One of the many, insupportable claims Ronald Radosh is making about me and my book in this self-described, continuing "take-down," is that I "attack" historians whose work I cite.
There are no attacks on these historians in my book whatsoever, and I can also prove it (see below). There are times when I arrive at different conclusions in my analysis of the evidence, but in my book disagreement does not entail "attack."
I urge people to read American Betrayal so they can make up their own minds.
Worth recalling is that in Marxist circles, analysis that deviates from the orthodoxy does indeed constitute an "attack." Deviators such as I, who present some new interpretation of the facts, are designated an enemy of the state, and must be denounced as such, and frequently.
I think a variation of this Alinskyite tactic is underway. Ruth King homes in on some possible reasons why here.
After two more hit pieces came out this morning on top of a previous five or six, it doesn't seem to be an exaggeration to note a wider campaign is underway on to destroy my credibility entirely and by any means necessary. FP editors lying to readers by announcing that I "refused" to reply to the Radosh "take-down," instead of acknowledging that I refused to reply at Frontpage (because Horowitz pulled down a positive, or incorrect, review of my book); critiquing a theory or fact that isn't even in by book; and, here, alleging that I launch attacks on worthy historians.
As Radosh puts it:
She attacks the very writers who pioneered in exposing Soviet espionage and infiltration, while also disregarding their conclusions when they don’t agree with hers.
According to Radosh, I attack Allen Weinstein and Alexander Vassiliev, and also John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, among others.
Fantasy (see below for excerpts from American Betrayal for proof),
Here's my m.o., according to Radosh.
In a typical instance, she writes: “[Christopher] Andrew and [former archivist for the USSR’s foreign intelligence branch Vasili] Mitrokhin seem fairly hip to the problem, but then soft-soap its cause.”
Call an ambulance?
But let's stay focused on this particular charge. To identity this as an "attack," Radosh omits the context of the remark -- very much as he did in order to present my response to his "collegial" email as "huffy" (debunked here). This omitted context happens to be an underlying thesis of the book, which Radosh never conveys to readers.
Indeed, what is most dispiriting about the whole controversy now raging about my book (good for sales, however) is that the fires I must put out have so little to do with the book's texture, its tone, or the painstaking, and, contrary to all assertions, densely sourced construction of its central theory: that we have disregarded, ignored, been blinded to the extent to which We, the People and our Republic have been subverted by our experience with Communism and Communists in America, at the same time ignoring and maligning the truth-tellers and investigators along the way. The implications for today with regard to Islamic influence operations and infiltration are striking.
One of my illustrations is Hollywood. This "attack" on Andrew/Mitrokhin that Radosh reports me for follows a discussion in American Betrayal of Communist influence in Hollywood. This influence wasn't just about inserting agitprop into scripts. It was also about preventing anti-Communist works from making it to the Silver Screen. And it was extremely successful. I had been discussing the fate of Out of the Night, an anti-Communist and anti-Nazi book by Jan Valtin, which was subject to pro-Soviet/pro-Communist pressures against conversion into a movie both before and after the Nazi attack on the USSR.
(I discuss more of these examples in the book.)
Let me pick up on p. 92 in American Betrayal, shortly before the "attack" on Andrew/Mitrokhin Radosh accuses me of.
Welcome to the culture of omission, with gaps, blanks, and disconnects throughout. Such holes tend to go unnoticed, but sometimes they trip us up, and perplexingly so. At the end of The Sword and the Shield (1999), a landmark compendium of files copied from KGB archives, Cambridge don and doyen of intelligence historians Christopher Andrew and ex-KGB archivist Vasily Mitrokhin note the fact, apparently puzzling to them, that most historians ignore intelligence history, including Venona and other such archives. This has meant, they continue quite logically, that the standard studies of the Cold War, biographies of Stalin, and histories of the Soviet Union in general have overlooked the central role played by the operations and achievements of the intelligence and security organs of the Soviet state, chief among them the KGB. Listing some historical works notable for such omissions, the authors further note, “In many studies of Soviet foreign policy, the KGB is barely mentioned.”39
This fact is not only astonishing, it is nonsensical—“physics without mathematics, if you will,” as KGB historian John J. Dziak wrote, describing exactly the same phenomenon a decade earlier in Chekisty: A History of the KGB.40 Andrew and Mitrokhin go on, almost ingenuously, to take a stab at analysis: “Though such aberrations by leading historians are due partly to the overclas- sification of intelligence archives . . . , they derive at root from what psychologists call ‘cognitive dissonance’—the difficulty all of us have in grasping new concepts which disturb our existing view of the world. For many twentieth-century historians, political scientists and international relations specialists, secret intelligence has been just such a concept” (emphasis added).41
It’s impossible to say whether Andrew and Mitrokhin realize what a damning indictment of “twentieth-century historians” they have just issued, despite the ameliorating tag of empathy: the difficulty all of us have in grasping new concepts . . . It’s as if to say, there these twentieth-century historians were, poor babies, busily fitting the facts into their “existing view of the world,” when, all of a sudden, KGB history reared its view-changing head. What else could they do? Like a Hollywood producer turning down Out of the Night in deference, direct or indirect, to the local Hollywood and White House commissars, or like an Allied prosecutor at Nuremberg editing his indictment to protect Stalin’s legal and moral vulnerabilities, historians have scotched evidence that would displease these same masters—and would also undermine their own “existing view of the world.”
Andrew and Mitrokhin sum up this existing worldview this way: It is “the common assumption of a basic symmetry between the role of intelligence in East and West.”42
This “common assumption” requires either taking a chain saw to the record or wearing a blindfold permanently. So what if we miss the KGB effect on Soviet foreign policy? Undermining that “common assumption” of “basic symmetry” would mean shattering the mirror imagery between the U.S. and the USSR in general, and we mustn’t have that. End of mirror imagery, good-bye nuanced palette of le Carréllian grays with which such historians have pains- takingly painted a murky age of moral and other equivalences between the Free World and totalitarianism. End of nuanced palette, good-bye age of moral and other equivalences. Maybe even good-bye moral relativism, too.
So what if, as Andrew and Mitrokhin point out, “the Cheka and its successors”—GPU, OGPU, NKVD, KGB (today FSB)—“were central to the functioning of the Soviet system in ways that intelligence communities never were to the government of Western states”? So what if, as the authors write, they “were central to the conduct of Soviet foreign policy as well as to the run- ning of the one-party state”?43
Heavens, get that one-party state out of my existing view of the world. It’s wrecking my common assumption of basic symmetry.
We now come upon my "attack" of Andrew and Mitrokhin.
Soldiering on, Andrew and Mitrokhin seem fairly hip to the problem, but then soft-soap its cause: “The failure by many Western historians to identify the KGB as a major arm of Soviet foreign policy is due partly to the fact that many Soviet policy aims did not fit Western concepts of international relations.”44
That’s some failure. That’s some way to dress up the cause of that failure, too. “Western concepts of international relations” is a nice way of describing the alternate reality created by Soviet “agitprop”—agitation and propaganda— which, to varying degrees, is precisely what was devastated by the evidence Andrew and Mitrokhin amassed in their own book. It is such evidence that so discombobulated the intellectual elite’s “existing view of the world,” from Hollywood studios to New York publishing houses to faculty lounges, with precious few exceptions.
End of "attack."
Are their any casualties?
To Radosh that is an "attack."
He goes on.
She attacks Allen Weinstein and Alexander Vassiliev, among the greatest scholars of Soviet espionage, for their failure to connect “treachery with its impact,” by which she means that they failed to come to her wild-eyed conclusion that Soviet espionage was not only a clear and present danger but succeeded in making America a puppet of its Kremlin masters. As a result, she writes, “The recent confirmations of guilt often show up as mere technicalities…The reckoning eludes us.”
Again, to Radosh a different conclusions, a diferent perspective constitutes "attack."
Here's how I "attacked" Weinstein/Vassiliev:
For example, even the landmark work The Haunted Wood, the 1999 book by Allen Weinstein and Alexander Vassiliev that amasses voluminous evidence of American treason on Moscow’s behalf during the New Deal (1930s) and war years (1940s), ultimately assesses this same evidence in the most personal terms: namely, the impact of this concerted and aggressive cam- paign of theft and subversion on the agents themselves.
Is that an "attack" or a critique? Is it all heat-seeking missile, or a search for more light?
Their “enduring legacy,” the authors sum up in their final line, “remains one of inglorious constancy to a cruel and discredited cause.”10
I still take see things differently from the authors' conclusion that the "enduring legacy," as Weinstein and Vassiliev write in the last line, is more than something only personal. But is that an attack?
Such minimization of the link between personal cause and global effect is typical, even among the greatest scholars of Soviet espionage. There has been scant attempt, to continue with the Rosenberg example, to connect their treachery with its impact: to connect the theft of nuclear technology with 36,940 Americans killed, 91,134 wounded, and 8,176 still missing in action in a war that claimed at least two million civilian lives on both sides.11
Instead, we look back on an exhausting struggle over whether such Communist penetration existed in the first place. Communist penetration existed— the historical record amply and redundantly confirms this—but endless wrangling even today wards off a comprehensive reckoning of the impact of that penetration. Undoubtedly, this is the purpose of some of the wranglers. Like a magic word denoting an atavistic taboo, the term “McCarthyism,” used as an epithet, still stymies debate, while the nagging phrase “looking for a Communist under every bed” still dampens the blazing import of declassified revelations from the archives.
The fact that there were hidden Communists practically everywhere, and probably under the bed, too, remains stuck in the limbo between old, discredited theories, and new, confirmed realities. Somehow, we never get around to judging the effects, the impact of Communism it- self, whether that impact is something as concrete as a body count or something as vaporous as a sensibility. That’s why after seventy years of diligently chronicled crime, cataloged, sourced, witnessed, and experienced (the luminous names of Elinor Lipper, David Dallin, Victor Kravchenko, and, of course, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn spring to mind, as well as Robert Conquest), the recent confirmations of guilt often show up as mere technicalities, relegated to footnotes, small type, and back pages. The reckoning eludes us.
And if Radosh et al have their way, it still will.
But is that an "attack"?
He continues with more damaging smears about the nature of my book:
Finally, throughout her book she attacks the rigorous scholarship of John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, whose groundbreaking books on the Venona decrypts are unrivalled in exposing the true scale of Soviet espionage in the United States, and Soviet control of the American Communist Party.
Really? Here are all of the mentions of Haynes and Klehr in the book.
You decide if they are attacks on scholarship.
“Confident that his possession of atomic weapons neutralized America’s strategic advantage, Stalin was emboldened to unleash war in Korea in 1950,” John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr, and Alexander Vassiliev, authors of Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America, wrote in 2009. These latter authors further contended that Soviet espionage, which ended up crippling America’s ability to read Soviet military communications, also ensured that the invasion of South Korea was a surprise “for which American forces were unpre- pared.”9
Mulling the landmark works of historical correction assembled since the 1990s by John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, Christopher Andrew and Vasily Mitrokhin, Herbert Romerstein and Eric Breindel, Allen Weinstein and Alexander Vassiliev, Jerrold and Leona Schecter, and more, it becomes painfully clear that Kravchenko’s contemptuous descrip- tion of the Communist narrative as “bold, specious, conscienceless fiction” and “extraordinary fantasy parading as history” quite aptly defines what we naively regard as our own transparent, truthful, good-faith narrative. The citizens of this country have been deceived on a massive scale, often by the U.S. govern- ment, regarding the reach and impact of the secret war of aggression the USSR waged in the United States with American proxies.
The earliest forays into the stacks were transformational for many, leading John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, for example, to publish The Secret World of American Communism (1995), a book in which they revealed the existence of an archive of evidence in the USSR confirming what Cold Warriors had been arguing (shouting) for decades: that the Communist Party in America (CPUSA) had “maintained an underground arm, a fact long denied by many historians.” (The word “denied,” of course, doesn’t begin to conjure the adamantine refusals of “many historians” who, kicking and screaming, failed to face already overwhelming evidence to the contrary—and still do.31)
There was more: This American Communist underground, in the words of Haynes and Klehr, “cooperated with Soviet intelligence in espionage against the United States,” while the CPUSA as a whole “was indeed a fifth column working inside and against the United States in the Cold War.”32 Like a Soviet Frankenstein, the CPUSA was the creation of Moscow masters, and now, finally, there was overwhelming documentary proof to see at the source.
Included in this group was Philip Graham, publisher of The Washington Post, the newspaper Whittaker Chambers would later describe as “the most implacable of the pro-Hiss newspapers.”34 (Haynes and Klehr reject this hypothesis.35)
This particular argument is now settled once and for all, and spread the word. In their monumental 2009 book Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America, Haynes, Klehr, and Alexander Vassiliev, for example, after nearly two decades of research, arrive at the bottom line—literally—on page 548, the final page of their book:
It was no witch hunt that led American counterintelligence officials to investi- gate government employees and others with access to sensitive information for Communist ties . . . but a rational response to the extent to which the Commu- nist Party had become an appendage of Soviet intelligence. And, as the docu- ments in Vassiliev’s notebooks make plain, they only knew the half of it.37
In fact, as Haynes, Klehr, and Vassiliev like to put it, Bentley and Chambers “only knew the half of it,” adding, “KGB sources of whom they were unaware honeycombed the federal government and its scientific laboratories.”2
Weinstein and Vassiliev concur with Moynihan’s sweeping release, offering as corroborating evidence their assessment that the 1945 defections of both Elizabeth Bentley and Igor Gouzenko, a former Soviet code clerk in Canada, destroyed the Soviet spy structure, ending most Soviet spying.4 Nine years later, even the subtitle of Spies by Haynes, Klehr, and Vassiliev drives the same point home: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America. Operative word: “fall.”
I don’t mean to suggest that Soviet espionage activities were not checked by the revelations and investigatory efforts of a motley crew of anti-Communists on watch and in the spotlight, or coming in from the cold. Certainly, though, Moynihan’s claim that Communist “influence” was over and done with by
1950, as well as the expert conclusion that the KGB withdrew from the secret American battlefield altogether, conveys a sense of both ideological and opera- tional victory that is unwarranted. Such misplaced, dare I say, “triumphalism” is belied by the ever-flickering flames of Communist sympathy on the Left, flames that would supercharge the Marx-inspired “Long March” through America’s institutions that characterize the postwar era,5 and that continue to shape (betray) our national character, our outlook as a people, to this day. It is a creaky kind of closure that leaves the question open as to the malevolent source and poisonous nature of this ongoing ideological assault.
Indeed, the authors of Spies make note of the loose ends. Calling Elizabeth Bentley’s defection to the FBI “the single most disastrous event in the history of Soviet intelligence in America,” they describe its profound impact. Not only did Bentley correctly identify scores of Soviet sources—M. Stanton Evans pegs the total at around 150 network members or collaborators6—she also had the effect of refocusing the FBI’s counterespionage efforts. Her timing was just right. It was on November 7, 1945, when she presented herself to the FBI— coincidentally or not, an anniversary of Lenin’s 1917 takeover of the Russian Revolution. Both World War II and the US-USSR wartime alliance had come to an end, and hundreds of agents previously working on German and Japanese counterespionage were free and, more important, politically unleashed to focus on Communist networks. The authors continue:
“Her revelations triggered a wholesale withdrawal of experienced KGB officers that left the agency’s American stations woefully unprepared for the opening years of the Cold War, led to the public exposure of links between the American Communist Party and Soviet intelligence that destroyed the former’s use as an espionage Fifth Column, and additionally tainted the Communist movement with treason, contributing to its political marginalization.”7
If so—and it’s worth remembering that the links between the American Communist Party and Moscow were open to question if not disbelieved in many quarters when Haynes and Klehr dragged the evidence out of Soviet ar- chives in the 1990s—why doesn’t this great American woman have a statue somewhere? Her alma mater, Vassar, would do nicely for starters. Just as Yale pays monumental homage to its own renowned spy, Nathan Hale, Vassar should pay homage to Bentley. Why not? The answer, of course, is obvious: On the American college campus, hothouse of Marxist pedagogues and incubator of American elites, a spy against the colonial British monarchy merits celebration whereas a spy against the colonial Communist dictatorship is anathema. In that Marx-influenced outlook lies our greatest problem: the anti-anti- Communist stranglehold on the narrative. Thus, not only is Elizabeth Bentley reviled in the academy, but Bard College in upstate New York has set up the
“Alger Hiss Professor of Social Studies,” and Columbia University boasts the “Corliss Lamont Chair of Civil Liberties.” The University of Washington is home to the “Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies,” which showcases “a celebration of Communists in Washington [State] history as well as a condem- nation of anyone who dared criticize communism.”8
Furthermore, say Haynes and Klehr, “FBI investigations and voluminous congressional testimony supported Bentley’s story. The documents in Vassiliev’s notebooks, as well as the KGB cables deciphered by the Venona project, demonstrate unequivocally that Bentley told the truth” (emphasis added).
Vindication, yes; justice, no.
“Yet the consensus of several generations of American historians (backed by many journalists and other opinion leaders) routinely mocked, ridiculed, and dismissed her as a fraud and mountebank.”9
They still do. Which takes us back to Square One, or, rather, Stumbling Block One: the mentality—make that the psychosis—of historians, journalists, and opinion makers impervious and hostile to facts. Pages and books and stacks of facts. They are also even more impervious and even more hostile to the logical, often ineluctable implications of these facts, which are devastating to the conventional wisdom and venerated mythology. In this impaired mindset I think we see the ultimate impact of Communist influence, Communist con- spiracy. The complete subversion of logic is what it did to us. In this sundering of fact from implication lies the end of Enlightenment thinking, the seedbed of cultural decline, the rise of the godless but nonetheless cultishly religious Left, and the disintegration of a faltering, also damaged Right. Into this same breach between fact and implication, between implication and judgment, has rushed antilogical, contrafactual “political correctness” and also amoral cultural relativism.
Sixty years later, we have no such excuses. As Haynes, Klehr, and Vassiliev point out in their nearly one-hundred-page chapter in Spies on government in- filtration, the Vassiliev notebooks, copied from KGB archives, confirm that the dozens of officials the two ex-spies named were Soviet sources, while most of these same names also appear in the Venona cables. (Remember, Chambers and Bentley, these two greatest network sources, “only knew the half of it.”10) This leaves it to us to reexamine the old lore with eyes open to the long-hidden implications of Communist penetration at every echelon of the U.S. wartime government—White House, Treasury, State, War, OSS, Office of War Information, and more. We need to walk back over our battlegrounds, pore over old strategies, and ask ourselves whether it is the case that our forbears made honest-to-goodness American mistakes to make the USSR the true victor of World War II, or whether it is possible instead that they became instruments, willingly or not, of long-term Soviet strategy.
Haynes, Klehr, and Vassiliev further describe him as “fanatically de- voted to Chinese communism.”28
Haynes and Klehr further note that after the war, “several members of OWI’s Polish-language section emerged as defenders of the Communist take- over in Poland and as close relatives of officials in the new Polish Communist regime.” For example, Arthur Salman would “graduate” from the OWI’s Polish desk to become editor-in-chief of Robnotnik (Worker), a big paper in Commu- nist Warsaw.
Not only was Akhmerov, responsible for the oversight of spies including Lauchlin Currie, Nathan Gregory Silvermaster, Elizabeth Bentley, and Harry Dexter White, calling Harry Hopkins a “Soviet agent.” He was calling him the most important of all. More important than the far more infamous Alger Hiss or the Rosenbergs. More important even than ultradamaging White, whom Haynes, Klehr, and Vassiliev label “the most highly placed asset the Soviets possessed in the American government.”114 White’s Soviet-directed input (“Op- eration Snow”) helped, first, to provoke the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and, later, through the Morgenthau Plan, to prolong German resistance to the bitter end. Germany’s utter destruction, an important Soviet goal, came about as a result.115 No less than Elizabeth Bentley testified to White’s role “to push the devastation of Germany” through the Morgenthau Plan “because that was what the Russians wanted.”116 How could anyone be more important than that? Hopkins was, though, said Akhmerov. Gordievsky went on to discuss this rev- elation with “a number of officers” in Soviet intelligence, and “all believed that Hopkins had been an agent of major significance.”117
Far more im- portant, of course, experts Romerstein and Breindel buy it, too, and both Christopher Andrew and Vasily Mitrokhin buy it, at least in endnotes, calling Mark’s study “detailed, meticulous and persuasive.”137 Haynes and Klehr, however, remain agnostic, which has the unfortunate effect of eliminating the story, even the suggestion of the story, from their influential works. For example, their 650-page compendium Spies doesn’t even footnote it. True, Vassiliev found little about Hopkins in the finite number of KGB files he was allowed to view and copy—although given the controversy, even that might merit a footnote. Leaving all Hopkins analysis out of the research has the unfortunate effect of both suspending what should be an ongoing investigation and retarding curiosity.
Even without Venona’s confirmation, Republicans were running on the platform that Democrats were “soft on security,” a perennial GOP issue; at that time, of course, as Haynes and Klehr might say, they only knew the half of it.52
I must point out that Haynes and Klehr reject the Schecters’ assertion that Truman all this time knew about Venona, believing it “unlikely” he would have embarked upon his attack on Chambers’s and Bentley’s credibility with such knowledge. They write, “Had [Truman] been aware of Venona, and known that Soviet cables confirmed the testimony of Elizabeth Bentley and Whittaker Chambers, it is unlikely that his aides would have considered undertaking a campaign to discredit Bentley and indict Chambers for perjury, or would have allowed themselves to be taken in by the disinformation being spread by the American Communist Party and Alger Hiss’s partisans that Chambers had at one time been committed to an insane asylum.”57
So we would all of us hope. Is there a case to be made, however, for Tru- man’s state of graceful ignorance of Venona? Haynes and Klehr made their initial claim for Truman’s innocence in their 1999 book Venona, writing, “The evidence is not entirely clear, but it appears that Army Chief of Staff Omar Bradley, mindful of the White House’s tendency to leak politically sensitive in- formation, decided to deny President Truman direct knowledge of the Venona Project.”58
Venona decrypts “unmistakably identified Julius Rosenberg as the head of a Soviet spy ring and David Greenglass, his brother-in-law, as a Soviet source at the secret atomic bomb facility at Los Alamos, New Mexico,” Haynes and Klehr write.69
Indeed, on Haynes and Klehr’s publication of the primary documents from Moscow that copiously, redundantly supports these unmistakable links, Ameri- can academia recoiled en masse against the researchers, firing at will, the stun- ning experience driving the authors to write a separate book in 2003 called In Denial. In it, they catalog exactly “how contemporary scholars and intellectuals have failed to confront new evidence about the history of American commu- nism and Soviet espionage”—including the history of American Communists in Soviet espionage.78
At the top of the OSS, for example, Duncan Lee, Wild Bill Donovan’s aide and KGB source, had no idea that his old friend and OSS employee Donald Wheeler was also working for the KGB— and was probably the KGB’s “most productive source,” according to Haynes, Klehr, and Vassiliev.29
I'm sorry, Radosh gets it wrong again.