Skip to main content

This is a collection of declassified U.S. Government (USG) documents pertaining to Radio Free Europe (RFE) and Radio Liberty (RL) and their parent organizations, the Free Europe Committee and the American Committee for Liberation from Bolshevism. The Radios were overseen and funded by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) until 1971, funded there after by open Congressional appropriation, and merged in 1976 as RFE/RL, Inc. The documents were used as primary sources for the book, Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty: The CIA Years and Beyond(Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Stanford University Press, 2011). Documents with reference numbers preceded by “MORI” or “C” were obtained (many with redactions) by mandatory declassification review requests to CIA under the provisions of Executive Orders 13526 and 12958.


CWIHP e-Dossier No. 32

The collection is divided into five sections: 

  1. The First Years: 1948-1955
  2. Challenge of Unrest in Eastern Europe: 1956-1957
  3. Détente Years: 1958-1966
  4. Transition to Open Funding: 1967-1971
  5. Document Supplement [UPDATE - December 2012]
  6. Document Supplement [UPDATE - August 2016]
  7. Document Supplement [UPDATE - February 2017]
  8. Document Supplement [UPDATE - New documents added May 2019]

A brief description of each document, with reference to its citation or reference in the book when applicable, is provided.  

Additional declassified USG documents on RFE and RL are included in various volumes of the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Relations of the United States series and the CIA Freedom of Information Act Electronic Reading Room and the CIA CREST data base at the National Archives. 

Declassified USG documents tell only a part of the Radios’ history. Other important primary sources include the RFE/RL’s corporate and broadcast archives deposited at the Hoover Institution, the RFE/RL research archives in custody of the Open Society Archives, the Robert F. Kelley Papers at Georgetown University Library Special Collections Division (containing important RL archives), and the Political Archives of the German Foreign Office.  

A. Ross Johnson is a Woodrow Wilson Center Senior Scholar and author of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty; the CIA Years and Beyond

 Section One.  The First Years, 1948-1955

[Click to view the complete collection in the CWIHP Digital Archive]

These documents trace the establishment and initial operation of RFE and RL as public-private partnerships among the Department of State, the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC, fully integrated into CIA in 1952), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and influential private American citizens.  RFE was the major operating division of the National Committee for a Free Europe (NCFE), later renamed the Free Europe Committee (FEC).  RL, initially called Radio Liberation, was the major operating division of the American Committee for Liberation from Bolshevism (AMCOMLIB), later renamed the Radio Liberty Committee (RLC). For convenience, these annotations use throughout the terms “Radio Free Europe” and its parent “Free Europe Committee” and “Radio Liberty” and its parent “American Committee for Liberation from Bolshevism.”

Document 1 – Organizing Political Warfare

7 pp. – State Department Memorandum – cited Ch1 n4 – NARA release courtesy of Douglas Selvage

April 30, 1948 – State Department Polish Planning director George Kennan outlines, in a Policy Planning Staff document for the NSC, the idea of a public committee, working closely with the USG, to sponsor various émigré activities. [Redacted final draft of a memorandum dated May 4, 1948, and published with additional redactions as document 269, FRUS, Emergence of the Intelligence Establishment.]  


Document 2 – USG Officials Discuss Émigré Broadcasts to Eastern Europe

2 pp. – OPC Memorandum – cited Ch1 n10 – C01440998

August 26, 1948 – CIA, State Department, Defense Department, and OPC officials discuss establishing a philanthropic organization to sponsor radio broadcasts and other activities of East European émigrés.


Document 3 – Draft Charter of Committee to Support Émigré Broadcasting

4 pp. – OPC Draft – reference Ch1 p13 – C05458947

October 14, 1948 – Draft charter for an émigré-support committee, prepared by OPC official Maynard Ruddock.


Document 4 – State Department-OPC Agreement on Responsibility for Émigrés

2 pp. – OPC-State Department Memorandum – cited Ch1 n14 – C01440999

February 21, 1949 – George Kennan, State Department official Llewellyn E. Thompson, and OPC director Frank Wisner agree that influential private citizens organizing the FEC require approval for the project from Secretary of State Dean Acheson and thereafter responsibility for dealing with East European émigré leaders will shift from State to the FEC.


Document 5 – OPC and FEC Officials Brief J. Edgar Hoover

2 pp. – OPC Memorandum – cited Ch1 n15 – C01441000

April 19, 1949 – Frank Wisner and FEC president DeWitt C. Poole brief FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover on the FEC project to secure his concurrence and assure him of coordination with the FBI on émigré contacts.


Document 6 – Kelley Memorandum on Utilization of Russian Political Émigrés   

3 pp. – OPC Memorandum – reference Ch1 p26 – C05458951

May 3, 1949 – Soviet expert Robert F. Kelley urges forming a central organization representing Russian émigré groups and providing it with radio facilities to reach the Soviet Union and Soviet armed forces in Eastern Europe.


Document 7 – Kennan Authorizes Russian Émigré Broadcasting Project

3 pp. – State Department and OPC Memoranda – cited Ch1 n57 – C01441001

September 13, 1949 – George Kennan authorizes Frank Wisner to proceed with a central Russian émigré organization initially focused on émigré welfare and subject to USG policy guidance. Wisner directs OPC staff in a cover memorandum to proceed with the project.


Document 8 – Understanding Between Office of Policy Coordination and National Committee for Free Europe

6 pp – OPC-FEC Memorandum of Understanding – reference Ch1 p25 – C05458949 

October 4, 1949 – This seminal document reaffirms the mission of the FEC and outlines the respective authorities and responsibilities of OPC, as agent for the USG, and the FEC, “autonomous … with due regard for the source of its funds.”


Document 9 – Request to State Department for information on Eastern Europe for RFE Broadcasts

5 pp. – OPC Memorandum – C01441003

March 16, 1950 – OPC requests information – negative and positive – from the State Department on conditions in Eastern Europe that could be used in RFE broadcasts.  


Document 10 – Recommendations on Utilization of the Russian Emigration

9 pp. –OPC Note – reference Ch1 p27 – C05458952

April 26, 1950 – Robert F. Kelley expands the recommendation of his May 3, 1949 memorandum [Document 6] that OPC encourage the “existing striving of the Russian émigrés to create a central unifying organization” that would organize broadcast to the Soviet Union and be supported through a FEC-like committee in the United States. [A longer document of the same date, “Survey of Russian Emigration,” is available in the Kelley Papers.]


Document 11 – Statement of U.S. Policy Toward Eastern Europe

4 pp. – OPC Memorandum – cited Ch2 n1 – C05459004   

May 5, 1950 – OPC provides the FEC with State Department policy guidance dated April 26, 1950, calling for a range of diplomatic and information initiatives, including use of émigrés, but cautioning that broadcasts “should not promise imminent liberation or encourage active revolt.” [The quoted phrase was added to the initial guidance dated April 11 and published in FRUS, 1950, IV, 14-17.)


Document 12 – OPC-Kennan Discussion of AMCOMLIB

2 pp. – OPC Memorandum – cited Ch1 n62 – C01441004  

August 21, 1950 – Frank Wisner solicits George Kennan’s suggestions on the organization of AMCOMLIB (cryptonym Cinderella) and the composition of its board of directors.


Document 13 – Policy Planning Staff View of Exile National Councils

5 pp. – State Department Memorandum – reference Ch1 p18 – C05459046

October 19, 1950 – State Department Policy Planning official Robert Joyce laments to Frank Wisner disarray among the national councils and suggests redoubled efforts to unify them. 


Document 14 – Wisner Update on RFE

5 pp. – OPC Memorandum – cited Ch1 n39 – MORI 1137561

November 22, 1950 – Frank Wisner reviews RFE broadcasting after 5 months and notes a shift from use of exile leaders “of questionable current value” to “timely news items and commentary.” He foreshadows expansion of broadcast hours and shift of program production to West Germany.


Document 15 – RFE Budget Increase Approved

1 p. – CIA Memorandum – cited Ch1 n39 – MORI 1137556

January 11, 1951 – Allen Dulles (who has joined CIA as Deputy Director for Plans) informs Frank Wisner that CIA has approved RFE’s capital budget for new transmitters.


Document 16 – OPC History of AMCOMLIB

5 pp. – OPC Memorandum – cited Ch1 n60 – C01441005

August 21, 1951 – Frank Wisner reviews the origins of the Soviet émigré project. He considers AMCOMLIB to be a cover organization without independent authority, notes the difficulty of uniting Soviet émigré groups, yet assumes that an émigré “political center” can organize publishing and broadcasting for the Soviet Union. 


Document 17 – RL Objectives Outlined

2 pp. – OPC Memorandum – reference Ch2 p39 – C05459037

August 25, 1951 – An OPC officer explains RL aims and objectives as involving “Russians speaking to Russians through an organization made up of the peoples of Russia.”


Document 18 – OPC Memorandum on Russian Emigration

5 pp. – OPC Memorandum – C05478541

August 27, 1951 – OPC provides the State Department with a positive progress report on efforts to unify the Russian emigration and organize broadcasting to the USSR.


Document 19 – CIA-State Department Reservations about Broadcasting to the Soviet Union

3 pp. – CIA Memorandum – cited Ch1 n64 – C01441006

September 6, 1951 – Senior CIA and State Department officials review the August 21 OPC memorandum [Document 16]. The State Department officials question whether disparate Russian émigré groups can cooperate enough to organize broadcasting to the USSR, while CIA director Walter Bedell Smith questions the cost of the project.


Document 20 – CIA-State Department “Summit” Limits Scope of RFE

6 pp – State Department Memorandum – reference Ch1 p22 – C01441008 

November 20, 1951 – Assistant Secretary of State Edward Barrett reviews FEC plans with Allen Dulles and other officials. The State Department vetoes startup of RFE Baltic broadcasting on grounds that it would duplicate VOA broadcasts and insists that the Crusade for Freedom be toned down. Dulles subsequently rejects the latter point in a handwritten annotation. [Published in full (with one minor redaction) as document 94, FRUS, The Intelligence Community.]


Document 21 – Kennan’s Views on RL

3 pp. – OPC Memorandum – reference Ch1 p29 – C01441009

December 21, 1951 – OPC officers visit Princeton to solicit George Kennan’s views on RL broadcasting.


Document 22 – VOA Views of RL Broadcasting

4 pp. – OPC Memorandum – C01441010

March 8, 1952 – VOA Director Foy Kohler argues that without the formation of a Russian émigré political center enabling “Russians speaking to Russians, ” RL would be a “bad imitation of VOA.”


Document 23 – CIA, State Department, AMCOMLIB Discussion of RL Broadcasting

3 pp. – CIA Memorandum – C01441011

March 15, 1952 – CIA, State Department, and AMCOMLIB officials agree to expand AMCOMLIB activities, share funding with RFE from the Crusade for Freedom, and delay RL broadcasts until a sponsoring Russian Émigré Political Center is formed.


Document 24 – RL Broadcasting Policy

5 pp. – OPC Memorandum – C05459033

March 28, 1952 – An OPC memorandum formulates principles guiding RL broadcasting, which should be organized by a Russian Political Center, not duplicate VOA broadcasts, and aim at destroying the Soviet government’s monopoly of information.


Document 25 – Senate Staff Member Criticizes RFE

3 pp. – CIA Memorandum – C01434007

April 4, 1952 – Richard Arens, counsel for the Senate’s Internal Security Subcommittee, accuses RFE of harboring Marxists and broadcasting left-wing and socialist propaganda.


Document 26 – OPC Dissents from State Department Views on RFE

2 pp. – OPC Memorandum – C05458950

April 24, 1952 – Frank Wisner in a memorandum to Robert Joyce dissents from State Department criticism that exile participation on RFE is minimal and rejects State’s proposal that East European National Councils should themselves organize broadcasts.


Document 27 – State Department Comments on RL

3 pp. – State Department Memorandum – C05459047

May 29, 1952 – State Department Russia expert Francis B. Stevens comments on a draft policy guidance for RL broadcasts. [Evidently an initial response to the OPC request in Document 28, which is dated June 2 but was drafted on May 26.]


Document 28 – OPC Requests State Department Views on RL

8 pp. – OPC Memorandum – cited Ch2 n3 – C01441012

June 2, 1952 – Frank Wisner in a memorandum to Robert Joyce requests State Department views on policy guidance for RL broadcasts, to be organized by the Russian émigré Political Center and adhering to a list of 21 prescriptions and prohibitions.


Document 29 – State Department- OPC Discussion of RL

2 pp. – OPC Memorandum – C01441013

June 9, 1952 – State Department and OPC officials discuss differences among émigré groups and hostility of the exile  Ukrainian Congress to AMCOMLIB.


Document 30 – State Department Views on RL

4 pp. – State Department Memorandum – C01441014

July 3, 1952 – Responding to Frank Wisner’s request [Document 28], the State Department Office of East European Affairs provides Robert Joyce with its views of proposed RL broadcasts, stressing a policy of “self determination for the nationalities when conditions are such as to permit them freely to give expression to their will” [a formulation which would be known as non-predeterminism].


Document 31 – Revised Princeton Statement

3 pp – Psychological Strategy Board Memorandum – cited Ch2 n25 – C01441015

July 16, 1952 – The Psychological Strategy Board issues a restrained revision of the Princeton Statement adopted at a May 1952 meeting at Princeton on psychological operations [available in the Hoover Archives] convened at the initiative of FEC President C.D. Jackson.


Document 32 – CIA-FEC Memorandum of Understanding

1 p, 3pp. – CIA Memoranda – reference Ch1 p25 – MORI 1480684, C01385005

August 4, 1952 – Allen Dulles records initialing a Memorandum of Understanding with FEC. The Memorandum, also initialed by FEC President Howard B. Miller, outlines procedures for CIA (“Sponsor”)  approval of  FEC (“Fund”) budget submittals  and establishment of a CIA liaison office to handle all FEC contacts except for financial matters and “matters which the Fund desires to take up with the Director of Sponsor [i.e., Dulles] or his immediate Deputies.” [UPDATE - Document now available for download]


Document 33 – RL Editorial Policies Defined 

12 pp. – CIA Memorandum – C01434009

January 22, 1953 – A CIA memorandum formulates guidelines for RL broadcasts to be conducted by a Coordinating Center of Soviet exiles. [A nearly identical unredacted RL policy document, dated February 11, 1953, is available in the Hoover Archives and is cited in Ch1 n85].


Document 34 – State Department Views of RL Broadcasting

2 pp. – State Department Memorandum – C01441016

February 11, 1953 – The State Department comments on the January 22, 1953 CIA paper [Document 33], raising the issue of likely restraints from West Germany when it regains sovereignty.


Document 35 – CIA Criticizes AMCOMLIB Policies

3 pp. – CIA Memorandum – reference Ch1 p32 – C05459035

May 18, 1953 – Dana Durand, chief of the CIA/DDP SR Division, now responsible for the RL project, concludes that efforts to unify the Russian emigration have become counterproductive, that RL broadcasting should be separated from émigré politics, and that AMCOMLIB president Leslie Stevens is too wedded to the old approach to continue in office.


Document 36 – RL Broadcasting Reviewed

2 pp. – CIA Memorandum – C01441017

July 24, 1953 – State Department, CIA, and AMCOMLIB representatives review RL issues. CIA notes RL’s “steady progress” without participation of the émigré Political Center.


Document 37 – Implementation of Jackson Committee Recommendations on RFE and RL

2 pp. – Operations Coordinating Board Memorandum – C01441053

September 30, 1953 – The Operations Coordinating Board forwards CIA’s acceptance of Jackson Committee recommendations that the FEC and AMCOMLIB concentrate on radio broadcasting to the Soviet bloc as distinct from émigré support projects.


Document 38 – Fomenting Unrest in the Communist World

2 pp. – White House Memorandum – reference Ch2 n40 – C05459003

November 16, 1953 – C.D. Jackson, now assistant to President Eisenhower, urges CIA director Allen Dulles to make contingency plans to exploit future unrest in the Communist world during a perceived “Winter of Discontent.”


Document 39 – CIA Dissent from C.D. Jackson’s Views

3 pp. – CIA Memorandum – cited Ch2 n40 – MORI 1480686

November 18, 1953 – CIA official Tracey Barnes, reacting to C.D. Jackson’s memorandum of November 16, 1953 [Document 38], cautions against encouraging active resistance in Eastern Europe.


Document 40 – CIA Review of RL Broadcasting

7 pp. – CIA Memorandum – C01434010

February 26, 1954 – A CIA memorandum reviews RL policy guidance to date and outlines how RL differs from VOA.


Document 41 – CIA Criticism of AMCOMLIB Mission Statement

4 pp. – CIA Memorandum – C01434011

April 12, 1954 – CIA official Thomas Braden, now responsible for RL, criticizes AMCOMLIB president Stevens’ enclosed mission statement as overemphasizing émigré politics and neglecting communication with the people of the Soviet Union.


Document 42 – Revised AMCOMLIB Mission Statement

3 pp. – CIA Memorandum – cited Ch1 n78 – MORI 1137555

April 21, 1954 – A revised AMCOMLIB Mission Statement reflects Thomas Braden’s critique in his April 12, 1954 memorandum [Document 41].


Document 43 – CIA Reassures State Department on RFE Broadcasts

2 pp. – CIA Memorandum – cited Ch2 n71 – C01441018

June 10, 1954 – CIA official Thomas Braden assures the State Department that RFE broadcasts which took sides in Czechoslovak factory council elections have ended. [The cited FEC document is available in the Hoover Archives as FEC teletype NYC 29, June 8, 1954.] 


Document 44 – State Department Reservations about FEC Policy

5 pp. – State Department Memorandum – reference Ch2 n79 – C05459051

June 16, 1954 – State Department official Lampton Berry conveys to Thomas Braden reservations about FEC Special Policy Guidance No. 19 [available in the Hoover Archives] that emphasized weakened Soviet control in Eastern Europe.


Document 45 – State Department Endorses AMCOMLIB Mission

1 p. – State Department Memorandum – C05459049

July 12, 1954 – Lampton Berry conveys to Allen Dulles the State Department’s endorsement of the revised AMCOMLIB mission statement [Document 42].


Document 46 – AMCOMLIB Mission Statement Criticized

1p. - CIA Memorandum – reference Ch2 n87 – C05459034

July 22, 1954 – CIA official Richard Bissell criticizes the April 21, 1954, AMCOMLIB mission statement [Document 42], now endorsed by the State Department, as postulating far reaching goals without identifying the means necessary to achieve them.


Document 47 – USG Policy for RFE and RL

12 pp. – Operations Coordinating Board Report – C01441019

July 22, 1954 – An annex to the OCB “169 Study” on U.S. international communications reviews the goals and effectiveness of RFE and RL.


Document 48 – AMCOMLIB’s Mission Redefined

4 pp. – CIA Memorandum – reference Ch1 p34 – C01434012

July 30, 1954 – CIA official Thomas Braden restates AMCOMLIB’s redefined mission which puts American staff and not exile leaders in charge of exile broadcasters.


Document 49 – RL Effectiveness Appraised

24 pp. – CIA Memorandum – reference Ch2 n89 – C05459013

September 1, 1955 – Stanford University communications expert Wilbur Schramm reviews the effectiveness of RL after two and a half years of broadcasting.

Section Two.   Challenge of Unrest in Eastern Europe,  1956-1957

These documents trace the U.S. Government’s perceptions of unrest in Eastern Europe in 1956, its policy guidance to RFE and RL at the time, its subsequent reviews of RFE’s controversial broadcasts to Hungary in October-November 1956, and its reappraisal of the need for broadcasts to Poland after the October 1956 thaw.

[Click to view the complete collection in the CWIHP Digital Archive] 

Document 50 – German Concerns about FEC Balloon Leaflet Operations

6 pp. – State Department Memorandum – reference Ch2 p73 – C05459048

March 13, 1956 – West German Ambassador Heinz Krekeler shares his government’s concerns about FEC balloon operations with Deputy Undersecretary of State Robert Murphy and FEC President Whitney Shepardson.


Document 51 – RFE Hungarian Broadcasts Appraised

8 pp. – State Department Dispatch – cited Ch3 n122 – C05308747

March 28, 1956 – In Budapest Legation Dispatch No. 372, two Hungarian-speaking officers appraise the content and reception quality of RFE Hungarian broadcasts. They rate newscasts higher than commentaries and features.


Document 52 – RFE Hungarian Broadcasts Appraised

1 p – CIA Memorandum – C05308746

June 15, 1956 – CIA official Cord Meyer, chief of the International Organizations Division (IOD), notes that the Budapest Legation’s appraisal [Document 51 and Budapest Dispatch 427, May 23, 1956] is more positive than media commentary at the time [Cyrus Sulzberger’s May 14 commentary in The New York Times; letter to the editor response by FEC official Louis Galantier, June 2, 1956.] 


Document 53 – NSC Staff Draft of U.S. Policy Toward Eastern Europe

14 pp. – NSC Memorandum – cited Ch3 n5 – NARA release courtesy of Malcolm Byrne, National Security Archive

July 3, 1956 – Staff draft of NSC 5608, concluding that ferment in the Communist world provides new opportunities to challenge Soviet control.

[Unredacted text of redacted document 73, FRUS, 1955-1957, XXV. A draft annex called for “encouraging evolutionary change” and defined as tasks of RFE and RL (and other USG-funded media) “avoiding any incitement to premature revolt” while “seeking to maintain faith in the eventual restoration of freedom.” Redacted document 76, FRUS, 1955-1957, XXV, unredacted document 12, Csaba Békés, Malcolm Byrne, and János M. Rainer, The 1956 Hungarian Revolution: A History in Documents (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2002.]


Document 54 – NSC Discussion of Policy Toward Eastern Europe

10 pp. – NSC Memorandum – cited Ch3 n6 - NARA release courtesy of Malcolm Byrne, National Security Archive

July 13, 1956 – Senior officials discuss U.S. policy at a NSC principal’s meeting on July 12. [Unredacted text of redacted document 79, FRUS, 1955-1957, XXV, 212-216. Notwithstanding less cautionary views expressed by Vice President Nixon at the NSC discussion, on July 18 President Eisenhower approved a minor modification of the draft (document 53 and the annex) as NSC 5608/1 to serve as a basic statement of U.S. policy (published as redacted document 80, FRUS, 1955-57, XXV ; unredacted document 17, Békés, Byrne, and Rainer, The 1956 Hungarian Revolution). ]


Document 55 – Agreed Policy Governing Radio Free Europe Operations

8 pp. – CIA Memorandum – MORI 1409009

August 7, 1956 – CIA and FEC restate policy for RFE in the context of the 1956 upheaval in the Communist world.


Document 56 – Guidance for RFE Broadcasts

1 p – CIA Memorandum – cited Ch3 n21 – MORI 1426183

October 25, 1956 – CIA/IOD guidance for RFE at the outset of the Hungarian Revolution calls for extensive use of President Eisenhower’s September 23 statement on maintaining the spirit of freedom and for caution in prejudging Imre Nagy.


Document 57 – Policy Considerations for RFE Broadcasts

2 pp. – CIA Memorandum – cited Ch3 n22 – MORI 1376083

October 25, 1956 - A CIA/IOD official recommends policies to guide RFE broadcasting to Hungary during the revolution.


Document 58 – Other Hungarian-Language Radios 

1 p – FBIS Monitoring Report – cited Ch3 n54 – MORI 1376023

October 30, 1956 – Radio Free Russia, the voice of the Russian émigré organization NTS, begins Hungarian-language broadcasts and reports the readiness of the “Association of Former Hungarian Servicemen” to assist the Hungarian insurgents.

[Radio Madrid in Hungarian broadcasts similar messages.]


Document 59 – Guidance for RFE Broadcasts

1 p. – CIA Copy of RFE Note – reference Ch3 n59 – MORI 1376017

November 2, 1956 – RFE Director Conerey Egan in New York telephones RFE Deputy Director Richard Condon in Munich to direct that RFE should report Hungarian developments and insurgent demands but not take a position for or against individual leaders or political parties.


Document 60 – Policy Considerations for RL Broadcasts

2 pp. – CIA Cable – cited Ch3 n106 – C01441021

November 2, 1956 – CIA redistributes a State Department message of November 1 endorsing RL’s [temporary] ban on commentary on Hungarian events.


Document 61 – Comprehensive Guidance for RFE Broadcasts

3 pp. – CIA Memorandum – cited Ch3 n31 – MORI 1426274

November 3, 1956 – An authoritative cautionary USG guidance, approved by Allen Dulles and Deputy Undersecretary of State Robert Murphy, conveyed to the FEC that afternoon.


Document 62 – Controversy Over RFE Broadcasting

1p. – CIA Copy of FEC Letter – MORI 1376084

November 5, 1956 – RFE Director Conerey Egan reports RFE broadcasting policy problems to CIA.


Document 63 – Impressions of RFE Hungarian Broadcasts

5 p. – CIA Memorandum – cited Ch3 n121 – MORI 1426224

November 9, 1956 – Frank Wisner discusses impressions of RFE broadcasts with interlocutors in Vienna.


Document 64 – CIA Assessment of RFE Hungarian Broadcasts

4 pp. – CIA Memorandum – NARA release

November 20, 1956 – CIA provides the White House with an early appraisal of RFE broadcasting to Hungary during the Revolution.


Document 65 – Rethinking the Role of FEC and RFE 

4 pp. – CIA and FEC Memoranda – MORI 1426203, 1376101, 1376034

December 3, 1956 – CIA/IOD routing slips raise questions about an attached FEC draft dated November 12 on the FEC’s role in the wake of the Hungarian Revolution and note that the FEC [in New York] did not forward to RFE Munich certain CIA guidances on broadcast policy.


Document 66 – USG Appraisal of RFE Broadcasts

3 pp. – CIA and State Department Memoranda – cited Ch3 n59 – MORI 1276085, 1426242

November 14, 1956 – Cord Meyer forwards to Allen Dulles a State Department assessment dated November 13, 1956,  of RFE Hungarian and Polish broadcasts. The assessment was requested by Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and was prepared by State Department official L. Randolph Higgs, responsible for coordinating RFE issues with CIA, and Meyer, who objected to an initial State Department draft.


Document 67 – Proposed Interim Policy Guidance for FEC

7 pp. –State Department and CIA Memoranda – MORI 1426199, 1426201

November 16, 1956 – The State Department approves with “comments and recommendations” a November 15, 1956, CIA/IOD draft of revised guidelines for the FEC with handwritten revisions [presumably by a State official]. 


Document 68 – Proposed Interim Policy Guidance for FEC

7 pp. – CIA Memorandum – cited Ch3 n31 – MORI 1409010, 1478525

November 16, 1956 – Second draft of “Proposed Interim Guidance for FEC” [Document 67] prepared for Allen Dulles to forward [over his disclosed pseudonym] to the FEC.


Document 69 – RFE Hungarian Broadcasts Appraised

8 pp. – CIA and State Department Memoranda – cited Ch3 n94 – MORI 1376095, 1376096, 1376033, 1376097

November 29, 1956 – Cord Meyer forwards to Allen Dulles, with extensive comment, deputy undersecretary of state Robert Murphy’s review, dated November 26, 1956, of selected RFE Hungarian program scripts. Meyer also forwards a CIA/IOD memorandum on RFE policy and program review procedures.


Document 70 – Review of RFE Hungarian Broadcasts

6 pp. – CIA Memorandum – MORI 1376098, 1376099

November 26, 1956 – Cord Meyer informs Allen Dulles that RFE Hungarian broadcasts did not incite revolution or promise outside military intervention.  He encloses his memorandum of November 16, 1956, on monitoring and program control of RFE and RL.


Document 71 – Review of RFE Hungarian Broadcasts

6 pp. – CIA Memorandum – MORI 1376032

November 19, 1956 – Draft version of a CIA memorandum prepared for the White House on RFE broadcasts during the Hungarian Revolution.


Document 72 – Review of RFE Hungarian Broadcasts

8 pp. – CIA Memoranda – Cited Ch3 n24 – MORI 1376088

November 19, 1956 – Final text of a CIA Memorandum submitted to the White House on RFE broadcasts during the Hungarian Revolution.


Document 73 – Interim Policy Guidance for FEC

8 pp. – CIA Memoranda – cited Ch3 n31 – MORI 1376090, 1376091, 1426223

November 23, 1956 – Cord Meyer forwards to Frank Wisner a copy of “Interim Guidance for RFE” dated November 20 [a final revision of Document 68] that was transmitted to the FEC on November 21. [FEC copy available in the Hoover Archives.]


Document 74 – CIA-FEC Exchange on Control of RFE Broadcasts

7 pp. – CIA and FEC Memoranda – MORI 1409012, 1409013, 1409014, 1409015

December 26, 1956 – Routing slips indicate IOD’s dissatisfaction with the FEC’s response dated December 18 to an IOD letter to FEC dated December 3.


Document 75 – Review of RFE Broadcasting

5 pp. – CIA Memoranda – MORI 1376102, 1426217

December 4, 1956 – Cord Meyer forwards to Allen Dulles as background for Operations Coordinating Board discussions a memorandum of that date on “Radio Free Europe – Review of Broadcasting Policy and Content.”


Document 76 – Review of RFE Broadcasts to Hungary

4 pp. – CIA Memorandum – MORI 1426218

December 4, 1956 – CIA Inspector General Lyman Kirkpatrick provides Allen Dulles with his assessment of RFE operations based on investigations in Munich and New York.


Document 77 – German Reservations about RFE

1 p. – State Department Memorandum – reference Ch2 n106 – C05459050

December 12, 1956 – West German Washington Embassy First Secretary Wilhelm Turnwald conveys to State Department officials his concerns about RFE operations.


Document 78 – Interview with Hungarian Refugees on Western Broadcasts

7 pp. – State Department Memorandum – reference Ch3 p114 – C01441022

December 19, 1956 – Horace J. Nichols, American Consul in Munich, reports his impressions of interviews with some 60 Hungarian refugees in Vienna the week of December 10. [See also Document 80]


Document 79 – German Government Review of RFE Broadcasts

2 pp. – State Department Dispatch – cited Ch3 n85 – MORI 1376058

December 20, 1956 – The Bonn Embassy conveys to Washington the results of the German review of tapes of RFE broadcasts to Hungry from October 23 to November 10. [The original German Government review could not be located in the German Foreign Office Archives.]


Document 80 – Interviews with Hungarian Refugees on Western Broadcasts

10 pp. – State Department Memorandum – reference Ch3 p114 – C01441023

[December 26, 1956] – Bonn Embassy official T.M. Rechnagel, reports his impressions of interviews with some 100 refugees in the Salzburg area in December. [See also Document 78]


Document 81 – CIA Post-Mortem on RFE Hungarian Broadcasts

8 pp. – CIA Memoranda – cited Ch3 n82 – MORI 1426219 1426220

January 14, 1957 – Report of the CIA Librarian, who with other CIA Hungarian speakers reviewed tapes of RFE Hungarian broadcasts from October 24 to November 4, 1956 and provided responses to seven questions posed by IOD.  He provided personal comments in a separate memorandum dated January 10.


Document 82 – Adenauer Press Conference Response on RFE

1 p. – State Department Dispatch – reference Ch3 n86 – MORI 1376035

January 26, 1957 – Verbatim exchange between an East German journalist and West German Chancellor Adenauer.


Document 83 – Ad Hoc Working Group to Reappraise U.S. International Broadcasting

2 pp. – CIA Memorandum – cited Ch3 n135 – C01441024

February 11, 1957 – CIA and State Department officials plan an interagency working group including USIA officials  to reappraise U.S. international broadcasting [later named the Committee on Radio Broadcasting Policy, CRBP].


Document 84 – Policy Guidance on Hungary

3 pp. – CIA Memoranda – MORI 1376127, 1426222

February 28, 1957 – Robert Murphy and Allen Dulles agree that RFE and VOA should treat the March 15 anniversary of Hungarian Independence Day with caution.


Document 85 – State Department and CIA Officials Discuss RFE and RL

4 pp. – CIA Memorandum – reference Ch3 p122 – C05459038

March 5, 1957 – Robert Murphy, Allen Dulles, and other officials review on March 2 State Department recommendations contained in a memorandum dated January 10 [document not released] and agree that the charter of the CRBP include drafting RFE country policy guidances and considering reductions in RFE broadcasts.


Document 86 – Views of Ambassador Wailes on Hungarian Situation

4 pp. – CIA Memorandum – cited Ch3 n93 – C01441025

March 18, 1957 – Wailes and Hungarian Embassy DCM Leonard Meeker brief IOD officers on Hungarian developments and their appraisal of RFE’s role in late 1956.


Document 87 – CRBP Minutes

2 pp. – State Department Memorandum – C05459062

March 20, 1957 – Minutes of the CRBP meeting of that date, attended by State Department, USIA, and CIA officials.


Document 88 – Ambassador Bohlen’s Views of RL

5 pp. – CIA and State Department Memoranda – cited Ch3 n134 – C05373961 C05373966

May 1, 1957 – Cord Meyer forwards to Richard Helms his account of Ambassador Charles E. Bohlen’s views of RL provided to a CRBP meeting on April 24.  Minutes of the meeting are provided in a State Department memorandum dated April 25.


Document 89 – RFE Coverage of Imre Nagy Reviewed

3 pp. – CIA Memorandum – cited Ch3 n88 – MORI 1409016

June 5, 1957 – An IOD officer critically reviews treatment of Imre Nagy in RFE Hungarian broadcasts in October-November 1956.


Document 90 – CRBP Discussion

1p. – CIA Memorandum – reference Ch3 p125 – C05459039

August 9, 1957 – An IOD officer recounts differences among CRBP members about RFE country policy papers and discerns considerable overlap between RFE and VOA.


Document 91 – VOA Broadcasting Policy for Czechoslovakia

22 pp. – United States Information Agency Memorandum – reference Ch3 n138 – C05459053

August 15, 1957 – VOA country policy guidelines for Czechoslovakia, endorsed by the CRBP, one of a series of East European country guidelines for VOA complementing country guidelines for RFE.


Document 92 – RFE Broadcasting Policy for Poland

30 pp. – CRBP Memorandum – reference Ch3 n136,137 – C05459056

August 20, 1957 – Policy guidelines for RFE broadcasts to Poland as approved by the CRBP.


Document 93 – CRBP Minutes

3 pp, - State Department Memorandum – C05459014

August 21, 1957 – Minutes of CRBP meeting on August 20, 1957.


Document 94 – Policy Guidance for RFE on UN Special Session on Hungary

3 pp. – CIA Memorandum – MORI 1426273

[September 1, 1957] – IOD drafts policy guidelines for RFE broadcasts.

Section Three.  Détente Years, 1958-1966

These documents trace controversies about RFE Polish and RL Russian broadcasts, turmoil in the Radios’ managements, continued State Department involvement in setting policy guidelines, and successive reviews of RFE and RL during the Johnson Administration.

[Click to view the complete collection in the CWIHP Digital Archive] 

Document 95 – RFE Broadcasts to Poland Reappraised

6 pp. – State Department Memorandum – C01441027

January 30, 1958 – RFE, State Department, and CIA officials review RFE broadcasts to Poland in response to State Department criticism.


Document 96 – RL Russian Broadcasts Reviewed

5 pp. – CIA Memorandum – reference Ch6 p176 – C05459042

March 6, 1958 – An IOD reviewer highlights problems in RL Russian programs in early 1958.


Document 97 – RL Broadcasting Policy Guidelines

18 pp. – CRBP Memorandum – cited Ch3 n136 – MORI 1137558

May 1, 1958 – Policy guidelines for RL broadcasting approved by the CRBP.


Document 98 – VOA Russian Broadcasting Guidelines

15 pp. – USIA Memorandum – reference Ch3 136 – C05459063

May 1, 1958 – USIA guidelines for VOA Russian broadcasting policy, endorsed by the CRBP.


Document 99 – Defense of RL Russian Broadcasts

4 pp. – CIA Memorandum – reference Ch6 p175 – C05459044

May 26, 1958 – Cord Meyer informs Allen Dulles about an IOD review concluding that AMCOMLIB co-founder Isaac Don Levine’s criticisms of RL Russian broadcasts are largely baseless.


Document 100 – VOA and RFE Polish Broadcasts Reviewed

6 pp. – CRBP Memorandum – reference Ch4 n23 – C05459016, C05459057

June 2, 1958 – Minutes of a CRBP meeting on April 17, 1958, focused on State Department criticisms of RFE broadcasts to Poland.


Document 101 – Gray Broadcasting Operations

3 pp. – CIA Memoranda – MORI 1137562 1137559

June 15, 1958 – Attachments to a letter from Allen Dulles to President Eisenhower define “gray broadcasting” and summarize RFE and RL operations.


Document 102 – U.S. Pressure on the USSR and Eastern Europe Criticized 

9 pp. – State Department Dispatch – reference Ch6, p172 – C05373967

January 5, 1959 – Foreign Service Officer David Mark, reporting in Moscow Dispatch No. 375, suggests changes in U.S. policy to embrace reduction of “pressure-generating activities” on Eastern Europe, including RFE. Ambassador Llewellyn E. Thompson dissents but suggests that RFE broadcasts might be halted in exchange for an end to Soviet jamming [of VOA and other Western broadcasts].


Document 103 – Comments on U.S. Policy Towards the USSR and RFE

2 pp. – CIA Memoranda – C05373962

February 2, 1959 – Richard Bissell forwards to Allen Dulles comments of Cord Meyer on Moscow Dispatch No. 375 [Document 102]. Dulles’ handwritten comment registers agreement with Meyer and Ambassador Thompson.


Document 104 – Ambassador Thompson’s Views of RL

3 pp. – State Department Dispatch – references Ch3 p127 Ch6 p172 – C01441029

February 6, 1959 – Ambassador Llewellyn Thompson forwards to Washington his views on RL, following discussions in the Moscow Embassy with members of the U.S. Advisory Committee on Information.


Document 105 – Ambassador Beam’s Critique of RFE

5 pp. – State Department and CIA Memoranda – reference Ch4 n30 – C05373968

February 19, 1959 – Ambassador Jacob Beam forwards to Washington in Warsaw Embassy Dispatch no. 301 his critique of RFE Polish broadcasts as incompatible with U.S. policy goals in Poland. In an attached undated and incomplete memorandum, IOD dissents from the State Department criticism.


Document 106 – C.D. Jackson’s Views on Eastern Europe

2 pp. – Personal Letter – reference Ch3 p127 – C05459015

February 24, 1959 – C.D. Jackson, in a personal letter to Allen Dulles, suggests reviving the concept of liberation of Eastern Europe.


Document 107 – CIA Rejects Ambassador Beam’s Critique of RFE

3 pp. – CIA Memorandum – Cited Ch4 n29 – C05373964

March 18, 1959 – Cord Meyer notes weaknesses in some RFE Polish broadcasts but rejects Ambassador Beam’s  negative assessment provided in Warsaw Embassy Dispatch no. 301 [Document 105].


Document 108 – Review of RFE Polish Broadcasts

2 pp. – CIA Memorandum – C05373963

April 2, 1959 – Cord Meyer recounts conclusions of the June 2, 1958, session of the CRBP.


Document 109 – CIA-State Department Differences on RFE Polish Broadcasts

9 pp. – CIA Memorandum – cited Ch4 n33 – C01441030 

April 28, 1959 – Cord Meyer records sharply different views of the utility of RFE Polish broadcasts aired by State and CIA officials in a meeting with Assistant Secretary of State Foy Kohler on April 23, 1959.


Document 110 – USIA Criticism of RFE and RL

3 pp. – CIA Memorandum – C01441032

May 13, 1959 – USIA Director George Allen sympathizes with State Department questioning the value of RFE and RL in a meeting with Allen Dulles and others.


Document 111 – Gomulka Complains to Nixon about RFE

4 pp. – State Department Memorandum – cited Ch4 n27 – MORI 1376036

August 3, 1959 – Polish Communist chief Wladyslaw Gomulka complains to Vice President Nixon that RFE “simply piles abuse on everything and everyone in Poland.” [published as document 74, in FRUS, 1958–60, X, part II.]


Document 112 – CIA-State “Summit” on RFE Polish Broadcasts

6 pp. – CIA Memorandum – cited Ch4 n38 – C01441033

September 15, 1959 – Allen Dulles records his discussion that day with Undersecretary of State Douglas Dillon and Ambassador Jacob Beam, who were critical of RFE Polish broadcasts.


Document 113 – CIA View of RL Broadcasts

2 pp. – CIA Memorandum – C05459043

October 19, 1959 – An IOD officer describes strengths and weaknesses of RL Russian broadcasts.


Document 114 – Allen Dulles Suggests Private “Freedom Radios”

9 pp. – CIA Memorandum – reference Ch3 p137 – C01434014

April 24, 1960 – Dulles drafts a suggestion for establishing “Freedom Radios” that would merge RFE and RL, expand broadcasts to other parts of the world, and become truly private enterprises free of CIA involvement.


Document 115 – Ambassador Beam Remains Critical of RFE Polish Broadcasts

2 pp. – State Department Memorandum – C05373971

November 30, 1960 – Ambassador Beam responds to Allen Dulles’ letter of November 13, 1960 [document not released] about RFE Polish broadcasts.


Document 116 – Ambassador Beam Criticizes Two RFE Polish Scripts

2 pp. – State Department Memorandum – reference Ch4 p142 – C05373972

November 30, 1960 – Ambassador Beam complains about two RFE Polish broadcasts to the U.S. Consul General in Munich.


Document 117 – Sprague Committee Critical of RFE and RL

3 pp. – Sprague Committee Report Appendix – cited Ch3 n149 – C01441055

December, 1960 – The President’s Committee on Information Activities Abroad, chaired by Mansfield Sprague, concludes that RFE and RL are slow to adapt to changes in the Soviet orbit and resulting shifts in U.S. policy. [Also available in the Richard Helms Collection released by CIA in 2008.]


Document 118 – Management Turmoil at RFE

12 pp. – State Department Dispatch – C01441035

December 5, 1960 – The Munich Consulate-General provides its appraisal of turmoil in the RFE Czechoslovak Service and the ensuing replacement of the American management at RFE Munich.


Document 119 – CIA View of Warsaw Embassy Critique of RFE

2 pp. – CIA Memorandum – C05373965

December 9, 1960 – Cord Meyer forwards Ambassador Beam’s criticism of RFE to Allen Dulles and calls for more American control over the RFE Polish Service. [See Document 115 and Document 116]


Document 120 – CIA-RL Exchange on Sprague Report

1 p. – CIA Note – C01441054

February 13, 1961 – An IOD officer regrets to AMCOMLIB president Howland Sargeant, that the Sprague Committee equated RL’s record with that of RFE.


Document 121 – FEC Proposal to Exploit Berlin Crisis

2 pp. – Department of State Memorandum – reference Ch3 p127 – C95459055

July 20, 1961 – FEC Directors C. D. Jackson and Whitney Debevoise discuss with State Department officials their ideas on using RFE to pressure the Soviets during the Berlin Crisis.


Document 122 – Kennedy Administration Coordinates International Broadcasting

1 p. – NSC Memorandum – cited Ch3 n151 – C01441037

July 14, 1961 – NSAM 63 directs the State Department to provide foreign policy guidance to all broadcasters, including RFE and RL, and authorizes the USIA Director to preempt time on RFE and RL in a national emergency.


Document 123 – NSC Guidance on RFE and RL Broadcasting

1 p. – NSC Memorandum – C01441040

September 6, 1961 – Approval of “low key” RFE and RL broadcasts on issues of nuclear warfare [a rare case of NSC-level involvement in broadcast policy].


Document 124 – BOB Review of CIA Funding Levels for RFE and RL

3 pp. – CIA Memorandum – cited Ch3 n153 - C01441041

November 27, 1961 – An interagency group convened by the Bureau of the Budget concludes that RFE and RL funding should continue at current levels, that continuous evaluation of programs is needed, and that European co- funding should be explored.


Document 125 – Reprise of RFE and the Hungarian Revolution

2 pp. – CIA Memorandum – MORI 1409017

April 5, 1962 – Cord Meyer reviews the history for DCI John A. McCone.


Document 126 – Prague Embassy Views of RFE

4 pp. – State Department Dispatch – reference Ch4 p155 – C05459059

June 1, 1962 – In Dispatch No. 743, the Prague Embassy views RFE as “doing a job of good quality” but offers suggestions for improving the broadcasts.


Document 127 – Warsaw Embassy Now Praises RFE

5 pp. – State Department Dispatch – reference Ch4 n35 – C01441042

June 7, 1962 – In Dispatch No. 466, the Warsaw Embassy views RFE as “doing an effective job” in broadcasting to Poland.


Document 128 – CIA Approves RFE Technical Improvements

1 p. – CIA Letter – cited Ch4 n13 – MORI 1480812

January 4, 1963 – CIA Deputy Director Marshall Carter informs FEC President John Richardson of new funding for RFE capital expansion.


Document 129 – CIA Approves RL Technical Improvements

1p. – CIA Letter – MORI 1480815

January 4, 1963 – CIA Deputy Director Carter informs AMCOMLIB President Howland Sargeant of new funding for RL capital expansion.


Document 130 – Soviet Ambassador Dorynin on RL

2 p. – Department of State Memorandum – C05459064

October 23, 1963 – Ambassador Llewellyn Thompson reports Anatoly Dobrynin’s denunciation of RL (and other “subversive” radios) while noting the USSR had stopped jamming VOA Russian.


Document 131 – RL Broadcasting Policy

18 pp. – CRBP Memorandum – cited Ch6 n22 – MORI 1137557

December 6, 1963 – Revised guidelines (updating Document 97) for RL broadcasting policy approved by the CRBP.


Document 132 – Prague Embassy Praises RFE

5 pp. – State Department Airgram – reference Ch4 p155-156 – C05459060

June 19, 1964 – In Airgram 556, the Prague Embassy again commends RFE but suggests further improvements in its broadcasts.


Document 133 – CIA-FEC Review

4 pp. – CIA Memorandum – C05459036

December 23, 1964 – FEC directors emphasize their autonomy to CIA officials reviewing “proprietary” CIA projects.


Document 134 – Outside Panel Reviews Broadcasting to the Communist Bloc

20 pp. – CIA Memorandum – cited Ch4 n15 – NARA release

April 28, 1966 – A panel commissioned by the White House and comprised of Zbigniew Brzezinski, William E. Griffith, John S. Hays, and Richard S. Salant recommends continuation of RFE and RL as covertly funded objective news services, along with VOA and RIAS, discontinuation of public solicitation of private financial donations to RFE, and (Hays dissenting) establishing a Radio Free China. 


Document 135 – CIA Submittal to 303 Committee

11 pp. – CIA Memorandum – reference Ch4 p135 – C01434015

September 8, 1966 – CIA proposes adoption of the findings of the Panel on U.S. Government Broadcasting to the Communist Bloc [Document 134] pertaining to RFE and RL but urges continued solicitation of private corporate donations by the RFE Fund [successor to the Crusade for Freedom].

 Section Four.  Transition to Open Public Funding, 1967-1972

These documents trace the measures adopted to fund the Radios after disclosure of CIA involvement, to counter reservations of the West German government, and to manage the transition from covert to overt sponsorship and funding of RFE and RL.

[Click to view the complete collection in the CWIHP Digital Archive] 

Document 136 – Trueheart Committee Report to 303 Committee

10 pp. – NSC Memorandum – reference Ch8 p206 – C05459017

September 8, 1967 – An inter-agency Radio Study Group reviews options for RFE and RL in the wake of publicity about CIA funding. It recommends (the Bureau of the Budget representative dissenting) that CIA funding continue but that U.S. government support be acknowledged.


Document 137 – 303 Committee Decision on Funding RFE and RL

3 pp. – NSC Memorandum – reference Ch8 p206 – C01434017

December 19, 1967 – Principals of the Departments of State and Defense and CIA agree on December 15, 1967 on “surge funding” of RFE and RL through June 1969 and on continued corporate (but not private) contributions to the RFE Fund. [Published as document 197, FRUS, 1964-1968, X]


Document 138 – CIA Implementation of 303 Committee Decision

4 pp. – CIA Memorandum – C01434016

December 21, 1967 – DCI Helms approves procedures to surge-fund RFE and RL through June 1969.


Document 139 – CIA-State Consultations on Czechoslovak Crisis

3 pp. - CIA Memorandum – cited Ch5 n14 – C01441043

August 22, 1968 – Consulted by Cord Meyer, Deputy Undersecretary of State Charles Bohlen approves RFE’s cautious approach to covering the Soviet invasion and also agrees to use of RL transmitters to reach Soviet troops in Czechoslovakia.


Document 140 – Prague Embassy Urges Caution on RFE and VOA

1 p. – State Department Dispatch – C05459061

August 22, 1968 – In Prague Embassy Dispatch No. 3079, Ambassador Jacob Beam urges the U.S. Radios to provide factual reporting and neither encourage nor discourage Czechoslovak youth opposed to the invasion.


Document 141 – RFE and RL Funding Issues Deferred for Nixon Administration

1 p. – NSC Memorandum – reference Ch8 p207 – C01441048

December 31, 1968 – The outgoing Johnson administration defers for action by the incoming Nixon administration decisions on future funding of RFE and RL.


Document 142 – RFE and RL Excluded from Katzenbach Committee Restrictions

1 p. – White House Memorandum – C01441046

February 20, 1969 – Henry Kissinger informs President Nixon of the 303 Committee’s determination that RFE and RL are not “private voluntary organizations” and not subject to the policy recommendations of the Katzenbach Committee ban on covert federal funding.


Document 143 – State-CIA Exchange on RFE Czechoslovak Broadcasts

2 pp. – CIA Note – C05458041

August 18, 1969 – CIA officials react to State Department criticism of a personal attack on Czechoslovak Party leader Gustav Husak in a RFE broadcast.


Document 144 – CIA Appeals White House Decision to Terminate Radio Liberty

3 pp. – CIA Memorandum – cited Ch8 n25 – C01441045

December 19, 1969 – Acting CIA Director R.E. Cushman appeals to Henry Kissinger the Nixon Administration’s decision to terminate Radio Liberty. [Published as document 33, FRUS 1969-76, XXIX]


Document 145 – Nixon Approves Continuation of Radio Liberty

2 pp. – White House Memorandum – cited Ch8 n25 – C01441044

December 29, 1969 – Kissinger recommends that RL funding be reinstated for Fiscal Year 1971. President Nixon approves Kissinger’s recommendation. [Published as document 23, FRUS, 1969-76, XXIX]


Document 146 – Summary of RL History

11 pp. – CIA Memorandum – C01434020

[1970] – CIA reviews RL history in a briefing book (extract)


Document 147 – Valtin-Brandt Discussion of RFE and RL

8 pp. – CIA Memorandum – cited Ch8 n31 – C01434021

October 14, 1970 – CIA official Fred Valtin provides a detailed report on his discussion of RFE and RL with German Chancellor Willy Brandt. [Published as document 49, FRUS, 1969-76, XXIX]


Document 148 – Warsaw Embassy Criticism of RFE

2 pp. – Department of State Dispatch – reference Ch8 p213 – C05459054

January 21, 1971 – In Warsaw Embassy Dispatch No. 192, Ambassador Walter Stoessel criticizes RFE’s abusive personal characterizations of individual Polish leaders.


Document 149 – Helms Alerts Nixon About Pending De-funding of RFE and RL

2 pp. – CIA Memorandum – cited Ch8 n51 – C01434022

May 11, 1971 – Richard Helms alerts President Nixon about the absence of funding arrangements for RFE and RL after June 30, 1971. [Published as document 53, FRUS, 1969-76, XXIX]


Document 150 – Helms Seeks Advice from OMB Director

2 pp. – CIA Memorandum – cited Ch8 n52 – C01434023

June 16, 1971 – In the absence of Congressional action on funding RFE and RL after June 30, 1971,  Richard Helms seeks advice from Office of Management and Budget Director George Shultz on “what the Administration desires that the Central Intelligence Agency do about the funding and the management of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, effective 1 July 1971.”  [Published as document 55, FRUS, 1969-76, XXIX]


Document 151 – CIA Advises RL to Prepare for Liquidation

2 pp. – CIA Memorandum – cited Ch8 n53 - MORI 1480816

June 24, 1971 – Acting CIA Director Cushman advises AMCOMLIB President Sargeant to prepare for liquidation in the absence of Congressional funding action. [A similar letter was sent to the FEC. At the last minute, the Congress approved temporary funding for RFE and RL from the USIA budget].


Document 152 – CIA Ends All Involvement with RFE and RL

1 p. – CIA Note – cited Ch8 n56 – C01441052

September 19, 1972 – A CIA chronology records the end of all financial support to RFE and RL on June 30, 1971, and the end of all supervision and other involvement on March 30, 1972. [Thereafter, funding and oversight were temporarily the responsibility of the Department of State and thereafter until 1995 the responsibility of a new federal body, the Board for International Broadcasting, and subsequently the responsibility of the Broadcasting Board of Governors.]

 Section Five.   Document Supplement [UPDATE - Posted December 2012]

This section contains additional documents that were declassified after this E-Dossier was originally published.

[Click to view the complete collection in the CWIHP Digital Archive] 

Document 153 – OPC Plans Support for RFE

3pp. – OPC Memorandum – C01385004

November 1, 1949 – An OPC official updates Frank Wisner on  possibilities for providing the FEC with intelligence reports for use in planned RFE broadcasts.  He also suggests that Foreign Broadcast Information Bureau monitoring reports of Soviet bloc media can be provided, but only in English translations. [See Document 9]


Document 154 -  Propaganda Themes for RFE

2 pp. – OPC Letter – C01385005

August 10, 1950 – OPC provides the FEC with four suggested propaganda themes for RFE broadcasts.


Document 155 – Radio Liberty History

3pp. – CIA Memorandum – C01385010

March 8, 1954 – An International Organizations Division memorandum reviews the history of AMCOMLIB efforts to organize radio broadcasts, noting that they became the primary AMCOMLIB activity only after issuance of the Jackson Committee report in September 1953. [See Document 37]


Document 156 – Policy Considerations for RL Broadcasts

2pp. – CIA Memorandum – reference Ch3 p111 - C01385011

October 24, 1956 – The IOD officer responsible for RL notes to Cord Meyer his disagreement with RL’s policy of avoiding all commentary on the Hungarian Revolution.  He cites Meyer’s intention to discuss the issue with AMCOMLIB president Sargeant. [See Document 60]


Document 157 -  Management Turmoil at RFE

2pp. – CIA Memorandum – C01385017

November 23, 1960 – The IOD officer responsible for RFE informs Cord Meyer of Czechoslovak Service staff protest against the appointment of Oswald Kosturba to succeed Julius Firt as director.  He opines that resignation of the RFE Munich leadership (European Director Erik Hazelhoff and his deputies David Penn and Charles J. McNeill) “would be an extremely healthy thing.” [See Document 118]  

Section Six.   Document Supplement [UPDATE - New documents added August 2016]

This section contains documents from multiple fact-finding visits to Radio Free Europe in Munch by officials of the BBC, the Foreign Office, and NATO between 1951 and 1956, and associated Foreign Office documents. 

[Click to view the complete collection in the CWIHP Digital Archive] 

Document 158 -  BBC Report on RFE

12 pp. - RFE/RL Corporate Records, Hoover Library and Archives

July 16, 1951 – This first document records the observations of BBC managers two months after the start of RFE broadcasting from Munich on May 1, 1951. It includes their analysis of the Czechoslovak Service broadcasts on May 26, 1951, and of the network of field bureaus to gather information from refugees.  They lauded the enthusiasm of RFE broadcasters but criticized their programs for mixing opinion with fact in newscasts; denouncing Communist collaborators with little evidence; and ignoring policy restraints on content and tone of presentation. The BBC would keep its distance. “We concluded from our visit that while we could give Radio Free Europe technical assistance whenever practicable as to an ally using different weapons in a war which is in part our war, we should avoid any form of association in public.”


Document 159 – BBC Report on RFE

15  pp. – UK National Archives, FO 1110/518

February 17, 1952 – This document is the report to the Foreign Office of Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart (head of the World War II Political Warfare Executive who later had a highly popular BBC weekly program in Czech).  Lockhart visited RFE with BBC Central European chief Gregory Macdonald between January 29 and February 1, 1952.  Reviewing personalities, attitudes, and operations in Munich, Lockhart concluded that RFE had made progress in its first year, that its broadcasters were happy to be separated geographically from émigré politicians in the U.S., but that RFE  faced the challenge of keeping the spark of hope alive in Eastern Europe without instigating revolt.  It also faced the challenge of emerging German sovereignty, which Lockhart thought would force RFE to relocate to another country.  Accompanying Foreign Office memoranda generally endorsed Lockhart conclusions.  Information Research Department official F.C. Stacey cautioned that “the need for sensational stories of RFE activities” for the domestic U.S. audience might result in irresponsible RFE broadcasts.


Document 160 – Equipment for RFE Studio in London

7 pp. – UK National Archives, FO 1110-743

May 25, 1955 – A letter from the Foreign Office to the Treasury asks it  to reverse its denial to RFE of customs duties exemption for import of technical equipment for a new London bureau. RFE “deserves the full support of her Majesty’s Government,” wrote the Foreign Office, adding that   a London bureau will enable better cooperation between the U.K. and RFE and facilitate its interviewing of East European refugees.  The Foreign Office notes that RFE is not a commercial organization and “is in fact supported by U.S. Government money contributed covertly.. For political and other reasons the U.S. Government are unable to admit this...”


Document 161 - UK Report on RFE

14 pp. – UK National Archives, FO 1110-743

June 24, 1955 – Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart reports to the Foreign Office on his second visit to RFE (again accompanied by BBC Central European chief Gregory Macdonald) between July 5 and July 8, 1955.  Lockhart positively evaluated broadcasts as more responsible than in 1952 and gave high marks to the content of the leaflets dispatched to Czechoslovakia by balloon and mail.  He found  staff unsettled by RFE’s change of status following the restoration of German sovereignty, did not think RFE could long survive in Munich, and would advise it to relocate of its own volition before it was forced out of Germany


Document 162 - NATO Visit to RFE

27 pp. – UK National Archives, FO 1110-743

September 15, 1955 – Record of an informational visit to RFE by NATO military officers. Attached are detailed descriptions of its operations that RFE provided to the officers.


Document 163 – UK Visit to RFE

14 pp. – UK National Archives, FO 1110-743

December 21, 1955 – Report by Foreign Office (IRD) official H.T.A. Overton on his visit to RFE between November 24 and November 27, 1955. The report is focused on RFE’s news and information operation and the balloon-leaflet operation.  Overton viewed as RFE liabilities the extent of autonomy granted to its exile broadcasters, its non-official status, and its location in Bavaria. He notes an effort by Political Advisor William Griffith to encourage the national broadcast services to include more coverage of the Western world and to eliminate “the highly argumentative … script with no real substance to it.”    Attached is an RFE summary of its Evaluation and Research Section and an RFE organizational chart.


Document 164 -  BBC Reports on RFE

54 pp. – UK National Archives, FO 1110/853

February 1956 – The second document records the analysis of RFE news operations by BBC Central European Service director Gregory Macdonald, who visited Munich from January 8 to January 23, 1956, at RFE’s request.  It is accompanied by notes from the British Foreign Office and its Information Research Department.  Macdonald had been asked by RFE officials to assess the objectivity and organization of the newscasts. He noted that in general RFE had evolved from its initial exuberance and settled down for the “long haul.”  But he found a continuing tendency to polemics in newscasts, mixing of comment with news, blurring of press reviews with news, and inconsistency among the individual broadcast services’ newscasts, due in part to the autonomy of their news desks. He offered fifteen recommendations for RFE management, all focused on strengthening the editorial role of the Central News Desk.

RFE would in fact implement many of these recommendations as it reorganized its central news operation in the late 1950s under the leadership of veteran journalist Gene Mater. 

Section Seven.   Document Supplement [UPDATE - New documents added February 2017][Click to view the complete collection in the CWIHP Digital Archive] 

Document 165 - Planning for AMCOMLIB

2 pp. - OPC Memorandum – cited Ch1 p35 -  C05459052

July 26, 1950 – An OPC official, drawing negative lessons from FEC autonomy,   argues that AMCOMLIB (cryptonym Cinderella) should be a pure front and not be allowed the autonomy gained by the FEC.


Document 166 - Wisner’s Recommendations for RFE Broadcasts to Poland

6 pp – CIA Memorandum – C01385012

January 7, 1957 -  Frank Wisner, reflecting on the Hungarian Revolution, suggests that Soviet Communism is on the defensive and RFE broadcasts to Poland should discourage violence while supporting Party leader Gomulka’s efforts to gain more autonomy from the Soviet Union.  IOD Chief Cord Meyer annotates the memorandum.


Document 167 - C.D. Jackson’s Resignation from the FEC Opposed

4 pp – CIA Memorandum – C05459040

January 5, 1959 – Cord Meyer reviews for Allen Dulles State Department policy on Hungary and Poland that led C.D.Jackson to resign from the FEC and urges Dulles to ask Jackson to reconsider.   (Jackson quickly withdrew his resignation. See Document 106).


Document 168 - RFE Broadcasts on the U-2 Shoot-down

1 p - CIA Memorandum – C01385013

May 16, 1960 –  An IOD officer responsible for RFE reports  to Cord Meyer on differences between the FEC/RFE leadership in New York and the RFE management in Munich on broadcast coverage of the U-2 incident and endorses  the “calm and reasoned” approach of the Munich management.


Document 169 - Guidelines for RL on the Defection of Svetlana Alliulyeva (Stalin)

1 p. – CIA Memorandum -  C01385020

March 13, 1967 – A CIA officer provides guidance to AMCOMLIB on minimal RL coverage of Svetlana’s defection and avoidance of immediate commentaries on the issue to minimize Soviet perceptions that the U.S. is  publicly exploiting the defection.


Document 170 - Appraisal of RFE Broadcasts to Poland

11 pp. – Department of State Dispatch -  C05459058

April 27, 1967 – In Warsaw Embassy Airgram A-666, U.S. Embassy officers analyze six weeks of RFE Polish broadcasts and conclude that they support U.S. policy objectives by informing Poles about developments in Poland and the world and encouraging evolutionary change.


Document 171 - Appraisal of RFE Broadcasts to Poland

8 pp – CIA Memorandum –  reference Ch4 p150 - C05459045

February 2, 1971 –  CIA officials responsible for RFE question the criticism of RFE Polish broadcasts by the Polish Government, the West German Government, and the State Department (See Document 148) and conclude that coverage of the December 1970 unrest in Poland  was responsible and effective.

Section Eight.   Document Supplement [UPDATE - New documents added May 2019]

[Click to view the complete collection in the CWIHP Digital Archive]


Document 172 – Wisner on U.S. Government Ties with FEC

3 pp. - OPC Letter – cited Inro  p1  -  C01434005

August 1, 1949 –  Frank Wisner counsels FEC executive secretary DeWitte Poole that the FEC, private but largely government funded, should consult closely with OPC and the State Department on issues of   policy, budget, and personnel vetting.

Document 43  – CIA Reassures State Department on RFE Czechoslovak Broadcasts

2 pp. – CIA Memorandum – cited Ch2 n71 – C01441018 – New Unredacted Version of Document 43 with revised annotation.

June 10, 1954 – CIA official Thomas Braden assures the State Department that RFE broadcasts which took sides in Czechoslovak factory council elections, as envisaged in FEC Czechoslovak Guidance No. 13, have ended. [The Guidance and the cited FEC telegram are available in the Hoover Archives and the Blinken Open Society Archives as FEC teletype NYC 29, June 8, 1954.] 

Document 173 – State Department Criticism of RFE and RL Broadcasts

7pp.  - State Department Memorandum – cited Ch3, n134 -  C01441024

January 10, 1957 – The State Department forwards to CIA a memorandum calling for fundamental reorientation and curtailment of RFE and RL broadcasts.

Document 174 – CIA Reappraises RFE and RL Broadcasts

7 pp. [one page missing] – CIA Memoranda – C01441024

January 24, 1957 – Richard Helms forwards to Allen Dulles a memorandum from the Psychological and Paramilitary Operations staff and the International Organizations Division taking issue with State Department recommendations to reorient and curtail RFE and RL broadcasts. [See Document 173]

Document 83 – CIA Reappraises RFE and RL Broadcasts

2 pp. CIA Memorandum – C01441024  New Unredacted Version of Document 83

February 11, 1957 – CIA official Laughlin Campbell recommends to Allen Dulles that he support establishment of an interagency working group to include USIA officials  [later named the Committee on Radio Broadcasting Policy, CRBP]  to reappraise U.S. international broadcasting. (See documents 173 and 174) 

Document 175 – RFE and RL Broadcasts Reviewed

4 pp. – CIA Memorandum – C01434013

January 27, 1959 - CIA official Cord Meyer reviews  RFE and RL responses  to program changes directed by the interagency Committee on Radio Broadcast Policy.  

Document 178 – RFE Seeks Guidance on Czechoslovakia

2 pp. – CIA Memorandum – C01431408

August 23, 1968 –  CIA official Fred Valtin conveys to FEC President William Durkee   requested guidance from the State Department   that RFE should not broadcast   calls for active resistance to the Soviet occupiers even if from high-level Czechoslovak officials.  (See also document 139)



This e-Dossier has been made possible by generous support from the Blavatnik Family Foundation. 


About the Author

A. Ross Johnson

A. Ross Johnson

History and Public Policy Program Fellow;
Senior Adviser, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty; former Director, Radio Free Europe

Before his passing in February 2021, A. Ross Johnson was a Wilson Center History and Public Policy Fellow and Senior Advisor for Archives at RFE/RL. He was a former director of Radio Free Europe. 

Read More

Cold War International History Project

The Cold War International History Project supports the full and prompt release of historical materials by governments on all sides of the Cold War. Through an award winning Digital Archive, the Project allows scholars, journalists, students, and the interested public to reassess the Cold War and its many contemporary legacies. It is part of the Wilson Center's History and Public Policy Program.  Read more