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I Was a Communist for the FBI a Half-Century Later

In her new book, Diana West wonders why not one 1950s "movie features FBI heroes trailing myriad Communist spy rings (...) in New York" and DC. Except there was one such film — "based on a true story," no less.

by
Kathy Shaidle

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July 26, 2013 - 1:00 pm
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The years I wasted being what Ron Rosenbaum calls a “buff buff” — surveying the obsessive in-fighting between rival JFK assassination “researchers” — has made me wary of “revisionist history”: those parallel, “unofficial” narratives too often cobbled together from hearsay, microfiche, junk science and dodgy “eyewitness” testimony.

I dislike the dismissive term “revisionist history” itself, of course.

It’s so often associated with twitchy, autodidactic Holocaust debunkery, not to mention the “shape-shifting-alien-lizard” theory of civilization.

However, the fact is, Diana West’s new book American Betrayal is a revisionist history of the Cold War, albeit one that boasts the imprimatur of no less than Amity Shlaes.

I just wish there was a more respectable term for what West has produced.

The fact is, West’s findings will be fairly familiar to readers of M. Stanton Evans’ 2009 book Blacklisted by History.

West acknowledges her debt to Evans throughout, but her own Herculean original research takes Evans’ debunking of the left’s “red scare” mythology to a new level, and her conclusions are more troubling.

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A book with which I only very belatedly caught up, after reading Diana West's "American Betrayal", is "The Forsaken: From the Great Depression to the Gulag. Hope and Betrayal in Stalin's Russia". For anyone who hasn't read it, I can recommend it, but be warned: it is a heart-breaking account. The British author, Tim Tzouliadis, describes the horrific fate of Americans who "escaped" the Great Depression by emigrating to Stalin's ussr. That was not so much out of the frying-pan, into the fire, as out of the frying-pan and into circles of the Inferno which Dante could never have envisaged, in his very worst nightmares.

As Diana West does, Tzouliadis touches on the question of WWII and Korean War US POWs (and other Anglophone ones), who entered the gulag and never came out again. I say "touches on", because, although both West and Tzouliadis prove beyond any reasonable doubt that thousands of American military personnel were imprisoned in the soviet union (unprompted, Boris Yeltsin admitted as much, anyway), the Russians have been almost entirely obstructive towards attempts to find out how many Western prisoners were held in the gulag, or were simply murdered, and why.

One point Tzouliadis makes is compelling. Many of the first accounts of American and British POWs in Russian hands came from German and Japanese former prisoners, who had themselves finally been released by the Russians. Compassion towards their own former enemies compelled them to reach US embassies, to let them know that Americans were being held in soviet concentration camps, while the Russians showed no such pity towards their own wartime allies, either before or after Stalin's death in 1953.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
One of the most terrible changes in perspectives for Americans is the loss of understanding of the danger of Communists. The left successfully made "McCarthyism" the new thing to fear instead of Communism. To understand the 20th century, the seminal book of the century, one must read Whittaker Chambers' Witness.
The joke the left likes to sling around is that the Communists fell and we are still here so your paranoia was wrong. They conveniently leave out the triumvirate that made the Soviet Union collapse, The Pope, Thatcher and Reagan. And, what's worse, even though the left did all it could to undermine Reagan at every turn in his efforts to defeat Communism, the left now takes credit for the collapse.

It is a clever tactic when the cause of problems then defines itself as the victim. You can find examples of this all the time. Be aware of it.

If we do not see the difference between evil and good, or worse, equate them, we are doomed. I am here to state that Communism is evil and this country is a force for good. I am here to state that Islamism is evil and the forces arranged against it are doing good.
One of the worst dangers is that many in our society are trying to frame the definition of the U.S. as a force for evil. I say nuts to that.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
What always fascinates me about the Hollywood Blacklistings is how often Joe McCarthy is blamed for them.
If one looks closely at the era one will note that the investigations of the Communist Influence on Hollywood were conducted by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).
To Date I think it is safe to say that NO Senator has Ever Served on a House Committee of any sort while a sitting Senator.
Yet, somehow, the actions of a House Committee which began in 1938 (McCarthy wasn't even in the Senate until 1947) is blamed on Joe to this day.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (36)
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The Soviets were attempting to bring down governments all over the world.

Conventional wisdom among Mexican historians is that the police murdered 250 to 700 innocent students at Tlateloloco Plaza in Mexico City in 1968. This was big international news because this was the lead up to the summer Olympics in Mexico City.

In reality the KGB had placed radicalized communist Mexicans among the students to push them toward violence. The student had been sniping at the police for days and the police were on edge. The PD finally decided to respond to sniper fire with overwhelming force.
'
History departments in Mexican Universities are overwhelmingly Marxist and harken to the slaughter of innocent students. In fact ever leftist Mexican of a certain age claims to have been there. The left create the myths and legends there as they do here. Not a word that the entire episode was precipitated by "agent provocoteurs" paid by the KGB.

51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Enemies: A History of the FBI by Tim Weiner – review The ominous power and scandalous history of the FBI Stephen Holmes The Guardian, Friday 30 March 2012

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/mar/30/enemies-fbi-history-weiner-review
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
To those who've mentioned the fact that McCarthy gets credit for what occurred on the House Un-American Activities Committee - Consider that I've heard a lot of people say that the Federal Reserve was created as a response to the Great Depression.

The Fed was instituted in 1913, the same year the U.S. amended the Constitution to allow Federal Income Taxes. The Great Depression started in the U.S. in the fall of 1929.

Most Austrian economists would agree it was the creation of the Federal Reserve that actually helped to cause the Great Depression (with Progressive Statist policies of FDR dragging it out longer than necessary).

Since when do progressives, communists, or any other statists tell the truth? It's an intentional effort to distort facts and confound history.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
FYI...

The NYSE crash dates from 1929.

The ACTUAL Great Depression dates from December 1930.

I know, I know, you see 1929 published everywhere...

But, Main Street America, the real economy, just chugged along during the early stages of the fiscal shock. The horrific losses on Wall Street did NOT affect the vast bulk of American citizens. The banking system was still rolling along -- almost like 2008.

However, late in the year, the United States Bank (a private commercial bank in NY City -- such confusing titles became prohibited, it was grandfathered) locked up with a bank run.

Only after the event was it obvious that this particular bank was a critical node in the national economy. Within weeks affiliated banks all across the nation went under. They'd had their 'emergency' funds locked up with its bankruptcy.

It was THIS default cascade that triggered the business slump now described as the Great Depression. It was only after this travail that commodity prices went clear to the floor.

It's for this reason that the Fed is printing money at this hour. Bernanke is an expert on the cascade.

51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
The ideas of a graduated income tax and of an inheritance tax go back to Marx and Engels (cf. The Communist Manifesto).
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well, Mr Driscoll is documenting how people can make up-market movies for small money: maybe they will get made, now.

Slightly off- topic- how's about how public schools have summer reading lists that are full of social rot and totalitarian nightmares, all conveniently set in the USA, rather than the Ukraine, or Vietnam.

The Hunger Games talks about forced starvation and "districts" that specialize in particular forms of manufacture. Czechoslavakia was not permitted to build a car factory, despite need or talent, the Ukraine was starved. That happened there, not here.

A Ms Haddix writes a series of books about a government forcing family limits, and then the people finally rebelling. Right now, China has committees that kill off second children. Ms Haddix's book is set in the USA.

My kids don't get that (1) I want them to get good grades (2) but not at the price of slandering America's character and (3) soiling their own souls with totalitarian nightmares. They read the books, even when I insist that they don't have to, and that I'd rather that they read something else, and turn in an essay on why the book is a heinous nightmare.

And, then, they go " yeah, mom, blah-blah, blah, Reagan is great, Communism is bad....we've heard that lecture before." I'm hoping the lecture sticks longer than the wretched book.

51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
My parents let me read almost anything I wished, but also taught me that it was good to question anything I read, whether promoted by school, in a newspaper, magazine, famous author or respected politician. They trusted that I would be smart enough to figure out the good from the bad. I went through one phase when I read several years worth of National Enquirers and Weekly World News that a deceased aunt had collected. Another phase was some weird occult stuff. I read plenty of normal books too. It took awhile, but I began to see that one set of popular ideas promoted in America is weak and doesn't hold water, and another set is golden.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
From itmakesadifference: "It is a clever tactic when the cause of problems then defines itself as the victim. You can find examples of this all the time. Be aware of it."

Boy, if that doesn't sound like Obama -- learning from the Clintons -- nothing does! This is the very essence of the Obama regime.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thanks for linking to that YouTube Video. I'm a long-time Frank Lovejoy fan, and that movie is another jewel in his crown. I think his career finest role was playing USAF General Curt LeMay in the movie "Strategic Air Command." He probably played LeMay better than the LeMay himself did. (LeMay must have seen the movie. I wonder if he said anything about it.)

Another movie from the 1950s was "My Son John" in which Robert Walker played a communist to the dismay of his movie family Helen Hayes (mother), Dean Jagger (father), and Richard Jaeckel (brother). In this one, Walker's character was an intellectual persuaded to communism by his college professors. In the end he breaks with communism, and he dies on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial after being machined gunned by his former comrades.

Probably the best-known 1950s anti-commie entertainment was the TV show "I Led Three Lives" with actor Richard Carlson playing Herb Philbrick.

I distinctly remember seeing a movie around 1960 set in Hungary during the 1956 revolution against the soviet controlled government, but I can't find any on-line references to it. My memory of the cast has Yul Brynner playing a Russian colonel, Deborah Kerr playing a western woman (US or Brit) in Hungary trying to get herself, her young son (6 or so), and Jason Robards playing her husband (and CIA agent) overland into Austria through the Hungarian area controlled by Yul Brynner's forces. If anyone reading this can give me the movie title, I'd appreciate it.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
The movie you are describing is called "The Journey", filmed in 1959.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well, just noticed Diana West is doing a series on her book over on Brietbart. If you like you can see part one about stranding MacArthur and over 100,000 troops in the Philippines here... http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2013/08/03/Breaking-History-Part-1
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
The question implied by many is: if they were so effective, why didn't communism win?

They had the true believers in key places, yet they could not capitalize on the advantages it gave their side. That failure is used to the whole issue into question a sort of, "if your so smart why aren't you...."

The short answer is simply that a communist system simply cannot marshal the resources, human or physical to exploit these advantages.

They had much of Europe and rather than organizing it for growth, they killed what they had, most likely for reasons or control.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Communism is strong on ideas, bad ideas, but weak when practiced. Lenin found trying to turn the ideals of communism into a workable economy and society very difficult (and seeing the end of the Soviet Union, he failed). The trouble is that their ideas sound good and somewhat profound (if you don't apply too much reason, logic and sound economics to them) at a college discussion group or over tea, but putting them to the test of creating a real society of them is disaster. So lots of people love the ideas and promote them, but historically they don't work.

So in history, Communism is defeated and is a failed theory, while at the same time it is treasured and promoted in universities and some social circles.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sort of like Detroit. In fact, a lot like Detroit.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Kathy, while we are talking books, let's not forget our own Lt. Gen. Ion Pacepa and his new book "Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategy for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism". While he was not around during the time Diana West is writing about he does touch on the subject in his book. Actually, not just touches but more or less verifies what she said. I have just finished Ms West's book and am about halfway through Lt. Gen. Pacepa's book. They are both fascinating reading.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thanks, Perry! I just reserved a copy of the book from my local library. I'm 8th in the reservation queue for the book -- which the library hasn't yet received.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
A book with which I only very belatedly caught up, after reading Diana West's "American Betrayal", is "The Forsaken: From the Great Depression to the Gulag. Hope and Betrayal in Stalin's Russia". For anyone who hasn't read it, I can recommend it, but be warned: it is a heart-breaking account. The British author, Tim Tzouliadis, describes the horrific fate of Americans who "escaped" the Great Depression by emigrating to Stalin's ussr. That was not so much out of the frying-pan, into the fire, as out of the frying-pan and into circles of the Inferno which Dante could never have envisaged, in his very worst nightmares.

As Diana West does, Tzouliadis touches on the question of WWII and Korean War US POWs (and other Anglophone ones), who entered the gulag and never came out again. I say "touches on", because, although both West and Tzouliadis prove beyond any reasonable doubt that thousands of American military personnel were imprisoned in the soviet union (unprompted, Boris Yeltsin admitted as much, anyway), the Russians have been almost entirely obstructive towards attempts to find out how many Western prisoners were held in the gulag, or were simply murdered, and why.

One point Tzouliadis makes is compelling. Many of the first accounts of American and British POWs in Russian hands came from German and Japanese former prisoners, who had themselves finally been released by the Russians. Compassion towards their own former enemies compelled them to reach US embassies, to let them know that Americans were being held in soviet concentration camps, while the Russians showed no such pity towards their own wartime allies, either before or after Stalin's death in 1953.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
I have studied much in the pyschological and sociological constructs of totalitarians. As much as I dismay, it is in fact a part of human nature. Some would say it was the norm through out human history, which it is.

But then the USA happened.

That changed everything. Which of course made the USA target number one for the element in human beings to be control freaks.

The totalitarians do tend to gravitate together. Which for all practical purposes makes them force multipliers. A simple school from Germany set in motion a set of events that will if not stopped destroy the greatest civilization ever known to mankind. A group of people you can count on your fingers and toes and still come up a little short.

But in any civilization there is a point of no return. A point when the individual has nothing to lose. His life, his property, his self evidence of life its self.

They chained 12 year olds to machine guns on the front lines in Nazi Germany.

It was perfectly logical. To those farting thru silk undershorts.

This is our current state in the USA.

And if anyone concludes that you can find common ground with these types, you are mistaken. The moment you contest anything the ridicule of their depravity turns into contempt for your very being. It runs that deep.

On another note: The kids in Nazi Germany were not just chained to the guns. The guns themselves were chained. To the ground.

The people who put them in their position knew what they were doing. They decided that it was imperative that for their own personal safety that after chaining the kid to the gun...

The kid could not shoot them.

It is time to redeem the kids. We have a death sentence now in the USA under BHO and Reid and Pelosi.

Or, maybe you would rather have your kid chained to a machine gun.

That time will come. It is simply the nature of totalitarians.



51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
I second your comments on Mr. Tsouliadis' book. The chapters that I found particularly disturbing were the ones detailing New York Times reporter Walter Duranty's close relationships with the leaders of the NKVD (forerunners of the KGB) and US Ambassador Joseph Davies' "man-crush" for Josef Stalin. Davies actually ordered that would-be defectors (including a number of Americans who had emigrated to the USSR in search of a better life) be refused asylum and turned away, only to be apprehended by NKVD agents within minutes after being refused asylum at the US embassy or consulates.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
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