Published: Updated:

In 1976, the nation was shocked, and the religious and academic communities outraged, when the Church Committee revealed that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had surreptitiously hired clergymen and professors to do its dirty work.

The Church Committee found that, prior to 1967, the CIA sponsored, subsidized, or produced over 1,000 books. It also reported that in 1967, the CIA was using “several hundred American academics (administrators, faculty, graduate students engaged in teaching) who in addition to providing leads and, on occasion, making introductions for intelligence purposes, occasionally write books and other material to be used for propaganda purposes abroad. … These academics are located in over 100 American colleges, universities, and related institutes. At the majority of institutions, no one other than the individual concerned is aware of the CIA link. …”

When the dust settled, the CIA solemnly promised to stop such activities within the U.S. “We will, under no circumstances, publish books, magazines or newspapers in the U.S.,” promised CIA Deputy Director for Plans, Desmond Fitzgerald.

The CIA promise was good for just ten years (as far as we know).

Last year, Harvard University discovered, and revealed, that its Professor Nadar Safran accepted $107,430 from the CIA to secretly underwrite his recently published book, SAUDI ARABIA: THE CEASELESS QUEST FOR SECURITY.

 It also was discovered that the CIA paid $45,700 to underwrite a symposium on Islamic fundamentalism organized by Safran. Neither Harvard nor the participants in the symposium were aware of the CIA involvement.

Congressman Don Edwards (D-CA) charged that “This is serious misconduct by the CIA. So far the news accounts of this incident have focused on Harvard and Professor Safran, not on the CIA. Does this mean that the news media believe this practice is business as usual for the CIA or that we have all forgotten that ten years ago this behavior produced a major controversy? The public is entitled to know if these are isolated ventures or if we are back to the bad old days when one didn’t know which book was a CIA plant. How many books, magazines, and newspapers are there in the U.S. that are in reality CIA propaganda? How many professors and clergymen are on its payroll? … Already there are repercussions over the Harvard incidents. Islamic scholars, for example, are dismayed. Said one, ‘People in the Middle East to whom we must have access would never trust us again.’ As for college students, never wholly reverent towards their professors, are they beginning to wonder, as the professor lectures, ‘is he real, or is he CIA?”


RECON, Spring 1986, “Books, Professors, and the CIA,” by Congressman Don Edwards (D-CA), p 3.