Thursday, August 20, 2009

`Reader's Digest''s Hidden History--Part 2

(The following article originally appeared in the October 27, 1993 issue of the now-defunct alternative Lower East Side weekly, Downtown. Between 2007 and its 2011 bankruptcy, Reader’s Digest was owned by Citigroup board member Tim Collins’ Ripplewood Holdings’ private investment/leveraged buy-out firm. See below for part 1 of article).

Theirs Was The Kingdom by John Heidenry also observed in 1993 that “in the late 60’s the Reader’s Digest editor-in-chief"—Hobert Lewis—“walked into the office of treasurer Dick Waters, accompanied by two men whom he introduced as agents of the CIA,” when the CIA wanted to put some of its agents on the Reader’s Digest payroll in Peru, and “Waters agreed to go along with the plan.” The same book also revealed that a consultant to the U.S. Senate’s Church Committee, which investigated CIA misconduct, “suspected that the Reader’s Digest had at least the appearance of an institutional relationship with the CIA and was involved in four areas of intelligence gathering: photography…; editorial research for articles that were never printed; market research and polls; and special projects.”

According to Theirs Was The Kingdom, Reader’s Digest was charged by some Italian critics of launching an Italian edition, Selezione del Reader’s Digest in 1948, “in direct response to widespread fears that Italy would fall to the Communists” in its 1948 elections; and of letting its Italian edition be utilized “as a conduit for anti-Communist propaganda originating from…both the American and the European intelligence communities,” under the editorial direction of a former British intelligence officer named Terrence Harmon. These same Italian critics also charged that “the 1948 Italian campaign marked the first time the Central Intelligence Agency…got involved in large-scale political propaganda,” according to the same book.

In Chile, Reader’s Digest was also apparently utilized by the CIA to help create favorable conditions for the Chilean military’s 1973 overthrow of the democratically-elected Allende regime. Theirs Was The Kingdom stated the following:

“When…Salvadore Allende was elected president of Chile in 1970, according to Landis, the Digest sent a reporter to remote areas of the country to investigate industrial accidents in the country’s copper mines. Previously, a Finnish newspaper had accused a Digest employee of being a CIA agent for taking photographs of a copper mine. Though the reporter’s research never resulted in a published article, the CIA soon afterward organized a strike among Chile’s copper workers…”
(end of part 2)

(Downtown 10/27/93)