FLASH: Another attempt to shrink the broad canvas of American Betrayal into a micro-dot, this time by Haynes & Klehr -- sorry, Klehr & Haynes -- in an article about "19" published in a summer 2014 issue of the academic journal Intelligence and National Security. (And I thought this was all I had to deal with last summer.)
"19" -- one paragraph in American Betrayal, but an unending (see perfume bottle) of the consensus historians.
For anyone interested in delving into these weeds, the M. Stanton Evans-John Earl Haynes Memos(aka "Harry Hopkins, Diana West and Me") are indispensable reading about the extremely strange "19" controversy that erupted over this one paragraph in my book. The topic is dry, yes, but it does include mutating mumbo-jumbo and deathbed (nearly) confessions. Here, too, is my own "Warning: Historians at Work" on same.
For anyone keeping score at home, we are now looking at Haynes/Klehr's third published criticism (I responded to an earlier joint-letter of theirs here and here) and a pile of attack-pieces from the rest of that lot tallied here ==> Pssst, fellas ... maybe the real answer is over here (played backwards).
As for my response (below) to I & NS, as the profs call it, perhaps I would have done well simply to quote Magnificent Bukovsky and Excellent Stroilov rather than mount a point-by-point rebuttal to a critique that is irrelevant to my book. Nevertheless, it seemed important to answer charges made in an academic journal -- new territory for an attack-campaign that has largely been confined to conservative news sites, and a new potential audience for what is, after all, a popular, not academic, book.
As a set-up for readers unfamiliar with the controversy, here are excerpts from Vladimir Bukovksy and Pavel Stroilov review-essay, "Why Academics Hate Diana West," that describe what the book is and is not about.
Below that is my answer to the scholars.
At this point in their first essay (second essay here), Bukovsky and Stroilov are discussing the initial attack strategy that weirdly, given its unimportance in American Betrayal, hinged on "19":
For anyone who has read both Mrs. West’s book and the Professor’s [Radosh] review, however, it is the review that is dishonest and incompetent. The Professor’s trick is to pick a couple of minor points from the book, invent a few more points of his own which he falsely attributes to the book, declare all those points to be “the pillars of West’s conspiracy theory," and then to "disprove" them with all academic solemnity. Unable to argue with the book itself, he instead argues with his own misrepresentation of the book.
He starts with Harry Hopkins, FDR’s alter ego and the most important Soviet agent in his administration. The fact that Hopkins was a Soviet agent has been known for a long time (though perhaps not as widely known as it deserves to be). Mrs. West simply brought together the mountain of evidence already available. That includes the testimony of Oleg Gordievsky, a very high-ranking and very reliable KGB defector. That includes the statement of George Marshall, the wartime US Army’s Chief of Staff and Hopkins’s friend, who told his official biographer: “Hopkins’s job with the president was to represent the Russian interests. My job was to represent the American interests.” That includes the episode documented in the Mitrokhin archive about Hopkins tipping off the Soviets about the FBI surveillance of certain Soviet spies; and so on, and so forth. There are several chapters in the book devoted to the evidence of Hopkins’s treason. In addition to all that, in one paragraph Mrs. West mentions the suspicions, expressed by some, that the mysterious Soviet agent identified in Venona cables only as "Agent 19" was none other than Hopkins.
And here is what is supposed to be a fair summary from Professor Radosh: “A key assertion for West is that FDR’s closest advisor, Harry Hopkins, was actually the Soviet agent known in the Venona decrypts as ‘Agent 19’." In the next thousand words, the Professor endeavors to prove that Agent 19 was in fact another man, and then hastily concludes that Hopkins therefore was not a Soviet agent, and therefore Mrs. West’s book is rubbish.
Whoever "Agent 19" in fact was, it appears to have escaped the scholarly attention that the very codename "Agent 19" suggests that there might have been more than one Soviet agent in wartime Washington. Hopkins still might have been one of them, and a lot of other evidence suggests that he was. But even if he was not, the difference between an agent and a fellow-traveler is hardly significant for Mrs. West’s argument. She is writing not about cloaks and daggers, but about the moral corruption of the Western world, resulting from complicity of the likes of Hopkins in Stalin’s crimes, and the subsequent cover-up of that complicity. How does it matter whether this particular Hopkins was in fact recruited by the Soviets or simply acted as a Soviet agent by his own choice? The difference is no greater than between a "liberal" academic liar and a "conservative" one.
There is another danger in attacking books without reading them [as several critics publicly admitted]. Aimed at the fake Radosh version of American Betrayal, the criticism obviously missed its target. Better still, the campaign has been a perfect illustration of the very point of the book (in Diana West’s original version): that "the consensus" about the Cold War is false and corrupt. It is a product of the great cover-up. It was the same consensus who first denied the facts about the Soviet crimes and Western complicity, then reluctantly admitted the facts but explained them away, and has never permitted any honest conclusions or even an honest debate.
It used to be a consensus that there was no famine in the Soviet Union, just a mortality from diseases due to malnutrition. It used to be a consensus that Mr. and Mrs. Rosenberg were innocent victims of "McCarthyism," convicted by so many conspiracy theorists. Unless we are confusing him with some other pre-eminent historian, Professor Radosh’s own claim to fame is that he first attacked the Rosenbergs judgement in pretty similar terms to his review ofAmerican Betrayal, but then considered the evidence, changed his mind, and wrote a book persuasively re-arguing the prosecution case some 30 years after the verdict. There was a time, too, when the innocence of Alger Hiss was as much of a consensus as the innocence of Harry Hopkins. It is the same consensus which cultivated the myths about the struggle of "hawks" and "doves" in the Politburo, and indignantly dismissed any suggestion that the Soviet Union might one day collapse. Instead, the consensus prescribed to place all our hopes into Comrade Gorbachev and his forthcoming renewal of socialism. It is the same consensus which misinformed the most disastrous decisions of the Cold War--responsible, perhaps, for millions of deaths. In any other walk of life (say, medicine), incompetence at a much smaller scale would cause those "specialists" not only to be disqualified, but to be sued in courts for the rest of their lives.
It is in the nature of a totalitarian regime to try and corrupt not only its own society, but anybody within its reach. This is how they conquer the world. Communism has corrupted greater men than a few arrogant academics. Indeed, the academics turned out to be one of the easier targets. As "Sovietologists" and "Kremlinologists," their position depended on their ability to travel to Moscow, and therefore, on KGB’s good will. Having now mutated into "Cold War historians," they are dependent on having such limited access to secret archives as Moscow would choose to grant them. As academics, they are committed to their own theories, true or false. As a ‘community’, they are bound together with their corrupt colleagues, and have to defend their collective monopoly against intruders. It is for a very long time that they have been no more than a self-serving nomenklatura, caring nothing about the truth, but only about their own elevated positions. Like politicians. Like the media. Like the rest of the modern world.
American Betrayal is a book about the origins of that corruption. No wonder it has been so popular with thousands of readers who are sick to death of today’s world with all its hypocrisy and lies, and long for an explanation of our moral crisis. Mrs. West sought an answer and found it. As a civilization, we have gone through a major moral disaster. We have been accomplices to mass murders. Moreover, we then tried to cover them up and to live on as if nothing happened. Without a reckoning, without so much as facing the truth about our history, we shall never recover:
[From American Betrayal] We condemn the German population of the police state from looking the other way from and doing nothing about the Jewish annihilation under way in Nazi concentration camps; we never ask to question ourselves living large in the free world and looking the other way from and saying nothing about ethnic, political, class and religious annihilation under way in Soviet concentration camps. This split vision derives from the triumph of Communism’s unceasing world revolution against “traditional” morality, objective morality, the morality of fixed standards by which men navigate, or at least perceive the shoals of evil and treacherous behaviors. Such morality tells us there is no separating the idea from its toll. This is the lesson we have erased from our slate.
No wonder, too, that this book is hated by 'the consensus," who feel perfectly comfortable in today’s world, and see no moral crisis at all. They have never thought of the Cold War as a great battle against the ultimate evil that has changed our civilization beyond recognition. To them, the history of that battle has been no more than a comfortable job. They never saw establishing the truth about it as a sacred duty we owe to the memory of millions of victims; but merely as a matter for “gentlemanly give-and-take” between "liberals" and "conservatives," leading to a sound academic consensus.
Yet, they instinctively know this whole subject to be a minefield. The more evidence comes to light, the more scholarship is required to explain it away.
Any discussion of the Soviet influence in the West must be channeled, carefully and professionally, into the issue of Soviet "agents" (leaving aside all other kinds of secret collaborators, fellow-travelers, useful idiots, and other forces of progress). Then, as swiftly and skillfully as before, the idea of "agents" must be replaced with ‘spies’, leaving aside the only kind of Soviet agents who mattered--the agents of influence. And then, you can argue as long as you like about whether or not one particular Hopkins or another really passed secret information to Moscow, and if yes, just how sensitive that information was, and whether it really helped to create the Soviet nuclear bomb… A nice, endless debate with no practical conclusions– just what the academics need.
Diana West, with her “reckless” discoveries, has jeopardized their comfortable world. Once you start talking about moral responsibility for crimes against humanity, what is left of that academic hair-splitting which has been the whole basis of their consensus, and their very existence? How great is a moral difference between an executioner and a mere conformist, between an agent and a sympathizer, between a "liberal" academic and a "conservative" one?
One thing that has particularly irritated the Consensus was Mrs. West’s comparison of America, governed by Soviet agents, to an occupied country. No wonder. If the country was occupied and governed by quislings, we have to stop talking about "spies" and instead have to talk about collaborationists. Any country that has done this in the past could not escape the conclusion that the entire Establishment, to a greater or lesser extent, had been responsible. And this is one conclusion which the entire Consensus had been working hard to avoid for the past 75 years.
While American Betrayal does reveal many little-known and interesting facts, Mrs. West is very far from claiming any credit for her discoveries. She pays excessive tribute to her academic sources. What she does say is that all those facts do not fit into the overall "conventional" theories of history; that the known facts invite very different conclusions from those we have been offered. The only role she claims is that of the child from Andersen’s fairy tale, pointing out that the Emperor has no clothes on, while the chamberlains still walk behind him bearing the train that isn’t there. She only claims “to connect the dots," which is a very modest description of the huge and brilliant work she has obviously done. Yet, it is a fairly accurate description of what the Learned Professors have obviously failed to do. No doubt, when they angrily protest that they had known all these facts all along, they are for once truthful. The sheer number of their academic degrees bears witness to their infinite knowledge. It is just that they lacked honesty and courage to tell us the truth.
Clearly, history is far too important to be left to the historians.
Submission in response to “Harry Hopkins and Soviet Espionage” (Vol. 29, No. 6) by Harvey Klehr and John Earl Haynes.
Readers of `Harry Hopkins and Soviet Espionage’ by Harvey Klehr and John Earl Haynes and an earlier version of this essay published in 2013 at Frontpagemag.com titled `Was Harry Hopkins a Soviet Spy?’ may be forgiven for thinking that my book American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character (2013) is substantially the story of how it was that the late historian Eduard Mark concluded `virtually to the point of certainty’ that Harry Hopkins, FDR’s top aide during World War II, was Soviet source `19’ in the partly decrypted cable known as Venona 812, which was signed by the legendary Soviet `illegal’ Akhmerov.
Given the wide and quite ambitious scope of my book, Klehr and Haynes’ focus on this one, in fact, extraneous detail may seem odd, but I will undertake to respond as briefly as possible.
Klehr and Haynes discuss at length the secret treason of Laurence Duggan, a State Department official and Soviet agent, who, incidentally, is mentioned only in passing in my book. Citing frequent coded references to Duggan as 19 in the Vassiliev notebooks -- the set of documents copied from assorted KGB records released by Russian intelligence to former KGB officer Alexander Vassiliev and on which Haynes and Klehr and Vassiliev based their book Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America (2009) -- they declare that Vassiliev’s notebooks `definitively ended the mystery of “19” ’.
In our view the issue of the identity of source `19’ in Venona 812 was emphatically settled by the weight of the evidence of Vassliev’s notebooks and the mutual corroboration between the notebooks and the decrypted Venona messages. Consequently, we were puzzled that two books, M. Stanton Evans and Herbert Romerstein’s, Stalin’s Secret Agents: The Subversion of Roosevelt’s Government (2012) and Diana West’s American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character (2013), appeared subsequent to our Spies and to the public availability of the Vassiliev notebooks and failed to acknowledge the existence of, much less refute, the evidence that `19’ in Venona 812 was Laurence Duggan. Instead both books asserted without qualification that `19’ was Harry Hopkins. Both books treat Mark’s 1998 article identifying `19’ as Hopkins as definitive, but drop Mark’s uncertainty about whether `19’/Hopkins was a spy or was engaging in back-channel diplomacy. … Despite the fervor of West and Romerstein, and Evans’ (and their passionate followers’) conviction that Hopkins was source `19’, Vassiliev’s notebooks show that this simply was not true.
The inference in this critique is that Spies, the 2009 tome based on the Vassiliev notebooks, makes the case that 19 in Venona 812 was Duggan, not Hopkins, and that my fellow offending authors – Romerstein, a towering expert on Soviet subversion, now deceased, and Evans, a renowned journalist and author and leading expert on Sen. Joseph McCarthy -- and I failed to take this into consideration in our two recent books.
But Spies does not mention Venona 812. Nor does Spies mention, let alone lodge objection to, the Hopkins/19 thesis as advanced by Mark in 1998. This makes Klehr and Haynes’ professed puzzlement itself puzzling. Since Spies fails to make the case that 19 in Venona 812 was Duggan, not Hopkins, and since their book makes no mention of the Hopkins/19 argument, the authors are taking Romerstein and Evans and me to task for failing to acknowledge or refute an argument they themselves did not make.
Having studied Spies and drawn upon its contents to clinch some of my own arguments in American Betrayal, I was mindful of Klehr and Haynes’ silence on the Hopkins/19 thesis as set forth by Mark. Indeed, in the pages of American Betrayal, I actually lament the fact that these two intelligence document experts chose not to weigh in on the topic following their single published statement, one of suspended judgment, that appeared in an endnote in their book Venona (1999). There they wrote: `While impressed by Mark’s analysis, we view the evidence as too slim to enable us to reach a judgment about Source No. 19’s identity’.
In American Betrayal, I wrote:
In 1998, the late U.S. Air Force historian Eduard Mark published a breakthrough in the Hopkins analysis, a meticulous examination of what appears to be the first damning document to emerge from the Venona record against Hopkins: specifically, a partly decrypted Venona cable, believed to have been authored by our friend Akhmerov, in which a very senior Roosevelt administration official, code-named “Source 19,” conveys the contents of a private, top secret conversation between FDR and Churchill in late May 1943 about the invasion of Normandy, which at that time was still a year off. By process of painstaking elimination, Mark determines that it is “probable virtually to the point of certainty” that “Source 19” is Harry Hopkins. I read it (and recommend that others do the same), and I buy his meticulously marshaled logic. Far more important, 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.” 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.
This single paragraph (above) and several passing references comprise the entirety of my discussion of Mark’s Hopkins/19 thesis in American Betrayal, a book of 403 pages that includes nearly 1,000 endnotes.
I will note that Evans and Romerstein’s Stalin’s Secret Agents refers even more briefly to the 19 identification, and without mentioning Mark. `Scholars dealing with Venona concluded that this contact was 19’, Evans and Romerstein write, citing The Venona Secrets (2001), an earlier work by Herbert Romerstein and Eric Breindel, both deceased. `More definite than surmises about No. 19 was the revelation of KGB defector Oleg Gordievsky that Hopkins had been named in Russia as a Soviet intelligence agent’.
I submit that neither my discussion of Mark’s 19 thesis, nor Evans and Romerstein’s `surmises about No. 19’ meets the expectations set by Klehr and Haynes’ `[assertion] without qualification’ and `fervor’.
This being the second time such complaints have been lodged by Klehr and Haynes, I find myself baffled by their continued emphasis on this single and, I must again underscore, non-essential data point to the exclusion of the wide and rich dossier on Harry Hopkins amassed from disparate sources in American Betrayal. Such sources include, besides intelligence records, memoirs, newspaper and journals, letters, State Department records, congressional records, FBI records, and histories and biographies.
Klehr and Haynes first (to my knowledge) published their findings regarding 19 in Venona 812 at Frontpagemag.com in 2013, several months after my book came out, four years after Spies. For the record, I remain non-convinced. Notably, even in 1998, Mark was aware of and acknowledged that the Soviets used 19 to identify Duggan in the 1930s, and explained his reasons for ruling out Duggan as 19 in Venona 812 in endnote 57 of his paper. Using conference logs, appointment books and other materials, Mark had winnowed down his list of candidates for 19 according to a logical process that is in no way altered even by multiple references to Duggan/19 in the 1940s in the Vassiliev notebooks –- certainly not to the degree of certainty that Klehr and Haynes impart with such phrases as `emphatically settled’ and `definitively ended the mystery’.
Indeed, it is this rock-solid certainty, this call for settled silence that is most curious. `Case closed’, Haynes and Klehr declared in the Frontpagemag.com version of this essay. No nagging doubts about historical context and logistical access allowed. But is such DNA-match-confidence warranted? I have to wonder as I peruse the most comprehensive glossary to date of codenames gleaned from NKVD and GRU communications published in 2012 by Nigel West. This list includes two ANTONs, two BERGs, two BOBs, two BUMBLEBEEs, two DICKs, and two GNOMEs.
The bottom line, however, is that the answer doesn’t matter one iota to American Betrayal, which assembles a dossier of far more substantive Hopkins exhibits. The Klehr and Haynes article goes on to dismiss several of these more consequential pieces of evidence. (Not all of them are discussed inStalin’s Secret Agents.) What is most unusual about this section of the paper is that Klehr and Haynes fail to connect these exhibits in any way, including a footnote, to their context in my book. I find such treatment nothing short of bizarre.
For example, take the case of Army Maj. George Racey Jordan, a top expediter of Lend Lease shipments to the USSR. Jordan receives two or three hundred words in a footnote by Haynes and Klehr that makes no mention of Jordan’s lengthy consideration in American Betrayal. (Jordan is treated more briefly in Stalin’s Secret Agents.) I weigh not only Jordan’s extraordinary statements and testimonies about, among other things (including the insertion of scores of `undocumented’ Soviet agents into this country), how Harry Hopkins’ Lend Lease administration secretly flouted the military embargo on the wartime export of uranium placed by the Manhattan Project’s Gen. Leslie Groves, but also Jordan’s credibility as a witness. This, I learned, was extremely strong, beginning with the fact that congressional investigators were able to document four out of five claims Jordan made under oath regarding the transfer of atomic materials including uranium and heavy water to the Soviet Union during World War II (the fifth claim pertained to a personal telephone conversation with Hopkins). Certain other aspects of Jordan’s story were variously corroborated, including by former US military personnel, even famed Soviet defector Victor Kravchenko.
Looking back, what intrigued me most was how Jordan, a demonstrably credible witness, could have disappeared from the historical record. In part, the answer lies is a painful story of character assassination, which began as soon as the man spoke out in 1949. Today, Haynes and Klehr’s dismiss Jordan with talk of what Jordan `claimed,’ in `charges’ that `included hints and innuendo of espionage’.
Interested readers may consult American Betrayal for documented details on what was and was not confirmed in Jordan’s story.
There is something else unique about Jordan’s evidence. Key examples of what is suspicious about Hopkins came to light only accidentally through Russian sources including ex-KGB colonel Oleg Gordievsky and the Mitrokhin Archive. Jordan, who testified that Hopkins asked him in a phone call to speed a uranium shipment from Canada (thus flouting the US embargo, as confirmed) to Moscow on the Q.T., remains the only American to step forward so publicly as a witness.
According to Haynes and Kleher, there are apparently only two possible ways to explain Hopkins: He was a `spy,’ or he was `engaging in back-channel diplomacy’. American Betrayal alleges neither. I specifically scoured the historical record for evidence of whether Hopkins served as an agent of influence. This, as I explain at length in American Betrayal, is something else entirely.
One final point. I am grateful for the wise words of the late Herbert Romerstein, who set the Vassiliev notebooks into their proper context. Speaking at a 2009 conference devoted to their findings at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., Romerstein said: `They are not the last word. They are an extremely valuable window on the KGB and its functions, but just a window’. (Additionally, they are a window made available by the Russian government -- another point, always in the case of government releases, to be mindful of.) In other words, there remain vast tranches of Russian (and American and British) archives beyond the reach of researchers. Vasilliev, for example, as Romerstein explained, wasn’t provided with any GRU (military intelligence) files to copy, only KGB files as released by Russian intelligence. He saw only one atomic file. He didn’t see any of the 2,500 documents and photostats that the `illegal’ spymaster Akhmerov sent from the United States to Moscow contained in a file known as `Jung’.
For these and other reasons – some things are just never written down, as one experienced counterintelligence professional told me – it is clear that the full story of the secret Soviet war on the West as waged inside the West is far from known. After researching and writing American Betrayal, after reading Stalin’s Secret Agents, I am convinced that what ultimately emerges will bear little resemblance to the narrative consensus-historians now defend.