About this illustration: A non-exhaustive Internet search indicates that the illustration (above) may well be the cover of a 1960 comic book for Catholic schools published by the Catechetical Guild. Whatever it is, the cartoon beautifully captures a conventional fallacy regarding the Cold War: namely, that while "domino"-nations fell to Communism the world over, the good ship USA remained secure, fighting off the external foe. Even if the USA is headed toward the "Red Iceberg" in the picture, Uncle Sam and the republic are still the same as ever. Sure, a single Hiss or a pair of Rosenbergs might pop up from time to time, but, systemically speaking, Communist subversion, Communist influence, are what happened Over There. Not here. Never here.
American Betrayal, of course, argues that the evidence overwhelmingly reveals this idea to be so much "court history" in critical need of revision.
Allen Weinstein, renowned expert on Soviet espionage in America and co-author of the landmark study, The Haunted Wood, died this week. He was 77.
Bernie Reeves, founder of the Raleigh Spy Conference, notes that Weinstein's role (with CIA Director John Deutsch) in presiding over a 1996 conference sponsored by the CIA and the NSA to mark the US government decision to release nearly 2,000 intercepted Soviet intelligence cables from the Venona archive, was "oddly omitted" from Weinstein's Washington Post obituary.
The headline to Reeves' post puts it more bluntly: "Obituary continues media cover-up."
What is being oddly omitted or covered-up, Reeves writes, is the historical importance of Venona itself.
Writing at the American Thinker, a website with the inglorious distinction of having twice refused to permit me to rebut attacks on American Betrayal (the first being an unsubstantiated attack on my "scholarship" in an otherwise net-positive review by Reeves), Reeves explains:
Venona is the code name for the interception and deciphering by the US Army Signal Intelligence Corps -- forerunner of the National Security Agency -- of over 200,000 cables sent by the USSR to its American agents from 1943 to 1980. Finally, intelligence verified that atomic spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were guilty of espionage for the USSR against the United States. Also identified in Venona was Alger Hiss, who caused the most acrimony, insisting he was innocent until his death at age 92 in 1996. As of today, with only 10 percent of the 200,000-plus cables deciphered, over 400 Soviet agents have been identified working in the US government from the mid-1930s to the 1950s.
I attended the Venona Conference at the National War College, on the campus of Fort McNair in Washington, DC. For two days, Weinstein and Deutch presided over scholars and operatives who presented segments concerning the revelations in Venona. From the opening session, a cadre of dissenters instigated a protest designed to discredit Venona information. The ringleader was the elderly Morton Sobell, convicted and sentenced in 1951 to a 30-year prison sentence as a co-conspirator in the Rosenberg spy ring.
Order was restored but Sobell's merry prankster tactics succeeded. The only news coverage of the conference, even though every important major media outlet was in attendance, appeared in my weekly Spectator in North Carolina. Not until seven weeks later did the Washington Post publish a human interest feature on chief Venona codebreaker Meredith Gardner.
How the most dramatic story in Cold War history could be ignored, and years after hardly mentioned, is a testament to the pervasive influence of the Left in the United States, who have managed to prevent criticism of their fellow travelling brothers and sisters.
Recalling that Reeves mentioned this same conference is his 2013 review, I took another look at it. When the review first appeared in August 2013, I was completely focused on addressing those parts of the Radosh disinformation campaign (subsequently rebutted in toto here) that Reeves repeated in a review that also, rather curiously, included Reeves' notably robust support of my assessment of the available evidence regarding Harry Hopkins. Here follows an excerpt of Reeves' take on Hopkins:
From "Reds Under the Bed: Diana West Can't Sleep" by Bernie Reeves:
As recounted in their [Christopher Andrew and Oleg Gordievsky] book, and cited by West as the foundation of her thesis, Harry Hopkins -- FDR's confidant, advisor, and policy czar, who actually resided in the White House during World War II -- was the Big Enchilada among American agents of influence working for the USSR. Gordievsky recounts attending a lecture early in his career by Iskhak Akhmerov, the KGB's top "illegal" spy in the U.S. during the 1940s (In espionage parlance, "illegals" do not have legal cover if caught). According to Gordievsky, Akhmerov spoke for a long period about Hopkins, calling him the top Soviet asset in the US. Yet, Gordievsky and Andrew tiptoe around this allegation by representing that Hopkins was a naïve devotee who only courted Stalin to ensure victory over Hitler's Germany.
Although I know Andrew well, and have met Gordievsky twice, I now doubt their characterization of Hopkins -- also embraced by Radosh and the scholarly community. I now support West's conclusions after rereading KGB: The Inside Story account 23 years later. It does not ring true that Hopkins was an innocent dupe dedicated solely to defeating the Nazis. Hopkins comes over in history as crafty, secretive and no one's fool, hardly the personality traits of a naïve fellow traveler. And his fingerprints are on the large majority of pro-Soviet policies implemented by the Roosevelt administration. West deserves respect for cutting through the dross that obscures the evidence about Hopkins, and for screaming from the rooftops that the U.S. was the victim of a successful Soviet intelligence operation.
But about that 1996 Venona conference. In the 2013 review, Reeves wrote:
West also focuses on the 1996 Venona Conference [NB: It's a small thing but AB does not in fact mention this conference], which I attended, that instigated the current investigation of Soviet operatives in the FDR administration. Held at the National War College at Fort McNair in Washington, DC, the CIA and NSA released intercepted cable traffic from Moscow to its American agents from as early as 1939 up to 1962.
As the conference proceeded, a group of six or seven men (including Rosenberg accomplice Morton Sobell) began interrupting the proceedings, proclaiming that information from Venona was bogus because some of the facts were not true. I recognized the technique: by discrediting one detail, the goal was to discredit everything else. And the dissidents were successful in running off the media, already pre-conditioned not to report on Venona, once again obscuring the evidence that Americans were spying and influencing U.S. policy on behalf of Moscow.
Radosh's reaction to West's book reminds me of that episode. His criticisms are valid in detail [NB: judge for yourself the validity of Radosh's "criticisms" here] but lacking in general perspective. He trivializes the reality that communist agents were indeed infiltrating the U.S. government, while focusing on the opinion that West is a nut case for claiming Hopkins was one too. He calls her belief that Soviet agents influenced policy by saying pro-Soviet decisions were necessitated by conditions of war. Actually, it was both, but like West, Radosh cannot seem to manage a broad view.
I leave it to readers to determine whether American Betrayal "manage[s] a broad view," but the salient point here, which I missed amid the incoming flak back in 2013, is Reeves' devastating linkage of Radosh's "reaction" to American Betrayal with the tactics of the conference-agitators attacking Venona -- both being attacks on some detail or aspect designed to discredit or taint a whole.
It bears recalling that another reader early on, Marten Gantelius, similarly identified the use of "Language of Violence" against American Betrayal: to "aggressively attack a detail in a text – of course with the intention to disturb the holistic impression." (Gantelius would later analyze "the Language of Violence" in a three-part-series on American Betrayal published in 2014, also at American Thinker. Given the spirit of free debate exemplified (NOT) by the editors of American Thinker, I responded to the series at Breitbart.)
Reeves' view of Radosh's "reaction" to American Betrayal seems particularly damning to read now, so long after I painstakingly revealed these same "details" to be distortions, smears, and fabrications in The Rebuttal (and, seemingly, ever after).
Ironically, such tactics also come straight from the old Red playbook -- and the new Putin troll factories.
To what end?
In his piece today, Reeves notes the success of "Sobell's merry pranksters" in quashing coverage of Venona, adding:
How the most dramatic story in Cold War history could be ignored, and years after hardly mentioned, is a testament to the pervasive influence of the Left in the United States, who have managed to prevent criticism of their fellow travelling brothers and sisters. Not only did the MSM deprive the public of crucial information clarifying a major schism in Left/Right politics, it also ignored the newsworthy cast of characters attending Venona. ...
As usual, the media win and the public loses. Venona should be a household word and its revelations permanently imprinted history. What else have the MSM swept under the rug because it doesn’t suit the Left? ...
And how about the Right? It is now abundantly clear that plenty of conservatives (most) are happy to sweep under the rug mountains of evidence of systemic infiltration and subversion of the USA -- fundamental change -- by Soviet agents and ideological Communists, who attained Red-hot critical mass in the betrayal-days of FDR. In so many ways, they, their heirs, their acolytes, their apologists, just kept going.
It seems appropriate to close with Reeves' closing to the 2013 review:
West's intensity is what is needed for Americans to grasp that our culture has been hijacked.
For example, the national media and our major universities continue to ignore the Left's political agenda in which traditional American beliefs have been gradually undermined and replaced with utopian theoretical doctrines born in Marxism and other esoteric ideologies: political correctness, multiculturalism and an incessant condemnation of religion. Our culture today reads like the Comintern handbook, thanks largely to the gullibility of the American Left which swallowed propaganda dished up by communist agents of influence.
And that is why the Left should never be taken seriously. Any individual or group that did not turn away in disgust from the murderous evil of the Soviet Union due to the belief that it was a better system than ours is beneath contempt. Yet it happened, and Diana West wants everyone to know how it happened -- a far greater service than picking nits over insignificant details. The results of covering up the truth about the penetration of U.S. society -- even if Soviet agents did not play the significant role West proclaims -- has been moral equivalence, utopian schemes, the undermining of national heroes, the fracturing of shared values and a constant clatter criticizing the inadequacies of freedom. Ironically or not, these stabs at our values match Soviet Cold War propaganda by reminding Americans we are racist, chauvinistic, and imperialistic.
Today, worn down by leftist claptrap, we are no longer proud and confident, our belief in ourselves run down by propaganda that highlights our inadequacies. We have accepted that our society is a failure in need of progressive improvement because we cannot live up to the utopian perfection peddled by the communists. Anne Applebaum, oddly of the Washington Post, who writes books on the reality of the Soviet empire, recently said in Iron Curtain, her latest offering, how East Germany's Walter Ulbricht exerted Soviet control: "The skill was to put their supporters into broadcasting and the press, the arts, the unions, youth organizations, universities, and voluntary associations down to the level of chess clubs... critics of any aspect of Communism were defined as fascists." Sound familiar?