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Jan 26

Written by: Diana West
Monday, January 26, 2015 12:24 PM 

While recording the audiobook of American Betrayal, I am occasionally posting sections that challenge the creaky orthodoxy taught, written and perpetuated by "court historians" who continue to avoid incorporating the evidence of the deep and wide Soviet penetration of the US government and other institutions into our general history.    

Today's installment opens with the consensus-challenging work of prize-winning war correspondent and noted military analyst Hanson Baldwin. Indeed, Baldwin's 1949 book, Great Mistakes of the War, proved to be invaluable to the course of my research. In this book, Baldwin examines military mistakes of World War II (thanks to consensus-history betcha didn't think there really were any) that resulted from what he calls "four great -- and false -- premises" -- all of which, I note, had to do with Stalin and Communism. Such false premises, or Big Lies, American Betrayal argues, cannot be separated from the work of agents of Stalin's influence covertly embedded in the Roosevelt administration and elsewhere, and their many fellow travellers and dupes, all spreading disinformation and deception made in Moscow. This, American Betrayal argues, had a disastrous impact on US policy- and war-making that should be acknowledged and studied further and no longer denied.

From Chapter Five, p. 111:

In the war’s aftermath, military expert Hanson Baldwin analyzed such delusions in Great Mistakes of the War, a slim, instructive book outlining what the Pulitzer Prize–winning war correspondent called the “four great—and false— premises” of the war.

Great, false premises of the war? The Good War? The American Victory? Baldwin’s is an eye-widening, counterconventional concept. It brought me up short, as I think it probably would anyone raised on the rah-rah narrative of World War II as pure American triumph. Sure, Yalta was a disaster, the Iron Curtain was an epic tragedy, and China went Red, but, but . . . that was all post-war aftermath, Cold War origins stuff. The main event was that Hitler was licked and the world was safe again for democracy.

Or was that safe for “people’s democracy”?

On a more gimlet-eyed second glance, the postwar map doesn’t look so good, what with the Soviet Union having engorged itself on a European continent divided according to the war-igniting Nazi-Soviet Pact—only “with the Nazis conveniently excluded,” courtesy Allied intervention. Which was, when you think of it, quite a generous contribution to the Soviet cause.

From Finland to the Baltics to the Balkans, from East Germany, which was permitted to encircle “partitioned” Berlin, to Poland, whose invasion by Germany and the USSR brought England and France to war in the first place, all was lost to the evil empire. As for Asia, where the Soviet Union declared war on Japan on August 8, 1945 (thanks a lot), the Soviets claimed and received Manchuria, which had been promised to the Chinese at Yalta. The Soviets also got Japan’s Kuril Islands and half of Korea on a plate. That worked out well.

Regarding the globe this way isn’t just a glass-half-empty exercise. It is a massive conceptual twist that forces what we “know” about “victory” into reverse. Hanson Baldwin’s 1949 book provides a good, solid point of analytical departure, particularly given that his four great and false premises of the war all have to do with our (incorrect) assessments and (mis)perceptions of the Soviet Union—head fakes, all— rather than conventional military blunders, as one might expect. They were:

  1. That the Soviet Union had abandoned its policy of world revolution.

  2. That “Uncle Joe” Stalin was a “good fellow,” someone we could “get along with.”

  3. That the USSR might make a separate peace with Germany.

  4. That the Soviet Union’s entry into the war against Japan was essential to victory

    or necessary to save thousands of American lives.

Such premises, in other words, all fall into the category we would later identify as Soviet dezinformatsiya—disinformation purposefully planted, fed, primed, echoed, and amplified according to Kremlin plan. Accepting Baldwin’s list, then, we might consider two possible explanations. We, ourselves, arrived at these false premises. Or we, subverted from within by hundreds of agents loyal to a foreign power and aided and abetted by exponentially more fellow travelers and useful fools, were convinced to arrive at these false premises and were duped by a massive Communist influence operation into making these and many, many other mistakes. This is the shocking new scenario that begins to take shape with the overlay of intelligence history onto diplomatic, military, and cultural history.

Circa 1949, the basic evidence of Soviet infiltration of the U.S. government was fresh, hot off the hearings, following the 1948 appearances of Elizabeth Bentley and Whittaker Chambers before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. News of such infiltration has no discernible impact on Baldwin’s analysis. This could be due to delay built into the publication schedule. It could also be due to the rawness of the evidence, not to mention the intensive controversy it ignited.

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 infiltration, 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.”)

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.


Of course, it wasn’t just an atmosphere of deception created by agents of Soviet influence that undermined American strength. After the war, Victor Kravchenko would testify before Congress to the effect that the Soviet Lend-Lease operation he defected from—the Soviet Purchasing Commission, located about three miles due north of the front door of the White House—was in real- ity the Soviet Spying Commission, the Soviet Thieving Commission, and the Soviet Ransacking Commission, with its thousand-plus employees under orders to filch as many industrial and military secrets as possible for the upcoming struggle between the USSR and the USA. This struggle, they were all told, would inevitably follow World War II. We may have been numb to the chill, but what we call the Cold War was under way long before historians tell us it began.

All the signs of struggle were there for anyone to see—anyone, that is, who could believe his own eyes, who could close his ears to the incessant propaganda. “Russian aims were good and noble. Communism had changed its stripes,” Hanson Baldwin writes, recapping the stream of wartime hooey. He continues, “A study of Marxian literature and of the speeches and writings of its high apostles, Lenin and Stalin, coupled with the expert knowledge of numerous American specialists, should have convinced an unbiased mind that international Communism had not altered its ultimate aim; the wolf had merely donned a sheep’s skin.”

“Islamic aims are good and noble. What stripes could possibly need changing? Extremists are trying to hijack one of the world’s great religions, a religion of peace,” a military analyst of the future will write of our own era’s propaganda stream. “A study of Mohammed’s law (sharia) and the speeches and writings of Islam’s au- thorities, Hassan al-Banna and Yusef al-Qaradawi, coupled with the expert knowledge of American specialists, should have convinced an unbiased mind that international Islam posed a dire threat to liberty.”

Don’t think we aren’t penetrated today by new totalitarians who look to Mecca, not Moscow.

Baldwin says we became “victims of our own propaganda,” but what if it’s more accurate to say we became victims of Soviet propaganda as shaped and disseminated by Soviet agents within our Soviet-penetrated government?

Above a certain level of infiltration by the other side, a group, a body, or an institution is no longer viably “ours”; it’s “theirs.” I believe the infiltration of the United States soared past that danger level to the point of de facto occupation, where national interest was no longer paramount but Soviet interests were. The emperor, in other words, wore Soviet clothes. This is more than a theoretical gambit or flight of fancy. If I have drawn the correct conclusions from what I have assimilated from the gargantuan body of research on view, we must overhaul and revamp our understanding of our historical universe. 

To appreciate the level of infiltration/occupation I am talking about, let’s take the Office of War Information, one of those government bureaus set up in the early stages of the war. The OWI’s mission called for pro-American and pro-Allied propaganda at home and abroad, but it tended to push Communistic policy at home and the Soviet line abroad. Or, to quote the more peppery 1954 description by Chesly Manly, longtime Washington correspondent of The Chicago Tribune, a bitterly anti-Roosevelt paper in those days, OWI “was loaded with draft dodgers, red revolutionists, and a scum of European refugees who pretended to sell America to the world but made it their business to sell Communist Russia to America.”

Periodically, OWI drew the equivalent of dirty looks from congressional Republicans and even censure once from FDR himself for an outbreak of Sovietophilia beyond even White House bounds. As M. Stanton Evans writes, having “scrambled to recruit personnel numbering in the thousands with little time, and apparently less desire, for anti-Red security vetting,” units such as OWI were “custom-built for penetration.”They worked like a dream—Soviet dream, American nightmare.

That’s a lot to accept on faith, I know. So here follows a sampling, extracted from several volumes of spy-tracking research by our leading scholars, of OWI personnel under OWI directors Robert Sherwood, Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright and Harry Hopkins crony and biographer, and Elmer Davis, a popular pre-Cronkite radio commentator whose tenure is aptly summed up by his yeoman efforts to cover up Soviet responsibility for the Katyn Forest Massacre, setting the story for domestic broadcasts, which would bar commentators who spoke the truth about Soviet guilt.

There was Joseph F. Barnes, OWI assistant director of overseas reporting. For starters, Barnes was an alumnus of the 1933 Moscow correspondents’ conspiracy to suppress news of the Terror Famine and the takedown of Gareth Jones described in the last chapter. According to Romerstein and Breindel, Barnes “had a long relationship with Soviet intelligence.” In the fall of 1944, a Venona cable mentions Barnes, noting that while recruiting him for the NKVD “is obviously not only inadvisable but unrealizable . . . It is desirable to use him without signing him up.” One explanation for this, Romerstein and Breindel posit, “may be that he was already working for the GRU” or Soviet military intelligence. In open congressional hearings in 1951, four witnesses would identify Barnes as a Communist, including ex-Communists Whittaker Chambers and Louis Budenz and former Soviet intel officer Alexander Barmine.

There was Owen Lattimore, the ardently pro-Communist director of OWI’s Pacific operations. Lattimore’s status as a spy remains contested, although not for want of expert opinion. Chiang Kai-shek conveyed to the FBI in 1948 he believed Lattimore, while acting as his Roosevelt-supplied wartime adviser, was supplying information to Communist forces, and Alexander Barmine knew of Lattimore as a Soviet agent. Meanwhile, his function as an agent of Communist influence is impossible to contest. Lattimore would be described in 1952 by Senator Pat McCarran’s Internal Security Subcommittee as “a conscious, articulate instrument of the Soviet conspiracy.” Having studied his recently declassified FBI files, M. Stanton Evans reports that “Lattimore spent an inordinate amount of time swimming in a veritable Red sea of officially Communist spies and Moscow agents.” Not surprisingly, his “files are replete with data about his links to Communists and Soviet agents, allegations that he stacked his Pacific office of OWI with pro-Red staffers, that he belonged to Communist fronts, that his writings were pro-Soviet propaganda.” Barmine would testify publicly that Soviet intelligence regarded both Barnes and Lattimore as “our men.” Barnes would later help Lattimore write Ordeal by Slander, his 1950 counterattack on Joseph McCarthy, which popularized the epochal term (likely published first in The Daily Worker) “McCarthyism.”

There was David Karr, formerly of The Daily Worker, who served in OWI as a foreign language specialist. Long suspected of being a Soviet agent—Martin Dies brought him before his committee in 1943, where Karr pleaded innocent-lambdom and falsely claimed to have been working for the FBI all along—Karr resigned from this government job to serve as legman and reporter to Drew Pearson, the leading anti-anti-Communist columnist of the mid-twentieth century and, later, the “central figure for mobilizing attacks on McCarthy in the Washington press corps.” Later denounced as an agent working on behalf of Moscow in what M. Stanton Evans describes as one of McCarthy’s “bitterest speeches” in 1950, Karr was roundly defended from all charges, including by another senator. If Karr was pro-Communist, Pearson replied in The New York Times, “the Washington Monument is a hole in the ground.” Well, Karr was—appearing both in Venona as a source and in Soviet archives as a con- firmed agent—and the Washington Monument isn’t.26 As Evans concludes, all of this “indicates McCarthy knew whereof he spoke.”

There was Cedric Belfrage, an alumnus of both British and U.S. intelligence, who, as a member of OWI’s “de-Nazification” team, drew McCarthy’s notice (correctly) for work on behalf of U.S.-funded Communist publications. Portrayed as a hapless victim of “McCarthyite excess” when he took the Fifth Amendment rather than answer whether he had been a Communist, Belfrage, as Evans reports, was in truth a KGB agent who appears in “numerous” Venona cables reporting back to Moscow with highly sensitive information from the office of British spy chief William Stephenson (the man Churchill called “Intrepid”). Haynes, Klehr, and Vassiliev further describe him as “fanatically de- voted to Chinese communism.”

There was journalist James Aronson, Belfrage’s OWI “sidekick” in Communistification-as-de-Nazification and other ventures, who later took the Fifth Amendment when asked about membership in the Communist Party.

There was Julia Older Bazer, who handled OWI’s cable file to Moscow, who also invoked the Fifth Amendment, on being asked about Party membership. Bazer, Evans notes, was the sister of columnist Drew Pearson’s legman Andrew Older, ID’d by the FBI as a Communist agent.

There was journalist Peter Rhodes, ”unambiguously a KGB agent,” Haynes, Klehr, and Vassiliev write, who, according to an October 1941 KGB memo, “has been hired for a government job and is travelling to London . . . as head of the information office, which will supply information to the president, Donovan, the 2nd Department (army intelligence, a.k.a. G-2), naval intelligence, and the FBI.” The memo continues: “Peter has been given the right to hire employees for the aforementioned office. This is a pretty good find for us.” Rhodes, later identified by Elizabeth Bentley as a member of the “Golos network,” would became chief of the Atlantic news section.

There was labor correspondent Travis Hedrick, who would leave OWI to what you might call graduate to the Soviet government news agency TASS (and take the Fifth Amendment when asked if he had been a Communist Party member).

There was Robin Kinkead, an OWI analyst of foreign propaganda, who the FBI reported in 1944 was a contact of Gregori Kheifetz, whom Romerstein and Breindel ID as “NKVD Rezident in San Francisco and active in atomic espionage.”

There was William Hinton, sent by OWI to “assist” Chiang Kai-shek and Allied forces in China, who would also take the Fifth Amendment when asked by Congress if he were a Party member, and would later return to China to work for Mao’s revolution.

There was Paul Hagen, a leading light on the OWI German desk. Hagen was a member of the Communist Party in his native Germany and later “identi- fied by the FBI as a Soviet agent” active in Communist front organizations in the United States. (Presidential aide Lauchlin Currie appeared as a sponsor for a visa application of Hagen’s. Sounds crazy until you find out Currie, too, was a bona fide Soviet mole.) A 1943 Venona cable further identified Hagen as “close” to Eleanor Roosevelt, part of the coterie of Communists and collabora- tors she allowed herself to be surrounded by.

Louis Adamic, an “informal guru” on the Yugoslav desk, pushed the pro-Tito Communist propaganda campaign that destroyed the reputation of the genuinely anti-Nazi, anti-Red Serbian leader, Gen. Draja Mihailovich, helping convince the Allies that Mihailovich was a collaborator and traitor. Mihailovich’s isolation and, later, execution by Tito mark one of the most notorious Soviet deception campaigns and Allied disgraces.

Carlo a Prato was on the OWI Italian desk. His résumé included being “expelled from Switzerland for life as a Soviet agent who received and disbursed funds from Moscow.”

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 Communist Warsaw.

Flora Wovschin was an almost frantically active KGB agent within OWI (her Soviet intelligence activities there and, later, at the State Department take up some twenty Venona cables).

Irving Lerner, an employee of OWI’s motion picture division, was caught red-handed trying to photograph the cyclotron used in the creation of plutonium at Cal Berkeley without authorization. Speaking of the OWI’s motion picture division, along with the White House, it was deeply involved in the making of Mission to Moscow (1943), summed up by producer Robert Buckner as that “expedient lie for political purposes.”

The question is, whose political purposes—ours or the Soviets’? 

Kenneth Lloyd Billingsley notes Mission to Moscow was known as “the first Soviet production from a major [American] studio.” That was originally meant ironically, but it is very nearly literally true. Remember, the thing was written by Moscow-show-trials superapologist Joseph Davies, who would be praised, also in 1943, by Soviet ambassador to the United States Maxim Litvinov as “in effect an envoy of the Soviet Union in Washington.” Naturally, the first in-effect-Soviet-envoy in Washington would make the first in-effect-Soviet-production in Hollywood. As the old Soviet socialist realist said [in an earlier chapter], “The only task of literature was that of fulfilling the social directions of Stalin.” Mission to Moscow succeeded.

What of poor Kravchenko, dangling in the limbo of defection for the past eight pages? He, too, figures into the story of OWI penetration. Christina Krotkova, an NKVD agent who insidiously became Kravchenko’s typist, translator, and KGB informant, was also on Uncle Sam’s payroll as an OWI employee.

Still the dossier is incomplete. Haynes and Klehr, for example, point out that not all Soviet intelligence assets inside OWI and code-named in Venona have even been identified. It’s not the biggest leap of logic to see that this Office of War Information could well have been named the Office of Soviet War Information. Suddenly, Chesly Manly’s wild talk of Red revolutionists and scum of Europe becomes merely descriptive, almost humdrum. It’s that official U.S. government stamp of approval—the perfect cover—that suddenly seems lurid, dangerous, and confounding.... 


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