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The CIA in Australia – Part 4

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                     THE CIA IN AUSTRALIA

                  Part 4 of a 6 part series
              Watching Brief, PRNS, October 1986

Clyde Cameron:  Lionel Murphy was attending a meeting of world
leaders in the fields of finance and commercial interests in which
a top American businessman, who has a very close connection with
the CIA, made the statement that `we' [`we' meaning the corporate
world] have no trouble with governments, we can manage them, we can
handle governments, but the difficulty always is handling the Trade
Union movement'.

Jane Lanbrook:  Welcome to the second half of Watching Brief this
week.  I'm Jane Lanbrook and today part 4 of our series examining
the CIA's role in Australian politics.  Producer Tony Douglas looks
at the agency's continuing attempts to subvert Australian and New
Zealand Trade Unions.  The CIA with vast sums of money at its
disposal has resorted to bribery, contributed to campaign funds,
established front organisations and most importantly has fully
financed trips to the United States for local trade union
officials.  Once there the officials undertake training programs
organised by the agency.  Former Whitlam Minister Clyde Cameron
looks at the first of this, the so-called `Leadership Grants.'

Clyde Cameron:  Leadership Grants have been grants to trade union
leaders in which they are invited to go to America for up to six
weeks at a time, funded and given the first class hotel
accommodation with first class return fares in order to brainwash
them into inculcating in their thinking process, at the least, that
private enterprise is the only way to go.  And we can look at the
list of the trade union leaders who have been invited to go to the
U.S. and we can see a general pattern of right-wing people, people
that we perhaps say on the centre-left who might be swung over to
the right, being invited to go to America.  I'm not suggesting for
a moment that all of them have been brainwashed and that all of
them have had their views subverted but the Americans must believe
that they are getting good results because they continue to do it.

Tony Douglas:  The Leadership Grant Scheme really took off when the
national secretary of the Australian Workers Union, Tom Doherty,
was invited to the United States.  At the time the AWU, covering
most rural workers, had a huge membership and virtual control of
the Queensland Labor Party.  During the 1950s and the 1960s the
union was still all powerful and didn't even bother affiliating
with the ACTU until 1967.

Clyde Cameron:  Tom Doherty, I remember, when he was General
Secretary of the AWU went on an extended tour in America as a guest
of the CIA and while he was there they made a point of having him
introduced to J. Lansdowne who had been a former communist but who
had turned coats, so to speak, and had gone over to the
administration and J. Lansdowne asked Doherty to give him the names
of the union leaders in Australia who ought to be invited to
America under these so-called Leadership Grants.  And Doherty
supplied him with the names of a lot of people and whilst he was
talking to Lansdowne, Lansdowne explained to him that no American
Labor attache can ever be appointed unless he has been verified by
me and you can bet your buttons of it that ninety percent of Labor
attaches are working either as direct agents of the CIA or in
conjunction with them.

Tony Douglas:  Do they get involved in actual union elections
through the Labor attaches?

Clyde Cameron:  Yes, of course, they do.  They pay for costs of how
to vote material, they pay for the cost of posting, how to vote
material to union members when elections are held and in the 1964
elections for the South Australian branch of the AWU.  I can speak
for South Australia and I presume that it happened elsewhere in all
the other branches as well.  But in South Australia every AWU
member on the roll had posted to him from Melbourne how to vote
material telling him to vote against the Mick Young-Don Cameron-
Clyde Cameron ticket.  And the proof of that did come from the
Labor attaches' offices in Melbourne and it was given subsequently
by one of the people who had been working with the council.

Tony Douglas:  The use of American Labor attaches in Australia by
the CIA has largely ceased.  The United States Embassy in Canberra
has one Labor attache compared to the six or seven they used to
have working out of consulates in all Australian capital cities. 
Jerry Aaron, co-author of ROOTED IN SECRECY, looks at the critical
role played by successive Labor attaches in Melbourne, home of the
ACTU, the Arbitration Commission and the Labor Left.

Jerry Aaron:  Some of them were quite clearly connected with the
CIA.  One of the more interesting ones is a chap by the name of
Edward McCale and he, before that, was Assistant Director of the
CIA Radio Free Europe and he was a representative of the USIA, US
Information Agency, in London and he was a Labor attache in
Johanesburg.  And then the operation there, or the cooperation of
McCale with the trade union leaders was very close indeed.  And
after McCale returned to the US, he came back again in 1979, and he
had been full of discussions which you may or may not regard as
genuine where he spoke with Australian trade union leaders and
discussed the state of the trade union movement in the United
States with them, ostensible.  Another one was a chap by the name
of Bob Bockenshaw [?] and both McCale and Bockenshaw were very
closely connected to Bob Hawke.  Bockenshaw was serving in
Melbourne as a Labor attache in 1962-64, he met Bob Hawke, and
Hawke later on became a house guest, six years later, when he went
to Washington on a visit.  Bockenshaw officially retired from the
CIA in 1976.  There are quite a few others.  A chap I know, Arthur
Purcell, who also served in Victoria as a Labor attache has an
interesting history: he was a marine in Turkey, Holland, Tanzania
and Monrovia.  He completed a labor course in 1964, he served in
Bolivia as a Peace Corps Director and in the Philippines and Peru
as a labor political officer.  Evidently in those countries they
can make it much more plain that they are there to do a political
job rather than anything else.

Tony Douglas:  The use of Labor attaches and `Leadership Grants'
aren't the only avenues the United States has used to build a
strong pro-American block inside the Australian Labor movement. For
instance, the NSW right-wing has been very supportive of the
Australian trade union program conducted by the Harvard Foundation.
This program is supported by multinational business interests with
its chairman being Brookes Wilson of Coppers International.  Its
list of trustees include a who is who of Australian business with
some prominent politicians on both sides of the fence also
involved.  As well as that, there are some leading members of the
trade union right-wing represented.  For instance, there are four
knights of industry among its trustees: Sir Peter Ables, Sir
Garrick Agnew, Sir Tristan Antico and Sir Warwick Fairfax.  Also
amongst the trustees are avowed opponents of the union movement
like Hugh Morgan of Western Mining.  There is also Bill Dicks and
Chap  Chapman, managing directors of Ford and GMX in Australia, as
well as Bob White of Westpac.  Two prominent Liberal frontbenchers,
Andrew Peacock and Ian McPhee are also there. And so is Bob Hawke,
Neville Wran, Ralph Willis and Barry Unsworth.  Labor MP and co-
author of ROOTED IN SECRECY Joan Coxsedge visited the United States
in 1983 and went to Harvard University to find the Harvard

Joan Coxsedge:  What I found out was very interesting.  I made the
quite startling discovery that there are in fact two Harvard
Foundations.  One Harvard Foundation is genuine and is situated
right in the middle of the university and it is involved with
university affairs.  But I spoke with the people there and they
were quite bewildered by my conversation because I found that they
didn't know what I was talking about when I asked about a
mysterious body paying for our trade unionists.  So what I then did
was to hunt around until I found the other Harvard Foundation that
is funding the Harvard university trade union program and they had
a very small office, I think it was on about the third floor of non
discreet building.  The person who runs the Harvard Foundation and
Harvard trade union program is a man called Joe O'Donell, the
Executive Director, and to show the links with other right-wing
organisations back in 1977 he was actually brought to this country
by Enterprise Australia to come out here and put us on the right
line as far as trade unionism was concerned.  But it's a costly
cause and when Australians take part in it, as they do with other
trade unionists from around the world, the tuition alone is 2,500
dollars and this has probably gone up since then.  The cost of
their room is 1250 dollars, their books are 200 dollars, the meals
vary.  And so you would say each participant would have to pay
around about 5,000 dollars and that's very substantial. And, you
know, you could argue that the people who are taking part in
this...some very powerful people that are taking part since it
started in 1964 and some are witting and some are perhaps unwitting
and it's interesting just to go back and have a look at the
graduates of the Harvard trade union training program: back in 1964
we had Ralph Willis, 66 Barry Unsworth, 68 Joe Thompson, 69 Iron
Workers Secretary Ronald Davidson, 71 John Radcliffe, then we had
John Blakehurst Society of Engineers in 72, John Bannon Transport
Workers in 73, and then in 75 John Mcbeen, we had a John Morris
from the Liquors Industries Workers Union in 78 who is now a
senator, we had Gary Weaven [?] in 78 who is now working for the
ACTU but at that stage was working for the Australian Municipal
Officers Association.  Gordon Baze [?] from the Queensland Vehicle
Building in 79, Michael Alfield from Sydney in 1979, John Bedden in
79 [must have been a good year], Kenneth Oath [?] from the NSW
State Secretary and Federal Secretary of the Tramways Union, Errol
Hother who is a very well know trade unionist from Queensland in
Spring 80, Donald McDonald from the Professional Divers of
Australasia in 1980, we had Raymond Evans in 1980, Tony Bella in
1980 from the Victorian Trade Hall Council, we had Robert Briskie
in 81 and a G. Peter Mitchell from the Vehicle Builders Federation
in 81, and then later in 1981 we had Ian Duffy from the NSW Iron
Workers Union and Michael Eason.

Tony Douglas:  The Harvard Trade Union Program for 1987 is now
asking for applicants.  In a letter from NSW Labor Council
Secretary and 1975 graduate Jack McBeen, dated the 8 September
1986, unions are asked to consider nominating suitable applicants. 
Included in the letter are some details about the training program
itself and a list of previous graduates. McBeen says the course is
worth over 6,000 dollars.  Also attached is a letter from the
secretary of the program in Australia to Michael Eason, himself a
graduate of the course and now Assistant Secretary of the NSW Labor
Council.  In part it says, and I quote: `Having experienced the
many benefits that the program has to offer would you please
consider fellow trade unionists who may wish to benefit in a
similar manner to yourself', unquote.  Well, one of the benefits
Eason may have enjoyed was becoming Australian Secretary of the
short-lived Labor Committee for Pacific Affairs.  The Committee was
short-lived because its activities and links with the CIA were
exposed in newspaper articles in 1973, both here in Australia and
in New Zealand.  One of the journalists involved was Denis Freney
of The Tribune.  I asked Freney who set up the Labor Committee for
Pacific Affairs?

Denis Freney:  It was set up by the US Information Agency which put
up 300,000 dollars and by an organisation called the U.S. Youth
Council which then worked with the AFL-CIO which is sort of the US
equivalent of the ACTU and it went on from there.  Essentially,
however, despite the sort of rather strange way it was funded it
was run by the AFL-CIO with a fellow called Larry Speck who was on
the US Youth Council.  I'm not sure what the US Youth Council is,
except that is a government-funded body. So who he was and what all
added up to I really don't know, except that, as we'll see, it had
CIA connections.

Tony Douglas:  When was it set up and for what specific reasons was
it established?

Denis Freney:  Well, it was set up in 1983.  The basics, I know,
was to get selected right-wing trade union officials from around
the Pacific but particularly from the US, Australia, New Zealand,
Fiji, PNG and the other island nations of the South Pacific
together to discuss...supposedly to discuss common interests and
also to organise tours of trade union officials over there.

Tony Douglas:  Who were the founder members of the Labor Committee
on Pacific Affairs?

Denis Freney:  Well, there were a whole range of people who had all
sort of CIA connections.  The program, the actual education side of
the program, was handed over to the Georgetown International Labor
Program which is turn part of the Georgetown University and its
Centre of Strategic and International Studies.  Now The Centre of
Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) has as one of its
directors a Ray Cline, who is a former Deputy Director of the CIA. 
The other person, though, was Roy Gudson, a person who has CIA
connections and links with the very far right in the US.  For
instance, he wrote a book which was co-authored with a fellow
called Ernest Lefevre, THE CIA AND THE AMERICAN ETHIC which tried
to praise the CIA as the embodiment of the American way of life and
so on and so forth.  Gudson was also the son of a Labor attache in
Britain who was very strongly suspected of being CIA officer and he
set up a similar organisation between British and other European
trade unions and the American trade unions.  So there is a whole
range of people who have been directly involved in them including
a former [US] ambassador to New Zealand who was quite honest about
what the whole operation was about.

Tony Douglas:  Yes, well he was asked in fact if the claims of Jim
Knotts as head of the Federation of Labor in New Zealand whether
the Labor Committee for Pacific Affairs was an attempt to split the
Federation of Labor in New Zealand, what was Henning's reply to

Denis Freney:  Oh, Henning sort of admitted that in fact they had
worked behind the scenes, of course, he didn't try to deny it.  But
I think that the evidence is such that there is no doubt that one
of the primary aims of LCPA [The Labor Committee for Pacific
Affairs] was to form first of all... the first object was to get
together a solid right-wing inside the FLNZ [The Federation of
Labor in New Zealand] which currently hasn't got an organised
right-wing like we have in the ACTU.  For instance, in the ACTU
you've got the NSW right.

Tony Douglas:  What was the chain of events in New Zealand?  Who
did they try to recruit into the NZ Committee and why did it fall

Denis Freney:  The Secretary of the New Zealand Labor Committee for
Pacific Affairs was a fellow called Gart Fraser who was a Secretary
of the Food Workers Union.  And they had other people like Henry
Boul [?] who was a former secretary in the Engineers union and
later became appointed to the Arbitration Court, and Bob T. [?]
from one of the white collar unions.  The main person was Fraser. 
However, now he wasn't a very sensible choice perhaps because
Fraser has not got a very good reputation perhaps as one of the
brightest people around the trade union movement in New Zealand.

Tony Douglas:  There is a lot of talk that this committee was set
up because it looked very likely that a Labor government was to be
elected in New Zealand and, as you said, it was backed by a union
movement that didn't have any organised right-wing and a nuclear
ship ban was very much on the cards.

Denis Freney:  Yes, I think that was a primary thing.  I think that
it was also to tackle the raising anti-nuclear feeling of the whole
of the South Pacific, you know, but specifically in New Zealand
yes, that's precisely the set up just as it became more apparent
that it was probable that Langley was going to win the elections
and so they needed to intervene and they have continued to
intervene at all sort of levels but maybe in a less obvious way.

Tony Douglas:  Let's look at some of the personnel on the
Australian committee of this Labor Committee for Pacific Affairs. 
For a start, Michael Eason?

Denis Freney:  Michael Eason is a young guy who is university
trained.  Originally, he sort of flirted with the left but has
become one of the main people in the NSW right-wing machine.  Eason
was the Australian secretary of the committee, a branch of the
Labor Committee on Pacific Affairs, and spent quite a bit of time
going around with some of the Americans involved, going around the
South Pacific trying to get or select trade union leaders from the
South Pacific involved in this operation.  He played a very
important role in fact in it.  Now he would have been well aware of
the sort of people who were involved on the American end, although
he tried to defend himself...and John McBeen tried to defend
themselves at some stage by saying `oh, well, all the union people
over in America are just sort of really Liberal Democrats, you
know, Kennedy democrats.'   And the reality is, of course, that the
tours they organised were tours were they were given the Reaganite

Tony Douglas:  What's McBeen's role in this Labor Committee for
Pacific Affairs?

Denis Freney:  McBeen was involved, how deeply involved we don't
know, but subsequently Mcbeen withdrew from it and I think it was
one of the reasons why the whole thing collapsed.  I think some
elements in the NSW right realised that this was just not on to be
so publicly associated with a group that had so many links with the

Tony Douglas:  Let's look at Gerard O'Keefe.  What was his role and
what is his background?

Denis Freney:  Yes, well, O'Keefe is officially organiser of one of
the International Labor Workers Union in the States.  He's an old
time CIA agent.  He was named as such by Philip Agee back in the
fifties and sixties, always working through the trade union
movement.  He was in Latin America for a while, he was even in
Chile when they were destabilising the Allende government, and his
role there was to develop whatever contacts he could inside the
trade union movement to turn against the Allende government and
destabilise it, of course.  There were a whole number of miner's
strikes which were very much influenced and supported by the CIA.
And he was filmed by British Granada TV operating in Chile in this
period and he was exposed, you know.  Now, there are many many
stories about O'Keefe.  He has been around this part of the world
quite a bit, he's been in contact with the Clerks' Union and with
other far-right union organisations.  And at one stage he tried to
get into New Zealand back in the 70s and because of the reports, he
was so notorious, the NZ Federation of Labor said `yes we were
happy to welcome him if he categorically denies that he is working
for the CIA', and O'Keefe never would deny that.  Now his
connection is that he in fact was up to his neck in this whole
Labor Committee for Pacific Affairs and in fact lectured chosen
right-wing unions from here and New Zealand, Fiji, etc, who went
over there, gave them lectures about how to run a good trade union.

Tony Douglas:  Can you tell us something about these tours that
people were taken on. For instance, lecturing in one of the tours
in October 1983 was a person called Erwin Brown.

Denis Freney:  Yes, they are lectured by people whose associations
with the CIA go back a long while.  Gerard O'Keefe was one, we
already mentioned him.  Erwin Brown is even more notorious, I mean,
Erwin Brown goes back to the forties when the CIA decided that they
were going to try to destroy the control of the Communist Party of
France and Italy in particular over a lot of trade union movements
and one of the most notorious things that Erwin Brown was involved
in was the operation in Marseille where they used mafia elements
linked up with the Union Cause, which is the French mafia, to try
to drive the Communist Party out of control of the docks and they
funded the Corcigan mafia to take over the docklands and, of
course, Marseille became the centre of the heroin trade and that's
the whole story of the French connection.  Basically they got
control of the whole base of the unions in the docklands of
Marseille because of the help of the CIA and the man in charge of
the operation was Erwin Brown.  And that's been documented by
people like Tom Braydon who was one of his workers or outsiders and
he proudly said, you know, because he was still pro-CIA, that Erwin
Brown did a great job in driving the communists out of Marseille
harbour.  So Erwin Brown goes back that far and he is probably the
most notorious of the lot of the trade union officials and he's
been in Africa, he's been in South Africa, he's been in Latin
America and he pops up again here because he's an old man now
lecturing these Australian trade unionists.  But they also got
lectured by people from the Reagan's National Security Council. 
Now the National Security Council is in fact the body that gives
the CIA orders.  You know, it says `get rid of that government or
we'll invade that country.  We'll support that government' in the
case of countries like Chile under Pinochet and so on.  So, yes, I
mean, they were lectured by the National Security Council, they
were lectured by the Arms Control bodies of the Reagan
administration.  The other important thing about the ICLPA was that
it frankly said that these union officials got together because of
common trade union and political interests.  It was openly a
political body and that's another reason why it fell, you know,
because they were too sweet in putting `political' in it, they
should just have pretended that they were trade union people
getting together for a nice chat and how to win more for the

Jane Lanbrook:  That was part 4 of our series looking at the CIA's
role in Australian politics.  Appearing on the program were Whitlam
Cabinet Minister Clyde Cameron; Victorian Labor MP and author of
the book ROOTED IN SECRECY Joan Coxsedge, co-author Jerry Aaron;
former CIA agent Ralph McGehee and journalist with The Tribune
newspaper Denis Freney.  The program was produced by Tony Douglas. 
Next week the CIA focuses on the Langley Government and its nuclear
ship ban.   Well, that's all on Watching Brief this week.  If you'd
like more information or cassette copies of the program or if
you've got information that may be of interest contact us at Public
Radio News Services, P.O.Box 103, Fitzroy, Vic 3065 or calls us on
Melbourne 417 7304.  Watching Brief is produced by Ian Wood and
Tony Douglas for the Public Broadcasting Network of Australia.  I'm
Jane Lanbrook and I hope you tune in again next week at the same
time for Watching Brief, Public Radio's National Environment

End part 4 of a 6 part series

Written by nuganhand

September 1, 2008 at 3:08 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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