Turns out the dashing young CNN star and former host of “The Mole” had a very interesting summer job during his Yale years.
Anderson Cooper worked for the CIA.
Following his sophomore and junior years at Yale — a well-known recruiting ground for the CIA — Cooper spent his summers interning at the agency’s monolithic headquarters in Langley, Virginia, in a program for students interested in intelligence work. His involvement with the agency ended there, and he chose not to pursue a job with the agency after graduation, according to a CNN spokeswoman, who confirmed details of Cooper’s CIA involvement to Radar.
Well, isn’t that special?
We suppose it’s no real surprise that an ambitious young Ivy Leaguer from a powerful East Coast family would wind up working for the Firm.
Cooper’s much-publicized personal history was already loaded with clues.
* He’s reportedly a member of one of those Skull & Bones-style secret societies at Yale, the mysterious Manuscript Society (or Wrexham Foundation) … which also claims the late Sen. H. John Heinz III … whose widow later married Bonesman John Kerry.
* Like Pyle in “The Quiet American,” Cooper mysteriously moved to Vietnam for a year.
* He was trained at some crazy “survival school” in Africa, when he was 17.
* He was an anchor for ABC’s “World News Now,” the bizarre middle-of-the-night network news program seen only by spies and amphetamine addicts.
* He actually admits to taking part in a U.S.-supported insurgency in Burma: “I had a friend of mine make a fake press pass on a Macintosh, and I snuck into Burma and hooked up with some students fighting the Burmese government. I had met the person who was involved in the Burmese student movement in New York, and they gave me the name of a contact in a town in Western Thailand. So I found my way to this town that was like a Wild West border town, and I contacted the person and said I was a reporter. We met in an ice cream parlor, and then they agreed to take me in, and they smuggled me across the border into Burma.”
Burma? Sorry, but wannabe foreign correspondents went to Eastern Europe in the early 1990s, not to some fetid and dangerous military dictatorship in Southeast Asia that was killing thousands of people every year.
But Cooper is in “good company,” as they may or may not say over at Langley. There were more than 400 CIA plants in American newsrooms in the early 1970s. Nobody knows how many operate today. But some of the big names connected with the intelligence agencies include Joseph and Stewart Alsop, Henry Luce, Arthur Hays Sulzberger, Bob Woodward and Philip Graham.
As this Vanderbilt University Television News Archive reminds those of us old enough to remember the Watergate fallout, Congress went after the CIA in the 1970s to find out how many journalists were working for The Man. (Fun fact: Vanderbilt University was founded by Anderson Cooper’s great-great grandfather, Cornelius Vanderbilt!)
Carl Bernstein’s “The CIA and the Media” is still the best summary of the agency’s control of the news flow.
During the 1976 investigation of the CIA by the Senate Intelligence Committee, chaired by Senator Frank Church, the dimensions of the Agency’s involvement with the press became apparent to several members of the panel, as well as to two or three investigators on the staff. But top officials of the CIA, including former directors William Colby and George Bush, persuaded the committee to restrict its inquiry into the matter and to deliberately misrepresent the actual scope of the activities in its final report. The multivolurne report contains nine pages in which the use of journalists is discussed in deliberately vague and sometimes misleading terms. It makes no mention of the actual number of journalists who undertook covert tasks for the CIA. Nor does it adequately describe the role played by newspaper and broadcast executives in cooperating with the Agency.
The Church Commission supposedly made it illegal for the CIA to run agents in newsrooms, although there’s no evidence the practice stopped. And in 1996, Bush 41’s South Asia chief of the NSA (Richard Haass) led a Council on Foreign Relations project to take a “fresh look … at limits on the use of non-official ‘covers’ for hiding and protecting those involved in clandestine activities.”
Because CFR is loaded with big-name journalists who had to feign shock and horror over Haaass’ project, the whole thing was quietly shelved.
That same year, the practice was allegedly outlawed again — unless the president decided he wanted journalist-spies again.
Is there some snappy finish that will somehow make this a coherent “Wonkette Featurette”? You bet! Back to Bernstein:
The CIA even ran a formal training program in the 1950s to teach its agents to be journalists. Intelligence officers were “taught to make noises like reporters,” explained a high CIA official, and were then placed in major news organizations with help from management. “These were the guys who went through the ranks and were told ‘You’re going to he a journalist,'” the CIA official said. Relatively few of the 400‑some relationships described in Agency files followed that pattern, however; most involved persons who were already bona fide journalists when they began undertaking tasks for the Agency.
Anderson Cooper’s CIA Secret [Radar]
My Summer Job … Nearly 20 Years Ago [Anderson Cooper 360]