Friday, April 20, 2012

Intelligence- Preservation Complex: The CIA and Colonial Williamsburg

Few Americans-then or now- realized how much American culture was adapted, modified, hidden, destroyed, or created to serve as weapons against the Soviets during the Cold War. For example, if you've ever seen the cartoon version of Animal Farm, you'll notice significant differences from the book, including the eliminations of characters who served as critiques of capitalism and the creation of a new, positive ending. The reason for these alterations to the narrative is the CIA was funding the film. As documented in the book, Cultural Cold War, the CIA funded numerous festivals, fairs, and publications with the idea of battling Soviet influence.

A random search thrown at the CIA's CREST system uncovered CIA involvement with that historical site. In classified March 1951 memorandum from [redacted]Assistant to the Director to Chief, Foreign Division, the Director's Assistant asks Foreign to provide commentary on a report compiled by a gentleman named Kershaw Burbank who appears to been hired by a John D. Rockefeller III to adapt Colonial Williamsburg’s programming to the needs of the Cold War. Specifically Rockefeller thought "the institution might serve a more useful purpose if the stress were shifted toward portraying the democratic way of life which contributed to America's growth." We know that the Cold War and anti-Communism were driving forces behind these revisions to Colonial Williamsburg programming due to Burbank's desire to have feedback from CIA experts on Soviet Communism. Not to mention that his 26-page report is nothing but a harsh critique of communism and a promotion of capitalism.

In a May 1951 memorandum classified “Secret”, the Chief, International Communism Branch, Staff C writes to [redacted] Assistant to the Director and informed [redacted] that the requested review has been completed. The International Communism Branch, Staff C gave the report middling remarks. Part A of the report is described as having "useful restatement of some of the concepts underlying Soviet/Communist ideology," but then criticizes the analysis for lacking "progress in depth" except for quoting a few list authors and books. Part B is giving higher praise for being "well formulated". However, Burbank is again dinged for lack of depth in his analysis. They also recommend a "through study” of the “Communist/Soviet theory” of 'Democracy’.  Chief, International Communism Branch, Staff C expresses a willingness and desire to review additional reports created by Burbank.

Colonial Williamsburg- CIA