Bill Keller’s CIA Connection

0928keller.jpgYesterday, we reported the NSA was holding workshops at their Maryland HQ to both wine and dine reporters and to encourage them to self-censor… y’know, on stories that the public has a right to hear about.

It turns out that there’s a long tradition of the intelligence community reaching out to influential journalists (obviously). But rather than dig up old copies of lefty magazines or spend hours googling everything we could find on the Copley News Service-CIA connection, we decided to go straight for the good stuff. Like how as a young turk, Bill Keller attended a CIA workshop. Here’s the good word from ex-Baltimore Sun DC correspondent Nancy Schwerzler:

It is hardly surprising that the NSA has conducted “seminars” for reporters in an attempt to influence how they reported on national security issues. Going back 30 years (ugh, I betray my senility) I was a “guest” at a CIA briefing for then-young journalists who were fellows at the Ford Foundation sponsored Washington Journalism Center, then run by former Washington Post reporter and Nixon enemies list member Julius Duscha. It was at the height of the Watergate investigations and then CIA director William Colby invited our small fellows group (including Bill Keller, then of the Oregonian and now NYT editor) out to Langley for a luncheon and briefing. It was an interesting, and at the time ground-breaking, effort by the CIA to win the ‘hearts and minds’ of young reporters, to explain what the CIA did and did not do and to try to undo some of the Watergate damage. Polite but irreverent as we were, we agreed to refrain from asking where they hid E. Howard Hunt‘s wig collection. For lunch, they paired us up with the youngest, most bearded “analysts” in the building to re-inforce the non-covert side of the agency.

Over the years the CIA has done ‘background’ briefings for reporters about to be sent on overseas assignments, and has tried to extract information from reporters upon their return from overseas assignments. Of course, with the dimininuation of overseas news coverage, there will be fewer reporters for intelligence agencies even to bother inviting to lunch.

So this explains why Perez Hilton reported that whole dead Fidel Castro thing. Dude’s totally an intelligence agency plant among the bloggers.