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May 9

Written by: Diana West
Friday, May 09, 2014 6:16 AM 

Rep. Martin Dies, Texas Democrat and founding chairman on the House Committee on Un-American Activities


In the following two quotations, we see encapsulated the Influence vs. Spying divide, the main topic under consideration in "Influence and the Experts, Part 1" here.

The power to influence policy has always been the ultimate purpose of the Communist Party's infiltration. It was much more dangerous, and, as events have proved, much more difficult to detect, than espionage, which beside it is trivial, though the two go hand in hand.

--Whittaker Chambers

In our more than twenty years of archivally based research on Soviet espionage in America, we have uncovered ample documentation of Soviet intelligence obtaining American technical, military, and diplomatic information, but very little indicated successful policy manipulation.

--Harvey Klehr and John Earl Haynes 

The Chambers quotation comes from Witness, and is also included in a clarifying essay on this same divide in Stalin's Secret Agents by M. Stanton Evans and the late Herbert Romerstein. The Evans and Romerstein book focuses specifically on the subversion and manipulation of US policy by agents of Stalin's influence inside the Roosevelt administration, particularly during World War II. This, of course, is a subject of complementary study in American Betrayal. The Klehr and Haynes quotation above comes from their entry (letter to the editor) in a symposium of sorts on American Betrayal at The New Criterion, and is analyzed in " Influence and the Experts, Part 1."

The Haynes and Klehr letter continues:

It is equally mistaken to believe that our archival research on Soviet espionage vindicates figures like [sic] Martin Dies and Joseph McCarthy.

In Part 1, we saw Haynes and Klehr's efforts to draw a line, or, better, put up a wall, between the archival research published in their books and any use I, personally, might have made of it in my "conclusions or arguments" in American Betrayal. Now, we see them walling off the archives from any reconsideration of the Communist investigations undertaken by Rep.Martin Dies and Sen. Joseph McCarthy, seventy-odd and sixty-odd years ago.

The oddity of the exercise aside, will they be any more successful in this act of taking their marbles home retroactively? I don't think so. To take their statement first as it applies to Dies, particularly since the rest of the paragraph is about McCarthy, I will note that it sent me back to sections on Dies in M. Stanton Evans' indispensable Blacklisted by History, also Dies' memoir Martin Dies' Story. Rereading some of Dies' remarkable accomplishments, it occurred to me that "vindication" from Haynes and Klehr's archival records is not actually something Dies needs, but that is something else again. The more pertinent point is whether Haynes and Klehr are correct to suggest that recently released archival records, as collected in their books (and elsewhere), in no way substantiates any findings of the Dies committee.

I think they are not correct.

A little background.

As Evans notes, in the days of Nazi-Soviet Pact ( August 1939 - June 1941), the US Congress passed two key laws treating Nazism and Communism as equal dangers -- the Hatch Act and PL 135. (Such legislation is a historical anomoly given that Communism and its crimes ordinarily receive a special pass -- a subject of enduring concern in American Betrayal.) PL 135  required the FBI to investigate federal workers "who are members of subversive organizations or advocate the overthrow of the Federal government" and report back to Congress. As quoted by Evans on p. 76 of B by H, new guidelines adopted by US Civil Service Commission in December 1940 specified that the commission would not favorably "certify to any department or agency the name of any person when it has been established that he is a member of the Communist Party, German Bund, or any other Communist or Nazi organization. ... If we find anybody has had any association with the Communists, the German Bund of any other foreign organization of that kind, that person is disqualified immediately. All doubts are being resolved in favor of the government."

Post-9/11, imagine if the US government had enforced similar stipulations regarding, for instance, Muslim Brotherhood associations and federal employment or "outreach."

Evans writes: "Had these hawkish notions been adhered to it's doubtful much further Communist penetration of the federal government could have happened."

One big monkey wrench appeared after Hitler attacked its Nazi-Soviet-Pact-mate in June 1941. Suddenly, Hitler's erstwhile ally was our own. PL 135 and its order to ensure that federal workers weren't involved with Communist groups became a flashpoint between the pro-Soviet Roosevelt adminstration and anti-Communists in Congress, including Dies.

Undeterred, in fall of 1941, the Dies Committee assembled a list of federal workers whose names appeared on the rosters of suspect groups including Communist fronts identified under the mandate by Attorney General Biddle. It was a very long list -- 1,124 names.

Evans writes: "As required by law 135, the FBI would investigate these staffers, producing, in the summer of 1942, a fat report about them running to five volumes."

These volumes would never "see the light of day," Evans explains. The Roosevelt administration was deep into "noble-ally mode" and ready and eager to ignore Communist activity as a block on government employment. In fact, these FBI volumes would disappear from the public record altogether.  

The 1941 Dies list still exists, however, and includes the very infamous names of  Soviet agents Alger HIss, Lauchlin Currie, Harry Dexter White, and Harold Glasser. In other words, before Pearl Harbor -- and over half a century before the release of Venona and Vassiliev archives -- Martin Dies had identified men who turned out to be several of Stalin's most dangerous and successful agents and agents of influence, and who, by law, merited investigation and, presumably, separation from the federal government.

These same names, of course, appear in both the Venona archives and the Vassiliev notebooks, both archives that Haynes and Klehr have published books on.

In his six years as HCUA chairman, Martin Dies conducted many important investigations, but if just this handful of poisonous Soviet agents identified by his committee had been terminated in 1941 or 1942, the world would be an unrecognizably better place. It is not a stretch to say that without their malign influence over US policy millions of people might never have come under or met death under Communist domination in Europe and Asia.

Vindication enough.

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