Part 1 is here.
Part 2 is here. Also this and, not to be missed by aficianados, this.
One of the many incongruent things about what we might one day look back on as the great Russian Influence Scare is the air of discovery about it all. It feels forced.
Suddenly, nearly exactly one hundred years after the Russian Revolution, the Establishment in America have, for the first time, recreated themselves as counter-intelligence mavens bent on rooting out "Russian influence." Never mind that previous incarnations of this nexus of power and press have consistently and strenuously denied such a thing as "Russian influence" existed -- and especially in cases with ample documentation and sworn testimonies. That was all a lot of "Red Scare." McCarthyism, a.k.a. Evil Incarnate.
The Establishment may have reversed itself with the abruptness of the old, zig-zagging Moscow party line, but until about yesterday, the consensus, which naturally echoed throughout academia (the corruption thereof laid out and dissected here by Bukovsky and Stroilov) was: No Russian Influence, No Subversion, Not Ever, Not Nowhere (and certainly not, for example, in the war councils of World War II). This same position was generally staked out by such Cold War scholars as Haynes and Klehr, co-authors of Venona and Spies and other works.
According to Uri Friedman of the Atlantic, John Earl Haynes now claims that "Russian intelligence agencies today appear more interested in manipulating U.S. policy and public opinion than the Soviet intelligence agencies of the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s, which focused more on information-gathering."
Talk about whiplash. After all, as recently as 2014, Haynes and co-author Klehr wrote that in all of their studies, they had never even seen any significant "documentation" of such Kremlin influence.
This is what they wrote then:
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 (emphasis added).
And now? What ample documentation must Haynes have uncovered to support his contention that Russian intelligence now seems more intent on policy manipulation than Soviet intelligence was in its supposed heyday in the 20th century? Alas, the Atlantic does not discuss.
Haynes's claim, perfectly tracking the rest of the Establishment's Russian-influence-hunting a la mode, appears in "Trump and the Russians: Lessons from the Red Scare." In the tradition of all good agit prop, the piece reconciles the irreconciliable: in this case, the infiltration of the US government by communists, Soviet agents and agents of influence with "Senator Joseph McCarthy’s ruthless and mostly baseless campaign to stop communists and Soviet spies from subverting American government and society." Staff writer Friedman gets help with this, including from Haynes and Klehr both.
During World War II, when the Soviet Union and United States were allies, Soviet intelligence “thoroughly infiltrated the American government,” even the project to build the atomic bomb, according to Harvey Klehr, a historian at Emory University. Among the hundred-plus Soviet spies in the federal government were Harry Dexter White, a high-ranking official at the Treasury Department, Duncan Lee, a top aide at the predecessor to the Central Intelligence Agency, and Laurence Duggan, the head of the Latin America desk at the State Department.
The nature of this infiltration didn’t become public until the late 1940s, when former Soviet spies like Whittaker Chambers and Elizabeth Bentley began testifying before the House Un-American Activities Committee, at which point it “became the issue in American political life,” paving the way for McCarthy’s witch hunt in the early ’50s, Klehr said.
How Friedman can type the words "thoroughly infiltrated the American government," and then type the words "McCarthy's witch hunt" is probably testament to a good college indoctrination; maybe also a good conversation with Harvey Klehr, who, despite the late M. Stanton Evans' "ample documentation" of McCarthy's invaluable investigations (in simplest terms of netting i.d.'d Soviet agents, communists or those who took the Fifth Amendment when asked about such matters, the tally to date is more than 50, including 11 Venona agents), continues to misinform the world that McCarthy netted "only a few."
Notably, Friedman has cut the five-hundred-plus agents mainly in and around government as tallied in Haynes' and Klehr's Spies down to one-hundred-plus. Note also the use of the term, "spies," as in, filcher of secrets. The term "agent of influence," even "agent," do not appear in the article, are not discussed. This is in keeping with the work of Establishment historians, whose focus is "spying," just as if influence operations didn't exist ... until now.
I don't think this is accidental. The Soviet "spying"-only line reads like a formula to replace a demonic history of moral corruption and collusion between Moscow and the West with sterile "academic hairsplitting," as Bukovsky and Stroilov discuss -- in brief:
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.
Back to that "endless debate" in the Atlantic.
At the time, noted John Earl Haynes, a retired Library of Congress historian who has collaborated with Klehr, Soviet-style communism posed a genuine ideological threat to the American way of life. There was a robust U.S. Communist Party. Many Americans were sympathetic to the Soviet Union as a model of what they wanted the United States to become. “There’s nothing like that today,” Haynes said. “There is no pro-Putin party [in America]. … There’s no large group of people who really want the United States to become a clone of Putin’s Russia.” ...
No, there isn't. Which makes me think of what high-ranking GRU defector Col. Stanislav Lunev pointed out some years ago to Jeff Nyquist: "the West is a socialist paradise. Each according to his ability, each according to his need has been achieved in America." Shh. Don't tell anyone. But I digress.
On the other hand, Haynes added, Russian intelligence agencies today appear more interested in manipulating U.S. policy and public opinion than the Soviet intelligence agencies of the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s, which focused more on information-gathering.
There it is: Haynes' newfound detection of Russian subversion -- as opposed to mere Soviet "information-gathering," i.e., spying. Me, I'm still stuck on those barren twenty years in the archives, when poor Haynes & Klehr came up with only paltry scraps of "documentation" on Soviet influence operations -- and apparently had no time to read a book or two or three or so many more and become informed. Then, presto, say the magic word -- "Russian influence"! Amazing what a difference a news cycle makes.
The piece continues:
During the Red Scare period, Haynes said, there was “a basis for fears of communist subversion” since there had been “real spies in the government,” though most had been purged by the late 1940s and McCarthy was “95 percent wrong” about the people he accused.
Oh, "ample-documentation'-driven scholar: From what calculation does "95 percent wrong" pop from?
Onto Harvey Klehr:
Klehr wonders whether the Venona messages should have been revealed in the ’40s and ’50s. “Quite often the facts get lost in the hysteria,” he said, and sharing the intelligence with the American people would have introduced more facts into the debate about communist subversion. Doing so would have also “demonstrated that American intelligence had—a little late, but eventually—gotten this information,” he added. “One of McCarthy’s major weapons was this argument that the Roosevelt and Truman administrations,” which had been slow to respond to Soviet infiltration of the U.S. government, “had covered all this up.”
This was not an "argument": Roosevelt and Truman in spades refused to act on hard intelligence that Communist subversives and agents were occupying the federal government. (If I'm not mistaken I wrote a book about that ...). Meanwhile, congressional and federal investigators were amassing plenty of evidence of this massive penetration -- a veritable Soviet intelligence army "occupation," as documented in American Betrayal -- long before the decryption of a small fraction of the KGB "Venona" cables the US intercepted and only released to the public in 1990s, confirming it.
Back to Haynes.
In the hands of Joe McCarthy, a Republican, a “well-placed fear” of communist subversion was “used as a partisan club to bash away at” the Democrats and specifically the Truman administration, Haynes said.
It must be nice to have it both ways -- to come up with bizarre terms like "well-placed fear," or "basis for fears," which indicate some working relationship with reality; and then combine them with a "Republican" "partisan club to bash away at Democrats and Truman, thus feeding the fires on Old Devil Joe, which is the main event, as usual.
Most famously, McCarthy accused two of Harry Truman’s secretaries of state, George Marshall and Dean Acheson, of orchestrating “a conspiracy on a scale so immense as to dwarf any previous venture in the history of man”—an allegation that was absolutely false.
Just read it for yourself sometime.
The Atlantic piece continues:
Partisanship also played a role in why the Truman administration didn’t publicize its crackdown on Soviet spies during the early Cold War; it didn’t want to risk the political fallout from acknowledging that it hadn’t prevented the Soviets from penetrating the U.S. government in the first place.
Let that sink in. Truman ascends to the pantheon, apparently having done his part to cover up Soviet penetration of the government for partisan political reasons; McCarthy burns in history's hell for having tried to expose Soviet penetration and those who covered it up -- denizens of the original Swamp Trump was supposed to drain.
Truman, Haynes noted, was “in the odd position of saying: ‘What the Republicans are [saying] happened didn’t happen, but it’s not going to happen again.’” “Under the pressure of partisanship,” Haynes observed, “all kinds of people will do and say things which are really rather silly and exaggerated.”
Oh, that goofy Truman administration! Remember when, on learning from Whittaker Chambers that former State Department official, founding Secretary General of the UN, and Carnegie Endowment president Alger Hiss was a Soviet agent, Truman, rather than give Chambers a medal, sought to indict him for perjury? What a "really rather silly and exaggerated" thing it was to try to cover up treason! Good thing Truman did nothing to expose it, like that awful Sen. McCarthy, who, as the Atlantic reminds us, was ruthless, baseless and, according to Haynes, "95 percent wrong."
Most of all, good thing the experts are on the case. Russian influence. It's about time.