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In 1948 Frank Wisner was appointed director of the Office of Special Projects. Soon afterwards it was renamed the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC). This became the espionage and counterintelligence branch of the Central Intelligence Agency. Wisner was told to create an organization that concentrated on "propaganda, economic warfare; preventive direct action, including sabotage, antisabotage, demolition and evacuation measures; subversion against hostile states, including assistance to underground resistance groups, and support of indigenous antiCommunist elements in threatened countries of the free world."
Later that year Wisner established Mockingbird, a program to influence the domestic American media. Wisner recruited Philip Graham(Washington Post)to run the project within the industry. Graham himself recruited others who had worked for military intelligence during the war. This included James Truitt,Russell Wiggins, Phil Geyelin, John Hayes and Alan Barth. Others like Stewart Alsop,Joseph AlsopandJames Reston,were recruited from within the Georgetown Set.According to Deborah Davis (Katharine the Great):"By the early 1950s, Wisner 'owned' respected members of the New York Times, Newsweek, CBS and other communications vehicles."
In 1951 Allen W. Dullespersuaded Cord Meyerto join the CIA. However, there is evidence that he was recruited several years earlier and had been spying on the liberal
organizations he had been a member of in the later 1940s. According to Deborah Davis, Meyer became Mockingbird's "principal operative".
One of the most important journalists under the control of Operation Mockingbird was Joseph Alsop,whose articles appeared in over 300 different newspapers. Other journalists willing to promote the views of the CIA included
- Stewart Alsop(New York Herald Tribune),
- Ben Bradlee(Newsweek),
- James Reston(New York Times),
- C. D. Jackson(Time Magazine),
- Walter Pincus(Washington Post),
- William C. Baggs (Miami News),
- Herb Gold (Miami News) and
- Charles Bartlett (Chattanooga Times).
According to Nina Burleigh (AVery Private Woman) these journalists sometimes wrote articles that were commissioned by Frank Wisner. The CIA also provided them with classified information to help them with their work.