Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Karen M. Paget's "Patriotic Betrayal"

Karen M. Paget, a former member of the National Student Association, is a contributing editor to The American Prospect and co-author of Running as a Woman: Gender and Power in American Politics.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her latest book, Patriotic Betrayal: The Inside Story of the CIA’s Secret Campaign to Enroll American Students in the Crusade Against Communism, and reported the following:
From page 99:
In October, Ingram told an NSA academic advisor that he had all the money he needed to operate a Latin America program, “just as we planned it.” He did not identify specific donors, although to a prospective NSA staff member, he indiscreetly described a “new hush-hush agency in the government” that would be able to finance the NSA. In early November, he told a friend at Georgia Tech that he had found an angel.
This excerpt from Patriotic Betrayal captures a turning point in the covert relationship between the CIA and the United States National Student Association (NSA), an organized formed in 1947 by campus student government leaders. When Avrea Ingram, the NSA international affairs vice president, made these remarks in 1951, the CIA’s ad hoc funding arrangements with NSA had become untenable, and CIA officials devised new ways to route secret funds. Ingram’s angel was John Simons, an NSA founding father, who as a CIA career agent resurfaced as a director of the Foundation for Youth and Student Affairs. The name, meant to suggest a traditional philanthropy, in fact, served as a conduit for CIA funds.

In 1967, when Ramparts magazine exposed the NSA/CIA relationship, many Americans could not understand why the CIA would care about students – after all, campuses conjured images of football, fraternities and other frivolities. It was a uniquely American view: elsewhere, students were important actors; they overthrew governments, ousted dictators, fought colonial power, and, at a minimum, influenced education policy.

In the early Cold War, the CIA sought to counter Soviet influence abroad. The Soviet-backed International Union of Students in Prague, for example, claimed to represent the world’s students. In response, the CIA created and secretly funded a rival international organization, as it did in other areas.

Over the years, the NSA/CIA relationship grew into multiple covert operations, global in scope, and carried out by “witting” participants, students who had signed a security oath under the 1917 Espionage Act. The oath, if violated, carried a twenty-year prison term. During the 1967 press uproar, this threat kept participants’ lips sealed. Patriotic Betrayal is the first history of these sweeping CIA-student operations, from their origins and growth to the heroic effort of one NSA President to end the CIA’s grip on NSA, the subsequent Ramparts investigation, and the CIA’s frenetic attempts at damage control. Patriotic Betrayal goes far beyond the moral argument over whether the CIA operation was justified, and examines what the young operatives did. It reveals the central role that espionage—spying on foreign students--played over the years, and its unforeseen and dangerous consequences. It is a cautionary tale for those who today advocate similar covert strategies to win the hearts and minds of new enemies.
Visit Karen M. Paget's website.

--Marshal Zeringue