chapter  4
17 Pages

From cooperation to covert action: the United States government and students, 1940–52 KAREN M . PA GET

When in 1967 Ramparts magazine exposed a covert relationship between the US National Student Association (NSA) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), US government officials insisted that this had begun in 1952. The date had significance. By locating it in the coldest period of the Cold War and at the height of domestic McCarthyism, CIA officials such as Cord Meyer Jr, who oversaw the NSA relationship, could rely on Cold War imperatives to justify the secrecy. Besting the Soviets in the field of international student organisation could not be achieved openly, Meyer argued, because a conservative Congress would never have sanctioned government funding of these, largely liberal, organisations that the CIA judged the most effective combatants.1 This author, who is researching the CIA-NSA relationship and who knew that the 1952 date might not be accurate, took for granted that the relationship could not have begun before 1947, since both the CIA and the NSA were created in that year. The quest for the relationship’s origin yielded some surprising discoveries. The trail of evidence led back to wartime activities involving educators and government officials that established patterns of cooperation that later facilitated the CIA’s covert projects.