William A. Mayer
On Monday May 5, 2003 over 4,200 pages of previously classified testimony, made before the 1953-1954 Senate Permanent Committee on Investigations, became available to the public. These hearings [although some of the thunder had already been stolen during the 1948-1949 Nixon chaired HUAC sessions] delved further into the charges that the Soviet Union had placed intelligence agents – spies – throughout the Democrat administrations of both FDR and Harry Truman. The Committee’s lightning-rod chairman at the time was the Republican Senator from Wisconsin, Joseph P. McCarthy.
The presentation of the 50 year old documents was debuted within the touchy feely framework that Republicans, as if operating under some curse, somehow are convinced will win them the respect of Democrats – of course, nothing could be further from the truth.
One of the reasons for the timorous manner in which this subject is handled is the nuclear fallout, which the liberal press has rained upon the GOP during the years following the period where communist spy networks freely infiltrated the government.
Push a liberal far enough into a corner during a political argument and the charge “McCarthyism” will not be far from his lips. He will use the word as an epithet, inferring that an attack has been unfair – based on slander and innuendo.
The American public has little understanding of – and unfortunately little appetite for – the true extent of the Soviet intelligence operation that was undertaken against them, and which most likely still continues.
But understanding the conspiracy – to the best of our ability considering the sobering but still imperfect evidence so far available – that was hatched within the Soviet Union may help us to understand the nature of many important questions still facing us.
Oddly, the least of these may be to gain some realization of the degree to which FDR – and later Truman – compromised this nation’s security via the self-serving dismissal of information provided by people like Whittaker Chambers’ [and others] whose warnings of wholesale Soviet intelligence’s infiltration into their administrations were manifestly correct.
The model the Soviets used for much of the information gathering was to identify sources of knowledge, people who by their station in life had access to important data, and then placing agents near them who transmitted it up-line through their handlers and eventually to the Soviet intelligence leadership.
In FDR’s administration there were two types of sources – those that knew their information flowed to Moscow:
And those, who because of personal inattention to security, ideological makeup and a host of complicating factors, allowed the most vital national security information to end up in the hands of a mortal enemy:
As to the above referenced top scientists in the Manhattan Project?
Sudaplatov attained the rank of General officer in the NKVD/KGB. A thoroughly unapologetic Stalinist [even after 20 years in Soviet prison – framed as having been involved with “anti-Soviet” intrigue with Stalin & Khrushchev’s bitter rival, Lavrenti Beria], one of his “special tasks” found him responsible for running the operation that tracked down and killed Leon Trotsky in Mexico in 1940.
The greatest benefit of this new scholarship – in the here and now – may be to help us understand how our current enemy, radical Islamic terror, may use similar methods in establishing underground networks in furtherance of their aims and how the now in vogue promotion of cultural diversity by the left is so potentially damaging to our security.
The depth of Soviet infiltration into the various governmental agencies – Department of State, Treasury, Department of Defense and the foreign policy making apparatus of the U.S. during particularly hallowed Democrat administrations not only proves that McCarthy’s charges were correct, but that he erred on the side of conservatism in his accusations.
The firestorm that Tail Gunner Joe created did not ensue because of any great analytical ability, nor was it the result of his bringing to bear an extraordinarily high intellect; what defined him was having the intestinal fortitude to state what was obvious at that point.
The evidence that the Soviet Union was engaged in an all out effort to destroy American national security during the Cold War is irrefutable, and these newly vetted documents simply add more fuel to an already considerable fire.
The primary substantiation comes from two sources – declassified intelligence documents assembled by a top secret 1943 Army Signal Intelligence project code named Venona, and NKVD/GRU/KGB documents declassified after the fall of the Soviet Union.
At the same time the FBI was interviewing people with first hand knowledge of the Soviet effort, people like Whittaker Chambers [who fingered Alger Hiss as being a communist spy], whose warning to Roosevelt – in 1939 – were totally disregarded.
Chambers’ information provided valuable confirmation for the facts established in the deciphered Soviet spy traffic and allowed the project to move forward.
What Venona and modern Soviet intelligence scholarship established was proof – beyond even unreasonable doubt – that the basic charges made by McCarthy, Richard Nixon and the much-maligned anti-communists were absolute and unimpeachable.
Lets take the case of just one of the players – J. Robert Oppenheimer – a brilliant physicist, scientific director of Los Alamos Laboratory and the man charged with overseeing the Manhattan Project.
Just one minor problem, he was a known traitor.
Even a brief examination of Oppenheimer's record reveals just how criminally lax FDR, Truman and the Democrats were regarding security.
J. [Julius] Robert Oppenheimer, his brother [Frank] and his wife [Katherine] were members of the Communist Party USA.
Robert Oppenheimer contributed 150 dollars a month to the Communist Party [Sacred Secrets reproduces an FBI document attesting to that in Appendix 1]. Frank denied party membership until 1949, then admitted to being a member from 1937 to the early 1940’s. Katherine was a long time communist as well and was previously married to Joseph Dallet a Communist Party functionary who was killed in Spain fighting for the communist led left-wing anti-Franco forces.
Oppenheimer is mentioned in a top secret KGB/NKVD communication:
Oppenheimer was a communist party member [until 1942 when the Soviets advised him to cease his above ground relationship – which is precisely the time he left the CPUSA], his brother was a communist, his wife was a communist, his friends were communists and Soviet agents. He held Communist Party meetings in his Berkeley, CA residence and he intentionally enabled the most confidential, most important clandestine government project in U.S. history to be penetrated by Soviet intelligence, arrogantly deciding by himself to "share the bomb" with Stalin.
Much of the same type of information, though obviously, not so specific led to the revocation of Oppenheimer’s security clearance in 1954 during the Eisenhower administration, a decision which to this day "shocks" the liberal intelligentsia.
Many, not conversant in the more recent literature surrounding Soviet intelligence gathering in this country will be dumfounded by the Oppenheimer case. That is understandable given the media’s distaste for spreading injurious information regarding the left and an educational system intent on hiding this sort of messy affair.
What is most troubling is that Oppenheimer was not alone – not by a long shot. He was joined by Fuchs, Fermi, White, Hiss and hundreds of others who were betraying their country in plain view of leftist American administrations.
When Nixon and McCarthy made their charges public, the content was already old news to those in the know.
In November of 1945 the FBI advised the Truman Administration that Harry Dexter White – Assistant Treasury Secty., Dr. Gregory Silvermaster – Dept. of Agriculture, George Silverman – War Dept., Lauchlin Currie – Assistant to President FDR, Donald Wheeler – OSS [the wartime CIA ], Helen Tenney – OSS, Maurice Halperin – OSS, Capt. William Ullman – U.S. Army, Lt. Col. John H. Reynolds, Julius Joseph – OSS and others were communicating with Soviet intelligence agents.
To expand, ever so slightly, on just one example of the treasonous level of indifference by Democrat administrations, the above mentioned Harry Dexter White – after successfully conspiring to smuggle official U.S. Treasury Dept. printing plates for German marks to the Soviets – and one month after the FBI White House warning – Truman nominated White to be the United States' first representative to the International Monetary Fund.
“Give ‘em Hell” Harry refused withdraw the nomination because it was deemed essential to winning New York in the 1948 election.
So that was and continues to be the bottom line – winning elections no matter what the cost to the nation, criminal negligence that could very easily have destroyed America and a permanently entrenched left-wing fifth column.
One can only hope there are places hot enough in hell for the souls of these people.
Appendix: At the beginning of this piece we mentioned the recently declassified Senate Permanent Committee on Investigations documents, here are some brief excerpts from the testimony of CPUSA functionary, Paul Crouch, p. 1834 -1841, concerning J. Robert Oppenheimer. Bracketed [ ] text is offered for purposes of clarification.
"Chairman – Were you a top functionary of the party?
Chairman – What were some of the positions
Chairman – ...and you were informed by two Justice Dept. lawyers that
you would not be used because if you were...you would have to identify
Robert J. Oppenheimer? [as a member of the CPUSA]
Chairman – Is there any doubt in your mind that Oppenheimer was a
member of the Communist Party?
Chairman – Is there any doubt in your mind that but that Oppenheimer
was under Communist party discipline at the time...?
Chairman – And naturally they would be interested in any atomic
information he had?
Go ye forth, and set the record straight my friends –
William A. Mayer is editor
& publisher of
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20 may 2003