Arts Armament: How the CIA Secretly Shaped The Arts in America

Since its inception in 1947, the CIA has directly and intentionally shaped American culture in an effort to promote a positive image of America at home and abroad. Many popular books, music, art, and movies of the twentieth century rose to prominence in part because of covert government operations.

In 1950, the CIA formed the Congress for Cultural Freedom, the agency’s arts army in the fight against communism. At its height, the group held offices in 35 countries. The clandestine operation was exposed in 1967 and, as a result, much of their previously covert work became public. Though the Congress of Cultural Freedom is no longer active, the CIA involvement in the arts continues today as the agency works with movie makers to shape our nation’s image.

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