Gillibrand Teams Up With Former Soviet Propaganda Outfit

Gillibrand set to sign on to policy proposal penned in part by a Marxist think tank

Gillibrand / YouTube

2020 Democratic presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand is set to sign on to a policy proposal penned in part by a Marxist think tank best known for serving as a de facto Soviet mouthpiece during the Cold War.

BuzzFeed reported Tuesday that the New York senator will endorse a new report recommending steps to reduce the racial wealth divide, including policies such as a commission to study slavery reparations.

"A draft of the report, titled ‘Ten Solutions to Bridge the Racial Wealth Divide,' will be jointly released this week by the Institute for Policy Studies, the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, and the National Community Reinvestment Coalition," they report. Gillibrand told BuzzFeed News that she was "proud" to support the document.

One of the organizations Gillibrand is "proud" to partner with, the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), was infamous during the Cold War for its defense of Communist governments and for its kneejerk support of the Soviet line.

Emory Professor and preeminent historian of American Communism Harvey Klehr dedicated an entire chapter of his book "Far Left of Center" to the IPS, which he characterized as "an intellectual nerve center for the radical movement, providing sustenance and support for a variety of causes, ranging from nuclear and anti-intervention issues to support for Marxist insurgencies."

"IPS fellows have consistently maintained that the Soviet threat is largely non-existent and a product of the military-industrial complex," he wrote. Klehr detailed how IPS fellows' partnered with Soviet-funded "peace" organizations, defended USSR and Vietnam from charges of human rights abuses, defended the Sandinistas and other Latin-American terrorists, and denied the existence of the Cambodian genocide, even as two million people died.

Former Communist spy and defector Ladislav Bittman likewise wrote in his seminal book "The KGB and Soviet Disinformation" that the Soviets were "particularly interested" in IPS, whose "nucleus" was composed of "researchers and scholars with Marxist perceptions that Soviet foreign and military policies pose no threat to Western democracies."

Bittman wrote that the IPS was not directly funded or directed by the KGB like other radical left-wing organizations of the time, but their "influence [was] more subtle." He points to documents found in a briefcase after the 1976 assassination of IPS fellow Orlando Letelier in Washington, D.C., on the orders of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

The Letelier documents were leaked to journalists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak, who published the contents in their syndicated column. As Novak recalls in his autobiography, "the briefcase revealed links between Letelier and the Soviet, East German, and Cuban intelligence services. It showed that Letelier and his colleagues had received material from Julian Rizo, a Castro spy whose cover was as first secretary with the Cuban delegation to the UN. Letelier’s address book contained Rizo’s telephone number as well as the private Havana number of Cuban Foreign Minister Raul Roa."

The IPS denounced the Novak column as right-wing propaganda, and insisted that large cash payments to Letelier from the wife of a Cuban intelligence chief was actually collected from Western European sources. However, a FOIA request by the conservative Accuracy in Media years later unveiled that the FBI had intercepted phone conversations between Letelier and Castro's top intelligence agent in the United States.

Perhaps the most damaging action taken by the IPS during the Cold War was its support of the publication of CounterSpy, a magazine dedicated to outing CIA secrets and naming agents. The magazine leaned heavily on and was allied with former CIA agent Phillip Agee, who was open about his cooperation with Cuban intelligence and was outed as a KGB asset after his death. CIA station chief Richard Welsh was murdered in Athens after being named in Counterspy.

The IPS' influence in Washington declined starting in the Reagan administration, but it still maintains its radical left-wing foreign policy views. This has resulted in a tension with mainstream Democratic foreign policy stances in the Trump era. The most recent MSNBC appearance by an IPS fellow was two years ago and ended with her attacking NATO.