Red Thread 1 is here.
Let's take a closer look at Fusion's "academic expert on Russia," Nellie H. Ohr, the mystery woman, intriguing for her marriage to DOJ official Bruce Ohr, her fluency in Russian, her ham radio operator's license, and, finally, the possibility that she had a hand in the anti-Trump "dossier."
The "H" stands for Hauke, Ohr's maiden name. On reading through a Washington Post obituary of Kathleen A. Hauke, Nellie's mother, and a guide to the papers of her parents, Kathleen A. and Richard L. Hauke, both Ph.D.s, which are archived at the University of Rhode Island, a sketch of the Hauke family's life of the mind takes shape.
Clearly, Nellie grew up in a family on the intellectual Left -- i.e., the mainstream of American academia. Her mother, an English professor, was active, if not activist, in black-white racial issues of the late 1960s and 1970s, including interracial adoption and "promoting racial equality in education," a kindly-sounding idea, which, via coercive means of "promoting," has atomized our society into a sum of non-working parts -- yes, the opposite of "a more perfect union." Whoever conceived of the project, there was something devilishly clever about turning college admissions offices into key enforcement centers of racial and other quotas of a state-mandated order. As we might finally admit, from Berekely to Yale to Mizzou, it is here where generations of cadres have received Marxian indoctrination under cover of cap and gown, the indispensable legions of ideological victory in a "Cold War" Americans still insist they won.
In this same pioneering spirit of "promoting," perhaps, Kathleen A. Hauke devoted herself to studying black/African American authors and writers on the same Left, even communist, wavelength, from Langston Hughes to South African writer Richard Rive. One notable biographical detail was Kathleen's first visit to South Africa in 1954, via freighter, when she was just 19 years old.
Her main academic interest, however, was a black American journalist named Ted Poston. She wrote or edited three books on Poston, including a 2000 collection of his journalism, which is described as having "infused" his newspaper, the New York Post, "with a black viewpoint on topics as varied as the paranoia engendered by McCarthyism and the light-stepping magic of Bill Bojangles Robinson" (emphasis added). A highlight of Poston's pre-"McCarthyism"-youth came when he, along with Langston Hughes and others, journeyed to the USSR in 1932, the height of the Stalin's mass-starvation of "collectivized" Ukrainians, to be wined and dined by the Soviets as they worked on a Comintern movie about the plight of the "American Negro." It was never completed.
Nellie's father, Richard L. Hauke, was a botany professor. His listed works are mainly scientific, but his biographical notes highlight his interests in creationism, bioethics and, circa 1983-1985, "nuclear winter."
In these days of "global warming" (it was 7 degrees when I woke up), it's easy to forget the mass hysteria over "nuclear winter" that gripped the 1980s, the final decade, they say, of the Cold War. This was the heyday of the Reagan administration, and Soviet strategists were thus concentrated on thwarting Reagan's program to modernize US and NATO arsenals (plus ca change ...). Talk about "Russian influence," that cartoonishly misunderstood mantra of today: It was the "active measures" of Brezhnev-Andropov-Chernenko-Gorbachev's Kremlin that drove the Western disarmament movement known as the "peace movement," or "nuclear freeze movement," across Europe and the US, sparking outrage via "disinformation" against neutron bombs and "Star Wars" and "war-monger" Reagan along the way.
Much later, Soviet/Russian "master spy" and defector Sergei Tretyakov would maintain that "nuclear winter" -- the theory that dust from a nuclear attack would block out the sun and initiate a new ice age -- was also a deliberately concocted KGB disinformation campaign to undermine public support for new US and NATO weaponry. Pop-scientist Carl Sagan would be instrumental in promoting the concept. As Tretyakov told biographer Pete Earley in Comrade J, , "I did have several conversations with the former KGB official responsible for scientific propaganda during this time period, and she told me repeatedly the KGB was responsible for creating the entire nuclear winter story to stop the Pershing missles [from being installed in Europe]. I don't know if Mr. Sagan ever knew the KGB was behind this effort, but inside the KGB, the nuclear winter propaganda was considered the ultimate example of how the KGB had completely alarmed the West with science that no one in Moscow ever believed was true."
I could not access Richard L. Hauke's writings on "nuclear winter," but I am guessing he was not among those earliest scientists who debunked the theory. If I am correct, this would make him both a victim of KGB active measures, as well as a dupe who himself may have helped popularize them.
Or maybe that's just "paranoia engendered by McCarthyism."
To be sure, checking off the hot-liberal boxes on Nellie H. Ohr's parents tells us little about Nellie H. Ohr. Nor does it offer any insight into what she brought to Fusion and its "Russian collusion" effort to elect Hillary Clinton starting in the spring of 2016. Then again, her employer, Glenn Simpson, didn't offer any insight either, when, in the course of an interview with the Senate Judiciary Committee (not under oath), he failed to name Ohr as a Fusion contractor on being asked several times about Fusion's Russia experts.
Here are a few facts. Nellie graduated from Harvard-Radcliffe with a BA in Russian history and literature in 1983. While her father was mulling "nuclear winter," Harvard Professor Richard Pipes, a well-known scholar of Russia and the Soviet Union, was preparing to publish his 1984 book Survival Is Not Enough: Soviet Realities and America's Future, in which Pipes thanks his assistant Nellie Hauke for her "dedicated work." Not only was Pipes a prominent anti-communist on Harvard's senior faculty, he had just completed a stint on Ronald Reagan's National Security Council as Director of East European and Soviet Affairs. Was young Nellie breaking with her family's political traditions?
Highly doubtful. Following graduation, Nellie Hauke Ohr continued her studies, working toward a Ph.D. in Russian history at Stanford. We have one chance anecdote about those years from a book titled, Adventures in Russian Historical Research (2015), essays by American academics, edited by Samuel H. Baron and Cathy A. Frierson, about their "adventures and agonies" inside a regime determined "to keep a lock on its past." Co-editor Frierson writes that she encountered Nellie Hauke Ohr in the Lenin Library in Moscow in 1989. There, Frierson writes, Ohr enthused over the "remarkable access" to "materials related to the collectivization campaign" she had recently enjoyed in Smolensk.
That would be Soviet-era Moscow, and Soviet-era Smolensk.
This is a very, very interesting item. It pops up in a nanosecond on typing "Nellie Hauke Ohr" into Google's book search engine but it is nothing to gloss over lightly, so I will return to it below.
In 1990, Nellie Hauke Ohr completed her Stanford Ph.D. thesis. A work of 418 pages, it is titled: "Collective farms and Russian peasant society, 1933-1937: the stabilization of the kolkhoz order."
In the 1990s, she taught Russian history at Vassar. According to an online profile, she went on to work as an "independent contractor doing research and translation projects on topics in Russian science and technology," dates unknown. There is not much more public information about her career until she pops up in 2010 as a CIA analyst in an Expert Working Group (including her DOJ husband and future Fusion boss Simpson) on international organized crime; then, finally, in 2016, at the center of the Fusion GPS/DOJ/FBI anti-Trump web.
There is not too much in there about Nellie, herself.
What about her Ph.D. thesis?
"Kolkhoz" refers to the "collective farm," that spawn of agricultural Bolshevism forcibly wrought between 1929 and 1932 from the regime's abolition of private property, and its war on the land-holding Ukraine peasantry. This war, ghoulishly known as "de-kulakization," included the arrest, execution and deportation to the Arctic of millions of "kulaks." The final phase of collectivization was marked by the "terror famine," as Robert Conquest has called it, "inflicted on the collectivized peasants" he wrote, "by the methods of setting for them grain quotas far above the possible, removing every handful of food, and preventing help from outside -- even from other areas of the USSR -- from reaching the starving."
Conquest would also identify the deception around the genocidal toll of collectivization -- deception created by Kremlin disinformation slavishly disseminated to the West by corrupt Western media (sound familiar?) -- as being the first "Big Lie" of the modern age (the entire affair is discussed in American Betrayal).
How successful was this first Big Lie? It is not so much that no accounts of the horror reached the West; some did. The Big Lie routine, however, allowed them to be ignored; discounted; laughed off. The capper was that as famine conditions subsided, FDR threw America's moral compass into the sea to extend US diplomatic recognition to Stalin's murderous regime, thus reversing the policy of four presidents and six secretaries of state before him (also discussed in American Betrayal). It was as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. Solzhenitsyn would lament in 1975: "They died on the very edge of Europe. And Europe didn’t even notice it. The world didn’t even notice it -- six million persons!”
Ohr's paper on collectivization is not accessible online to the general public. Its subtitle, however, is arresting: the stabilization of the collective farm order. Does this suggest that Nellie Hauke Ohr, drawing on her 1989 Soviet research, was able to put a "stabilized" face on Stalin's devastation? If so, I wonder if this places her work within the "revisionist" movement of the 1970s and 1980s, an academic school known for soft-pedaling the crimes and culpability of Stalin, and even disputing the totalitarian basis of the USSR. As analyzed by staunch anti-communist, and, thus, staunch anti-"revisionist' Walter Laqueur in his 1994 book, The Dream That Failed: Reflections on the Soviet Union, this same "revisionist" movement included American academics who "downplayed the human cost of the forcible collectivization of agriculture."
Yes, it does rather sound like the Daily Worker with footnotes.
Whether we might place Nellie Hauke Ohr at the end of the "revisionist" wave is an intriguing question, although the answer can't hang on just a subtitle. Without scouring the literature in a university library, however, there are six publicly accessible academic book reviews Ohr published at the humanities site H-Net between 1998 and 2004 to consider, plus viewable excerpts from other journals. It is here where Ohr's affinity for those who came to prominence in association with this "revisionist" school becomes quite plain -- including Sheila Fitzpatrick, Robert Thurston, J. Arch Getty, Stephen Wheatcroft and Chris Ward. These reviews are mainly dry as dust -- or academic code. Still, some sentences do ring out, even after 20 years, such as this one about "the agonizing paradoxes of the Stalinist state."
[O]ne must commend this attempt to account for the agonizing paradoxes of the Stalinist state, one which was building a legal structure yet tortured and executed innocent citizens, and which offered opportunities to poor people while denying them political representation.
Oh, the agonizing paradoxes. This nauseating little excerpt comes from Ohr's 1998 review of Robert W. Thurston's 1996 book, Life and Terror in Stalin's Russia, 1939-1941 (Yale University Press), one of the less opaquely academic books Ohr reviewed (it was also a History Book Club selection), given that its contents revolve around blood and fear (it argues there was much less of both). In clearest "revisionist"-speak, Ohr describes the book as "an ambitious and forceful attack on descriptions of the Soviet 1930s as totalitarian."
Not only that. According to the description on the book's own Amazon page, Thurston argues that "Stalin did not intend to terrorize the country and did not need to rule by fear. Memoirs and interviews with Soviet people indicate that many more believed in Stalin's quest to eliminate internal enemies than were frightened by it. ... Coercion was not the key factor keeping the regime in power. More important was voluntary support ..."
I don't even know what to say -- except to note that Ohr finds among the book's "strengths" its "frequently repeated and explicit central arguments," so it's fair to say she's okay with this kind of thing, even if she recommended the book only to "specialists." (Presumably, mere generalists would have too much sense to put up with it.) She adds: "Chris Ward's Stalin's Russia, a useful reference work on Stalin's time, can be helpful in putting arguments like Thurston's into perspective."
In fact, the Ward book is also helpful in putting arguments like Ohr's into perspective. Now, her ideological coordinates start to become clear. We know she liked Thurston's Terror-lite thesis; now we find she loved Chris Ward's Stalin's Russia. In her 1995 review of Ward's book in Russian History journal, she calls it "a serious contender for undergraduate course adoption" -- the academic equivalent of two thumbs up, if not five stars.
As a point of orientation, according to a New York Times reviewer in 1995, Stalin's Russia stands at the opposite side of the Sovietology field from Robert Conquest's work on collectivization. ("On the one hand, Robert Conquest compares the Ukraine during collectivization to one vast Bergen-Belsen; on the other, Chris Ward, in "Stalin's Russia," dismisses the event as just another atrocity of a bloody Western civilization." ) In its ordinariness, then, there is nothing to condemn -- a verdict of non-judgment which seems to be another goal of the "revisionists," which also places them at loggerheads with the gloriously judgemental Conquest. Walter Laqueur mentions in passing another clarifying detail about the Ward book: "The subtitle to the conclusion is `Tout comprendre c'est tout pardonner' " -- to understand all is to forgive all. Famine, purges, understanding, no worries. Ward, by the way, an emeritus senior lecturer at Cambridge University, is also known for his "contagious enthusiasm" for the writings of Trotsky.
The opening of Ohr's review of the Ward book, written while she was still teaching Russian history at Vassar in 1995, is worth quoting, not for what it tells us about the book, but what it tells us about the reviewer.
To introduce students to the Stalin era can be a frustrating task. To convey the terror and excitement of the period, one can assign a memoir of a prison camp victim or an observer such as John Scott or Maurice Hindus. Such accounts, however, fail to explain the excesses of the Stalin era, and whether, in Alec Nove's words, Stalin was necessary ...
Yes, you read that right -- "the terror and excitement" of the Stalin era, which, I guess, may or may not have been "necessary." The question is, America, do you really want someone very possibly at the center of an attempted "coup" against your president who thinks that the Stalin era was a time of "terror and excitement"? Someone for whom whether Stalin was "necessary" is a crucial point of (perhaps frustrating) classroom debate?
There's more to see here. Consider also that Ohr's "observers" who convey the "excitement" of the Stalin era are two epic Soviet apologists -- Maurice Hindus and John Scott. Scott bears special mention as a veritable bard of Soviet death and destruction. Bonus: In Witness, Whittaker Chambers i.d.'s Scott as part of a cabal inside Time magazine that tried to get him fired. Later -- to be fair, probably after Ohr wrote her review -- it would come out that Scott had been an NKVD agent (codename "Ivanov") who had taken time off from Time magazine during World War II to infiltrate the OSS. However, his 1942 memoir for which he is best known -- Behind the Urals: An American Worker in America's City of Steel -- could hardly lay on the agit prop more thickly:
"Excitement"? No. Just icy shivers.
About the "revisionists."
Sheila Fitzpatrick, a doyenne of "revisionism" and longtime professor at the University of Chicago, has described herself as the "skeptical child of Australian Old Left parents." In a 2007 essay, "Revisionism in Soviet History," she describes the movement's stalwarts: "Quite a few of the 1970s revisionists were Marxists (never, to my knowledge, of a Stalinist variety, but sometimes Trotskyist), who hoped to find that at least part of the promise of socialist revolution had been realized or could be recovered."
Naturally, such Marxists were likely to teach American youngsters that the "Soviet experiment" remained viable, that Stalin's crimes were an aberration, not a product of it -- and, maybe (in a quieter voice), they were worth it all in the end. Meanwhile, that awful Robert Conquest grossly exaggerated everything. Similar themes were hammered by the "New Left," whose "political agenda," Fitzpatrick also points out, "undoubtedly influenced many American revisionists."
That's interesting, too. In his New Left polemicist days, David Horowitz was himself an early instigator of "revisionist historiography," as Walter Laqueur notes, starting with his blame-America-first Cold War history, Free World Colossus (1965). In his own post-communist memoir, Horowitz calls the book "the first account of the Cold War written from a New Left perspective" -- although it is quite significant that he also admits that he revised his manuscript under the "guidance" of an unnamed editor "who probably was part of the Party network." (So much for the myth of cleavage between "Old" and "New" Lefts.) By the 1970s, the book was regarded as "a standard in the growing body of Cold War revisionism," as historian Robert James Maddox wrote in The New Left and the Origins of the Cold War (1973), a slashing critique of such "revisionism."
In other words, "New Left" writer + Communist Party network editor = Marxist "revisionst" standard.
There's more red thread to unspool. Horowitz notes he "relied heavily" on (1) The Cold War and Its Origins by an earlier (not "New Left") "revisionist," D. F. Fleming, whom Horowitz calls "a longtime Soviet sympathizer"; and (2) a similar "tract," We Can Be Friends, by Carl Marzani. Both books, Horowitz's, too, condemn Truman and excuse Stalin for "the origins" of the Cold War.
In his 1997 memoir, Horowitz describes Marzani as "a Communist," which is correct; what he does not mention is that Marzani was convicted of charges related to lying about his Communist Party membership to the federal government, which he, like John Scott (Ohr's "observer"), had infiltrated via OSS during World War II, and, later, via the State Department. Also like Scott, Marzani was not only a Communist; he was a Soviet agent "extensively used by the KGB for active measures," according to Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, writing in 1999.
This is a key connection to make today. The Marzani "tract," on which Horowitz relied to help create this standard "revisionist" work for campus Marxists in the 1970s, was written by a veteran Soviet agent. To complete the picture, imagine Horowitz at work in 1963-1964 on Free World Colossus, Marzani's 1952 tract by his side, a Communist Party network insider revising his manuscript, while the KGB was simultaneously funding Marzani's New York publishing venture. The "revisionism" that hit the American campus, from the KGB perspective at least, starts to look like another Soviet influence operation.
People forget what it was like for foreigners to travel and work inside the USSR, and what accomodations (polite word) to the police state such travel and work entailed. A declassified CIA report on Soviet travel restrictions, circa July 1988, sets the stark scene: "The Soviet government tightly controls the movement of all foreigners in the USSR in order to prevent access to areas Moscow believes would be detrimental to its interests." Recent changes announced under Gorbachev, the report explains, amount to little more than "slightly liberaliz[ed] Soviet adminstrative procedures." Foreigners still had to "submit detailed itineraries for all travel outside the Moscow and Leningrad areas," and the rest of it -- although now they did it with that "glasnost" glow.
Specifially, these itineraries must include the date and time of departure, mode of transporation (including flight or train number), exact route, location and duration of any stopovers, and final destination (including name or hotel, date, and time of arrival). Itineraries must be submitted by diplomatic personnel to the Protocol Section of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and by defense attaches to the External Relations Directorate of the MInistry of Defense. ...
State control over the archives, who could enter them, and what they could see inside, came down to a point of minute detail, as Samuel H. Baron and Cathy A. Frierson make clear. The number of Americans ever engaged in such research, they report, was always small -- under 40 per year at the height of "detente" in the mid-1970s, with a peak of 50 in 1991-1992. As funded by the US government (I didn't know that), these programs would also ebb and flow. In 1989, when Cathy bumped into Nellie at the Lenin Library, they were among a few dozen young Americans who had sought and received approval from what the authors call "the Soviet research establishment."
Such approval conferred an "official status" on foreign researchers but it came with many strings.
Baron and Frierson write:
The need for official status within the USSR also shaped our topics and methodologies. Both had to be approved by the Soviet research establishment.
In truth, that's all anyone needs to know to understand the perversion of the American mind that resulted from the search for Soviet-approved "knowledge." Then again, what sort of American mind would entertain, let alone comply with such controls?
Consider that even as these shiny young Americans were shaping their "topics and metholodologies" for a Soviet censor' during, say, the "detente"-1970s, veteran dissident Vladimir Bukovsky was undergoing a peculiarly Soviet form of torture known as "psychiatric repression," which punished Russia's uncensorable minds and free souls and removed them from Soviet society. By 1971, Bukovsky was able to help bring this form of human rights abuse to international attention. Two years later, in 1973, The Gulag Archipelago was published in the West; its author, Alexander Solzhenitzyn, was deported in 1974; Bukovsky himself was freed, "exchanged" for a Chilean communist in 1976. In 1978, he published To Build a Castle, his memoir of a young life spent largely inside labor camps and psychiatric hospitals for the "crime" of being constitutionally incapable of "shaping topics and metholodologies" (or anything else) for the regime. Indeed, it was this defiance of state coercion that was the basis of the Soviet diagnosis of mental illness in the first place.
By Soviet comparison, then, our American scholars were so much healthier! They came, they shaped, they saw exactly what the Kremlin authorities wanted them to see, tying it up in a red ribbon of "original research" which they would be able to parlay into respected teaching positions back in the States. (Vassar would hire newly minted Ph.D. Nellie Hauke Ohr to teach Russian history, as noted above.) Funny, but when I look through Adventures in Russian Historical Research, there is scant mention of the "adventures" of Russian dissidents, no mention of Bukovsky, and two fleeting references to Solzhenitsyn. Here's one: "It is interesting from the perspective of the professional generations to recall who was in Moscow in 1973-1974, the year of the Yom Kippur War and Solzhenitsyn's expulsion from the Soviet Union. In the same wing of Moscow State University were Kenneth ... Lewis ... Diane ... "
Yup, our American scholars had their priorities straight.
A few more gory details from Baron and Frierson's introductory overview:
We may have designed our topics [in the USA] but our U.S. advisors and colleagues reminded us that Soviet arbiters would ultimately decide whether or not we could do the research we envisioned.
In the euphemistic language of annual reports, IREX [the US research board] noted "the tendency for our Soviet colleagues to react with a certain sensitivity to disciplines or research topics proposed by American candidates which may appear to them to be unorthodox," with rejection most likely to meet "those wishing to study post-revolutionary or contemporary topics."
So don't. Instead, focus oh-so-minutely-you-will-never-see-anything on something else. How about -- Feminist thought of post-revolutionary weavers along the Trans-Siberian Railway? Or -- Social interplay among postal workers in contemporary Novosibirsk? It may well be that the movement to replace history with "social history," a mainstay of "revisionism," has its roots in this same "shaping" of "topics and methodologies" for "the Soviet research establishment." How ridiculously easy it was for Moscow to use archive-control as a mechanism of thought-control and reach right into American academia.
The authors say as much:
Several contributors to this volume allude to ways this reality influenced fundamental issues in their development as historians who had to adjust their research questions to the limitations of the Soviet historical establishment [read: KGB]....
[Archival] requests had to relate to the topic as each scholar had defined it on his or her application to IREX. Archivists could and regularly did refuse requests on the grounds that they did not match the approved topic.
And we mustn't have that, must we?
The authors even come quite close to seeing what was going on:
This system had the potential to limit inquiry to be acceptable topics and interpretations sanctioned by the Soviet establishment.
No, this system had the power to place American scholars under Kremlin discipline. That has to go for Nellie Hauke Ohr, circa 1989, if we think about it, but who thinks about it? Ponder the facts too long and it becomes hard to see these advanced degrees American researchers would earn --having shaped their topics and methodologies to satisfy the Kremlin establishment -- as anything but Soviet degrees.
I should mention that there is a joker in this deck. Even post-1991, even after the Soviet Union "disappeared," little if anything changed when it came to the preservation of the most vital Soviet secrets -- the intelligence archives, the Central Committee archives and other repositories of communist crimes against world, including humanity. From earliest days, the "new" Russian government served to protect the "old" Soviet government. Which suggests there is more than a thread of continuity between the two.
This reminds me of something Bukovsky wrote. As a former prisoner of the KGB and human rights hero, Bukovsky did more than any single person to try, in vain, to pry open the Soviet archives for the Russian people (1991-1993). In writing about this period in his book Judgement in Moscow, he points out something that merits deeper reflection: "When you make a serious break with the past, there is no need to conceal that past."
To be cont'd ...