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Frances Stonor Saunders

AS CONSPIRACIES GO, this one featured a most unlikely concatenation of players and aims. A few years after its founding in 1947, the CIA began a campaign to promote international “cultural initiatives” in complex, covert association with the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF), an organization of intellectuals, writers, scientists, and artists established by anti-Stalinist, social-democratic Americans and Europeans in the Berlin of 1950. The CCF aimed to mobilize the energies of the “Non-Communist Left” and to meet head-on the worldwide challenge of the Cominform, the Soviet cultural organization. From the start the CIA was the CCF’s major financial backer and was able to arrange for at least one and maybe more of its operatives to join the highest level of CCF administration; remarkably, most CCF participants seem to have had no knowledge of these involvements.

The CCF was a serious

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