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Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > Obama's Preferred Future Spy Chief Leon Panetta Supported Communist-Linked Anti -CIA Think Tank

Obama's Preferred Future Spy Chief Leon Panetta Supported Communist-Linked Anti -CIA Think Tank

January 9, 2009

Obama's Preferred Future Spy Chief Leon Panetta Supported Communist-Linked Anti-CIA Think Tank


January 8, 2009 - San Francicsco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - Leon Panetta, president-elect Barack Obama's choice for future chief of the CIA, previously strongy sympathized with the "Institute for Policy Studies" (IPS), a Washington based leftist think tank known for its bitter opposition to the intelligence community, notably the CIA. As a member of Congress Panetta supported the IPS's "Coalition for a New Foreign and Military Policy Line" in 1983. He was also one of the congressmen who bienially commissioned IPS to produce an "alternative" budget that dramatically cut defense spending. He did so together with, among others, fellow democrat John Conyers, known for his close links to the World Peace Council (WPC), an organization financed and led by the former International Department of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (ID-CPSU). And there is even more shocking information: the Soviet Russian secret service KGB appeared to be highly interested in the activities of IPS. This controversial think tank was targeted by a number of KGB agents who will be mentioned below.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has a huge file on the Institute for Policy Studies and its founders. Some of the FBI documents are quite revealing. The IPS was founded in 1963 by Markus Raskin and Richard Jackson Barnet.

An FBI "Memorandum" dated May 4, 1970, classifies Richard Barnet as a "communist." The FBI Memo says that the IPS "think factory helped train extremists who incite violence in U.S. cities, and whose educational research serves as a cover for intrigue, an political agitation." "Barnet is a close associate of Markus G. Raskin and Arthur I. Waskow. Barnet's public speeches are anti-U.S. in content." 1

During the Vietnam War Barnet openly sided with the North Vietnamese communists. The FBI Memo says:

"Barnet appears to be the Institute for Policy Studies foreign policy representative and expert. He has traveled to Europe, the Soviet Union and North Vietnam on several occasions and participated in conferences with top level officials of the North Vietnamese government. On his last visit to Hanoi in November 1969, he was quoted in the Washington Post newspaper as saying in a public speech to the North Vietnamese people, that the Vietnamese are fighting 'against the same aggressors that we will continue to fight in our country."

During the February 1969 trip to meet with the North Vietnamese in Paris, Barnet was identified as traveling with Cora Weiss, a national leader of the Women's Strike for Peace, and Rennard Davis and Dave Dellinger, both leaders of national prominence in the New Left Movement and convicted defendants in the Chicago 'Conspiracy 7' trial." 2

"Known contacts with intelligence agents from Soviet and Soviet bloc countries" (FBI)

The most interesting part of the document is the assumption by the FBI that Barnet was not just a communist fellow-traveler or sympathizer. There are, the FBI 1970 Memo says, "known contacts with intelligence agents from Soviet and Soviet bloc countries":

"In view of Barnet's activities, it is indicated that he has demonstrated his willingness to use his position of influence with the IPS to discredit and undermine U.S. policy, both foreign and domestic. Also from his known contacts with intelligence agents from Soviet and Soviet bloc countries, plus his conferences with the North Vietnamese. It appears that he could conceivably be considered a potential espionage agent." 3

A later FBI document also classified IPS co-director Barnet as a "communist," providing details about his "contacts with Soviet Embassy personnel." The East Coast communist newspaper "Daily World" published one of Barnet's speeches in its issue of August 6, 1970.4

The same FBI document, dated May 13, 1971, declares: "Barnet has been identified as having had contact with United States Soviet Embassy personnel, given a public speech stating that Nixon will use nuclear weapons in Vietnam." This, by the way, was Barnet's speech published by the "Daily World." Barnet said: "Nixon will find himself in a position in which he may be strongly disposed to use tactical nuclear weapons in Indochina."5

S. Steven Powell was employed as a kind of intern at the IPS's Washington office. He managed to win the trust of many promiment staff members. But he had "strange encounters with communist East Bloc diplomats who frequent the Institute of Policy Studies." They were KGB agents who obviously tried to recruit IPS staff members or were involved in what could be interpreted as a variety of intelligence operations. One of them was Valeriy Lekarev, Third Secretary of the Department of Cultural Exchange at the Soviet Embassy in Washington and, according to Powell, "chief liaison between the Soviet Institute for the Study of the USA and Canada and IPS." Former KGB officer Stanislav Levchenko whom I interviewed several times, told me that this Moscow based "Institute for the Study of the USA and Canada" was riddled with KGB and GRU (=Soviet military intelligence) agents. One of them was a general named Mikhail Milshstein. (I also interviewed Milshstein; it was at a conference of a Soviet Communist Party front organization – in Vienna.)

Just in one year, Mr. Lekarev had been seen at IPS more than a dozen times, as had another Soviet diplomat, Victor Taltz, S. Steven Powell writes in his thorough study "Inside the Institute of Policy Studies." 6 For some reason, Lekarev was remarkably interested in Powell's future career. Powell: "When I talked about the possibility of going into the foreign service or becoming a foreign correspondent he perked up." 7 Powell claimed he would be interested in traveling in and writing about the Soviet Union. But he soon noticed Lekarev's strange behavior when he was about to meet him in a restaurant on Massachusetts Avenue:

"I got there early and took a table outside, with a good view. Shortly thereafter, I noticed Lekarev walking away from the restaurant. He appeared not lost, but as if he were concerned about being followed. Five minutes later he reappeared from the other direction, apparently having walked around the block." 8

After the lunch Lekarev suggested to set up another lunch appointment. "How about two weeks from today?" he asked. He further suggested to go to another restaurant and he would pay the bill. He also paid the bill this time. Powell grew more and more suspicious:

"I was somewhat startled when Lekarev produced a wad of money to pay our modest bill. I had learned that most Soviet diplomats don't have the privilege of expense accounts - a sign of a diplomat's intelligence status is his cash supply or credit card." 9

This observation is entirely correct. It was in April 1978 that Arkady N. Shevchenko – United Nations Under Secretary General and former adviser to the Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko – shocked the world diplomatic community by seeking refuge in the United States. Shevchenko writes in his memoirs "Breaking with Moscow":

"It was easy to distinguish KGB professionals from diplomats and others. The first giveaway was money. The KGB had it and spent it much more generously than real diplomats. (...) They (the KGB agents, V.) had money to entertain lavishly. (...) Only the KGB pays its people well enough for them to afford the best in Western clothing. The clothes they wear and the drinks they buy are legitimate expenses, because the second thing that gives away an intelligence operative is the effort he makes to cultivate foreigners." 10

Shevchenko also says that KGB agents were allowed to freely cultivate as many foreigners as possible whereas other Soviet diplomats were much less at liberty to do so. He claimed that the Soviet mission at the United Nations was riddled with KGB and GRU agents ("nine out of twelve as well as a Czech, a Hungarian, an East German, and a Bulgarian"). 11

S. Steven Powell mentions a few other Soviet diplomats who sought to cultivate IPS staff members or showed up at IPS conferences in New York or Washington: Victor Taltz (see above), Igor Mishchenko, Anatoly Manakov, Pavel Pavlov and Vladimir I. Strokin. 12

IPS closely cooperated with the "Riverside Church Disarmament Program" (RCDP) run in the 1980s by the Rev. William Sloane Coffin and Cora Rubin Weiss. Weiss was the daughter of a Russian emigrant named Samuel Rubin who voted for the Communist Party tricket in the 1936 general election of the five boroughs of New York City. 13 A Dutch intelligence report says about Rubin: "Shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War Rubin aroused some interest because of his membership of the Communist Party and the underground Comintern in the United States." 14

In 1937 he founded "Fabergé perfumes," based in New York and Paris and subsequently became a millionaire. In 1949 he established the "Samuel Rubin Foundation," with initial assets under $ 10 million. This foundation later donated huge sums of money to the IPS and its daughter organization in Amsterdam, the Transnational Institute (TNI). 15

Cora Rubin Weiss was married to Peter Weiss who was Chairman of the Board of Trustees of IPS. 16 He was known as a pro-Cuban activist. Cora Weiss and the Rev. William Sloane Coffin – who spoke Russian – frequently met Soviet diplomats who took an active interest in the "Riverside Church Disarmament Program" trying to promote Soviet communist causes (members of the Riverside Church were encouraged to visit the Soviet Union, for example). KGB officers Yuri Kupralov, stationed in Washington D.C, and Sergei Paramonov, under U.N. diplomatic cover, participated in RCDP conferences. KGB officers Sergei Divilkovsky and Vladimir Shustov were also frequenly present. 17

The intensive IPS/TNI campaign to discredit the CIA

Both the IPS and the Riverside Church were vocal opponents of U.S. policies in general and of the U.S. intelligence community in particular. There was a concerted effort to discredit the CIA and the NSA with the active participation of Peter Weiss, Markus Raskin, Saul Landau (a personal friend of Fidel Castro's), Morton Halperin, William Schaap and former CIA agent Philip Agee. The "Center for National Security Studies" (CNSS) was created by IPS not just to hamper U.S. intelligence agencies in gathering intelligence, but to ban all these activities as well. An "Organizing Committee for the Fifth Estate" was created in 1974 and IPS co-founder Markus Raskin joined the "Advisory Council." This committee published the magazine "Counterspy" which revealed the names of CIA operatives. One of the names published by "Counterspy" was that of Athens' CIA station chief Richard L. Welch who was subsequently murdered (1975). Former CIA agent Philip Agee was the driving force behind "Counterspy." 18

But Agee was not just a former disaffected CIA officer. He took the unusual step of defecting to both the Cuban intelligence service DGI and the Russian secret service KGB. Former KGB officer Vasili Mitrokhin writes that Agee's KGB code name was "Pont." According to Mitrokhin, who had access to numerous highly classified KGB files, the KGB actively assisted Agee in writing his book "Inside the Company," a best-seller published in 1975. "He was the KGB's "most valuable asset to discredit the Agency," Mitrokhin says." 19And he adds:

"While Agee was writing his book in Britain, the KGB maintained in contact with him through its co-optee, Edgar Anatolyevich Cheporov, London correspondent of the Novosti news agency and the Literaturnaya Gazeta. At Service A's ('Service A' was, among other things, in charge of 'desinformation,' V.) insistence, Agee removed all references to CIA penetration of Latin American Communist parties from his typescript before publication." 20

The KGB was equally helpful when Agee planned to write a book on the CIA in Africa:

"Early in 1979, Oleg Maksimovich Nechiporenko of Directorate K and A.N. Itskov of Service A met Agee in Cuba and gave him a list of CIA officers working on the African continent." 21

"Files noted by Mitrokhin claim that the Covert Action Information Bulletin was founded 'on the initiative of the KGB' and that the group running it (collectively codenamed RUPOR), which held its first meeting in Jamiaca early in 1978, was 'put together by FCD Directorate K (counter intelligence). The Bulletin was edited in Washington by Bill Schaap, a radical lawyer codenamed RUBY by the KGB, his wife, the journalist Ellen Ray and two other disaffected former members of the CIA, Jim and Elsie Wilcott." 22

In 1973 the IPS founded the "Transational Institute" (TNI), a daughter organization in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. A Dutch intelligence report says that is was Samuel Rubin himself who was "the driving force behind the creation of TNI." 23 In 1976 the Rubin Foundation donated $ 400,000 to TNI. (Rubin died in 1978.)

When former CIA agent Philip Agee was about to be expelled from Britain where he had found temporary refuge, the Transnational Institute immediately invited him to Amsterdam. One of the people he met there was Gretta Bedier de Prairie-Nieuwenhuizen. "Nieuwenhuizen" is Gretta's maiden name, "Bedier de Prairie" was the name of her husband at the time. Mrs. Bedier de Prairie was present at the act that allowed Agee to remain and work in Europe. After he arrived in Amsterdam, the Dutch Internal Security Service (BVD) advised the Dutch government to deport him. But in March 1978 Agee married the American singer Gysela Ingool, who was then living in Hamburg. Gretta Bedier de Prairie was present at the marriage as an official witness. Thanks to his marriage to an American woman in Hamburg, Agee was able to settle there. 24

After her divorce Gretta married the Dutch banker Willem Duisenberg. From now on she was known as "Gretta Duisenberg." It did not take very long before she began to embrace radical Palestinian causes.

One of the interesting people who financially supported Philip Agee during the latter's stay in Amsterdam was a Pakistani man named Mahtaq Malik. Malik also happened to be a rather close friend of Gretta's. (He frequently visited Gretta's Amsterdam home in the Bernard Zweerskade.) The same Malik was one of the most prominent drug dealers in the Netherlands. (Gretta Duisenberg's own son was a drug dealer, too; he managed to escape from a Thai prison and subsequently returned to the Netherlands where his mother proudly embraced him.)

Concluding comments

Leon Panetta is not the best choice for heading the CIA. There are serious reservations in Washington about his qualifications for such an important position. Of course, Panetta can in no way be associated with hostile foreign intelligence services. But his previous support for a dubious think thank like the Institute of Policy Studies – an outspoken anti-CIA lobby group, manipulated in the past by former Soviet intelligence services is anything but a recommendation for a job like CIA chief. Such a display of naivete should become him ill.

There are better candidates, Richard A. Clarke, perhabs. He, at least, is a man who is really familiar with the current security threats. He was one of the first who raised the alarm about Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. Barack Obama should not make the same mistake that former president Jimmy Carter made when he appointed admiral Stansfield Turner head of the CIA in 1977. Having little or no experience in intelligence matters, Carter's new spy chief "eliminated much of the CIA's HUMINT capacity (=human intelligence, V.) and severely damaged Agency morale."25 The Agency turned blind, began to underestimate the real threats to American and global security. This proved fatal in the case of Iran where the Shah, a U.S. ally, was forced out of power by religious fanatics supporting Ayatollah Khomeni. We still suffer the consequences of that grave error - that fatal temporary flaw in American intelligence capabilities.

Emerson Vermaat, MA (law), is an investigative reporter specialized in terrorism, crime and the former East German and Soviet intelligence services.

He frequently visited the Middle East and North Africa, usually for Dutch television. He made a TV news report in 1996 on "The Making of a Suicide Bomber," aired in over 40 countries (World Television News, WTN). In a 1997 Dutch study on Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism he described the central role of Osama bin Laden in international terrorism, being the first European journalist to do so. In 1987 he published a lengthy article on "The East German Secret Service: Structure and Operational Focus" (Conflict Quaterly, University of New Brunswick, Canada). He also interviewed a number of former KGB and CIA officers.

Website: www.emersonvermaat.com

1. United States Government, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Memorandum to Director, FBI, Bufile 105-185148, from Sac. WFO (100-45302) (P), May 4, 1970, p. 1 ("communist"), p. 2 (Confidential). Author's file on IPS/TNI.

2. Ibid., p. 2, 3.

3. Ibid. p. 3.

4. United States Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, WFO 100-45302, Title Richard Jackson Barnet, May 13, 1971, p. 1 ("Character: Security Matter – Communist"), p. 3, 4 (Daily World). Author's file on IPS/TNI.

5. Ibid., p. 4.

6. S. Steven Powell, Covert Cadre. Inside the Institute for Policy Studies (Ottawa, Illinois: Green Hill Publishers, Inc., 1987), p. 329.

7. Ibid., p. 333.

8. Ibid., p. 332.

9. Ibid.. p. 333, 334.

10. Arcady N. Shevchenko, Breaking with Moscow (London: Jonathan Cape, 1985), p. 240.

11. Ibid., p. 243.

12. S. Steven Powell, op. cit., p. 329, 331.

13. 1936 General Election New York City. For the Confidential Use of the Special Committee on Un-American Activities, Official Report. The names and addresses of the voters for the Communist Party Ticket (author's file on IPS).

14. Binnenlandse Veiligheidsdienst (BVD), Institute of Policy Studies (confidential Dutch intelligence report, 1982), p. 2. Author's file on IPS/TNI.

15. Institute of Policy Studies, Funding sources, p. 2 (author's file on IPS/TNI; this is not an official IPS document but the information is reliable). In 1976 the Rubin Foundation donated $ 475,000 to IPS and $ 400,000 to TNI, with an additional $ 75,000 for "General Support."

16. Institute for Policy Studies, Tax Schedule V, 52-0788947, June 30, 1979, p. 2; flyer Institute for Policy Studies 1982-1983. Auhor's file on IPS/TNI.

17. Author's source, New York (1986).

18. Binnenlandse Veiligheidsdienst, Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) (confidential Dutch intelligence report, 1982), p. 7, 8.

19. Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, op. cit., p. 269, 300-301.

20. Ibid., p. 301.

21. Ibid., p. 304.

22. Ibid. p. 303.

23. Binnenlandse Veiligheidsdienst (BVD), Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) (confidential Dutch intelligence report, 1982), p. 2; Binnenlandse Veiligheidsdienst, Transnational Instituut (TNI) (confidential Dutch intelligence report, 1982), p. 1.

24. Emerson Vermaat, More troubling than inflation? Wall Street Journal Europe October 17, 2002, p. A 10; Emerson Vermaat, Gretta Duisenberg – gefährlicher als die Inflation? Der Tagespiegel (Germany), October 21, 2002.

25. W. Thomas Smith Jr., Encyclopedia of the Central Intelligence Agency (New York: Checkmark Books/Facts On File, 2003), p. 229.

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