Nicaraguan Freedom Fund
Last updated: January 8, 1989
Published by the International Relations Center / Interhemispheric Resource Center.
Background: While no official link between the government and the Nicaraguan Freedom Fund has come to light, an article in the Village Voice reported that Natl Security Adviser Bud McFarlane received a memo from Col. Oliver North in which North suggested that "The Nicaraguan Freedom Fund, Inc. , a 501(c)3 tax exempt corporation must be established." North feared that Congress would not pass the upcoming bill on humanitarian aid to the Nicaraguan contras. North went on to write,"Several reliable American citizens must be contacted to serve on its board of directors…"(2) McFarlane noted his approval. (8) Congress rejected the contra aid package in late April. (8) And on May 8, 1985 Editor-in-Chief of the Washington Times, Arnaud de Borchgrave, announced that the Nicaraguan Freedom Foundation (NFF) had been formed by the Times to raise the $14 million for humanitarian aid to the contras that the Congress had recently rejected. (1)
Funding: Col. Bo Hi Pak, top deputy to the Rev. Moon of the Unification Church, and president of the News World Communications, parent company of the Washington Times, kicked off the campaign with a donation of $100,000. (1,4) It was reported that Jeane Kirkpatrick pledged $20,000 in lecture fees and Clare Booth Luce pledged $1,000. (1) Jeane Kirkpatrick reportedly also donated a $2,500 fee she received from Ralston Purina Co for a photograph of her pet Siamese cat, Arthur. (5)
Activities: The Nicaraguan Freedom Fund had a very showy, but short existence. It opened its doors on May 8, 1985, and according to an interview with Midge Decter reported in the Village Voice, disappeared from the political scene–perhaps as soon as 10 days after it began. (2) NFF was legally dissolved on September 9, 1985. (7) The group’s 1985 tax return for the fund reported donations of $165,648 to AmeriCares, an organization that delivered millions of dollars of humanitarian aid to Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador between 1982 and 1986. (7,8) AmeriCares used the conservative lay-Catholic group, the Knights of Malta to distribute the aid within the recipient countries. (8)
The other major expenditure from the reported income of $267,208 was $93,266. 80 for newspaper ads. (7) It can be presumed that the ads were similar to the one in the June 11th Los Angeles Times captioned "Central America Burns… Congress Fiddles."(10) It carries two photos of small children with the caption,"These are the victims. . They are the Contras."(10) The text talks about the "freedom fighters" and their need for the aid denied them by Congress. The ad, of course, contained a donation coupon. (10)
Government Connections: Clare Booth Luce was ambassador to Italy from 1953 to 1957 and representative to Congress from Connecticut from 1943 through 1947. (6)
Jeane Kirkpatrick was the U.S. delegate to the United Nations during the Reagan administration. (5) She is a member of the right-wing, secretive policy group, the Council for National Policy. (12)
William Simon was Secretary of the Treasury during the Nixon administration. (1)
Private Connections: Jeane Kirkpatrick was a prominent member of the Coalition for a Democratic Majority and on the Committee on the Present Danger, strongly anticommunist groups that formed in the 1970s. The CDM and CPD revitalized and promoted the policy of containment militarism, an anti-Soviet policy which provided the theory behind the Cold War. (11) She is on the board of the Committee for the Free World, a group of neoconservative intellectuals who via the media undertake the defense of the noncommunist world. She was also connected with the Friends of the Democratic Center in Central America (PRODEMCA), a member of the nongovernmental, neoconservative contra supply network. (19) Kirkpatrick is a resident scholar at the conservative think tank, the American Enterprise Institute and is or was on the "faculty" of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), another neoconservative, policy-developing think tank. (14,20) CSIS was closely tied to the Reagan administration and has been called "a parking lot for former government big shots."(20) Kirkpatrick made the keynote address and was honored with a reception at the Council for National Policy (CNP) meeting in Oct 1982. (21) The CNP is an exclusive, secretive, right-wing group that envisions itself as the policymaking body of the Right. (15)
William Simon appears to be the consistent link in the Nicaraguan Freedom Fund/AmeriCares/Knights of Malta network. He is on the board of first two and a long-time member of the Knights of Malta. (1,16,17) Simon also served on the national council of PRODEMCA. (19) He is an international business counselor at the Center for International and Strategic Studies (CSIS). (20) CSIS has "The William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy" which is given to scholars of free enterprise and the capitalist system. (13) He is or was also a trustee the Heritage Fdn, a policy development think tank influential in the early years of the Reagan administration. (18) Simon also has been connected with another right-wing think tank, the American Enterprise Institute, and with Accuracy in Media, a media watchdog group for the Right. (19) Simon is a member of the the Council for National Policy. (12)
Midge Decter is a another major player in the neoconservative network that came to the political forefront after Reagan’s election to the Presidency. She is the founder and executive director of the stridently anticommunist Committee for the Free World. (14) Decter was a founding member of the Coalition for a Democratic Majority and a member of the Committee on the Present Danger. (14) She was on the board of directors of the Heritage Fdn and a former senior editor at Basic Books. (14)
Clare Booth Luce is a dame in the Knights of Malta. (17)
Principals: William Simon, chairman; Jeane Kirkpatrick, vice pres; James M. Tully, sec/tres; Michael Novak, Midge Decter, and Charlton Heston, directors. (1,9) One source includes Clare Booth Luce on the board of directors. (3) Harold E. Eberle was the executive director and Jerris Leonard, the general counsel. (9)
Sources:1. Michael Isikoff,"U.S. Ex-Officials Lead ‘Contra’ Fund Drive," Washington Post, May 9, 1985.
2. Geoffrey Stokes,"Just Good Friends," Press Clips, The Village Voice, Mar 10, 1987.
3. Fred Clarkson,"Moon, the Contras and PBS," Extra!, Aug/Sep 1987.
4. Fred Clarkson,"Behind the Times: Who Pulls the Strings at Washington’s #2 Daily?," Extra!, Aug/Sep 1987.
5."The Buck Starts Here," Briarpatch, Oct 1985.
6. Phone conversat
ion with Albuquerque Public Library, Sep 1989.
7. Nicaraguan Freedom Fund, 990 Income Tax Report, 1985.
8. John Spicer Nichols,"U.S. Government Funding of La Prensa," paper presented to the XIV International Congress of the Latin American Studies Assoc. , New Orleans, Mar 17, 1988.
9. Letterhead, Nicaraguan Freedom Fund, 1985.
10. Ad, Nicaraguan Freedom Fund, Los Angeles Times, June 11, 1985.
11. Jerry Sanders, Peddlers of Crisis: The Committee on the Present Danger and the Politics of Containment (Boston, MA: South End Press, 1983).
12. Copy of the mailing list, Council for Natl Policy, 1984.
13. Programs & Activities, Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1987-1988.
14."The Neocon Family Tree," Mother Jones, July/Aug 1986.
15. Phone interview with Sidney Blumenthal, Sep 1989.
16. AmeriCares brochure, undated.
17. Penny Lernoux,"Who Knows? Knights of Malta Know," National Catholic Reporter, May 5, 1989.
18. David Ivon,"International Freedom Foundation," Covert Action Information Bulletin, #31, Winter 1989.
19. The New Right Humanitarians (Albuquerque, NM: The Resource Center, 1986).
20. Alison Muscatine,"Georgetown’s Media Profs," Washington Post, May 11, 1986.
21. Meeting Agenda, Council for National Policy, Oct 10-11, 1982.
The underlying cites for this profile are now kept at Political Research Associates, (617) 666-5300. www.irc-online.org.