American Business Consultants

Dates:
Active 1932
Active 1968

History notes:

American Business Consultants, Inc. was formed in 1947 by several former agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This organization established itself as a source of information regarding allegedly subversive organizations and individuals, particularly those suspected of affiliation with the Communist Party. In May 1947, A.B.C. began publishing Counterattack (1947-1973), a weekly anti-communist newsletter primarily designed for employers and personnel managers, and Red Channels : The Report of Communist Influence in Radio and Television (1950). A.B.C. was one of a number of research enterprises which amassed information regarding Communist-related organizations, but it was also an entrepreneurial enterprise which sought to turn a profit. The founders of Counterattack, including former FBI agent John G. Keenan, who became Counterattack's President, solicited subscriptions from "Security Officers, Personnel Directors, Employment managers and all sorts of people whose business requires them to know the facts about the background of organizations and/or individuals." Headquartered in New York, Counterattack's orientation was primarily, but not entirely, New York-based, reflecting the geographical concentration of the CPUSA.

A.B.C. formed one segment of a larger network, which included the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). Since A.B.C.'s membership was composed of former FBI agents, it had access to the files of HUAC. The connection between these two agencies was made manifest in 1950, when Counterattack published a booklet entitled Red Channels. It listed possible "subversives" in the world of radio and television, and the number of times each person had been cited by the FBI or HUAC. The potential of "guilt by association" involved in this publication resulted in a series of libel suits filed against Counterattack by various film and radio personalities. Although Counterattack eventually defended itself against these libel suits, the financial cost of litigation resulted in the organization disbanding in 1968.

From the description of Counterattack : Research files, 1932-1968, (bulk 1948-1956). (New York University). WorldCat record id: 476988874

The research files of this collection were obtained by the right-wing Church League of America from several prominent anti-communist organizations and individuals: American Business Consultants, Inc. (publishers of Counterattack ), Karl Baarslag, and the Wackenhut Corporation. All of these organizations and individuals had connections to the intelligence agencies of the United States government, kept detailed research files on individuals and organizations as part of their organizational or professional activities, and were a part of a right-wing research and information network that monitored Communists and other perceived threats to their interpretation of the American way of life.

The Church League of America was founded in Chicago in 1937 to oppose left-wing and Social Gospel influences in Christian thought and organizations. Its first director was Frank J. Loesch, head of the Chicago Crime Commission. The nonprofit organization became an influential anti-communist research and advocacy group in the 1950s, under the direction of former United States Air Force Intelligence Officer Major Edgar C. Bundy. In 1961, the Church League moved its headquarters to Wheaton, Illinois, where it continued its research operations, and created an extensive library of materials on subversive activity. Selling reports and access to its information was a major source of revenue for the Church League, and they also sometimes provided it without charge to like-minded researchers, including members of government and law enforcement agencies. The Church League’s research files also helped it generate materials to spread its anti-communist message through public speaking, books, pamphlets, films, and its newsletter, News and Views . The Church League of America dissolved in 1984.

The Church League of America received the research files of fellow anti-communists American Business Consultants, Inc. in 1968, at a time when ABC was undergoing financial difficulties as a result of libel lawsuits. During the McCarthy era, ABC had been a major force in identifying alleged Communists in entertainment, business, and unions. It was founded in 1947 by former FBI employees. The organization actively monitored individuals and organizations, particularly those it suspected were involved with the Communist Party USA. Their weekly publication Counterattack and special report Red Channels provided readers with information on allegedly subversive individuals and organizations.

Another source of the research files, the Wackenhut Corporation, was founded in 1954 by former-FBI employee George R. Wackenhut and other former FBI employees. The company, which provided private security and detective services to industry and government agencies, also kept extensive files on individuals and their political leanings, ostensibly to run background checks. Karl Baarslag, who served in the Office of Naval Intelligence during the Second World War, worked as a professional anti-communist researcher for Senator Joseph McCarthy, the American Legion, and the Church League. He also closely monitored individuals and organizations for potential Communist ties, and ultimately transferred many of his research files to the like-minded Wackenhut Corporation. In 1975, prompted by the Fair Credit Reporting Act, Wackenhut gave many of its research files to the Church League of America. The Church League was not bound by the legislation, but had a similar political outlook and goals as the Wackenhut Corporation.

Sources:

"3 Democrats Scorn Bid From McCarthy." The New York Times, July 19, 1953.

Bayot, Jennifer. "George Wackenhut, 85, Dies: Founded Elite Security Firm." The New York Times, January 8, 2005.

The Church League of America. "What is the Church League of America?: A History of the Organization, Including its Founders, Scope of Activity, and How Individuals May Participate in its Mission."

Cogley, John. Blacklisting: Two Key Documents . New York: Arno Press, Inc., 1971.

Everitt, David. A Shadow of Red: Communism and the Blacklist in Radio and Television . Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2007.

"Karl Baarslag, Author and Ex-Congress Aide." The New York Times, January 14, 1984.

"Mr. Counterattack Quits." Time Magazine, June 30, 1952.

Ridgeway, James. "Spying for Industry." The New Republic, May 14, 1966.

Ross, Nancy L. "Detective Firm Says It Uses Right-Wing Group's Data." The Washington Post, January 27, 1977.

Schmeltzer, John. "Leader vows to resurrect Church League's influence." Chicago Tribune, May 27, 1983.

Schrecker, Ellen. Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America . Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998.

Wilcox, Clyde. God’s Warriors: The Christian Right in Twentieth-Century America . Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992.

From the guide to the The Church League of America Collection of the Research Files of, Counterattack, the Wackenhut Corporation, and Karl Baarslag, Bulk, 1945-1973, 1928-1973, (Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive)

Loading...

Loading Relationships

Information

Permalink:
http://n2t.net/ark:/99166/w68969zz
Ark ID:
w68969zz
SNAC ID:
74630883

Subjects:

  • Private security services
  • Communism--New York (State)
  • Labor unions and communism--United States
  • Right wing in America
  • Peace movements--United States
  • Communism
  • Right-wing extremists--United States
  • Labor unions and communism
  • Hollywood blacklist
  • Domestic intelligence--United States
  • Anti-communist movements
  • Anti-communist movements--United States
  • Subversive activities--United States--History--20th century
  • Communism--United States

Occupations:

not available for this record

Functions:

not available for this record

Places:

  • New York (State) (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • New York (N.Y.) (as recorded)
  • Florida. (as recorded)