Thursday, 1 April 2010

The CIA and the American Communist Party

A lot has been written about the FBI and the American Communist Party. However, it is not very well-known that the CIA turned several members of the party.

Bertram D. Wolfe had been one of the founders of the Communist Party of the United States in 1919. He remained a loyal member of the party until Nikolay Bukharin was deprived of the chairmanship of the Comintern and expelled from the Politburo by Stalin in 1929. Attempts were now made to purge foreign communist parties who had previously supported Bukharin. Representatives from Stalin arrived in the United States and several members including Wolfe, Jay Lovestone and Ben Gitlow were expelled. They then formed the Communist Party (Majority Group). Later it changed its name to the Communist Party (Opposition), the Independent Communist Labor League and finally, in 1938, the Independent Labor League of America. The group was disbanded in 1940.

After the war these individuals came under the control of the CIA. Ben Gitlow gave evidence against the American Communist Party before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, chaired by Martin Dies of Texas. The following year he published his autobiography, I Confess: The Truth About American Communism. His second volume of autobiography, The Whole of Their Lives: Communism in America, was published in 1948. In the 1960s Gitlow was closely associated with another fanatical anti-communist, Billy James Hargis, a man who has been linked to the assassination of JFK.

Wolfe worked as an advisor to the State Department's International Broadcasting Office which was in charge of Radio Liberty and Radio Free Europe. He also wrote anti-communist books such as Three who Made a Revolution (1956), The Marxism (1965), Strange Communists I have Known (1966), The Bridge and the Abyss (1967) and An Ideology in Power: Reflections on the Russian Revolution (1969).

Probably, the most interesting of the three is Jay Lovestone, who had been party secretary of the American Communist Party between 1927-29. After leaving the party Lovestone went to work for the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU). After the war he was active in the American Institute for Free Labor Development, an organization sponsored by the American Federation of Labor. Later it also received secret payments from the CIA. This began a long-term friendship with James Jesus Angleton, Director of Operations for Counter-Intelligence.

In 1963 Lovestone became director of the AFL-CIO's International Affairs Department (IAD), which arranged for millions of dollars from the CIA to aid anti-communist activities internationally, particularly in Latin America. The AFL-CIO president George Meany discovered in 1964 that Lovestone was involved with the CIA and instructed him to break-off contact with James Jesus Angleton. Lovestone agreed to do this but when Meany discovered in 1974 that he was still working with Angleton he forced him from office.

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