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Web Letter

"At different times 'Bumblebee' was Ethel Rosenberg's brother David Greenglass--or Walter Lippmann!"

Not to mention that "Liberal," if memory serves, was also assigned to Julius Rosenberg at some point. Were the Soviets completely unable to find someone with more than a 300-word English vocabulary to assign their code names?

Don Solomon

Boston, MA

Jun 7 2009 - 10:27pm

Web Letter

Interesting article, but there can be no doubt (with the Venona documents released by NSA and the Mitrokhin documents smuggled out by the SIS) that Hiss was a Soviet agent. The article seems to have trouble acknowledging this.

On Stone, the issue is more complex. The Soviets wanted to recruit Stone, saw him as an "agent of influence" and may have been able to shape some of his writings. He was never recruited, however, and his views, although often sympathetic, were always independent. This does not mean that he was not witting or at times complicit in Soviet efforts to shape American opinion in ways helpful to the goals of the USSR.

The concluding note about energetic young radicals inspired by the Popular Front building the New Deal may distort the environment of the New Deal and overstate--it implies some positive energy from Stalin at a time he was purging millions, and it sounds too much like an effort to justify today's radical agenda.

James Lewis

Alexandria, VA

May 15 2009 - 10:47am

Web Letter

In many ways an excellent article, although strangely arrogant and snarky in others.

I wonder if Guttenplan finds Victor Navasky and John Lowenthal (of whom he claims to have been a friend) among those elderly and "vaguely comical" obsessives so taken with the Hiss case. I wonder what exactly is so comical about the Hiss case and if he finds his own"obsession" with I.F. Stone equally humorous.

He also appears to take the claims of Nathaniel Weyl at face value. Weyl appeared in 1952 to claim that he too had been a communist and had been a member of the Ware group alongside Hiss. Yet no one else known to have been in the Ware group has ever mentioned the man, including Whittaker Chambers. So what does Weyl have to do with Hiss, aside from a belated and unsubstantiated claim?

As to his last question: What if McCarthy was right? (If indeed that is the question...) Right about what? McCarthy was not in the business of chiding about "idealistic young radicals." (The word "radical" is also problematic. It takes very little to be considered "radical" here. Civil rights, single-payer healthcare, labor unions--support for any one of the three has once or will now get one labeled a radical. And was the New Deal radical or reformist?) McCarthy claimed that the government was riddled with sworn members of the CP busy betraying the nation, and that he, Joe, had the goods on them. He also claimed that Trumen and Eisenhower were Communist dupes, as was Gen. George Marshall, and that the US Army was also involved in a red conspiracy. No one I am aware of has ever denied that there were socialists and communists working for FDR's administration in various departments. What they do say is that by time McCarthy came along, they'd all been gone for some time. I don't see anyone "pretending" they were never there.

Grif Fariello

San Francisco, CA

May 14 2009 - 6:07pm

Web Letter

Thank you for posting the picture of I.F. Stone. His face is as round as a pancake.

Darin Zimmerman

Charlotte, NC

May 12 2009 - 11:02am

Web Letter

I.F. Stone and many other leftists have found the Nazi-Soviet pact to be unpardonable, but it seems to me that it can be justified.

The USSR had urged the West to join in a united front against Nazism and fascism since 1935. Only after the West had ignored the conquest of Ethiopia, and abetted the overthrow of Republican Spain; after Stalin offered military help to Czechoslovakia; after Chamberlain and Daladier went to Munich; after it became clear that the Western establishment didn’t have a problem with the Nazis' racial theories, and hoped that Hitler would effect regime change in the USSR; only then did the soviets finally arrange a separate peace.

Mike Fahey

New York, NY

May 8 2009 - 3:39pm