A Short History of Left “Gatekeeper” Foundations

(of the variety Obama worked for in Chicago)

Webster Tarpley (see July 19 blog) isn’t the first to challenge the role of so-called liberal foundations, such as the Ford, Rockefeller (the main one Obama worked for was Gamaliel Foundation, a subsidiary of Ford) and others as left “gatekeeper” or “counterinsurgency” foundations. In fact Attorney General Bobby Kennedy was one of the first, when he launched a national investigation in 1967 into dozens of foundations used by the CIA as “conduits,” “pass-throughs,” and “fronts” to disguise CIA funding for domestic operations (which are illegal under federal law). The flow chart below (from 2002 tax data) illustrates all three. Although specific grants have likely changed, as other researchers have documented, the overall funding pattern remains unchanged.

Investigating Foundation Tax Returns

Late journalist and long time court reformer Sherman Skolnick, another pioneer in this area, used to teach a course in investigating the 990-A and 990-AR tax returns of some of these foundations. He had a particular interest in so-called alternative or “leftist” media outlets that derive funding from them – and the effect this seemed to have on their unwillingness to cover certain “taboo” issues. Specific media outlets Skolnick and other researchers have linked to CIA and other right wing funding include the Nation, Pacifica Radio Network, In These Times, Democracy Now, the Progressive, Mother Jones, the Alternet, Z Magazine, Extra and Counterspin (from Fairness and Accuracy in the Media, Noam Chomsky, Ms Magazine – along with others that are less well known.

Controlling the Acceptable Range of Debate

I have always found a certain sinister logic in Skolnick’s assertions. Why wouldn’t an efficient intelligence (and propaganda) operation such as the CIA seek to control the terms of debate on the left as well as the right? Skolnick points to the strong reluctance of any of the above outlets to report on any investigation – no matter how well researched documented – relating to domestic CIA operations. The vilification of some of them of Oliver Stone for the movie “JFK” and of the scientists and engineers involved in the 911-Truth movement is but one example. While an alternative “free” press would never be expected to champion alternative or extremist views, they certainly have an obligation to offer them a fair hearing. Skolnick and others blame their failure to do so on fears their CIA and right wing funding will be cut off.

I myself have always been troubled by these outlets’ mysteriously unified and systematic vilification of Ralph Nader’s candidacy. Especially as the most serious and credible political analysts – on the right and left – agree that the most feasible solution to our country’s current political deadlock is to foster independent and third party candidates.

Since Skolnick’s death in 2006, others have taken up his important work:

Correspondence with Vincent Salandria


I would also like to acknowledge Michael D. Morrisey, author of Correspondence with Vincent Salandria, for first alerting me to this issue and sharing his lengthy correspondence with Noam Chomsky regarding the JFK assassination.



Left Gate Keepers

by Eric Halter (from 2002 tax return data)


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