125. Report Prepared in the Office of Policy and Research, United States Information Agency1


[Omitted here is the Table of Contents.]


(October 1–December 31, 1966)

Over the years, Communist media have kept up a steady stream of attacks on USIA and its various programs. Much of the material is trite and untimely, but serves as a reminder that the ideological struggle is unceasing.

Of all the Communist states, the USSR has shown the greatest sensitivity to USIA programs and activities, not only those directed at the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, but also in the underdeveloped countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Soviet attacks on the USIA vary greatly in frequency and in virulence. On occasion, Soviet propagandists have praised the “professionalism” of USIA efforts and urged Communists to emulate its more successful techniques.


The Voice of America is the most frequent target of Soviet efforts to counter Western propaganda activities. Soviet government efforts to limit the impact of VOA on its Soviet audience is strong, if indirect, evidence of the radio’s effectiveness in this area. A number of times over the past year, Moscow’s own radio carried direct rebuttals of VOA broadcasts and attacked VOA broadcasters and officials. However, most of Moscow’s attacks on the Voice are oblique. Soviet propagandists wish to avoid giving dignity to VOA, or to calling attention to the voice of the enemy. Moreover, Soviet officials apparently have recognized the danger of building up VOA’s potential audience by heightening the feeling among Soviet citizens that it is “forbidden fruit.”

Moscow’s favorite charge against VOA is that it “distorts” the news, and especially the policies and efforts of the Soviet government. In the recent Leningrad trial of two Americans accused of currency speculation and theft, Moscow Radio accused VOA of “distorting the essence of the charge” and of a ten-fold error in quoting the amount [Page 394] of the fine asked by the Prosecutor.2 Earlier, summing up the results of two and one-half months of disarmament talks in Geneva, Radio Moscow accused VOA not only of “tendentiousness” but of “deliberately concealing the truth” from its listeners, and of trying to becloud the U.S. position:

According to the Voice of America, it seems that the disarmament talks are taking place not on the earth but on some other planet not accessible to the echoes of events in Vietnam. . . . It is not accidental that the Voice of America tries to distort the true state of affairs on these issues, attempting to prove that the Soviet Union is allegedly to blame for the absence of agreement on them. Moreover, the U.S. radio commentators are not in the least embarrassed by the fact that their statements flagrantly contradict the facts.

In a similar vein, VOA and other Western radios were attacked in the literary magazine Moskva for allegedly unsympathetic and “wild stories” on the series of Tashkent earthquakes.


Soviet attacks on the Agency generally have centered on the following: 1) USIA is an integral part of the U.S. intelligence community and thus an “arm of CIA;” 2) USIA—and VOA in particular—is the official propaganda instrument of the U.S. Government and thus is not objective; and 3) USIA’s major function worldwide is to slander Communism and sell Capitalism.

A favorite recent tack has been to focus attention on the size of the anti-Communist ideological conspiracy. The authoritative Soviet Party journal Kommunist in September described the broad basis of the “propaganda combines” furthering the dissemination of anti-communist ideas as follows:

Leading among them is the information agency of the USA (USIA), which maintains propaganda centers in 105 countries. In foreign countries alone, the Agency publishes 68 journals and 20 newspapers in 25 languages. USIA has at its disposal hundreds of libraries and reading rooms which are also agencies for the dissemination of free propaganda literature. The Agency produces documentary motion pictures, programs for radio and television broadcasts, organizes traveling exhibits, etc. The “Voice of America” radio station is a huge radio and television broadcasting network with transmitters capable of reaching all corners of the world. The “Voice of America” supplies foreign radio stations [Page 395] with materials and broadcasts on the radio 730 hours per week in 37 different languages.

Other commentaries on the Agency cite a staff of “12,000 USIA workers” and a “150 million dollar annual budget” to conjure up an anticommunist colossus.

Soviet commentators routinely replay U.S. domestic criticism of the Agency and its operations, with their own glosses and notes of glee at official discomfiture. Arthur Meyerhoff’s The Strategy of Persuasion is still being plumbed for evidence that the Agency lacks propaganda skills and that U.S. “propagandists” face an insurmountable task in attempting to combat Communist ideology.3 Similarly, a New Republic discussion4 of personnel and policy changes at the Voice was used as a take off point for an RT (Radio-Television) magazine article alleging VOA policy was to “hoodwink” the listener, to “slander” Communism and to “whitewash the internal and external policies of American imperialism.”

In Soviet domestic propaganda the Agency is only occasionally linked to CIA and to the “American intelligence community” in general, but in the underdeveloped countries and in Soviet propaganda—especially radio broadcasts—designed for use in these areas major emphasis is made on alleged CIA-USIA ties. According to Radio Peace and Progress (which broadcasts over the facilities of Moscow Radio):

Deception and bribery are not the only powerful tools in the arsenal of the U.S. Information Agency. And it is no wonder it works in close contact with the Central Intelligence Agency. The men of the USIA and of the CIA recently concocted material to incriminate leaders of the Buddhist movement. . . . Political provocations, outright interference in the internal affairs of the countries where USIA operates are not simply episodes. This is the style of work of the American propaganda headquarters.



21 Moscow Radio “regretted” that VOA coverage of the Wortham-Gilmour trial in Leningrad “distorted” the Prosecutor’s charge and erred in reporting the fine asked.


26 Pravda Ukrainy (Kiev) published a long article, “Psychological Diversion,” by Polish journalist Jerzy Olbricht which claimed USIA [Page 396] directs a large scale “psychological war” staff abroad, including allegedly the Free Europe Committee.

18 “Radio Peace and Progress,” a broadcast from Moscow, described how USIA wages propaganda war in Vietnam.


10 RT (Radio-Television) magazine featured an article, “Speaking to the Russians in a New Voice,” by Aleksandr Estaf’iev attacking the “new team” at USIA and new concepts it allegedly has brought to American propaganda activities overseas.


24 The lead article in Kommunist, “Anti-Communism—An Ideology of Fear and Hatred,” included an attack on USIA as the “leader” of bourgeois centers of anticommunist propaganda.


12 Pravda attacked Abe Brumberg and Problems of Communism as Goebbels’ successor.

12 Moscow Radio charged that VOA newscasts on Syria disclosed CIA involvement in the Damascus riots.

7 Golos Rodiny (Voice of the Homeland) attacked a variety of Western “propagandists” including the U.S. Information Agency as head of the “white” or official anti-Soviet propaganda conducted by organs of the U.S. Government.


30 “The Spy Corps,” an attack on the Peace Corps by M. Gaydar in Sovetskaya Rossiya, alleged Peace Corps-CIAUSIA cooperation in attempting to subvert newly-formed states.

29 Moscow Radio alleged VOA consistently distorted Soviet policies and efforts at the 18-nation disarmament talks in Geneva.

1 Article by E. Popovkin in the literary magazine Moskva claimed Western media including VOA presented inaccurate and unsympathetic accounts of the Tashkent earthquakes.

Anti-Communism: Who Benefits by It? by Vladimir Mshvenieradze, a booklet published by Novosti Press Agency, Moscow, surveyed on an elementary level the whole field of ideological struggle, including the role of USIA.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 306, Office of Research: Research Reports: 1960–1999, Entry P–142, Box 32, R–2–67. No classification marking.
  2. Reference is to the arrest and conviction of Americans Craddock M. Gilmour, Jr., and Buel R. Wortham by Soviet customs officials in fall 1966 on charges of violating Soviet currency regulations and the theft of a statue. For further information see, “Two Americans Plead Guilty at Leningrad Trial,” New York Times, December 20, 1966, p. 18; and Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. XIV, Soviet Union, Document 190.
  3. Reference is to Arthur E. Meyerhoff, an advertising executive from Chicago, who was the author of the book The Strategy of Persuasion, published in 1965. (Walter Goodman, “Spreading the Word,” New York Times, February 14, 1965, p. BR34)
  4. Not further identified.