chapter  9
7 Pages

The CIA and the non- Communist left

Through most of 1950 and 1951, James Burnham was able to rely on his employers in OPC as a receptive audience for his concerns about the Paris office and his expectations for the Congress’s future direction. That, in turn, bolstered Burnham’s leverage within the Congress, both by exercising some control over the Congress’s purse-strings and hires and by using the newly formed American Committee as a counterweight to the Paris office. Had OPC’s leadership remained stable and continued acquiescing in Burnham’s efforts to influence the Congress in his preferred direction, Burnham might have had a chance of fighting off discontent within the Congress and imposing his vision of a united front. Instead, Burnham’s standing within the Agency plummeted just as his standing within the Congress weakened. The Agency’s restructuring in the early 1950s ushered in future Director Allen Dulles and his fleet of young hires – and resulted in leaders convinced that the European non-Communist left was the critical group to support. That view did not just doom Burnham’s ability to convince his employers of the desirability of molding the Congress into a united front. It also doomed Burnham himself, spelled an end to Burnham’s clandestine employment, and did more than anything else to solidify Michael Josselson’s position as the Agency’s trusted conduit to the Congress. When Burnham joined OPC in fall 1949, he was part of the Political and Psychological Group, a small division run by his college classmate Joe Bryan. Nicknamed the “Duke of Richmond,” Bryan had no background in intelligence or propaganda. Indeed, he described his new position as “a job as remote from any previous experience of mine as would be, say, singing in the Sistine Choir.”1 This was no exaggeration: Bryan’s previous job was as a freelance writer specializing in circus stories.2 Bryan was inspired to join after Burnham announced at their twentieth Princeton reunion that the threat of nuclear war made a twentyfifth unlikely; Frank Wisner hired him for his political connections.3