On March 18, 2018, the Washington Post Outlook section categorized KGB influence operations and my book, American Betrayal, both as “myth.” In response, I sent in the following essay, which Outlook has turned down.
I am the author of that unnamed “book written in 2013” whose research and argumentation, anchored in nearly 1,000 endnotes, were labeled a “myth” by Mark Kramer (“Five Myths about Espionage,” Outlook, March 18, 2018).
Here’s how Kramer made his case in “Myth No. 5”:
A surprisingly common misconception about spies is that they set out to change policy in the countries where they operate. A book published in 2013, for example, alleged that Stalin’s spies in the 1940s had effectively “occupied” the United States and guided the policies of the Roosevelt administration.
Since Kramer forgot to mention it, the title of that “book published in 2013” is: American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character (St. Martin’s Press). On page 68, I set out to describe the impact of the secret honeycombing of the halls of power and influence in New Deal/wartime Washington, D.C. by an intelligence army of covert agents and communists under Kremlin discipline — more than 500 have now been identified — and came up with “for all intents and purposes occupied.”
A goodly number of these secret agents, of whom Alger Hiss is only the most famous, reached senior policy-making positions in the FDR administration. In Kramer’s telling, however, all they really did as they inched closer and closer to the Secretary of the Treasury or State or the President was filch classified documents. Questions concerning whether/how these secret agents and ideological communists influenced the direction of U.S. policy- and even war-making to the Kremlin’s advantage — questions my book explores — are to be dismissed as what Kramer describes as a “surprisingly common misperception.”
Given that Kramer wrote an op-ed last year about the long history of “Moscow’s active measures to influence U.S. politics and undermine U.S. foreign policy,” perhaps it is his own recent Outlook statement that is surprising; however, it is no myth. ...