Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) is a broadcaster funded by the US Congress. The radio station provides information, news and analysis to countries in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia. In other words, wherever, according to the Radio Free Europe website, “The free flow of information is either banned by government authorities or not fully developed.”
The RFE/RL is managed by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, a federal agency which supervises all the international broadcasting services in the US. The radio service was founded in 1949 by the National Committee for a Free Europe. The National Committee for a Free Europe was a US anti-American organization aimed at spreading American influence in opposition to the Soviets across Europe. The RFE/RL was founded as a propaganda news source and until 1972 received funds by the CIA.
RFE/RL’s listening public were however unaware that the Germany-based radio station was being funded by the CIA. RFE/RL began with a mission of “promoting democratic values and institutions” with the original purpose to “broadcast news to countries behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War”.
It has been said that the CIA used the radio station to conduct “psychological warfare from behind the Iron Curtain.” When people became aware of the CIA’s involvement with Radio Free Europe and that much of the information and stories broadcast were actually being created by the CIA, the organization became a non-profit company charted in Delaware, US.
In 1975, RFE merged with Radio Liberty (RL). RL is a similar anti-communist enterprise, which was created in 1951 by the American committee of the Liberation of Peoples in Russia, broadcasting to the people who lived in the Soviet Union. From then on the combined radio stations became known as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).
In October 1955, Vice President Nixon sent out invitations to select individuals to attend a dinner at the Anderson House in Washington, D.C. In a memo to the invitees, the Vice President explained to the corporate leaders, who were supporters of Radio Free Europe, that President Eisenhower had suffered a heart attack and couldn’t attend.
“You know of the President’s interest in the Crusade for Freedom and Radio Free Europe,” wrote the Vice President in his invitation letter.
The letter incidentally is available to read on the CIA website. At the dinner, Nixon read a letter written by President Eisenhower to the guests. The letter included the President’s personal view of the Crusade for Freedom. The Crusade for Freedom was an American propaganda campaign which ran from 1950 – 1960. The goal of the campaign was to raise funds for Radio Free Europe. It also served to hide the CIA’s involvement and funding of RFE as well as to generate domestic support for US Cold War policies.
“As you know,” wrote President Eisenhower, “the Crusade for Freedom is the only fund raising cause, which I felt is appropriate and desirable to support personally through an occasion such as this. I hope it is obvious to everyone that I would not have done this if I did not feel keenly the Government’s interest in seeing this vital work of the Free Europe Committee – notably Radio Free Europe – continue unabated.”
Anderson House Dinner Document
What is particularly interesting about the Anderson House dinner document is the long list of US corporations that were invited to the event. Almost 40 CEO and company executives are listed on the document as having accepted the invitation to Vice President Nixon’s dinner. These corporations ranged from Owens-Corning Fiberglass Corp. to the United States Steel Corp., Shell Oil Company to the US Steel Corporation, Chase Manhattan Bank to Goldman, Sachs and Company. You get the picture.
So what does the fact that the in the mid-1950s the US government invited so many private corporations to a fundraising event essentially aimed at convincing the companies to invest in the US’s effort to transmit radio propaganda throughout Eastern Europe via Radio Free Europe mean?
This document essentially proves that back in the 1950s the US government leaned heavily on private corporations to support these kind of operations.
Another document published on the CIA website which proves how “close” the CIA and private corporations were during the Cold War is a letter sent in 1960 from Edwin Putzell, Jr., former director of Monsanto Chemical Company. The letter is to Allen Dulles, then director of the CIA. The note thanks Dulles for sending him a photograph of General Donovan’s portrait.
“This is such a wonderful likeness of 109 I intend to have it framed and permanently displayed here at my office,” wrote the Monsanto Chemical Corp. director.
These arguably “brown nose” documents between big corporations and the CIA suggest that during the Cold War US government and corporate interests were vested into one common interest.
The belief that the US government and large corporations are “as one” is not confined to the Cold War era. In 2010, a Gallup poll indicated that Americans felt the government has too much power. Radio host Alex Jones argued that people should not only fear the US government but the “corporate machine that fuels it”.
Corporations Setting US Policy?
“The federal government is the consortium of tyranny, through which the Fortune 100 that control the government are looting and robbing our nation,” said Jones. “We’re just going through this same process of corporate corruption running rampant.”
Jones continued that corporations are setting US policy. Alex Jones is not the only one to cite a belief that corporate interests have taken over the US government. Talking to CNN, John Edwards spoke about how powerful corporate interests have “literally” taken over the US government.
The evidence and beliefs might be circulating that government and corporate interests are entwined, both during the Cold War and today. The obvious question, however, remains – What do corporations get in return from the government?
Being “friendly” with the government can help corporations shape policies in their favor. An example of this occurred in 2004. In the summer of 2004, the Department of Health and Human Services unveiled an advertising campaign to promote breastfeeding in the US.
The ABC news program 20/20 produced an investigative report about how baby formula corporations put intense pressure on the government to change its approach and re-shape its breast milk campaign. According to the 20/20 investigative report titled “Milk Money”, the campaign was much different to the one that was originally produced.
It was, states ABC, a battle between mother’s milk and the companies that make infant formula who put intense pressure on the government to change its approach.
From the CIA looking for almost desperate ways for US corporations to invest in its interests to secretly transmit radio propaganda across Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East, to corporations directly shaping contemporary government campaigns and policy – government/corporate mutual interests seem as present today as they were during the Cold War.