Columbia University and the U.S. Intelligence Community

Columbia University and the U.S. Intelligence Community

Excerpted from: North American Congress on Latin America, Who Rules Columbia? -- Original 1968 Strike Edition (New York: NACLA, 1970), pages 13-17 of 40 pages.

The very nature of the Cold War struggle against Communism and the drive for empire require extensive non-military resources. The U.S. intelligence community, under the direction of the Central Intelligence Agency, is in charge of enlisting the expertise and the cover of non-governmental organizations. Through covert penetration of civilian branches of the government, voluntary groups, corporations, law firms, research centers, cultural projects, foundations and universities, the CIA is able to mobilize and coordinate for government service much of the seemingly a-political work of U.S. civilian society.

The primary tasks of the U.S. intelligence community are gathering and analyzing strategic information for decision-makers and positioning trained personnel in key locations to manipulate the course of events. (For a history and discussion of the CIA see, Wise and Ross, The Invisible Government.) Like several large universities, Columbia offers excellent opportunities for achieving these goals. Most of the evidence points to indirect relationships, but because the CIA is closed and secret and because the Columbia Administration refuses to discuss its CIA relations, it is quite possible that CIA-CU ties are far more direct and pervasive than the public data now indicates. In fact, our own information indicates that these ties are so direct as to involve a highly influential group of men in dual positions of leadership -- inside Columbia and in the CIA itself.

One level of association involves individuals connected with Columbia who are also affiliated with CIA-related organizations. Three types of CIA-relationships are identified in the following table.

CIA-Related Organization
   (Position in CIA-Related Organization)
   Name and Columbia Position


Asia Foundation
   Grayson Kirk, President

African-American Institute
   Arthur Krim, Trustee
   (Tr)   L. Gray Cowan, Dir. SIA African Institute
   (Tr)   Louis G. Cowan, Dir. Special Prog. Grad. School of Journalism

American Society of African Culture
   L. Gray Cowan, Dir. SIA African Institute

Committee of Correspondence
   (former Pres)
   Anna Lord Strauss, SIA contributor
   (Mem)   Alice Stetten, SIA Adv.

Free Europe Committee
   Frank Altschul, SIA Adv.
   (Mem)   Adolf A. Berle, Prof., SIA Adv.
   (Mem)   Ernest A. Gross, SIA Adv., Past Trustee, Barnard College


Institute for International Education
   Grayson Kirk, President
   (Tr)   Lawrence Wien, Trustee
   (Pres)   Kenneth Holland, SIA Adv.

John H. Whitney Trust
   Walter N. Thayer, Trustee

American Council for Emigres in the Professions
   Harry J. Carman, Dn. Emer.
   (Dr)   Horace L. Friess, Prof.
   (Dr)   Wesley J. Hennessy, Assoc. Dn. School of Engineering
   (Dr)   Frank Tannenbaum, Prof. Emer.
   (Dr)   Rosemary Parks, Former Pres, Barnard College
   (Exec. Dr)   Joe Jefferson, former Dean of Administration
   (Adv)   Millicent C. McIntosh, Pres. Emer., Barnard College


Farfield Foundation
   William A.M. Burden, Trustee
   (Dr)   Gardner Cowles, SIA Adv., Trustee Teachers College

Foundation for Youth and Student Affairs
   Francis T.P. Plimpton, Trustee Barnard College

Cleveland H. Dodge Foundation
   Cleveland E. Dodge, Trustee, Teachers College

Edward John Noble Foundation
   Eugene C. Bewkes, SIA Adv.
   (Dr)   Alger B. Chapman, SIA Adv.
   (Dr)   David S. Smith, SIA Assoc. Dean

David, Josephine and Winfield Baird Foundation, Inc.
         financial contributor to Columbia

William Benton Foundation
         financial contributor to Columbia

Catherwood Foundation
         financial contributor to Columbia

W. Alton Jones Foundation
         financial contributor to Columbia

J.M. Kaplan Fund, Inc.
         financial contributor to Columbia

Lucius N. Littauer Foundation
         financial contributor to Columbia

Aaron E. Norman Fund, Inc.
         financial contributor to Columbia

Rubicon Foundation
         financial contributor to Columbia

Legend: (Dr)=Director; (Tr)=Trustee; (Dn)=Dean; (Ed.Bd.)=Editorial Board; (Ad)=Advisor; (Emer)=Emeritus; SIA = School of International Affairs; (Mem)=Member

Another indirect connection between the CIA and the School of International Affairs (SIA) is demonstrated by the presence of Eugene C. Bewkes and Alger B. Chapman, as advisory council members of SIA, and David S. Smith, Associate Dean of SIA, Director of the International Fellows Program and a member of the Administrative Board of the Research Institute on Communist Affairs. All three men are directors of the Edward John Noble Foundation, which besides passing money for the CIA, has also given over $2 million to SIA. Smith is also tied to the intelligence community through his past position as Asst. Sec. of the Air Force where he was involved with the CIA's U-2 flights over the Soviet Union.

The Farfield Foundation, which was a large contributor to the Congress for Cultural Freedom, the American Society of African Culture and the American Council for Emigres in the Professions, is well represented at Columbia through Gardner Cowles [Teachers College Trustee] and Columbia College Trustee William A.M. Burden, both of whom are directors of the foundation. Burden, one of the foundation's founders, is also a director of Lockheed Aircraft which served as a CIA front for the U-2 flights. Farfield made contributions in 1962 and 1964 to Columbia for travel and study fellowships.

Another important member of SIA's Advisory Council and a major SIA contributor is Sigurd Larmon, president of the advertising firm, Young and Rubicam, which is rapidly increasing the number of its overseas accounts. Mr. Larmon was one of a nine-member committee chosen by Eisenhower in 1953 to help perfect the country's psychological warfare program. According to The New York Times, the "committee presumably would study means of improving the organization and techniques of the Central Intelligence Agency, the Psychological Strategy Board, the Voice of America, the Information Services of the State and other departments, and the psychological operations of the Army in Korea."

In February, 1967, many students and faculty began an inquiry into the School of International Affairs to see if it was funded through conduits, or indirectly by the CIA. Andrew W. Cordier, Dean of the SIA, responded by saying, "There is no indication that any of the foundations which have supported the school and its associated institutes have in turn been financed by the CIA."

The investigation was continued by Professor Serge Lang of the Mathematics Department, who was denied access to the School's budget. When Lang asked if Columbia held any contract the existence of which was classified, Warren Goodell, Associate Director of Projects and Grants, said he was not at liberty to comment. Ralph S. Halford, then Dean of Graduate Faculties (now a special asst. to Kirk) stated the Administration's official policy on CIA funding: "University policy would not preclude the acceptance ... of project support from the CIA." He went on to say that if a project was in line with regular academic duty, endorsed by the chairman or dean of the division in which it would be conducted, and approved by the Office of Projects and Grants as being appropriate to a University, "the University would not hesitate to accept ... an offer by the CIA to furnish funds in support of the project."

The student-professor investigation concentrated on the research projects of SIA, and late in 1967 a source that remains anonymous indicated that the Research Project on National Income in East Central Europe had been CIA-funded since 1961, receiving $125,000 a year. Columbia acknowledged that his charge was accurate, and indicated that the project was financed by the CIA's Office of Economic Research. Cordier immediately revealed that Dr. Thad P. Alton, Director of the National Income Project, had contracted for funds directly with the CIA, without going through the dean.

Alton and his staff were required to produce reports of their findings. Four books concerning the national income and product of Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland were financed by the CIA and published by Columbia University Press.

After students exposed it, the Columbia administration admitted that the Research Project on National Income in East Central Europe in the SIA was CIA sponsored. At least two of the researchers on this project, Claus Wittich and Vaclav Holesovsky, had worked for Radio Free Europe just prior to their Columbia-CIA work. The CIA was still funding the National Income Project until the recent strike when pressure from students and faculty forced the University to take steps to sever this tie.

The SIA deals with areas of study which interest the CIA. At least three of the members of the Advisory Council, Frank Altschul, Adolf A. Berle and Ernest A. Gross have served with the Free Europe Committee (FEC) which administers Radio Free Europe (RFE). The FEC-RFE complex draws on CIA funds for the radio operations and, more important, supports Eastern European exile groups which serve as an important source of intelligence for the CIA. The relationship between SIA and FEC goes much deeper than is indicated by the ties of these three advisory members to both groups. In 1955, FEC contributed $55,000 to Columbia's School of International Affairs to be used "to further teaching and research on Eastern Europe." Also, many SIA alumni work for RFE and RFE personnel come to SIA to do research, especially at the Research Institute on Communist Affairs. Another, more indirect tie between Columbia and FEC is indicated by the fact that Grayson Kirk's son, John, was a director of FEC.

As important as direct CIA involvement in SIA research projects, is Columbia's association with two organizations, the Asia Foundation and the Council on Foreign Relations.

The Asia Foundation has received much if not all of its financial support from the CIA. It has a budget of about $7 million a year to provide "private American assistance to those Asian groups and individuals working for continued social and economic improvement." The foundation has resident representatives in 14 Asian countries, with American offices in New York and San Francisco. At various times, representatives have been kicked out of Cambodia, Indonesia and more recently, India, reputedly for their various intelligence activities.

The person who makes the link between the Asia Foundation and Columbia is Grayson Kirk, president of the University. Kirk has been on the board of the Foundation for many years, and is one of its most influential trustees. In 1962, when Robert Blum, president of the Foundation, resigned, Kirk was appointed Chairman of the Nominating Committee of the Trustees, whose purpose was to select a new president. In his search for suitable candidates for this position, Kirk sought the advice and suggestions of Dean Rusk and Averell Harriman, a move which indicates the importance of the Foundation. He also encouraged recommendations from George S. Moore, President of the First National City Bank of New York, and A.L. Nickerson, Chairman of the Board of Socony Mobil Oil Company, Inc., concerning members of the bank and of Socony Mobil, which had experience in Asian affairs. One man who was proposed as a possible choice was Robert Amory, but Kirk himself is reported to have feared that he might bring embarrassment to the Asia Foundation. From 1952-1962, Amory was Deputy Director of the CIA.

The relationship between the Asia Foundation and Columbia is a reciprocal one. Since at least 1961, the Foundation has given grants to Columbia's School of Journalism, recently financing the Japanese Science Writers' Project and Fellowships for Asiatic Journalists. Grayson Kirk's long and intimate association with the Asia Foundation suggests what an able and prominent supporter of the CIA this university president really is. It follows that many of his administrative decisions as President of Columbia University have also reflected the interests, priorities and concerns of the CIA. Certainly such decisions would not infringe on these concerns. Consider Kirk's attitude toward the NSA (National Student Association)-CIA exposure: "One shouldn't jump to conclusions that the people in these organizations were being used as spies." The money was donated "more for propaganda purposes than for anything else." Kirk's only complaint about the CIA's funding of non-governmental organizations was that "a certain amount of this seems to have been handled clumsily by people in Washington."

The Council on Foreign Relations is probably the most prestigious and influential organization in the area of international relations and policy. Its members include former government officials, university administrators and corporate executives. The Council publishes books, holds conferences, hosts foreign dignitaries, advises the government and involves itself in other activities necessary to influence U.S. foreign policy. The following list demonstrates the close relationship between Columbia University and the Council.

Council on Foreign Relations and Columbia University

Henry M. Wriston   (Pres., 1964)   SIA Advisory Council
Frank Altschul   (VP and Sec'y)   SIA Advisory Council
Hamilton Fish Armstrong   (Director)   SIA Advisory Council
William A.M. Burden   (Director)   Trustee, Columbia
Joseph E. Johnson   (Director)   SIA Advisory Council
Grayson L. Kirk   (Director)   President, Columbia
David B. Truman   (Member)   VP and Provost, Columbia
Max Ascoli   (Member)   SIA Advisory Council
Harding F. Bancroft   (Member)   SIA Advisory Council
Adolf A. Berle   (Member)   SIA Advisory Council
Charles M. Brinckerhoff   (Member)   SIA Advisory Council
Kenneth Holland   (Member)   SIA Advisory Council
George S. Moore   (Member)   SIA Advisory Council
William I. Nichols   (Member)   SIA Advisory Council
Ogden R. Reid   (Member)   SIA Advisory Council
Edward L. Tinker   (Member)   SIA Advisory Council
David B. Smith   (Member)   SIA Associate Dean
Prof. Philip E. Mosely   (Member)   SIA European Inst.
Prof. L. Gray Cowan   (Member)   SIA Inst. of African Studies
Prof. Howard Wriggins   (Member)   SIA Southern Asia Inst.
Prof. William T.R. Fox   (Member)   SIA Inst. of War and Peace Studies
Andrew W. Cordier   (Member)   Dean, Faculty of Int'l Affairs, SIA
Arthur Hays Sulzberger   (Member)   Trustee Emeritus, Columbia
Marshall D. Shulman   (Member)   SIA Russian Inst.

Although many CIA conduit foundations have given contributions to the Council, it has never been exposed as a recipient of CIA funds. In fact, the Council appears to serve a much more direct and important function for the CIA. Convincing evidence of this is the series of discussion groups on "Intelligence and Foreign Policy" that the Council hosted in late 1967 and early 1968, to which Vice President David Truman was Columbia's representative. A list of the topics discussed is revealing. The list is as follows: "Intelligence and Foreign Policy: The American Experience;" "Intelligence and Policy Making: The Task Ahead;" "Covert Operations;" "Intelligence Operations and Private American Institutions;" and "U.S. Intelligence Organizations in the Future."

The discussions were led by individuals with extensive knowledge of CIA operations. For example, Richard Bissell (former Deputy Director of Plans for the CIA and architect of the Bay of Pigs invasion) reviewed the activities and functions of CIA agents overseas and discussed why it is better to work through nationals when possible; he also discussed when agents should and should not work through and with the knowledge of the U.S. Ambassador. In addition, he spoke of CIA funding of private organizations and the effect on their programs after the use of foundations as conduits for CIA money were exposed. Other known members of the CIA and other intelligence organizations who participated were Robert Amory, Jr., Allen W. Dulles, McGeorge Bundy and Franklin A. Lindsay.

What follows is an informal record from sources close to the University administration of the topics considered in the "Intelligence Operations and Private American Institutions" discussion group:

The importance of the relationship between the intelligence community and Columbia is great. The universities and their personnel serve in an advisory capacity and as a feed-back mechanism for intelligence evaluation. Also, by involving academics in intelligence, the CIA is able to create a favorable disposition towards the secrecy and manipulation which has become essential to many government operations in America. Policy initiative during these sessions more often than not comes from the intelligence community -- as is clearly the case in many situations where foreign policy is made.

Integration of a major university like Columbia into the ranks of this elite means not only that the CIA is provided with needed scholarship on international affairs and an academic cover for foreign penetration, but, most important, it thereby has the power to enlist Americas own intellectual resources in the barren campaigns of the Cold War.

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