Your tax dollars at work

OIS support was finally limited to obtaining recordings for radio broadcasting purposes, selected experimentally as to type and quantity. LINCOLN’s requirement of recordings (without indication of quantity) of “typical Guatemalan marimba music” could not be supplied through normal commercial channels. OIS therefore ultimately arranged through a cleared agent in New York to hire professional musicians and have recordings made at a professional studio, OIS supervising the selection of musical numbers recorded. The cost of obtaining these recordings, which totalled three hours of playing time, was approximately $800, apart from the cost of liaison and supervision and time and travel expenditures for our search for records from commercial sources.

The recordings were brought to headquarters immediately on completion and were reproduced on tapes by TSS as a precaution against loss or damage and for better technical results in radio broadcasting. TSS gave a priority to this work and the records and a set of tapes were turned over to the Barton Hall office to be sent by air freight to LINCOLN. Through misunderstanding of shipping instructions or negligence in picking up the shipment at LINCOLN, there was a delay of at least two weeks in the receipt of this material by persons cognizant of the requirement. OIS was informed in the course of ope[r]ation that a library of recordings was being acquired directly at LINCOLN. The extent of duplication of effort or cost that may have occurred is unknown. After termination of the operation OIS was informed that typical regional music had been picked up from a Honduran night club and used for rebroadcasting. Whether this rendered superfluous the special procurement of recordings in New York is unknown.

From a report entitled “RQM/OIS Support of PBSUCCESS”, dated July 21, 1954 (via the CIA Freedom of Information Act Electronic Reading Room). PBSUCCESS was the code name for the CIA-led overthrow of Guatemalan president Jacobo Arbenz that year. OIS is the CIA’s Office of Intelligence Support; TSS stands for Technical Services Staff. LINCOLN was the temporary CIA station set up in Florida to plan for the coup, which included broadcating propaganda into Guatemala via the radio station La Voz de la Liberacion (The voice of liberation).

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