Created in 1947, the National Student Association's avowed purpose was to represent US students' collective interests in international conferences of student groups. Possibly funded in part by the Central Intelligence Agency from the very beginning, the NSA was fully controlled by the CIA by the early 1950s. With CIA direction, it served as one of many CIA front organizations that presented an anti -communist ideology in international political discourse and conferences. While the NSA's domestic politics were less-tightly controlled by the CIA, they generally adhered to socially liberal views--most notably voicing a strong opposition to segregated academic campuses.
The combination of socially liberal policy and secret government funding amounted to political dynamite when the CIA's support of the NSA became public knowledge in 1967. While many on the political left were horrified by these disclosures (a string of college-level NSA groups quickly voted to leave the national organization), many on the right nevertheless seized on the CIA-student link as evidence in their ongoing campaign to assert that left-wing student activism was the result of a small group of cynical operatives seizing power by rabble-rousing.
This cartoon illustrates the power of the NSA scandal to mobilize such forces on the right. In this case, conservatives came in the form of the Young Americans for Freedom. Growing out of a 1960 conference in Sharon, Connecticut, the YAF self-consciously positioned themselves as the conservative answer to the liberal Students for a Democratic Society, or SDS, parodied here as marching hippies. The message is that such student groups, like the CIA, were more concerned with gaining control over the US than with upholding American ideals--symbolized here by the transformation of the SDS into the "SS," the special police of the Nazi era.