The Venona Secrets, Exposing Soviet Espionage and America's Traitors Paperback – October 1, 2001
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From the Inside Flap
Included in The Venona Secrets are the details of the spying activities that reached from Harry Hopkins in Franklin Roosevelt s White House to Alger Hiss in the State Department to Harry Dexter White in the Treasury. More than that, The Venona Secrets exposes: information that links Albert Einstein to Soviet intelligence and conclusive evidence showing that J. Robert Oppenheimer gave Moscow our atomic secrets How Soviet espionage reached its height when the United States and the Soviet Union were supposedly allies in World War II The previously unsuspected vast network of Soviet spies in America How the Venona documents confirm the controversial revelations made in the 1940s by former Soviet agents Whittaker Chambers and Elizabeth Bentley.
The role of the American Communist Party in supporting and directing Soviet agents How Stalin s paranoia had him target Jews (code-named Rats ) and Trotskyites even after Trotsky s death How the Soviets penetrated America s own intelligence services The Venona Secrets is a masterful compendium of spy versus spy that puts the Venona transcripts in context with secret FBI reports, congressional investigations, and documents recently uncovered in the former Soviet archives. Romerstein and Breindel cast a spotlight on one of the most shadowy episodes in recent American history a past when treason infected Washington and Soviet agents were shielded, either wittingly or unwittingly, by our very own government officials.
About the Author
Eric Breindel studied at Harvard College, the London School of Economics, and Harvard Law School. Named senior vice president of News Corporation in 1997, he was also a syndicated columnist and the moderator of Fox News Watch, a weekly national public affairs television program. Previously, he had served more than a decade as editorial page editor of the New York Post and worked on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Breindel died in 1998 at the age of forty-two.
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I had read the book by Herbert Hoover, “Freedom Betrayed” the book, “Witness.” by Whittaker Chambers, the book by Diana West, “American Betrayal,” the book by M. Stanton Evans, “Blacklisted By History,” the book by M. Stanton Evans and Herbert Raomerstein, “Stalin’s Secret Agents,” and the book by John Koster, “Operation Snow” so I had a good idea how the Communist had infiltrated the Roosevelt administration. More than one of these books that I had read referred to the Venona cables.
Herbert Romerstein and Eric Breindel stated in the preface of this book that of particular interest to both of them was the Soviet attitude toward Jews. They wrote that they were not surprised that the NKVD, the Soviet foreign intelligence service, showed disdain for and made cynical use of the Jews willing to work for them. What surprised them was the Venona code name for Jews- “Rats.” They devote chapter 10 to this subject of Jews serving the Communist.
The authors made it clear that Moscow’s agents in the United States helped prevent an earlier Nazi surrender to the Anglo-Americans; the prospect of which haunted the USSR throughout the war. How Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Harry Dexter White played an important role in the Soviet endeavor. White was what intelligence professionals call an “agent of influence.”
He not only spied for the Soviet Union throughout the war but also sought to shape critical U.S. economic policies in obedience to the orders of his Moscow masters. As a spy, he was a rival in perfidy to Alger Hiss and to the trio of British traitors, Kim Philby, Guy Burgess, and Donald Maclean. The authors of this book go on to explain how “Operation Snow,” was executed by White and Soviet agents.
One of White’s greatest contributions to the Soviet effort was his role in the Morgenthau Plan for postwar Germany. The Morgenthau Plan was to convert Germany into a pasture. This book explains how it was conceived and what effect it had on Germany, Jews and our military forces.
White’s political star within the Roosevelt administration was never higher than in 1944. White was the chief American delegate at the historic conference in Britton Woods, New Hampshire, that plotted the postwar financial rules by which the Allies intended to restore their battered economies. Read this book to see how that turned out!
On March 31, 1945 Secretary of State Edward Stettinius wrote to White, “
On behalf of President Roosevelt and the members of the American delegation, it is my privilege to extend to you an invitation to become an official advisor to the delegation of the United states to the United Nations Conference on International Organization….” Less than a week later, a Moscow Venona message ordered Alhmerov to make arrangements with Silvermaster (Robert) about maintaining contact with White, then called (Richard), and another member of the Silvermaster ring, William Ludwig Ullman (Pilot) in San Francisco (Babylon).
During White’s attendance at the San Francisco conference, he was handled by NKVD officer Vladimir Pravdin (Sergej), who served in New York but attended the conference as a Soviet news agency TASS, reporter. White gave the Soviets information of the American delegation’s internal discussions. White also reported that “Truman and Stettinius want to achieve the success of the conference at any price.”
Alger Hiss, as agent of the GRU (Soviet Military Intelligence), was the acting secretary general at the founding conference of the UN. This provided the Soviets with the advanced notice on how the Americans would handle questions during the deliberations.
President Harry Truman had appointed the Treasury official as executive director of the International Monetary Fund. J. Edgar Hoover wrote to Brigadier General Harry Vaughan, President Truman’s military aid, asking him to give the enclosed background on White to the president. Hoover described White as a valuable adjunct to an underground Soviet espionage organization operating in Washington D.C., also the Canadian government sources had expressed their concern to the FBI about the appointment of White. The Canadians knew of White through the Soviet military intelligence defector Igor Gouzenko. Harry Truman did nothing with these reports and White was appointed.
Herbert and Eric go into great details of how the Soviet agents made an Apparat (was a full-time, professional functionary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union or the Soviet government apparat (аппарат, apparatus), someone who held any position of ...)
Chapter 4 is a chapter that explains Whittaker Chamber’s Spy Ring, I think Chambers does a much better job if this in his book “Witness.”
Chapter 5 details the Elizabeth Bentley Spy Ring, also the Silvermaster Ring, The Perlo Ring, and talks some about how Eleanor Roosevelt was targeted by the Soviets agents. The authors seem, to me, to be letting the Roosevelts off the hook, to their way of thinking, it is only because the Roosevelts are so naïve, that these spies were all over the White House. Why would Eleanor give the order to shut down the act of deciphering the Venona cables??? I’m glad her orders were not carried out.
Chapter 6 and 7 lays out the details of the Atomic Espionage. Here I found what I was looking for when I ordered this book. I had read much about Harry Hopkins in Diana West’s book American Betrayal and wanted more sources concerning him as a spy. Since he, to me, was so important because of how close he was to the Roosevelts. Harry had lived in the White House, slept in the Lincoln bedroom for three years and six months. Harry had dined with the Roosevelt every night. In this chapter on page 212 I read, In the 1960s, Oleg Gordievssky, a KGB officer, attended a lecture by the veteran Chekist Iskhak Akhmerov, who, had been the” illegal” Rezident in the United States during the war. Akhmerov mentioned his contact with Alger Hiss, but “the man he described as the most important of all Soviet wartime agents in the United States” was Harry Hopkins. Direct evidence in Venona confirms Akhmerov’s statement of his connection with Hopkins. This explains why Hopkins was adamant about shipping uranium to the Soviet Union despite the objections of the military authorities. Another example was Hopkins promotion of his friends including Colonel Philip R. Faymonville, who had been military attaché in Moscow from 1933 to 1938. Faymonville’s colleagues considered him to be extremely pro-soviet, calling him the “Red-Colonel.” When Hopkins in 1941 suggested sending him back to Moscow to expedite Lend-Lease, army intelligence objected. Hopkins said only, “You might as well get his papers ready, because he’s going.” Hopkins arranged for Faymonville to be promoted to brigadier general and later to general. Long story short, Faymonville was set-up, he met a young man that became his lover but was also a Soviet NKVD agent.
Later we learn about “Kvant” a mercenary spy, and Arthur Adams a Veteran Spy, Klaus Fuchs, a spy from Germany, The Rosenberg Case, other members of the Rosenberg Ring, Sarant and Barr Flee.
Chapter 8 Atomic Espionage in California at the University of Berkeley, how the Soviets used Trade Unions, The J. Robert Oppenheimer Case,
Chapter 9 How the Soviets targeted the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), VENONA reveals how easy the NKVD penetrated OSS, The French Connection.
Chapter 10- see above
Chapter 11 The Jack Soble/Robert Soblen Ring, Zarubin’s Stern Gang
Chapter 12- Polecats (Trotskyites) and Rats, (Jews), Stalin: Jews and Negroes Are Not Americans, Targeting Jewish Organizations, Duping Albert Einstein, The Murder of Erlich and Alter, Target: Jewish Telegraphic Agency, The International Workers Order and Espionage,
Chapter 13 Target: Journalists, The recruitment of I.F. Stone, Target: Lippmann, Mission in Moscow,
The new documentation available since 1991 has been broadly, in two categories-(1) the archives of the Communist International, which were kept in Moscow, and the files of other Communist parties in Eastern and Central Europe; and (2) the Venona papers, which were kept in Forte Meade, Maryland. But finally made public, the material from east and west combined shows that the U.S. Communist Party was extensively and fruitfully in Moscow’s espionage infrastructure in America. The Party’s personalities, including General Secretary Earl Browder, were active participants in recruiting and vetting Party members on behalf of Soviet intelligence. Indeed, most of the wartime Soviet agents in the United States were members of the communist Party. Through the Party, the USSR was able to draw prospective agents from a pool of ideologues loyal to Moscow, a circumstance unique in history. This reality, which was clear to U.S. government investigators and many others for decades but which was- and is- disputed by liberal historians, is now a known fact.
Fact: There existed in important agencies of the U.S. government networks of American spies under the control of Soviet military intelligence and NKVD officers. These included individuals whose disloyalty has been acknowledged for years by almost all serious students of the subject, Alger Hiss, Harry Dexter White, and the Rosenbergs through the years have had a shrinking pool of defenders. Others, until the Venona documents were aired, were considered heroes of American liberalism.
Fact: Venona has shown conclusively that the highest-level American government officials working for Soviet intelligence was Harry Hopkins, the close friend and advisor of President Roosevelt. His clandestine contact with “illegal” Soviet intelligence officer Iskhak Akhmerov,
To whom he provided secret government information, alone makes the case against Hopkins. Only a Soviet agent would be permitted to know that an “illegal” intelligence officer such as Akhmerov was connected with the Soviet Union.
Fact: Atomic scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer performed work on behalf of the Soviet Union. Although it has long been known that several of the scientists involved in the Manhattan Project believed the world would be safer if the secrets of the atomic energy were shared with the Soviet Union, it had been considered bad manners even to suggest that the sensitive Oppenheimer could possibly be so crude as to be a conscious collaborator with the Soviet secret police. But he was.
Fact: The Left (Liberals) liked to use one of the right wing’s favorite complaints as evidence of its inanity-its belief that American journalists, including some of the best known, had been deliberately enlisted in the Soviet cause. The Venona documents leave no room for doubts that this was exactly the case, in particular regarding the loyalty of I.F. Stone to the Soviet Union and, in his case, to his book account.
Fact: The Communist movement displayed systematic and consistent anti-Semitism.
THE DOCUMENTS pages 461-505
THE SPIES pages- 509-515
This book is not an easy read - incredible amounts of detail, and the organization of material leaves a bit to be desired, especially in the early chapters. But stick with it for the detailed chapters later on and you will be rewarded.
Biggest problem the code breakers had was use of nicknames in the documents. The biggest "added value" by the authors is suggested real names and explanation of how they arrived at these suggestions.
As near as I can tell, the US government was deeply penetrated by Americans and immigrants working for the Soviets.
Why read? Ii started reading Manchester's Glory and the Dream and wanted to compare Manchester's poo-pooing of Soviet spying in the 40s and 50s. He was either ignorant or trying to protect the Roosevelt legacy. Sigh.
See Liza Mundy's "Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II"
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