British Atlantic Committee

The, now defunct, and secretive British Atlantic Committee, was funded by the government and an initial understanding of its function can be gained from this exchange in Hansard, February 1983, between the late Robin Cook and Douglas Hurd (now Lord Hurd) when its grant was enlarged somewhat.

Mr. Cook: asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much money is provided by Her Majesty’s Government to the British Atlantic Committee; and what stipulation is made as to the use of the money.

Mr. Hurd: Parliamentary approval has been given to the payment of grant-in-aid to the British Atlantic Committee of up to £61,500 in this financial year, 1982–83. The purpose of the grant-in-aid to the British Atlantic Committee is to help this all-party organisation to promote knowledge and understanding of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Mr. Cook: asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance with resources and speakers is provided by Her Majesty’s Government to the British Atlantic Committee.

Mr. Hurd: Like other non-governmental organisations, the British Atlantic Committee is given, on request, some government publications and films. Ministers have on several occasions spoken at meetings organised by the committee.

Not much there from a master of evasion. Other Hansard entries establish that in 1981 the funding to the British Atlantic Committee (BAC) was £33,185 rising to £44,000. This was paid through the Foreign and Commonwealth Services Vote, Class II, Vote 5, and that means money that might have went to ’emergency, refugee and other relief assistance…on global environment assistance’. David Osler in Lobster 33, 1997, stated that the BAC was funded by The Dulverton Trust, which he believes was used to fund somewhat clandestine projects and whose Trustees, listed for 1994, included Lord Carrington, one of the heroes of the Second World War, but also something of a kingpin in the covert fight against the left which dominated the 1980s Thatcher government. It would appear that promotion of NATO took some odd forms and the BAC was caught up in part of its more subversive aspects relating to propaganda, smears, dubious PR campaigns, disinformation and misuse of government funds. There is an overlap in its activities with the projects of the Institute for European Defence and Strategic Studies (IEDSS) and also with some of the key players including Peter Blaker, Alan Lee Williams and others.

If we go back to the 1950s, to find the origins of the BAC, this propaganda function comes to the fore, but it is masked in a crusade, which seems to have borrowed something from the Jesuits in its focus on the young: indeed British Atlantic Youth was the name of its youth wing.

NATO in the “new Europe“‘ by Alexandra Gheciu, available via Google Books, states that the BAC published The Atlantic Community, which was distributed to most British Secondary Schools in 1957:

“The same ideas appeared in material diffused by the Atlantic Council of the U.S., which used publications, radio programs, posters, and films about NATO to promote the “Atlantic idea” of a community of values and NATO as the expression of that community.”

The BAC eventually became the Atlantic Council of the UK and was part of a nexus of ‘Atlanticist’ organisations which promoted the USA’s, the UK’s and to a lesser extent European military-industrial-complexes, although we can also add a political dimension to that. Some historical indication of their deliberations can be gained from The European-Atlantic Group website. Chairman of their many ‘Dinner-Discussions’ was the BAC’s Sir Frank Roberts, GCMG, GCVO, who presided over closed discussions with several interesting individuals back in the 1970s (and Douglas Hurd mentioned above). These included Lord Chalfont, founder of the Institute for the Study of Terrorism (which also included the IEDSS’s Caroline Cox), who was a Labour defence minister and Foreign Office minister, who remembers the times as riddled with so much disloyalty to the government that the idea of a coup was mooted:

“If you’re talking about people who had a serious idea of a military coup, yes, they would be fairly senior people.”

We won’t get that caught up in the ‘Wilson Plots‘, but the point will be briefly made that the individuals that attended The European-Atlantic Group (and the other Atlanticist groups which they tend to make up) were not against propaganda, subversion and the overthrow of governments as such — that was what a significant number of them had specialised in during the war — they simply objected to others doing it along lines not to their liking. But there is also a sense of self-censorship in a great deal of the topics for discussion, in one sense these discussions were in-house propaganda: pep talks bolstering morale and as thus apt to fall prey to the tendency to appeal to the emotions of their audience rather than a weary trudge through evidence. They have an informality which belies their import and reception and they are also opportunities for agenda setting and outlining the ideological frameworks which should govern the military mind-set.

It should also be pointed out that their terminological use of the word ‘communist’ was extended and applied to legitimate forms of dissent as a form of censorship and social control. In the case of some of the participants, the term was deployed with the expectation that it would conjure up visceral hatred, not an analysis of Hegel. As well as Chalfont, the BAC’s Sir Frank Roberts presided over European-Atlantic Group’s intimate discussions with Sir Eric Drake, part of the Anglo-American organised coup in Iran, indeed it is during Drake’s time that Anglo-Iranian was renamed British Petroleum; Alan Lee Williams (part of numerous Atlanticist organisations including The European Atlantic Movement and the Atlantic Council of the United Kingdom into which BAC evolved) and General Sir Walter Walker of the Unison Committee for Action, for whom the might of NATO was insufficient to the threats posed by practically everything including “a communist cell right there in the middle of Downing Street“. Meaning inside No. 10 and Harold Wilson.

Drop it like its hot!

John Jenks’ (2006) ‘British Propaganda And News Media in the Cold War‘ (p.104) states that:

The British Atlantic Committee took shape in 1953 and became an umbrella for existing societies and ‘ginger groups’ for better international relations, such as the English Speaking Union, the United Nations Association and the Labour Party-backed Friends of the Atlantic Union. The BAC had impeccable establishment credentials, with the Foreign Office’s endorsement and former Moscow ambassador Sir David Kelly at its head. Official and NATO propaganda continued, but the private entities now handled most publicity work.”

The English Speaking Union comes back into our story later, but drawing on a growing amount of writing which tries to examine the covert propaganda operations of the state (now that it is safe to do and now that some kind of official narrative has been put in place) we can look at the rise of the BAC in relation to the formation of the Information Research Department (IRD), which represents a fusion of intelligence and propaganda and an effort to co-ordinate a response to Soviet propaganda — and it is worth remembering that the Soviets had completely penetrated British Intelligence at this point and knew anything worth knowing thanks to Kim Philby et al, indeed one of the first people Christopher Mayhew hired for the new IRD was the spy Guy Burgess.

Andrew Defty, in the introduction to ‘Britain, America and anti-communist propaganda, 1945-1958: the information research department‘, argues that co-ordination with the US is the defining feature of this period, and that although the IRD was one of the biggest Foreign Office departments its real nature was not acknowledged to the British public. According to Defty it was not until the 1990s that any archive material was made available. He overestimates the reception of the —to my mind neglected or misunderstood—work of ‘investigative journalists’, and actually argues that the IRD was the subject of “indignant press fascination” arguing that this is understandable, given that, as he puts it “the IRD’s work was directed largely at the media”.

Apart from Richard Fletcher, David Leigh, Paul Lashmar and James Oliver, Robert Fisk and Duncan Campbell and a few others, its hard to think of any journalists writing from within the press outlets controlled by the D-Notice system— who were notoriously sympathetic or part of intelligence work — who did not themselves come under the ‘indignant fascination’ of the authorities. Enumerated here, possibly the group (and there are obviously omissions) might seem a impressively large, particularly for researchers looking through the gathered heap; but compared to the overwhelming majority of better resourced, circulated and funded journalists either disseminating propaganda or reinforcing the status quo or simply uninterested or ignorant or afraid of touching on security related matters or churning out simple entertainment, a more accurate assessment is that the voices putting forth investigative journalism into these sensitive areas were drowned out to an extraordinary extent — the art of persuasion often involves dissuasion. A message cannot be received if no one is listening.

Add to this that for most of these authors their reception and treatment was either derisory, resulted in censorship, befuddled or non-existent or involved, in Duncan Campbell’s case, ongoing attempts to lock him up. And what of the sheer difficulty of producing the work in technical and psychological terms, or the effect of the tendency to relegate it as conspiracy theory in an (unconscious or intentional) persuasion and predeliction to view it as no different from egregious examples. The type of work produced by these writers appeared as isolated phenomena, few publications devoted themselves to an ongoing and developmental analysis: this developmental delay and other factors would mitigate against writers such as Defty’s assessment of the reception. Although, on balance, we should put an ‘outcry’ against this tendency because of attempts to censor work and the subsequent media attention. But again this is circumscribed by the overall general media reluctance briefly outlined above (and in some detail with Richard Fletcher’s work). And in taking this into consideration we must also note that this body of work has the purpose of identifying areas of the ‘secret’ state which of course give rise to attempts to censor (on the grounds of National Security or the Official Secrets Act) and suppress even beyond the D-Notice system: such as in the used of counter gangs, disinformation and political action committees set up at arms length from the state with a ‘deniability’ built in. Part of this analysis is to identify the networl of these moves and relate them to the wider project of the IEDSS with a view to describing the IEDSS as part of these networks (mostly right-wing and reactionary in character but not exclusively and at time pretending to be otherwise).

Aspects of the reception process are mirrored in the characteristics of Defty’s own work which rests on the basis of ‘intelligence historian’ Richard J. Aldrich—who writes for the CIA’s own in-house publication ‘Studies in Intelligence’, and he is also on the Editorial Board of ‘Intelligence and National Security‘, this insists that it “is the world’s leading academic journal on the role of intelligence in international relations.” Joining Aldrich on the Editorial board is Christopher Andrew, Roy Godson (of Georgetown University, where Aldrich studied), Oleg Gordievsky, Lawrence Freedman, Samuel P. Huntington, Anthony Glees, Sir David Omand — is this academic objectivity?

Defty (and Co.) label the independent journalists as mentally defective—just like their Soviet counterparts did with their own dissidents, and they do so for the simplest of motives: money and a career and to make sure they are not lowered into the ship of fools and set adrift. The independent group is also accused of daring to criticize the reputation of the IEDSS’ Robert Conquest as being built on work ‘derived from material provided by the IRD’ seems to demonstrate total ignorance of Conquest’s position on the IEDSS—funded by the Heritage Foundation, staffed with many from the IRD (including Ray Whitney who used to run IRD) and the Congress for Cultural Freedom (or both) including Melvin J. Lasky (ex-editor of Encounter) and a slave to ‘Project Democracy’ and American Intelligence via Edwin Feulner Jr., chair of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy and a key member of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. And we also have the IEDSS’s Dr. Christopher Coker a key member of the steering group of the British American Project for the Successor Generation (designed as a US/UK Public Diplomacy operation) and Alan Lee Williams who we will mention again in the context of the BAC’s involvement in covert operations. The IEDSS operated out of 13/14 Golden Square while 12a was used by Brian Crozier’s Institute for the Study of Conflict who also enters the arena. Indeed in some ways the IEDSS picked up from where he left off because those annoying independent journalists blew Crozier’s ramshackle propaganda operation.

Indeed the attempts by the government to stifle any discussion of ‘security’ matters often becomes the problem itself and exacerbates what little attention is given to what might otherwise been left to more arcane levels of discussion and speculation — one example here is the Spycatcher case.

Defty’s argument (or rather his assertion) is that it is wrong to think that “Western democracies were tricked by cynical leaders into supporting an aggressive policy of economic imperialism through the propagation of a myth that monolithic communism threatened their national survival,” and that “evidence from Soviet archives and memoirs” should lead us to believe that officialdom “may even have underestimated the Soviet threat”. This exhibits a massive faith and reliance on Soviet officialdom, honest record keeping, impartial bureaucracy and the reliability of the memoirs of professional deceivers, that would seem to contradict much of the volumes of criticism of Soviet society produced by his colleagues represented at the Editorial Board of ‘Intelligence and National Security‘. It is a faith in bureaucracy not evinced in our own system and seems ignorant of the Team B. affair, the effect of propaganda ‘blowback’ and the work of organisations such as the IEDSS, which was devoted to advancing such a communists-behind-the-left view of reality. Substitute ‘WMD’ for communism…and we can witness much the same process today. And we can also say that Soviet archives and memoirs, being up for sale, can be made to prove flying saucers exist or whatever is demanded by the buyer. Defty is only really happy when an academic work appears, in this case Lyn Smith’s “Covert British propaganda” in ‘Millennium: Journal of International Studies’, this is based on a transcription of an interview with the IRD’s Christopher Mayhew.

Defty skims over the changing trends without revealing why they change, he also seems to have found some un-named group of straw men who have lapped up everything produced by the ‘new revisionist school’ (Francis Stonor Saunders) entirely uncritically. The sources he leans upon heavily, Wesley K. Wark for instance, tend to be part of the Editorial Board of ‘Intelligence and National Security’. Can we really rely on tired academic language, identifying a consensus etc. when secret agencies are in the business of concocting them, funding them, and placing individuals such as Sir David Omand into academia to replicate the system. Although he extols the virtue of his preferred group, there is no mention of one of the more significant and final developments of IRD in Northern Ireland in the Army Psychological Operations unit and the involvement of Hugh Mooney, Clifford Hill, Maurice Tugwell, Lord Carver, Sir Donald Maitland and of course Colin Wallace — here the shutters are down, and I can find no mention of the work of Paul Foot or Robin Ramsay and Lobster in Defty’s work, yet they and others did contribute to developmental analysis — their work is simply ignored except, one fears, when it is drawn from without acknowledgement.

Indeed members of the editorial board of ‘Intelligence and National Security’ give us something of an index of government-friendly ‘experts’ who felt free to join in the smearing of those whistle-blowers and journalists who weary of the intellectual efficacy of sycophancy. In the 1980s, D. Cameron Watt: Emeritus Professor of International History at the LSE, Hon. Fellow Oriel College, Oxford, author of numerous works, wrote an attack on “the public mind” in which “Mr Peter Wright’s allegations have received such unquestioning acceptance,” here he ponders:

What is the difference, so far as their breach of their terms of service are concerned, between the Clive Pontings, of whom liberals approve, and the public servants who give away privileged information to foreign powers for ideological reasons?

Morality, one would imagine, but what of those who collude in such treachery, in Watts’ judgement? Watt had written “Fall-out from Treachery: Peter Wright and Spycatcher,” in the Political Quarterly 59 (1988). What are we then to make of the editorial board of ‘Intelligence and National Security:’ Roy Godson, Christopher Andrew and Oleg Gordievsky, in particular who use privileged information from foreign powers for ideological reasons?

Here, with Spycatcher, contrary to the wishes of the government, and joining with ‘the Clive Pontings’, he appeared to have read the book:

A moderately careful reading of Wright’s book, let alone any checking of such statements he makes that can be checked, reveals, as most serious reviews of the book in the American press have shown, that Mr. Wright’s command of the facts, let alone his claims to universal knowledge, are such as to cast the gravest of doubts on his credibility where his assertions cannot be so cross-checked.

Watt then presents as an equally nebulous cloud:

…allegations around since the early 1970s that the Security Service has been participating in various C.1.A.-style ‘dirty tricks’ since the late 1960s if not earlier. These allegations have never been put into sufficiently concrete form to be seriously tested.

It is rather like listening to Karl Popper arguing that Marx is metaphysics. These allegations fall into three categories:

…firstly evidence suggesting, to put it no more strongly, that someone was trying to compromise individual Labour cabinet ministers; secondly, allegations that the security services were somewhat less than scrupulous in their part in the campaign against the IRA Provisionals and their supporters (themselves notoriously legalistic in all they do) in Northern Ireland; and thirdly, that the Security Services were themselves behaving illegally and/or invading the rights to privacy of supporters of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, other parts of the extra-, if not anti-parliamentary left, trades unionists in dispute with government and/or their employers, etc.

Thanks to this sophisticated perception of a lack of the sufficiently concrete in a world of secrecy, deception, disinformation and censorship there is then no need to attempt to address these issues by formulating the other side of the argument satisfactorily for the purposes of exegesis, they are simply gathered together as part of some sort of campaign “against the security forces and the rules and conventions under which they operate”, whatever these ‘rules’ might be — for they are surely not the law. D. Cameron Watt: Emeritus (“to earn one’s discharge by service”) Professor, immediately presents the likelihood that “genuine enemies of the State from outside this country” are behind the promotion of this ‘campaign,’ meaning the then Soviet Union, and defines the security services as succinctly as this:

Their job is simply to know.

As the essay progresses (and it should be pointed out it was for the readers of the Political Quarterly whose director, the late Lord Holme, was at the time busy organising BAP) we get this:

The legal authority of the Crown decided not to prosecute Lord Rothschild for a breach of the Official Secrets Act, a decision which would strike most people as perverse to the point of social bias if they do not realise how that Act is predicated so entirely on the view that official secrets are leaked or betrayed only by the small fry of government employees, those who are not ‘authorised’ to do so. The Act is entirely bare of any definition of to whom the power to ‘authorise’ should appertain. We must hope that the ministerial Committee now reviewing the Official Secrets Act will put this right.

“The legal authority of the Crown” is a grand name for a very informal process.: this special law for the rich is Watt’s riposte to Wright’s’ criticism of the recruitment, operational and advancement practices based on the ‘old boy networks’, set out in Spycatcher, which was so easy for the Soviets to subvert since it was so protected by such class-based cover-ups and exculpation. Without offering any value judgement as the grounds for evaluation, he then insinuates that because Wright expanded “the passage dealing with the alleged MI5 conspiracy against Lord Wilson’s government,” from an earlier version, this act of writing is itself worthy of suspicion. He then infers that “Wright’s memory for detail has gone with his advancing years,” and complains of “his preference for politics over accurate empirical investigation,” without offering any remedy i the example of his own work. Then the essay skips onto a discussion of World War Two. The conclusion —some sort of wishful re-moulding of the class system —is as follows:

…could the rest of us not recognise the whole affair for what it is—evidence of too liberal and too loose a management of a vital public service for too long, and of the toll the deformation professionelle has taken of an intellect and judgment that should never have been removed from the narrow confines of technical expertise to sit in judgment on his contemporaries.

Or in other words: if only Wright and others had not been so déclassé in the presence of men of breeding, things would have been ticketty-boo. What Watt could easily have mentioned was the phrase which came into existence thanks to the Spycatcher affair in 1986: the Cabinet Secretary, sent by Thatcher on a wild goose chase, Sir Robert Armstrong’s answer to the question ‘what is the difference between a misleading impression and a lie?’ Where he stated “a lie is a straight untruth” and a misleading impression “is perhaps being “economical with the truth”.

Bribing editors, blackballing “unreliable” journalists

IRD’s formation came at the same time as the defections of (IRD’s) Burgess and MI6’s Maclean in 1953. The problems with Philby and the fallout from the Suez fiasco followed soon after—conspiracy became the order of the day including that which surrounded Indonesia’s President Sukharno and the MI6/CIA coup in Iran. IRD must have been formulated to influence an already supine media in its response and treatment of such events. Nicolas Elliott’s meeting with Philby elicited Henry Fairlie’s coining of the term the ‘Establishment’ to describe Philby slipping through the net (‘old boy net’ being another term for this social network), when previously IRD’s Norman Reddaway had helped him find a position as a correspondent for The Observer and The Economist. What does that tell us about these media outlets at that point.

To return to Jenks’ (2006) ‘British Propaganda And News Media in the Cold War‘: he stresses the subtleties of the rise of the British government’s ‘clear legacy’ of state-private partnerships in propaganda work, and the usefulness of the Labour party as a vehicle for advocating democratic socialism and anti-communist propaganda in opposition to Communism. Jenks adds:

“Denis Healy worked closely with the Foreign office laundering propaganda, providing tips and coordinating strategies abroad.”

Jenks’ (and the others mentioned here) work is part of a growing body of studies of the British state’s “generation, suppression and manipulation of news” to further foreign policy goals during the early Cold War. Jenks argues this included “Bribing editors, blackballing “unreliable” journalists, creating instant media experts through provision of carefully edited “inside information,” and exploiting the global media system to plant propaganda —disguised as news —around the world.” There is some irony in that these methods were used by the British to try to convince the international public of similar Soviet deceit and criminality and thus gain support for anti-Soviet policies at home and abroad.

Hugh Wilford’s (2003) ‘The CIA, the British Left, and the Cold War: Calling the Tune?‘ mentions the BAC in the context of Atlanticist organisations with labour (in the sense of trade union) connections, and its role in aiding American labour diplomats within both “British labour and intelligence circles.” But he also notes that the organisation of these Atlanticist organisations in the early 1950s were partly a response to a concern over anti-Americanism in the British labour movement gathering around Aneurin Bevan — but he does not note that the BAC’s Frank Roberts was Bevan’s PPS. An Independent Obituary of Roberts states:

When Frank Roberts first met Stalin towards the end of 1945 Stalin’s first words were, “I know you. You are our enemy. And what’s more you are a member of the British intelligence service.”

The fears over ‘anti-Americanism’ (heightened by several factors such as the Korean war) became a priority for the newly formed U.S. Information Agency and motivated the mission of US labour diplomat Joseph Godson a relation of Intelligence and National Security‘s Roy Godson.

Understanding Transatlantic Understanding

There is a slightly complex inter-weaving of organisations: the Trade Union Committee for European and Transatlantic Understanding began as the Labour Committee for Transatlantic Understanding and this organisation was connected to the BAC and working to foster sympathy towards the aims and policies of the USA with Godson at the helm (who had returned to the UK in 1971). The Committee’s membership experienced defections from the right of the Labour Party to the Social Democratic Party during the 1980s (also represented in the make-up of the IEDSS). One more contemporary figure in this network has been George Robertson:

A former secretary of the right-wing Labour Manifesto group (most of whose members defected to the Social Democratic party in 1981), Robertson joined the government-funded British Atlantic Committee in the same year that it was publicly attacking the Labour party’s non-nuclear defence policy. He was on the Council of the Royal Institute for International Affairs (Chatham House) from 1984 to 1991 and on the steering committee of the annual Konigswinter conference for much of that time. He has been a governor of the Ditchley Foundation since 1989 and was vice-chairman of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy from 1992 to 1994.

In the context of the debate surrounding the Labour Party’s defence policy and membership of NATO, Stuart Croft (1994) ‘Continuity and Change in British: Thinking about Nuclear Weapons,’Political Studies, XLII, 228-242, states that in 1984 the BAC published ‘Diminishing the Nuclear Threat’, a report written by a number of ‘distinguished former military officers’ who argued that the notion of controlled escalation enshrined in flexible response was impractical. These he characterizes as “a group of analysts who may perhaps best be termed disenchanted orthodox thinkers, people who shared many of the orthodox assumptions and yet agreed with the alternative thinkers on this issue”. This also touches on the ‘special relationship:

For the orthodox thinkers, the maintenance of NATO and the American nuclear guarantee of European security were fundamental concerns. Alternative thinkers, however, were willing to see NATO as a means to a very different end. They also saw the role of the United States in a very different light. The most explicit view came from the Alternative Defence Commission, which called for the decoupling of the United States and Europe, since the United States had been developing nuclear strategies likely to lead to war. Whereas the orthodox view stressed the influence that the United Kingdom had in Washington through the special relationship, alternative thinkers argued that no such special relationship existed. Both suggested that ‘the unique Reagan-Thatcher personal relationship will soon come to an end; then it will be just a matter of time before the “special relationship” is fully revealed to be special only in its one-sidedness’. For Duncan Campbell, ‘The British political leadership has often deluded itself about the “special relationship” it believes we enjoy… ’ Martin O’Neill, later to be the Labour Party’s Defence Spokesperson, argued that the special relationship ‘is more a matter of sentiment than of reality. Certainly, we have a relationship in so far as we are both nuclear powers within the Alliance, but I don’t think it’s quite as significant as people seem to think’. The critics argued that the purpose of the ‘special relationship’ was to prevent the sort of events that had actually taken place during the 1980s, where British interests were often not seriously considered in the formulation of American policy: over, for example, the invasion of Grenada in 1983; the bombing of Libya in 1986; the near-agreement on nuclear issues at the Reykjavik super-power summit in 1986; and movement throughout 1987 towards the zero option in the INF Treaty.

The first episode of Duncan Campbell’s BBC documentary series ‘Secret Society‘ (1987) called ‘The Secret Constitution’ offered a critique on covert groups and committees within the UK government, which we will examine below. It was banned by the BBC, although the programme on the ‘Zircon’ spy satellite tends to be the focus of reporting on the affair. And here we have this use of the tactics of the Soviet dictatorships— in this case open, much publicised censorship in the form of police raids on BBC studios and Campbell’s door deliberately being broken down as an example to others. Normally these things are done invisibly. Campbell’s work demonstrated that the UK could not independently target its nuclear missiles and much more.

Bearing this in mind, and returning to the BAC, what kind of events did it organise, what networks was it involved with in the Cold War 1980s? Steve Dorril in (1984) Lobster 3 ‘American Friends: the Anti-CND Groups,’ states that (emphasis added):

Ernest Lefever used the $200,000 given by USIA to help “highly placed and influential leaders in Western Europe to gain a solid understanding of US defence and arms control policies, with special reference to their religious and moral implications.” One conference was organised in Britain in May (New Statesman 20th May 1983) with church leaders in attendance. It was sponsored by the British Atlantic Committee (BAC) and the Institute for European Defence and Strategic Studies.

Lefever was refused a position in Reagan’s administration because his views on human rights were to the right of [Jeanne] Kirkpatrick’s distinction between ‘friendly authoritarianism’ and ‘hostile totalitarianism’. Lefever’s Centre for Ethics and Public Policy received $250,000 in 1983 and is linked to the Heritage Foundation. He is co-author (with Roy Godson) of the apologist ‘The CIA and The American Ethic’. Godson is a member of the Consortium for The Study of Intelligence (CSI) which includes 8 serving or former CIA officers. He is also a staff member of the National Strategic Information Centre (NSIC), Director of Georgetown University’s International Labour Programme and a prominent member of CDM.

Sven Kraemer, Programme Director of the NSIC was at the May meeting. He is also a member of the CSI and a close family friend of General Rowney.

This also adds that the Administrator of the Ethics and Nuclear Arms Conference was Ken Aldred, General Secretary of the British Atlantic Committee’s ‘Peace Through Nato’ campaign which the Campbell programme mentions. And it also points out that many of the Labour right-wing were members and were linked to the similar American right at Georgetown, adding that his has been covered in CIA Infiltration of The Labour Movement by Militant (1982), and also in State Research No 16 1980.

Paul Rogers in Lobster 28, 1994 stated:

I remember going on one of the British Atlantic Committee briefing visits to NATO in the late 1980s and talking to a German civil servant attached to NATO’s Nuclear Planning Group. He spoke with considerable enthusiasm about the feasibility of using very small numbers of air-burst nuclear detonations, perhaps as few as five, which would cause very few casualties but would demonstrate to the Soviets that NATO was serious. As far as I could tell, he really did believe that a limited nuclear war could be fought and won, and would not escalate to an all-out nuclear exchange.

Aldred can be seen communicating to the Director General (1968-1976) of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) Stewart Menaul (an influential spokesman on nuclear warfare connected to Institute for the Study of Conflict, Aims of Industry, Western Goals, European-Atlantic Group, National Strategy Information Centre, Foreign Affairs Research Institute, Centre for Policy Studies Defence Group, and many others) in matters relating to tying in Local government’s Nuclear Free Zones with the attacks on CND in promoting the Peace Through NATO booklet, It costs a bomb: the local government anti-nuclear campaign by David Regan. Menaul was also in receipt of the book published by Institute for European Defence and Strategic Studies: Protest and perish: A critique of unilateralism, by Philip Towle, Ian Elliot and Gerald Frost with letter to Menaul from Frost. The archive contains a membership application form for the ‘Coalition for Peace through Strength’ group and several Coalition for Peace Through Strength memoranda: ‘The alternatives for the 1980s’ Brig Gen R C Richardson for example, and a (1981) British Atlantic Committee pamphlet: ‘Better than CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament)’.

Menaul’s archive is a collection of key propaganda material produced in the 1980s including from Institute for European Defence & Strategic Studies, occasional paper No 7: (1984) ‘Peace studies: a critical survey’ by Caroline Cox and Roger Scruton; occasional paper No 9: (1984) ‘Idealism, Realism and the Myth of Appeasement’ by Jeane Kirkpatrick; occasional paper No 13: (1985) ‘The Soviet connection’: ‘State sponsorship of terrorism’ by Jillian Becker; occasional paper No 14: (1985) ‘Neglect and betrayal: war and violence in modern sociology’ by Donald Marsland; IEDSS press release: (1985) ‘Sociology courses infected with anti-NATO bias, says report’; occasional paper No 15: (1985) ‘World studies: education or indoctrination?’ by Roger Scruton; IEDSS press release: (1985) “Curriculum activists” waging propaganda war in schools’. The archive also contains Institute for the Study of Conflict press release on the retirement of Brian Crozier as Director as the IEDSS was formed and invitations to lecture by Frank R Barnett, President National Strategy Information Center, at the English Speaking Union, Dec 1982. See Leonard Schapiro for more on Menaul.


One of the episodes of Duncan Campbell’s (1987) Secret Society, the suppressed BBC TV series, is only now recently widely available on the web. This exposed a conspiracy surrounding the secret decision-making process to buy U.S. Trident nuclear missiles and site Cruise missiles, a cabinet level dirty tricks campaign against CND and its general secretary Bruce Kent, the British Atlantic Committee’s role in this, the activities of the ultra-right Coalition for Peace Through Security and the role of (IEDSS members) Peter Blaker (then Cabinet Secretary) and Alan Lee Williams. The intrigue around this was portrayed as part of a process keeping key decisions secret from Secretaries of State as well as MP’s. Secret Society was suppressed because it exposed miscellaneous secret groups operating invisibly inside British government.

The constitution’s mysteries are compounded with the use of anonymous, ad hoc committees with secret memberships, given coded numbers (such as GEN 29 — Campbell argues that they are more secret than MI5 and MI6). In the words of Times correspondent, Peter Hennessy, interviewed in the programme:

“…with complete lack of self irony labour minister (progressive to the last man and woman) go along with this nonsense, whereby these committees do not exist. It’s as if the decisions come out of the æther, as if they hear the voices like Joan of Arc.”

These committees were, again in the words of Hennessy: “informal ad hoc groups which [Margaret Thatcher] could stack to get the result she requires.”

However, formal cabinet sub-groups were also used such as The Ministerial Group on Nuclear Weapons and Public Opinion together with MISC 7, the seventh ‘miscellaneous group used by Thatcher and a secret committee working on the replacement of Polaris with Trident and arranging the siting of Cruise missiles. For Campbell this process revivified CND and encouraged the campaigns around Trident and Cruise (the programme notes that opinion polls showed the majority of the population were opposed to both moves). The committees became the focal point in government steps to turn the tide of public opinion with propaganda campaigns and dirty tricks. With fears that the defence issue could loose the next election, what emerged was a campaign against CND, described as:

“…a remarkable cataloge of Whitehall improprieties: one group broke the law, government and foreign money was channelled into other groups and the government itself was accused of improperly involving Civil Servants in party politics.”

Campbell argues that the campaign against CND operated on three levels
and breaks down the campaign’s organisation into three initial sections involving: the Government, Conservative party and sympathetic outside organisations. Below is a reproduction of Campbell’s diagram.


The Government’s secret cabinet MISC 7 led onto the secret sub-group the Ministerial Group on Nuclear Arms and Public Opinion, chaired by the IEDSS’ Peter Blaker backed up with junior ministers from the Home and Foreign Offices. Campbell states that the main focus was the Civil Defence programme, including the film ‘Protect and Survive,’ which also became an IEDSS obsession as it aimed to counter the response by the non-parliamentary left, particularly with their response to E. P. Thomson’s expose ‘Protest and Perish’. For Campbell ‘Protect and Survive’ failed miserably and made the population more worried about Nuclear war and this encouraged a disgraceful PR campaign by the government’s committees. Led by Blaker (and Home Office Civil Defence Minister Patrick Mayhew) these, in 1982, concocted a revised version of the effects of a potential nuclear strike by the Soviets as mostly falling on uninhabited areas and not on marginal constituencies. This revised National Civil Defence Exercise (the last) was so unrealistic it was canceled by the Home Secretary “who blamed opposition from ‘Nuclear Free’ local authorities” (another target of right-wing covert operations according to Brian Crozier’s Free Agent p. 251). For Campbell this was the first attempt by the government to win the population away from the Peace Movement.

At the same time the Conservative party set up a committee of their own The Campaign for Peace Through Freedom (CPTF) chaired by Winston Churchill, Campbell draws from the testimony of Piers Wooley who worked for the committee who stated that the CPTF was an umbrella organisation [which] “set out to co-ordinate the activities of the British Atlantic Committee and the Coalition for Peace Through Security.”

For Campbell the BAC was a highly respected pro-NATO study group with member from all parties — it is not mentioned but this included future NATO secretary (and member of numerous Atlanticist organisations) George Robertson who was on the BAC Council from 1979-90 and yet was remarkably quiet about the matter. The BAC received an increase in funding to promote an “all-out attack on CND”. According to Wooley, Ken Aldred was BAC’s representative on CPTF and he reported back to BAC with Alan Lee Williams about the political stance on Nuclear weapons resulting in a Charity Commissioners enquiry and BAC (supposedly) removal from the group. The CPTS, ran by three Tory candidates and US business man, was, like the IEDSS, funded by the Heritage Foundation ($60,000) and produced, along with other anti-CND groups such as BAC: ‘50 Tough Questions for CND’ and engaged in disruptions and provocations against CND.

In 1983, when Michael Hesletine took over at the MOD to attack CND, he set up DS 19 as an anti-CND think tank and used MI5 to smear leading CND officers particularly Bruce Kent, with CND portrayed as a ‘front for the Soviet Union’ and further contributing to the disinformation and character assassination. Once the 1983 election was over DS 19 was disbanded. The programme describe it as: “a piece of propaganda to back up the government” in the 2 years preceding the 1983 election.

What is not explained in the programme is the role of RUSI, the English Speaking Union and the Council for Arms Control, other than as fora suborned to the anti-CND project.

Lobster (1984) The Anti-CND Groups, No.4, drawing on ‘The Men Who Are Dying To Win’, in Sanity February 1984, Francis Leonard Holihan was linked to the Heritage Foundation and, it is claimed, misappropriated funds from them intended for the Coalition For Peace Through Security, transferring them into his own Washington Bank account. This also alleges that:

In 1983 he schemed with right-wing Oklahoma lawyer R. Marc Nuttle (‘National Field Consultant’ to the Committee For The Survival of a Free Congress) to lure Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to a luncheon for the Private Enterprises Foundation. It is claimed that Holihan’s share of the proceeds was to be nothing less than $50,000. Unfortunately for Holihan the June 1983 election intervened and Thatcher cut short her US visit following the Williamsburg summit meeting.

According to (2003) British Intelligence and the Covert Propaganda Front —and the CIA’s Interference in British Politics, MI5 officer Cathy Massiter was instructed to carry out the phone-tapping operation by Tony Crasweller, who also supervised MI5’s F4 and F6 sections, which ran agents inside political parties and organisations. At the same time, CND member Stanley Bonnett, a former editor of the CND magazine Sanity, was recruited as an informant by Special Branch, on the instructions of MI5. Massiter gathered material on any left-wing affiliations of CND’s leaders. A report was then passed to DS19’s John Ledlie, who passed it to Michael Heseltine and Sir Peter Blaker who, in turn, passed the information on to the local Conservative Association of Ray Whitney, former head of the Information Research Department, and also with Blaker in the IEDSS.

Brian Crozier (Free Agent p. 243) reported that his group, the 61 also created fake ”peace” groups to counter the work of CND. One such group, mentioned is the Coalition for Peace Through Security, which he states included Edward Leigh and Julian Lewis (introduced to Crozier by Norris McWhirter), who he states became The 61’s leading activist in Britain.

Crozier states he was involved in setting up the Council for Arms Control, run by John Edmonds, a former Foreign Office official, and involving General Sir Hugh Beach (former Warden of St George’s House, Windsor Castle) from 1986-89 when he chaired the Ministry of Defence Study Groups on Censorship; Lieutenant-Colonel Mike Lowry of the Atlantic Council of the UK, the European Movement and the European-Atlantic Group; Lord Gilbert; Col John Speight; Peter Foster, former British Ambassador to the German Democratic Republic; the IEDSS’ Peter Blaker (also with the the right-wing Freedom Association) and a co-founder was Ray Whitney of the IEDSS and IRD. The council published several works in the 1980s including Philip Towle (who also wrote for the IEDSS on CND) and has worked with Saferworld, the Oxford Research Group and the Centre for Defence Studies. According to the Guardian, November 9, 1984, this was used as a platform to attack and exclude CND (via Sir Frank Cooper) from discussions.

In British Government’s Campaign against CND: Ray Whitney and ”Black Propaganda” by Nikolay Gorshkov (from a 1983 BBC Summary of World Broadcasts) it is stated that:

A co-founder of this council, Ray Whitney, was until recently the leader of the secret Information Research Section at the Foreign Office. As the creators of this section admitted, the main purpose of the section was to conduct black propaganda. In a slightly changed form, this section is still engaged in propaganda aimed at setting up what it refers to as favourable political attitudes.

This wondered why the government funded such a harmless front as the BAC, and suggested:

Out of the 60% of Britons who said in public opinion polls that they support the CND, about one-third vote Conservative. That is surely an indication that the too obvious connivance with the selfish interests of the USA produces no excess of enthusiasm even among supporters of the Conservative Party. That is exactly why various councils, associations and coalitions are set up to try to deceive the public and to discredit the anti-war movement. […] we can see that there are the all-too familiar persons in them, […]who are constantly linked with the government. They move from one organization to another. One noticeable figure is Winston Churchill Jr., who officially is in charge of the struggle against the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament at the Tory head-quarters. In this struggle the Tories draw heavily on assistance from their partners in Washington and the NATO HQ in Brussels. For example, NATO finances almost entirely the youth wing of the British Atlantic Committee. As for the so-called Coalition for Peace Through Security, which is closely linked with Winston Churchill Jr., it gets funds from the American Heritage Foundation. The foundation is the (brain trust) of millionaires. It’s prompted President Reagan to launch a crusade against communism.

These revelations broadcast by Moscow would not only annoy the government’s secret warriors but provide the criticisms that inquiry into their operations was Soviet-directed.  They appeared as early as the November 6, 1981, British ”Council for Arms Control” Linked with NATO Propaganda Campaign, Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union in Russian (BBC Summary of World Broadcasts).  This noted:

…local observers directly link the creation of the new organization with the recent adoption within the NATO framework of a decision to unleash a mass propaganda campaign in order to convince the West European public of the need for the arms race and at the same time to besmirch the peace supporters’ movement by accusing it of ”not being competent” […]the organizers of the ”Council for Arms Control” have avoided giving a direct reply to persistent questions from journalists about the sources of finance for its activities. They confined themselves to the statement that the funds would be forthcoming in the form of ”voluntary donations”. Furthermore, this new organization will be spending quite considerable sums. Judging by statements made by representatives of the council, it also intends to co-operate with the BBC, ”Radio Liberty” and ”Radio Free Europe”, which are well-known for their frenzied anti-Sovietism.

CIA Director William Casey provided Crozier with £50,000 in 1981 and $100,000 the following year to aid with the expansion of anti-Peace Movement activities into Europe. This funding is said to have come through intermediaries, most likely the Heritage Foundation. In his correspondence with Casey (p. 244-245), in 1981 Crozier seems to be critical of Blaker’s lack of action, but cites the Julian Lewis CPTS activities as parallel to his own European efforts, with the two coming together with his Heritage Foundation-funded (1983) The Price of Peace and Vladimir Bukovsky’s (1982) The Peace Movement and the Soviet Union published jointly by the Coalition for Peace Through Security and The Committee for a Free World (and introduced by Winston Churchill) and also ran in Commentary in 1982, shortly before he joined the Hoover Institution and bacame active in neo-conservative and intelligence circles (including becoming Vice-President of The Freedom Association).

Milan Hauner’s (2008) Charter 77 and Western Peace Movements (1980-84), Paper presented at ‘Peace Movements in the Cold War and Beyond: An International Conference’ at the London School of Economics (where quiet a few of our IRD/CCF sovietologists worked) tries to show the connection between CND and the Soviets, drawing on Vladimir Bukovsky and others, arguing that: “Through its skilful propaganda the Soviets seemed to have succeeded initially in manipulating Western peace movements to take a radical anti-American stand.” But in a footnote states this:

Regarding claims of covert Soviet funding of Western anti-nuclear groups, in 1982, John McMahon, the CIA’s deputy director, testified before the Congress that the USSR had channeled $100 million annually to the anti-nuclear movements in the West (quoted from “Opposition to The Bomb” by Bruce Kennedy, http://www.CNN Interactive – accessed 12.3.2007). This claim has yet to be substantiated by evidence from the other side. In any case, although every one knew that the Soviets were financing peace activities in the West, one cannot say that anti-nuclear groups were Soviet tools.

Winston S. Churchill’s (1982) The Only Way to Peace, from the US TV programme , “Counterpoint: A Clash of Ideas,” quotes a more forthcoming opinion by Bukovsky:

But as a matter of fact, the upsurge of this movement, this huge campaign, was very much instrumented by the Soviet government. In some Soviet publications recently, they quite openly said that they do help peace movements, morally and materially, as they put it. They do help with financing the gatherings, the conferences, the discussions, and so on. They don’t conceal the fact. It gives them more possibilities of manipulating world politics. It gives them a chance to increase their defenses while preventing the West from establishing once again a balance of forces. And above all, it creates hysteria in the world.


* Sir Frank Roberts: Was Chairman (1970-73), President (1973-83), then Vice-President of the European Atlantic Group (1983-); President of the Atlantic Treaty Association (1969-73); and also President of the Atlantic Council of UK (formerly British Atlantic Committee) (1968-81).  Roberts was also on the council of Chatham House, was president the German chamber of commerce and industry in the UK, chairman of the steering committee of the Königswinter conference and a founder member of the young Königswinter conference. There is a CNN interview (part of their archive of Cold War interviews) with Roberts (known as the “pocket Hercules of the Foreign Office”) on his role in the early years of the Cold War: as Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin’s principal private secretary, he negotiated face-to-face with Stalin over the Berlin blockade.

* Hugh Hanning, (1974) Director of Studies for the British Atlantic Committee, wrote in the Daily Telegraph (5 January 1985) arguing for an aggressive, expansionist British military posture (‘an extrovert defence policy’). This is apparently known as ‘horizon stretching’ in Whitehall (Lobster 8, 1985). Leader-writer, Westminster Press, 1951-1960; defence correspondent, ITN, 1961; consultant, International Institute for Strategic Studies, 1964-1970; defence correspondent, Observer, 1963; defence correspondent, Guardian, 1967-1969; advisor to Ministry of Defence, NATO and US Government; Deputy Director of the Royal United Services Institute, 1967-1970; Director of the British Atlantic Committee, 1975-1982; founder member of the Intermediate Technology Development Group, 1967; founder member of the International Peace Academy, New York, 1970; mission to Biafra with Leonard Cheshire, 1969; International Secretary, Church of England, 1972-1980.

* Sir Gilbert Longden: actively involved with a number of bodies including the Council of Europe, Conservative Group for Europe, Great Britain-East Europe Centre, United Nations, Chairman of the British Atlantic Committee and Vice-Chairman of the British Council. A founder members of the One Nation group of Conservatives MPs, he helped found the Great Britain-East Europe Centre. Having met Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi in India to discuss the campaign for Indian independence on 26 May 1945, he retained a concern for Indian affairs. He later became an opponent of apartheid in South Africa and having reportedly made attempts to persuade the Government to take a stronger line on this issue, he was deposed as Chairman of the back-bench Foreign Affairs Committee in 1961. In later years he emerged as a pro-Israeli and Chairman of the All-Party British Israel Committee. Although he retired in 1974 his interest in politics continued and his views were regularly published in the letters columns of the Daily Telegraph.

* Group Captain David Bolton: Director of the Royal United Services Institute who joined the British Atlantic Committee in 1981, the same year as Robertson. He is a former head of central planning at the Ministry of Defence and also an early overseer of the British American Project for the Successor Generation (see Tom Easton Lobster 33, 1997).

* John Watson: Assistant to Edward Heath 1970; Conservative MP Skipton 1979; President British Youth Council 1980; Chairman British Atlantic Group of Young Political Leaders 1982 and a member of Green Alliance (see Lobster 42, 2001).

* Major General C.J.Popham: BAC Director.

* Lord Neil Cameron: BAC President, Marshal of the Royal Air Force (Retd.) Asst. Chief of Defence Staff (Policy) in 1968. Senior Air Staff Officer, Air Support Command (1970-76), Chief of Air Staff (1976-77) and Supreme Chief of Defence Staff (1977-79). President of the British Atlantic Committee and Principal of King’s Coll., London 1979-.

*Herbert (Bert) Harris-Taylor

*Sir John Killick – Britain’s ambassador in Moscow from 1971 to 1973, Ambassador to Nato, director of Dunlop South Africa from 1980 to 1985..

*Back to the The Institute for European Defence and Strategic Studies


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