The Tin Whistle

counterculture history and conspiracy theory

The CIA & the National Student Association

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The American delegation parades through Lenin Square.

After WWII, the Soviets began throwing world youth festivals and inviting attendance from student delegations from around the globe. These festivals drew interest from the newly formed CIA, created in 1947, the same year the National Student Association (NSA) was founded in Madison, Wisconsin, for the purpose of attending the Communist youth festivals.

Interestingly, both the CIA and the NSA have strong Catholic connections. William Donovan was an Irishman who ran intelligence operations during WWII and helped craft the CIA charter. Ever since, the agency has had a stack of Malta Knights in leadership positions, and you’ll find the same situation over at the Pentagon. Because of their diplomatic immunity and immense global connections, Knights of Malta are powerful people. As WWII was winding down, German Malta Knights and American Malta Knights worked together on hiding hundreds of war criminals in churches and monasteries until they could be spirited away to new identities in new locations. Many of these war criminals ended up working for the CIA on covert operations. Catholics were especially trusted by the Cold War warriors because they represented a major antagonistic force resisting the spread of Communism, and thus were useful in dialectical operations. Of course, the other major component of the CIA were Freemasons and members of masonic-style secret societies like Yale’s Order of Skull & Bones. Most revolutions (especially the Communist ones) were organized through these masonic lodges. These two powerful groups represented opposing sides of the managed dialectic that was driving the growth of the military industrial complex.

The NSA helped found the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, which organized the march on Selma and subsequent Voting Rights Act that followed. They also played a role in the formation of the SDS. In 1964, Michael Wood dropped out of college to work on civil rights in the Watts district of Los Angeles. He soon came to the attention of the NSA and was offered a job at their Washington DC headquarters. By this time, the NSA had a million members in over 400 colleges and universities and had grown into an immense operation. Woods was brought in as a fundraiser, but soon noticed there seemed to be little interest in fundraising, and, in fact, the top executives did their own fundraising through their own channels. Woods went to Philip Sherburne, president of the NSA, and announced he needed to have control over all NSA fundraising, or he’d have to resign. Sherberne invited Wood to lunch at Sirloin and Saddle, and that’s when Sherberne violated his secrecy agreement and explained most of the NSA funding was coming from the CIA. Apparently, the pair decided at that lunch this needed to end, for shortly afterwards, CIA funds began to dry up. Wood was blamed for the budget shortfall and soon fired. And after the firing, he told Marc Stone, the son of I. F. Stone, who happened to be the publicist for Ramparts magazine. The magazine staff was incredulous, but began investigating, and that’s when the CIA use of a complex web of foundations for covert funding began to unravel.

Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 7.27.45 AMThe CIA got wind of the investigation and tried to quickly organize a press conference with past NSA presidents, all of whom were willing to testify to the secret relationship while explaining the CIA never influenced NSA policy only provided millions of dollars with zero strings attached. When Ramparts found out about this planned preemptive strike, they placed ads in major newspapers to promote their impending scoop.

In truth, the CIA links inside NSA were first uncovered in 1964 by NSA president Steve Robbins, who was aghast to discover he was participating in a covert intelligence operation. When Robbins confronted his staff with the bad news, nine of them waltzed outside while fishing around their pockets for a dime in order to check in with their agency handlers on nearby payphones. Most of them were specialists in international affairs with offices on the top floor and all had been secretly trained by Langley for their jobs. Apparently, they all went on to bigger and better jobs in the agency. But in 1964, word of this never leaked, and the world may have never known had Wood not been fired a few years later and had lunch with Stone. After the story broke, Wood and some senior NSA officials fled to Greensboro, North Carolina. The NSA was briefly shattered internally as many departed, but that just left the remaining spooks firmly in control.

In 2015, Karen Paget published the expose of this story titled Patriotic Betrayal. She researched for years and assembled a treasure trove of classified documents through the Freedom of Information Act. Paget begins her book by explaining that in 1965 she’d been invited to dinner by two past leaders of the NSA, and later on, at a private residence, she’d been handed a classified file that explained the NSA was run by the CIA and her husband had recently been recruited into the agency. Although most NSA employees were unaware of this relationship, the ones that did were classified as being “witty.” Paget was introduced to her husband’s case officer, code name Aunt Alice, and asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement stating should she ever reveal these secrets to anyone, she’d be liable for a minimum of 20 years in prison.

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Karen Paget

Although Patriotic Betrayal is the best guide to this saga, I have to wonder if it might not be a limited hangout because nothing devastating is revealed beyond the money trail. And the fact the book was published by Yale University Press should raise suspicions that some elements might be missing. Paget violated her secrecy agreement, yet no repercussions followed in the wake of the book’s release. Operations are more complex than most comprehend, and when you have several trillion in black funds to play with, the sky is the limit as far as penetrations go. I’m not saying Paget is a spook, although her husband certainly was, at least for a time, only that the documents released to her would have been carefully vetted. It would be naive to believe the vast CIA spook network has diminished over the years. If you wonder why zero national spokespeople on the left or right support independent investigations of 9/11, consider the left and right are parts of the same bird, and both packed with spooks. Very few of these operations will be revealed in our lifetimes. But if you dig around and keep an open mind, you might find evidence of their dialectical games as they unfold before your eyes in real time, because in politics little happens by accident. As JFK was fond to say, “In politics, things are made to happen.”


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  1. To see the depth of the student organizations on campuses and their corresponding communities, see info related to “Project Chaos”, a CIA covert operation (one of many not run through the Operations Directorate, but through James Angelton’s Counter-Espionage Directorate). This “Program” was to spy on, disrupt, and look for foreign money from Communist sources flowing into student groups during the Civil Rights and Vietnam era…..


    September 6, 2016 at 10:13 am

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