C. D. Jackson

C. D. Jackson

Charles Douglas Jackson was born in New York City on 16th March 1902. After graduation from Princeton University in 1924, he joined the media industry. In 1931 he went to work with Henry Luce at Time Magazine.

In 1940 Luce allowed Jackson, to organize an anti-isolationist propaganda group called the Council for Democracy. Luce was also one of the main funders with the British Security Coordination for the Fight of Freedom group. Other members included Allen W. Dulles, Joseph Alsop, Dean G. Acheson, Lewis William Douglas, and several journalists including Herbert Agar (Louisville Courier-Journal), Geoffrey Parsons (New York Herald Tribune) and Elmer Davis (CBS).

Ian Fleming, working for BSC's naval intelligence section, proposed that Henry Luce should work for William Donovan as his Coordinator of Information. His recommendation was not accepted and the post went to Robert E. Sherwood. However, as Thomas E. Mahl, the author of Desperate Deception: British Covert Operations in the United States, 1939-44 (1998) has pointed out: "The British soon found themselves in conflict with Henry Luce. His global internationalist vision of the American Century and his ability to publicize that vision were very useful when the British were trying to involve the United States in international events. But they became a threat to the British vision of the postwar world after Pearl Harbor. By early 1943, Henry Luce was on the list of enemies who endangered the British Empire."

During the Second World War Jackson served as special assistant to the Ambassador to Turkey before joining the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in 1943. The following year he was appointed Deputy Chief at the Psychological Warfare Division at Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF).

After the war, Jackson became Managing Director of Time-Life International. In 1948 Frank Wisner, who worked with Jackson in the OSS, was appointed as director of the Office of Special Projects. Soon afterwards it was renamed the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC). This became the espionage and counter-intelligence branch of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Wisner also established Operation Mockingbird, a program to influence the domestic American media. Wisner asked Philip Graham of the Washington Post to run the project within the newspaper industry. Jackson was also recruited and according to Deborah Davis (Katharine the Great: Katharine Graham and the Washington Post: "By the early 1950s, Wisner 'owned' respected members of the New York Times, Newsweek, CBS and other communications vehicles."

Jackson became the publisher of Fortune Magazine and from 1951-52 he served as President of the Free Europe Committee. He also wrote speeches for Dwight D. Eisenhower during his presidential campaign. Jackson was rewarded in February 1953 by being appointed as Special Assistant to the President. This included the role of Eisenhower's liaison between the CIA and the Pentagon. According to the Eisenhower Presidential Library files in Abilene, Kansas, Jackson's "area responsibility was loosely defined as international affairs, cold war planning, and psychological warfare. His main function was the coordination of activities aimed at interpreting world situations to the best advantage of the United States and her allies and exploiting incidents which reflected negatively on the Soviet Union, Communist China and other enemies in the Cold War."

Jackson also took an active role in Operation Mockingbird. Documents released after his death show that Jackson was in contact with a CIA agent in Hollywood's Paramount Studios. This agent was involved in trying to influence the content of the films the company was making. The agent is not named by Jackson but Frances Stonor Saunders claims in Who Paid the Piper? (2000) that it was Carleton Alsop, a CIA agent employed by Frank Wisner. There is no doubt that Alsop was one of the CIA agents working at Paramount. However, Hugh Wilford argues in The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America (2008) that it was a senior executive at Paramount, Lugi G. Laraschi, the most important CIA figure at the studio. Laraschi was the head of foreign and domestic censorship at the studio, whose job was to "iron out any political, moral or religious problems". Other studios, including MGM and RKO, had similar officers, and were probably CIA placements. In a private letter to Sherman Adams, Jackson claims the role of these CIA placements was "to insert in their scripts and in their action the right ideas with the proper subtlety".

In 1953 C. D. Jackson served on the Presidents' Committee on International Information Activities. The following year he was appointed as Special Assistant to President for International Affairs. Jackson urged President Dwight D. Eisenhower to speak-out against Senator Joe McCarthy. He was probably influenced by McCarthy's attacks on CIA officials such as Frank Wisner and Cord Meyer. In Jackson's opinion McCarthy was damaging the anti-Communist cause with self serving and unstable behavior. According to Carl Bernstein, Jackson was "Henry Luce's personal emissary to the CIA". He also claimed that in the 1950s Jackson had arranged for CIA employees to travel with Time-Life credentials as cover.

Kai Bird has argued that Jackson worked very closely with John McCloy: " In the summer of 1959, just before McCloy took his family for an extended trip to Europe, C.D. Jackson wrote to remind McCloy that later that summer a World Youth Festival was scheduled to take place in Vienna. Jackson asked McCloy to contribute an article, perhaps on the "benign and constructive aspects" of the U.S. occupation of Germany. The piece would appear in a daily newspaper to be published in Vienna in conjunction with the festival. McCloy agreed, and the article was published (in five languages) in a newspaper distributed by a twenty-five-year-old Smith graduate named Gloria Steinem... Washington expected some twenty thousand students and young scholars from all over the world to converge on Vienna that summer for the three-week festival. Consequently, the CIA wanted an organized student presence in Vienna in order to counter Soviet propaganda."

After the election of John F. Kennedy in 1960 Jackson left the White House and became publisher of Life Magazine. When Kennedy was assassinated, Jackson purchased the Zapruder Film on behalf of Life. David Lifton points out in The Great Zapruder Film Hoax (2004) that: "Abraham Zapruder in fact sold the film to Time-Life for the sum of $150,000 - about $900,000 dollars in today's money... Moreover, although Life had a copy of the film, it did little to maximize the return on its extraordinary investment. Specifically, it did not sell this unique property - as a film - to any broadcast media or permit it to be seen in motion, the logical way to maximize the financial return on its investment... A closer look revealed something else. The film wasn't just sold to Life - the person whose name was on the agreement was C. D. Jackson." Jackson published individual frames of Zapruder's film but did not allow the film to be screened in its entirety.

Soon after the assassination Jackson also successfully negotiated with Marina Oswald the exclusive rights to her story. Peter Dale Scott argues in his book Deep Politics and the Death of JFK (1996) that Jackson, on the urging of Allen Dulles, employed Isaac Don Levine, a veteran CIA publicist, to ghost-write Marina's story. This story never appeared in print.

Charles Douglas Jackson died on 18th September, 1964. On December 15, 1971, Jackson's widow gave his papers to the Eisenhower Presidential Library. These documents revealed that he had been working as a CIA agent since 1948.

© , September 1997 - April 2014

Primary Sources

(1) Hugh Wilford, The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America (2008)

A more usual approach was for government officials to intervene unobtrusively in commercial film productions, ensuring the insertion of material that displayed the United States in a favorable light, and deletion of what did not. A cache of anonymously written letters dating from early 1953 discovered among the C. D. Jackson records at the Eisenhower Presidential Library reveals a CIA agent based in Hollywood's Paramount Studios who is engaged in an astounding variety of clandestine activities on the Agency's behalf. In one letter, he reports having excised a gag involving "the manhandling of Moslem women," which might have had "potentially disastrous results in the Moslem world," from a Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin comedy, Money from Home. In another, he describes his success "in removing American drunks" (again, probably in deference to Moslem sensibilities) from five Paramount pictures, including Houdini, Legend of the Incas, Elephant Walk, Leininger and the Ants, and Money from Home.

Some ideas, such as Gringo, a Bob Hope vehicle likely to prove "very offensive South of the Border," were "killed" before they even got off the ground. One lengthy letter records an attempt to persuade Billy Wilder ("a very, very liberal minded individual" whom "you have to handle... easy") that a movie he planned to direct about the illegitimate Japanese baby of a GI would prove "a wonderful piece of propaganda... for the Commies." Sometimes it was too late to prevent the making of films that might provide grist for the communist mill. The Gary Cooper western High Noon, for example, was doubly unfortunate in its unsympathetic portrayal of American townsfolk and its featuring a Mexican prostitute character. "I could write the French, Italian, [and] Belgian commie reviews for this picture right now," the agent reflected gloomily, before going on to recount his efforts to sabotage the film's chances in the 1953 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awards. Not all of this agent's actions were destructive: another strong theme in the letters is the author's desire to counter adverse publicity about U.S. race relations by having films depict African Americans mixing on equal terms with whites.

(2) William E. Kelly, Journalists and JFK: Real Dizinfo Agents At Dealey Plaza (May 2011)

In the immediate aftermath of the assassination of President Kennedy a decision was made at the highest levels of government; that, even though the evidence indicating the accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was acting at the behest of Cuba was not true, it could be used to strong arm reluctant leaders in the legislative and judicial branches of government to do what the new president wanted.... By threatening nuclear war if it were true, LBJ used the disinformation of Castro and Cuban complicity to convince the Chief Justice and congressmen to join the Commission. The nuclear threat helped persuaded them to go with the Lone-Nut scenario because a conspiracy had to be a foreign one. To accept the Lone-Nut scenario as possible or even plausible, all of the accused assassin’s intelligence connections had to be ignored and the assassin portrayed as a sociopathic loser acting upon unknown psychological motives.

Life magazine was one of the most prolific supporters of this fairytale. Just as it had been previously in leaking Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crisis and Mongoose intelligence. And as it would after the assassination in anointing the disputed Tonkin Gulf Incident in order to get Congressional authorization for the war in Vietnam.

As the most popular magazine in America, Life was more influential than radio and TV news at the time. Life was the perfect platform to deliver any disinformation the CIA wanted widely distributed to a mass audience. It was used to influence key policy makers as well as the public, and also to discredit President Kennedy, as it tried to do on numerous occasions.

Who were these guys? Well in looking at the Life magazine masthead of that era you will find a number of pertinent names – including Henry and Clare Booth Luce, C.D. Jackson and Issac Don Levine...

With the new Democratic administration, Luce brought aboard a new publisher, C. D. Jackson, an OSS hand and President Eisenhower’s personal administrative assistant on psychological warfare and Cold War strategy.

(3) Daniel Brandt, Journalism and the CIA (June 1997)

OSS veteran Frank Wisner ran most of the early peacetime covert operations as head of the Office of Policy Coordination. Although funded by the CIA, OPC wasn't integrated into the CIA's Directorate of Plans until 1952, under OSS veteran Allen Dulles. Both Wisner and Dulles were enthusiastic about covert operations. By mid-1953 the department was operating with 7,200 personnel and 74 percent of the CIA's total budget.

Wisner created the first "information superhighway." But this was the age of vacuum tubes, not computers, so he called it his "Mighty Wurlitzer." The CIA's global network funded the Italian elections in 1948, sent paramilitary teams into Albania, trained Nationalist Chinese on Taiwan, and pumped money into the Congress for Cultural Freedom, the National Student Association, and the Center for International Studies at MIT. Key leaders and labor unions in western Europe received subsidies, and Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty were launched. The Wurlitzer, an organ designed for film productions, could imitate sounds such as rain, thunder, or an auto horn. Wisner and Dulles were at the keyboard, directing history.

The ethos of the fight against fascism carried over into the fight against godless communism; for these warriors, the Cold War was still a war. OSS highbrows had already embraced psychological warfare as a new social science: propaganda, for example, was divided into "black" propaganda (stories that are unattributed, or attributed to nonexistent sources, or false stories attributed to a real source), "gray" propaganda (stories from the government where the source is attributed to others), and "white" propaganda (stories from the government where the source is acknowledged as such).

After World War II, these psywar techniques continued. C.D. Jackson, a major figure in U.S. psywar efforts before and after the war, was simultaneously a top executive at Time-Life. Psywar was also used with success during the 1950s by Edward Lansdale, first in the Philippines and then in South Vietnam. In Guatemala, the Dulles brothers worked with their friends at United Fruit, in particular the "father of public relations," Edward Bernays, who for years had been lobbying the press on behalf of United. When CIA puppets finally took over in 1954, only applause was heard from the media, commencing forty years of CIA-approved horrors in that unlucky country. Bernays' achievement apparently impressed Allen Dulles, who immediately began using U.S. public relations experts and front groups to promote the image of Ngo Dinh Diem as South Vietnam's savior.

The combined forces of unaccountable covert operations and corporate public relations, each able to tap massive resources, are sufficient to make the concept of "democracy" obsolete. Fortunately for the rest of us, unchallenged power can lose perspective. With research and analysis -- the capacity to see and understand the world around them -- entrenched power must constantly anticipate and contain potential threats. But even as power seems more secure, this capacity can be blinded by hubris and isolation.

(4) Kai Bird, The Chairman: John J. McCloy and the Making of the American Establishment (1992)

In the summer of 1959, just before McCloy took his family for an extended trip to Europe, C.D. Jackson wrote to remind McCloy that later that summer a World Youth Festival was scheduled to take place in Vienna. Jackson asked McCloy to contribute an article, perhaps on the "benign and constructive aspects" of the U.S. occupation of Germany. The piece would appear in a daily newspaper to be published in Vienna in conjunction with the festival. McCloy agreed, and the article was published (in five languages) in a newspaper distributed by a twenty-five-year-old Smith graduate named Gloria Steinem.

McCloy's connection to Steinem went beyond contributing an article to the propaganda operation of which she was an editor in Vienna. Late in 1958, he and Jackson had discussed how the United States should respond to the expected Soviet propaganda blitz in Vienna. Previous gatherings of this kind had always been held in Moscow, East Berlin, or other cities in Eastern Europe. These events were major propaganda circuses, and the CIA was determined, in the words of Cord Meyer, a career CIA officer, "to compete more effectively with this obviously successful Communist apparatus."

Washington expected some twenty thousand students and young scholars from all over the world to converge on Vienna that summer for the three-week festival. Consequently, the CIA wanted an organized student presence in Vienna in order to counter Soviet propaganda.

C.D. Jackson recognized the Vienna Youth Festival as "an extremely important event in the Great Game." He explained, "This is the first time commies have held one of these shindigs on our side of the iron curtain; and what goes on, how it goes on, and what the follow-up will be is, I think, extremely important."

By the time Jackson first approached McCloy, in the autumn of 1958, he and Cord Meyer, head of the CIA's International Organizations division (IO), had a plan. The Agency would provide discreet funding to an "informal group of activists" who would constitute themselves as an alternative American delegation to the festival. The CIA would not only pay their way but also assist them to distribute books and publish a newspaper in Vienna. Among other individuals, Jackson and Meyer hired Gloria Steinem to work with them. Steinem had recently returned from a two-year stint in India, where she had been a Chester Bowles Asian Fellow.

"I came home in 1958," Steinem later explained, "full of idealism and activism, to discover that very little was being done.... Private money receded at the mention of a Communist youth festival." Convinced that a contingent of liberal but anticommunist American students should go to Vienna, she heard through her contacts at the National Student Association that there might be funding available to finance American participation in the festival. Working through C.D. Jackson and Cord Meyer, Steinem then set up an organization in Cambridge, Massachusetts called the Independent Service for Information on the Vienna Youth Festival. She obtained tax-exempt status, and Jackson helped her raise contributions from various American corporations, including the American Express Company. But most of the money came from the CIA, to be managed by Jackson in a "special account." The entire operation cost in the range of $85,000, a not inconsiderable sum in those years.142 (Steinem's organization, later renamed the Independent Research Service, continued to receive support from the CIA through 1962, when it financed an American delegation to the Helsinki Youth Festival.

Steinem ended up working closely with Samuel S. Walker, Jr., vice-president of the CIA-funded Free Europe Committee. Because the Austrians did not want to be associated with the Free Europe Committee, the Agency set up a commercial front called the Publications Development Corporation (PDC). Walker was made president of this dummy corporation, funded in part by "a confidential one-year contract" worth $273,000 from the Free Europe Committee. His job was to supervise the book-and-newspaper operation at the Youth Festival.

(5) Warren Hinckle and William Turner, Deadly Secrets: The CIA-Mafia War Against Castro and the Assassination of JFK (1981)

An instructive example of this interlocking of the free press and the espionage establishment is Life's perennial publisher, C. D. Jackson. At a time shortly after the Dallas events of November 22, 1963, when the agency urgently desired to establish certain parameters of free speech for Lee Harvey Oswald's wife, Marina, Mrs. Oswald received a $25,000 advance for a book never to be published. The advance came from a New York publisher but was actually arranged by Jackson and Life's Edward K. Thompson, through their Dallas representative, one Isaac Don Levine, the dean of American anticommunist writers.

Jackson was president of the CIA's Free Europe Committee in the 1950s and was also special assistant to President Eisenhower for psychological warfare working on anticommunist propaganda for Eastern Europe. (In this capacity he worked with the same Isaac Don Levine, who was then with the CIA's Liberation Committee.)

(6) David S. Lifton, Pig on a Leash, included in The Great Zapruder Film Hoax (2004)

For most JFK researchers, the story of the Zapruder film starts in 1964, when the 26 volumes of the Warren Commission were released. We found that in Volume 18, printed two frames per page, were black and white reproductions of certain Zapruder frames. The public had seen some of these frames in Life magazine on three occasions, twice in color. The 29 November 1963 issue of Life - the first published after JFK's death-had contained a series of some 30 black and white frames. Then, on 7 December 1963, Life published the "John F Kennedy Memorial Edition" which contained nine enlarged Zapruder frames, in color. The third Life issue to contain Zapruder frames-five small color frames on the cover, eight enlarged color frames inside-was dated 2 October 1964, and published within days of the release of the Warren Report.

People studying the case today take for granted the availability of frames from this film, either on the Internet or in VHS or DVD format. They talk of video cards, downloading a frame here or there, seeing the movie on the Internet, knowing that it was included in Oliver Stone's movie "JFK"; purchasing it from MPI on DVD, etc.

None of that was the case in 1963-64. All there was were selected still frames in three issues of Life magazine - that was it. And the American people were Very interested in those issues.

According to court documents, "The three weekly issues of Life and its Memorial Edition, each containing Zapruder frames, had a total distribution of over 23,750,000 copies. Weekly issues of Life, published outside the United States and containing Zapruder frames, had a circulation of over 3 million copies."'

The Zapruder film-in its entirety and as a movie film-was not available to the American public. The media reported that Abraham Zapruder - a Dallas clothing manufacturer - had sold his film to Life magazine for $40,000, and donated $25,000 of the money to the family of Officer J. D. Tippit, whom Oswald was accused of having shot just prior to his arrest at the Texas Theater.

It seemed like a benevolent gesture, but the story was false and a serious misrepresentation of what had actually occurred. Abraham Zapruder in fact sold the film to Time-Life for the sum of $150,000 - about $900,000 dollars in today's money-in a series of payments of $25,000 per annum that began that weekend, with five additional payments being made shortly after the first of every year, starting in January 1964 and ending in January 1968.

Moreover, although Life had a copy of the film, it did little to maximize the return on its extraordinary investment. Specifically, it did not sell this unique property - as a film - to any broadcast media or permit it to be seen in motion, the logical way to maximize the financial return on its investment. In media terms, that is called "exploiting the rights". But Time-Life did no such thing.

A closer look revealed something else. The film wasn't just sold to Life - the person whose name was on the agreement was C. D. Jackson, a close friend of former CIA Director Allen Dulles. The issue of the film being sold to C. D. Jackson does not seem particularly significant when one first examines the Life/Zapruder contract, but appears more important later, when evidence emerges that there is something wrong with the film. Of course, that story took some time to develop.

Back in 1965, within a few months of the November 1964 release of the 26 volumes of the Warren Commission, a small number of researchers discovered that, as shown on the poor quality black and white frames printed two to a page in Volume 18, President Kennedy's head moved rapidly backwards in the frames following frame 313, depicting the impact of the fatal shot.