The CIA Book Publishing Operations

Fragments of Sol Chaneles’ Lost Manuscript

If America is the world’s living myth, then the CIA is America’s myth.

Don DeLillo

One of the alternative press’s most significant scoops of the 1960s was Sol Stern’s February 1967 Ramparts magazine’s exposé revealing that the Central Intelligence Agency had long secretly funded and controlled the National Student Association (NSA). The story was significant because it revealed the NSA was a CIA front, but its greater significance came with the many derivative investigative journalistic pieces published in the months that followed. This later wave of stories used Stern’s methods of tracing CIA funding fronts to reveal a hidden world of CIA infiltrations of organizations. Once Ramparts published the names of the funding fronts the CIA had used, others followed Stern’s methods and in the months that followed, dozens of news stories revealed CIA front operations. These ranged from the funding of labor unions, judicial organizations, professional associations, to publishers and organizations like the International Conference of the Boy Scouts Movement.

The basic building blocks of Stern’s methods for tracing CIA fronts had been available to the public for three years, following revelations in 1964 when some of these CIA fronts were first accidentally exposed by Congressman Wright Patman during congressional hearings searching for communist infiltrations of American foundations. In these hearings Patman questioned an IRS employee about irregularities in several foundations, and his sworn public testimony was that the Kaplan Fund was being used by the CIA to fund projects and individuals of interest to the Agency. Patman learned from the CIA the names of eight nonprofits that funded the Kaplan Fund: The Gotham Foundation, Michigan Fund, Andrew Hamilton Fund, Borden Trust, The Price Fund, The Edsel Fund, The Beacon Fund, The Kentfield Fund. Though there was some brief news coverage of these disclosures, there was no real effort to trace what happened to the CIA funds passing through these CIA fronts and pass-throughs until Stern’s Ramparts exposé.

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David Price is professor of anthropology at Saint Martin’s University. His latest book is The American Surveillance State: How the U.S. Spies on Dissent, published this month by Pluto Press.

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