier‑Journal. According to high‑level CIA sources, Campbell was hired by the paper under arrangements the Agency made with Norman E. Isaacs, then executive editor of the Courier‑Journal. Barry Bingham Sr., then publisher of the paper, also had knowledge of the arrangements, the sources said. Both Isaacs and Bingham have denied knowing that Campbell was an intelligence agent when he was hired.

The complex saga of Campbell’s hiring was first revealed in a Courier‑Journal story written by James R Herzog on March 27th, 1976, during the Senate committee’s investigation, Herzog’s account began: “When 28‑year‑old Robert H. Campbell was hired as a Courier‑Journal reporter in December 1964, he couldn’t type and knew little about news writing.” The account then quoted the paper’s former managing editor as saying that Isaacs told him that Campbell was hired as a result of a CIA request: “Norman said, when he was in Washington [in 1964], he had been called to lunch with some friend of his who was with the CIA [and that] he wanted to send this young fellow down to get him a little knowledge of newspapering.” All aspects of Campbell’s hiring were highly unusual. No effort had been made to check his credentials, and his employment records contained the following two notations: “Isaacs has files of correspondence and investigation of this man”; and, “Hired for temporary work—no reference checks completed or needed.”

The level of Campbell’s journalistic abilities apparently remained consistent during his stint at the paper, “The stuff that Campbell turned in was almost unreadable,” said a former assistant city editor. One of Campbell’s major reportorial projects was a feature about wooden Indians. It was never published. During his tenure at the paper, Campbell frequented a bar a few steps from the office where, on occasion, he reportedly confided to fellow drinkers that he was a CIA employee.

According to CIA sources, Campbell’s tour at the Courier‑Journal was arranged to provide him with a record of journalistic experience that would enhance the plausibility of future reportorial cover and teach him something about the newspaper business. The Courier‑Journal’s investigation also turned up the fact that before coming to Louisville he had worked briefly for the Hornell, New York, Evening Tribune, published by Freedom News, Inc. CIA sources said the Agency had made arrangements with that paper’s management to employ Campbell.7

At the Courier‑Journal, Campbell was hired under arrangements made with Isaacs and approved by Bingham, said CIA and Senate sources. “We paid the Courier‑Journal so they could pay his salary,” said an Agency official who was involved in the transaction. Responding by letter to these assertions, Isaacs, who left Louisville to become president and publisher of the Wilmington Delaware) News & Journal, said: “All I can do is repeat the simple truth—that never, under any circumstances, or at any time, have I ever knowingly hired a government agent. I’ve also tried to dredge my memory, but Campbell’s hiring meant so little to me that nothing emerges…. None of this is to say that I couldn’t have been ‘had.’”.Barry Bingham Sr., said last year in a telephone interview that he had no specific memory of Campbell’s hiring and denied that he knew of any arrangements between the newspaper’s management and the CIA. However, CIA officials said that the Courier‑Journal, through contacts with Bingham, provided other unspecified assistance to the Agency in the 1950s and 1960s. The Courier‑Journal’s detailed, front‑page account of Campbell’s hiring was initiated by Barry Bingham Jr., who succeeded his father as editor and publisher of the paper in 1971. The article is the only major piece of self‑investigation by a newspaper that has appeared on this subject.8

■ The American Broadcasting Company and the National Broadcasting Company. According to CIA officials, ABC continued to provide cover for some CIA operatives through the 1960s. One was Sam Jaffe who CIA officials said performed clandestine tasks for the Agency. Jaffe has acknowledged only providing the CIA with information. In addition, another well‑known network correspondent performed covert tasks for the Agency, said CIA sources. At the time of the Senate bearings, Agency officials serving at the highest levels refused to say whether the CIA was still maintaining active relationships with members of the ABC‑News organization. All cover arrangements were made with the knowledge off ABC executives, the sources said.

These same sources professed to know few specifies about the Agency’s relationships with NBC, except that several foreign correspondents of the network undertook some assignments for the Agency in the 1950s and 1960s. “It was a thing people did then,” said Richard Wald, president of NBC News since 1973. “I wouldn’t be surprised if people here—including some of the correspondents in those days—had connections with the Agency.”

■ The Copley Press, and its subsidiary, the Copley News Service. This relationship, first disclosed publicly by reporters Joe Trento and Dave Roman in Penthouse magazine, is said by CIA officials to have been among the Agency’s most productive in terms of getting “outside” cover for its employees. Copley owns nine newspapers in California and Illinois—among them the San Diego Union and Evening Tribune. The Trento‑Roman account, which was financed by a grant from the Fund for Investigative Journalism, asserted that at least twenty‑three Copley News Service employees performed work for the CIA. “The Agency’s involvement with the Copley organization is so extensive that it’s almost impossible to sort out,” said a CIA official who was asked about the relationship late in 1976. Other Agency officials said then that James S. Copley, the chain’s owner until his death in 1973, personally made most of the cover arrangements with the CIA.

According to Trento and Roman, Copley personally volunteered his news service to then‑president Eisenhower to act as “the eyes and ears” against “the Communist threat in Latin and Central America” for “our intelligence services.” James Copley was also the guiding hand behind the Inter‑American Press Association, a CIA‑funded organization with heavy membership among right‑wing Latin American newspaper editors.

■ Other major news organizations. According to Agency officials, CIA files document additional cover arrangements with the following news‑gathering organizations, among others: the New York Herald‑Tribune, the Saturday‑Evening Post, Scripps‑Howard Newspapers, Hearst Newspapers Seymour K. Freidin, Hearst’s current London bureau chief and a former Herald‑Tribune editor and correspondent, has been identified as a CIA operative by Agency sources), Associated Press,9 United Press International, the Mutual Broadcasting System, Reuters and the Miami Herald. Cover arrangements with the Herald, according to CIA officials, were unusual in that they were made “on the ground by the CIA station in Miami, not from CIA headquarters.

“And that’s just a small part of the list,” in the words of one official who served in the CIA hierarchy. Like many sources, this official said that the only way to end the uncertainties about aid furnished the Agency by journalists is to disclose the contents of the CIA files—a course opposed by almost all of the thirty‑five present and former CIA officials interviewed over the course of a year.

COLBY CUTS HIS LOSSES
THE CIA’S USE OF JOURNALISTS CONTINUED VIRTUALLY unabated until 1973 when, in response to public disclosure that the Agency had secretly employed American reporters, William Colby began scaling down the program. In his public statements, Colby conveyed the impression that the use of journalists had been minimal and of limited importance to the Agency.

He then initiated a series of moves intended to convince the press, Congress and the public that the CIA had gotten out of the news business. But according to Agency officials, Colby had in fact thrown a protective net around his valuable intelligence in the journalistic community. He ordered his deputies to maintain Agency ties with its best journalist contacts while severing formal relationships with many regarded as inactive, relatively unproductive or only marginally important. In reviewing Agency files to comply with Colby’s directive, officials found that many journalists had not performed useful functions for the CIA in years. Such relationships, perhaps as many as a hundred, were terminated between 1973 and 1976.

Meanwhile, important CIA operatives who had been placed on the staffs of some major newspaper and broadcast outlets were told to resign and become stringers or freelancers, thus enabling Colby to assure concerned editors that members of their staffs were not CIA employees. Colby also feared that some valuable stringer‑operatives might find their covers blown if scrutiny of the Agency’s ties with journalists continued. Some of these individuals were reassigned to jobs on so‑called proprietary publications—foreign periodicals and broadcast outlets secretly funded and staffed by the CIA. Other journalists who had signed formal contracts with the CIA—making them employees of the Agency—were released from their contracts, and asked to continue working under less formal arrangements.

In November 1973, after many such shifts had been made, Colby told reporters and editors from the New York Times and the Washington Star that the Agency had “some three dozen” American newsmen “on the CIA payroll,” including five who worked for “general‑circulation news organizations.” Yet even while the Senate Intelligence Committee was holding its hearings in 1976, according to high‑level CIA sources, the CIA continued to maintain ties with seventy‑five to ninety journalists of every description—executives, reporters, stringers, photographers, columnists, bureau clerks and members of broadcast technical crews. More than half of these had been moved off CIA contracts and payrolls but they were still bound by other secret agreements with the Agency. According to an unpublished report by the House Select Committee on Intelligence, chaired by Representative Otis Pike, at least fifteen news organizations were still providing cover for CIA operatives as of 1976.

Colby, who built a reputation as one of the most skilled undercover tacticians in the CIA’s history, had himself run journalists in clandestine operations before becoming director in 1973. But even he was said by his closest associates to have been disturbed at how extensively and, in his view, indiscriminately, the Agency continued to use journalists at the time he took over. “Too prominent,” the director frequently said of some of the individuals and news organizations then working with the CIA. Others in the Agency refer to their best‑known journalistic assets as “brand names.”)

“Colby’s concern was that he might lose the resource altogether unless we became a little more careful about who we used and how we got them,” explained one of the former director’s deputies. The thrust of Colby’s subsequent actions was to move the Agency’s affiliations away from the so‑called “majors” and to concentrate them instead in smaller newspaper chains, broadcasting groups and such specialized publications as trade journals and newsletters.

After Colby left the Agency on January 28th, 1976, and was succeeded by George Bush, the CIA announced a new policy: “Effective immediately, the CIA will not enter into any paid or contractual relationship with any full‑time or part‑time news correspondent accredited by any U.S. news service, newspaper, periodical, radio or television network or station” At the time of the announcement, the Agency acknowledged that the policy would result in termination of less than half of the relationships with the 50 U.S. journalists it said were still affiliated with the Agency. The text of the announcement noted that the CIA would continue to “welcome” the voluntary, unpaid cooperation of journalists. Thus, many relationships were permitted to remain intact.

The Agency’s unwillingness to end its use of journalists and its continued relationships with some news executives is largely the product of two basic facts of the intelligence game: journalistic cover is ideal because of the inquisitive nature of a reporter’s job; and many other sources of institutional cover have been denied the CIA in recent years by businesses, foundations and educational institutions that once cooperated with the Agency.

“It’s tough to run a secret agency in this country,” explained one high‑level CIA official. “We have a curious ambivalence about intelligence. In order to serve overseas we need cover. But we have been fighting a rear‑guard action to try and provide cover. The Peace Corps is off‑limits, so is USIA, the foundations and voluntary organizations have been off‑limits since ‘67, and there is a self‑imposed prohibition on Fulbrights [Fulbright Scholars]. If you take the American community and line up who could work for the CIA and who couldn’t there is a very narrow potential. Even the Foreign Service doesn’t want us. So where the hell do you go? Business is nice, but the press is a natural. One journalist is worth twenty agents. He has access, the ability to ask questions without arousing suspicion.”

ROLE OF THE CHURCH COMMITTEE

DESPITE THE EVIDENCE OF WIDESPREAD CIA USE OF journalists, the Senate Intelligence Committee and its staff decided against questioning any of the reporters, editors, publishers or broadcast executives whose relationships with the Agency are detailed in CIA files.

According to sources in the Senate and the Agency, the use of journalists was one of two areas of inquiry which the CIA went to extraordinary lengths to curtail. The other was the Agency’s continuing and extensive use of academics for recruitment and information gathering purposes.

In both instances, the sources said, former directors Colby and Bush and CIA special counsel Mitchell Rogovin were able to convince key members of the committee that full inquiry or even limited public disclosure of the dimensions of the activities would do irreparable damage to the nation’s intelligence‑gathering apparatus, as well as to the reputations of hundreds of individuals. Colby was reported to have been especially persuasive in arguing that disclosure would bring on a latter‑day “witch hunt” in which the victims would be reporters, publishers and editors.

Walter Elder, deputy to former CIA director McCone and the principal Agency liaison to the Church committee, argued that the committee lacked jurisdiction because there had been no misuse of journalists by the CIA; the relationships had been voluntary. Elder cited as an example the case of the Louisville Courier‑Journal. “Church and other people on the committee were on the chandelier about the Courier‑Journal,” one Agency official said, “until we pointed out that we had gone to the editor to arrange cover, and that the editor had said, ‘Fine.’”

Some members of the Church committee and staff feared that Agency officials had gained control of the inquiry and that they were being hoodwinked. “The Agency was extremely clever about it and the committee played right into its hands,” said one congressional source familiar with all aspects of the inquiry. “Church and some of the other members were much more interested in making headlines than in doing serious, tough investigating. The Agency pretended to be giving up a lot whenever it was asked about the flashy stuff—assassinations and secret weapons and James Bond operations. Then, when it came to things that they didn’t want to give away, that were much more important to the Agency, Colby in particular called in his chits. And the committee bought it.”

The Senate committee’s investigation into the use of journalists was supervised by William B. Bader, a former CIA intelligence officer who returned briefly to the Agency this year as deputy to CIA director Stansfield Turner and is now a high‑level intelligence official at the Defense Department. Bader was assisted by David Aaron, who now serves as the deputy to Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter’s national security adviser.

According to colleagues on the staff of the Senate inquiry, both Bader and Aaron were disturbed by the information contained in CIA files about journalists; they urged that further investigation he undertaken by the Senate’s new permanent CIA oversight committee. That committee, however, has spent its first year of existence writing a new charter for the CIA, and members say there has been little interest in delving further into the CIA’s use of the press.

Bader’s investigation was conducted under unusually difficult conditions. His first request for specific information on the use of journalists was turned down by the CIA on grounds that there had been no abuse of authority and that current intelligence operations might he compromised. Senators Walter Huddleston, Howard Baker, Gary Hart, Walter Mondale and Charles Mathias—who had expressed interest in the subject of the press and the CIA—shared Bader’s distress at the CIA’s reaction. In a series of phone calls and meetings with CIA director George Bush and other Agency officials, the senators insisted that the committee staff be provided information about the scope of CIA‑press activities. Finally, Bush agreed to order a search of the files and have those records pulled which deals with operations where journalists had been used. But the raw files could not he made available to Bader or the committee, Bush insisted. Instead, the director decided, his deputies would condense the material into one‑paragraph sum­maries describing in the most general terms the activities of each individual journalist. Most important, Bush decreed, the names of journalists and of the news organizations with which they were affiliated would be omitted from the summaries. However, there might be some indication of the region where the journalist had served and a general description of the type of news organization for which he worked.

Assembling the summaries was difficult, according to CIA officials who supervised the job. There were no “journalist files” per se and information had to be collected from divergent sources that reflect the highly compartmentalized character of the CIA. Case officers who had handled journalists supplied some names. Files were pulled on various undercover operations in which it seemed logical that journalists had been used. Significantly, all work by reporters for the Agency under the category of covert operations, not foreign intelligence.) Old station records were culled. “We really had to scramble,” said one official.

After several weeks, Bader began receiving the summaries, which numbered over 400 by the time the Agency said it had completed searching its files.

The Agency played an intriguing numbers game with the committee. Those who prepared the material say it was physically impossible to produce all of the Agency’s files on the use of journalists. “We gave them a broad, representative picture,” said one agency official. “We never pretended it was a total description of the range of activities over 25 years, or of the number of journalists who have done things for us.” A relatively small number of the summaries described the activities of foreign journalists—including those working as stringers for American publications. Those officials most knowledgeable about the subject say that a figure of 400 American journalists is on the low side of the actual number who maintained covert relationships and undertook clandestine tasks.

Bader and others to whom he described the contents of the summaries immediately reached some general conclusions: the sheer number of covert relationships with journalists was far greater than the CIA had ever hinted; and the Agency’s use of reporters and news executives was an intelligence asset of the first magnitude. Reporters had been involved in almost every conceivable kind of operation. Of the 400‑plus individuals whose activities were summarized, between 200 and 250 were “working journalists” in the usual sense of the term—reporters, editors, correspondents, photographers; the rest were employed at least nominally) by book publishers, trade publications and newsletters.

Still, the summaries were just that: compressed, vague, sketchy, incomplete. They could be subject to ambiguous interpretation. And they contained no suggestion that the CIA had abused its authority by manipulating the editorial content of American newspapers or broadcast reports.

Bader’s unease with what he had found led him to seek advice from several experienced hands in the fields of foreign relations and intelligence. They suggested that he press for more information and give those members of the committee in whom he had the most confidence a general idea of what the summaries revealed. Bader again went to Senators Huddleston, Baker, Hart, Mondale and Mathias. Meanwhile, he told the CIA that he wanted to see more—the full files on perhaps a hundred or so of the individuals whose activities had been summarized. The request was turned down outright. The Agency would provide no more information on the subject. Period.

The CIA’s intransigence led to an extraordinary dinner meeting at Agency headquarters in late March 1976. Those present included Senators Frank Church who had now been briefed by Bader), and John Tower, the vice‑chairman of the committee; Bader; William Miller, director of the committee staff; CIA director Bush; Agency counsel Rogovin; and Seymour Bolten, a high‑level CIA operative who for years had been a station chief in Germany and Willy Brandt’s case officer. Bolten had been deputized by Bush to deal with the committee’s requests for information on journalists and academics. At the dinner, the Agency held to its refusal to provide any full files. Nor would it give the committee the names of any individual journalists described in the 400 summaries or of the news organizations with whom they were affiliated. The discussion, according to participants, grew heated. The committee’s representatives said they could not honor their mandate—to determine if the CIA had abused its authority—without further information. The CIA maintained it could not protect its legitimate intelligence operations or its employees if further disclosures were made to the committee. Many of the journalists were contract employees of the Agency, Bush said at one point, and the CIA was no less obligated to them than to any other agents.

Finally, a highly unusual agreement was hammered out: Bader and Miller would be permitted to examine “sanitized” versions of the full files of twenty‑five journalists selected from the summaries; but the names of the journalists and the news organizations which employed them would be blanked out, as would the identities of other CIA employees mentioned in the files. Church and Tower would be permitted to examine the unsanitizedversions of five of the twenty‑five files—to attest that the CIA was not hiding anything except the names. The whole deal was contingent on an agreement that neither Bader, Miner, Tower nor Church would reveal the contents of the files to other members of the committee or staff.

Bader began reviewing the 400‑some summaries again. His object was to select twenty‑five that, on the basis of the sketchy information they contained, seemed to represent a cross section. Dates of CIA activity, general descriptions of news organizations, types of journalists and undercover operations all figured in his calculations.

From the twenty‑five files he got back, according to Senate sources and CIA officials, an unavoidable conclusion emerged: that to a degree never widely suspected, the CIA in the 1950s, ‘60s and even early ‘70s had concentrated its relationships with journalists in the most prominent sectors of the American press corps, including four or five of the largest newspapers in the country, the broadcast networks and the two major newsweekly magazines. Despite the omission of names and affiliations from the twenty‑five detailed files each was between three and eleven inches thick), the information was usually sufficient to tentatively identify either the newsman, his affiliation or both—particularly because so many of them were prominent in the profession.

“There is quite an incredible spread of relationships,” Bader reported to the senators. “You don’t need to manipulate Time magazine, for example, because there are Agency people at the management level.”

Ironically, one major news organization that set limits on its dealings with the CIA, according to Agency officials, was the one with perhaps the greatest editorial affinity for the Agency’s long‑range goals and policies: U.S. News and World Report. The late David Lawrence, the columnist and founding editor of U.S. News, was a close friend of Allen Dulles. But he repeatedly refused requests by the CIA director to use the magazine for cover purposes, the sources said. At one point, according to a high CIA official, Lawrence issued orders to his sub‑editors in which he threatened to fire any U.S. News employee who was found to have entered into a formal relationship with the Agency. Former editorial executives at the magazine confirmed that such orders had been issued. CIA sources declined to say, however, if the magazine remained off‑limits to the Agency after Lawrence’s death in 1973 or if Lawrence’s orders had been followed.)

Meanwhile, Bader attempted to get more information from the CIA, particularly about the Agency’s current relationships with journalists. He encountered a stone wall. “Bush has done nothing to date,” Bader told associates. “None of the important operations are affected in even a marginal way.” The CIA also refused the staffs requests for more information on the use of academics. Bush began to urge members of the committee to curtail its inquiries in both areas and conceal its findings in the final report. “He kept saying, ‘Don’t fuck these guys in the press and on the campuses,’ pleading that they were the only areas of public life with any credibility left,” reported a Senate source. Colby, Elder and Rogovin also implored individual members of the committee to keep secret what the staff had found. “There were a lot of representations that if this stuff got out some of the biggest names in journalism would get smeared,” said another source. Exposure of the CIA’s relationships with journalists and academics, the Agency feared, would close down two of the few avenues of agent recruitment still open. “The danger of exposure is not the other side,” explained one CIA expert in covert operations. “This is not stuff the other side doesn’t know about. The concern of the Agency is that another area of cover will be denied.”

A senator who was the object of the Agency’s lobbying later said: “From the CIA point of view this was the highest, most sensitive covert program of all…. It was a much larger part of the operational system than has been indicated.” He added, “I had a great compulsion to press the point but it was late …. If we had demanded, they would have gone the legal route to fight it.”

Indeed, time was running out for the committee. In the view of many staff members, it had squandered its resources in the search for CIA assassination plots and poison pen letters. It had undertaken the inquiry into journalists almost as an afterthought. The dimensions of the program and the CIA’s sensitivity to providing information on it had caught the staff and the committee by surprise. The CIA oversight committee that would succeed the Church panel would have the inclination and the time to inquire into the subject methodically; if, as seemed likely, the CIA refused to cooperate further, the mandate of the successor committee would put it in a more advantageous position to wage a protracted fight …. Or so the reasoning went as Church and the few other senators even vaguely familiar with Bader’s findings reached a decision not to pursue the matter further. No journalists would be interviewed about their dealings with the Agency—either by the staff or by the senators, in secret or in open session. The specter, first raised by CIA officials, of a witch hunt in the press corps haunted some members of the staff and the committee. “We weren’t about to bring up guys to the committee and then have everybody say they’ve been traitors to the ideals of their profession,” said a senator.

Bader, according to associates, was satisfied with the decision and believed that the successor committee would pick up the inquiry where he had left it. He was opposed to making public the names of individual journalists. He had been concerned all along that he had entered a “gray area” in which there were no moral absolutes. Had the CIA “manipulated” the press in the classic sense of the term? Probably not, he concluded; the major news organizations and their executives had willingly lent their resources to the Agency; foreign correspondents had regarded work for the CIA as a national service and a way of getting better stories and climbing to the top of their profession. Had the CIA abused its authority? It had dealt with the press almost exactly as it had dealt with other institutions from which it sought cover — the diplomatic service, academia, corporations. There was nothing in the CIA’s charter which declared any of these institutions off‑limits to America’s intelligence service. And, in the case of the press, the Agency had exercised more care in its dealings than with many other institutions; it had gone to considerable lengths to restrict its role to information‑gathering and cover.10

Bader was also said to be concerned that his knowledge was so heavily based on information furnished by the CIA; he hadn’t gotten the other side of the story from those journalists who had associated with the Agency. He could be seeing only “the lantern show,” he told associates. Still, Bader was reasonably sure that he had seen pretty much the full panoply of what was in the files. If the CIA had wanted to deceive him it would have never given away so much, he reasoned. “It was smart of the Agency to cooperate to the extent of showing the material to Bader,” observed a committee source. “That way, if one fine day a file popped up, the Agency would be covered. They could say they had already informed the Congress.”

The dependence on CIA files posed another problem. The CIA’s perception of a relationship with a journalist might be quite different than that of the journalist: a CIA official might think he had exercised control over a journalist; the journalist might think he had simply had a few drinks with a spook. It was possible that CIA case officers had written self‑serving memos for the files about their dealings with journalists, that the CIA was just as subject to common bureaucratic “cover‑your‑ass” paperwork as any other agency of government.

A CIA official who attempted to persuade members of the Senate committee that the Agency’s use of journalists had been innocuous maintained that the files were indeed filled with “puffing” by case officers. “You can’t establish what is puff and what isn’t,” he claimed. Many reporters, he added, “were recruited for finite [specific] undertakings and would be appalled to find that they were listed [in Agency files] as CIA operatives.” This same official estimated that the files contained descriptions of about half a dozen reporters and correspondents who would be considered “famous”—that is, their names would be recognized by most Americans. “The files show that the CIA goes to the press for and just as often that the press comes to the CIA,” he observed. “…There is a tacit agreement in many of these cases that there is going to be a quid pro quo”—i.e., that the reporter is going to get good stories from the Agency and that the CIA will pick up some valuable services from the reporter.

Whatever the interpretation, the findings of the Senate committees inquiry into the use of journalists were deliberately buried—from the full membership of the committee, from the Senate and from the public. “There was a difference of opinion on how to treat the subject,” explained one source. “Some [senators] thought these were abuses which should be exorcized and there were those who said, ‘We don’t know if this is bad or not.’”

Bader’s findings on the subject were never discussed with the full committee, even in executive session. That might have led to leaks—especially in view of the explosive nature of the facts. Since the beginning of the Church committee’s investigation, leaks had been the panel’s biggest collective fear, a real threat to its mission. At the slightest sign of a leak the CIA might cut off the flow of sensitive information as it did, several times in other areas), claiming that the committee could not be trusted with secrets. “It was as if we were on trial—not the CIA,” said a member of the committee staff. To describe in the committee’s final report the true dimensions of the Agency’s use of journalists would cause a furor in the press and on the Senate floor. And it would result in heavy pressure on the CIA to end its use of journalists altogether. “We just weren’t ready to take that step,” said a senator. A similar decision was made to conceal the results of the staff’s inquiry into the use of academics. Bader, who supervised both areas of inquiry, concurred in the decisions and drafted those sections of the committee’s final report. Pages 191 to 201 were entitled “Covert Relationships with the United States Media.” “It hardly reflects what we found,” stated Senator Gary Hart. “There was a prolonged and elaborate negotiation [with the CIA] over what would be said.”

Obscuring the facts was relatively simple. No mention was made of the 400 summaries or what they showed. Instead the report noted blandly that some fifty recent contacts with journalists had been studied by the committee staff—thus conveying the impression that the Agency’s dealings with the press had been limited to those instances. The Agency files, the report noted, contained little evidence that the editorial content of American news reports had been affected by the CIA’s dealings with journalists. Colby’s misleading public statements about the use of journalists were repeated without serious contradiction or elaboration. The role of cooperating news executives was given short shrift. The fact that the Agency had concentrated its relationships in the most prominent sectors of the press went unmentioned. That the CIA continued to regard the press as up for grabs was not even suggested.

Former ‘Washington Post’ reporter CARL BERNSTEIN is now working on a book about the witch hunts of the Cold War.

Footnotes:

1 John McCone, director of the Agency from 1961 to 1965, said in a recent interview that he knew about “great deal of debriefing and exchanging help” but nothing about any arrangements for cover the CIA might have made with media organizations. “I wouldn’t necessarily have known about it,” he said. “Helms would have handled anything like that. It would be unusual for him to come to me and say, ‘We’re going to use journalists for cover.’ He had a job to do. There was no policy during my period that would say, ‘Don’t go near that water,’ nor was there one saying, ‘Go to it!'” During the Church committee bearings, McCone testified that his subordinates failed to tell him about domestic surveillance activities or that they were working on plans to assassinate Fidel Castro. Richard Helms was deputy director of the Agency at the time; he became director in 1966.

2 A stringer is a reporter who works for one or several news organizations on a retainer or on a piecework basis.

3 From the CIA point of view, access to newsfilm outtakes and photo libraries is a matter of extreme importance. The Agency’s photo archive is probably the greatest on earth; its graphic sources include satellites, photoreconnaissance, planes, miniature cameras … and the American press. During the 1950s and 1960s, the Agency obtained carte‑blanche borrowing privileges in the photo libraries of literally dozens of American newspapers, magazines and television, outlets. For obvious reasons, the CIA also assigned high priority to the recruitment of photojournalists, particularly foreign‑based members of network camera crews.

4 On April 3rd, 1961, Koop left the Washington bureau to become head of CBS, Inc.’s Government Relations Department — a position he held until his retirement on March 31st, 1972. Koop, who worked as a deputy in the Censorship Office in World War II, continued to deal with the CIA in his new position, according to CBS sources.

5 Hayes, who left the Washington Post Company in 1965 to become U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland, is now chairman of the board of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty — both of which severed their ties with the CIA in 1971. Hayes said he cleared his participation in the China project with the late Frederick S. Beebe, then chairman of the board of the Washington Post Company. Katharine Graham, the Post’s publisher, was unaware of the nature of the assignment, he said. Participants in the project signed secrecy agreements.

6 Philip Geyelin, editor of the Post editorial page, worked for the Agency before joining the Post.

7 Louis Buisch, presidentof the publishing company of the Hornell, New York, Evening Tribune, told the Courier‑Journal in 1976 that he remembered little about the hiring of Robert Campbell. “He wasn’t there very long, and he didn’t make much of an impression,” said Buisch, who has since retired from active management of the newspaper.

8 Probably the most thoughtful article on the subject of the press and the CIA was written by Stuart H. Loory and appeared in the September‑October 1974 issue of Columbia Journalism Review.

9 Wes Gallagher, general manager of the Associated Press from 1962 to 1976, takes vigorous exception to the notion that the Associated Press might have aided the Agency. “We’ve always stayed clear on the CIA; I would have fired anybody who worked for them. We don’t even let our people debrief.” At the time of the first disclosures that reporters had worked for the CIA, Gallagher went to Colby. “We tried to find out names. All he would say was that no full‑time staff member of the Associated Press was employed by the Agency. We talked to Bush. He said the same thing.” If any Agency personnel were placed in Associated Press bureaus, said Gallagher, it was done without consulting the management of the wire service. But Agency officials insist that they were able to make cover arrangements through someone in the upper management levelsof Associated Press, whom they refuse to identify.

10 Many journalists and some CIA officials dispute the Agency’s claim that it has been scrupulous in respecting the editorial integrity of American publications and broadcast outlets.

Did Sinn Fein Force Peter Robinson To Resign Over NAMA Scandal?

An intriguing article that poses more questions than it answers, appeared in the Dublin-based Village magazine at the very end of 2015 hinting, or perhaps insinuating is a better word, that former DUP First Minister, Peter Robinson agreed to negotiate the restoration of the Stormont power-sharing government in the face of Sinn Fein threats to expose his role in the NAMA scandal.

The article also hints – and this time hint is the appropriate word – that Robinson’s resignation as First Minister was not unconnected to the threats.

(My thanks to a Dublin correspondent who alerted me to the piece)

What makes the article really compelling is its author. It was written by Frank Connolly, perhaps the most controversial Irish journalist in recent years, whose alleged associations with Sinn Fein and the Provisional Movement in general have been such as to make it a reasonable assumption that his sources for the article were at an impeccably high level in that organisation.

A reminder of who Frank Connolly is: Back in August 2001, a month before 9/11, three Irishmen were arrested at Bogota international airport in Colombia. The three had established links to the Provos. Co. Donegal man, James Monaghan, at 56, the oldest of the three was a former IRA Director of Engineering, the department which manufactured explosives and improvised weapons. The other two were Martin McCaughey, from Co. Armagh, who survived the hayshed shooting during the RUC’s infamous ‘shoot to kill’ episode in 1982 and third was Niall Connolly, a Dubliner and fluent Spanish speaker who was Sinn Fein’s Latin America representative and a resident of Cuba.

The Irishmen – by now dubbed The Colombia Three – were charged with providing assistance to the FARC guerilla movement, a charge they were acquitted of, but found guilty of traveling on false passports. They were sentenced up to 4 years in jail but were granted bail. While free they escaped from Colombia and made it home to Ireland.

Fast forward four years or so to the winter of 2005 and the then Minister for Justice in Dublin, Michael McDowell lets it be known, via leaks to the media and then in a statement, that there was a fourth member of the Colombia Three – and he runs an ostensibly independent research body which McDowell, and others, suspect is a really front for Sinn Fein.

Frank Connolly, headed up an organisation called The Center for Public Inquiry (CPI), whose brief was to “…investigate matters of public importance in Irish political, public and corporate life” It was established in February 2005 and was largely funded by the American billionaire philanthropist, Charles ‘Chuck’ Feeney, who had also given considerable political and financial help to Sinn Fein, especially in America.

McDowell’s allegation was sensational. In April 2001, four or five months before The Colombia Three were arrested, three Irishmen had, according to the Colombian authorities, entered the FARC-controlled area of the country. They were Niall Connolly, Padraig Wilson, a West Belfast IRA member, a close confidante of Gerry Adams and a former OC of IRA prisoners in the Maze, while the third was Frank Connolly, now the executive director of the Centre for Public Inquiry.

All three, including Frank Connolly, had traveled on false Irish passports, McDowell alleged. Connolly denied the charges but after ‘Chuck’ Feeney met with then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Michael McDowell, he withdrew funding from the CPI and it folded.

So when a figure like Connolly makes apparently well-sourced, albeit anonymous claims that SF pressure led to the ‘Fresh Start’ deal and perhaps even to Peter Robinson’s resignation, it is worth paying attention. Who knows there might even be a journalist or two in Belfast ready and able to stir themselves to discover whether this is true or not!

One question they might consider addressing is this: ‘If Sinn Fein did imply or say to the First Minister that the party “would not look kindly on any Robinson NAMA delinquencies, if he did not move expeditiously to get the Executive back on track”, was that threat withdrawn when the ‘Fresh Start’ deal was cut?’

Anyway, here is Connolly’s article in The Village:

village

In late September, loyalist blogger, James Bryson, told a public session of the Stormont finance committee that Frank Cushnahan along with solicitor Ian Coulter formerly of Belfast firm Tughans, prominent accountant David Watters, developer Andrew Creighton and DUP leader Peter Robinson were to receive substantial sums from the sale of Project Eagle.

Cushnahan was involved in the preparation of the Eagle portfolio in his capacity as a member of the NIAC of NAMA while Watters had intimate knowledge of the individual properties and their potential values and his firm McClure Watters provided advisory services to the agency.

While each of the five has denied the extraordinary claims about alleged kickbacks there is a view that the announcement last month by Robinson of his retirement from politics next year was influenced in no small part by the Project Eagle affair.

Robinson’s withdrawal in September from the power-sharing government threatened to bring down the political institutions in the wake of various crises including alleged IRA involvement in the killing of Belfast man, Kevin McGuigan, the earlier killing of Sinn Fein member Jock Davison and an ongoing battle with Sinn Fein over welfare cuts. By November, these and other issues were resolved after intensive discussions involving the Northern parties and the Irish and British governments and during which the “fee payments” allegations hung like a dark cloud over the first minister.

In a mid-September statement after Robinson was named as the intended recipient of a £7.5 million sum lodged by Coulter in an Isle of Man account in connection with the Project Eagle sale, Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams made it clear that his party had serious questions for the DUP leader that would not go away anytime soon.

Speaking at a public meeting in Drogheda in response to the initial reluctance of unionists to participate in all-party talks, Adams remarked:

“……if Sinn Féin adopted the same approach as the unionist parties then there would not be a political process or political institutions in the north. The unionist parties’ attitude to the two murders in Belfast and to the recent revelations about the sell-off of NAMA’s northern loan book shows their ad hoc attitude to the political institutions.

“In July, serious concerns arose around the sell-off by NAMA of its northern loan book – valued at £4.5 billion – for a third of that amount, amid allegations that a senior politician in the north was to benefit from this.

“Sinn Féin could have decided at that point to walk away from the Executive. We didn’t. We asserted the primacy of due process and the need for these very serious allegations of political corruption to be fully investigated properly by the relevant Assembly and policing agencies”.

In a comment that went largely unmentioned in the Dublin media he continued:

“The sell-off of NAMA’s northern loan book involves both the Minister for Finance in Dublin as well as senior ministers in the north. The allegations of wrong doing are very serious”.

The talks ended six weeks later with a deal on welfare and spending as well as policing issues and the unexpected announcement by Robinson that he is to leave the stage in May before the assembly elections.

In late September, Adams also met with the Office of the New York State Comptroller which has $50m invested in Cerberus to brief them on the controversy surrounding Project Eagle. It is understood that the Comptroller then raised the issue with senior executives of Cerberus who were apparently not impressed by the Sinn Fein leader’s intervention. Neither was Peter Robinson by all accounts.

Sources told Village that these two events were intended to telegraph to Robinson that Sinn Féin would not look kindly on any Robinson NAMA delinquencies, if he did not move expeditiously to get the Executive back on track

Seamus Mallon Told The Truth About John Hume – But Then Sinn Fein Played Everyone, IRA Included, Like A 3lb Trout

Playing a trout on a fly fishing line

Playing a trout on a fly fishing line

“I mean they used John, John Hume, like you’d play a three pound trout, and he gave them the thing that they were looking for – and that was a respectable image in the United States.” – Former SDLP deputy leader, Seamus Mallon, interviewed on BBC radio, December 28th, 2015

Seamus Mallon and John Hume meet the media during the Good Friday talks

Seamus Mallon and John Hume meet the media during the Good Friday talks

“I have been informed by my friends that while Sean is central, in his own capacity, to our project, that it is not acceptable to them that you should appoint him to act also as your nominee. Mindful however of your difficulties, they are prepared to accept a temporary suspension of any direct involvement by you in this process so that Sean and I can proceed in an effort to expedite matters. This is conditional upon you indicating now that you or your representative will be involved directly in this process when necessary at some future date and that there will be an independent and private line via an sagairt between you and me until then” – Secret written message from Gerry Adams to Charles J Haughey, dated January 15th 1986. ‘Sean’ is code for John Hume; ‘an sagairt’, Irish for ‘the priest’, is Fr. Alex Reid.

Charles Haughey, pictured in his Kinsealy mansion

Charles Haughey, pictured in his Kinsealy mansion

“You have to understand that while Adams was trying to talk to me he was also approaching Hume and my decision to nominate Hume as my representative, which was my first instinct, happened at the same time, it was contemporaneous. I think this was just a little after they had had a secret meeting.” – Author’s note of interview with CJ Haughey, December 1st, 1999

Fr. Alec Reid, 'an sagairt' - the go between for Adams and Haughey

Fr. Alec Reid, ‘an sagairt’ – the go between for Adams and Haughey

“The visits from Reid started in 1985 – as evidence here is a message from Gerry Adams to me dated 15-1-86 which shows that it must have started in 85 – (although I) can’t remember when in ‘85…..Adams had already (by time of first Reid approach) decided to look for an alternative to armed struggle.” – Author’s note of interview with CJ Haughey, December 1st, 1999

It would have been towards the end of August 1993 when I made the journey to the Everglades Hotel in Derry. It had been some time since SDLP leader John Hume and myself had met but a series of startling, not say baffling events during the preceding months had made a get-together long overdue.

In April, the existence of the so-called Hume-Adams talks had been divulged when, by chance or design, Gerry Adams had been spotted visiting John Hume’s home in Derry (hardly the wisest choice for a hush-hush assignation and the cause thereby of various conspiracy theories suggesting that both men, or one or the other had contrived the disclosure).

To put this into context, one has to remember that back in the early 1990’s no respectable/ambitious Irish or British politician would dare to breathe the same air as Gerry Adams (and, though they will not like to be reminded now, neither would a clear majority of the Irish press corps!), since to do so suggested insufficient condemnation of, ambivalence towards and even approval of the use of political violence.

John Hume and Gerry Adams meet in a BBC radio studio

John Hume and Gerry Adams meet in a BBC radio studio – Hume was known as ‘Sean’ in Adams’ secret dialogue with Charles Haughey

The very fact that the two men who represented the opposite poles of Northern Nationalism, one a pariah in many eyes, the other an Irish Gandhi, had shared a roof even for a few minutes, was a sensational story.

For the record, Eamonn McCann had been told of the Adams’ visit by a friend and had phoned my newspaper, The Sunday Tribune with the news. Although a frequent writer for the Trib, McCann was, for reasons I never discovered, not keen to write the story himself and so it was passed on to me by the newsdesk.

Eamonn McCann

Eamonn McCann

When I rang Hume for confirmation, he at first denied the story but then a few minutes later he rang back to confirm that the two men had indeed met and furthermore had held “extensive discussions”. What this exchange said about the conspiracy theories is anybody’s guess.

We learned a little more about what these “extensive discussions” amounted to a fortnight later when the two men met again, this time at a more discrete location, when they issued a lengthier statement explaining their intent. Whether we were any the wiser is debatable since their words could have been, and may well have been composed by a Jesuit, or at least a Redemptorist.

The phrase that had us all wringing our brains were these two paragraphs, clearly the central strut of their dialogue:

We accept that the Irish people as a whole have a right to national self-determination. This is a view shared by a majority of the people of this island though not by all its people.

The exercise of self-determination is a matter for agreement between the people of Ireland. It is the search for that agreement and the means of achieving it on which we will be concentrating.

What on earth did this mean? We know now. It is as clear as day. It is called the Good Friday Agreement and at its core is an acquiescence to the consent principle tempered by power-sharing. But back then it was not as possible to detect such clarity, not least just because the formulation was soaked in ambiguity but the necessary precondition, that the IRA would abandon violence was, well, unattainable, or so it seemed.

As if to underline that thought, on the day the two men met for the second time to spell out their intentions, the IRA exploded a one-ton lorry bomb in the Bishopsgate section of the City of London, costing one man his life, injuring thirty and causing damage estimated at between £Stg 300m and £Stg 1,000m ($450m – $1,500m).

It was one of the most destructive and probably the most expensive bombs of the Troubles. Anyone tempted to discern a sellout in the Hume-Adams statement had their suspicions blunted by the devastation visited upon Britain’s financial heart.

The Bishopsgate bomb - devastated the City of London on the same day Hume and Adams held their second meeting

The Bishopsgate bomb – devastated the City of London on the same day Hume and Adams held their second meeting

It was the start, but by no means the end, of a frustrating dance of the antithetical that would last, seemingly, forever, one day pointing towards some sort of peaceful resolution, on another towards…..well, that was never clear except whatever it was Northern Ireland wouldn’t ever be quite the same again.

It took a long, long time to realise that this was actually the engine of the peace process in motion, working rather like the positive and negative poles of a magnet, their conflicting pulls and pushes sufficient to keep most passengers if not content, then at least in their seats as the process chugged along.

At the end of May, the voters gave their verdict on these tentative and confusing moves, the Hume-Adams dialogue in particular. Sinn Fein’s vote rose by two per cent, the SDLP’s fell by 1.5%. Nationalist voters had liked what they saw and the message to Sinn Fein was clear: keeping talking to Hume and more of us will vote for you. Peace talks brought their own reward.

The day after the election, as the votes were being counted, the negative pole on the magnet clicked. The IRA planted a 1,000lb car bomb near the HQ of the Ulster Unionist Party, injuring thirteen and causing £6.5m ($10m) of damage, mostly to the Grand Opera House. The next day a huge bomb devastated the centre of Portadown, Orangeism’s citadel, and the day after Magherafelt in South Derry, another Unionist stronghold, was blasted.

A few days later the Irish President Mary Robinson flew to London for the first ever meeting between a serving Irish president and a British monarch. Why this happened became clear three weeks later when Robinson drove to West Belfast and in the same Ballymurphy school where twenty-two years earlier, IRA leaders had hailed the failure of internment, met and shook the hand of Gerry Adams, albeit out the sight of the media and their cameras.

President Mary Robinson and Queen Elizabeth meet in London

President Mary Robinson and Queen Elizabeth meet in London

Meeting the Queen was a preparatory balancing act for the Adams’ encounter, evidence that more than one participant in this process was fishing with a fly rod. Again there was a coded message which was that in the right circumstances Mr Adams and his political colleagues could enjoy all the benefits of political respectability in the Southern state, not least unfettered media coverage.

But those guys who had just wreaked destruction in three town centres and the City of London would have to be reined in.

The other pole of the magnet clicked and the machine moved on.

And so, against this perplexing background, I thought it was well beyond time that I found out what one of the two men at the centre of events thought of all this.

I was about an hour away from the Everglades when the car radio broke news that a high-powered Irish-American delegation, led by Congressmen Bruce Morrison and containing one billionaire and a captain of Wall Street in its number (‘Chuck’ Feeney and Bill Flynn), was coming to Ireland for a one week fact finding visit, the highlight of which would be a face-to-face meeting with Messrs Adams and McGuinness.

(It later transpired that the IRA had also organised a one week ceasefire to coincide with their visit.)

This was a startling development with significant meaning. If respectable US politicians and businessmen thought it was okay to meet the Provo leadership to talk about whatever it was Adams and Hume were discussing then surely a) what Adams and Hume were discussing must be meaningful and b) it could only be a matter of time before the Irish and British governments did the same.

John Hume arrived late for our lunch and I assumed the breaking news was responsible. But his face was blank when I asked him about the planned visit. He knew nothing about it and left the table to check. When he came back he was not in the best of moods and openly, even angrily questioned the motives of people (the Irish-Americans) meddling in the peace process without his approval or knowledge.

In all this, I am conscious that John Hume is not in a position to answer, much less counter this version of events but I present it in good faith as being an accurate representation of what happened that day.

In retrospect, I suppose this was the moment when I began to think that the peace process was not what it seemed or what we believed it to be.

Ever since the discovery of their clandestine encounter in April, the peace process was assumed to be centred on the Hume-Adams’ talks.

I already had great difficulty with this concept. Assuming this was an honest exchange of views, Hume would try to win Adams over to constitutional political principles which in Northern Ireland has always meant accepting the status quo and the conventional orthodoxy that the place will remain British until sufficient numbers of Unionists say otherwise. In the meantime, Hume would preach, Nationalists should try to heal politics via power-sharing and other consensual measures.

How could Adams deliver such a heresy to the IRA and hope to survive, even if he himself might be open to the approach?

And now, in the wake of the Everglades lunch (which proceeded awkwardly to a hurried conclusion), I was left with the distinct impression that we were not being told the truth about the Hume-Adams’ process.

Charles 'Chuck' Feeney - the American multi-billionaire was a leading figure in the Irish-American pressure group which met Gerry Adams & Martin McGuinness. John Hume knew nothing of their plans until told by the author.

Charles ‘Chuck’ Feeney – the American multi-billionaire was a leading figure in the Irish-American pressure group which met Gerry Adams & Martin McGuinness during a week long IRA ceasefire. John Hume knew nothing of their plans until told by the author

After all, if a powerful delegation of American politicians and businessmen could organise a week long tour of Ireland with its high point being a meeting with Gerry Adams, as well as a week long IRA ceasefire while Adams’ confrere in the peace process, John Hume, was blissfully ignorant, then there was only one conclusion to be made. The action was also happening elsewhere, maybe mostly elsewhere, and the process was a whole lot more complicated than it appeared.

To cut a long story short I came much nearer the truth a few months later when I was able to persuade the former Irish prime minister Charles Haughey to share with me his memories of the early years of the process as well as documentary evidence to support his recollections.

Gerry Adams, via Fr Alex Reid and, in a minor role, the former Irish Press editor, Tim Pat Coogan, had approached Charles Haughey while he was in opposition to explore proposals to end the violence. Haughey’s memory was that this was sometime in 1985, by which time, he believed, Adams had decided to seek an alternative to armed struggle.

Haughey agreed and a line of communication – Adams via Reid to trusted adviser Martin Mansergh, on Haughey’s behalf – was set up. Adams never had face-to-face contact with Haughey but the distinction was academic.

Haughey's loyal aide, Martin Mansergh who fronted for him during the contacts with Gerry Adams

Haughey’s loyal aide, Martin Mansergh who fronted for him during the contacts with Gerry Adams

It was a very risky venture for Haughey given his colourful history as an alleged facilitator of arms smuggling to the IRA back in 1970, a scandal that for a while looked as if it could send him to jail and political oblivion.

He survived to make a remarkable political comeback but had a word emerged of this secret dialogue with the Sinn Fein leader, even when it was conducted via a Catholic priest, Haughey could be destroyed and he knew it.

For that reason he insisted that John Hume – code-named ‘Sean’ in their furtive messages – would take his place in the discussions as his representative or nominee, a proposal that Adams reluctantly accepted on behalf of ‘his friends’ (a coded reference to the Army Council?) as long as Haughey promised to restore the link at the appropriate time and kept a line open via ‘an sagairt‘, i.e. Fr Reid. (see quote at top of post)

Haughey went on to tell the author that when Hume was approached and asked to undertake this role not a mention was made of the lengthy and quite detailed prior diplomacy involving Haughey.

This, Haughey said, was a precaution based on the possibility that Hume might leak the story, either because he was incapable of keeping it a secret or to do Haughey harm.

And so John Hume accepted his role as the intermediary with Gerry Adams on the mistaken assumption that he was the first and sole point of contact with the IRA’s political leader and was thus the man who really and only mattered. The truth was more prosaic; he was one of many contacts but circumstance and the self-interest of others had elevated him, in his own eyes, to a mythic status.

When I wrote all this for The Sunday Tribune in the wake of the 1994 IRA ceasefire, the paper ran it past Hume for his comment. He angrily denied it, demanding, if my memory serves me correct, that it be withdrawn. But, to his credit, the then editor, Peter Murtagh stood by the story and it appeared the next day. (See: Haughey and the Priest, Sunday Tribune, September 25th, 1994)

In his now almost infamous interview with the BBC, Seamus Mallon said that John Hume gave the Provos, i.e. Gerry Adams what they wanted in the United States, ‘a respectable image’.

Mallon is correct, inasmuch as John Hume’s most important role thereafter was to persuade key US politicians, from Clinton downwards, that he would not associate himself with Gerry Adams if he did not think he was genuine about leading the IRA out of violence.

One senior Irish diplomat put it more succinctly, if brutally: ‘He gave the good housekeeping seal of approval to the peace process’ – and, effectively, to Gerry Adams.

One Irish diplomat said John Hume's function in America was to give Adams his good housekeeping seal of approval

One Irish diplomat said John Hume’s function in America was to give Adams his good housekeeping seal of approval

It was a clever ploy which also served to tie Adams firmly into the process, even though some will dispute whether this alone was sufficient to merit the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Hume, a trophy which some say Adams himself secretly coveted.

The case that John Hume was therefore duped by both Charles Haughey and Gerry Adams during the peace process, that both men played him like a 3lb trout, is difficult to dispute. But Hume was not alone.

When the process began, it started in the IRA’s Army Council in 1988 when the seven wise men met and agreed to moderate the IRA’s terms for a British withdrawal.

A demand which as traditionally put, must be met within the lifetime of a British parliament could now happen, the Council decreed, over any length of years – twenty, even thirty – as long as the British formally and publicly announced an eventual intention to disengage and give a date when this would happen. In the interim, political arrangements and institutions were up for negotiation.

Talks and contacts on that basis were launched and feelers put out, via an sagairt, to Haughey, the Brits, John Hume and all.

But what we ended up with, the Good Friday Agreement and its various supplements, was that arrangement minus the British declaration to withdraw. That date for eventual British withdrawal was the unfilled gap in the still unpublished Hume-Adams agreement and leaving it unfilled was possibly the easiest but most significant task facing its architects.

When asked how Gerry Adams and his allies in Sinn Fein and the IRA completed this extraordinary assignment and delivered their more militant comrades to a process that ordinarily they would have rejected, I can provide no better metaphor than the one Bernadette McAliskey supplied many years ago.

The IRA, she would say, was like a fly caught in the neck of a bottle, struggling to escape upwards while all the time being pushed down the slippery glass with a stick. The pokes of the stick represented all the inducements to Sinn Fein – the visas to America, the prospect of Oval Office access, the support of Wall Street millionaires, the good election results, the new flood of American money, the media respectability, the whiff of leather from the back seat of ministerial cars – and the speechless anger of Unionists and Loyalists.

Eventually the fly can struggle no more and exhausted, it slides past the neck and falls, plop, into the pool of stagnant wine at the bottom of the bottle where it drowns.

Seamus Mallon’s analogy of Sinn Fein playing Hume like a 3 pound trout is a good one. But it is insufficient to tell the full story.

Seamus was, as far as I know, mostly a dry fly man, in particular a fan of the single, big fat Mayfly that floats, temptingly, on the lake or river surface; but a wet fly angler often casts a dropper with several flies tied to it that sink and seem to the fish to be drowned, vulnerable flies or nymphs struggling to the surface. Using a trace like this, it is not unknown for a skilled and lucky wet fly angler to hook more than one trout at a time.

A wet fly trace

A wet fly trace

That, I would argue, is the real story of the peace process: Sinn Fein, especially its leader, Gerry Adams, playing more than one big trout at the one time on a wet fly trace, one or two of them a good deal heavier than three pounds.

John Hume may have been caught on one hook but he was not alone.

The Fresh Start Deal – North’s Sectarian Parties Embrace Neo-Liberal Austerity

Ciaran Mulholland does what the Irish media has so far failed to do, and casts a critical, analytical eye on the so-called Fresh Start deal, which rescued the Good Friday Agreement from collapse following the IRA murder of Kevin McGuigan. It is a victory for neo-liberal austerity, he argues, but could create the basis for real opposition to Tory policies in Ireland.

Are The Gardai Playing Politics For The Provos?

A curious Gardai press conference yesterday in Dublin, called for no evident reason, told us something that really wasn’t true: this was that the three republican dissident groups, the Real IRA, Oglaigh na hEireann and Continuity IRA were acquiring ‘more sophisticated weapons’.

This alarming message, delivered by Assistant Commissioner John O’Mahony, was then reinforced for the benefit of the assembled media with a display of examples of this new, frightening weaponry.

The only problem with the Gardai message is that the type of weaponry they now claim is making its way into dissident bunkers has actually been around for decades and is of a sort that has been in the hands of the dissidents for years and has been used by them to both kill and maim.

Some of the 'sophisticated' weapons the Gardai say has been acquired by dissident republicans. I am no expert, but the wrapped Semtex looks a bit ropy to me.......

Some of the ‘sophisticated’ weapons the Gardai say has been acquired by dissident republicans. I am no expert, but the wrapped Semtex looks a bit ropy to me…….the red boxes, though, are a nice touch! Well done Gardai P..R.!

Included in this threatening arsenal were home-made mortars, AK-47 rifles, Semtex explosives and timing power units (TPU’s), all standard equipment for the Provisional IRA and their breakaway former comrades for some long time.

And how did they come by such material? Probably a very simple answer. The hiding of Provisional IRA weapons, including those that came from Libya, was always left to local quarter-masters, for obvious need-to-know reasons, and when decommissioning took place the same QM’s had the final say in what was given up. Given the politics of the IRA split that preceded decommissioning, it would hardly be surprising if not all weaponry was surrendered.

So, the Gardai claim is at best a stretch, at worst a convenient piece of fiction; pressed to decide I’d plump for the latter. But why make this claim and why now?

This is not the first bizarre piece of behaviour by An Garda Siochana in recent weeks. Back in October last year, in the wake of the killing of Kevin McGuigan, the British authorities delivered a report stating baldly that the Provisional Army Council still existed and that the IRA was still involved in ‘criminal activity’.

The police in Dublin, though, claimed otherwise and in a report prepared for the Department of Justice said there was no evidence that the Army Council was active in the South.

The report added: “There is clear evidence that a significant number of persons who have been associated with the PIRA remain criminally active, particularly in organised crime, and continue to associate together. They make full use of their ‘legacy’ reputations and in some cases their former terrorist tactics.” However there was no evidence that their activity was being ‘directed’ by the IRA leadership.

So the IRA was active and organised in the North but not in the South. Really?

And then in the wake of the conviction of ‘Slab’ Murphy for tax evasion offences, an evident Gardai briefing to The Irish Times said that the Murphy faction of the IRA in South Armagh might break with Gerry Adams should the former Chief of Staff serve any prison time for his tax offences, causing a potentially serious split.

As hints to the judiciary go about what should happen to a convicted defendant when he appears in court for sentencing, this was as blatant as they get.

All of which is fertile material for a suspicious mind. Taken together, the Gardai message on these matters, composed it should be remembered within weeks of a general election, seems to take this form: ‘Gerry and the lads are no longer a threat to this state but their stability could be threatened by well armed dissidents and an angry ‘Slab’ Murphy.’

The next sentence (or unspoken piece of advice?) could easily take this form: ‘But if they get a decent vote in February, and ‘Slab’ gets a break in the Special Criminal Court, they, and the State, should be just okay!’

Ain’t Ireland just a wunnerful country?

Eugene Robinson Gets Oregon Stand-Off Right

The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson highlights the hypocrisy governing the official response to the right-wing militia’s occupation in Oregon.

The Oregon standoff and America’s double standards on race and religion

Let’s call the Oregon occupiers what they are: terrorists

Ammon Bundy and his armed supporters aren’t being called “thugs.” They aren’t being called “rioters.” They’re not even being branded “terrorists.” But that’s exactly what they are, says The Post’s Jonathan Capehart. (Thomas LeGro/The Washington Post)

Opinion writer January 4 at 7:07 PM

What do you think the response would be if a bunch of black people, filled with rage and armed to the teeth, took over a federal government installation and defied officials to kick them out? I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be wait-and-see.

Probably more like point-and-shoot.

Eugene Robinson writes a twice-a-week column on politics and culture, contributes to the PostPartisan blog, and hosts a weekly online chat with readers. In a three-decade career at The Post, Robinson has been city hall reporter, city editor, foreign correspondent in Buenos Aires and London, foreign editor, and assistant managing editor in charge of the paper’s Style section. View Archive

Or what if the occupiers were Mexican American? They wouldn’t be described with the semi-legitimizing term “militia,” harking to the days of the patriots. And if the gun-toting citizens happened to be Muslim, heaven forbid, there would be wall-to-wall cable news coverage of the “terrorist assault.” I can hear Donald Trump braying for blood.

Not to worry, however, because the extremists who seized the remote Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Oregon on Saturday are white. As such, they are permitted to engage in a “standoff” with authorities who keep their distance lest there be needless loss of life.

Such courtesy was not extended to Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old Cleveland boy who was playing with a toy gun in a park on Nov. 22, 2014. Within seconds of arriving on the scene, police officer Timothy Loehmann shot the boy, who died the next day. Prosecutors led a grand jury investigation and announced last month that Loehmann would face no charges. A “perfect storm of human error” was blamed, and apparently storms cannot be held accountable.

Such courtesy, in fact, is routinely denied to unarmed black men and boys who are unfortunate enough to find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. You know the litany of names — Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray. And you know how these stories end. Just weeks ago, a Baltimore jury failed to reach a verdict in the trial of the first of six officers charged with Gray’s death. Another perfect storm, I guess.

I probably sound cynical, but in truth I’m just weary. And worried.

Justice is supposed to be blind. Race, ethnicity and religion are not supposed to matter. Yet we’re constantly reminded that these factors can make the difference between justifiable and unjustifiable killing — and between life and death.

The yahoos in Oregon are protesting the Bureau of Land Management’s policies, hardly a red-button issue for most Americans. The federal building they seized is in a wildlife refuge, which means that by definition it’s in the middle of nowhere; the nearest sizable city is Boise, Idaho, about 200 miles away. The protesters’ guns pose more of a threat to bears than people.

So no, I don’t think authorities have any immediate reason to blast their way into the woods with a column of armored vehicles. But I would argue there was no good reason to do so on the streets of Ferguson, Mo., either. Is the salient difference that the Oregon protesters are believed to be heavily armed? If so, what message does that send? Does somebody need to found a Minority Rifle Association so that communities of color are given similar deference?

The organization’s name would have to be changed in a few decades, anyway, when whites in the United States cease to constitute a racial majority. This inexorable demographic shift, I believe, helps explain why the world of politics seems to have gone insane of late.

What I want is that African Americans, Latino Americans, Muslim Americans and other “outsiders” be seen as the Americans we are. What I want is acknowledgment that we, too, have a stake in our democracy and its future course. What I want is the recognition that no one can “take back” the country — which happens to be led by its first African American president — because it belongs to me as much as to you.

These are not the sentiments we’re hearing in the presidential campaign, though — at least, not on the Republican side. Following Trump’s lead, candidates are competing to sound angrier and more embittered. That’s why I am so worried.

You’d think there might be at least a few prominent voices on the right expressing horror and outrage at the wrongful killing of a 12-year-old boy. You’d think that Republicans running for president might find the time to condemn the armed takeover of federal property by zealots. Yet all we hear is crickets chirping.

The GOP candidates have apparently concluded that voicing hope, embracing change and broadening our concept of the American mainstream constitute a losing strategy. They see Trump’s success and mimic him in fostering a sense of “beleaguered” us vs. “menacing” them. This may be an effective way to pursue the nomination, but it’s a terrible disservice to the country.

Read more from Eugene Robinson’s archive, follow him on Twitter or subscribe to his updates on Facebook. You can also join him Tuesdays at 1 p.m. for a live Q&A.

1916, A Hundred Years On – Four Views From A Divided Ireland

Four quite differing analyses of the 1916 centenary which show that on one point, at least, there is agreement in Ireland about the origins of the 26 county state, and that is that there is no agreement.

The first piece, taken from an excellent newish history blog which specialises in the Northern IRA, pre-Troubles, The Treason Felony Blog,  presents, courtesy of Robert Ballagh, the traditional republican perspective. The second is a perceptive and well-researched article in the Irish Marxist Review by Kieran Allen; the third is from last weekend’s Irish Times, a conventional piece by historian Dairmaid Ferriter and finally, from The Sunday Independent in February last year, a typically raging polemic from Eoghan Harris. The four pieces more or less cover the gamut of 1916 and embrace all that is Ireland. Enjoy!

Not being anything to anyone: Ballagh on 1916

Robert Ballagh speaking about the government’s plans to commemorate the centenary of the Easter Rising this year at a recent book launch in Gorey:

Equating the sacrifices of the British soldiers who died …when they did so in the very act of destroying the republic we are supposed to be commemorating… They had intended displaying the names Pearse and Connolly along with many others from the opposite side in alphabetical order on a wall. Can you imagine that happening in London, with those from the Luftwaffe given the same prominence as their own soldiers, or in Arlington Cemetery in the USA? This is national self-abasement – trying to be all things to all people but in the end not being anything to anyone…

Worth bearing in mind as we get the first instalment of Rebellion,  RTÉ’s fictionalised reading of 1916,  giving an insight into what official Ireland probably wants us to make of events one hundred years ago.

Robert Ballagh at the launch in Gorey

Diarmaid Ferriter: 1916 celebrations must encompass all definitions of Irish freedom

The idea that there was ‘only one definition of Irish freedom’ is nonsense

Eoin Mac Neill with sons Brian and Niall in 1917.

Eoin Mac Neill with sons Brian and Niall in 1917.

In December, an original copy of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic was sold for £305,000 (€420,000) by Sotheby’s, an amount far above its £80,000-£120,000 guide. The price was an indication of the premium attached to 1916-related material as we face into an intensive period of commemoration of the Rising, which will be a dominant theme and preoccupation of this year.

There will be plenty of other opportunities for those with deep pockets to buy 1916 decorations, some sold under simplistic banners that promote the idea of a one- dimensional heroic narrative of 1916.

For example, seven bronze medals to commemorate the seven signatories of the Proclamation, taken from seven charcoal sketches by artist Robert Ballagh and housed in a wooden display case that contains a facsimile of the Proclamation, are currently for sale. The collection is limited to 2,016 sets at €499 each, available from Lee Brothers Ltd in Santry.

What is most revealing about this enterprise is the message under which the medals are being sold: “We know only one definition of Irish freedom.”

This is a slogan taken from Patrick Pearse’s assertion in August 1915 as he delivered his graveside oration at the funeral of Fenian Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa: “It is Tone’s definition, it is Mitchel’s definition, it is Rossa’s definition. Let no man blaspheme the cause that the dead generations of Ireland served by giving it any other name and definition than their name and their definition.”

One-dimensional rebels

It is a clarion cry that should serve as a red flag to bulls who seeks a more complicated narrative of 1916; a direct invitation to see the architects of the Rising as one-dimensional and exclude multiple narratives and ideas about 1916 as they existed at that time and as have been underlined by much research and access to many new sources in recent years.

In short, the idea that there was “only one definition of Irish freedom” in Ireland 100 years ago is nonsense.

It should not be beyond us to remember the 1916 Rising and treat its commemoration with due respect and pride while remembering those who defined freedom in a different way at the same time. In particular, it will be interesting to see how the reputation and legacy of Eoin Mac Neill will feature this year.

Mac Neill, as the man who tried to stop the Rising, has certainly not fared as well at the auction houses as the seven signatories. A copy of one of his 11-word handwritten countermand orders (“Volunteers completely deceived. All orders for tomorrow, Sunday, are completely cancelled”) sold for €30,000 – well below the guide price of €50,000 – when auctioned by Adams in Dublin in 2014. It is an important document; as a result of it, the Rising was almost entirely confined to Dublin; even there, the numbers were only about a quarter of what they might otherwise have been, had the order not been issued.

Mac Neill’s countermand was one reason why the Rising commenced in confused circumstances. Crucially, it was also a reflection of disagreement about the Rising’s validity.

Mac Neill had his own ideas about how best to achieve Irish freedom and the circumstances that might justify rebellion. As the founder of the Irish Volunteers, he was not a pacifist, but insisted in February 1916 that “what we call our country is not a poetical abstraction . . . it is our duty to get our country on side and not be content with the vanity of thinking ourselves to be right and other Irish people to be wrong”.

That contention went to the heart of the controversies of nationalist Ireland a century ago, and Mac Neill’s countermand and what followed need to be seen in the context of different and evolving concepts of Irish nationalism. Definitions of freedom, loyalty and legitimate violence were contested during this period of multiple allegiances, against the backdrop of the first World War.

Justification for rebellion

Mac Neill’s logic was clear; the only justification for rebellion would be “deep and widespread popular discontent”, but “no such condition exists in Ireland”. As far as he was concerned, any rebellion by the Volunteers should have been as a result of a British act of aggression or because a rebellion would have a reasonable chance of success.

This was hardly an unreasonable position to hold in 1916. The lenses through which we view Mac Neill, his decisions and dilemmas, should reflect the currents prevailing then. Of course, there was an alternative logic articulated by the organisers of the Rising, one no less sincerely held, which we also need to understand.

Mac Neill and those who shared his view ultimately found themselves on the wrong side of history. Still, it would be wise for us to do justice to the multiplicity of ideas about 1916 during this year’s commemoration, instead of being exclusive and allowing the likes of Mac Neill to remain lost or simplified.

Why 1916 Relatives should shun Sinn Fein

Published 08/02/2015 | 02:30

Last week, I suggested the defence forces be given the dominant role in the 2016 celebrations. To be honest, I did not expect an enthusiastic response. A country under the financial cosh is entitled to a lack of enthusiasm for military pomp and ceremony.

But even with their backs against the wall, the Irish people are patriots. To my surprise, I got overwhelmingly positive responses. And not just by email and text.

Because I spent last week teaching an intensive writing course at the National Digital Skills Centre in Tralee, I could canvass opinion face to face. And the consensus was clear: people want to see a prominent public profile by our armed forces all through Easter Week 2016.

Let’s be clear about what that means. All states, including the Republic of Ireland, are founded on force. In the last ditch, they have to be maintained in arms against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

So, when people say they want to see the armed forces of the State to the front, they do not mean they should have flowers in their helmets. They want to see rifles and bayonets.

That being so, I wonder if the disgruntled 1916 Relative know what they are doing when they say they are boycotting the Government celebrations and turn up at the launch of the rival Sinn Fein plan?

Let me lay my cards on the table: I have no time for the notion that 1916 Relatives should have any special place, or certainly any special say, in how the Easter Rising is celebrated.

That’s because this is a republic not a monarchy, a democracy not a tribal dynasty. The bravery of the men and women of 1916 cannot be passed down in a bloodline.

My grandfather and his two brothers were out in 1916. Credit or criticism belongs to them. Why should I brazenly bandwagon on their bravery?

But that is not the only complaint I have about the carping campaign of some spokespeople for the 1916 Relatives Association. My other complaint is about the company some of them keep.

Last Friday, Sinn Fein launched a plan to celebrate 2016 as a rival to the plans of the Irish Government. Apart from the plans lacking imagination, the launch was clearly a political stunt.

Furthermore, as I shall show later, Sinn Fein has the least claim to a clear lineage to 1916. Adding it all up, the bad politics and mediocre plans, surely sensible 1916 relatives should be avoiding Sinn Fein’s shoddy shaping.

Alas, James Connolly Heron, the great grandson of James Connolly, was there. In an earlier statement, he endorsed the Sinn Fein launch. “We welcome events by anybody, given the lack of Government organisation,” he said.

Can it be true that all the 1916 relatives welcome events by “anybody”, especially by Sinn Fein, which for over 25 years was the political wing of the Provisional IRA? Does the memory of the Disappeared cast no shadow over their readiness to share platforms with Sinn Fein?

By rejecting the Irish Government’s plans for 2016 and turning up at a rival Sinn Fein launch, the 1916 Relatives group is showing a serious ignorance of modern Irish history. Because Sinn Fein is the only party in Dail Eireann that cannot claim to be the direct political descendants of t he leaders of the Easter Rising.

Let me give the 1916 Relatives a reality check. The 1916 Rising was run by the IRB. The same IRB, led by Michael Collins, voted overwhelmingly for the Treaty.

Michael Collins’s IRB also formed the core of the officer corps in the National Army and the Provisional Government. Many officers in that army had fought in 1916 – and were proud of that pedigree.

So, there is literally a straight line of descent from the IRB in 1916, through Michael Collins and the National Army, the Free State and Cumann na nGaedheal. Accordingly, Fine Gael is the primary party which can claim lineal descent from 1916 leaders.

Now, this is not academic hair-splitting. In 1922, most people saw Michael Collins and the National Army as the true heirs of the heroes of Easter Week. If you doubt this, read the papers of the time

But while Fine Gael has first claim on 1916, Fianna Fáil can also claim a clear lineage through De Valera, for long, the only surviving leader of the 1916 Rising.

Finally, there is a direct link between the Labour Party and 1916 through James Connolly and the Irish Citizen Army. So far, the Labour Party’s role has been sidelined by republican propagandists.

So where does that leave Sinn Fein? Out in the cold. Because the only republican grouping on the island that can lay little claim to 1916 is Sinn Fein, the former political wing of the Provos.

Sinn Fein, today, can only trace its bloody line back to the carnage in Northern Ireland. It has no credible claim to 1916. In sum, it is muscling its way into the Republic of Ireland’s celebrations, waving its Northern tribal credentials. What a pity it is being helped stake a false claim by 1916 Relatives, who should be showing more sense.

The fact that the three main political parties can trace a purer path back to 1916 than Sinn Fein strengthens my conviction that the State should put the Army at the centre of 2016 celebrations.

But that means taking 1916 on board, warts and all. By which I mean, there are two sides to the 1916 coin. An upside and a downside. Both sides need to be reflected in the 2016 celebrations.

Let me start with the downside: 1916 was the first step to setting up a separate Irish state. It led to the pragmatic acceptance that partition was here to stay as long as one million Irish unionists were unwilling to join the Republic of Ireland.

But 1916 was also a victory for extremists. It played a major part in alienating Irish unionists to turn away from us. And it allowed the British to quietly set up the Northern state. From which it follows that unionists, rather than British royals, should be invited to the 2016 shindig on the basis that 1916 led to the formation of their state as well as ours.

But there is also a more carefree side to the coin. Back in 1922, the National Army and the Irish people shared a sense of euphoria and enormous pride in the fact that we had beaten the British out of 26 counties.

We forget that this feeling was widely shared, even by Harry Boland, until De Valera began his belated mad backlash.

Today’s Irish Army, as the successor of the National Army, must reclaim that sense of euphoria. It has made a fine beginning. The Bureau of Military History and Military Pensions projects were gargantuan efforts, especially given the meagre resources.

All of which reinforces my belief that the defence forces must be beefed up to play the leading role in the 2016 remembrance of the Easter Rising.

Sunday Independent