For many people today the CIA is a three-letter symbol for practices reviled with four-letter words. In deed, in some circles, writing about the Central Intelligence Agency has become an exercise in political pornography: the subject matter is titillating but basically obscene.
It has taken the CIA some time to acquire this reputation. Two decades ago, almost everyone accepted the CIA as an able guardian of the national interest. Intelligence collection, espionage, training in counter-insurgency, even foreign political sabotage all seemed to be a normal part of the Cold War struggle. And where doubts arose, the doctrines of “necessary evil” and “fighting fire with fire” always helped to rationalize any residual uneasiness over such “dirty work.”
Nevertheless, the exposures two years ago of one specific activity of the CIA produced a sensational stir. Curiously this activity had little or nothing to do with “black” or illegal operations of the CIA in foreign countries. Rather, it concerned the covert channeling of federal funds to various private institutions in America. In an astonishing burst of publicity, the revelation of this single, secret function of the CIA suddenly enraged the collective conscience of the nation.
The story unfolded swiftly. In late January of 1967, a flurry of rumors about the hidden ties of the Central Intelligence Agency appeared in the national press. As might have been expected, the first reports came from the most restless and assertive force in contemporary America: students in the major universities of the country. In Boston, Berkeley, Chicago, and New York, members of the National Student Association began to tell about their former relationships with the CIA. Their talk was direct and candid; soon rumors became facts. Prompted by these initial disclosures, newsmen quickly proceeded to dig deeper into the story. Like electricians tracing out the underground wiring of complicated circuits, they examined hundreds of foundation tax records and grant lists. Again and again, to their amazement they succeeded in making connections between a labyrinth of nonprofit organizations and a hidden generator. This generator was demonstrably the CIA.
For thirteen days in February, 1967, the CIA story made the front page of the New York Times. During the same month, newspaper columns throughout the country carried a daily quota of disclosures. Eventually more than 225 different institutions—some of them occupying positions of great public prestige—were identified as direct or indirect recipients of CIA funds. Included in this number were trade unions, cultural exchange conferences, newspaper guilds, charitable foundations, church councils, publishing firms, professional societies, and university research projects. One newspaper story even charged a prominent symphony orchestra with accepting CIA money to pay for an over· seas concert tour. Soon no private organization engaged in international activities could feel safe from an expanding web of suspicions. The money and influence of the CIA appeared to be here, there, and everywhere.
The exposure of this system of covert governmental funding caused a shock of dismay in the minds of many Americans. It was almost as if the nation’s image of its own integrity had been defiled by its most esteemed representatives. With a fascination for lists reminiscent of the time when Senator Joe McCarthy was busily “exposing Communists,” the American public reveled in the lengthening catalogue of complicit names and organizations. Antagonists condemned everyone involved with “the underhand practices” of the CIA. At the same time, durable catchphrases like the “power elite” and “invisible government,” both current in the 1950’s, reappeared in public discussions.
Actually, there were some ironies in the timing of this clamor. A year before, in April, 1966, the New York Times had published a three-part series of articles on the CIA. Although these articles had systematically set forth the scope of CIA infiltration of private American institutions, they had produced no significant public reaction. A year later, however, essentially the same story—laced now with indelicate details—stimulated a tremendous outcry. The difference told something about the new attitudes of the American people toward several crucial subjects: the candor of their government, public morality, and the contemporary relevance of old-fashioned Cold War anti-Communism. It also suggested the ease with which powerful new forms of political demonology could capture the nation’s attention.
Public wrath over the CIA “scandal” soon reached out to tenuous insinuations about “official corruption” in high places. There was vague talk about wrecked political careers, the demotion of Administration officials, and the resignation of foundation executives. The CIA was accused of using private groups to cover nefarious projects in underdeveloped countries—for example, to combat insurgency or to spy on foreign governments. Critics began to associate the CIA with the ill-fated Operation Camelot, a controversial study of unrest in Latin America which had the United States Army, not the CIA, for its angel. For their part, foundations were blamed for accepting tainted money which contaminated their regular projects. Somewhat different grievances were lodged against the CIA by those on the outskirts of American political life. Extreme groups on the right fretted over the fact that so little of the money had gone to the missionaries of free enterprise and conservative Republicanism. Student radicals on the left stormed against this new evidence of an “utterly corrupt” older generation. Neither group found anything to approve in a “hypocritical” system which engaged in what one journalist called “the Big Fix.”
With all kinds of opponents shooting salvos of calumny at the besieged Administration, there was little chance at first for rational debate of the issues. Some of the charges could be lightly treated. For instance, the answer to those who censured private CIA-supported institutions for carrying out “dirty” programs was that, according to all the reports, the CIA did not use these organizations for such purposes; the agency obviously possessed other 1neans to these ends. Through most of its conduits, CIA money did go to groups which published magazines like Encounter, which sponsored research at the M.I.T. Center for International Affairs, and which arranged student exchange conferences. By any range of definitions, it would be difficult to classify such projects as “dirty” or iniquitous.
Again, the reply to those who felt the CIA had diminished the prestige of the United States abroad was apparent from a survey of the overseas press. Except for the Communist press which followed the lead of two “outraged” articles in Pravda on February 26 and March 1, 1967, most newspapers in foreign countries played the story relatively straight, with only a trace of bemused interest in the guilt complex of the American public. It was true that several prominent European intellectuals decried their own entrapment in the affair, but the vast majority of foreign recipients of “CIA-supplemented” funds refrained from expressions of public anguish. Presumably they felt no need to engage in recriminations.
Yet, no matter how convincing these kinds of rebuttals, there did remain some serious accusations against the CIA that still needed consideration. In general, the most probing indictments centered on three points. First, there were questions about “the irresponsible expenditures of public funds” without the formal consent of Congress and without the knowledge of the American people. From a constitutional standpoint, all of the customary standards of accountability had apparently been disregarded by an executive agency of the government. The Congress too had proven itself culpable by its failure to institute effective restraints on the CIA. For more than a decade, some Congressmen had urged greater supervision of this agency but to no avail. Most of the elected representatives of the country had not been prepared to put some bite in the “toothless” watchdog committees which already existed in Congress.
Then there was the issue of subversion: the deliberate undermining of the independence of nongovernmental institutions. Many people felt it was a grave impropriety for the CIA to impair the probity of private groups through the use of federal subsidies. More than a century ago, the French historian Alexis de Tocqueville had noticed the vigor with which private voluntary associations in America had asserted their independence from the government. Now it appeared that the CIA had succeeded in penetrating some of these once-autonomous groups. In addition, the activities of this agency had resulted in jeopardizing the work of many genuinely private foundations in foreign countries. Henceforth it seemed likely that all international organizations would have difficulty in proving they were not carrying out the directives of the United States government.
Finally and most vehemently, the critics deplored the apparatus of duplicity through which the CIA had channeled its “tainted” funds. Walter Lippmann asserted “the CIA operation has begun to smell like a backed up cesspool” and he demanded an end to “lying as a public policy.” Other columnists challenged the credibility of an administration which condoned secret machinations while professing the virtues of an open society. If America really was a free and democratic country, what was the morality that permitted the CIA to set up a clandestine network of front funds, “pass through” conduits, and tacitly co-operating foundations? What were the ethics in debilitating the personal and institutional standards in America for the sake of a dubious advantage abroad?
At the time, most of these questions did not receive public answers. Few Administration officials spoke out in justification of what apparently had been going on for nearly fifteen years, and even fewer officials of the implicated institutions did more than issue terse denials or brief explanatory admissions. Obviously, this was a subject of considerable political sensitivity for public discussion. Whatever their roles—as agents, accomplices, or victims—a number of prominent people had already suffered painful embarrassments over this “most disagreeable of episodes.” Individual reputations had been injured, private organizations compromised, and foundations shaken. Most of all, the relations of trust among various professional colleagues had been deeply affected by the exposures. There seemed to be little purpose in continuing the attempts at vindication. Moreover it was also clear that many foundation trustees chose the path of reticence in order to shelter specific recipients of allegedly “contaminated” funds from further damage to their careers. The analogy to the experience of an earlier decade was appropriate: in the 1950’s some Americans invoked the Fifth Amendment rather than betray their former associates; in the 1960’s some foundation executives found themselves in the same position and refused to list the names and activities of all their grantees.
But as time passed, most of the important details of the CIA affair gradually emerged in various published stories. There were more exposes, a few confessions, and one “kiss-and-tell” memoir in a national magazine by a former CIA operator. In the memoir, written in a somewhat self-serving manner, the author claimed to have originated the CIA system of covert funding, and he indiscreetly disclosed many aspects previously unknown to the public. The full truth, of course, has never been confirmed by the CIA. But, putting together all the news stories and articles of the past two years, and reviewing the history of some of the “identified” organizations, one can get today a fairly clear picture of what happened and why it happened. It is noteworthy that no “classified” information is needed to deduce the following story.
After 1945 there were at least three historically specific factors that induced the United States government to maintain its overseas commitments by establishing the Central Intelligence Agency as a successor organization to the wartime Office of Strategic Services. The first was the memory of the tragic consequences of America’s earlier retreat from Europe in the 1920’s. The idea of another withdrawal from Europe after World War II was barely conceivable to an American public newly aware of its international responsibilities. The second factor was the experience of the war itself against Nazi Germany. To achieve victory, the United States had been forced almost overnight to remedy its unpreparedness in intelligence gathering. With the organization of the OSS, new techniques of political warfare, economic subversion, cultural penetration, and propaganda were developed and they created an important precedent for future CIA operations.
Finally, there was the rapidly augmenting state of Cold War with the Soviet Union. The swelling of the Communist party in Italy, the successful Communist coups in Eastern Europe, the highly symbolic disaster for the West in the take-over of Czechoslovakia in 1948, the Soviet blockade in Berlin—these emergency situations produced widespread anxiety in an apprehensive Administration in Washington. Moreover, apart from the perceived threat of Soviet military aggression in Europe, there was substantial evidence of Communist political initiatives in other parts of the world. Communist front groups were suddenly springing up in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Richly financed and skillfully organized, these neutralist-disguised groups obtained surprising successes with their propaganda against the Western democracies.
The initial response of the United States government to oppose additional Communist encroachments came in the military and economic spheres. Defensive alliances like NATO and SEATO were quickly established with American support; at the same time, foreign aid programs like the Marshall Plan and Point Four provided material assistance. But all of these initiatives neglected the political and cultural fronts, and it was how to fill these gaps that posed deep problems for officials in Washington. Eventually, through decisions of the President and his Cabinet, and with the concurrence of influential members of Congress, the Administration invented a system of expedient measures to supply covert funds to anti-Communist efforts in many foreign countries. Some have called these measures highly imaginative under the circumstances; others see them today as unnecessary and unconstitutional. Perhaps the most important thing to notice about these measures is that for over a decade they worked quietly and with some effective ness in support of the government’s foreign policy.
Why was the CIA selected as the agency for this expedient? This was a crucial question for most critics. In many respects, the CIA might have been considered an unlikely, inappropriate candidate for the job. It was a “strong” agency, “strong” in the sense that it was concomitantly engaged in “strong” activities: intelligence gathering, espionage, white and black propaganda, institutional subversion abroad. Why would it not have been better to assign the task of institutional support abroad to “weaker,” more public agencies of the United States government? Ready at hand were the State Department and the Congress-approved aid programs. Conceivably, the job could even have been turned over to a few large private foundations already committed to overseas projects.
Defenders of this aspect of CIA activities have pointed out the controlling context of U. S. domestic history at that time. In a few words, the private sector of American society—philanthropic foundations, non-profit corporations operating abroad, and voluntary associations—proved unable to raise the financial resources requisite to making a significant impact in the countries needing help. The Administration for its part feared—perhaps incorrectly—that open governmental support of non-technical aid programs (such as educational and cultural exchanges of all kinds) would raise the specter of American neo-colonialism and interference in the internal affairs of foreign countries. Finally, during the period when the “publicity success” of Senator Joe McCarthy’s investigations made many people suspicious of Communist subversion of American institutions, Congress consistently refused to permit the State Department to have a free hand in openly furnishing funds to liberal, and possibly left-wing, groups. Today we know this atmosphere of distrust was misguided and largely paranoiac; during the early 1950’s, however, it was a political fact of life. The only alternative, then, was to call on the CIA, still in its infancy and fairly uncertain about some of its own functions within the government. Despite the numerous activities already consigned to this agency, it was considered administratively possible to add this further one of becoming a covert contrivance for the disbursement of public funds.
The figures have never been published, but estimates cannot be far wrong when they suggest that many hundreds of millions of CIA dollars were sent to institutions around the world from 1950 to 1967. Again, the detailed facts about the recipients of these funds have not been revealed; when and if the documents are published in the distant future, a current guess can only predict the astonishment at the extent and variety of involved organizations.
Yet, there is one more point about the CIA-linked institutions that can be readily inferred from the available evidence. This is a significant point mostly overlooked in all the recent publicity. Based on an examination of the dates of incorporation, tax returns, and financial statements of these organizations, a definite pattern of CIA funding over a fifteen-year period becomes clear. In general, this pattern was marked by three specific phases and types of CIA-aided groups.
The first phase, beginning around 1950, could be categorized as the period when the CIA helped to create and sustain “counter-organizations”—”counter” in that they came into existence in direct opposition to Communist front organizations. Thus, in reply to the Communist-oriented programs of the World Peace Congress, the World Federation of Democratic Youth, and the World Federation of Trade Unions, the non-Communist governments of Europe and the United States set up their own counterpart groups: respectively, the Congress for Cultural Freedom, the World Assembly of Youth, and the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions. For almost every Communist sponsored festival, youth meeting, and publishing scheme which flourished in the cities of Western Europe, there appeared at a somewhat later date parallel, non-Communist efforts along similar lines. The role of the CIA in these activities cannot be doubted. As a matter of fact, the agency’s role was dictated essentially by the nature of the opposing Communist groups. The external form of all these “counter-organizations” was explicitly modeled on the Communist fronts, the main attributes of which included the guise of in dependence and the concealment of all ties with the Soviet government.
In contrast to this phase of CIA support of defensive “counter-organizations,” the next period, coming several years later, involved the CIA in direct assistance to multi functional service organizations operating primarily in the developing world. There were several reasons for this switch in the CIA’s funding policy. In the first place, the locus of the Cold War struggles had moved-away from Europe and into the nations of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Second, by the late 1950’s, the Soviet policy of promoting Communist fronts had been widely discredited. To cite one example, the noteworthy representations of Western students at the World Youth Festivals in Vienna in 1959 and Helsinki in 1962 had diminished the usefulness of this particular propaganda forum for the Communists; henceforth Communist-front youth groups were to decline in importance, and so too did the Western “counter-organizations.” Thus, the new pattern of CIA funding emphasized assistance to private American institutions which were already supporting foreign students, journalists, lawyers, and trade unionists. Respectable groups like the Asian Foundation, African-American Institute, American Friends of the Middle East, and the American Newspaper Guild were typical beneficiaries. Once again, it was probably true that the decision to channel CIA money in this way developed as a response to prior Soviet initiatives. In many countries of Africa, for instance, scholarships for study in the Soviet Union had been offered to politically susceptible Africans. Patrice Lumumba “Friendship” University in Moscow had been de signed for just the purpose of educating incipient foreign leaders in Communist doctrines. Accordingly, practically all of these new types of CIA-aided organizations established academic scholarships and professional training programs for foreign leaders whose political loyalties had not been compromised by Communist blandishments. The reason why private American foundations were selected for this task could probably be traced back to the desire of CIA officials to protect individual foreign recipients. Most grantees came from the non-aligned nations where the fears of neo-colonialism prohibited the direct acceptance of United States government funds.
Finally, any description of the third phase of CIA-supported philanthropy remains highly conjectural. Newspaper stories in 1967 listed several dozen “dummy” fronts, conduits, and transfer foundations whose nondescript trustees and mysteriously self-replenishing bank accounts were obviously devised by the CIA as disguises for the secret underwriting of overseas projects. The full elaboration of this scheme occurred rather late in the history of CIA funding. Yet probably more than any other factor, it was the specious flimsiness of such clandestine bankrolling that contributed to the CIA exposures and made many Americans question the propriety of the agency’s activities.
What then can be said today about the three major accusations against the CIA which appeared in all the publicity two years ago?
With regard to the dubious constitutionality of CIA expedients, the record of the agency was relatively open. In February, 1967, the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy declared that the creation of the CIA funnel of money was an act of “all relevant Government agencies—and that includes the White House.” Indeed, Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson approved all major CIA projects. Although a contract like that between the CIA and the National Student Association was legally within its mandate, the agency apparently made no such unilateral decision without the consent of high Administration officials. And while the budget of the agency has been mostly hidden in defense appropriations, the CIA has always had to account for its expenditures to the Budget Bureau and to watchdog committees in both houses of Congress. Thus, the question of the legality of CIA procedures has involved both Democratic and Republican congressmen, and the assertion that the watchdog committees were “toothless” missed the point that these committees actually had plenty of “teeth” but most of their members had no reason to want to bite. On CIA projects, they have regularly endorsed the policies of four Presidents.
The criticism against the CIA for its subversion of private American institutions has carried more weight. But here too, the original charges have been softened by subsequent qualifications. The word “subversion” was quickly replaced in newspaper stories by the less inflammatory term “subornation.” How could private institutions acquiesce in their own subversion? Then the American public slowly became aware that great diversity characterized the fiscal arrangements and personal contacts with suborned institutions. In many cases, CIA money was evidently mixed with genuinely private dollars and conveyed to highly reputable, wholly independent organizations. Some trustees of recipient groups were honestly unwitting of the source of origin of these funds. Some were suspicious but unable to establish the facts. Some were cognizant of many rumors but decided not to investigate the matter further. Possessing no certain information, they chose not to know the full story of the byways through which funds reached their organization. Others finally were manifestly both witting and willing accessories. Their groups had been set up in the first instance by CIA funds.
Apart from these considerations, some trustees felt the revelation that their organization had received CIA money did not reflect badly on their judgment but favorably on the CIA’s. Since their organization, like many others, operated with limited funds, they solicited contributions from any and everyone interested in their work. The decision to accept funds from an obscure source was based not on the presumed origin of these funds but rather on the terms of constraint or freedom imposed on the donee by the donor. In the harsh world of fundraising, the idea that a CIA dollar was necessarily “tainted” overlooked the fact that once included in an autonomous organization’s budget, a dollar was after all only a dollar. As Professor Thomas C. Schelling of Harvard University has pointed out, the source of an institution’s funds is always a hazard, whether it be a wealthy alumnus, the Quakers, the Catholic Church, Standard Oil, the Army, or the CIA. The main concern for every institution in these circumstances is the extent of its authority over the use of such funds and its capacity to expend them in a responsible manner. If autonomy can be assured through various viable arrangements, then the dollars from the CIA are no more unclean than those from other benefactors.
Several confirmations of this point turned up in some of the newspaper exposures. Trustees stated that they had been granted an unusual degree of discretion in the use of their newly acquired funds. The strings attached to the dollars coming into a foundation from CIA conduits were often non-existent. The money was to be used strictly for the supplementation of current projects. Furthermore, many of the NSA students have testified that the agency made no attempt to influence their freedom of expression, even when they castigated United States actions in the Dominican Republic or in the Vietnam war. In this respect, it seems highly probable that, if the State Department had been chosen as the vehicle to supply open financing, the activities of students and private foundations would have been much more severely circumscribed by official sanctions.
The last accusation—that of the unwarranted secrecy of the CIA subsidies—has caused the greatest furor. Not surprisingly, apologists for the agency have been on much weaker ground in their replies to this charge. They have answered that there was no alternative to secrecy. Congress refused to appropriate open funds. Private money was not available in sufficient amounts. And the job needed to be done. These arguments were persuasive when describing the period of the 1950’s, but as related to the next decade, they seemed far less compelling. Beginning with the Kennedy Administration and still more during the early years of the Johnson Presidency, there existed plausible alternatives to the covert support of American organizations. Many people were suggesting the time was ripe for the innovation of procedures for the open partnership of public and private groups working abroad. The concept of special tax incentives for United States corporations active overseas was receiving new public attention. So too was the idea of extending this country’s participation in multilateral aid programs.
Moreover, after the election of President Kennedy, it was clear that liberal opinions in international politics no longer activated the old suspicions of Communist leanings. The punitive mood of McCarthyite anti-Communism had long since evaporated, and for a time-certainly until the Vietnam war-the spirit of liberal internationalism ruled in the minds of a majority of Congressmen. Very possibly, the former reluctance of Congress to authorize open appropriations could have been changed through a forceful series of executive proposals. Yet no initiatives along these lines were undertaken.
While at least two Presidents may be charged with some negligence here, the CIA itself was remarkably blind to the consequences of perpetuating its obsolete expedients over too long a period. It failed to notice that its laboriously constructed mesh of covert funding had become threadbare and transparent. The interlocking webs of disbursing conduits were poorly designed; recipient institutions were imperfectly insulated from one another; too many individuals were implicated; and the continued contact with large numbers of students made the likelihood of exposure a definite probability. According to reports, many grants to universities and research institutes had already been phased down and out by 1965. Yet at a minimum, the CIA should also have canceled its extensive subsidies to youth groups during the same period, especially when the participation of American students in East-West confrontations had lessened in significance.
And so in the end, the breakdown within in its own operating system proved to be fatal to this particular CIA activity. The issue of secrecy was only part of the problem. Indeed “official secrecy”—undisguised classified work of all kinds—has been a legitimate prerogative of governments throughout history. The real fault of the agency was the way in which it persisted in misrepresenting its own secrecy. While the ulterior motives of the agency may have been defensible, the fact of their being undisclosed motives made them ultimately vulnerable. What caused so much embarrassment to so many officials of “identified” organizations was not their involvement in confidential relations but in blatant deceptions. As Professor Schelling has written, “What gives these occasional revelations a flavor of scandal is not what is revealed but the fact of their being revelations…”
More than any other factor, it was this situation of illdisguised duplicity that goes a long way to explain the outcry of national bitterness which echoed throughout the land after the CIA exposures of February, 1967.
Yet in several months’ time, the storm clouds had passed and the attention of the American public moved on with predictable caprice to other national matters. In March, 1967, a special committee appointed by President Johnson recommended that all covert financing of private American groups be stopped by the end of the year. Although the press has recently reported some exceptions to this recommendation, a general ban on CIA subsidies to most American organizations has been implemented. The CIA funding apparatus has been dismantled. And l’affaire CIA has come officially to an end. In essence, the government has promised to refrain from giving secret presents to “kept” institutions, and the institutions themselves have given assurances that their future relations with the government will remain chaste if not entirely celibate.
Meanwhile, the problem of what to do about finding alternative formulas to the CIA system has concerned many people in Washington and elsewhere. It has been mentioned that to terminate or curtail many of the previously supported international programs would be harmful and wasteful. One official describes it as a form of “unilateral political disarmament.” Senator Ralph W. Yarborough of Texas has said, “Although this CIA funding with all of its negative implications has rightly been stopped, no one can doubt our continuing national interest in seeing private involvement grow.”
Consequently, several governmental groups have recently been studying a number of proposals to establish “a quasi-public commission” which would openly finance the neediest of cultural, educational, and labor organizations with overseas projects. Unfortunately, politics and the mood of fiscal economy have ruled in most of these discussions.
At one point, the example of the British Council figured rather prominently in some of the debates. Here was a model that might be emulated in the creation, for example, of an American Council for Overseas Assistance. The British Council, established in 1934 by private initiative and with the support of the Foreign Office, has done creditable work. It engages in English language instruction, sets up educational and cultural exchanges, distributes books and periodicals, and arranges traveling exhibitions. Further reflection, however, has convinced many officials that the analogy is inexact and inappropriate to the American scene. Most of the functions of the British Council are presently paralleled by those of the United States Information Agency, and the British Council’s mission—that of “representing British life and institutions abroad”—is not really relevant to the kind of institutional support and economic development carried on by American foundations. (Representatives of the British Council, incidentally, have hastened to demolish the idea that their own activities bear any similarity to those which they understand to have been aided by the CIA. Probably the fear of guilt by American imitation lurks in the background of their attempts at disassociating the British Council from the controversy.) The problem, then, remains for the United States government to find its own indigenous solution.
How have many of the organizations identified as recipients of CIA funds fared during the past two years? What sort of problems do they confront in their new status as “CIA orphans”?
A quick check of foundation registers and organization reports suggests the following. Some of them—bona fide fronts of the CIA—have simply and quietly folded. Others have discreetly merged with larger foundations whose reputations for independence are strong enough to bear the burdens of past CIA associations. Finally, the vast majority have continued in business with their overseas projects; the only difference is that they have had to cut back severely on their previous level of financial commitments. At the present time their programs are wholly sustained by residual funds, AID contracts, and contributions from interested individuals, foundations, and corporations.
Time and again, during the exposures, trustees of these organizations were questioned why they had “sold out” to government funds when so much private philanthropy had been available. The answer today is all too obvious. Private money for most overseas programs was, and is now, extremely scarce. Only very special types of foundations and individuals have international interests as their primary focus for philanthropy, and they are few in number.
Moreover, every indication is that it will be increasingly difficult in the future for smaller organizations to find private funds for their work abroad. Large foundations have rearranged their own lists of priorities to reflect current national problems, and this means their grants will be directed more and more to worthy projects in the urban ghettos and in the area of race relations. And even the former validity of many overseas projects has recently been called into question by thoughtful Americans. There has been talk of foreign aid—both public and private—as forms of “counterfeit nurturance,” and many people today seem to be far less enthusiastic about the possibilities of creating genuine self-help programs in the developing nations.
For all these reasons, then, the transitional life of “the CIA orphans” has not been smooth and conflict-free. In a useful analysis which appeared in the 1967 Annual Report of the Carnegie Corporation, Alan Pifer has called for a full elaboration of a new institutional genus in America defined as “the quasi nongovernmental organization.” Legally incorporated as a private, tax-exempt institution; governed by a responsible board of directors who are private citizens; financed entirely, or in large part, by the federal government; the quasi non-governmental organization would serve many purposes in resolving the kinds of quandaries in which “the CIA orphans” presently find themselves.
Certainly now is the time—at the end of the unhappy CIA affair and at the beginning of a new President’s term of office—to think through all of the possible new organizational forms that may help Americans to exert their public and private initiatives in the world beyond American shores.