The first encyclopedia of covert Central Intelligence Agency partners assembles the vast bulk of the agency’s non-government entities that are most important to its secret operations.
The Almost Classified Guide To CIA Front Companies and Proprietaries is an encyclopedia-style listing from A to Z of the CIA’s various fronts, proprietaries, and contractors/corporate partners since the agency’s inception in 1947.
The author is Wayne Madsen, a former Navy intelligence officer, analyst for the National Security Agency, and defense contracting executive.
Shown in a file photo, he is now an investigative reporter at The Wayne Madsen Report (WMR, a subscription service) and a commentator elsewhere who is frequently smeared by political opponents on Wikipedia and elsewhere. Yet he has been published by mainstream newspapers hundreds of times in recent years with op-eds on various current, as well as by various controversial outlets on the right, left and internationally.
Last week, he launched his 350-page book, his 15th book, at the National Press Club during a dinner lecture that aptly underscored the book’s importance — and why no one previously has published one like it.
As contrast, the club and mainstream media provided deferential treatment Oct. 31 to billionaire financier Peter Thiel that downplayed the role of his CIA-incubated Palantir Technologies data mining company in order to focus at a newsmaker event on his presidential preference and libertarian philosophy.
Palatir’s initial funding came in part from the CIA, and the company is now near the core of CIA and NSA monitoring of every American’s electronic communications — topics that never came up during Thiel’s talk, the extensive question and answer period, or coverage of the talk by such outlets as the Washington Post, which is among those named as CIA partners in Madsen’s book. (More on that in an appendix.)
“Here’s one of the things that shock me the most,” Madsen began. “You have an organization [the CIA] dealing with the Campfire Girls and 4-H Clubs, and also the Mafia and Hell’s Angels.”
He explained that CIA’s goal is influence over public life in covert ways, with the ultimate goal of sustaining American political support for empire-building on behalf of the nation’s plutocrats who have historically dominated the agency even more than elected politicians.
One of the creators of the CIA’s strategy was the late Frank Wisner Sr., the CIA pioneer who a close aide to CIA Director Allen Dulles and weekly dinner companion to Washington Post publishers Philip and Katharine Graham. Wisner coined in private the term a “Mighty Wurlitzer” to denote how the agency could orchestrate public opinion in tandem with his close friends in the media via the Operation Mockingbird program and otherwise, as recounted in such predecessor books as The Mightly Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America by Hugh Wilford (Harvard University Press, 2008).
But no one before Madsen has so far named the names in near-comprehensive fashion. Experts in the field regard the format as particularly useful because front companies and covert partners are often used for black operations such as propaganda, citizen surveillance, arms and drug smuggling, and civil disturbances to create regime change or civil war.
His book’s information comes from declassified or other public sources (hence the words “almost classified” in the title) in order to avoid breaking the law on national security. Yet Madsen described the publishing process for this kind of book as so sensitive that he could not trust a commercial publisher, many of whom he found to have hidden ties with the CIA or other intelligence agencies that can disrupt (or augment) book marketing.
Madsen’s research matches Justice Integrity Project findings, as well as those from such experts as the late Defense Department executive L. Fletcher Prouty, an Air Force colonel whose job some five decades ago was to serve as the Pentagon’s top liaison to the CIA for covert operations. That included placing agency CIA loyalists into key private sector and government jobs where their status as members of the agency’s “Secret Team” would not be known by colleagues or the public.
So, we are particularly delighted to recommend Madsen’s book, and summarize highlights of his lecture and courageous, much-needed work. It happens all of the four journalists on our Justice Integrity Board of Directors were noted in his dedication, and so this launch is especially congruent with our goals here.
In that spirit, longtime Press Club member and civic leader John Edward Hurley introduced Madsen’s talk as follows to the McClendon Group, a speaker society at the club that Hurley has led for a quarter century:
Found in this book, which belongs on the desk of every researcher, historian, journalist, and spy, are the most famous or infamous, depending on one’s outlook, CIA fronts and proprietaries.
The reader will find descriptions of Zapata Off-Shore, the Bay of Pigs front linked to George H. W. Bush; Air America, the Indochina War airline once dubbed the “World’s Largest Airline” and nicknamed “Air Opium”; Southern Air Transport, the CIA proprietary that flew guns and drugs on behalf of the Nicaraguan Contra guerrillas in violation of U.S. law; and the CIA’s favorite money laundering bank, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), also known as the “Bank of Crooks and Criminals.”
“While perusing the pages,” continued Hurley, “one is immediately struck by the staggering degree that the CIA infiltrated American society, including entertainment, education, the news media, religion, labor unions, corporations, and social organizations.”
Hurley’s experiences have included covering the White House with famed correspondent Sarah McClendon of the McClendon News Service and running the Confederate Memorial museum for a quarter century, as well as many volunteer posts in civic organizations.”The president who created the CIA, Harry S Truman,” Hurley continued, “later called for its total reform. However, others felt that the CIA had become too powerful and totally entrenched in American society to be redeemable.”
With that warm and apt introduction, Madsen took the podium to describe one of most useful and courageous of his 15 books.