The Nobel Foundation
"I intend to leave after my death a large fund for the promotion of the peace idea, but I am skeptical as to its results."
One of the best known and simultaneously least known figures of the 20th century was Alfred Nobel, a Swedish chemist, engineer, armaments manufacturer, and philanthropist who actually died in 1896. The public record indicates that shortly before his death he restructured his will to endow a massive monetary award, portions of which were to be awarded annually to outstanding innovators in the areas of physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and peace, creating the Nobel Foundation. This Foundation is considered in many circles to occupy the pinnacle of honor, integrity, and civilization. The real story is more complicated.
Nobel made the bulk of his fortune in arms and explosives, as both the owner of the Bofors gunworks, and the inventor of dynamite. As such, he was a man quite in touch with war and its attendant horrors. He privately consoled himself with notions of being uninvolved, not responsible for those who used what he created. His mind was changed in 1888 when a French newspaper published an erroneous obituary for Nobel, claiming triumphantly that "the merchant of death is dead" and decrying his hand in the creation of weapons of destruction.
Nobel endowed his prize foundation a few years later, intending to use it to further the cause of peace and achievement rather than destruction and warmongering. Beyond that, he sought to create a secret society that could use the Foundation as a cover. The endowment of the award had brought him to the attention of scientists and peace advocates throughout Europe and the Americas, many of whom were eager to be part of the Foundation. Nobel began to build a society from among these notables as an informal but secret group, dedicated to a peaceful future. Nobel's society had no name within the scope of the greater Foundation, as the entire membership was meant to know one another, and have no hierarchy in their quest to build the public perception that stability and civilization were synonymous. In fact, all members of the society would themselves be members of the Foundation at large, and would therefore be hiding in plain sight. This society was designed to take an active but secret hand in directing the Foundation.
Nobel's society numbered only nine when Nobel himself died of a sudden stroke in late 1896. His associate and friend, Baroness Bertha von Suttner of Austria, moved forward with his secret legacy (and in an unrelated event received the Nobel Peace Prize herself in 1905). While she oversaw the growth of the secret society within the Foundation, it only numbered a few dozen by 1920, when French statesman (and society member) Leon Bourgeois was elected unanimously as the first President of the Council of the League of Nations. Bourgeois used his position in the League of Nations to take the secret group worldwide. Though he only served a short time, his work did much to entrench members of the Nobel Foundation (and internal society) in global affairs, and many key society members were participants in the formation of the United Nations.
The Nobel Foundation, steered by its internal society, has long cultivated an image of being "above the fray" of global politics and world affairs. In that vein, members of the society (few of whom could be called spies) avoided engaging in espionage until very recently. Rather than take an active hand in illicit activities, the society sought to direct the Foundation, and by extension the opinions of the world community, in the direction of peace and stability. The society became only peripherally aware of the Consortium in the late 1990s, and universally opposed the organization, feeling that any group divorced from oversight or a defined mission statement was inherently corrupt. Unfortunately, as the society was never intended to be a covert agency, they were unable to directly combat the Consortium, and were themselves unknowingly infiltrated by the same.
When the Consortium collapsed and CORE moved to reconstruct its shattered remnants, they found a number of the former group's politically connected agents operating in and around the Nobel Foundation, though without Controls most had simply remained in place and gone quiet. Several experienced operatives came out of the society's woodwork when CORE came calling. Using the revealed infiltrators as go-betweens, the Controls of CORE made overtures to Nobel's society, and as CORE was specifically tied to the UN (and thus possessed the mission and oversight the society found palatable), it took little convincing to bring the society on board.
Possessing the ability to forever enshrine anyone as a pillar of civilization, the Nobel Foundation today commands respect bordering on reverence from political, religious, and scientific leaders worldwide. Members of the Foundation do nothing to dissuade people from this opinion, and many have bought the Foundation line entirely. It should be noted that the ordinary Foundation members have no idea that a secret society exists within their midst, or that said society is in league with global espionage elements. CORE agents operating within the Foundation effectively hide in plain sight. In service to CORE, these agents use their affiliation to both impress the masses, gather information, and exchange favors for the greater good of global freedom.
The Nobel Foundation is filled with activists, advocates, demagogues, and raconteurs, and the world expects Foundation members to go anywhere and speak with anyone, especially the leaders of nations or scientific fields. In many circles the title "Nobel" bestows carte blanche on a figure to say or do as he pleases, as it certainly must be for the greater good (or at least cannot be against it). Agents within the Foundation regularly gain access to some of the most closely guarded locations, people, and secrets, simply by claiming to be investigating on behalf of the award committee.
However, as the Foundation's public face exclusively promotes peace, research, and civilizing dialogue, CORE agents within the foundation must keep their activities a closely guarded secret. Fortunately, agents occupy several high positions in the Foundation, and do a superb job of keeping the Foundation's more illicit activities (as well as their co-opted facilities) well hidden.