Kim Philby on Homosexuality

A few weeks ago I bought a book titled My 5 Cambridge Friends: Burgess, Maclean, Philby, Blunt and Cairncross, by “Their KGB Controller”. Here’s the cover of the book.

five cambridge friends

My 5 Cambridge Friends is not what it purports to be: the “account” of Yuri Modin ripped from KGB archives and bleeding on a plate in front of Western readers. Modin’s “account” has been thoroughly cooked and presented in digestible bites by co-authors Jean-Charles Deniau and Aguieska Ziarek, and probably the translator Anthony Roberts too. I know this because the writing is tailored for English-speaking people and crafted like a B&N-ready historical narrative from page one. ‘Yuri Modin’ makes numerous and astute references to Western popular culture– he mentions spy novelist John le Carré a suspicious amount– yet Russian popular culture references are vanishingly rare.

Why would Modin have become involved in a writing project like this? In 1994, when My 5 Cambridge Friends came out, Yuri Modin was a retired spook in Moscow which probably means he had stopped receiving his pension. Western governments were eager to control any embarrassing information that may have leaked out during the dissolution of the Soviet Union, so an outpouring of ‘KGB Archives’ writing was published at this time– Lesley Milne’s pathetic biography of Mikhail Bulgakov was also part of this propaganda offensive. Therefore, even though it’s unlikely that Modin actually wrote the majority of this book, I’ll refer to him as the author in this post.

The reason I bought My 5 Cambridge Friends is because of one quote on a ‘Cambridge Five’ Wikipedia page that was attributed to it:

Philby never meddled in his friend’s private life; nor did he ever allude to Burgess’s homosexual affairs. He once told me that he viewed Guy’s homosexual tastes as a sickness– and none of his business.

(This quote is actually in My 5 Cambridge Friends.)

If this information is true then Philby’s opinion is a very interesting one, because it was Philby who coalesced the core of the ‘Cambridge Five’. Philby chose three “sick” men to be the core of this particular espionage network: mutual lovers Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean and Anthony Blunt. ‘Yuri Modin’ describes Philby’s strategy:

Kim Philby now set about his first mission, which was to recruit one or two other agents to form an embryonic network. He traveled up to Cambridge during the month of May. There he met Guy Burgess, told him what he had done and seen that winter in Vienna and thus convinced him to join his fledgling group… Philby asked Burgess to forage among his friends, and Burgess came up with Anthony Blunt.

What was the dynamic like between these men? According to Modin:

In May 1934, Kim Philby traveled up to Cambridge to see Burgess. For once it was not Philby who was bewitched by Burgess, but the other way around.

In turn, Burgess was the ‘alpha’ amongst his group of homosexual friends:

A few weeks before his trip to Rome, Burgess in his role of talent scout had supposedly roped in yet another choice recruit. He had seduced intellectually– and, it has been said, physically too– a promising young Cambridge undergraduate by the name of Donald Maclean, who henceforth became a trusted member of his cell of activists.


Anthony Blunt and Guy Burgess were very close at Cambridge. Blunt was madly in love, lost in admiration for Guy’s brilliant intellect and dancing wit.

Based on Modin’s account, it appears that idealization was a big part of Philby’s network: Maclean and Blunt idealized Burgess, Burgess idealized Philby. Read cult-survivor Daniel Shaw’s opinions on how idealization is used by narcissistic cult leaders here.

Homosexuals are a minority of the general population and it strikes me as odd that Philby would just happen to target three of them for the core of his spy group; it seems especially odd considering that Philby had a low opinion of their behavior. Was the homosexual population a special target for security services in general?

Kim Philby used Guy Burgess to pull in other homosexuals from his milieu.

Kim Philby used Guy Burgess (pictured) to recruit other homosexuals from his milieu.

U.K. Intelligence’s favored recruiting grounds at Oxford and Cambridge Universities certainly had large homosexual populations in the 1920s and 30s. According to Francis Wheen’s biography of Tom Driberg, Oxford University hosted an undergraduate class where homosexuality was the norm rather than the exception. (In fact, one graduate says boys who liked girls in the 1920s were likely to be “sent down”, i.e. not complete their degree.) Clearly, Cambridge university also hosted a large gay student body in the 1930s. If homosexuality has an intelligence utility, it’s unlikely that the Brits were unaware of that utility, since they were recruiting LGBT agents like Aleister Crowley from these establishments from at least the 1890s.

Some members of the British secret services believed that gay networks formed around men in power. According to Modin, David Footman, the assistant director of MI6’s Political Intelligence Department, asked Burgess to use his network of homosexual contacts to open an unofficial dialogue channel between Neville Chamberlain (British Prime Minister) and French Premier Édouard Daladier– neither of whom were gay to my knowledge. Footman’s schemes are not necessarily proof of an agency-wide recruiting policy, but they do show that a leading British spook saw something exploitable in the gay milieu.

Soviet intelligence definitely considered homosexuality a desirable trait amongst spies. According to one report, The Theory and Practice of Soviet Intelligence, published by the CIA and written by Soviet defector Alexander Orlov:

Considerable [recruiting] success was achieved among foreign diplomats tinted with homosexual perversions; it is no secret that the biggest concentration of homosexuals can be found in the diplomatic services of Western countries. Those of these who agreed to work for the Russian network were instructed to approach other homosexual members of the diplomatic corps, a strategy which was remarkably successful. Even when those approached declined the offer to collaborate, they would not denounce the recruiter to the authorities. Soviet intelligence officers were amazed at the mutual consideration and true loyalty which prevailed among homosexuals.

Of course, Orlov’s use of the word ‘loyalty’ is misleading, these people were traitors to their own country, but the Soviets had found a way of activating reliability amongst their homosexual assets in a way that their employers at the Western “diplomatic services” had not figured out (or found ethically unacceptable).

A young Donald Maclean, whose open  career was at the British Foreign Service.

A young Donald Maclean, whose open career was in the British Foreign Service.

Given British and Soviet intel’s interest in homosexuals’ utility for espionage, and given that Kim Philby took such pains to recruit them, it’s weird that Philby would downplay Burgess/Blunt/possibly Maclean’s orientation to his Soviet contact Modin by saying their gayness was “none of his business”. It’s almost as if Philby was trying to hide a tradecraft tactic from Yuri Modin… do genuine double agents hide such things?

Whatever Philby believed about the state of Soviet tradecraft, it should be noted that similar patterns of behavior arose between Western and Soviet homosexual milieus. In Gay and Lesbian Communities the World Over, authors Rita James Simon and Alison Brooks say the following:

Yet, during the Stalinist age, Soviet persecution of gay men was neither continuous nor total. In the case of well-known personalities such as Eisenstein, the popular opera tenor Sergei Lemeshev, the pianist Sviatoslav Richter, and numerous male ballet dancers, the authorities were willing to look the other way, provided the man was married and kept his homosexuality out of public view. A considerable number of Soviet gay men were in the Red Army, or were in the diplomatic corps or were entertainers.

Currently gay men are over-represented in the US military; the Soviets noticed that Western diplomatic corps appealed to gays; and I leave it to readers to assess if the LGBT community is highly represented in the Western entertainment industry. The Soviets probably first developed their intelligence strategy with respect to homosexuals on their own turf: through their own propaganda and censorship efforts or through what they learned from their British partners after the Bolshevik Revolution.

What might this Soviet strategy of activating reliability have looked like in practice? I’ll remind readers that Kim Philby came from a powerful intelligence family; he had a masterful, magnetic personality and is often described as handsome. Might this have explained Burgess’s infatuation with him and, consequently, the reliability of Burgess’s conquests?

The young Kim Philby: a desirable heterosexual?

The young Kim Philby: a desirable heterosexual?

In As Political Chips, an essay on homosexuality’s political use written by Marni Esque, the author asserts that heterosexual men can be highly desirable to gay ones: “Happiness is thus almost impossible to attain, especially since the attraction for working boys goes with a desire to have “normal,” heterosexual boys.” Esque associates this type of homosexual longing with a desire for “virility, physical superiority, the opposition between the “strong” and the “weak,””. Esque goes on to suggest that at the root of some homosexuality is the childlike desire to be affirmed and protected:

The working boy seems to live a mythical world where the values are reversed,where all that was prohibited is finally allowed, where happiness is accessible: “Come to me, and you will be as happy as I am, and as strong.”

Could it be that a connected, urbane womanizer like Philby held a charm for men like Burgess, Blunt and possibly Maclean? Could it be that what men like Footman and the Soviet intel apparatus understood was that some homosexuals’ unquenchable desire for affirmation and belonging could be used to make them do irrational, dangerous things? Were the Soviets exploiting power-worship, much like Nigella Lawson, the battered goddess of food-porn, exploited power-worship through her ‘kept woman’ sales pitch?

I think this sort of exploitation was very likely and I’ve written about it elsewhere in Great Users of People, The Cult of Intelligence and A Call for Papers. Yuri Modin’s account of his work with the Cambridge Five provides some other insights as to how people who want affirmation from the powerful are used by intelligence services. I was shocked to read this statement in chapter one:

…the agent who thinks he’s James Bond has no place at all in a real intelligence service. There are those who try to ape Ian Fleming’s fictional spy, bristling with gadgets, sexually voracious, intrepid and constantly involved with battles of one kind or another. I’ve known a few like that, and none of them ever went very far.

This quote shocked me because much of Philby, Burgess and Blunt’s behavior is ‘James Bond-like’, even as it is described by Modin. Modin goes on to say that it’s better if intelligence agents are 1) not too bright (he calls them “soldiers” at heart); 2) somewhat childlike; yet 3) politically astute so that they can anticipate their masters’ whims and 4) without mental or physical ailments. In contrast to these observations, Modin goes on to say that many intel agents are either alcoholics or that they drink to forget; that they may have “weird relationships with woman”; gamble impulsively; they may be fragile and highly-strung; and are often wracked by guilt.

A number of the spy characteristics described by Modin– both the typical ones and the desirable ones– are consistent with behavior associated with narcissism, which is an anxiety-ridden, childlike preoccupation with one’s undeveloped self.  I’ve speculated elsewhere that narcissism is useful to exploitative organizations because narcissistic people are incredibly easy to manipulate. Many of Modin’s ‘typical’ spook characteristics are also somewhat James-Bondish: drinking, gambling, unhealthy relationships with women.

On first reading Modin’s observations about intelligence agents, I thought he was contradicting himself. ‘Drinking to forget’ is not indicative of a healthy mind, neither are weird relationships with women, nor being “wracked by guilt”. The agents who Modin brags about running could have been prototypes for James Bond. Was Modin saying that his underlings, and many other ‘pros’ in the trade, were destined to go nowhere in the intelligence hierarchy?

If Modin and his co-writers weren’t contradicting themselves, then they’ve given us insight into how the spook-world is organized. The ‘James Bonds'; the narcissists; and the emotionally crippled people described by Philippe de Vosjoli are the ‘worker bees’ of the intelligence community. They’re not designed to make it to ‘Floor Seven’. They are flattered into doing what more mature, balanced men with options and good judgment would never choose to do themselves. Perhaps that’s why the guys who ‘took the fall’ as the ‘Cambridge Five’ were disproportionately gay, even though they were from connected families… as Orlov wrote “they would not denounce the recruiter to the authorities”.

When I say ‘taking the fall’ I am implying that there were more ‘Soviet’ agents in British Intel employ than the four/five which were uncovered as part of the ‘Cambridge’ ring. At this time, I don’t doubt John Cairncross was giving Soviets information that some parts of the British government were unhappy with, but I do doubt that he was the outer limit of Philby’s network– I will write more on this in the future.

If Modin’s description of intel worker-bees is accurate, then it shows that Playboy’s (the CIA’s) promotion of the James Bond fairytale was designed to appeal to lower-caste intel operatives… the hoi polloi of the espionage sphere.

But where does all this leave Kim Philby– was he just a foot soldier too?

Yes and no. St. John Philby, Kim’s father, actually had power outside of the British establishment through his influence at the Saudi royal court and their mineral rights. This means that, for a while, Kim had power outside of MI6 and could have been truly dangerous to Stephenson and the London financial barons.

However, there are things about Kim Philby that weakened him. Kim was a womanizer– which means that he had impersonal sexual encounters. Regular readers will remember that CIA personality profiler John Gittinger was very interested in people who like self-centered sex as part of his Personality Assessment System, which the CIA used in a bid to manipulate people on an industrial scale.

While Philby (according to Modin) felt homosexuality was “sick”, there are many people who would say the same about womanizing. I’ve only known two womanizers: their behavior was motivated by 1) anger towards women and 2) the power-trip that came from stringing women along. Neither motivation is vastly different from those of a typical rapist or pedophile, it’s just that womanizers tend to use lies where criminals use force.

Kim Philby was a narcissistic man if one ever existed: a consummate user who caused the deaths of many people in order to further his career. As I’ve stated before, exploitative organizations manipulate narcissists. Kim was also second-generation intel, which is important because people born into cults like the ‘intelligence community’ are less likely to identify exploitative behavior as being exploitative.

At this time I believe Kim Philby was a ‘worker-bee’ too, though for a while he had the dangerous potential to become something more. I think that Philby was also more stable than the other agents he recruited and consequently he was given more responsibility by both the British and the Soviets than were the notoriously flighty, irresponsible Burgess and Blunt, or the impossibly idealistic Maclean.

I will write more about the strange case of Kim Philby and the ‘Cambridge Five’ in the coming weeks, but I think readers will already have deduced my opinion on this group from my writing about Ernst Henri: not all is as it seems with these ‘Soviet’ quints.



OSCAR: The Most Unintentionally Honest Hollywood Propaganda Film.

OSCAR: The Most Unintentionally Honest Hollywood Propaganda Film.

Last month I looked at A.C. Spectorsky, the brains behind CIA front Playboy magazine, and who he decided to promote on his magazine’s cover between 1959-76. By far the most promoted movie director was accused pedophile Woody Allen [9 separate covers], followed by convicted pedophile Roman Polanski [2] and Lolita director Stanley Kubrick [2]. However, the 1963 movie Cleopatra is the only film to be featured on two Playboy covers during this period. Why would this film have been given so much promotion by Spectorsky?

January 1963, Spectorsky's first Cleopatra plug.

January 1963, Spectorsky’s first Cleopatra plug.

February 1963, Spectorsky's second Cleopatra plug.

February 1963, Spectorsky’s second Cleopatra plug: “The Chicks of Cleopatra”.

I decided I’d better watch Cleopatra. It wasn’t long before I realized that this marathon film is a garish, 192 minute ad for the American ‘New World Order’– specifically, directors Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Rouben Mamoulian and Darryl F. Zanuck try to equate American dominance in the post-WWII era with Alexander the Great’s ‘global empire’.

Don’t take my word for it:

Liz Taylor: [talking to Rex Harrison about Alexander the Great] Your ambitions must always have been his. They still must be… Make his dream yours, Caesar, his grand design. Pick it up where he left off. Out of the patchwork of conquest, one world. And out of one world, one nation. One people on earth living in peace!

The whole ridiculous spectacle of this ‘classic’ Hollywood movie is to sell the idea of world government– as represented by the voluptuous Taylor and her masterful lover, played by Rex Harrison. Incredibly, Hollywood potentates chose two famous tyrants, an ancient Egyptian goddess-queen and her Imperial Roman sugar-daddy, to sell their vision of the ‘Pax Americana’. I can’t tell if they didn’t see themselves, or if they were just laughing at the general public.

IMDb credits the film to three countries: USA, U.K. and Switzerland. The production companies were Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation (as Producers Pictures Corporation), and two Swiss firms, MCL Films S.A. and Walwa Films S.A., which appear to have been created specifically for Cleopatra (they have no other production credits on IMDb.) Presumably ‘U.K.’ was included because of Rex Harrison, Richard Burton and leading lady Taylor, who had dual US/U.K. citizenship, though I’m not sure when she achieved this.

Darryl F. Zanuck

Darryl F. Zanuck

In reality, Cleopatra is a thoroughly globalist movie. Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation was created by Darryl Zanuck in 1935 after he left United Artists. Zanuck’s company took off during WWII, challenging its more established competitors RKO and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Fox’s war-time success may have had something to do with Zanuck being made a Colonel in the Army Signal Corps, Fox historian Peter Lev attributes the firm’s growth to Zanuck’s military placement. The US military isn’t shy about their connection to Twentieth Century Fox either, according to

… years before people like Sandra Bullock, Meryl Streep and George Clooney made their grand entrances down the red carpet to find out if they’d won the coveted award, another group of Hollywood legends produced award-winning films for the Army leaving a piece of Hollywood on display at the Signal Corps Museum.

Darryl Zanuck, who headed 20th Century Fox and received the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Irving Thalberg Memorial Award, was a colonel in the Signal Corps during World War II. Also in the Signal Corps during World War II was Oscar winning director Frank Capra, and Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.

The efforts of these and others who served in Astoria, N.Y. with the 834th Signal Service Photographic Detachment at the Signal Corps Photographic Center produced military training films as well as Academy Award winning documentaries after the war, according to Signal Corps Museum director Robert Anzuoni.

Zanuck’s partnership with the military and intelligence is elucidated in Nick Browne’s Refiguring American Film Genres: Theory and History:

A very different form of war-related nonfiction film making in Hollywood involved military training and educational films. The studios began to regularly produce these one- and two-reel films in late 1940, primarily through a Hollywood based reserve unit of the Army Signal Corps comprised of some two dozen officers and 300 GIs trained in film production. The unit was headed by Lt. Col. Nathan Levinson, who also acted as vice chair (under Darryl Zanuck) of the Motion Picture Academy Research Council, an organization that coordinated industry support for the Signal Corp’s production efforts. By 1941 these efforts were well underway, and Zanuck was increasingly involved. In fact, Zanuck himself made a trip to Washington in August to meet with Army brass about Hollywood’s military-related film making operations… The military leaders were favorably impressed, and Zanuck was forthright about the industry’s pro-military, anti-isolationist stance– a position he and other studio heads would publicly defend before the Senate only a few weeks later.

The occasion of Zanuck’s Senate testimony was the so-called propaganda hearings, held in Washington in September 1941. The hearings were convened by a cadre of isolationists who decided to take on the tide of interventionism. Gauging Hollywood as an ideal target, Senators Burton K. Wheeler and Gerald P. Nye demanded that the Interstate Commerce Committee investigate what Nye termed the “propaganda machine” in Hollywood which was run by the studios “almost as if they were being operated by a central agency”. The committee hearings focused on seventeen “war mongering” feature films, twelve of which were produced in Hollywood– including Foreign Correspondent and The Great Dictatoralong with four British imports and one studio released foreign picture.

I’ve highlighted ‘along with four British imports’ because, although we don’t know which films these are, we do know that William Stephenson, the British spymaster who worked with FDR to set up the OSS, had cornered the British film market with his ‘Sound City Films’ which ran the world-famous Shepperton Studios. (See The Quiet Canadian.) Stephenson’s intelligence mission was to pull the USA into WWII to fight for the British; Stephenson and his allies like FDR did this by using ‘dirty tricks’– harassment, threats, lies– to pressure isolationists and crush any dissent. Senators Nye and Wheeler were the nation’s last defense against traitors like FDR and foreign spooks like Stephenson, who collaborated with Hollywood moguls to push their war– and ultimately imperialist– agenda.

'Wild Bill' Donovan pins a medal on Bill Stephenson, who took over British espionage after Churchill ascended to power.

‘Wild Bill’ Donovan pins a medal on Bill Stephenson, who took over British Intelligence after Churchill ascended to power.

I’ll remind readers that FDR’s war effort, and his newly created intelligence networks, were heavily invested in film propaganda. Marjorie Cameron, the wife/handler of US jet propulsion expert Jack Parsons, was given a job with Hollywood filmmakers creating war propaganda films in cooperation with the “Hollywood Navy” after working as a ‘honey trap’ for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The JCS used Cameron against men with “pro-German” sympathies, according to her biographer Spencer Kansa.

Another intelligence creep and ‘father’ of modern communication studies, Carl Hovland, spent WWII analyzing how wartime audiences would respond to messages in propaganda movies such as Why We Fight. This is how one author on describes Hovland’s contribution to the war effort: “Like many other early communications theorists, he worked with the U.S. War Department during World War II to study the effectiveness of persuasive films and audience resistance to those films.” Hovland’s research provided the basis for his collaborator Muzafer Sherif’s work on race riots for the CIA’s MK ULTRA program.

Finally, when media personalities wouldn’t cooperate with FDR’s spook buddies of their own accord, they were forced through ‘dirty tricks': take the case of Walt Disney.

The US intelligence community has always been heavily invested in Hollywood, and Hollywood– especially liberal Hollywood— has always been eager to oblige.

Browne’s fascinating book goes on to discuss one of Cleopatra’s producers, Walter Wanger, and his hawkish political activism:

Actually, Hollywood had been struggling both internally and publicly with issues of politics and propaganda for several years. Among the more notable of these struggles involved Foreign Correspondent some two years earlier. In 1939, Walter Wanger was battling Hollywood’s self-censorship agency, the PCA [Production Code Administration], over various political aspects of the story. Wanger made little headway and was still livid over what he considered the PCA’s mutilation of Blockade, a 1938 film set against the Spanish Civil War, so he decided to go public with his concerns, lambasting the Hays Office and the PCA in a series of speeches and editorials…

By 1940-1941, however, as the war in Europe intensified and as the prospect of US intervention increased, neither Hays or the PCA could discourage film makers from taking on geopolitical and war-related subjects. Indeed Roosevelt himself had appealed to the movie industry in 1940 to support both the defense build up at home and the Allied effort overseas… FDR praised Hollywood’s war effort and Senator Ernest McFarland threatened to ask the Dies Committee on Un-Americanism to investigate the isolationists [like Senators Wheeler and Nye].

It appears that before ‘Un-American’ activities committees were used to ‘persecute’ communists in Hollywood, Roosevelt’s pink hawks used the same hammer to silence critics of their Hollywood collaborators! Were these pro-war Hollywood ‘reds’ paid in the coin they minted?

Walter Wanger

Walter Wanger

It’s particularly interesting to me that Cleopatra’s producer, Wanger, got his knickers in a knot about the censorship of Blockade, a movie that in its original form glorified the communist fighters in Spain.  This movie indirectly flattered American collaborators with the communists in Spain, like OSS/CIA/KGB agent Ernest Hemingway; and Bill Donovan’s good friend Milton Wolff, who belonged to the Communist Party in Spain and recruited heavily from his communist Spanish Civil War colleagues for both the OSS and British Secret Services:

Before the United States entered World War II, William “Wild Bill” Donovan, who founded the Office of Strategic Services, predecessor of the CIA, enlisted Wolff’s services. At Donovan’s urging, Wolff helped recruit for the British Special Services.

Abraham Lincoln Brigade veterans, with their language skills and entree to anti-fascist groups in Europe, were well suited for intelligence work. After the United States entered the war, Wolff also recruited Lincoln veterans for the OSS.

But when Wolff enlisted in the Army in 1942, his advancement at officer’s training school was blocked, he said, and he was labeled a “premature anti-fascist.” He was given noncombat roles but eventually served in Burma and with the OSS in Europe.

(Milton Wolff helped the BSC, British Security Coordination, recruit Communist party members too, according to Mark Seaman in Special Operations Executive: A New Instrument of War.)

OSS recruits from the Abraham Lincoln Brigade were not limited to Wolff’s efforts, OSS operatives Donald Downes and Arthur Goldberg also used this strategy, according to author Jon Wiener in Professors, Politics and Pop. Of course, the OSS was riddled with Soviet spies and sympathizers; OSS recruits would go on to become the CIA’s leading lights. One of these lights, CIA director Bill Colby, quashed an internal investigation of his own dealings with a known KGB agent in Saigon. (See Cold Warrior, Tom Mangold.)

... and she said, "Alexander the Great"!

… and she said, “Alexander the Great”!

There’s one more sordid aspect to Cleopatra’s relationship with Playboy magazine: Ben Hecht, the Irgun member and Playboy mega-contributor, was part of the team who wrote Cleopatra’s script, though his involvement was not originally acknowledged. Why?

Hecht’s political baby, Irgun, was a Jewish terrorist organization in Palestine that bombed British government offices and ethnically cleansed Palestinian villages in preparation for Israel’s foundation. Hecht worked with Irgun’s American front organizations to drum up support for the terrorists, you can read a sympathetic account of Hecht’s activities from Judith Rice of the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation.

Ben Hecht

Ben Hecht

Irgun’s political strategy was cynical, for example, they partnered with the NAACP stateside to end segregation. Readers will remember that the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] was founded in 1909, but only had one Black amongst its executives and took twenty years to get its first Black president. Besides partnering with Jewish extremists, the NAACP played an interesting ‘supporting role’ in the Playboy empire by providing the pornographers with ‘Black friends‘. Needless to say, Irgun’s policies in Israel were different to the policies it supported via the NAACP in the United States. Why?

In summary, Spectorsky promoted Cleopatra in Playboy because 1) it was written by one of his Zionist spook friends; 2) it was directed by Hollywood’s ambassador to the US ‘intelligence community’ and 3) it was produced by FDR’s Hollywood propaganda commissar.


Another CIA front plugs Cleopatra.

Another CIA front plugs Cleopatra.

Who Was Ernst Henri?

Ivan Maisky (second from left), the Soviet ambassador to London between 1932 and 1943, with Winston Churchill at the Allied ambassadors’ lunch at the Soviet embassy, September 1941. General Władysław Sikorski, prime minister of the Polish government in exile, is second from right.  Thank you,

Ivan Maiskii (second from left), the Soviet ambassador to London between 1932 and 1943, with Winston Churchill at the Allied ambassadors’ lunch at the Soviet embassy, September 1941. Thank you,

Earlier in the year I posted an article from the World Marxist Review titled Who Finances Anti-Communism? The article was written in February 1962 by a man styled ‘Ernst Henri’, and it was the first ‘outing’ of the CIA’s anti-Kremlin cultural offensive called the Congress for Cultural Freedom– it’s the first outing that I’m aware of, at least.

Henri’s article exposed how the CIA used insincere ‘charitable’ organizations to fund “anti-communist” cultural expositions. From my experience working in the non-profit sector, Henri was right on the money with his criticism of the Rockefeller, Ford and so many other hypocritical ‘foundations’. However, there are a few things that bother me about Henri’s article, which is why I described it as “seeming” to side with the Russians.

My two nagging doubts are 1) the language Henri uses to describe the CIA’s “anti-communist” offensive and 2) Henri’s focus on the Moral Re-Armament movement, which was founded three decades before the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF). In this post I’ll argue that Henri worked for British as well as Soviet intel, and that some of the fruits around Henri bear hallmarks of being British-run ‘double crossed’ agents.

I’m going to start by looking at Henri’s ‘language problem’. Henri overwhelmingly describes the Congress as “anti-communist”. The next most common adjective is “reactionary” which is a slippery description; I understand “reactionary” as ‘going against the writer’s particular flavor of communist agenda’. Henri calls CCF collaborators “conservatives”, “fascist”, “right-wing”, “anti-Soviet” and “counter-revolutionary”– there’s even a smattering of slurs like “Hitlerism” and “White Russian”.

The only inkling that the Left might be involved comes from this quote describing Congress assets:

In the foreground are prominent personalities in science, literature and the arts, representing a variety of political trends, from Conservatives to Right-wing Socialists.

Henri’s use of language obscures the fact that the CIA’s agenda was a leftist agenda; he never explicitly states that the “anti-communist” crusade used leftist politics to fight the Soviets. You could read Henri’s article and not understand the extent to which the left, and sometimes the far left, was in cahoots with the CIA.

It’s as if Henri wanted to hide the strategy behind the CIA’s operation from World Marxist Review readers (controlling the Left), and only expose some of the tactics behind the campaign (front organizations, etc.).

Someone who cared about communism or the Soviet cause would want to arm WMR readers with the knowledge of exactly what ideologies to look for in a CIA ‘anti-Communist’ agent, e.g. “They promote Black American musicians to discredit Soviet critics of American race politics” — Henri doesn’t point these recurring themes out. By not being explicit about CIA strategy, Henri left the door open for a re-branding of the Congress for Cultural Freedom through Spectorsky’s Playboy operation, amongst others.

The uncomfortable fact is that Henri was going soft on the CIA in his article: its far easier to sacrifice front organizations than it is to formulate an entirely new strategy. I don’t believe Henri’s accusations against the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, etc. were wrong, but they were incomplete. Henri’s vague references to ‘anti-communist’ plotting came without proper explanation, so were therefore alarmist and risked hobbling the communist community with suspicion.

Even more troubling is that the BBC was ‘on board’ with Henri’s agenda by the end of 1962. Several months after Henri’s CCF exposé appeared in World Marxist Review, BBC television aired a derogatory send-up of the CCF on That Was The Week That Was, hosted by Playboy stalwart Kenneth Tynan.

To pour fuel on that fire, Frances Stonor Saunders, who I believe is managed opposition to the CIA, reused Henri’s terminology in her book The Cultural Cold War (2000). Saunders’ book is the gold-standard exposé of the Congress for Cultural Freedom, and even though she doesn’t acknowledge Henri’s article in her writing, she recycles Henri’s language. Henri’s ‘Anti-Communist’ becomes ‘non-Communist’ in Saunders’ work. This nomenclature is misleading, because the CIA’s efforts were never ‘non-Communist’ nor ‘anti-Communist’, they were anti-Kremlin.

Like Willi Munzenberg's fixer Gerald Hamilton, Frances Stonor Saunders worked for George Bernard Shaw's New Stateman, which is notorious for its blind support of Stalin under editor Kingsley Martin.

Frances Stonor Saunders, author of The Cultural Cold War and CIA asset. Saunders was arts editor at the New Statesman, which you’ll read about more than once in this post.

The CIA isn’t against communism, they promote it through agents like Allen Ginsberg; and some of the CIA’s leading lights fought with the communists in Spain. What the CIA is against is any form of communism which they can’t control. Frances Stonor Saunders wrote her book on the CCF to protect ongoing CIA operations which involve the Left; she used Henri’s misleading language to perpetuate misconceptions about the Agency’s politics. So if Saunders shared goals with Henri, then who was Ernst Henri?

Here’s the bell-ringer: Ernst Henri’s real name was Semen Rostovskii and he worked for the Soviet Ambassador in London, Ivan Maiskii. According to Richard B. Spence in Secret Agent 666: Aleister Crowley, British Intelligence and the Occult, Rostovskii was also the guy who recruited the ‘Cambridge Five’– the most notorious group of four Soviet double agents ever. Rostovskii ran in the same well-heeled ‘communist’ circles that agent provocateur Aleister Crowley haunted in the 1920s-30s; in fact, Rostovskii had a number of high-level British Intelligence acquaintances. Why might this be?

Ivan Maiskii

Ivan Maiskii

According to the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, Rostovskii’s boss, Ivan Maiskii, had “unparalleled access to the British establishment”, which would explain Rostovskii’s well-placed friends. Maiskii was a Bolshevik revolutionary and good friends with George Bernard Shaw; Shaw founded Frances Stonor Saunder’s one-time employer the New Statesman and Shaw’s network placed British spy Roald Dahl into the confidence of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (see Storyteller, Donald Sturrock). Maiskii had the ear of other powerful British figures too, including Winston Churchill and the media baron Lord Beaverbrook. Back in the motherland, Maiskii was instrumental in getting Stalin to support Zionist immigration policies to Israel and Maiskii was a confidant to mass-murderer Lavrenti Beria, the head of Stalin’s secret police. According to

In 1941, Stalin appointed Beria deputy prime minister, and Beria eventually joined the Politburo. At the Yalta Conference in 1945, Stalin proudly introduced Beria to President Franklin D. Roosevelt as “our Himmler,” referring to Hitler’s head of the Gestapo.

Semen Rostovskii was in the employ of a very nasty Soviet power-broker who was on friendly terms with British businessmen. According to Richard Spence in Secret Agent 666, Rostovskii ran in British circles which were no less Soviet and no less privileged:

The Ring’s [the Cambridge Five’s] recruiter at Cambridge was the Soviet agent Semen Rostovskii (a.k.a Ernst Henri), a protege of Moscow’s then ambassador in London, Ivan Maiskii– whose name will later be linked to Crowley’s by none other than Philby.

Rostovskii’s operation got underway in 1933, around the time the Gibarti-Crowley note was written. One of Rostovskii’s accomplices was the young Cambridge communist Brian Howard. He, in turn, was a friend of Crowley’s erstwhile roommate, Gerald Hamilton. Howard also connects to another of the Mage’s left-leaning homosexual associates, Tom Driberg, about who more in the following chapter.

Judging by Spence’s quote above, it would be easy to assume that Brian Howard, Gerald Hamilton and Tom Driberg [1] were in the employ of Soviet intelligence– to a certain extent they all were. However, they all worked for British intelligence too! Rostovskii’s ‘pink’ British friends all have the whiff of ‘double cross’ about them. Brian Howard worked for MI5, was a BBC propagandist, and a New Statesman contributor according to this ‘Gay for Today‘ article; Hamilton was a fixer for ‘Red’ media baron Willi Münzenberg as well as an informer to British intel. These boys were all parlor communists who enjoyed the good life and the best opportunities that the British Empire could provide.

Tom Driberg is the member of Rostovskii’s circle who is most relevant to his Who Finances Anti-Communism? exposé because of Driberg’s personal connection to Moral Re-Armament. Tom Driberg’s name is indelibly linked to MRA, because Driberg made himself and MRA famous through his anti-MRA antics in the late 1920s.

Before I go into Driberg’s MRA connection, I’m going to introduce some of the controversy around Driberg’s espionage work because his spook involvement is contested. Biographer Francis Wheen is, on the whole, dismissive of the suggestion that Driberg worked for any intelligence agency. However, Wheen documents one ‘job’ after another which smells spooky: from Driberg’s coverage of the Spanish Civil War alongside Ernst Hemingway, to Driberg’s providing intelligence dossiers to Lord Mountbatten, the Supreme Allied Commander in South East Asia. (Julia Child’s husband Paul Cushing Child worked for Mountbatten too, see her autobiography.)

Not everyone feels as confident about Driberg’s innocence, for instance, here’s Richard Spence’s introduction to Driberg:

Driberg had been a Communist Party member since 1920. He also was a homosexual, like so many others Agent Crowley’s path had crossed. Despite (or maybe because of ) his politics and sexuality, Driberg had become a gossip columnist at the Daily Express. Collecting gossip, after all, is just another way of gathering intelligence. Driberg may have been informing to His Majesty’s authorities for years, but about the time he renewed association with Crowley [1932], Maxwell Knight, now employed by MI5, recruited him as an informant. Max used Driberg to keep tabs on “cafe communists” and fellow-traveler liberals, precisely the crowd Crowley was so busy cultivating.

Wheen saves special scorn for researchers who accuse Driberg of Soviet intelligence connections. Wheen dismisses KGB connections as malicious gossip inspired by– grab your bonnets, ladies– Lord Rothschild. Wheen names two authors in connection with this ‘plot’, Chapman Pincher and Peter Wright. Whether a plot exists or not, here’s what Wright has to say about Driberg in Spy Catcher:

Tom Driberg was another MP named by the Czech defectors [Frolik and August]. I went to see Driberg myself , and he finally admitted that he was providing material to a Czech controller for money. For a while we ran Driberg on, but apart from picking up a mass of salacious detail about Labor Party peccadilloes, he had nothing of interest for us.

His only lasting story concerned the time he lent a Cabinet Minister his flat so that the Minister could try and conduct an affair in strict privacy. Driberg was determined to find the identity of the women who was the recipient of the Minster’s favors, and one evening after the Minister had vacated, he searched the flat and found a letter addressed to a prominent female member of the Labor Party. Driberg claimed to be horrified by his discovery and raised it with the Minister concerned, suggesting that he ought to be more careful in case word of his activities ever became public! Since Driberg was certainly providing the same stories to his Czech friends, his concern for Labor Party confidentiality seemed hollow, to say the least.

Tom Driberg, Lord Bardwell. Prior to being discovered by Lord Beaverbrook, Driberg would  University, Driberg  turn tricks or look for casual pick-ups  in dark doorways on London's Rupert Street. (See, Tom Driberg, His Life and Indiscretions, by Francis Wheen.)

Tom Driberg, Lord Bardwell. In the few months between flunking out of Oxford and being hired by the Daily Express, Driberg would turn tricks or look for casual pick-ups in dark doorways along London’s Rupert Street. (See, Tom Driberg, His Life and Indiscretions, by Francis Wheen.) Photo courtesy of The National Portrait Gallery.

So what was the slippery Driberg doing around Moral Re-Armament in 1928? Moral Re-Armament, which was known as the Oxford Group until 1938, would have remained relatively unknown were it not for the work of Tom Driberg through Lord Beaverbrook’s publication the Daily Express. In 1928 Driberg made a name for himself by ginning up a fantastic amount of negative publicity for MRA, which he attacked from the perspective of his own sexuality. Wheen describes Driberg’s multi-article campaign this way:

Barely a month after he joined the paper [Beaverbrook’s Daily Express] it brought him his first scoop. Having heard from friends at Oxford of an odd American evangelist, Dr. Frank Buchman, who had surfaced in the city and was recruiting students to his cause, Tom attended one of the Buchman groups’ Sunday evening meetings in a private room at the Randolph Hotel…

Tom’s articles were the first reports in a popular national paper of a movement which was soon better known as the Oxford Group and eventually, in the 1940s, won international fame– or notoriety, according to taste– as Moral Re-Armament. Tom became MRA’s most unrelenting scourge, accusing them of ‘zeal amounting to fanaticism, persistent crude invasions of physical and spiritual privacy… an obsessive and often impertinent harping on sin, especially sexual sin.’… One Buchmanite, J. P. Thornton-Duesbery (the master of St. Peter’s College, Oxford), was so stung by Tom’s tireless hostility that in 1964 he published a book whose sole purpose was to defend Moral Re-Armament against Tom.

Driberg was so intimately connected with Moral Re-Armament that two years after Rostovskii’s ‘exposé‘ of MRA in 1962, MRA stalwarts were still attacking Driberg.

Tom Driberg’s spooky doings went farther than just writing about Moral Re-Armament. According to Wheen, Driberg actually organized a gang raid on one of the MRA meetings, which ended in an anti-climax because Driberg got the location wrong.

I believe that Driberg was actually working to promote MRA; no sincere critic would organize a mob against such a cult, because a successful raid would have made a martyr out of Frank Buchman. Driberg was managed opposition to MRA. MRA was probably an Anglo-American intelligence operation designed to get impressionable yet useful people with more conservative leanings into political alignment: Buchmanites were a manageable political alternative at a time (1920s-30s) when some class-conscious movements presented a real challenge to elitist interests. The obnoxious gossip king Driberg was a perfect foil to the MRA operation.

Rostovskii’s 1962 tirade against Moral Re-Armament as a millionaire’s “anti-communist” cult is similar to Tom Driberg’s 1928 tirade against Moral Re-Armament as millionaire’s ‘anti-sex’ cult; you could say that Rostovskii recycled Driberg’s criticisms with ‘communism’ substituted for ‘sex’. I find it fascinating that a 1960s Soviet spook was so in tune with a British gossip column from 1928. Perhaps the reason for this synchronicity is that neither men were sincere in their professed beliefs.

Driberg’s sexuality informed his political life; his homosexuality and  promiscuity may have marked out his usefulness to intelligence handlers. Driberg’s sympathetic biographer Frances Wheen writes that Tom’s attraction to communism was largely based on his desire for working-class men:

Like George Orwell, Tom had a rather romanticized vision of the working class, and especially of working-class men. (In Tom’s case it was both political and homo-erotic: those sinewy thighs and rough hands, that heroic nobility in adversity, the sweat of labour…) Unlike Orwell, however, he was too fond of the comforts available to ‘pampered Londoners’ to become anything more than a tourist. Tom’s visits to depressed areas– like his sexual encounters with working-class men– were passionately arousing but also impersonal and brief.


Tom would then speak of his achievements in selling the CP’s [Communist Party’s] paper, Workers’ Weekly, at the gates of factories in Cowley– which, as Taylor pointed out, ‘enabled him to become acquainted with the better looking factory workers’. Perhaps Tom Stephensen’s accusations of frivolity were justified. Taylor later admitted: ‘I did not take my political activities very seriously.’ [A.J.P. Taylor was Driberg’s friend and the other Communist Party member at Oxford in the mid 1920s, though other communist sympathizers were present.– a.nolen]

Driberg’s political insincerity aside, Rostovskii must have had a reason for recycling Driberg’s Moral Re-Armament work and tying it onto the Congress for Cultural Freedom in Who Finances Anti-Communism?– there’s no easy way to weave the two together because Moral Re-Armament existed long before the CIA existed. Moral Re-Armament was in swing back when the Soviets were firm friends with British and American elites: the evangelical group that became MRA was founded in 1921 by Swiss-American Frank Buchman. In my opinion, MRA’s mission was to hijack Christianity in service of internationalist business interests. If Rostovskii sincerely wanted to expose ‘spookish’ behavior by Buchman, then he needed to do that in another article separate from the CIA affairs, because MRA had its genesis in different battles.

Frank Buchman TIME

Frank Buchman of Moral Re-Armament fame.

It seems to me that Rostovskii included Driberg’s old ‘target’ in Who Finances Anti-Communism? because doing so contributed to the “conservative” fog obscuring the CIA’s sponsorship of the Left. Rostovskii could have easily been aware of Driberg’s work on this increasingly obsolete cult through Brian Howard; Rostovskii’s scuppering of MRA may have even done the UKUSA spooks a favor. By 1962 the Imperial political landscape was very different to that of the pre-war years and I believe that ‘christiany’ Moral Re-Armament was baggage that Anglo-American spooks no longer needed (see my post A.C. Spectorsky and CCF 2.0). Helping cold warriors was strange work for a Soviet diplomat, wasn’t it?

Brian Howard, son of American expatriates in Britain who claimed Jewish ancestry. Howard inspired Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies.

Brian Howard, son of American expatriates in Britain whose ancestry is surprising. Howard inspired the bright young things of Evelyn Waugh’s writing.

Just how ‘Rooskie’ was Rostovskii himself? Rostovskii ran in the same circles as Aleister Crowley, who MI5 considered a bone fide Soviet agent by 1933. According to Richard Spence in Secret Agent 666, Crowley’s intelligence specialty was infiltrating political movements and destroying them, otherwise known as being an agent provocateur. Given Crowley’s pattern of provocation in Golden Dawn in the 1900s; and then again amongst German spy networks in NYC during WWI; it seems reasonable to surmise that by the mid thirties Crowley was disrupting communist and socialist networks in the UK. That means his intelligence buddies, like Tom Driberg, were probably in the same business.

But why would a Soviet diplomatic attaché want to associate with a used-up hack like Crowley and his intel buddies? Rostovskii and Crowley were likely collaborators during the lead up to the Russian Revolution in 1917, which resulted in the installation of the Bolshevik government. Rostovskii and The Beast had good reason to protect the communist and socialist movements in the U.K. from elements which Bolshevik apparatchiks and British investors couldn’t control.

How did this strange pairing of Bolsheviks and British millionaires come about?

Rich Brits, the Brits who controlled the intelligence sphere, were opposed to the Tsar. As Richard Spence writes in his biography of Crowley, “The Empire of the Tsar was Britain’s most dangerous international rival and potential enemy.” In 1896 Crowley was *probably* recruited by British Intelligence with the Russian theater in mind; his first missions were to Russia (1897, 1910, 1913) and Crowley always had his eye open for signs of revolution in the Russian Empire. (See Secret Agent 666). Of course, Crowley’s dalliances with the Russian theater during these missions caught Mikhail Bulkagov’s attention.

I strongly suspect that MI6 gained control of German-funded political agitator Leon Trotsky as fallout from the fighting between German and British spooks in the USA during WWI. Crowley was part of this fighting: he posed as a rabidly pro-Kaiser pundit in newspapers which targeted the German-American population while working to undermine German interests stateside, see Secret Agent 666.

According to the Guardian in 2001, documents released by Britain’s Public Records Office (which I haven’t seen) show that in February 1917 Trotsky was arrested by MI5 in Canada while making his way from New York City to Russia with “with $10,000 subscribed by Socialists and Germans”. Trotsky was quickly released on orders from Britain’s MI6, which allowed him to carry on to Russia… the rest is history.

Crowley was heavily involved in breaking up and taking over the US-based German spy networks which, judging by the British Public Records releases, are likely to have supported Trotsky. Trotsky’s success would have put men like Rostovskii in power. There’s no good reason to believe that Rostovskii and Crowley were working against each other with respect to Britain’s domestic political scene in 1933.

What’s more, Anglo-American-Soviet relations were close by 1933: President F.D. Roosevelt had been elected the previous November and officially recognized the USSR. Later, FDR – a good friend to both Stalin and the British– would ensure the USSR’s continued existence by secretly giving Stalin huge amounts of American technology and funding (see Lend Lease and Harry Dexter White). The American Ambassador to Moscow (1933-36), William Christian Bullitt, was very friendly to the Soviets and negotiated sweet business deals with them– he also inspired Bulgakov’s send-up of American intervention in Soviet Russia: the Spring Ball of the Full Moon in Master and Margarita. Was Rostovskii’s boss, the Soviet Ambassador to London Ivan Maiskii, any less business-friendly? His “unparalleled access to the British establishment” would suggest not.

Fresh from the USSR, William Bullitt lets FDR take questions during a 1937 cruise.

Fresh from the USSR, William Bullitt lets FDR take questions during a 1937 cruise.

Far from being enemies, Crowley, FDR, Churchill, Rostovskii and Maiskii– and lesser mortals like Tom Driberg– were all batting for the same team. From what I can tell, Semen Rostovskii, the recruiter of the “Cambridge Five”, was surrounded by a mess of British double agents and informers. When a network has a couple of agent provocateurs, it’s compromised. When a network is one seething mass of agent provocateurs, it’s managed opposition. Rostovskii was probably working with Crowley and his MI6 buds to control Britain’s domestic socialist and communist movements, and possibly to prevent them being used by other spy outfits. Rostovskii’s collaboration with British intelligence is probably also why the Cambridge Five’s fifth member has been so elusive.

Driberg will get his own post shortly, because he’s the prototype of our current obnoxious lefty gossip columnists like Gawker’s Nick Denton and Rolling Stone’s Jann Wenner. I think, readers, that Crowley recruited Driberg out of Oxford for the British in much the same way Crowley was recruited out of Cambridge– the other ‘elite’ U.K. university. This is how Wheen describes that campus meeting, which lead Crowley to anoint Driberg as the one to “succeed him as the Great Beast”:

As well as favorable notices from the university magazines, Tom’s concert [a poetry reading at Oxford in the summer of 1927, ‘Homage to Beethoven’] was noticed in the next issue of the Sunday Times, under the heading ‘Musical Innovation’. For the second time in as many months the names of Driberg and Christ Church appeared in the national press in a context that cannot have pleased the college authorities. The Sunday Times item was also drawn to the attention of Aleister Crowley, the legendary black magician who rejoiced in the title of ‘the wickedest man in the world’ or, more concisely, ‘The Great Beast’. It is not certain why Crowley was so interested in the report of ‘Homage to Beethoven'; perhaps word had reached him that Tom’s weird lyrics included references to Beelzebub. Whatever the reason, Crowley invited Tom to lunch at the Tour Eiffel restaurant in Percy Street… The two men met again from time to time after this lunch…

Yet it was Tom who made money out of Crowley, not vice versa. By rather dubious means he acquired Crowley’s manuscript diary, which recorded his daily magical and sexual doings; many years later Tom sold this for a handsome sum to Jimmy Page, the guitarist with the rock group Led Zeppelin. [These could easily be the sex diaries that Ken Anger and Alfred Kinsey were looking for in the 1950s.– a.nolen.] In 1973 Tom raised more money by auctioning at Christie’s several volumes presented to him by Crowley. They included a copy of the Book of the Law, inscribed ‘To True Thomas of the Eildon Hills with all best wishes from Boleskine and Alterarff’. In the same lot was a letter from Crowley urging Tom to study the Koran: ‘I also hope that you will be pleased by the sincerity and simplicity of the Mohammedan faith , and learn up the words, so as not to make any more howlers like “Moslems”.

This is how Spence describes Driberg’s relation to The Beast:

Arguably, Crowley’s most important contact in the British Left was Tom Driberg. The Beast had known him since the mid-1920s, when Driberg was an Oxford student and aspiring occultist. They re-established contact when Crowley came back to London in summer 1932. In the years to come, the talkative Driberg made various wild claims about his relationship with the Beast, including being Crowley’s named heir.

Readers will remember that Rostovskii began recruiting the ‘Cambridge Five’ in 1933.

In conclusion, the Brits are known for their ‘double crossing’ and using enemy agents to British ends; they claim a perfect record of this against the Germans in WWII. Practice makes perfect. I’ll also point out that it’s a lot easier to run a double against an enemy if that enemy is only hostile a fraction of the time. Semen Rostovskii, the recruiter of the “Cambridge Five”, seems to have protected British and American interests against the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics via the World Marxist Review. Could it be that Rostovskii’s ‘Cambridge Five’ were a bunch of spooks who the Brits didn’t ‘double cross’ very well? Whatever the answer, we can be sure that Rostovskii was a ‘champion of freedom’ in the same vein as Aleister Crowley, Winston Churchill, Tom Driberg and Eugene Kaspersky.



P.S. For more information on how wealthy Brits and Americans subsidized the Bolshevik Revolution, please see Is The Devil a German? and A Death in Finland. For more information on how Rostovskii’s protection of CIA strategy allowed the agency to regroup under the Playboy banner, see A.C. Spectorsky and the CFF 2.0, as well as An American Pravda I, II and III.

[1] Regular readers will remember Driberg as Mick Jagger’s political handler, and the Member of Parliament who George Orwell denounced to the Information Research Department as “’Homosexual’, ‘Commonly thought to be an underground member [of the Communist Party]’, and ‘English Jew’.” (All true, according to Driberg’s biographer Francis Wheen.)

Benny’s New Job!

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

The next phase in Benny Johnson’s career comes with a big slice of humble pie. BuzzFeed’s disgraced pseduo-conservative ex-editor has taken a job with IJReview, the outfit that cost him his position with Jonah Peretti.

Way, way back in July Johnson unleashed a firestorm of scorn onto himself by lashing out at IJReview for plagiarizing his article on George Bush Sr.’s footwear. Within hours two mysterious, anonymous bloggers, @crushingbort and @blippoblappo, attacked Johnson for plagiarism. Less than two days later Johnson’s BuzzFeed bosses had fired him and alerted their ‘competitor’ Gawker.

Why was BuzzFeed so eager to rid themselves of Benny? Probably because they have similar funding to IJReview, which is basically a Bush family concern that’s managed by heir apparent Jeb– you can read all about it in Who Did Benny Johnson Tick Off? (BTW, IJReview relied heavily on BuzzFeed for promotion in 2013.)

Johnson’s role at BuzzFeed was to be the ‘conservative straw man’, he played into common liberal prejudices about what conservatives ought to be: racist, homophobic, xenophobic, etc.. Benny was the ‘antithesis’ to the typical ‘thesis’ lib contributor at BuzzFeed, and Benny was very good at his job.

Of particular interest to me was Benny’s ‘snuff piece‘ on Snowden, in which he interviewed three separate ‘intelligence community’ sickos who fantasized about killing Edward after the ‘leaks’. US intelligence agent Edward Snowden made sure to draw particular attention to Benny’s snuff article during an interview with German NDR television— which means that the ‘intelligence community’ planted Benny’s piece and wanted it to get maximum public exposure.

You guessed it: Benny’s owned by the ‘IC’. To my mind, that makes what happened with IJReview even more interesting, because the Bushes are a CIA family. (Bush Sr.– Jeb’s dad– ran the agency after William Colby. Bush Sr. would have been involved in releasing the final MK ULTRA documentation to John Marks.)

IJReview (IJR) is not a respected outlet, it’s considered a clickbait generator and I’d never heard of it before Benny got on his high horse about plagiarism. IJR is fronted by Alex Skatell  and Phil Musser, it’s part of their election-molding toolkit called ‘Media Group of America’.

Phil Musser was a campaign staffer for US Senator Mel Martinez, a Cuban-American power-broker who ran the fabulously corrupt Housing and Urban Development Dept. before his overt political career. Mel Martinez got his start in government by being a “pragmatic” friend of Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

So what do you think Benny’s career at IJReview is going to look like?

Yeah, and there’s more ‘Republican’ posturing:

Of course Benny’s already started on the familiar barrage of mindless drivel :

This is more of the same belittling coverage of conservatives and libertarians that was Johnson’s BuzzFeed bread-and-butter. It appears that one aspect of IJReview’s strategy is to promote ‘big government’ Republicanism.

Given Jeb’s backing, it’s not surprising that media buddies– and Senator buddies– are giving the disgraced Benny Johnson airtime:

In conclusion, we can expect Benny to morph into a slightly less edgy, Bush-style Republican stooge ready to kiss Jeb’s butt at IJR. If there is a silver lining for Benny it’s that IJR presents an easy opportunity to make himself look like a media magician. If Benny just treads water, i.e. continues doing what he did at BuzzFeed, then Jeb’s content aggregator will already be ‘one up’. I bet Jeb got Benny at a discount price too.

A final piece of weirdness: the @BennyJohnson twitter account went silent after July 24th last year. Benny never commented on his firing, nor on any of the baiting, snarking, tooth-gnashing that followed. I admire your forbearance, Benny.

Last August, I speculated that the reason for his silence was an iron-clad contract with Peretti which included some type of gag and which made the ‘@BennyJohnson’ twitter account company property. (After all, it was BuzzFeed’s ‘cache’ that built Benny’s audience.)

You’ll notice that Benny’s now tweeting from the same @BennyJohnson account on behalf of the IJReview. Why would Peretti let Johnson take his microphone over to a trashy outfit like IJR? The only way I can see that move making sense is if a massive amount of money changed hands, or if IJReview and Peretti share patronage.

I think it’s most likely that Benny’s continuing his mission over at IJReview, which he’ll mold into his own image. Having Benny at BuzzFeed was, perhaps, just a little too obviously ‘Hegelian‘. Benny’s presence may have forced the zombies on Peretti’s staff to question what they were all doing under one roof. That’s bad tradecraft herdsmanship. Now that Benny is free to pilot IJReview, Jeb’s faltering media investment will get a shot at becoming the ‘Conservatarian‘ BuzzFeed. #YOLO.


P.S. IJReview isn’t the only outfit giving Benny Johnson a second chance.  National Review has made him a contributor too! (Though Johnson hasn’t contributed since January… problems?) Benny does the same trashy ‘numbered list’ articles for NR that he owned over at BuzzFeed.

Why National Review?

Well, here’s one clue: In his National Review column journalist Andrew Stuttaford regularly reblogs writing by ‘ex-spook’ Dr. John R. Schindler— the NSA pundit who torpedoed his own career last year (kinda like Benny). Also like Benny, Schindler has a remarkable ability to draw the ire of Gawker’s J.K. Trotter. The ex-spook is now ‘taking the fight to Putin‘ with an espionage-themed column for Mohammad Zahoor’s The Kyiv Post. Things could always be worse, Benny.

What is Kaspersky Lab?

Founder 'Eugene' Kaspersky owns the logo.

Founder ‘Eugene’ Kaspersky owns the logo in 1991 2012.

On Monday I read for the first time about something that Kaspersky Lab, a Russian anti-virus software company, calls the “Equation Group“. The Equation Group is the latest ‘tech scare’ coming from the NSA– sorry, that Kaspersky strongly suggests comes from the NSA. The NSA’ers are back and they’re more devious than you’ve ever seen them before!

My understanding is that Kaspersky Lab has not uncovered previously unknown spying tools, but has found out interesting details about already identified ones. For instance, the NSA developed thumb drive software that detects when the drive is used in computers which don’t have an internet connection (this helps the NSA map ‘air-gapped’ computer systems); and software that runs at such a basic level that it can’t be erased, or even monitored on your computer, so that the NSA has your machine forever. You can read Kaspersky’s press release here, but this is the pertinent quote:

The Equation group is probably one of the most sophisticated cyber attack groups in the world; and they are the most advanced threat actor we have seen.

Kaspersky’s revelations are often trumpeted in the American press, for instance, the American-Israeli STUXNET virus that ‘got away’ and endangered every nuclear reactor on the planet. ‘Equation Group’  is no exception: Wired, Ars Technica, International Business Times, etc. have all sounded off on the NSA’s latest super-villain weapons. You’ll remember Wired as the outfit that let Kevin Poulsen write an article about his fellow Freedom of the Press Foundation Technical Advisory Board member, Runa Sandvik, and her TOR party with Snowden.

The American press associates three adjectives with the Equation group: “sophisticated”, “threat”, “expensive”. It *appears* that Kaspersky Lab has just cost the NSA a lot of money. On Monday I wondered if Kaspersky had experienced any retaliation from this, so I posted the following question on the blog of Kaspersky Lab’s lead researcher Costin Raiu:

This report and the work you detail in the post are awesome achievements Costin; congrats to you and the team at Kaspersky. Have you or Kaspersky Labs received any blowback from either the US government, or any organization, for making these revelations?

Although Costin makes an admirable effort to address the questions which are posted on his blog– no matter how trivial– he hasn’t touched this one and I’m beginning to think he never will. I suspect the reason is because Kaspersky hasn’t received any (real) blowback.

I’ll remind readers that the NSA likes to ‘leak’ about it’s vast technical superiority. The first NSA leaks ever, Perry Fellwock’s leaks, were sensationalist accounts of the NSA’s masterful capabilities against the struggling Russians; they were also leaked to David Horowitz, who was/is probably an American intel asset. You could view ‘Snowden’s revelations’ as a backhanded compliment to the NSA too– they don’t seem to have inspired self-examination in the ‘intelligence community’. And now, in 2015, we have a Russian firm proselytizing.

A KGB-tainted Russian firm, no less.

Bloomberg News, America’s portal to the business world, recently accused Kaspersky Lab founder, Evgeny ‘Eugene’ Kaspersky, of having KGB ties. The article says that Kaspersky Lab only investigates American espionage outfits, not Russian ones. Kaspersky posted a typical reply saying that US investigator FireEye, a CIA-funded In-Q-Tel concern, did all the work on Russian threats for them: “FireEye did some great research, so publishing our own after theirs made no sense.”

In the Midwest, we call this ‘one hand washing the other’.

Bloomberg’s KGB accusations are actually not the first against Kaspersky. Wired’s Noah Shachtman broke the ice in 2012:

But Kaspersky’s rise is particularly notable—and to some, downright troubling—given his KGB-sponsored training, his tenure as a Soviet intelligence officer, his alliance with Vladimir Putin’s regime, and his deep and ongoing relationship with Russia’s Federal Security Service, or FSB.

Back in 2012 Kaspersky wrote a blog post denying these allegations, and frankly, Shachtman doesn’t seem to have slowed Kaspersky down. Right now, in 2015, many Western media outfits like the New York Observer, PC Magazine, The Moscow Times have already given  ‘Eugene’ a platform from which to refute Bloomberg’s claims. (The English-speaking public has a long history of coping with the Russian name Evgeny, so to me the use of ‘Eugene’ seems disingenuous and smarmy.)

I consider the ruckus around Kaspersky’s KGB ties to be evidence of the US media’s extreme cynicism and hypocrisy. Of course Kaspersky has KGB ties. Guess what? He’s also got ties with the NSA. Back in early 2014, Kaspersky was on the bandwagon screaming that Snowden was a “traitor” who “belongs in the ninth circle of hell”; Kaspersky behaved just like ex-NSA head Michael Hayden and MI5 hag Dame Stella Rimington. Kaspersky went on record saying that his Lab wouldn’t hire Snowden nearly one year before I, and probably most laypeople, had seen through Edward. This makes me suspect that Kaspersky’s relation to the NSA and/or the CIA is of the ‘contractor‘ nature. I’ll go out on a limb and say that the NSA likes Kaspersky’s KGB ties and probably encourages the anti-virus oligarch to snuggle up to the Kremlin as much as possible– then come Stateside for a cup’a joe.

What Bloomberg should be asking is not whether Kaspersky Lab has KGB ties, but to which espionage outfit he’d side with on the occasion that the NSA’s and the FSB’s interests collide. As I’ve written elsewhere, these two espionage operations have strong incentives to cooperate (for instance, manipulating Islamic extremists) and have obviously done so with respect to Edward Snowden; if the Rooskies were 100% antagonistic to the Americans, they’d have sent Edward home with a white cone on his head. (Which makes the forced landing of the Bolivian diplomatic plane in 2013 a meaningless bit of theater, doesn’t it?)

Click for Kaspersky's "Equation Group" Victim's Map. The only "Islamic Scholars" targeted are in the USA and the U.K.

Click for Kaspersky’s “Equation Group” Victims Map. The only “Islamic Scholars” targeted are in the USA and the U.K.; i.e. the ones we let in.

The FSB/KGB and NSA/CIA cooperation has sound historical precedents too, the CIA’s founders–particularly William Donovan– actively sought to cultivate partnerships with Russian intelligence agencies and to hide these partnerships from Congress and the American people. Donovan worked with the Rooskies on the sly because J. Edgar Hoover advised him to: Hoover understood that such partnerships would be (correctly) identified as contrary to the public interest. The OSS and its daughter, the CIA, have always existed to lie to and manipulate the voting public; little has changed.

I believe that all of the KGB connections which Wired and Bloomberg accuse Kaspersky of are true. However, the American media– which is deeply captured by US intelligence– has given Kaspersky more than ample opportunity to refute these claims. I’ll also point out that Kaspersky keeps some high-level company, according to Noah Shachtman at Wired:

Over the past 72 hours, Kaspersky explains, he flew from Mexico to Germany and back to take part in another conference. “Kissinger, McCain, presidents, government ministers” were all there, he says. “I have panel. Left of me, minister of defense of Italy. Right of me, former head of CIA. I’m like, ‘Whoa, colleagues.'”

Bloomberg take note: “Whoa, colleagues.”

In his biography Honorable Men, William Colby, the CIA chief who cooperated with KGB assets, strongly suggests that Henry Kissinger also cooperated with Russian heavies and kept the CIA in the dark about the cooperation— Colby says he doesn’t blame Kissinger for doing so! My point is, at the top of the pile there’s little to distinguish KGB from CIA from NSA from FSB. It’s all about who is useful when– the little people on the bottom are just collateral damage.

Our government doesn’t have to be this way; but in order to fix things the general public needs to understand the nature of the people who are exploiting them. I’m going to continue writing about Kaspersky to that goal, but my post on Colby’s second wife, The Ambassadress, deals with the same ‘sickness’.

When Kaspersky isn’t hobnobbing with Henry Kissinger or ex-CIA chiefs, he’s beating the American porn industry on its own turf: the US legal system. Kaspersky recently “won” a case brought by an Ad agency that claimed “trade libel” because Kaspersky blocked their software on obscenity grounds– a Washington judge threw the case out. Usually in the USA, porn wins by wrapping itself in the flag while its ‘amen choir’ in the media sing “Free Speech!”. It looks like this Russian can trump pornographers’ interests.

Kaspersky’s ‘anti-virus’ products are selling well in the USA; his company has a strong American presence; he’s been lauded by the American chamber of Commerce in Moscow. Kaspersky has been flattered as a ‘Top 100 Global Thinker‘ by Foreign Policy magazine (US government mouthpiece); Kaspersky was named a “top innovator” by CRN, which “salutes the most influential and innovative channel executives in North America“; and ‘Eugene’ won the V3 Technology Award, just like Steve Jobs. But that’s not all: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev gave Kaspersky the Russian Federation National Award in Science and Technology; he’s won China’s National Friendship Award; and he’s been granted an honorary doctorate from the U.K.’ s Plymouth University.

In fact, Kaspersky Lab’s holding company is registered in the United Kingdom and Kaspersky’s first wife and business partner Natalya (not ‘Natalie’) was trained in the early 1990s by the U.K.’s Open University. Most Russians were struggling to find food when Natalya was getting her British degree– and most British billionaires were looking for an ‘in’ on Yeltsin’s corrupt privatizations.

On closer inspection Kaspersky Lab looks more like an Anglo-American multinational than a Russian firm. (Natalya’s corporate offshoot is now heavily invested in German tech companies.) Kaspersky’s ex has also come out in support of Putin’s internet censorship, according to The New York Times:

Natalya Kaspersky, chief executive of InfoWatch, a software company that provides data protection services, said some new restrictions were needed in Russia to protect children and that the fears of government censorship seemed overblown.

“We might argue if such ‘black list’ approach is efficient in the modern Internet assuming the sites might quickly move to another address,” Ms. Kaspersky wrote in an e-mail. “However, it is better than nothing.”

She added, “Right now we have a tremendous freedom of speech in mass media, with no prohibited topics at all.”

If Natalya had changed her name to ‘Natalie Casperson”, she’d probably be sitting on McAffe’s board right now!

I think I’ve made my point about Kaspersky’s backing. Kaspersky is particularly useful because of his KGB roots: unsophisticated people will assume ‘KGB-aligned’ means ‘not American controlled’. The next question is: how is ‘Eugene’ using the platform he’s been given?

When Kaspersky isn’t blogging about his exotic holidays, he’s calling for global cooperation to combat internet “threat actor” abuses. We all need to band together to protect a couple of thousand “prestigious” targets from NSA attacks– no doubt by installing products that Kaspersky will have designed. In 2012 at the ITU Telecom World conference, Kaspersky gave his audience an idea of what such products might look like:

In his keynote address, Eugene Kaspersky described the essential measures to protect industrial control systems. A new, secure unit to obtain trusted workflow information is the first step towards an efficient protection against cyber-warfare. In response to such challenges, Kaspersky Lab is working on a Secure Operating System, which will serve as the trusted node for Industrial Control Systems.

That was one year before Snowden told the world about the NSA’s horrific industrial espionage capability. Kaspersky was already positioning himself to benefit from the fallout.

There are a couple of things going on with Kaspersky’s ‘Equation’ revelations: 1) the NSA is continuing its decades-long propaganda offensive by touting its technology dominance vis-a-vis Russia; 2) Kaspersky is engaging in ‘elite-targeted propaganda’ to build a climate of fear; and 3) Kaspersky is ‘astroturfing’– he’s trying to set himself up as an organic political alternative to abusive American technology companies. Those three points need a little fleshing out.

1) In Adrian Chen’s career-ending article on Perry Fellwock, he says this about the first NSA leaker’s information in Ramparts magazine:

And there, in 1972, was a rogue analyst, some kid in his 20s, describing the NSA’s business down to the colors of the badges worn at its headquarters. Winslow Peck [Perry Fellwock] claimed that the NSA had broken all of the Soviets’ codes…

Of course, ‘Snowden’s revelations’ are also a sneaky compliment to the US intelligence community’s ability to intrude on the privacy of everyone. Now Kaspersky is following suit with “the most advanced threat actor we have seen”.

What does the NSA get out of blowing its own horn? I’ll speculate that the tools we hear about through Kaspersky are tools which have already been compromised in some way, as Thomas Fox Brewster reports in Forbes. Also, GCN reports:

The Kaspersky revelations are not the first time firmware reprogramming has been mentioned in relation to the NSA. In December 2013, German magazine Der Spiegel published a lengthy investigative piece on the activities of the NSA, which had several months earlier been shown to have intercepted the mobile phone conversations of a number of state leaders, including that of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

As a part of that investigation, the magazine detailed the contents of what it called the NSA’s Spy Catalog, a years-in-the-making collection of NSA-developed malware and surveillance hardware. That included, according to documents the magazine obtained, “spyware capable of embedding itself unnoticed into hard drives manufactured by Western Digital, Seagate and Samsung.”

During the Cold War, US strategists liked to tout their nuclear superiority as a ‘deterrent’ to the use of nuclear weapons (they say). Could the NSA be trying to demoralize their opponents (domestic and international) with claims of “omnipotence”? Or are they working with their industry partners to see which ‘suspect’ organizations are sending in orders to replace products from the following (Equation-compromised) tech companies: Seagate, Samsung, Western Digital, Toshiba, Micron?

2) Perhaps the best reason for the NSA to ‘out’ its own tech superiority is to drum up money for more research. Maybe the NSA’s ‘leak’ game with Kaspersky is about “elite targeted propaganda”, like the 1950 National Security Council Report-68 (NSC-68) which journalist Alex Doherty says was used to browbeat skeptical US elites into supporting massive Cold War military spending. Wall Street Journal writer Henry A. Crumpton got in on this act three days after Kaspersky’s “Equation” revelations by whining about how the USA is losing tech superiority to Islamic terrorists– a “weakness of our own making” because of budget deadlock!

Are Kaspersky’s ‘revelations’ about drumming up more funding for NSA spooks, which in turn drums up more demand for Kaspersky’s “leadership” and security products? I strongly suspect so.

3) Astroturfing is a political strategy whereby establishment actors try to present their interests as those of honest, grass-roots political activists. In his reply to Noah Shachtman’s 2012 Wired article, Kaspersky says the following:

And finally, the very mission of our company is to fight cyber-crime all around the world – together with our colleagues in the industry. We don’t do it just because it happens to be our business; we also do it because we believe that protecting the world from malware is critically important and will continue to allow us to live in a better, safer, more open and effective society. It’s our underlying principle by which we stand firmly and always will.

You see, Kaspersky isn’t in business for the money or power, he made himself a billionaire out of altruism!

Kaspersky ends his reply to WIRED's Noah Shachtman with this emboldened statement: "I’m just a man who’s “here to save the world”."

Kaspersky ends his reply to Wired’s Noah Shachtman with this emboldened statement: “I’m just a man who’s “here to save the world”.”

In the real world Kaspersky is setting himself up to be managed opposition to NSA abuses; the NSA probably believes Kaspersky is believable in this role because he’s Russian therefore ‘not controlled by Americans’. He just wants to save the world like the Americans… Someday soon we’ll hear how Kaspersky is funding an open-source initiative that ‘wards off’ NSA intrusions.

In conclusion, Kaspersky is an American asset who’s hiding behind the heavy perfume of a Russian corporation. I’m not trying to imply that the NSA is not an abusive organization; I am saying that managed opposition figures like Kaspersky are as untrustworthy as the NSA. If the Snowden debacle has taught us anything, it’s that US citizens need to redefine how we view the world. It’s not about ‘Russia vs. America’, nor even ‘CIA vs. KGB’. It’s about plutocrats versus the groups of people they leech off of; it’s about parasites trying to remain invisible to their hosts. Anything that Kaspersky recommends to protect against NSA abuses *is not the answer*. If you want intelligent advice about internet security, I’d go to guys like Poul-Henning Kamp.

An American Pravda, Part III

Timothy Leary's mug shot prior to his jail break and flight to Algeria.

Timothy Leary’s mug shot prior to his jail break and flight to Algeria.

About a year ago I came across an article titled “Timothy Leary and the CIA” by Walter H. Bowart, who wrote a book about MK ULTRA one year before John Marks did, but did so with Marks’ help. Bowart’s book, Operation Mind Control (1978), was based on personal accounts of brainwashing from people Bowart found through classified advertisements in Rolling Stone and Soldier of Fortune magazines. (Rolling Stone was the home of CIA chief William Colby’s pet literary agent David Obst.)

In “Timothy Leary and the CIA” Bowart describes an interview he conducted with Leary in prison after Leary’s stunt in Algeria with Eldridge Cleaver, which Playboy covered in ’71. I’ll point out that not just anybody can get access to prisoners like Leary; especially if that ‘anybody’ writes things which the US government doesn’t like. Here’s the pertinent part of Bowart’s reported interview, taken from “” as archived by the Wayback Machine:

“Have you ever knowingly worked for the CIA?” I [W.H. Bowart] asked.

“If I were working for the CIA,” he [Timothy Leary] said, ” I would have ten people working making a living exposing me. If I were the CIA, I’d own New Republic. I’d own The New Masses. I’d own Rolling Stone. I’d have 50 groups of people exposing the CIA…” “Do you think CIA people were involved in your group in the sixties?” I asked. Without hesitating Leary said, “Of course they were. I would say that eighty percent of my movements, eighty percent of the decisions I made were suggested to me by CIA people…

Of course, Bowart could be lying, Leary could be lying. I can’t speak to either man’s motivation, however, what Leary described is a well-known political manipulation strategy. The ‘Hegelian Dialectic’ strategy, which I last wrote about with regard to Benny Johnson, necessitates controlling all ‘sides’ of an argument– that means controlling all sources of information. When presented with a carefully chosen array of information, a rational person will be compelled to draw the desired conclusion while still believing they are forming their own opinion, which is the gold standard for behavior conditioning. The Hegelian Dialectic doesn’t work if, say, there’s only one news agency: there has to be a CNBC, a FOX, a CNN, etc. There has to be the appearance of diversity.

I can’t know if Leary was lying in the quote above, but I can do a thought experiment like the one Poul Henning-Kamp did for the intelligence community’s involvement in open-source software, which allowed him to predict HEARTBLEED. Would the CIA, an organization which barters in information, benefit from implementing the Hegelian Dialect in American media? Of course they would. What’s more, we know that the Agency did this in Europe during the Cold War… which brings me back to Playboy.

The only reason I was able to put Playboy’s selection of featured writers into context was because I had read a book called The Cultural Cold War by Frances Stonor Saunders. Saunders introduced me to the 1960s culture-industry names which popped up so many times on Playboy covers; her book is the ‘gold standard’ exposé of the CIA’s anti-Kremlin leftist crusade in Europe after WWII.

Who is Frances Stonor Saunders? She’s the daughter of a disinherited British noblewoman and commoner Donald Robin Slomnicki Saunders; she’s a BBC radio host; and was arts editor at The New Statesman, a British magazine known for its one-time mindless support of Stalin and for being used by the KGB as late as 1994 to place “anti-American” propaganda. That’s the story.

As a person, Frances Stonor Saunders bears extreme bitterness: her writing seethes with hatred for the German people; conservatives; and all fellow lefties whose opinions don’t match her own. There are very few people for whom Frances doesn’t have contempt. However, in The Cultural Cold War Frances shows an uncharacteristic, child-like admiration for Ramparts magazine, as well as the ‘Beat writers’ including Allen Ginsberg; theater wild-child Kenneth Tynan; Norman Mailer; Indian politician Jawaharlal Nehru; John Kenneth Galbraith; and director Stanley Kubrick. These chosen people are the world’s hope in the face of blundering CIA aggression, according to Frances. In her own words:

With the rise of the New Left and the Beats, the cultural outlaws who had existed on the margins of American society now entered the mainstream, bringing with them a contempt for what William Burroughs called a ‘sniveling, mealy-mouthed tyranny of bureaucrats, social workers, psychiatrists and union officials… Alan Ginsberg, who in his 1956 lament Howl had mourned the wasted years– ‘I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness’– now advocated the joys of open homosexuality and hallucinogenic ‘Peyote solitudes’. Munching LSD, singing the body electric, reading poetry in the nude, navigating the world through a mist of benzedrine and dope, the Beats reclaimed Walt Whitman from stiffs like Norman Pearson Holmes, and sanctified him as the original hippy. They were scruffy rebels who sought to return chaos to order, in contrast to the obsession with formulae which characterized magazines like Encounter [CIA funded ‘non-communist left’ magazine –a.nolen]. (p. 361)


It [Quest, the CCF publication in India] probably didn’t deserve J. K. Galbraith’s sneer that ‘it broke new ground in ponderous, unfocused illiteracy’. Certainly Prime Minister Nehru didn’t like it, as he always distrusted the Congress as an ‘American front’. (The Cultural Cold War, p 216)

Of course, readers will remember all those names from my analysis of Playboy’s featured authors: Spectorsky and the CCF 2.0, Part I, Part II. All Saunder’s ‘heroes’ were lauded by the CIA’s Playboy outfit, too.

Saunders agrees with the CIA on more than just Beat writers. She places the blame for CIA excesses at the feet of James Angleton and his ‘crew’ through well-chosen quotes from Allen Ginsberg’s writing:

Allen Ginsberg even fantasized that T.S. Eliot was part of a literary conspiracy mounted by his, Eliot’s, friend James Jesus Angleton. In a 1978 sketch called ‘T.S. Eliot Entered My Dreams’, Ginsberg imagined that ‘On the fantail of a boat to Europe, Eliot was reclining… “And yourself, “ I [Ginsberg] said, “What do you think of the domination of poetics by the CIA. After all, wasn’t Angleton your friend?”

In Saunder’s quote, Ginsberg goes on to opine: “The subsidization of magazines like Encounter which held Eliotic style as a touchstone of sophistication and competence… failed to create an alternative free vital decentralized individualistic culture. Instead, we had the worst of Capitalist Imperialism”. (p 249)

By ‘Eliotic’ Saunders means ‘in the style of T.S. Eliot’. Saunders presents Ginsberg’s imaginings as though they contain fact; she goes on to support Ginsberg’s assertions by making assertions of her own: a James-Angleton-CIA-literary-conspiracy caused Ezra Pound to be awarded the Bollinger Prize. (You can read her theory in The Cultural Cold War.)

What Saunders fails to mention is that both Eliot and Pound lead their field before the OSS was a twinkle in Stephenson’s eye. Despite modern judgments about their politics, these men were stars of the last literary generation not deeply captured by the intelligence community. What’s important about Saunders’ stance on Eliot and Pound is that she knows it’s a ‘safe’ stance to take: bashing them is not going to anger her patrons. Who are Saunders’ patrons?

It may strike readers as odd that Saunders, who spent years researching how the CIA co-opted the post-WWII literary community, would put so much naive trust in the Beat writers, who were promoted by outfits like The Paris Review which Saunders herself identified as a CIA front. Experience would suggest prudence and caution when dealing with the ‘Beats’, yet the thought that Allen Ginsberg might be just corrupt as CIA literary golden-boy Peter Matthiessen never flutters across Saunders’ consciousness.

It may also seem stupid that Saunders would blame the CIA’s counterintelligence chief for ‘anti-communist left’ abuses that clearly originate from something like the CIA’s “Special Communications Programs” division. I mean really, Frances, James Jesus Angleton only had 24 hours in his day and by the time the CCF got rolling he had other things to worry about.

I say Saunders’ position ‘seems stupid’, because of course Frances Stonor Saunders is following a well-trodden CIA path when she blames Agency excesses on Angleton: every official ‘exposer’ does this, from John Marks to Tom Mangold. James Angleton’s legacy is the black hole that CIA propagandists throw their garbage into. Bill Colby started that practice in the ’70s.

In writing The Cultural Cold War, Frances Stonor Saunders protected the legacy of CIA assets like Allen Ginsberg at the expense of CIA assets like T. S. Eliot. Frances Stonor Saunders promoted the same ‘intellectuals’ as Playboy promoted 40 years before in response to the obvious failure of the Congress For Cultural Freedom. Why would a pornography rag care about obscure ‘Beat’ writing? Why would an American pornography rag feature an Indian politician like Jawaharlal Nehru at all– but especially as Playboy’s first ever featured politician? See A.C. Spectorsky and CCF 2.o.

It’s almost as if somebody at the CIA called Frances up and said: “Franny, here’s a list of men who Spectorsky promoted in order to deal with the CCF setback. Write a history of the CCF that justifies Spectorsky’s strategy in hindsight. Can you do that, Franny?”

Now we have The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters.

Frances Stonor Saunders’ intellectual dishonesty puts her in ugly company; it also casts a shadow over her favored leftist publication: Ramparts magazine. But that shadow is just one of many. Ramparts magazine founder Warren Hinckle went to Hugh Hefner, the Playboy front man, for funding. (See Hinckle’s autobiography.) Playboy followed Ramparts’ lead when they published the work of Black supremacist Eldridge Cleaver; both magazines published Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and Paris Review crony Terry Southern, amongst others. Playboy and Ramparts traveled a very similar path… which means that Ramparts traveled a similar path to a CIA front.

Now back to Timothy Leary’s suggestion about the CIA “owning” magazines like Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone prides itself on breaking news stories which are damaging to the US government and ‘intelligence community’. Rolling Stone magazine is an off-shoot of Ramparts: it was founded by two of Warren Hinckle’s employees when Ramparts folded. Rolling Stone’s founders were Jann Wenner and his patron (perhaps better described as ‘handler’) Ralph Gleason, who prior to becoming a Jazz critic, worked for the Office of War Information during WWII. (The ‘intelligence community used Jazz as a cultural weapon abroad.) Ramparts was also the vehicle David Horowitz and Peter Collier used to place Perry Fellwock’s ‘anti-NSA’ leaks in 1972. Ramparts and Rolling Stone have a lineage.

jann wenner

Jann Wenner cofounded Rolling Stone, you can read about his background in this article. Like Gawker’s Nick Denton, Wenner displays extremely narcissistic characteristics: superficially charming; ruthlessly exploitative of employees; with the emotional maturity of a two-year old, according to Salon’s David Weir. Also like Denton, and many media-oriented intelligence professionals, Wenner is homosexual.

There’s a ‘lineage’ between the magazines which are used to leak sensitive intelligence information. Adrian Chen tripped over that lineage when he tried to equate Edward Snowden with Perry Fellwock in Nick Denton’s online publication

Gawker’s coverage of the ‘Snowden Saga’ was designed to encourage apathy in readers: Denton tried to accomplish this by exploiting side-shows, as well as through Adrian Chen’s dismissive coverage of the leaks.

What do I mean by ‘exploiting sideshows’? Denton’s ‘Snowden Saga’ editorial policy was to marginalize concern over the NSA leaks by associating that concern with ‘lunatic fringe’ pundits and their unnewsworthy antics.  Denton employed his own Hegelian Dialect to attempt this marginalization, for example, he covered an obscure squabble between a spooky, pro-NSA Naval War College professor and a nameless blogger, who sparred over the prof’s violation of the Hatch Act by lobbying for the NSA: “unhinged spook” + “small-government wingnut” = “only crazies are concerned about Snowden issues”.

It may interest readers to know that the two protagonists from above took very different paths: the mysterious, nameless “wingnut” stopped blogging (xxtwitterwarcommittee.wordpress) and disappeared shortly before “spook”, John R. Schindler, was fired from his teaching job for personal indiscretions;  Schindler now writes about evil Russian and Iranian espionage in Ukraine via The Kyiv Post, Jed Sunden’s former rag, which is funded by reality t.v. freak Mohammad Zahoor.

Zhanna Kobylinska is the Kyiv Post's interpretation of Rainbow Brite.

Zhanna Kobylinska implements The Kyiv Post’s version of the American propaganda outfit Zunzuneo. She also does PR for a well-connected cult in Kiev.

Denton’s second, more subtle, strategy was to assign Adrian Chen to the ‘Snowden Saga': Chen took the establishment line of promoting Tor, while dismissing Snowden as a misguided idealist, and dismissing privacy fears as overblown. Chen shot himself in the foot with his magnum opus, a lengthy investigative piece that compared Snowden to Perry Fellwock, the first NSA whistleblower, who now thinks he was used and regrets his actions.

In the 1970s Perry Fellwock leaked his NSA information to two Ramparts journalists, David Horowitz and Peter Collier. Adrian Chen got fired because he suggested that David Horowitz was an intelligence agent, and that Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras were too. Chen didn’t know what readers know about the CIA’s ties to Playboy, and the ugly shadow they cast over Ramparts. Chen came very close to writing about the stuff I’ve been writing about for almost a year now, and that cost Chen his job because his editor, Nick Denton, is likely part of the ‘intelligence community’ too. (The pro-outsourcing wing of the ‘intelligence community’ was *best* served by Denton’s editorial policy; the public interest was not served well at all.)

Where is Adrian Chen now? Currently Adrian is a managing editor for The New Inquiry in NYC; I have no idea how he’s supporting himself.

There has been an interesting development with Chen’s old overseer at, John Cook. Soon after Chen was fired, Cook also left Gawker for a position as “Editor in Chief” at billionaire Pierre Omidyar’s The Intercept, which also employs Glenn Greenwald. In a weird twist, Cook quickly left The Intercept and returned to, which is known for notoriously low pay. Cook’s new Gawker title is “Executive Editor for Investigations”– so Denton must have forgiven Cook for letting Adrian’s Fellwock piece print.

Was Cook promoted to his level of incompetence at The Intercept, or did something else sour the beer? Your answer is as good as mine.

I’m going to wind this up by harkening back to Timothy Leary’s observation: “If I were the CIA, I’d own New Republic. I’d own The New Masses. I’d own Rolling Stone. I’d have 50 groups of people exposing the CIA…””

There has been a diverse list of publications mentioned in this post: Ramparts, Playboy, The New Statesman, Rolling Stone, The Intercept,, The Kyiv Post. Regular readers know that I’ve criticized most of these titles over the last few years. If Leary’s right, then I’ve just been criticizing the same thing all along.

I guess the USSR didn’t lose. ;)

An American Pravda, Part II

Playboy's editorial board in 1970: (L-R) BACK Robie Macauley, Nat Lehrman, Richard M. Koff, Murray Fisher, Arthur Kretchmer. FRONT Sheldon Wax, Auguste Comte Spectorsky, Jack Kessie. Thank you, Wikipedia.

Playboy’s editorial board in 1970: (L-R) BACK Robie Macauley, Nat Lehrman, Richard M. Koff, Murray Fisher, Arthur Kretchmer. FRONT Sheldon Wax, Auguste Comte Spectorsky, Jack Kessie. Thank you, Wikipedia.

In Part I of this series I showed how A.C. Spectorsky, Playboy’s link with the “East Coast Establishment”, showcased an inordinate number of intelligence community writers on the magazine’s cover. To give an idea of how just many spooks Spectorsky featured between ’59-’76:  30% of cover-featured contributors had strong intelligence connections and their work represents about 35% of featured stories. [A]

Last time I also looked at Playboy’s weird, Orwellian promotion of racial integration alongside Black nationalism. I’m going to build on this ‘strange bedfellows’ theme today with ‘Billionaires and Communists'; as well as ‘Literary Brahmins and Pulp Publishers’.

Billionaires and Communists

Playboy magazine worships wealth; the ‘playboy lifestyle’ is one of endless, unrelenting consumption. Spectorsky’s biographer Steven Watts speculates that Spectorsky fixated on luxuries was a way of distracting himself from his failed writing career– I think that view is too simplistic. Playboy featured an impressive number of mega-wealthy writers alongside a solid coterie of self-consciously communist ones; what unites these groups is their participation in the ‘intelligence community’.

Who were Playboy’s favorite multimillionaires? J. P. Getty [22 Playboy covers!], the Anglophile oil magnate and antiquities collector, had a special relationship with Spectorsky and contributed on money matters with articles titled “Big Business Booby Traps”, “You Can Make A Million Today” and “How I Made My First Billion”. Needless to say, I don’t put much store by Getty’s financial advice; he’s interesting to me because he (ultimately) funded Kenneth Anger’s ‘Thelema’ cult with the Rolling Stones.

Other Playboy rich-kids are no less interesting: Bennet Cerf [2] was a founder of Random House publishing, one of the largest concerns in an industry known for its cooperation with the OSS and CIA. (See The Irregulars, by Jennet Conant for a start.) Howard Hughes [3] was the Hollywood-and-Aerospace mogul who partnered with the CIA — he was the Agency’s ‘cover billionaire’ for the 1972 ‘Glomar Explorer’ escapade.

Howard Hughes. After an 'accident' in 1946 he went into his personal cinema for four months, never showering, peeing in bottles and eating only chicken. Although he eventually emerged from this 'spell' he was never the same.

Howard Hughes. In 1946, Hughes had an accident testing a reconnaissance plane. After his medical treatment he showed a drastic personality change: Hughes became an eccentric recluse, wore tissue boxes for shoes and only peed into bottles. His business interests were eventually taken over by a group of Mormons.

William Benton [2 covers] was a senator and founder of the radio-heavy advertizing agency Benton & Bowles. He created ‘The Voice of America’ which is a radio news organization and a blatant US propaganda machine. Benton was also a UNESCO ambassador and “the first to propose the motion for expulsion of Joseph McCarthy from the U.S. Senate in 1951”.

Benton’s extensive media holdings provided springboards for other Playboy contributors. Shepherd Mead [4] was Benton’s employee at Benton & Bowles: Mead served as vice president of the ad agency, but found fame and fortune by writing books such as How to succeed in business without really trying; the dastard’s guide to fame and fortune.

Benton & Bowles’ influence, and therefore William Benton’s influence, spread from advertizing into the entertainment business. B&B invented and dominated the “radio soap opera” as a vehicle for placing products. B&B spun the concept out to television with ‘As The World Turns’, a serious money-earner which the firm ran for Proctor & Gamble on CBS.

Many Playboy heavyweights came from CBS in one form or another: Jean Shepherd [12 covers], who is known for his coverage of Playboy contributor Martin Luther King Jr.’s [1] ‘I Have A Dream’ speech, had a nightly radio show on CBS; Robert L. Green [2 covers], Playboy’s fashion director, child psychologist and Washington D.C. public relations guru, had his own CBS radio show; Steve Allen [2], who got his start in radio during WWII, had is own CBS television show; John Crosby [2] who was part of the Army News Service during WWII, also had a CBS t.v. show; Charles Beaumont [4], an early Playboy contributor, wrote for CBS’s The Twilight Zone; Larry Siegel [3] is known for CBS’s The Carol Burnett Show (though this came after his Playboy work); Max Shulman [1]  is known for his CBS TV character ‘Dobie Gillis’; and finally, spooky Los Angeles Science Fiction Society guru Ray Bradbury [13] reached audiences through the CBS Television Workshop in the early 1950s.

For readers unaccustomed to American acronyms, ‘CBS’ stands for ‘Columbia Broadcasting System’ which was founded as a radio broadcaster in New York City in 1927; its television arm was added in 1941. CBS is privately owned– the majority owner is Sumner Redstone (born Sumner Murray Rothstein)– but in practice CBS, along with ABC and NBC, is roughly analogous to Britain’s BBC. The US radio industry has always had close ties to the British and American militaries.

I’m not quite done with William Benton: besides his ad interests, Benton owned Encyclopedia Britannica and had a working relationship with CIA chief Allen Dulles; documents released by the Agency show that Benton allowed the CIA to write chunks of the reference series. EB’s high-ranking employee Mortimer Alder [2 Playboy covers] put together the corporation’s ‘Great Books’ line.

So it seems that being featured in Playboy was something of a ‘perk’ for William Benton’s employees and writers from Benton’s partner CBS.

Swirling around the fabulous wealth represented in Spectorsky’s stables was a radical communist contingent: this shouldn’t be surprising, because Communism, particularly Bolshevism, has always had well-heeled Western backing. Allen Ginsberg [2 covers], the pedophile CIA operative, was a supporter of Fidel Castro [1 cover] (Castro’s father was an international ‘labor broker’ who cruelly exploited imported Haitian workers, as well as native Cuban ones!). Also among Playboy’s ‘communists’ was the conflicted Black supremacist Leroi Jones [1], whose publishing company featured Ginsberg’s and Jack Kerouac’s [3] writing. Jed Birmingham, a William S Burroughs [1 cover] aficionado, writes this about Leroi Jones:

I was especially struck by [Leroi] Jones’ work as an editor. It seems like he had his hands in every major magazine coming out of New York City in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Yugen, Floating Bear, Kulchur. This does not include his founding of Totem Press and that press’s publications with Cornith Books. Jones published Michael McClure, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Frank O’Hara, Charles Olson, Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen, Ed Dorn, Diane Di Prima, and Paul Blackburn.

It seems that Playboy’s second-favorite Black supremacist was well-connected in NYC literary circles!

Other writers in Ginsberg’s circle– though not necessarily as radical as Ginsberg– were Terry Southern [3], who I’ll talk about more in connection with the CIA’s Paris Review; Jerry Yulsman [2] an Army photographer who wrote ‘adult novels'; Dan Wakefield [4] the civil rights reporter who made a name for himself by gushing over ‘All My Children‘, a soap opera of the ilk Benton & Bowles devised; Herbert Gold [13] the Fulbright scholar who took over CIA asset Vladimir Nabokov’s chair at Cornell University; and Alan Harrington [3], the writer known for being a friend of Timothy Leary.

The international wing of Playboy’s post-WWII commies is held up by Evgeny Yevtushenko [3], a cautious Soviet poet who was on the safe side of every thaw; and Germaine Greer [3] a Marxist woman’s lib’er who is still with us.

I’ll remind readers that in his autobiography Colby credited his old OSS friends with the CIA’s ‘anti-communist’ (read anti-Kremlin) offensive; those old OSS’er were disproportionately represented fighting for the communists during the Spanish Civil War. Naturally, Playboy’s communist ties are more ‘old school’ than just post-WWII newbies like Ginsberg. Marquis Childs [2] was an FDR crony and a WWII propagandist; Justice William O. Douglas [2] was one of FDR’s supreme court appointees; Leslie Fiedler [3] was a Trotskyite communist and a WWII intelligence agent who translated Japanese cyphers; Nelson Algren (born Nelson Algren Abraham) [2] was a communist until he decided he liked fellow-traveler Ernest Hemingway [5] and the Paris Review better; Norman Thomas [1] was a CIA asset and the president of the American Socialist Party; Kingsley Amis [2] was a spoiled communist academic until he realized that the money was elsewhere; Pietro di Donato [1] was an Italian scribe with communist sympathies; Frederic Morton [3] (born Fritz Mandelbaum) changed his name to fit in with the NYC labor movement; and my personal favorite, Bernard Wolfe [2] who was Trotsky’s personal secretary (some say bodyguard) in Mexico until Trotsky’s assassination; Wolfe then joined the US Merchant Marines and was appointed as a “military correspondent by a number of science magazines” during WWII. Why not?!

When not wiping the nose of one of history's worse mass-murderes, or writing WWII propaganda for the US military, Wolfe indulged his passion for Hypnosis (1949). Eat your heart out, Travis Taylor.

When not wiping the nose of one of history’s worst mass-murderers, nor writing WWII propaganda for the US military, Wolfe indulged his passion for hypnosis (1949). Later, he found Playboy.

The dizzying list of names and histories above feels quite natural to me, because of what I know about how the Bolshevik revolution was funded and implemented, thanks to the writing Mikhail Bulgakov, Leonid Andreyev and others. To someone unaware of communist revolutionaries’ support from the American and British establishments, the pairing of millionaires and communists may seem incongruent– for more information, I recommend my posts Is the Devil a German? and A Death in Finland. In the meantime, more strange bedfellows…

Literary Brahmins and Pulp Publishers

‘Incongruent’ may also describe Spectorsky’s policy of hiring writers from ‘high-end’ outfits like the CIA’s TIME or the CIA’s Paris Review, as well as low-end magazine mills such as the Magazine Management Company.

I doubt TIME, the CIA’s ‘cosmopolitan’ news and culture mouthpiece, needs an introduction, but the Paris Review is a little less well known. The PR was founded in 1953 by Harold L. Humes, Peter Matthiessen, and George Plimpton as part of the CIA’s Congress for Cultural Freedom. When PR was thoroughly discredited as an independent cultural organ in 2000, its life-long editor Plimpton did not resign, but stayed in situ until he died in 2008– it didn’t seem to bother anybody in America’s literary establishment that this flagship publication was CIA, which ought to tell us all something.

A large number of Playboy contributors wrote for/were profiled by PR, including ‘beat writer’ Jack Kerouac and Leslie Fiedler who debuted his ‘Huck Finn and Jim are Gay‘ theory on PR pages. But PR’s closest tie is to Playboy’s Terry Southern [3], who had a particularly tight relationship to the Paris Review. Southern’s work was published in PR’s first issue and many thereafter; PR’s new editor, Lorin Stein, even named a month after Terry. (Stein took over after Plimpton died.)

Lorin Stein, the guy who took over the Paris Review after founder George Plimpton finally died.

Lorin Stein, the guy who took over the Paris Review after founder George Plimpton finally died. But he’s not CIA.

So much for the ‘highbrow’ side of Playboy; I don’t find it surprising that one CIA media outfit would recycle talent from other, loud, CIA outfits. However, Magazine Management Company is a different creature– it didn’t court publicity at all. Some of its own employees, like Marvel comics editor Roy Thomas, didn’t even know it existed until well into their tenure. No one seems to know when, exactly, the company was founded either, but Magazine Management was in business by 1947 and employed two Playboy contributors Mario Puzo [2 covers] of ‘The Godfather’ fame, and Bruce Jay Friedman [5]. Both of these men worked for the US Air Force before their writing careers: Friedman served under an officer who became a ‘counter-culture’ guru, and Puzo was a ‘public relations officer’ in Germany. Naturally, Magazine Management was based out of New York City.

Magazine Management company output in the 1970s.

Magazine Management company output in the 1970s.

Magazine Management churned out men’s science fantasy mags, pornography, and was the parent company to Marvel comics. Its founder, Martin Goodman, was the son of Lithuanian immigrants who explains his success with the usual rags-to-riches spiel. Whatever the real story is, Goodman owned several publishing concerns by the 1930s;  these concerns had multiple names at the same time (eventually there were 56 shell companies!) making them difficult to track even to industry insiders– clearly Goodman wanted to hide something. From what I can tell, ‘the Goodman group’ was at the heart of the pulp fiction industry. Which brings me on to… George Orwell.

I wrote about Orwell’s distaste for American pulp fiction way back in 2012. Here’s the pertinent quote from Orwell’s collection of essays All Art is Propaganda, Orwell is describing American pulp fiction magazines during WWII:

Notice how much more knowledgeable the American extracts sound. They are written for devotees of the prize-ring, the others are not. Also, it ought to be emphasized that on its level the moral code of the English boys’ papers is a decent one. Crime and dishonesty are never held up to admiration, there is none of the cynicism and corruption of the American gangster story. The huge sale of the Yank Mags in England shows that there is a demand for that kind of thing, but very few English writers seem able to produce it. When hatred of Hitler became a major emotion in America, it was interesting to see how promptly “anti-Fascism” was adapted to pornographic purposes by the editors of the Yank Mags. One magazine which I have in front of me is given up to a long, complete story, “When Hell Came to America,” in which the agents of a “blood-maddened European dictator” are trying to conquer the U.S.A. with death rays and invisible aeroplanes. There is the frankest appeal to sadism, scenes in which the Nazis tie bombs to women’s backs and fling them off heights to watch them blown to pieces mid-air, others in which they tie naked girls together by their hair and prod them with knives to make them dance, etc. etc.

It seems that somebody in the 1940s New York pulp fiction market was working to gin up a particularly nasty type of anti-German propaganda in service of the war effort. As I said, nobody knows when, exactly, Magazine Management got started, but after WWII they provided a good home for ex-Air Force men and later contributed to Playboy’s writers.

Magazine Management Company's Captian America saves buddy strapped to Japanese bomb.

Magazine Management Company’s Captain America saves buddy strapped to Japanese bomb.

According to Roy Thomas, Goodman would follow DC Comics president Jack Liebowitz’s lead with comic book ideas; any competition between the firms was not on an ideological plane. I’ll remind readers that Goodman’s competitors, DC Comics, weren’t averse to wartime (or peacetime!) propaganda: their Superman character fought every WWII dictator save the other man of steel, Stalin.

DC comics was founded by an international-jet-setting Army Major named Malcolm Wheeler-Nichols, a friend of Teddy Roosevelt. Guess What? Wheeler-Nichols was an intelligence officer with the Army, tasked with gathering “intelligence in the shifting alliances between Cossacks, the Chinese, the Japanese and the Bolsheviks”. Wheeler-Nichols also served in Mexico under General John Pershing alongside another jet-setter: James Jesus Angleton’s father.


DC Comics’ Man of Steel has Hitler on his right, Emperor Hirohito on his left, as he straddles the globe.

Wheeler-Nichols’ Army career did not end well. Wheeler-Nichols’ family claims that his Army superiors tried to assassinate the comic genius because he treated his African-American soldiers so well… I think it’s more likely that Wheeler-Nichols’ ‘camaraderie’ problems stemmed from his open letter to President Harding criticizing the Army administration (“Prussianism”, favoritism and inefficiency were among his gripes), an offense which would land any officer a court-martial. Wheeler-Nichols was convicted and discharged; he then went into the comic business.

So Playboy’s low-class Magazine Management connection actually gave them an ‘in’ on privileged intel circles!

I think that’s enough for this week. Next week I’ll treat readers to Timothy Leary’s self-incriminating explanation of how the CIA implements the Hegelian Dialectic. Leary’s insights shed light on Francis Stonor Saunder’s CIA connection and Gawker’s firing of Adrian Chen. See you then!

[A] This is a conceptually tricky statistic, because in my mind, being featured by Playboy in itself shows that a writer was an asset of the Agency. My estimations are based on what I know about Cold War operations beyond Playboy and who has openly admitted to, or shown beyond reasonable doubt to have worked for some sort of espionage outfit. This necessitates some subjective decisions on my part– very few intelligence agents are conclusively ‘outed’ by their employers like Ernest Hemingway has been. These estimates are the best I can make given what I know now.

Tradecrafting Anita Pallenberg

Anita Pallenberg's 1962 photograph for Playboy magazine.

Anita Pallenberg’s 1962 photograph for Playboy magazine; she was 18 years old.

One of the fun things about blogging is how much I learn from readers.  Last week ‘Nathan’ at clued me into some fascinating information about Anita Pallenberg: she was featured in the February 1962 Playboy photo spread “Girls of Rome”.

1962 02 Playboy

As ‘Nathan’ points out, Pallenberg is one of the few women in this feature who are fully clothed, in fact, Pallenberg’s attire is dowdy– she stands out for that reason. The “Girls of Rome” shoot endows her with a certain mystery, especially considering many of the other women look rather tough.

A lot was going on in early 1962: that March, a few weeks after Anita’s Playboy spread was published, her future ‘boyfriend’ Brian Jones hitch-hiked to London to catch the first ever performance of Alexis Korner’s ‘Blues Incorporated’ band, according to Bill Wyman in Rolling with the Stones. Twenty-one days later the Rolling Stones were formed.

Korner’s new band, Blues Incorporated, was extraordinary in a number of ways: he was risking *somebody’s* money by performing ‘Rhythm and Blues’ to a largely uninitiated London audience– and more than just one night’s takings were at stake. Blues Incorporated was designed to be an ambassador band for a series of new R&B clubs— the investor(s) for these clubs remain unknown, but we do know that European Jazz circuits had been colonized by the ‘intelligence community’ since the early 1950s.

The story goes that Brian Jones asked Alexis Korner if he could play with Blues Incorporated after the show on the band’s opening night. Naturally, Korner immediately agreed to let the unknown newbie play with his cutting-edge team as part of their second performance ever, with a franchise of watering-holes at stake. Brian Jones first appeared with Blues Incorporated on March 24th 1962.

On April 7th 1962– that’s two weeks later– Korner introduced Jones to two young men who had very little musical experience: Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. POOF! The Rolling Stones were born. If you’d like to know more, please see my post, Rolling Through the Intelligence Community. (By July of 1962 Alexis Korner had ditched Blues Incorporated for a lifetime broadcasting gig at the BBC. Mission Accomplished!)

I believe Pallenberg’s strange ‘placement’ in Hefner’s magazine and Korner’s creation of The Rolling Stones were pieces of a larger cultural offensive that was being put into place circa 1962. Somebody in Rome was building what spooks call a ‘legend’ around Anita, the rest of us might call it “window dressing” or a “back story”. Pallenberg may not have been earmarked as a ‘handler’ for Brian Jones from day one of her Agency career, but her Playboy shoot suggests that Anita Pallenberg was always slated for counter-culture psy-ops work in Europe.

If you’re new to my blog, please have a look at my posts Anita Pallenberg and the CIA, which explains how Anita’s work for The Living Theatre was funded by the CIA as part of the Agency’s anti-Russian leftist crusade.  Also, please read Do You Have a Key to the Playboy Mansion, which details the 1973 IRS investigation that showed Hugh Hefner and Playboy Enterprises to be CIA assets.

Anita Pallenberg was in Rome by February 1962. As far as I can tell, her only known employer, the Living Theatre, wasn’t in Rome until 1963 when they had their building in NYC seized by the IRS for failure to pay taxes. This means that in 1962 either Pallenberg was with a ‘satellite’ of the troupe in Rome; or she was being groomed by the CIA in Rome before the theater arrived.

The Living Theatre received funding from a CIA “philanthropic institution” named the Farfield Foundation. The Farfield Foundation was one of the bogus cultural foundations that backed the Congress for Cultural Freedom which Ernst Henri outed that same February in the World Marxist Review. Frances Stonor Saunders identifies the Farfield Foundation as specifically a CIA front in her book The Cultural Cold War.

Why did the Living Theatre choose Rome? Well, James Jesus Angleton had set up Rome as a post-WWII American propaganda hub. According to Hugh Wilford in his book The Mighty Wurlitzer, by 1948 Angleton was heading up black propaganda in Italy for the CIA. The propaganda was anti-communist: Angleton’s staff would ‘place’ newspaper articles and other literature with the compliant Italian press. Paul Cushing Child, Julia Child’s creepy husband, did similar propaganda work in Germany and France after WWII.

Readers may remember from my last post that between ’59-’76 Playboy featured a number of Italian directors and journalists whose careers flourished in Italy after the war. Federico Fellini [2 Playboy covers] was plugged in Pallenberg’s “Girls of Rome” spread, but his name didn’t make the cover of that particular issue. In fact, Italy’s film industry was plugged on Playboy’s cover more than any other continental country’s.

I dona do-a speghetti.

Federico Fellini

What was Anita Pallenberg doing in Rome with The Living Theatre? Much like Playboy, the Living Theatre promoted both playwrights who were sponsored by the CIA’s Congress for Cultural Freedom (Jean Cocteau)[1] and those whose work the CCF was openly hostile to, like Bertolt Brecht. Where Playboy was a ‘well-heeled’ anti-Russian leftist rag, The Living Theatre aimed to pull the ‘anarchist’ left out of Rooskie clutches. Also like Playboy, the Living Theatre promoted a type of sexually-charged racial integration, according to Keith Richards’ description of the troupe. The Living Theatre was about exposing taboos and cast members were frequently arrested for indecent exposure. As one would expect, the CIA’s politics were consistent between their Living Theater and Playboy operations.

This bizarre footage comes from a performance of the Living Theatre’s most famous work, ‘Paradise Now’ (not work safe!):

The Living Theatre troupe starred the handsome Black lead Rufus Collins, surrounded by a bevy of beauties like Anita Pallenberg and Nico (from their video above, it seems that these women were mostly White, much like the Playboy Bunnies). The throng also included the first Black super model, Donyale Luna, who Keith Richards particularly admired. Long and short, The Living Theatre’s ‘racial integration’ political agenda was put forward just like Playboy’s and was equally cynical. Spectorsky even featured The Living Theater on the August 1969 Playboy cover.

Donyale Luna on the cover of her friend Andy Warhol's magazine. Luna was embraced by the East Coast media establishment-- like the CIA's TIME magazine-- as long as she was useful; but by 1979 he star had faded and she died of a heroin overdose.

Donyale Luna on the cover of her friend Andy Warhol’s magazine. As long as she was useful Luna was embraced by American media establishment leaders, such as the CIA’s TIME magazine. By 1979 however, her star had faded and she died of a heroin overdose at 33.

I encourage readers to check out my statistical analysis of Playboy’s promotion of racial integration and Black nationalism over the ’62-’76 period; the CIA had a very definite agenda with regard to this Orwellian political pairing. These politics would pop up again later in Pallenberg’s life through her link to Rastafarianism. In 1972 Pallenberg took up with Leonard Percival Howell’s Black supremacist cult in Jamaica, where she had conspicuous liaisons with Howell’s followers which helped promote the Rasta cause. Pallenberg became involved in Winston Churchill’s Jamaican drug trade through the Rastas and ended up being repeatedly raped in jail. See Tony Sanchez’s Up and Down with the Rolling Stones.) [2]

I’d like to come back to Pallenberg’s Playboy spread now, because it’s an artifact documenting CIA operations through pornography in Western Europe. I’ve included images of the entire spread here. The first thing to strike me was that many of the women featured weren’t Italian– seven out of twenty-four were foreign. Two of these young immigrants were from Germany (three if you count half-German, half-Italian Anita); one was from France; one was a Brit; one was Syrian; and finally I suspect “Tanya Berryl” was either American or from the Commonwealth. Two out of the three who fully exposed themselves were foreigners.

All of these European women would have been born around WWII, most would have been children displaced and impoverished by that war. They were also among the first generation of German and Italian children to be exposed to whatever psychological experiments and social conditioning the CIA decided to implement.

I’m going to make a prediction now: in the future, there will be an exposé of MK ULTRA-like CIA abuses against vulnerable people in the defeated Axis countries. These defeated peoples had little protection from their American occupiers and post-war Europe would have been an excellent place for unfettered research into ‘mind control’ and other forms of social conditioning.

I think it’s very probable that the CIA and its asset, Playboy Enterprises, scoured Europe for vulnerable young people who could be used as propaganda tools– maybe they did this scouring through scouts in positions like that of The Living Theatre’s founder Judith Malina. I believe it’s unreasonable to assume that MK ULTRA-type research was limited to US military personnel, American prisoners, American prostitutes or the inmates of American mental institutions. The scary reality is that ‘displaced persons’ in Europe would have been ‘safe’ guinea pigs. Maybe that’s why eighteen year old Anita had a lifeless expression; maybe that’s why we know so little about her background.

Pallenberg’s Living Theatre coworkers were as ‘international’ as the women in Playboy’s “Girls of Rome” spread. The founders of the Living Theatre were Judith Malina, who was “German-born” yet okay’d for CIA-funding, and Julian Beck, a New York City based painter.  Malina and Beck scouted some of their talent from Europe, though they were based out of NYC until the IRS took their building in 1963. This is how describes the situation:

The difficulty of operating a unique, experimental enterprise within a cultural establishment ill-equipped to accept it led to the closing by the authorities of all The Living Theatre’s New York venues…

In the mid-1960′s, the company began a new life as a nomadic touring ensemble. In Europe, they evolved into a collective, living and working together toward the creation of a new form of nonfictional acting based on the actor’s political and physical commitment to using the theater as a medium for furthering social change. The landmark achievements of this period include Mysteries and Smaller Pieces, Antigone, Frankenstein and Paradise Now.

In 1999, the Living Theatre began to get funding from the European Union, though my understanding is that the troupe is now defunct, despite Malina’s wealth and its more recent patronage from Yoko Ono and Al Pacino, who have no problem carrying on the CIA’s traditions.

Pallenberg’s “Girls of Rome” ‘photo essay’ is accompanied by three pages of text. The nameless author provides tips for sex tourists and offers an oblique explanation for why so many foreign women are included in the shoot: native Roman women are conservative and difficult to sleep with.

Lamentably, males who may be entertaining the intriguing notion of sowing a few oats are barking up the wrong libido. For despite her temperament, coquettishness, eye-popping fuselage and sensuous propensities, the average Italian girl, even in worldly Rome, is characterized by an equally passionate devotion to the spirit…

In effect, then, the family fortress is virtually impregnable to any but those in search of permanent liaisons.

How “lamentable”.

The author goes on to explain that help is at hand for Playboy readers. The transient population of foreigners, or poor Italians from the south, offer more fertile ground for sex tourism. Playboy gives a comprehensive guide for foreign punters on where to find these women for prostitution, and how much one should pay once one finds them.

Spectorsky didn’t print the name of the author who wrote the accompanying text (they sound like an American who was based out of Rome); I’ll let this bashful Playboy contributor tell you about Roman “streetwalkers” in their own words:

Some [sex tourists] surrender to the city’s well-quipped infantry of approachable streetwalkers. But many more prefer to fraternize with golden hordes of foreign girls– once a commodity borne to Rome by its plundering legions– who now pour into the Eternal City of their own eager accord from Scandinavia, France, Germany, England, America even from the Near and Far East…

Perched on the lower rung of Rome’s economic ladder are a group of girls who have known few of the social or scholastic advantages enjoyed (and in some cases ignored) by the daughters of well- or even modestly heeled families…

Imported and indigenous, several thousands of these girls also drift across the social barrier into an age-old vocation pioneered under the arches of ancient Rome. Evicted in 1958 from the pillowed and mirrored comfort of numerous bordellos, the city’s flourishing strumpet population– even larger, some estimate, than that of pleasure-orientated Paris or London– energetically espouses the tenets of individual enterprise in the maze of side streets surrounding the tourist-thronged Via Veneto. Most, in the time-honored tradition of the trade, offer their familiar wares for prices ranging from $5 to $30, according to the nature and duration of the services required…

So the CIA skips hand in hand with the pimps of Spectorsky’s ‘Eternal City’. I can only speculate on why the CIA thought ‘placing’ Anita in this way was useful to them: perhaps a girlfriend who was featured in an eleven-page ad for sex tourism was an enticing prospect for a young, narcissistic philanderer from the Cotswolds. Perhaps the typical CIA agent thinks Hugh Hefner’s approval makes a woman more desirable; perhaps they need to see that other men want a woman to know that she is attractive… attractive like a pole dancer in Hawaii?! I’ll leave that profiling to John Gittinger.



[1] Readers will remember Jean Cocteau as Kenneth Anger’s Congress for Cultural Freedom connection. Anita Pallenberg and Marianne Faithfull were instrumental in helping Ken Anger establish his reincarnation of Aleister Crowley’s Cefalù cult around the Rolling Stones.

[2] For a piecemeal account of this incident, see Tony Sanchez’s book Up and Down with the Rolling Stones, p. 305. Anita was released from jail corruptly: Richards bribed the Jamaican police through ‘Count X’ and another unnamed business man, who it turns out had alerted the police as to when they could find Anita with a lot of drugs. This shadowy Count and the ‘businessman’ were on civil terms and had engagements in London which probably had something to do with the ganja trade, please see Who was Winston Churchill? Before this ‘businessman’ helped rid Jamaica of Anita and her bad-for-business publicity stunts, the Rollings Stones had “business dealings” with him, says Sanchez.

An American Pravda, Part I

The 'Sad' Issue, March 1964.

The ‘Sad’ Issue, March 1964.

I wrote last week about how Playboy’s literary gatekeeper, A. C. Spectorsky, stuffed Hefner’s magazine full of writing from intelligence agents and assets, and how the message presented was a more militant, radical incarnation of the anti-Russian leftist message presented by the CIA’s lame-duck Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF). Playboy’s pages featured a lot of writing from both CCF contributors and detractors– all working towards the same goals, of course.

What where those goals? Last week, I promised readers a comprehensive list covering James Angleton’s fight with William Colby and Adrian Chen’s firing from Gawker amongst other things– the post kept growing until I knew I had to break it into two parts.

In this post I’m going to look at Playboy’s stance on foreign relations and the civil rights movement as far as the publication’s covers between 1959-76 can tell us. In order to understand the significance of Playboy’s political stance, readers must be aware of the IRS’s 1973 investigation which showed that Hugh Hefner banked with other CIA front operations at the CIA-controlled Castle Bank and Trust of Nassau. Hugh Hefner is a CIA asset, therefore his politics reflect the CIA leaders’– “Floor Seven’s”– politics. Playboy espoused the politics which the CIA wanted America to espouse.

Let’s start with the big picture: Spectorsky liked to focus on women from specific regions as pornography ‘specials’. The details from the shoot would set a mood, presumably to influence how readers were supposed to feel about each region. Predictably, the most featured country was Russia (3/64, 12/70 and 6/76); the most touted cities were Hollywood (8/59, 10/60, 2/61) and New York (9/60, 2/61, 9/62). Runners up were Israel (4/74, 4/70), Las Vegas (3/60, 12/73), Miami (9/61, 10/65). As far as non-porn features go, Playboy tended to focus on regions where something political was happening, like Algeria in 7/71 when Timothy Leary was courting Eldridge Cleaver there, or Egypt in 4/74 right after Israel withdrew its troops from the Suez Canal. A complete list of which country was featured when is available here; it shows Spectorsky’s ‘geographic homunculus’.

1964 11 Thumbnail

American Germany in ’64: “All better now!”

I’ve written a good deal about Hugh Hefner’s ties to organized crime and the CIA, so it shouldn’t be surprising that Playboy covered the Mafia [8 separate covers]; gambling [5 covers]; and the ‘intelligence community’ [11 covers] extensively. The topics Spectorsky was interested in included Big Brother Surveillance (1/67); Israel’s ‘secret executioners’ (8/76); Code breakers (12/75); National Defense (3/75, 10/70, 3/72) and Hit Men (4/73). That’s not counting any of the ‘James Bond’ propaganda, if Bond was added ‘intelligence community’ covers would number over 20 and be the third the most promoted Playboy topic that I’ve identified.

Naturally, the magazine was used to advertize various Playboy watering holes as they came online and product placement was a big part of Spectorsky’s job: the magazine featured regular men’s fashion segments and product reviews of high-end consumer items like yachts and sports cars, as well as more humble luxuries like home stereo equipment, home movie equipment and bikinis. Spectorsky, along with J. P. Getty, pushed stock market investing for the masses on three separate Playboy covers. (Portends of Jim Cramer?)

Hefner’s mafia connections stretched into Hollywood, so naturally Hollywood directors got a lot of ‘airtime': Woody Allen tops the charts at nine cover appearances, followed by both Stanley Kubrick [2] and Roman Polanski [2]. The most promoted Hollywood movies were James Bond 007 flicks [two covers]; Cleopatra (with Liz Taylor) [2]; followed by Funny Girl (Barbara Streisand), Macbeth and Valley of the Dolls, which each got one.

In The Outfit, author Gus Russo speculates that a number of Hollywood acting careers– like George Raft’s and Marilyn Monroe’s– were sponsored by the Mafia. These stars were Playboy’s most featured between ’59-’76: Ursula Andress [6 covers]; Kim Novak [4 covers]; Marilyn Monroe [3]; Linda Lovelace [3]; Sean Connery [3]; Liz Taylor [3]; Peter Sellers [3]; Frank Sinatra [2]; Richard Burton [2]; Mame von Doren [2]; Peter O’Toole [2]; Sophia Loren [2]; Jayne Mansfield [2]; and Marlon Brando [2]. Bill Cosby and Dick Gregory were featured three times each too, but I’ll talk about them more later. A full list of actors (excluding comedians) is available here, and includes Peter and Jane Fonda, Peter Ustinov (Klop’s boy), Jack Nicholson and Michael Caine.

Peter Ustinov, British intel agent Klop Ustinov's son, gets his own harem pictorial in Playboy while sharing a cover with Martin Luther King Jr!

Peter Ustinov, British intel agent Klop Ustinov’s son, gets his own “harem pictorial” in Playboy while sharing a cover with Martin Luther King Jr! Harem and MLK– was that Spectorsky’s sick joke?!

This is where things get really ugly readers, because during the period 1959-76 Playboy had at least one cover on almost every topic covered by the MK ULTRA releases from the CIA, which were given to John Marks starting in 1974 and concluded after a ‘legal battle’ in ’76. (The public didn’t know much about what ‘MK ULTRA’ was before 1979.)

Playboy’s prescience about the CIA’s MK ULTRA releases were both comprehensive and sustained: over 30 different covers featured scientific and social engineering topics which were part of the dozens of research subprojects that made up what we know of MK ULTRA. Reading through my Playboy notes is like reading through the CIA’s index of those thousands documents they gave to Marks. For example, Playboy covers featured: Surveillance (1/67); Physiology and Psychology of Sleep (11/59); Hypnosis (2/61); Alpha Waves (low-level yet wakeful brain activity associated with hypnosis) (12/72); ESP (4/71); Psychoanalysis (10/69); Personality Control (11/68); LSD (10/66); drug addiction (11/60); Hallucinogens (11/63); Campus politics (9/71, 9/70, 4/70); voter manipulation (11/72, 11/68).

Having spent a lot of time with the MK ULTRA documentation and with Playboy covers, I’m shocked at how prescient Spectorsky was about CIA abuses. Incredible, truly incredible. :)

In all seriousness, this ‘issue overlap’ says two things: 1) Spectorsky was plugged into the crowd of people who were carrying out this research for the CIA and 2) Colby and his successors were very careful to release MK ULTRA information that had already been compromised in some way. I speculate that ‘Team Colby’ thought along these lines: “Marks’ book on MK ULTRA abuses will only come as a surprise to the little people who haven’t been paying attention and who don’t matter anyway.” As I wrote in The Banality of Mind Control, we know very little about what the MK ULTRA program studied.

1963 11 Playboy

November 1963 featured Aldous Huxley on hallucinogenic drugs.

There’s one big MK ULTRA topic that I’ve left out of that list: Subproject 102, the ‘gang rioting’ subproject. I’ve left it out because it’s wrapped up in the most interesting Playboy ‘political causes’ of all: Black Nationalism and Racial Integration.

In 1958, and continuing for a few years, the CIA funded the work of sociologist Muzafer Sherif, who documented the political hot-buttons of “inner city youths”, youths who his henchman found roaming urban streets. Sherif, a native of Turkey, wanted to know what these boys’ aspirations were; what they considered being ‘rich'; how they related to the “dominant features of American life”; and what they’d do to gang members who “squealed”. Sherif was known for his work on how to ‘tailor messages to’ (read ‘manipulate’) different groups of people. Of course, it was inner city youth rioting which destroyed swaths of urban America in the 1960s; undermined Black communities economically; and made ‘White Flight’ a matter of personal safety. This rioting was the ugly side of the Civil Rights Movement.

In 1960s America, when you talk about ‘inner city youth’ and gangs, you’re talking about Black youth and gangs for the most part. The CIA wanted to know how to manipulate young Black people. This is where Hugh Hefner comes in with his naked (mostly White) ladies; his stance on ‘racial integration'; and his militant Black Nationalist political pundits.

1963 04 Playboy

April 1963: the “Girls of Africa” tribute. Notice Anything? Playboy only featured one Black cover girl during the ’59-’76 period (Oct. 1971).

Hefner’s, and more importantly, Spectorsky’s use of ‘civil rights’/black nationalist authors is cynical, but very considered. The ‘happy face’ story of integration and the Playboy Empire goes something like this, as told by Gloria Hendry, who left the NAACP to become a ‘chocolate bunny’ at the NYC Playboy Club:

The environment in the club was incredible. I had never seen such a cross-section of race and cultures; it was just awesome.

The management protected the girls, but I did experience racism on a couple of occasions, sadly, once when my father was in the club…

I reported the incident and the room director went straight over and cancelled the man’s membership. But I was sorry my father had to witness that.

Working at the club gave me so much confidence. I came from a background obsessed with inferiority and race but there my colour was glorified. I was able to lose my complex and gain confidence. Without that I would never have gone on to do so well in my acting career. I owe that place a lot.

On top of this type of PR, Hefner has made a big song and dance about ‘buying back’ the franchise of at least one Playboy Club where discrimination took place. I’ll point out that it would be difficult to collect sexual information on men like Bill Cosby if they weren’t given full access to the key clubs and bunnies. Hefner’s stance on ‘racial equality’ is very self-serving.

But Playboy’s interest in racial integration was more complicated– and more sinister– than providing half-naked Black girls to serve drinks. Racial integration and Black Nationalism are the two most publicized issues in Playboy that I’ve identified: over 30 covers were devoted to these issues or to activists who promoted these issues either directly or as a corollary to their sports, music, political or comedy careers.

Although very few Black fiction writers were featured on Playboy covers overall, Spectorsky did promote prominent Black authors/celebrities in the ‘civil rights’ movement– particularly those involved in the ‘Selma’ protests which have recently been reinterpreted by Oprah Winfrey. Beginning in 1962, one year after the anti-segregation ‘Freedom Rides‘ began, Spectorsky showed a marked interest in forming public attitudes towards civil rights events: specifically, Spectorsky chose to promote racial integration as the answer to the USA’s race problems while simultaneously showcasing militant Black Nationalism. Another Orwellian Playboy combination!

1962 07 Playboy

Spectorsky’s first foray into race politics– read about Nat Hentoff in A.C. Spectorsky and the CCF 2.0.

Spectorsky chose to promote these civil rights activists: James Baldwin [3], James Farmer [2], Martin Luther King Jr [1], Jessie Jackson [1]; and these Black Nationalists: Dick Gregory [3], Jim Brown[1], Bill Cosby [3], Cassius Clay/Mohammad Ali [5]; as well as the twisted, violent Eldridge Cleaver [3] and Leroi Jones [1]. (O.J. Simpson [1] was featured in ’76– did the great and good know his psych profile?) Readers will note that Malcolm X’s name did not appear on Playboy covers between Jan. 1959- Dec. ’76.

Playboy was promoting two agendas at the same time: that of forced integration and militant Black Nationalism– neither of which have served Black nor White communities well. Why would the CIA-backed Playboy magazine promote this dual agenda? The answer becomes clear when you consider the spokespersons’ backgrounds:

Playboy’s November 1969 cover trumpets Jesse Jackson as the “GREAT BLACK HOPE FOR RACIAL JUSTICE”– no other Black activist was so lauded by Spectorsky. (Mick Jagger is featured on the same cover, incidentally. :) ) Jesse Jackson is an intriguing character in the civil rights movement: he caused a lot of friction in Martin Luther King’s ‘Southern Christian Leadership Conference’ organization because of his– dare I say it– narcissistic behavior. Jackson was eventually expelled from the SCLC and started his own movement, which promoted rights for homosexuals and further divided Black civil rights activists. A cynical person might see Jackson as an agent provocateur— certainly my generation knows him as someone who gets rich by inflaming racial tensions. Jesse Jackson is the person credited with bringing Martin Luther King Jr. to one of Hefner’s ‘parties’ in his Chicago mansion; parties which gave celebrities plenty of opportunity for indiscretion– right, Cosby?

Playboy's political stance became increasingly aggressive through 1969, the cover pornography also became more explicit.

Playboy’s political stance became increasingly aggressive in 1969; the cover pornography also began to be more explicit.

James Baldwin was a Black, homosexual, socialist who was involved with MLK’s work, however MLK chose to distance himself from supporting LGBT struggles, even though his movement contained a large number of homosexual people. Besides being an LGBT activist and Playboy contributor, James Baldwin covered MLK’s work at the insistence of the CIA’s Partisan Review and his efforts won him a cover on the CIA’s TIME magazine.

Martin Luther King Jr. is so well established in the hagiography of American politics that he hardly needs an introduction, however his career follows the same path as many of the CIA’s non-communist left pundits and that worries me. For example, he attended Highlander Folk School in 1949, a political ‘school’ which Eleanor Roosevelt supported. Eleanor Roosevelt’s politics were guided by Louis Howe, whose communism ran as deep as any pinko millionaire’s. (See My Exploited Father in Law, by Curtis Dall.) By 1953 however, King was touting the CIA’s ‘Congress for Cultural Freedom’ line, and saying non-communist-lefty things like “cold atheism wrapped in the garments of materialism, communism provides no place for God or Christ’’. King’s political shift, and the timing of his shift, lands him squarely in an ugly crowd.

My second concern with Dr. King is that no sincere practitioner of non-violence would be violent towards women, as MLK Jr. was by admission of his friend Ralph David Abernathy (see Abernathy’s autobiography, And the Walls Came Tumbling Down, p. 436). I don’t see why a sincere proponent of Christianity and human dignity would frequent an establishment which exploits women like the Playboy mansion, nor allow himself to be promoted by such a publication. Could it be that MLK’s motivations were different to what we were taught in school? Could his non-communist left preaching have something to do with his CIA-backed promotion in Playboy?

James Farmer was supported by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who founded the CIA’s forerunner, the OSS, along with his British spy friends. Farmer was tapped to lead the Congress on Racial Equality, which spearheaded integration initiatives, such as the Freedom Rides. Farmer also worked closely with the NAACP during the NAACP’s partnership with the Zionist paramilitary group Irgun to end segregation in the USA (the partnership was in place by 1946). Back in Palestine, Irgun was blowing up municipal buildings and wiping out Palestinian villages for the state of Israel. According to

In the late 1940’s, before giving CORE his full attention, he [James Farmer] was also a program director for the N.A.A.C.P. and wrote radio and television scripts as well as magazine articles on race relations for Crisis, Fellowship, World Frontier and the Hadassah News.

Hadassah is a Zionist women’s organization, so Farmer knew with whom he and the NAACP were working. In 1998 Clinton gave James Farmer the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

If you care to read about Bill Cosby [3] and his wife Camille’s hypocrisy, please see my post The Unfortunate Mr. Cosby. Dick Gregory [3] is another Black comedian whose trademark jokes make fun of White Southerners in a manner very flattering to men like A. C. Spectorsky. Gregory presents politics which are militant yet simple-minded: he purports to see the world literally in ‘black vs. white’. These days he spends a lot of time at venues like the Alex Jones Show and NPR criticizing the CIA, seemingly oblivious to the fact that Hugh Hefner, who launched Gregory’s career, is a CIA asset. Interestingly, Gregory’s ‘conspiracy theorist’ musings with Alex Jones haven’t landed him in hot water like Cosby.

Jim Brown and Cassius Clay/Mohammad Ali are/were sports personalities who were used by Playboy to promote militant Black Nationalism and racial integration. In my personal opinion, these two at least are/were genuinely concerned about their people. Recently, Jim Brown has been courageous enough to admit focusing on integration was counterproductive; I hope that one day he’ll also  admit how he was used by men like Spectorsky and recognize the damage forced integration did to both Black and White communities.

Finally, Eldridge Cleaver [3] and Leroi Jones [1] were two seriously twisted, and seriously conflicted extremists. In the mid 1950s, Cleaver claims to have raped a number of White woman as payback for White “domination”. By the late 1950s Cleaver was in jail for assault and began contributing to Warren Hinckle’s Ramparts magazine, a leftist ‘anti-CCF’ rag which Hinckle hints had Hugh Hefner’s funding in his autobiography. Whether Hefner funded Ramparts or not, Cleaver made his first appearance on the front of Playboy in 1960. After being released from jail in 1966 Cleaver joined the Black Panther hate group as a propaganda minister, but his violence eventually necessitated fleeing to Algeria where he ran a sort of Black Panther ‘government in exile’. Playboy covered Tim Leary’s 1971 scamper to Cleaver’s Algerian base in an attempt to escape a Stateside drug sentence. (Leary claims that the Black Panthers held him hostage for a while before he could flee to Switzerland and live with an arms dealer who had a taste for “young girls”.) Cleaver was later kicked out of Algeria; he eventually returned to the USA where he became a Mormon Republican. Unstable?

Timothy Leary's scurry to Algeria makes the July 1971 Playboy cover.

Timothy Leary’s scurry to Algeria makes the July 1971 Playboy cover.

Leroi Jones’ career can be summed up in this quote from Fifty Modern and Contemporary Dramatists by Maggie Gale:

Initially under the influence of the poets of the Beat generation such as Allen Ginsburg, a trip to Cuba in 1960 was decisive in turning Jones into a politically committed, race-conscious artist. But it was his play Dutchman, which opened Off-Broadway in 1964 and won him an Obie for the best American play of the year, that made him famous and a major American literary figure in his own right. Leaving Greenwich Village and his white wife, Jones moved to Harlem and then to his hometown of Newark, New Jersey and embarked on the black cultural nationalist phase of his career, for which he is still chiefly known. In the course of the 1960s, Amiri Baraka, as he renamed himself in 1967, and directed a string of short, shocking plays– including The Slave (1964), Experimental Death Unit #1 (1965), A Black Mass (1965), Great Goodness of Life (1967) and Madheart (1967)– that attacked ‘whiteness’ in all its aspects and advocated the violent destruction of the white race in America. In the course of the 1970s Baraka’s political militancy took a new turn, from cultural nationalism to a version of Marxism-Leninism. He continued to write, teach, organize and make plays, although none of them with the power of his drama of the earlier period.

Most of the Black Playboy contributors in the list above took part in the protests at Selma, or other civil rights demonstrations for which Martin Luther King Jr. has become the public face. Playboy featured many not-Black proponents of these happenings too: Joan Baez [1 cover] who provided eye-candy at protests while singing songs written by The Beatles and The Rolling Stones; as well as regular Playboy contributors Calvin Trillin [3] who got his start working for the CIA’s TIME magazine and David Halberstam [3] whose journalistic career began ‘on the ground’ in Vietnam covering what William Colby was doing for The New York Times (See The Secret Team by L. Fletcher Prouty).

Other supporters of racial integration who Playboy featured between ’62-’72 were mega-contributor Ben Hecht [9], that Irgun guy; Allen Dulles’ friend Norman Thomas [1] who when he wasn’t heading up the American Socialist Party, was heading up the CIA’s American Committee for Cultural Freedom and assisting CIA operations in South America (see Frances Stonor Saunders’ The Cultural Cold War); Attorney General Ramsey Clark [2] who pushed the integration agenda heavily; Rep. George McGovern [2] who nurtured Jesse Jackson’s career at the 1972 Democratic National Convention; Joe Namath [1] the pro-integration football personality; and William Kunstler [1] the hypocritical ACLU lawyer who only represents left-wing terrorists like the Black Panthers and The Weatherman.

I’d like to point out here that Playboy ran a cover on Chicago’s Mayor Richard J. Daley in March 1971 titled “A Revealing Portrait of Mayor Daley”. In November 1969, Playboy had picked out Jesse Jackson as the “GREAT BLACK HOPE FOR RACIAL JUSTICE”; Playboy featured George McGovern in January 1970 and August of 1971.

1971 03 Playboy

Daley had checkered dealings with civil rights leaders, particularly Jesse Jackson, because he managed to prevent large-scale rioting in Chicago by using police-heavy tactics. Not long after Daley’s “revealing” Playboy appearance, George McGovern pulled off a coup at the Illinois primary for the 1972 Democratic National Convention by dodging Daley’s political machine in Chicago and instituting Jesse Jackson as part of an alternative delegation. Playboy’s prescience on shadowy Illinois political maneuverings with regard to their ‘golden boy’ Jesse Jackson are remarkable. Of course, Jackson has shown himself to be among the most corrupt politicians Chicago has to offer, which is no mean feat.

I believe that the CIA had an agenda with regard to the Civil Rights Movement and I find it odd that so many civil rights leaders were willing to hitch their wagon to an outfit like Playboy. Hefner’s business practices stand in conflict to the stated goals of the the Civil Rights Movement, which I’ve been told was about mutual respect.

On that note, I’d like to draw readers’ attention back to the “chocolate” Playboy bunny Gloria Hendry, who feels that she “owes” Playboy Enterprises for letting her dress up as a rabbit and serve drinks to so many different types of men. Could Gloria’s exploitation ever have served racial harmony? I put it to readers that encouraging different races to intermingle whilst exploiting each others’ women is not the best way to foster mutual respect. Gloria Hendry’s father must have brimmed with joy to see his daughter ogled by drunk White guys. The reverse is also true: no normal White guy would be enthused to see somebody like Bill Cosby drool over an attractive White woman. This isn’t just an American Black/White issue– this is true for any group of people anywhere in the world, and the CIA knows that. Readers will remember that Bill Cosby’s attitudes towards White men and women are not progressive, despite the comedian’s long, close relationship with Hefner and his ‘integrated’ key club.

Bunny work is poisonous from the female perspective too: prostitutes don’t often come away with genuinely warm feelings towards their punters. Imagine if your most regular interaction with another race was one where the men stared at your breasts and threw out tips if you flirted convincingly? Nothing about the Playboy Empire is designed to foster interracial respect in the real world.

Bearing these truths in mind, Spectorsky’s strange political pairing seems a little less strange: Provide political aggravation, then promote (in this case, one-sided!) extremist politics that mesh nicely with the CIA’s ‘gang profiling’ work. After all, two groups of people quarreling with each other are much more easy to control.


*UPDATE* I’m pasting a comment that I received to Part II of this series below, because it shows how Playboy continues its ‘race baiting’ strategy to this day; the goal is the same, the provocation is more blatant.


Turnip Twaddler ⋅

Speaking of Playboy encouraging racial discord, I thought you’d like to see this:

Ooh, and an interview with Dick Cheney too. I’ll be glad to see that guy’s lease with lucifer up…

  • anolen

    Oh, ho ho. Probably what a lot of these black musicians are thinking, just smart enough not to say.

    • anolen

      I though about this ‘Azealia Banks’ thing a little more, and there’s probably more going on here. Notice how in the first article Azealia describes how her mother encouraged her in her racism:

      “Banks proudly describes her second grade white bitch devil diaries where she cursed out all the white teachers and how proud her mom was when she found them.”

      This reminds me of the NAACP “chocolate bunny” from Part I, Gloria Hendry, who told The Telegraph this about her time at Playboy’s NYC club:

      “Working at the club gave me so much confidence. I came from a background obsessed with inferiority and race but there my colour was glorified. I was able to lose my complex and gain confidence. Without that I would never have gone on to do so well in my acting career. I owe that place a lot.”

      The connection I see between these two girls is that they were both ‘bred’ for hate. What type of mother encourages her daughter to hate teachers of a different race? One who is displacing her own self-esteem problems. Azealia and Gloria drank up their attitudes at home, and as soon as they were ‘legal’ their promoters– the NAACP, XL Recordings, and then Playboy– put them in a corset and gave them a microphone. Azealia is only 23 years old *now*.

      How do you find a kid that screwed up so young? You’d have to be running some kind of ‘puppy farm’ for them: picking the most reliable, naturally gifted ones and programming them from an early age. (Perhaps people like Azealia represent the grain of truth behind ‘Monarch Babies’?)

      Azealia grew up in Harlem– I’ve lived there– she has very little experience of White people, much less White people from the Midwest. Why would she hate farmers? Why would she hate fat people– Harlem has more than its fair share of those and guess what *a lot of them are nice people*. There is no WalMart in Harlem, and if there was, it wouldn’t be White women working there. Azealia’s rants are directed against things that are totally outside her 23-years of experience. She’s repeating prejudices she’s been taught elsewhere; prejudices I heard repeated more on the Upper West Side than in Harlem.

      Gloria Hendry was bred for her role; nearly 50 years later and the ‘puppy mill’ is still running. The sad thing is that Azealia can’t hope for much; at best, when she’s old and has nothing left to sell, she’ll realize that she’s been used and will end up like Bill Cosby. (What self-respecting Black man is going to want a woman who’s run the circuit at Playboy?!) If Azealia does ever wake up, it’ll be much too late for the generation of rudderless Black kids who look up to her.

      I think that the most responsible thing to do is to not buy her products, nor Playboy, nor any product from XL Productions.

A. C. Spectorsky and CCF 2.0

Greetings first-time a.nolen readers! If you are unaware of the IRS evidence suggesting that Hugh Hefner and his Playboy Empire are CIA assets, please see my post Do You Have A Key to the Playboy Mansion? Enjoy!

I started writing this post expecting to find that the literary brain behind Playboy magazine, Auguste Comte Spectorsky, had a few intelligence ties to William Stephenson’s publishing network in New York City during WWII. Instead, I stumbled onto ‘Congress for Cultural Freedom 2.0′.

The operation which Spectorsky ran for Hugh Hefner was/is a more sophisticated version of the ‘non-communist left’ crusade that CIA agents Melvin Lasky and Michael Josselson ran across the globe during the Cold War. Why was a more sophisticated strategy necessary?

The Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF) was fatally flawed in that it was obviously not organic to any of the regions where it metastasized: after WWII loud Americans suddenly appeared with gobs of money for any ‘intellectual’ who would present anti-Russian, leftist views. The game was obvious and anyone worthy of the appellation ‘intellectual’ would have known that US intelligence was behind it– after all, the US and Russia were the only countries left standing.

The CCF was never very successful and I suspect that the CIA realized well before Ernst Henri exposed the CCF in 1962 that appealing to intellect would not sell their message; the CIA’s best chance would be to wrap their politics in sex. Hence the weird, Orwellian hybrid of ‘sexual liberation’ and sexual exploitation that is The Playboy Empire.

Hefner’s magazine mimicked part of the CCF’s political message in as far as it promoted non-communist left ideas, however, Playboy dropped the Christian and more conservative political elements which the CCF included. Hefner never tried to be anything but American, so the message wasn’t burdened with the inherent fakeness of Americans posing as Spaniards, Indians or French, etc. Instead of selling the CIA through testimonials from already-famous intellectuals, Hefner sold the CIA through T&A, consumerism, and a mirage called ‘the Playboy lifestyle’.

Here’s where things really get interesting, because Playboy had to take up the core CCF message without allying itself with the CCF. Many authors who were promoted by the CCF also appeared on Playboy covers, but so did many Western intellectuals who made names for themselves by bashing the CCF. In fact, the first authors and politicians featured on Playboy covers were those championed by CCF critics like Allen Ginsberg and John Kenneth Galbraith. Playboy was self-conscious in its promotion of these ‘dissident’ intellectuals, as if to scream “We’re not CCF!” while promoting the core of the CCF message.

As I researched who Playboy promoted month by month from 1959-1976, I consistently recognized names from Frances Stonor Saunders’ book The Cultural Cold War; names she celebrated as critics of the ugly Americans’ CIA operation. Saunders’ prejudices matter, because her work is considered the gold standard CCF exposé. The men Saunders plugged as ‘intellectually honest critics of the CIA’s agenda’ were the same ones that CIA-backed Playboy chose to promote in the face of the CCF’s implosion. Saunder’s heroes promoted the CIA’s leftist agenda in Playboy, but stripped it of the more moderate, conservative elements– elements that the older CCF had included.

This forced me to reevaluate Saunders’ book The Cultural Cold War: in writing it she cut off an arm to save the CIA’s body. She protected CIA assets like Allen Ginsberg at the expense of CIA assets like T.S. Eliot. That’s why she’s still breathing, folks. The only question I have left about Saunders is why her book had to come out in 2000– I’m not going to dig into that question now, though I suspect the answer has something to do with Bill Colby floating face down in the Wicomico River circa 1996. (Colby told us in his autobiography that the CIA’s ‘non-communist’ left putsch was largely staffed by his old OSS friends.)

I’ve thrown my theory at you, so now I’m going to explain how I’ve come to this conclusion. First, I’ll provide what little background I have on A. C. Spectorsky, because his personality is interesting with respect to The Cult of Intelligence. Then I will present the results of my statistical analysis of Playboy covers between 1959-76, highlighting the mind-boggling number of known intelligence operatives who wrote for the publication. Next week I’m going to drill out Playboy’s ‘culture war’ politics– politics which mesh ominously with MK ULTRA operations that I’ve written about in the past.

Who was A. C. Spectorsky?

When I read in Warren Hinckle’s autobiography that he’d been given an introduction to Hugh Hefner by A. C. Spectorsky in a bid to fund Ramparts, I knew that I would have to learn more about the Playboy gatekeeper.

Auguste Comte Spectorsky is not an easy man to track down. Most of what I could find comes from Playboy contributor Steven Watts’ book Mr. Playboy: Hugh Hefner and the American Dream. In July 1956, Watts says Hefner hired Spectorsky to be his “second in command” at the magazine, though Hinckle’s recollections show that Spectorsky had control of more than just the publication. Prior to July ’56 Playboy had already published one of Spectorsky’s stories under a pseudonym. This is how Watts says Hefner decided to hire ‘Spec':

The publisher [Hefner] had decided that someone carrying credentials with the East Coast Establishment would help Playboy to gain increased respectability… Equally important, he [Spectorsky] was content to remain in the background and support Hefner as a public symbol of the magazine. “I think Hef, the young sparkplug and head of the whole operation, is the guy who should be kept in the foreground,” he [Spectorsky] wrote in a staff memo.

How magnanimous of new-hire Spectorsky to affirm Hefner as the front man! Besides deciding what would go into Playboy— like how and where products would be placed— Spectorsky’s job included introducing Hefner to “important authors, publishers and agents”.

Spectorsky was born in Paris in 1910 to Russian émigré parents– that’s prior to the Bolshevik Revolution, but during the time when the Czar’s enemies (political undesirables) were sometimes driven to Western Europe for succor. For example, Trotsky was in Vienna at this time and Lenin was in Switzerland; from these places the future dictators drummed up support for what would become the Bolshevik Revolution.

I don’t know that Spectorsky’s parents were ‘political undesirables’, but when WWI began they fled Paris for New York City, where they were quickly absorbed into the more comfortable echelons of society. (Just like Trotsky had been.) After graduating in Physics and Math from NYU, A. C. Spectorsky’s first job was with the editorial staff of The New Yorker magazine.

Improbable doors never stopped opening for the young Auguste Comte: Spectorsky worked as Literary Editor for the Chicago Sun for six years “during the 1940s” before returning to NYC as “a writer and editor in movies, television and journalism”.

The literary world Spectorsky swam in was stuffed with ‘pinko millionaires’ and their henchmen. I’ll remind readers that every publishing concern except Hearst’s got behind FDR’s campaign to drag the USA into WWII to fight for the British, and that British master-spy William Stephenson’s media power-base was in NYC. (See Jennet Conant’s The Irregulars.)

To work in television, however, Spectorsky would have needed additional patronage; patronage that likely came from the circle around David Sarnoff, the military-media-mogul and ‘father of American television’. Sarnoff was versed in intelligence matters thanks to his war-time propaganda work and was an admirer of Sigmund Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays, who championed the use of propaganda to subvert democracy. David Sarnoff is also credited with devising the American foreign policy tactic of ‘gang rioting’ to facilitate regime change. (By the mid Sixties the CIA was exploring how to incite rioting in American ‘inner cities’ via the MK ULTRA subproject 102 and the work of Muzafer Sherif.)

In short, A. C. Spectorsky had friends in all the right places and was close to those ‘pinko millionaires’ who have done so much to undermine civil society. Spectorsky’s literary career was built on flattering those millionaires: his most famous book, The Exurbanites, is a cloying homage to NYC’s intelligentsia:

The exurbanite is a displaced New Yorker. He has moved from the city to the country. So indeed have hundreds of thousands of Americans, especially since the second World War; but for the exurbanite the case is different; for him the change is an exile. He will never quite completely permit himself to be absorbed into his new surroundings; he will never acclimate… spiritually he will always been urban, an irreconcilable whose step… is still the steadiest when it returns to the familiar crowded cross-walks  of Madison Avenue.

Of course, literature is how you look at it and Spectorsky may be mocking the ‘East Coast Establishment’ in his book, but having lived that life myself, I believe it’s more likely that Spectorsky is regurgitating the provincial attitudes (and fears) which were lampooned on this New Yorker cover in 1976: 1976 New Yorker cover We don’t know how Spectorsky was chosen to be the brains behind Playboy, but it happened, and he soon transferred his unfettered desire for approval away from the New York Literary Establishment to his new power-figure, Hugh Hefner. This is how Watts describes the relationship between these two men, it may remind readers of how cult followers identify with authority figures:

Nevertheless, he [Spectorsky] yearned for his boss’ [Hefner’s] approval. “He had a very strange relationship with Hefner,” Spectorsky’s wife reported. “Almost father-son, but the wrong way round. I don’t know why he had this tremendous need to please Hefner but he did.”

Spectorsky describes his own relationship with his boss this way: “To hate him as much as I’ve hated him, you really have to love him.”

Hefner, on the other hand, didn’t even bother to express condolences to Spectorsky when A.C.’s daughter died. Spectorsky put up with his narcissistic ‘boss’ because of a deep-seated insecurity about his worth as a writer, says Watts. Spectorsky’s opinion of his own talents was higher than anything literary he achieved in life; he tried to compensate for this with a flashy yacht and a luxurious lifestyle.

What Politics did Spectorsky Promote in Playboy?

Having given you a picture of Playboy’s literary gatekeeper Spectorsky, I’ll now go on to what type of ideas he chose to promote in Hefner’s mag. I’ve spent the last few days tabulating who and what was featured on every Playboy cover between 1959-1976. That’s 216 covers and about 140 authors total.

As I stated at the beginning of this post, there was a lot of cross-pollination between Playboy and the Congress for Cultural Freedom during the 1959-76 period, (the number in [brackets] is how many times the author was featured on a Playboy cover): Tennessee Williams [4], Bertrand Russell [3] (see University of Chicago CCF archives), as well as Alberto Moravia [5], Leslie Fielder [3], Norman Thomas [1], Vladimir Nabokov [14], Arthur Koestler [1], William Benton [2], William F. Buckley Jr. [6] and William Saroyan [6] (see Frances Stonor Saunders’ The Cultural Cold War). Vladimir Nabokov was the cousin of CCF General Secretary Nicholas Nabokov.

Typically, if Spectorsky decided to feature an author on Playboy’s cover, they were featured twice, so a number of the CCF writers listed above were given extra-special promotion. However, intellectuals who made a name for themselves by criticizing the CCF were also promoted heavily: Allen Ginsberg [2], Gore Vidal [2], Graham Greene [4], Jean Paul Satre [2], John Kenneth Galbraith [3], Kenneth Tynan [5], Murray Kempton [2], Norman Mailer [7] and John La Carre [1]. The director Stanley Kubrick [2], another of Saunders’ beloved ‘Cold War ethos’ critics, was also promoted.

In The Cultural Cold War Saunders makes a particular effort to emphasize how the writers listed above, particularly Ginsberg [2], Tynan [5] and Mailer [7], ‘stood up’ to the CIA’s perversion of the intellectual sphere. For instance, here’s a quote from Saunders’ book, p. 216:

It [Quest, the CCF publication in India] probably didn’t deserve J. K. Galbraith’s sneer that ‘it broke new ground in ponderous, unfocused illiteracy’. Certainly Prime Minister Nehru didn’t like it, as he always distrusted the Congress as an ‘American front’. (The Cultural Cold War, p 216)

J. K. Galbraith was promoted by Hefner and Jawaharlal Nehru was the first head of state to be featured on a Playboy cover; Nehru’s issue was October 1962. (The outspokenly anti-CCF Prime Minister appeared eight months after Ernst Henri outed the Congress for Cultural Freedom!) Regular readers will remember that Frances Stonor Saunders makes no mention of Henri’s article in her book, but she almost certainly knew about it. 1963 10 PlayboyThe only other foreign heads of state to make a Playboy cover during this period were Fidel Castro (Exclusive Interview!) and Mao Tse Tung (His Poetry!)– Playboy played an influential role in introducing these communist leaders’ ideas to the American public. (Castro was promoted by Allen Ginsberg and fellow Playboy contributor Leroi Jones [1].)

The CIA agent's hymn to Castro.

The CIA agent’s hymn to Castro. Thank you, GinsbergBlog.

Saunders never gets tired of plugging Ginsberg and the ‘Beat’ poets as antidotes to the CIA’s cultural meddling:

With the rise of the New Left [think Ramparts magazine –a.nolen] and the Beats, the cultural outlaws who had existed on the margins of American society now entered the mainstream, bringing with them a contempt for what William Burroughs called a ‘sniveling, mealy-mouthed tyranny of bureaucrats, social workers, psychiatrists and union officials… Alan Ginsberg, who in his 1956 lament Howl had mourned the wasted years– ‘I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness’– now advocated the joys of open homosexuality and hallucinogenic ‘Peyote solitudes’. Munching LSD, singing the body electric, reading poetry in the nude, navigating the world through a mist of benzedrine and dope, the Beats reclaimed Walt Whitman from stiffs like Norman Pearson Holmes [Literary scholar, J. J. Angleton’s sponsor with British intelligence –a.nolen], and sanctified him as the original hippy. They were scruffy rebels who sought to return chaos to order, in contrast to the obsession with formulae which characterized magazines like Encounter [CIA funded non-communist left magazine –a.nolen]. (p. 361)

The ‘Beat Generation’ writers were the second non-pornography cover feature for Playboy (June 1959); the first was Jazz, which the CIA had been using as a culture war tool since the early 50s. Playboy was a consistent proponent of Jazz throughout the Cold War; it later championed ‘pop’ music too. 1959 06 Playboy Playboy’s ‘dissident’ stance against traditional morality was the same stance that ‘Saunders-approved’ authors like Norman Mailer [7] took against the Congress for Cultural Freedom:

With equal conviction, Norman Mailer argued that America’s war in Vietnam was ‘the culmination to a long sequence of events which had begun in some unrecorded fashion toward the end of World War II. A consensus of the most powerful middle-aged and elderly WASPs in America– statesmen, corporation executives, generals, admirals, newspaper editors, and legislators– had pledged an intellectual troth: they had sworn with a faith worthy of medieval knights that Communism was the deadly foe of Christian culture. (p.371)

The typical Playboy contributor looks a lot more like Norman Mailer than a middle-aged, American WASP. So who were the typical Playboy contributors?

Authors were first promoted on Playboy’s cover regularly in Jan 1959: the first fifteen included three British intelligence agents P. G. Wodehouse, Roald Dahl, Robert Graves, plus one more likely British intel agent John Collier. (Collier’s career so closely resembles Dahl’s that it would be extraordinary if Stephenson hadn’t recruited him.) Let’s be conservative and say 20% of the first authors were British intel.

Open American intelligence operatives are the next most numerous: Richard Gehman and Marion Hargove both wrote allied propaganda for the military during WWII. Alberto Moravia’s journalistic career in Italy flourished under James Angleton’s propaganda regime; Moravia also participated in the CIA’s Congress for Cultural Freedom. 20% of these Playboy cover writers come from US intelligence.

Recap: 40% of A. C. Spectorsky’s first 15 authors who were promoted on Playboy’s cover were British or American intelligence agents/assets.

The next largest group are the probable American intelligence assets; I say probable because of their association with US agent Allen Ginsberg, who gave CIA notes on the heroin trade in Vietnam to Alfred McCoy so that McCoy could write The Politics of Heroin; and introduced Mick Jagger to his political handler, Tom Driberg, a British intelligence agent. These ‘friends of Ginsberg’ are 1) Jack Kerouac; who was discharged from the Marines after ten days’ service and mysteriously avoided prosecution for his role in the murder of David Kammerer and 2) Herbert Gold who would eventually occupy CIA asset Vladimir Nabokov’s chair at Cornell. That’s another 13% who had probable intel ties.

Finally, Ben Hecht had intelligence connections of a different type. In the US, he was a big proponent of racial integration, but in Israel he supported Irgun, the Zionist paramilitary group which ethnically cleansed chunks of Palestine for the Jewish state. (According to Judith Rice of the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation, the ‘American League for a Free Palestine’, a cover for Irgun stateside, cooperated with the NAACP to end segregation. Did the NAACP know what their Jewish partners were doing to Palestinians?) Charles Beaumont, another ‘first’ Playboy contributor, was one of Hecht’s working colleagues. Conservatively, Let’s tag on another 7%.

At the very least, between 47%-60% of contributors who were among the first 15 writers featured on Playboy’s cover had intelligence connections. I wonder why Spectorsky’s talent pool contained so many spooks? This sampling of writers is quite representative of Playboy contributors over the 1959-66 period, who were drawn from the intelligence community in shocking numbers.

Things really get interesting when we look at all-time contributors. I’ve broken the list up into pre-1966 contributors and 1967-76 contributors because 1966 was the year the New York Times was told to out the Congress for Cultural Freedom.

Top 20 Playboy Contributors 1959-66.

Top 20 Playboy Contributors 1959-66.

Ian Fleming, the British master spy, is easily Playboy’s most promoted author ever– covers in 1965 were rarely without him and his literary achievement, the spook-fairy-princess ‘James Bond’, originally debuted on Playboy pages. (Why would a CIA organ want to promote Bond’s lifestyle in a magazine that encourages the objectification of sexual partners? See John Gittinger’s Personality Assessment System, The Cult of Intelligence and Great Users of People.)

I’ve mentioned most of the names on that list before; we all know that Ernest Hemingway was a CIA/OSS/KGB spy. J. P. Getty, a running contributor on money matters, ultimately funded CIA agent Kenneth Anger’s career. Robert Raurk was a poor man’s version of Hemingway, who covered the Mau Mau Rebellion (which Rolling Stones groupie Robert Fraser helped suppress via propaganda) for the CIA front TIME magazine (Feb. 16th 1953). Nat Hentoff is a pro-Israel ‘social justice’ activist who covered Jazz for major East Coast media outlets during the period in which the CIA used Jazz as a Culture War tool. (Hentoff now fights anti-semitism from the CATO Institute.)

Shepherd Mead was a vice president of the advertising firm Benton & Bowles. Benton & Bowles rose to fame on the coat-tails of the Radio industry in the USA, an industry that has always had deep ties to the intelligence community. Benton, the company’s founder, shared David Sarnoff and Edward Bernays’ vision that communications should be used to reeducate the public. Jean Shepherd was also a radio personality, making a smooth transition into media from serving in the US Army Signal Corps during WWII.

Gerald Kersh was a British-born WWII propagandist; Budd Schulberg was in the OSS (he arrested photographer Leni Riefenstahl so that US heavies could interrogate her).

The ‘science fiction’ faction of Playboy contributors is fascinating: Ray Bradbury was a regular at the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society (LASFS), whose leading lights included Jack Parsons, the top-secret Jet propulsion scientist and Aleister Crowley (UK Intel) devotee; as well as Karl Germer’s successor to the intelligence-heavy O.T.O. Grady McMurty; and L. Ron Hubbard. (See Sex and Rockets: The Occult World of Jack Parsons by John Carter). The LASFS had a weird military bent too, as describes:

At the same time, with World War II in progress and most SF [science fiction] fans over 18 in the Armed Services, the LASFS took on the atmosphere of a fannish USO. Los Angeles was a major embarkation center for soldiers and sailors shipping out into the Pacific, and LASFS members were always ready to stop fighting long enough to greet and play host to fans in uniform passing through L.A. to the front.

Other science fiction/horror contributors include Ray Russell (a contributor to the CIA’s Paris Review), and the previously mentioned Charles Beaumont. Roald Dahl, besides being a UK intel operative, was also gifted in writing the macabre which he infused with his anger toward women and his anti-German prejudices. (See Storyteller, by Donald Sturrock.)

Ken Purdy was a personal friend of Spectorsky’s who shot himself in the early Seventies; I couldn’t find anything about “William Iversen”, who doesn’t seem to have written beyond Playboy, but he did take on a strong anti-marriage stance in Hefner’s rag.

Let’s consider the next ‘era’ 1967 to 1976, the year William Colby’s tenure at the CIA ended.

Top 20 Playboy Contributors 1967-76.

Top 20 Playboy Contributors 1967-76.

Both Len Deighton (famous for spy fiction) and Arthur C. Clarke were in the RAF during WWII, Deighton was an RAF Special Investigations Unit photographer and Clarke worked on sensitive, cutting edge radar technology. Clarke became a well-known a science fiction author and championed LGBT issues from his adopted Sri Lanka, where he was given a type of knighthood. Dan Greenberg worked with Kenneth Tynan on Oh! Calcutta! and was famous for writing How To Be A Jewish Mother; Kenneth Tynan was a favorite CCF ‘dissenter’. According to Saunders, Tynan lampooned the CCF on the BBC TV Show That Was The Week That Was several months after Ernst Henri outed the CIA operation in 1962, i.e. Tynan and the BBC slammed the CCF around the same time Playboy featured anti-CCF Nehru.

Evan Hunter is interesting because he was an executive editor for the Scott Meredith Literary Agency which was founded in NYC in 1946. Scott Meredith’s first client was British intel agent P.G. Wodehouse, who had to run to the USA after making suspect radio broadcasts from Berlin during WWII; MI5 quickly cleared Wodehouse of any wrongdoing, but the general public was not so forgiving and considered him a traitor. Scott Meredith also represented Playboy mega-contributors Norman Mailer and Arthur C. Clarke.

Kurt Vonnegut Jr. supported Frank Platt, a CIA agent and Farfield Foundation director, for president of the PEN organization even after the CIA’s congress (and Frank Platt!) had been thoroughly outed (See Saunder’s Cultural Cold War).  William F Buckley Jr was a CIA agent who worked under E. Howard Hunt. Irwin Shaw was the type of writer who the CIA’s Paris Review likes to promote. (Salon did a piece on the PR’s CIA connection in 2012— a.nolen is now taking bets on when Glenn Greenwald’s Salon will be outed as an Agency front.)

Woody Allen is the famous director and darling of Hollywood, who has recently been accused by the daughter of his one-time wife Mia Farrow of molesting her as a child. Isaac Bashevis Singer, another Paris Review (CIA) favorite, wrote about counter-culture and politics from an Orthodox Jewish perspective. John Cheever is the archetypical ‘WASP hypocrite’ writer and poster-child for Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Alan Watts, whose book I quoted from earlier about Spectorsky, was a defrocked minister and an LSD proponent.

That’s a lot of names. Probably enough for one post. I’ve put up a list of Playboy contributors 1959-76 and how many cover promos they had, so you can see for yourself how the CIA ranked your favorite Mid-Century author! (This list is only comprehensive for writers who were featured more than once, a handful of remaining single-shot promos are coming soon.) Next week there will be something for everyone:

  • I’ll tie Playboy politics into the larger CIA agenda during the 1950s, 60s and 70s– the agenda we know in part because of William Colby’s leaks.
  • We’ll also see how Frances Stonor Saunders ties into the Angleton/Colby squabble that did so much to shape American intelligence.
  • More on Ramparts and what got Gawker contributor Adrian Chen fired!