Even Andrew Bolt is shocked. On Tuesday mining magnate Clive Palmer fronted the media and announced that the US Central Intelligence Agency is using the Rockefeller Foundation to fund a campaign to undermine Australia’s coal industry.
Palmer appeared in front of the cameras brandishing a funding proposal for the Australian anti-coal movement — a document titled Stopping the Australian Coal Export Boom. On page two, the report acknowledges "the generous support of the Rockefeller Family Fund".
When it comes to CIA involvement Palmer’s logic is a little hard to follow. Part of his argument is that : "You only have to go back and read the Church Report in the 1970s and to read the reports to the US Congress which sets up the Rockefeller Foundation as a conduit of CIA funding."
As Bolt notes, this is one part of Palmer’s diatribe that has at least some foundation in evidence. The US Senate’s Church Committee began an investigation of US intelligence in 1975. Among its findings was the CIA use of charitable foundations as a conduit for funds. As Volume I of the final report explains:
The CIA’s intrusion into the foundation field in the 1960s can only be described as massive. Excluding grants from the "Big Three" — Ford, Rockefeller, and Carnegie — of the 700 grants over $10,000 given by 164 other foundations during the period 1963-1966, at least 108 involved partial or complete CIA funding. More importantly, CIA funding was involved in nearly half the grants the non-"Big Three" foundations made during this period in the field of international activities. In the same period more than one-third of the grants awarded by non-"Big Three" in the physical, life and social sciences also involved CIA funds.
Update: In Thursday’s Herald Sun Andrew Bolt claims that "the CIA has funded the Rockefeller Foundation in the past."
While Bolt claims this is a fact, he doesn’t actually have any evidence that the Rockefeller Foundation has been a conduit for CIA funding. In his Herald Sun piece he quotes from a review of Frances Stonor Saunders’ book The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters that appears on the CIA’s web site. The review notes that Saunders "does a fine job in recounting the intriguing story of how the CIA worked with existing institutions, such as the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, and established numerous ‘bogus’ foundations to ‘hide’ its funding of the Congress for Cultural Freedom and its other covert activities."
There’s no doubt that the Rockefeller Foundation worked with the CIA during the Cold War. But it’s not clear that it was a conduit for funding. In her book she writes "’Bona fide’ foundations such as Ford, Rockefeller and Carnegie were considered ‘the best and most plausible kind of funding cover’" (p 135). She supports this claim with a reference to ‘Final Report of the Church Committee, 1976’ (endnote 15 p 442).
However, volume 1 of the Church Committee’s final report (officially titled Final report of the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, United States Senate) doesn’t actually say that the Rockefeller Foundation was a conduit for CIA funds.
What the report does say is that: "Until 1967 the Agency … maintained covert ties to American foundations in order to pass funds secretly to private groups whose work the CIA supported. " It notes that: "The use of philanthropic organizations was a convenient way to pass funds, in that large amounts could be transferred rapidly, and in a form that need not alert unwitting officers of the recipient organizations to their source."
While the report says: "Bona fide foundations, rather than those controlled by the CIA, were considered the best and most plausible kind of funding cover for certain kinds of operations", it does not mention the Rockefeller Foundation as one of the foundations used by the CIA. The details the report gives about CIA money passed through foundations specifically exclude the "big three" foundations — Ford, Rockefeller and Carnegie.
Since Bolt’s claim rests on Saunders’ book and the reference that Saunders gives doesn’t support the claim that the Rockefeller Foundation was a conduit for CIA funding, Bolt doesn’t have any evidence for his claim about the Rockefeller Foundation.