Spy Capitalism: ITEK and the CIA


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Leghorn was the visionary entrepreneur who had made Itek possible.


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The mutineers, as the scientists termed themselves, demanded a meeting with the board to state their case. Members of the Itek board quickly assembled to hear their story. The mutineers explained that Leghorn was hurting the company. And hurting Itek meant endangering national security.

Spy Capitalism: ITEK and the CIA

Leghorn, the mutineers insisted, had to go. The mutineers comprised some of the top scientists and engineers in the country. If the situation at Itek deteriorated any further and affected their work—or worse, if any of them left the company—the single most important national security project in the country would be seriously jeopardized.

Would the board back Leghorn or the mutineers? As Laurance Rockefeller arrived at the Battlegreen Inn, it was probably not yet clear in his own mind what course of action he would choose.

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Not long afterward, the mutineers marched in to present their case. The national importance of the decisions to be made that day in Lexington was unquestionable, yet no representative of the cia, the Department of Defense, or the National Security Council was present. Laurance Rockefeller listened quietly as scientists and engineers like Walter Levison, Dow Smith, and John Wolfe presented the case against the man who had founded and built Itek.

Wolfe stood up and faced Rockefeller. Where had he been the past year?

Why had he allowed the company to nearly disintegrate? Surely, this was not treatment to which a Rockefeller was accustomed, certainly not from an employee of a company that he controlled. That evening he wondered whether this gamble was a mistake.

Technically speaking, he was the number two man at the company. In actuality, he felt like an outcast. Now, almost a year later, he had yet to make his mark at the company. He had no operating responsibilities and spent most of his time on long-range planning documents. Leghorn had effectively shut him out, and Lindsay was thinking of resigning. The idea of leaving the corporate world and becoming a professor at his alma mater, Stanford, seemed attractive. Yet Frank Lindsay was an unlikely professor. Although Lindsay was a soft-spoken, articulate man, above all else he was a man of action.

Given his temperament, it seemed unlikely that Lindsay would spend the Cold War on the sidelines as a professor, or in a corporate staff position— precisely his two career options at that moment. It was Albie Pratt. After all, Itek is a forgotten name and the company itself was dismantled years ago. But there was a time when Itek was one of the great glamour stocks on Wall Street. In part Itek deserves to be remembered because of its historic contributions to U. In the history of the cia, the period of the s and early s was a golden age of daring innovation led by the visionary Richard M.

Bissell Jr. In order to build manufacturing facilities and research laboratories, Itek needed capital. Later the company turned to the American public for funds. In working behind a cloak of secrecy, for example, did management work more wisely, or more recklessly? Did company executives guard the best interests of shareholders, the cia, the nation, or themselves? And when the interests of these constituencies diverged, was it possible to reconcile their differences? It was a time when the Soviet Union loomed large in the minds of all Americans and the very existence of the United States seemed threatened.

In a time of great danger, men who might ordinarily have led quiet lives chose to live with an uncommon purpose. They pursued private-sector careers with a sense of civic duty. It was a goal that Franklin Lindsay tirelessly pursued. Long before he was a businessman, Lindsay was a commando. Franklin Lindsay, aboard a British Halifax bomber, prepared to jump out of the plane into German-occupied Yugoslavia.

Established in by Gen. The time to jump arrived. Lindsay grew up in Pasadena, California, an only child. Before he was eleven years old, he turned his ankles while playing baseball. The damage was severe.

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He completely tore the attachment of the Achilles tendon to the heel in both legs. The next two years of his life were spent in a wheelchair. Unable to climb up the steps that led to his classroom, Lindsay was carried in each day by the school janitor. It was a humiliation he would not forget. Unable to play baseball or sports of any kind with his friends, Lindsay devoted his energies to his studies.

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His next stop was Stanford University. At college Lindsay was drawn to engineering. He wanted to build, to shape the world around him, but in a practical way. At the same time, he was increasingly concerned about growing tensions in Europe. After graduation he worked for a year at U. Steel as an industrial engineer, but decided to return to Stanford for business school. Then in France fell to the Germans. Lindsay left school and volunteered for the army; by he was sent to Washington to work in the U.

Army Ordnance Department. Copper shortages were slowing the production of cartridge cases and small arms. He was sent to Iran. By this time a German offensive had forced the Soviets to retreat all the way to the Caucasus. In order to launch an effective counteroffensive, the Red Army needed new supplies, and fast. Time was of the essence. And with few army interpreters who spoke Persian, crude sign language was the only way for Lindsay and his sergeants to communicate with the workers.

At the beginning of the operation it was a small command, and Lindsay had independent authority. But as time went on the operation became more bureaucratic. He wanted out. Command in Cairo led to a transfer there.

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Cairo was the center for Allied military planning for the Balkans, and the oss operatives were beginning to prepare for commando operations there. Lindsay was intrigued by their work and they were intrigued by his engineering knowledge, the kind of skills that might prove handy when a bridge needed to be destroyed.

Soon he was a member of the oss.

CIA: 50 Years of Spying

He had succeeded in breaking out of the anonymous life of the army; he was now an elite commando. Lindsay hit the ground and quickly took off his parachute. They might be Germans. It was the Partisans. Within days, Lindsay had traveled with them to the border that separated German-occupied Yugoslavia from the Third Reich itself. The crossing could be made only at night. When the sun began to set that evening, the Partisan leader outlined his plan. Thirty men would escort Lindsay to the border.


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After sunset, an advance party would cut a path through the fences and the mines, and local Partisans would scout the area for enemy patrols.

Spy Capitalism: ITEK and the CIA Spy Capitalism: ITEK and the CIA
Spy Capitalism: ITEK and the CIA Spy Capitalism: ITEK and the CIA
Spy Capitalism: ITEK and the CIA Spy Capitalism: ITEK and the CIA
Spy Capitalism: ITEK and the CIA Spy Capitalism: ITEK and the CIA
Spy Capitalism: ITEK and the CIA Spy Capitalism: ITEK and the CIA
Spy Capitalism: ITEK and the CIA Spy Capitalism: ITEK and the CIA
Spy Capitalism: ITEK and the CIA Spy Capitalism: ITEK and the CIA
Spy Capitalism: ITEK and the CIA Spy Capitalism: ITEK and the CIA

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