Thomas W. Braden
In 1940 he joined the British Army. He was later recruited by the US Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the predecessor to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). He moved to Washington DC and became part of a group of journalists known as the Georgetown Set. Braden joined the CIA and in 1950 became head of International Organizations Division (IOD). His efforts focused on promoting anti-Communist elements in groups like AFL-CIO.
While head of the IOD, Braden played an important role in Operation Mockingbird. Many years later he revealed his role in these events:
- "If the director of CIA wanted to extend a present, say, to someone in Europe - a Labour leader - suppose he just thought, This man can use fifty thousand dollars, he's working well and doing a good job - he could hand it to him and never have to account to anybody.... There was simply no limit to the money it could spend and no limit to the people it could hire and no limit to the activities it could decide were necessary to conduct the war - the secret war.... It was a multinational. Maybe it was one of the first. Journalists were a target, labor unions a particular target - that was one of the activities in which the communists spent the most money."
Braden left the CIA in November, 1954, and became owner of the California newspaper, The Blade Tribune. He became a popular newspaper columnist and worked as a political commentator on radio and television. He also was at one time a candidate for governor of California. After a 1967 Ramparts article exposed CIA involvement in groups like the National Student Association, Braden responded with "I'm glad the CIA is 'immoral' " in The Saturday Evening Post. His work landed him on the master list of Nixon political opponents.
In 1975 Braden published the autobiographical book, Eight is Enough, which inspired a television series. The book focused on his life as the father of eight children and also touched on his political connections as a columnist and ex-CIA operative and as husband to a sometime State Department employee and companion of the Kennedy family, Joan Vermillion Braden. The television series, however, bore little relationship to the book other than naming the original characters after the Braden family and giving the lead character a job in journalism.
From 1978 to 1984 he co-hosted the Buchanan-Braden Program, a three-hour radio show with Pat Buchanan. He and Buchanan also hosted the CNN program Crossfire at the show's inception in 1982, with Braden interviewing guests and debating Buchanan or Robert Novak. Although Braden's role in the programs was promoted as representing the political left, some critics have questioned this label. Media critic Jeff Cohen, in a Truthout column titled "I'm Not a Leftist, But I Play One on TV," notes:
- During the Braden-Buchanan years, controversial psychologist Timothy Leary, told a reporter that watching Crossfire was like watching 'the left wing of the CIA debating the right wing of the CIA.' It may have been Leary's most sober observation ever."
Braden left Crossfire in 1989.
- Elaine WooTom Braden dies at 92; former CIA operative became columnist and talk show co-host, Los Angeles Times, 4 April 2009.
- Thomas Braden, interview included in the Granada Television program, World in Action: The Rise and Fall of the CIA, 1975
- I'm glad the CIA is 'immoral.', Thomas W. Braden, The Saturday Evening Post, May 20, 1967.
- I'm Not a Leftist, But I Play One on TV, Jeff Cohen, Truthout, September 22, 2006