David A. Morse

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

David A. Morse (31 May 1907 - 1 December 1990) was a Truman appointee to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) based in Geneva, Switzerland immediately after the World War II, and became the long-serving director of that organization and a recognized promoter of human rights. The ILO won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1969 and he resigned from the organization in February 1970, returning to the USA to practice law. [1]

Like many in his time, Morse probably saw little wrong with the tobacco industry, and when initially approached to work as a lawyer-lobbyist for Philip Morris, he probably saw this as nothing out of the ordinary. However, as the evidence of adverse health effects of smoking grew, attitudes changed. After the chain of Surgeon General reports from 1954 onwards, it became evident that smoking was a serious national public health hazard.

For twenty years, until his death in 1990, he served Philip Morris (PM) by organizing high-ranking contacts in the European Parliament, East Europe and the Middle East. He was also instrumental in setting up a US-Swiss pseudo health-and-development organization to attack the anti-smoking programs of the World Health Organization and its cancer research program the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and he helped Philip Morris lobbyists set up a number of pseudo-business-friendship organizations used to influence politicians.[citation needed]


Morse was born in New York on May 31, 1907. He attended Rutgers University, then after graduating from Harvard Law School in 1932, was admitted to the New Jersey bar. In the years just before the war he joined the federal government bureaucracy in Washington D.C. becoming a Special Assistant to the United States Attorney General, and when war began in Europe, he became chief counsel to the Petroleum Labor Policy Board (Department of the Interior), then New York's regional attorney for the National Labor Relations Board. From June 1943 to April 1944, he served as Army Captain in the North Africa and Sicilian campaigns, then, when the American troops crossed into Italy he was placed in charge of the labor division of the newly-installed Allied Military Government. Later he played a similar role in the US Group Control Council for Germany under Generals Eisenhower and Clay, and for these services he was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel and awarded the Legion of Merit. [2]

Back home in America, he joined the U.S. National Labor Relations Board as a general counsel, and in mid-1946 President Truman absorbed him into the administration as Assistant Secretary of Labor. During these early post-war years, Morse led two major U.S. delegations to the ILO and became the Government's representative on the organization. Then, in June 1948, he was elected as the ILO's Director-General for a ten-year term. [3]

International Labor Organisation

The International Labor Organisation had been created in 1919 at the end of the First World War. During Morse's time the funding came almost entirely from the USA because European economies were in tatters. The US government actively involved itself in ILO budget control and overall direction, and during the reconstruction of Europe it was seen almost as an extension-arm of US foreign policy.

Despite the anti-Americanism of the U.S.S.R. and its satellites, Morse proved to be a popular leader who was unanimously re-elected for five-year terms on three successive occasions (1957, 1962, and 1967). He was known as an active promoter of decolonisation and human rights, and he managed to gain for his organisation a degree of independence from U.S. government directions.

During this time the number of ILO member states doubled and the founding industrialised nations became a minority force among the influx of new developing countries. Morse's budget grew five-fold and his staff quadrupled under financial support of the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations, and during these years the ILO adopted a number of significant international labour conventions and standards, including:

  • Freedom of association (1948 and 1949),
  • Equal remuneration and discrimination (1951 and 1958),
  • Forced labour (1957); and
  • Employment policy (1964).

He also created the International Institute for Labour Studies at the ILO's Geneva headquarters, and the International Training Centre in nearby Turin. [1] Faced with the growing international unemployment crisis in 1969, Morse launched the World Employment Program (which he had long been promoting). It was the first attempt at world-wide planning of human resources, education, development, and employment policy. In 1969 the ILO celebrated 50 years in the spotlight by earning a Nobel Peace Prize. Although the award was given to the organisation as a whole, it certainly recognised Morse's focus on human rights.

The USSR achieved military parity with the U.S. about this time and the attitude of the US government to United Nations agencies began to change and emerge from American dominance. Paradoxically, the balance of power eventually relieved East-West tensions in Geneva and Washington, and U.S. failures in the Vietnam war and a strong world-wide peace movement prompted President Nixon to attempt détente with the major communist powers.

Morse was a highly vocal Democrat at this time, and as the financial support for the ILO had begun to wane under the Nixon-Agnew Administration, he resigned from the organisation in February 1970 and shifted back to Washington.

His successor was Wilfred Jenks (English) who died after only a few years, and he was followed by Morse's faithful ex-Deputy, Francis Blanchard (French). Blanchard remained Director General from 1974 to 1989. By this time the European nations were thriving and helping shoulder the costs, so when the U.S. withdrew from the organization between 1977 and 1980, Blanchard had to deal only with the loss of 25% of its budget.

Throughout his tenure at the ILO, Morse was right at the center of the East-West conflict and the détente efforts. He also headed a U.N. Agency that was broadly accepted by both sides, and was therefore in the position of being able to act as an honest-broker, aiding both sides in their behind-the-scenes negotiation.

During the Cold War many Americans and Europeans working in Geneva for U.N. agencies and international organizations were regularly reporting to their national secret service and diplomatic corps, and this was widely assumed (and accepted as fact) by both sides. The USSR and Eastern Bloc countries did the same. Morse was able to tap into the labor agencies and unions around the world, and especially into government and semi-government organizations in Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, the Middle East and Africa. He would later privatize the contacts he made at both ends of these links - both in Washington, and in the capitals of the Eastern Bloc and other European states, and this served him well in his new job as tobacco lobbyist.

Tobacco Days

Morse returned to the USA and set up a legal partnership, Surrey & Morse, supposedly specializing in patent law and taxation, but actually offering global networking services to the top politicians in Europe and the Middle East. His partner was Walter Sterling Surrey, an ex-OSS (the precursor to the CIA) officer who later worked for the State Department. [4] Surrey had built up a strong network of top national administration and banking management executives in Europe, as the deputy head of the U.S. State Department's efforts to track down and recover the Nazi's stolen gold. [5] Morse had an equal status in Europe, having worked with most of the politicians and trade-union leaders through the ILO, and also being associated with such CIA-front labor-organizations as the American Institute for Free Labor Development [6] [7] (AFLID -- headed by J. Peter Grace of W.R. Grace & Co.)

Surrey, who had retained his links with the CIA, State Department and US Foreign Service, was later involved in the CIA's banking and money-laundering activities including the formation of the World Finance Corporation on 1971 [2] and the Nugan Hand Bank in 1973 [3].

At the time Morse became his partner, Surrey had had a ten year association with Philip Morris as a fixer and negotiator in both Europe and Asia and on both sides of the Iron Curtain. In 1961 he was engaged in tobacco deals with the Philippines and Malaysia, [4] and by 1964 he was dealing with the European Common Market countries, plus Japan, Russia and Poland using his old connections. Myron M Cowen, another ex OSS operator who had become the US Ambassador to Australia, Phillipines, and Belgium, was also employed by the company to open doors in Asia. [5]

The Surrey & Morse lawfirm became incorporated (retaining its identity) into the larger legal partnership of Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue, which represented tobacco interests among other major corporate and government clients. Morse renewed his friendship with R. William "Bill" Murray (Also known as Bill Murray) and Geoffrey Bible who were moving up the executive ladder in PM.

Murray and Bible were accountants from Australia who had travelled the world together, spending time in the Middle East and in Geneva with UN Agencies. Later they both joined PM's European division which had its base in Laussane. They were close friends, and Bible had worked for the ILO as budget-director under Morse, while Murray had social contacts with him in Geneva. The Australians and the American staff of the ILO had moved in the same social circles in Switzerland, and been members of the same ex-pat squash club.

International deal-maker

In the 1970s as the Cold War thawed Philip Morris expanded internationally (largely led by Murray and Bible, both now at the headquarters in New York), and so the company sent Morse and Surrey to Moscow to re-establish contacts with the Soviet authorities. [6] They wanted to feel out the possibility of the company entering the cigarette business in the USSR and East Europe. Morse provided many other top-level contact services both in the USA and in Europe. [7] (see p.2) He also proved to be useful for PM and other tobacco companies in dealing with American and European trade-unions. [8] (see pp> s 5 & 7).

Through the Morse connection, the tobacco industry generously funded the AFL-CIO and many other unions to oppose legislation restricting workplace smoking. Morse was also able to provided links to Geneva-based international standards organisations. [9]

Walter Surrey had a minor heart attack in May 1974, a few weeks after returning from a mission to Russia with a group of PM executives. Such missions were meant to be kept strictly confidential by both the American capitalists and their Soviet counterparts. [10] [11] A decade later he badly messed up another important and confidential deal with China, and PM discontinued using his services. This only came to light as the rival Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation, BAT's U.S. subsidiary, had a spy inside the organization watching Philip Morris's every move. [12] The true story is more likely that Surrey had now become embroiled in the CIA-World Finance Corporation scandal and subsequent Justice Department investigation, where it was said that the "WFC held the dubious distinction of being the longest running (and largest) launderer of money for Colombian cocaine smugglers." [13]

Morse was probably retained by Philip Morris because, in this year, his friend Bill Murray had elected to the overall PM board, and his other friend and associate, Geoffrey Bible had returned from a stint as manager in Australia (where he had been highly successful in countering the anti-smoking movement) to run the main global campaign against anti-smoking activism. Bible had been awarded a newly created position of Executive Vice President of PM's International division which came directly under Murray. The VP position put him in total charge of Philip Morris's PR campaigns in Europe and Asia and the Pacific.

Surrey & Morse's contacts had proved invaluable to PM in extending their business in the Soviet Union, Middle East, Africa and in trouble-shooting in the more developed nations where anti-smoking sentiments were rising. [14] so Morse's legal-practice was now focusing entirely on providing contact-services with politicians in Europe and with key bureaucrats in the United Nations and EEC in Brussels. Morse had close friends in the European Union/Parliament who accepted his lobbying, some valuable trade union links in Scandinavia and South America, and some especially valuable contacts with the Vatican authorities (he was associated with the Knights of Malta).

Pseudo friendship-associations

With Philip Morris, Morse made a close connection with PM's New York based Corporate Affairs executive/lobbyist Andrew Whist (another Australian accountant friend of Bible and Murray), and the two of them began setting up a number of fake international business associations. These pseudo-organisations paid substantial speakers fees to important politicians in their various emerging markets in Europe, Asia and South America. It was a way of providing junkets and outright bribes to influential people and politicians, and it put them in contact with (and in debt to) the tobacco company's main PR/Corporate Affairs directors in the various newly emerging markets.

They established the American European Community Association (AECA) and the New York Society for International Affairs (NYSIA) with PM funding. The head-office of both organisations was "a chair in Whist's Manhattan apartment" (according to court records). There are a few other similarly-named organisations (mainly associated with Latin America) which can be discovered (by Google) to have Whist listd as president or secretary. Some them appear to have slightly more substance than AECA and NYSIA.

The value to PM came from the fact that business societies with an international outreach can mount speaker-oriented lunches in New York for top-class politicians, and gain enormous publicity. The trick was to recruit other business executives to attend the luncheon, and collect a few hundred dollars from each table - then other companies pay for your lobbying. ACEA or NYSIA would then pay an important European politician handsomely speaking fees (about $20,000 in tax-free cash), and give them an all-expenses-paid visit for a week in New York.

Morse's ex-Deputy who later became the ILO's Director General, Francis Blanchard, was a lucky recipient of this bonanza and he liked the association so much that he later joined Morse in another Philip Morris astroturf organisation.

This was seen by all involved as a win-win operation. Apart from the junket, the main benefit for the politician/speaker lay with the international media attention and the opportunity to make new wealthy business contacts. New York's non-tobacco corporations also gained; they got to tap into PM's world wide political contacts. Meanwhile PM's lobbyists around the world generated a host of key political contact to exploit at some later date..

While the PM's in-house Corporate lobbyist Andrew Whist was the key operator of these schemes, both Hamish Maxwell (PM's CEO and Chairman) and David Morse also played a major part. By the early 1980s, Morse had become a regular participant at Philip Morris executive conferences. [15]

The AECA and NYSIA were also used to provide junkets for American politicians who wished to holiday abroad, with the most notorious known case being the international trips made by Governor Tommy Thompson (later to be US Secretary of Health) accompanied by none other than Andrew Whist and other PM lobbyists. [16] (See p. 16) [17] [18].

Such pseudo-organisations were a key component of Philip Morris's 1984 Boca Raton Action Plan designed by Murray and Bible to counter anti-smoking activism worldwide. [19] They didn't require members or even office space; all of these pseudo- business/friendly organisations were run out of the Manhattan apartment of Whist.

European lobbying

In Europe, Morse was actively involved until just before his death in recruiting a past-President or Vice-President of the European Commission as an agent of influence for Philip Morris. [20] (see p. 7 - note pages are out of order) As an interim measure for PM's Brussels office, he landed Geoffroy Giscard de Estaing, the nephew of ex French President (later European Parliamentary leader) Valerie Giscard de Estaing. He went on to lead the council which wrote the draft European Constitution. The nephew worked out of PM's office Brussels (which was also Morse's home base during European lobbying periods) and was given the responsibility for handling Libertad in Europe. In 1991 he transferred to the New York office where he held wider responsibilities of the same kind. [21] (see p.18)


PM also established Libertad with Morse as 'President', [22] (see p.6) [23]. The name was derived from the Spanish Republican battle-cry with the double-meaning of suggesting Freedom-Ad (Freedom to Advertise). Through political contacts at the State Department and the Republican party they managed to get support from the President George H.W. Bush.[24] (see pp. 6 & 11)

Libertad (originally spelled LibertAd) purported to be an international association of lawyers and journalist who toured the world promoting freedom of expression. In fact, its purpose was to attack any 'restrictive legislation', particular laws restricting the tobacco companies right to advertise their products - and the media companies right to profit from this advertising. Libertad was entirely owned by PM and run by Morse and Whist out of America with the help of PM's regional offices.

In the USA, the Scaife-funded American Spectator publishing group, which later ran the Arkansas Project, was involved in Libertad through its editor, R Emmett Tyrrell Jr. [25] [26] At this time the nominal European president was Lord Plum of Colehill, the Tory ex-President of the European Parliament (1987-1989), a long time associate of Rupert Murdoch, and the Chairman of PRM, a specialised European lobbying and public affairs consultancy.

Libertad's activities were little more than a well-publicised journalistic junket for a few of the tobacco-industry's media friends, particularly those of the Murdoch's UK newspaper columnists Auberon Waugh and Bernard Levin who both enjoyed a long relationship with the tobacco industry. Levin was Murdoch's London Times columnist and highly influential, and he became the nominal UK 'president' of Libertad at one time.

You can get a good idea as to the value Libertad provided in providing access to the wealthy and influential, in this news story. [27] (Also see) [28]

The Vatican connection

Morse's partners (Paul G. Dietrich was a Director of the Vatican's "Sovereign Order of the Knights of Malta' in the USA and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. Morse was able to negotiate with the Catholic University authorities to set up the Institute for International Health and Development (IIHD) within the American Catholic University (Washington). He kept its head office in Washington and opened a branch office in Geneva. [29].

In 1990 PM's Corporate Contributions Department recommended that IIHD be funded by PM to the tune of $240,000. One of the activities foreshadowed was instituting an award to a Minister of Health, who would also be given an honorary doctorate from the Catholic University. [30] A survey in 1994 by IIHD stated that "every Minister of Health responding to the survey ranked smoking-related health issues in the lowest 10% of priorities". [31]

So both the Catholic Church links, the UN Agencies, and the international tobacco lobbying projects came together under the joint efforts of the Dietrichs and David Morse.

Institute for International Health and Development

The IIHD had no Washington staff (other than the Dietrichs), but the Geneva address (probably just an apartment-office), coupled with the official-sounding name, gave the organisation the appearance of solid United Nations accreditation. This rather ethereal substance was filled out by the employment of a small part-time editorial staff. Officially the magazine and IIHD was headed by writer Elizabeth Kristol (the Kristols are a neo-con/media Jewish family), but Laura Jordan Dietrich ran the operation when Paul was away.

They turned out a quarterly glossy magazine full of pro-smoking articles and anti-WHO diatribes, mainly written by science-writer, Susan U Raymond. Raymond later became director of policy programs at the New York Academy of Sciences and senior adviser to the U.S. Agency for International Development. She is now the managing director of Changing Our World Inc in New York city, and also affiliated with Columbia University's Center for Global Health and Economic Development ... which sounds suspiciously like a born-again IIHD except that it "partners with the WHO".

Philip Morris funded the IIHD operation to the tune of $240,000 per year [32] and British-American Tobacco (BAT) probably contributed as much again [33]. The IIHD provided the industry with control over a supposedly 'independent' health and development organisation which it could then use to run pro-smoking 'economics and health' conferences and published 'contrary opinions' to those being promoted by WHO [34]

Spring O'Brien [35] was a favourite consultancy for the tobacco industry and Murdoch's Sunday Telegraph and other News Ltd. newspapers carried many of the stories that the IIHD generated [36], certainly at a rate much higher than you'd normally expect.

Philip Morris used the IIHD fairly blatantly to publish the proceedings of tame tobacco scientists, and to distribute political newsletters, and act as an industry front for conferences, etc. Geoff Bible's [Boca Raton Action Plan] for 1989 shows how effective the organisation was. (See pages 1 and 5 [37])

Philip Morris's infamous McGill University ETS (passive smoking) conference was held in early 1990. It was actually a training program for Asian academics newly recruited to oppose all attempts at limiting advertising or public smoking in their own countries. At the McGill conference, they were taught what to say, and how to act in defending smoking without revealing their affiliations with the industry. [38]

It was a 'closed conference' by-invitation-only, and many of those involved were old hands at the 'science-for-sale' business. The others were newly recruited 'scientific experts' who were being indoctrinated with the techniques needed for discounting fears of passive smoke and workplace pollution in their own countries. [39]

The IIHD published the proceedings of this conference for Philip Morris and lent its name as ghost-sponsor, providing the new recruits with some published research recognition (which might have convinced some journalists that they knew what they were talking about. The booklet was printed in large numbers and Paul Dietrich made it available as a university textbook in Indoor Air Quality studies.

The pseudo-organisation also became important for the US tobacco industry's export drive into Asia, Africa and the Middle East because of the international contacts it was able to develop through Morse and the Dietrichs [40]. Then, after his term as Secretary-General of the ILO, Morse's ex-Deputy Francis Blanchard was also absorbed by the IIHD. [41]

However, for most of the time the IIHD was run by tobacco lobbyist Paul Dietrich and his wife Laura Jordan Dietrich who were its only two employees. Morse became involved more in direct lobbying in Europe, and Blanchard appears to have been semi-retired and little more than a political front for many of its major projects.


Well back in 1983 Morse had also set up a Geneva branch of Surrey & Morse for the tobacco industry to counter their growing United Nations problems. Bill Murray at Philip Morris boasted to his executives that the company had managed to recruit his old friend Warren W. Furth (then the Associate Director-General of the WHO) to head this office. Furth was another long-time friend of Morse, Murray and Bible from the Geneva days. He continued to act as Associate Director of the WHO from 1971 to 1989 - six years after he had been said to have become a consultant. [42]

For some completely unknown reason the IIHD was given defacto recognition by the WHO and some of its offshoots, which allowed Dietrich and others to sit in on committee discussions and often to contribute to the discussion. Dietrich managed to get himself elected onto WHO's PAHO Communications Advisory Committee (along with Jimmy Carter) and he then took over the organisation of PAHO's broadcast promotions for a major Latin American health conference. [43] [44] The aim was to disrupt any attempt from the PAHO to focus their efforts on anti-smoking measures in Brazil.

WHO and PAHO attacks

The Dietrichs' main task through the IIHD was to attack the funding and priorities of the World Health Organisation and its South American offshoot known as PAHO (Pacific-American Health Organization) which were spending (in the tobacco industry's opinion) far too much time and effort on anti-smoking campaigns and tobacco-cancer research. Dietrich was also given the job of being the publisher of Saturday Review. [45]

Morse's involvement in the fake journalistic organisation Libertad and the zero-membership International Institute for Health & Development began to decline in the late 1980s. The Dietrichs took over almost entirely, and maintained the two-decade long tobacco battle to bring the WHO and its International Agency for Research into Cancer (IARC) to heel.

David Morse died suddenly of a heart-attack in New York on December 1, 1990.


  • 1907: Born
  • 1943-44: Army Captain
  • 1944-45: German Occupation forces labor division
  • 1946: Ass.Sec of Labor in Truman Administration
  • 1948: Director-General of the ILO
  • 1964: The David Morse lectures were established by the Council on Foreign Relations.
  • 1969: As a result of his inspired leadership of the ILO, the organisation was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace.
  • 1970: Retires from ILO, joins Surrey legal partnership in International tobacco deal-making.
  • 1984: Surrey excluded from tobacco lobbying business. Lawfirm merged with Jones Day Reavis & Pogue
Morse now working closely with Whist in New York, establishes the Institute for International Health and Development (IIHD).
  • 1988: Paul and Laura Jordan Dietrich take over the IIHD.
  • 1989: Morse concentrates on tobacco lobbying for Philip Morris in Europe, through Geneva and Brussels.
  • 1990: Died in New York

Other SourceWatch resources

External links

Biographical Notes and Archive Material

Tobacco papers


  1. International Labour Organisation Director-General's Office Biosketch of David A. Morse, former Director General Web site, accessed April 3, 2008
  2. International Labour Organisation Director-General's Office Biosketch of David A. Morse, former Director General Web site, accessed April 3, 2008
  3. International Labour Organisation Director-General's Office Biosketch of David A. Morse, former Director General Web site, accessed April 3, 2008
  4. Allen GV, Tobacco Institute Untitled letter March 1, 1962. Bates NO. 2010035354
  5. Eisenstat S, U.S. Department of State U.S. and Allied Efforts To Recover and Restore Gold and Other Assets Stolen or Hidden by Germany During World War II May 1997
  6. Public Information Research, Inc.Namebase Morse, David A.; Accessed April 3, 2008
  7. Peter Gribbin Brazil and CIA CounterSpy, April-May 1979, pp. 4-23

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