Cord Meyer, the son of a senior diplomat, was born on 10th November, 1920. The Meyer family was extremely wealthy and had made its money from sugar in Cuba and from property on Long Island.
The family settled in New York City . Cord and his twin brother, Quintin, attended private school in Switzerland and then St. Paul's preparatory school in New Hampshire. In 1939 Meyer went to Yale University to study literature and philosophy. After graduating in 1942 he joined the US Marines.
Meyer was sent to the South Pacific and wrote articles about his experiences for The Atlantic Monthly. Meyer was a machine-gun platoon leader and took part in the assault on Guam. He later wrote: "As we buried our dead I swore to myself that if it was within my power I should see to it that these deaths would not be forgotten or valued lightly. No matter how small a contribution I should happen to make it would be in the right direction."
On 21st July, 1944, a Japanese grenade was thrown into his foxhole. He was so badly injured that when he was found he was initially declared to be dead. In fact, his commanding officer sent a telegram to his parents announcing he had died. Although he lost his left eye he was eventually well enough to be sent home. Soon afterwards his twin brother, Quentin, was killed at Okinawa.
While recovered in New York City Meyer met the journalist, Mary Pinchot. The couple married on 19th April, 1945. The couple then went to San Francisco to attend the conference that established the United Nations. Cord went as an aide to Harold Stassen, whereas Mary, who was working for the North American Newspaper Alliance at the time, was one of the reporters sent to cover this important event.
Meyer told te New York Times that although the United Nations was a step in the right direction "that the veto power was just another alliance of the great powers and one that would surely lead to another war." Cord proposed that the UN be granted authority to oversee nuclear power installations inside member countries. He also argued that the UN should be given the authority to prevent war and "the armed power to back it up."
While at the San Francisco Conference he met John F. Kennedy for the first time. They disagreed about the merits of the United Nations. Kennedy was far more hopeful of its long-term success and disliked Meyer's ideas on world government. Meyer also objected to Kennedy's relationship with his new wife.
Meyer had been shocked by the dropping of the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. After the war Meyer commissioned a film by Pare Lorentz called The Beginning or the End. Meyer wanted this film to be the definitive statement about the dangers of the atomic age. Cord wrote at the time: "Talked with Mary of how steadily depressing is our full realization of how little hope there is of avoiding the approaching catastrophe of atomic warfare."
The following year he published a book about his war experiences, Waves of Darkness. Meyer expressed his pacifist views in the book: "The only certain fruit of this insanity will be the rotting bodies upon which the sun will impartially shine tomorrow. Let us throw down these guns that we hate."
Meyer became an advocate of world government. In May, 1947, Cord Meyer was elected president of the United World Federalists. Under his leadership, membership of the organization doubled in size. Albert Einstein was one of his most important supporters and personally solicited funds for the organization. Mary Meyer was also active in the organization and wrote for its journal, The United World Federalists.
In 1949 Meyer and his family moved to Cambridge. He was showing signs of becoming disillusioned with the idea of world government. He had experienced problems with members of the American Communist Party who had infiltrated the organizations he had established. It was about this time that he began working secretly for the Central Intelligence Agency.
In 1950 Meyer formed the Committee to Frame a World Constitution with Robert Maynard Hutchins and Elizabeth Mann Borgese. As a result of this work Meyer made contact with the International Cooperative Alliance, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, the Indian Socialist Party and the Congress of Peoples Against Imperialism. It is almost certain that this had been done on behalf of the CIA.
Allen W. Dulles made contact with Cord Meyer in 1951. He accepted the invitation to join the CIA. Dulles told Meyer he wanted him to work on a project that was so secret that he could not be told about it until he officially joined the organization. Meyer was to work under Frank Wisner, director of the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC). This became the espionage and counter-intelligence branch of the CIA. Wisner was told to create an organization that concentrated on "propaganda, economic warfare; preventive direct action, including sabotage, anti-sabotage, demolition and evacuation measures; subversion against hostile states, including assistance to underground resistance groups, and support of indigenous anti-Communist elements in threatened countries of the free world."
Meyer became part of what became known as Operation Mockingbird, a CIA program to influence the American media. According to Deborah Davis (Katharine the Great: Katharine Graham and the Washington Post): Meyer was 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 Central Intelligence Agency included Stewart Alsop (New York Herald Tribune), Ben Bradlee (Newsweek), James Reston (New York Times), Charles Douglas Jackson (Time Magazine), Walter Pincus (Washington Post), William C. Baggs (Miami News), Herb Gold (Miami News) and Charles Bartlett (Chattanooga Times). These journalists sometimes wrote articles that were unofficially commissioned by Meyer was based on leaked classified information from the CIA.
Mary and the family now moved to Washington where they became members of the Georgetown Crowd. This group included Frank Wisner, George Kennan, Dean Acheson, Thomas Braden, Richard Bissell, Desmond FitzGerald, Joseph Alsop, Tracy Barnes, Philip Graham, Katharine Graham, David Bruce, James Reston, James Truitt, Alfred Friendly, Clark Clifford, Walt Rostow, Eugene Rostow, Chip Bohlen and Paul Nitze. The Meyers also socialized with other CIA officers or CIA assets including James Angleton (Cicely Angleton), Wistar Janney (Mary Wisnar), Ben Bradlee (Antoinette Bradlee) and James Truitt (Anne Truitt).
Meyer worked under Thomas Braden, the head of International Organizations Division (IOD). This Central Intelligence Agency unit helped established anti-Communist front groups in Western Europe.The IOD was dedicated to infiltrating academic, trade and political associations. The objective was to control potential radicals and to steer them to the right.
Meyer oversaw the funding of groups such as the National Student Association, the Congress of Cultural Freedom, Communications Workers of America, the American Newspaper Guild and the National Educational Association. He also provided the money for publishing the journal, Encounter. Meyer also worked closely with anti-Communist leaders of the trade union movement such as George Meany of the Congress for Industrial Organization and the American Federation of Labor.
In 1953 Frank Wisner and the CIA began having trouble with J. Edgar Hoover. He described the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC) as "Wisner's gang of weirdos" and began carrying out investigations into their past. It did not take him long to discover that some of them had been active in left-wing politics in the 1930s. This information was passed to Joseph McCarthy who started making attacks on members of the OPC. Hoover also passed to McCarthy details of an affair that Wisner had with Princess Caradja in Romania during the war. Hoover, claimed that Caradja was a Soviet agent.
Joseph McCarthy also began accusing other members of the Georgetown Crowd as being security risks. McCarthy claimed that the CIA was a "sinkhole of communists" and claimed he intended to root out a hundred of them. His first targets were Chip Bohlen and Charles Thayer. Bohlen survived but Thayer was forced to resign.
In August, 1953, Richard Helms, Wisner's deputy at the OPC, told Meyer that Joseph McCarthy had accused him of being a communist. The Federal Bureau of Investigation added to the smear by announcing it was unwilling to give Meyer "security clearance". However, the FBI refused to explain what evidence they had against Meyer. Allen W. Dulles and both came to his defence and refused to permit a FBI interrogation of Meyer.
The FBI eventually revealed the charges against Meyer. Apparently he was a member of several liberal groups considered to be subversive by the Justice Department. This included being a member of the National Council on the Arts, where he associated with Norman Thomas, the leader of the Socialist Party and its presidential candidate in 1948. It was also pointed out that his wife, Mary Meyer, was a former member of the American Labor Party. Meyer was eventually cleared of these charges and was allowed to keep his job.
J. Edgar Hoover and Joseph McCarthy did not realise what they were taking on. Wisner unleashed Operation Mockingbird on McCarthy. Drew Pearson, Joe Alsop, Jack Anderson, Walter Lippmann and Ed Murrow all went into attack mode and McCarthy was permanently damaged by the press coverage orchestrated by Wisner.
Meyer became disillusioned with life in the CIA and in January, 1954, he went to New York City and attempted to get a job in publishing. Although he saw contacts he had made during his covert work with the media (Operation Mockingbird) he was unable to obtain a job with any of the established book publishing firms.
In the summer of 1954 the Meyer family's golden retriever was hit by a car on the curve of highway near their house and killed. The dog's death worried Cord. He told colleagues at the CIA he was afraid the same thing might happen to one of his children.
In the summer of 1954 the Meyers got new neighbours. John F. Kennedy and his wife Jackie Kennedy purchased Hickory Hill, a house several hundred yards from where the Meyers lived. Mary became good friends with Jackie and they went on walks together.
In November, 1954, Meyer replaced Thomas Braden as head of International Organizations Division. Meyer began spending a lot of time in Europe. One of Meyer's tasks was to supervise Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, the United States government broadcasts to Eastern Europe. According to Nina Burleigh (A Very Private Woman) Meyer was "overseeing a vast 'black' budget of millions of dollars channeled through phony foundation of a global network of associations and labor groups that on their surface appeared to be progressive".
On 18th December, 1956, Cord's nine-year-old son, Michael, was hit by a car on the curve of highway near their house and killed. It was the same spot where the family's golden retriever had been killed two years earlier. The tragedy briefly brought the couple together. However, in 1958, Mary filed for divorce. In her divorce petition she alleged "extreme cruelty, mental in nature, which seriously injured her health, destroyed her happiness, rendered further cohabitation unendurable and compelled the parties to separate."
Meyer's career continued to prosper and was now high enough in the CIA hierarchy to be involved in covert operations. This included working with people like Richard Bissell, Frank Wisner, Tracy Barnes, Jake Esterline, David Atlee Phillips, William (Rip) Robertson and E. Howard Hunt. Bissell, who was now head of the OPC, described Meyer as the "creative genius behind covert operations".
As chief of the CIA's International Organizations Division, Meyer met with President John F. Kennedy and his staff. On 18th October, 1961, Kennedy consulted Meyer about the possibility of replacing Allen W. Dulles with John McCone. In his journal he reported that Kennedy was "much more serious and less arrogant than I'd known him before." He added that Kennedy "still yearns for a respect that eludes him from such as myself."
It is assumed that Cord was involved in the plot to assassinate Fidel Castro but so far no documents have been released to confirm this. Cord also met Robert Kennedy several times after the failed Bay of Pigs operation.
In 1961 James Jesus Angleton asked Ben Bradlee to suggest to John F. Kennedy that Meyer should become ambassador to Guatemala. Bradlee, who disliked Meyer, refused. Bradlee later claimed that he did not respond to this request because he knew that Kennedy would reject the idea. Meyer also asked Charles L. Bartlett, another journalist friend of Kennedy to suggest he should be given a political appointment. Bartlett did as requested but reported back that "due to some incident that occured at the U.N. conference in San Francisco in 1945 there was no possibility".
On 12th October, 1964, Mary Pinchot Meyer was shot dead as she walked along the Chesapeake and Ohio towpath in Georgetown. Henry Wiggins, a car mechanic, was working on a vehicle on Canal Road, when he heard a woman shout out: "Someone help me, someone help me". He then heard two gunshots. Wiggins ran to the edge of the wall overlooking the towpath. He later told police he saw "a black man in a light jacket, dark slacks, and a dark cap standing over the body of a white woman."
Soon afterwards Raymond Crump, a black man, was found not far from the murder scene. He was arrested and charged with Mary's murder. The towpath and the river were searched but no murder weapon was ever found.
The media did not report at the time that Meyer had been having an affair with John F. Kennedy. Nor did it reveal that her former husband was a senior figure in CIA's covert operations. As a result, there was little public interest in the case.
During the trial Wiggins was unable to identify Raymond Crump as the man standing over Meyer's body. The prosecution was also handicapped by the fact that the police had been unable to find the murder weapon at the scene of the crime. On 29th July, 1965, Crump was acquitted of murdering Mary Meyer. The case remains unsolved.
At the end of 1966 Desmond FitzGerald, head of the Directorate for Plans, discovered that Ramparts, a left-wing publication, had discovered that the CIA had been secretly funding the National Student Association. FitzGerald ordered Edgar Applewhite to organize a campaign against the magazine. Applewhite later told Evan Thomas for his book, The Very Best Men: "I had all sorts of dirty tricks to hurt their circulation and financing. The people running Ramparts were vulnerable to blackmail. We had awful things in mind, some of which we carried off."
This dirty tricks campaign failed to stop Ramparts publishing in March, 1967. The article, written by Sol Stern, was entitled NSA and the CIA. As well as reporting CIA funding of the National Student Association it exposed the whole system of anti-Communist front organizations in Europe, Asia, and South America. It named Meyer as a key figure in this campaign. This included the funding of the literary journal Encounter.
In May 1967 Thomas Braden responded to this by publishing an article entitled, I'm Glad the CIA is Immoral, in the Saturday Evening Post, where he defended the activities of the International Organizations Division unit of the CIA.
In 1967 Meyer became assistant deputy director of plans, a post in which he worked with spymaster Thomas H. Karamessines. However, the publicity brought about by the Ramparts revealations did not help his career.
Meyer role in Operation Mockingbird was further exposed in 1972 when he was accused of interfering with the publication of a book, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia by Alfred W. McCoy. The book was highly critical of the CIA's dealings with the drug traffic in Southeast Asia. The publisher, who leaked the story, had been a former colleague of Meyer's when he was a liberal activist after the war.
During the Watergate Scandal President Richard Nixon became concerned about the activities of the Central Intelligence Agency. Three of those involved in the burglary, E. Howard Hunt, Eugenio Martinez and James W. McCord had close links with the CIA. Nixon and his aides attempted to force the CIA director, Richard Helms, and his deputy, Vernon Walters, to pay hush-money to Hunt, who was attempting to blackmail the government. Although it seemed Walters was willing to do this, Helms refused. In February, 1973, Nixon sacked Helms. His deputy, Thomas H. Karamessines, resigned in protest.
James Schlesinger now became the new director of the CIA. Schlesinger was heard to say: The clandestine service was Helmss Praetorian Guard. It had too much influence in the Agency and was too powerful within the government. I am going to cut it down to size. This he did and over the next three months over 7 per cent of CIA officers lost their jobs.
On 9th May, 1973, Schlesinger issued a directive to all CIA employees: I have ordered all senior operating officials of this Agency to report to me immediately on any activities now going on, or might have gone on in the past, which might be considered to be outside the legislative charter of this Agency. I hereby direct every person presently employed by CIA to report to me on any such activities of which he has knowledge. I invite all ex-employees to do the same. Anyone who has such information should call my secretary and say that he wishes to talk to me about activities outside the CIAs charter.
There were several employees who had been trying to complain about the illegal CIA activities for some time. As Meyer pointed out, this directive was a hunting license for the resentful subordinate to dig back into the records of the past in order to come up with evidence that might destroy the career of a superior whom he long hated. Meyer also suffered during this period and James Schlesinger moved him to London where he became CIA chief of station in England.
In March, 1976, James Truitt gave an interview to the National Enquirer. Truitt told the newspaper that Mary Pinchot Meyer was having an affair with John F. Kennedy. He also claimed that Meyer had told his wife, Ann Truitt, that she was keeping an account of this relationship in her diary. Meyer asked Truitt to take possession of a private diary "if anything ever happened to me".
Ann Truitt was living in Tokyo at the time of the murder. She phoned Ben Bradlee at his home and asked him if he had found the diary. Bradlee, who claimed he was unaware of his sister-in-law's affair with Kennedy, knew nothing about the diary. He later recalled what he did after Truitt's phone-call: "We didn't start looking until the next morning, when Tony and I walked around the corner a few blocks to Mary's house. It was locked, as we had expected, but when we got inside, we found Jim Angleton, and to our complete surprise he told us he, too, was looking for Mary's diary."
James Angleton, CIA counterintelligence chief, admitted that he knew of Mary's relationship with John F. Kennedy and was searching her home looking for her diary and any letters that would reveal details of the affair. According to Ben Bradlee, it was Mary's sister, Antoinette Bradlee, who found the diary and letters a few days later. It was claimed that the diary was in a metal box in Mary's studio. The contents of the box were given to Angleton who claimed he burnt the diary. Angleton later admitted that Mary recorded in her diary that she had taken LSD with Kennedy before "they made love".
Leo Damore claimed in an article that appeared in the New York Post that the reason Angleton and Bradlee were looking for the diary was that: "She (Meyer) had access to the highest levels. She was involved in illegal drug activity. What do you think it would do to the beatification of Kennedy if this woman said, 'It wasn't Camelot, it was Caligula's court'?" Damore also said that a figure close to the CIA had told him that Mary's death had been a professional "hit".
There is another possible reason why both Angleton and Bradlee were searching for documents in Meyer's house. Were they looking for material that Meyer had been collecting on CIA's covert activities?
After leaving the CIA in 1977 Meyer became a a nationally syndicated columnist. He also wrote several books including an autobiography, Facing Reality: From World Federalism to the CIA. In the book Meyer commented on the murder of his wife: "I was satisfied by the conclusions of the police investigation that Mary had been the victim of a sexually motivated assault by a single individual and that she had been killed in her struggle to escape." Carol Delaney, the longtime personal assistant to Meyer, later admitted: "Mr. Meyer didn't for a minute think that Ray Crump had murdered his wife or that it had been an attempted rape. But, being an Agency man, he couldn't very well accuse the CIA of the crime, although the murder had all the markings of an in-house rubout."
In February, 2001, the writer, C. David Heymann, asked Cord Meyer about the death of Mary Pinchot Meyer: "My father died of a heart attack the same year Mary was killed , " he whispered. "It was a bad time." And what could he say about Mary Meyer? Who had committed such a heinous crime? "The same sons of bitches," he hissed, "that killed John F. Kennedy." Cord Meyer died of lymphoma on 13th March, 2001.
In January 2004, E. Howard Hunt gave a taped interview with his son, Saint John Hunt, claiming that Lyndon Baines Johnson was the instigator of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and that it was organised by Cord Meyer, David Atlee Phillips, Frank Sturgis and David Sanchez Morales.