Sunday, October 19, 2014

State Department Retirees! Watch What You Say! And Don't Do What Big Brother at State Doesn't Expect You to Do!

Via PVB:

U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual Volume 3
3 FAM 4210 Page 1 of 2
3 FAM 4200
3 FAM 4210
(CT:PER-678; 06-22-2012)
(Office of Origin: L/EFD)
(TL:PER-254; 4-17-95)
(State Only)
(Applies to former Foreign Service & Civil Service Employees)
Former employees are expected [my emphasis -- JB] to refrain from engaging in activities of any kind, including writing manuscripts or giving speeches, which would be prejudicial to the foreign policy interests of the United States.
(CT:PER-678; 06-22-2012)
(State Only)
(Applies to former Foreign Service & Civil Service Employees)
a. Disclosure of classified information may be cause for criminal prosecution.
b. Unauthorized use for personal gain of information obtained from official
Government records or documents which came into their possession or
knowledge while on active duty is restricted by statute and may be cause for
criminal prosecution.
(TL:PER-254; 4-17-95)
(State Only)

For grammar fans: See.

Nixon invites Creel to lunch; Creel looks for a job in the Eisenhower administration

Note for a Planned Article
(comments welcome; draft, not for citation)

JB Note: These letters from America's first propaganda tsar (1917-1919), who was a most loyal confidant of Democratic President Woodrow Wilson ...

Richard Nixon to George Creel, on United States Senate stationary (Committee on Labor and Public Welfare), December 10, 1952

Dear George:

Pat and I will be delighted to have lunch with you on the 19th. However, we would like to have you as our guest rather than the other way around. If you will call my office when you get into town and let us know where we can reach you I shall give you a ring and complete arrangements then.

With all best wishes,



Richard Nixon

--Folder "General Correspondence,  Jan+Aug 1953, Box 4, George Creel Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

Nixon image from


Copy of Creel letter to The Honorable Dwight D. Eisenhower, January 12, 1953

My Dear Mr. President:

By reason of my experience in the first World War and a close and continuous study of OWI and VOA, I feel I have something to contribute to your “psychological warfare” plan, as outlined in your San Francisco speech of October 8th. If you agree, may I ask to be put in touch with Mr. Jackson, or whoever it is you may have in mind for the task.

I shall be here at this Club [Metropolitan Club] until the 18th and at the University Club in Washington from the 21st to February 1st.


P.S. Congratulations on everything.

--Folder "General Correspondence,  Jan+Aug 1953, Box 4, George Creel Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Propaganda and Censorship: Committee on Public Information Creel's Powers over the Press

Note for a Planned Article
"Creel, Lippmann, and the Origins of American Public Diplomacy"
(comments welcome; draft, not for citation)

Committee on Public Information (1917-1919) Chairman George Creel's censorship powers/responsibilities is well described in article (which cites the key works by Mock and Larson and by Vaughn on the CPI) by Bruce Pinkerton, "The Campaign of the Committee on Public Information: Its Contribution to the History and Evolution of Public Relations," Journal of Public Relations Research 6 (4), pp. 230-1:
The Creel Committee possessed no official censorship authority. Creel advocated voluntary censorship opposing the severe restrictions favored by the U.S. military leaders and already in use in Britain and France  [JB note: Secretary of State Lansing also favored restrictions]. In May 1917, the CPI issued a "Preliminary Statement to the Press of the United States," dividing news into three categories: dangerous, questionable, and routine. The dangerous category contained news items relating to military operations in progress, threats against the life of the president, the movement of official missions, and related service matters. This information was never to be printed. The questionable category included information concerning training-camp routines, technical innovations and war-related rumors. The bulk of news materials fell into the routine category and was of no concern to the CPI. 
Image from, with caption: An unidentified group of American military censors at work in an unidentified location during the First World War. During this conflict, the US military began its first large-scale censorship of troop mail. Censors were on the alert for anything that might aid the enemy. References that were almost certain to be cut or blacked out were those to troop locations and movements.
Despite the voluntary nature of this agreement, Creel was a member of the Censorship Board [JB note: established by Wilson's executive order on October 12, 1917] and possessed a high degree of influence. From his position, Creel could suggest that the Department of Justice prosecute an editor, prohibit a newspaper from using the mail, or cut off a newspaper's supply of newsprint. Evidence indicates that Creel sought to suppress information that portrayed the United States unfavorably or that contained ideas he felt were too dangerous for the U.S. public

Friday, October 17, 2014

Colonel House and George Viereck: Former Wilson Confidant's Foreword to a Book (1930) by an American pro-German propagandist in WWI

Note for a Planned Article
"Creel, Lippmann, and the Origins of American Public Diplomacy"
(comments welcome; draft, not for citation)

In a Foreword to a 1930 book (Spreading Germs of Hate) critical of U.S. propaganda during the Great War written by George Sylvester Viereck, a pro-German U.S. propagandist during WWI, Woodrow Wilson confidant Colonel House underscores -- over a decade after The War to End All Wars -- the pernicious effects of propaganda, including American propaganda :
But the whole terrible thing called war is cruel, and is exaggerated, if that is possible, by inflaming the imagination by propaganda which regards neither facts nor truth. I recall a conversation with President Wilson on this subject. He earnestly hoped the United States would be spared of this evil that usually follows a declaration of war. He did what he could to inform America upon the real issues at stake and the high reasons there were for our participating in the World War. But his efforts were futile. As soon as our people were asked to purchase Liberty Bonds, which were issued in unprecedented quantities, as many lurid stories were told by our patriotic orators, and as many ghastly cartoons were printed, as were to be found in Europe.
--Edward M. House ("Colonel House"), Foreword, p. vi in Sylvester Viereck, Spreading Germs of Hate (1930).

Viereck writes in his above-cited book (pp. 164-167):
When the break with Germany came, the men associated with The Fatherland [the weekly magazine Viereck edited during WWI], even for a short time, found themselves outlawed and outcast. ...
Except for a short reference his name disappeared from Who's Who in America for twelve years. ...
The editor of the Fatherland was never "indicted" or "arrested." His office was never "raided." His papers were never "seized." Those facts, however, did not percolate through the thick layer of propaganda which coated the consciousness of the average American.

Viereck image (1922) from

Note: I have found no mention of House's revealing Foreword (which did not appear in the second edition of Viereck's book) in the literature I have read thus far in preparation for the above planned article. Despite having supported Creel as chairman of the Committee on Public Information, House seems quite repentant about the whole USG propaganda enterprise, while praising in his Foreword how "calmly" and "fairly" Viereck writes about this topic.

Born in Munich in 1884, and brought to America by his immigrant father Louis in 1897, Viereck was a poet, editor, and publisher. As the bio (George Sylvester Viereck: Poet and Propagandist by Neil M. Johnson) added to the finding aid to his papers at the University of Iowa notes, Viereck launched
The Fatherland, a weekly magazine to present the German side and to promote strict American neutrality. Beyond that, he agreed in the fall of 1914 to assist German propagandists sent to the United States to promote sympathy for the German cause. Serving in what he later admitted to be a "propaganda cabinet," he accepted German money in printing hundreds of thousands of pamphlets and booklets as well as his journal. ...
[I]n the 1920's he wrote articles reflecting sympathy for Hitler and Ludendorff on the one hand and displaying deep respect for Shaw, Freud, and Einstein on the other. He became in this period the chief American spokesman for the ex-Kaiser in Holland. He also interviewed Hitler in early 1923 and published the interview in his own journal after several newspaper editors turned it down as not newsworthy. At that time he concluded, "If he lives, Hitler for better or for worse, is sure to make history." ...
Viereck serv[ed] as a publicist or propagandist for Nazi Germany after Hitler's rise to power. Except for Nazi anti-Semitism, which he mildly criticized and rationalized as peripheral to the movement, he sympathized with what he believed was the Nazi Party's rightful objective of restoring Germany to a place of honor and equality of power among the great nations of the world. ...
Viereck ... carried on important correspondence with Edward M. (Colonel) House in the 1930's, and these letters are located in the House papers at Yale University.
One more note:

There is an 2013 article by Lisa Lampert-Weissig on one of Viereck's earliest

image from

works, House of Vampire: "The Vampire as Dark and Glorious Necessity in George Sylvester Viereck's House of the Vampire and Hanns Heinz Ewers' Vampir," in Samantha George and Bill Hughes, ed., Open Graves, Open Minds: Representations of Vampires and the Undead from the Enlightenment to the Present Day, Manchester University Press. See.

Updated 10/19/2014

Upon rereading sections of Viereck's book yesterday, I came upon a passage that I should have immediately noticed, and that explains (in part) why House would approve of his book (but, as mentioned above, his Foreword did not appear in the book's second edition -- was House told not to praise a Nazi sympathizer?) Here's the passage, pp. xi-xiii (it's Viereck speaking):
The World War lured me from Parnassus. I gave up ten years of my creative -- for what? To be a footnote to history.
It was my intention to relate my exploits in the battle of propaganda some day as a chapter of my autobiography. However, the shrewdest editor in the United States persuaded me that the inside story of propaganda was of peculiar significance to the American people to-day. World power brings new perils. Propagandists ever sow the dragons' teeth of war. A knowledge of the methods by which propagandists spread germs of hate should enable us to read startling revelations between the lines of the historians and history. It may help to save our faltering feet from future pitfalls.

image from

My friend the editor suggested that the intrusion of my personality would make my reminiscences too controversial. Accepting this wise counsel, I wrote a series of an anonymous articles for the Saturday Evening Post in which I dealt with my own propaganda activities in the third person. I was dumbfounded to discover how this method enabled me to maintain a detached point of view, even toward myself. 
I made no attempt to conceal clews to my identity Nevertheless, it remained a secret for months. Colonel Edward M. House, the one man in the world who has looked behind the curtain on every front, said to me: "I thought of you as the last person in the world capable of writing so dispassionate a history of the events in which you yourself played so stirring a part." I need not here speak for Mr. House. In  the Foreword which he has so graciously written the Colonel voices his own convictions.
A distinguished expert on propaganda, Edward L. Bernays, told me that my articles mystified him completely. "At first," he said, "I suspected George Creel of being the author. [JB personal note: When I first saw -- and read --- one of the anonymous Viereck Saturday Evening Post articles in the Creel Papers at the Library of Congress, I too thought it had been penned by Creel, and was ready to announce to the world that I found an intriguing Creel article in which he showed uncharacteristic remorse for his propaganda activities in WWI!]. I then thought of Samuel G. Blythe [see] and Will Irwin [see]. Once or twice I seemed to detect the fine Italian hand of an Englishman familiar with the intricate machinery of propaganda. I never even remotely, suspected you." ...
Propaganda is the primary weapon of the world's invisible government, The microbes it scatters infect humanity like a plague. My book is an attempt to administer an antidote or a serum against this scourge by inculcating Propaganda Resistance [JB note: Here Viereck is -- inadvertently? -- using a favorite "propaganda" word (inculcate); is he using propaganda to combat propaganda?] . No one can escape the propagandist. But if we become propaganda conscious, we may in time develop a measurable degree of immunity. With this object in view, I narrate here, for the first time [JB note -- this is an exaggeration] the part played by propaganda in the United States during and after the War.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Creel's Four Minute Men or, Twentieth-Century Century Twittering a la Great War

Note for a Planned Article
"Creel, Lippmann, and the Origins of American Public Diplomacy"
(comments welcome; draft, not for citation)

During World War I, the United States fought a war of ideas with unprecedented ingenuity and organization. President Woodrow Wilson established the Committee on Public Information (CPI) to manage news and solicit widespread support for the war at home and abroad. Under the energetic direction of Mississippi [should be Missouri -- JB] newspaper editor George Creel, the CPI churned out national propaganda through diverse media. Creel organized the “Four Minute Men,” a virtual army of volunteers who gave brief speeches wherever they could get an audience—in movie theaters, churches, synagogues, and labor union, lodge, and grange halls. Creel claimed that his 75,000 amateur orators had delivered over 7.5 million speeches to more than 314 million people. CPI publications from the Four Minute Man crusade offered tips on developing and delivering a brief, effective speech—the predecessor to today’s “sound bite.” They also recognized diverse audiences, with reports of Yiddish speakers in theaters and workplaces, a Sioux Four Minute Man, and a speech called “The Meaning of America” delivered in seven languages.

Four Minute Men Bulletin 1, May 22, 1917
General Suggestions to Speakers:
The speech must not be longer than four minutes, which means there is no time for a single wasted word.
Speakers should go over their speech time and time again until the ideas are firmly fixed in their mind and can not be forgotten. This does not mean that the speech needs to be written out and committed [memorized], although most speakers, especially when limited in time, do best to commit.
Divide your speech carefully into certain divisions, say 15 seconds for final appeal; 45 seconds to describe the bond; 15 seconds for opening words, etc., etc. Any plan is better than none, and it can be amended every day in the light of experience.

image from

There never was a speech yet that couldn’t be improved. Never be satisfied with success. Aim to be more successful, and still more successful. So keep your eyes open. Read all the papers every day, to find a new slogan, or a new phraseology, or a new idea to replace something you have in your speech. For instance, the editorial page of the Chicago Herald of May 19 is crammed full of good ideas and phrases. Most of the article is a little above the average audience, but if the ideas are good, you should plan carefully to bring them into the experience of your auditors. There is one sentence which says, “No country was ever saved by the other fellow; it must be done by you, by a hundred million yous, or it will not be done at all.” Or again, Secretary [William] McAdoo says, “Every dollar invested in the Liberty Loan is a real blow for liberty, a blow against the militaristic system which would strangle the freedom of the world,” and so on. Both the Tribune and the Examiner, besides the Herald, contain President [Woodrow] Wilson’s address to the nation in connection with the draft registration. The latter part is very suggestive and can be used effectively. Try slogans like “Earn the right to say, I helped to win the war,” and “This is a Loyalty Bond as well as a Liberty Bond,” or “A cause that is worth living for is worth dying for, and a cause that is worth dying for is worth fighting for.” Conceive of your speech as a mosaic made up of five or six hundred words, each one of which has its function.
Get your friends to criticize you pitilessly. We all want to do our best and naturally like to be praised, but there is nothing so dangerous as “josh” and “jolly.” Let your friends know that you want ruthless criticism. If their criticism isn’t sound, you can reject it. If it is sound, wouldn’t you be foolish to reject it?
Be sure to prepare very carefully your closing appeal, whatever it may be, so that you may not leave your speech hanging in the air.
Don’t yield to the inspiration of the moment, or to applause to depart from your speech outline. This does not mean that you may not add a word or two, but remember that one can speak only 130, or 140, or 150 words a minute, and if your speech has been carefully prepared to fill four minutes, you can not add anything to your speech without taking away something of serious importance.
Cut out “Doing your bit.” "Business as usual.“ "Your country needs you.” They are flat and no longer have any force or meaning.
Time yourself in advance on every paragraph and remember you are likely to speak somewhat more slowly in public than when you practice in your own room.
There are several good ideas and statements in the printed speech recently sent you. Look it up at once.
If you come across a new slogan, or a new argument, or a new story, or a new illustration, don’t fail to send it to the Committee. We need your help to make the Four-Minute Men the mightiest force for arousing patriotism in the United States. Committee on Public Information,

Image from

Speech by a Four Minute Man
Committee on Public Information, Four Minute Man Bulletin, No. 17 (October 8, 1917).
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I have just received the information that there is a German spy among us—
a German spy watching us.
He is around, here somewhere, reporting upon you and me—sending reports about us to Berlin and telling the Germans just what we are doing with the Liberty Loan. From every section of the country these spies have been getting reports over to Potsdam—not general reports but details—where the loan is going well and where its success seems weak, and what people are saying in each community.
For the German Government is worried about our great loan. Those Junkers fear its effect upon the German morale. They’re raising a loan this month, too.
If the American people lend their billions now, one and all with a hip-hip-hurrah, it means that America is united and strong. While, if we lend our money half-heartedly, America seems weak and autocracy remains strong.
Money means everything now; it means quicker victory and therefore less bloodshed. We are in the war, and now Americans can have but one opinion, only one wish in the Liberty Loan.
Well, I hope these spies are getting their messages straight, letting Potsdam know that America is hurling back to the autocrats these answers:
For treachery here, attempted treachery in Mexico, treachery everywhere—one billion.
For murder of American women and children—one billion more.
For broken faith and promise to murder more Americans—billions and billions more.
And then we will add:
In the world fight for Liberty, our share—billions and billions and billions and endless billions.
Do not let the German spy hear and report that you are a slacker.

FDR and George Creel's Propaganda: Not a Model for WWII

Note for a Planned Article
"Creel, Lippmann, and the Origins of American Public Diplomacy"
(comments welcome; draft, not for citation)

From  Richard W. Steele, "Preparing for War: Efforts to Establish a National Propaganda Agency, 1940-41," The American Historical Review, Volume 75, Issue 6 (Oct., 1970), 1641-2
Two basic methods of building a healthy public attitude toward the war [WWII] were suggested to the president during the early summer of 1940. At the beginning of June presidential assistant Lauchlin Currie ... asked the president to sponsor the creation of local defense committees in which citizens might help to strengthen the nation's defense. ... Almost immediately after the outbreak of war in Europe in September 1939 a "Basic Plan for Public Relations Administration" had been approved by the Joint Army-Navy Board. On June 10, 1940, the day Italy joined in the German conquest of France, the service secretaries submitted the plan to the White House. Their program was designed to "maintain national morale by the adequate presentation of the aims, views and progress of the nation" in the preparedness effort (7). The secretaries thought that wider knowledge of international situation would increase public anxiety about American security and thus develop greater support for administration public policy.
[President Franklin D.] Roosevelt [who had been Assistant Secretary of the Navy in the Wilson administration] made no response to either proposal; he was obliged to approach any propaganda project with great caution, since a government-sponsored information program was certain to recall the propaganda operations and abuses of World War I. Roosevelt was especially anxious to avoid Woodrow Wilson's mistakes, and he was mindful of the example of George Creel's Committee on Public Information, which had been severely criticized during and since World War I. Creel's agency had succeeded too well, its critics felt, in arousing chauvinism, intolerance, and hysteria along with the militant spirit it sought. Propaganda, especially the variety dependent on sensationalism and distortion of facts, was therefore dangerously vulnerable to political criticism
Roosevelt as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, 1913 image from
Moreover, many Americans, encouraged by the substantial literature on the subject since 1918, were convinced that the public had been duped into supporting the war by propaganda and were determined not to be taken in again. As a result it could be expected that blatant propaganda would be of doubtful value in influencing an American public now sophisticated in this regard by the Great Crusade (8). ...
(7) Letter, secretaries of war and navy to FDR, June 10, 1940, in personal secretary's file (hereafter PSF), War Department, 1940, FDRL. The background of this plan is discussed along with other pre-1939 government public relations proposals in chapter 16 of James R. Mock and Cedric Larson, Words That Won the War, The Story of the Committee on Public Information 1917-1919 (Princeton, 1919). The authors favored the reinstitution of an agency like the World War I Committee on Public Information as an alternative to censorship and other wartime government controls.
(8) "Mr. Creel ... was one of the most disliked and traduced members of the national government while the war was in progress, and the 1918 caricature of him carries over to the present day [1939]." Mock and Larson, Words that Won the War, 11-12. Nevertheless, in early February 1941 Roosevelt entertained the idea of bringing Creel back in his propagandist capacity. Ickles argued that there was no need for the president to take on Creel's enemies. Harold L. Ickes, The Secret Diary of Harold L. Ickes, III, The Lowering Clouds, 1939-1941 (New York, 1954), 426. A poll taken on October 1939 revealed that almost forty per cent of those who expressed an opinion believed that in entering World War I the United States had been victimized by "propaganda and selfish interests." Public Opinion, 1935-1946, ed. Hadley Cantril and Mildred Strunk, (Princeton, 1951), 202.
p. 1652-3:
[T]he  Japanese attack on Pearl harbor ended the debate between interventionists and isolationists. ... The Office of War Information [OWI; see] took over both the domestic and overseas propaganda functions, concentrating on the latter with some success. 
In his autobiography Rebel at Large: Recollections of Fifty Crowded Years (1947), p. 314 Creel notes that:
With the war call sounding, I flew to Washington after the New Year [1942], eager to a chance to serve in any capacity. As my failure to show enthusiasm for the third [Roosevelt] term had lost me the favor of the White House, I trudged from office to office, patiently recalling the part I had played in World War I. The young men to whom I talked, many of them looking as if they had just come from commencement exercises, were very courteous, but seemed to have difficulty in differentiating between the 1917 conflict and the Punic Wars. By the time I gave up in despair, they almost had me believing I was a veteran of Caesar's campaigns.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose? Walt Lippmann on U.S. Diplomatic Missions during WWI

Note for a Planned Article
"Creel, Lippmann, and the Origins of American Public Diplomacy"
(comments welcome; draft, not for citation)

From Walter Lippmann, "For a Department of State," The New Republic (September 17, 1919), pp. 194-195 [note mention of Creel]:
The diplomatic mission must be in a position to learn what is going on, not only in government circles but among the people. No one will pretend that our [U.S.] European diplomats during the war were tolerably efficient at this. In Paris the Ambassador after many years of service achieved, I believe, a smattering of restaurant and taxicab French. Yet there was an edict in the Embassy by which he was virtually the only channel of information to the French Foreign Office. By temperament he was an incurable optimist, and the rule he set himself was to transmit to Washington only such information as would hearten the folks at home. An examination of his dispatches covering the critical periods of the war would be a good object lesson on the kind of official information on which Washington was supposed to depend. Of the embassy at Rome the most poignant fact was the profound difference in outlook between the Ambassador and the real directors of American policy. In Berne, a group of the very best young men in the diplomatic service did contrive to act as a source of information, but no one has yet discovered the role of the Minister in the whole proceeding. Mr. Francis in Russia was personally couragerous, but his equipment for estimating Russian affairs just about touched zero. From the Near East we have had some ex post facto memoirs -- but how many of the sensational revelations were revealed when they happened?

image from

The truth is that our embassies were either telegraph and passport stations or they were completely engulfed in the officialdom of the capital where they happened to be.  They retailed some of the gossip of the capital; the reported what the bureaucracies in the Foreign Office wanted to have reported. As independent sources of information they did not, with one or two exceptions, exist It never occurred to him to inform the diplomatic service as to what he was about. The proof of this assertion is that the President did not use them. Mr. Creel's agent might know, or pretend to know; some other agent sent from Washington might know some scrap of policy, but the very last place to discover American policy was an American Embassy [JB emphasis].