Covert Network: Progressives, the International Rescue Committee, and the CIA

Covert Network: Progressives, the International Rescue Committee, and the CIA

Covert Network: Progressives, the International Rescue Committee, and the CIA

Covert Network: Progressives, the International Rescue Committee, and the CIA

Synopsis

This book tells the story of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), the largest nonsectarian refugee relief agency in the world. Founded in the 1930s by socialist militants, the IRC attracted the support of renowned progressives such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Norman Thomas, and Reinhold Niebuhr. But by the 1950s it had been absorbed into the American foreign policy establishment. Throughout the Cold War, the IRC was deeply involved in the volatile confrontations between the two superpowers and participated in an array of sensitive clandestine operations. The IRC thus evolved from a small organization of committed activists to a global operation functioning as one link in the CIA's covert network.

Excerpt

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is the largest, nonsectarian refugee organization in the world, with a budget of over ninety million dollars and a staff numbering in the hundreds. From its inauspicious origins in April 1933, the organization has blossomed into a worldwide operation, with allies at the highest levels of government and corporate power. Indeed, in November 1993, President Bill Clinton sent greetings to the notables attending the Committee's sixtieth anniversary banquet, praising it as a "beacon of hope and inspiration." Ten years earlier, the New York Times congratulated the Committee for "a half-century of urgent, shrewd, [and] often brave interventions for refugees."

Yet the true history of the International Rescue Committee is not merely a straightforward, heartwarming story of a refugee relief agency providing humanitarian aid to the victims of wars and disasters. Throughout the Cold War, the IRC acted as an essential component of the covert network, the interconnected set of organizations helping the U.S. intelligence community to implement a variety of clandestine operations designed to destabilize the Soviet Union and its dependent allies. With the end of the Cold War, the Committee continues to operate in close conformity with the policy mandates of U.S. foreign policy.

In the years following World War II, U.S. decision makers came to understand the vital importance of political exiles who had fled from the Soviet bloc countries. These refugees could provide revealing insights into a closed society. Their skills could be utilized to implement specific projects, for instance, staffing ostensibly "private" radio stations transmitting to targeted countries. Finally, the defection of high-level officials and highly trained intellectuals undermined morale within the Soviet elite. These defections could also be exploited as a propaganda windfall in the protracted . . .

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