They sent a solid Princeton man to tell Hosni Mubarak that the jig is up. Who better to play the role of Grim Reaper of the Great American Empire than the son of Frank Wisner? For the uninitiated, Frank Wisner Sr. cut his teeth as the OSS liaison to the Gehlen Organisation in post-war Germany. He then became the first Director of the Office of Policy Coordination, a precursor of the CIA’s Directorate of Plans. He and/or Richard Helms headed up the CIA’s dirty tricks operations during the worst periods of CIA abuse (later chronicled in the Church Committee reports).
Wisner is most famous for launching Operation Mockingbird, and coining the term “Mighty Wurlitzer” to describe how he played the media like an instrument.
In 1948, Frank Wisner was appointed director of the Office of Special Projects (OSP). Soon afterwards OSP was renamed the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC). This became the espionage and counter-intelligence branch of the Central Intelligence Agency. Wisner was told to create an organization that concentrated on “propaganda, economic warfare; preventive direct action, including sabotage, anti-sabotage, demolition and evacuation measures; subversion against hostile states, including assistance to underground resistance groups, and support of indigenous anti-Communist elements in threatened countries of the free world.”
Later that year Wisner established Mockingbird, a program to influence the domestic and foreign media. Wisner recruited Philip Graham from The Washington Post to run the project within the industry. According to Deborah Davis in Katharine the Great; “By the early 1950s, Wisner ‘owned’ respected members of The New York Times, Newsweek, CBS and other communications vehicles.” Wisner referred to this apparatus as a “Mighty Wurlitzer”, referencing the theater organ capable of controlling diverse pipes, instruments, and sound effects from a central console.
It was Wisner, in 1953, who convinced Allen Dulles to set aside $1 million to launch Operation Ajax, overthrow Mohammed Mossadegh, and put the Shah back on the throne of Iran.
Wisner became depressed following the failure of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 and was eventually put on administrative leave. After serving for a time as chief of station for London, he was recalled and retired. He killed himself in 1965 with one of his son’s shotguns.
His eldest son was educated at St. Albans School (same as Al Gore, Evan Bayh, and Daniel Graham), and then Princeton University (Class of ’61). He spent his career working at the State Department, including in the sensitive posts of Ambassador to India and Egypt. He was Vice Chairman of American International Group (AIG) until a year ago. Before that he was a member of the board for an Enron subsidiary.
Yeah, who better to send on an errand to Cairo?