The following passage originally appeared in a 1969 book of essays and such, under the heading American Labor and United States Foreign Policy, and cites Thomas Braden. More about Braden in a second, but if you are like me, when you saw that book title you thought “Wow! There’s a book I’ll never read.” Indeed, I never did. I picked up this passage from The Politics of Heroin, by Alfred McCoy.
In the cited book, Ronald Radosh cites Braden, a CIA agent, as follows:
On the desk in front of me as I write these lines is a creased and faded yellow paper, It bears the following inscription in pencil:
“Received from Warren G. Haskins, $15,000 (signed) Norris A. Grambo.”
I went in search of this paper on the day the newspapers disclosed the “scandal” of the Central Intelligence Agency’s connection with America students and labor leaders. It was a wistful search, and when it ended I found myself feeling sad.
For I was Warren G. Haskins, Norris A. Grambo was Irving Brown, of the American Federation of Labor. The $15,000 was from the vaults of the CIA, and the yellow paper is the last memento I possess of a vast and secret operation…
It was my idea to give $15,000 to Irving Brown. He needed it to pay off his strong-arm squads in the Mediterranean Ports, so that American supplies could be uploaded against the opposition of Communist dock workers.
Historians who rely on declassified documents will be hard-pressed to understand what Braden is talking about, but it has to do with breaking a dock workers’ strike in Marseille, France in the post-war years. Quite a few things were going on. The Corsican mob, with CIA assistance, was strong-arming communist workers* out of the unions, while Lucky Luciano, then living in Italy, was using laboratories in Marseilles to process heroin for shipment to the United States (the “French Connection”). The CIA assisted the Corsicans and Luciano in moving product stateside. The U.S. was also running arms shipments through Marseilles to assist the French in their battle to retain their colony in Vietnam.
In the meantime, CIA was busy infiltrating American labor unions and student organizations, trying to separate them from leftist influence. And, in a separate operation aptly known as “Mockingbird,” CIA was busy infiltrating its people into American media. CIA Director William Colby would later say that the idea was to “Own everyone of any significance in the major media.” No doubt they succeeded, as our American news media is a tame rabbit even as it is portrayed in movie and TV fare as a stalking tiger.
CIA were busy boys in those days! The reason this passage struck me was that anyone who was sentient in 1982 might remember a TV show on CNN called “Crossfire,” and the opening words uttered five nights a week:
From the left, I’m Tom Braden.”
Yeah, that Thomas Braden, speaking from the left no less!. Braden was obviously Mockingbirded into his seat on that show. (He was also a newspaper columnist, and the inspiration for the TV show “Eight is Enough.”)
I call it full spectrum dominance. No matter your point of view in this country, if you get your news from the American media, you’re a right winger. If you’re “on the left,” like Braden, you’re just a righty of another color.
*Due to McCarthy era propaganda, which went on through 1990, the reader’s assumption might be that the communist workers were part of the Internationale, and took orders from Moscow. Not true. It was merely an organizing force for labor.