A Tale of Two Friends

The orbits of two men collided several times. One was clever, the other brilliant. Both came from families touched by troubles.

The clever one seemed to know how to play the game, how to kiss up to the right people and provide a train of contacts. He knew how to dress and act for success. His path from Johns Hopkins to Harvard Law involved playing the rules properly and never get his hands dirty. His only experience with commerce was selling lemonade to workmen in the neighborhood when he was a child. He served as a law clerk for a Supreme Court Justice and joined a major law firm. Then he went into Government, serving as counsel to an investigative committee headed by two Republican Senators before moving into the Department of Agriculture.

The brilliant one was a bit of a rebel and rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. He got the boot from Columbia and went on the road. He was soon an operative of the USSR as part of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA). The brilliant friend became a master of many languages and earned money doing translations, Bambi being the most famous. The brilliant friend never ‘dressed for success’ and gave little thought about personal appearance.

The two men became friends and fellow conspiratorial agents during the 1930s but events seemed to have had an effect on one but not the other. The brilliant revolutionary became a father and had experienced the dismay that many ‘progressives’ felt when Stalin decided that fascism was tolerable if two monsters could share the loot. The brilliant friend quit the CPUSA and tried to encourage his friends to do the same. His clever friend decided to stay with the winning side.

While the clever friend never got any closer to agriculture than a desk in Washington, the brilliant friend became a working farmer as well as senior editor at a respected publication.

The brilliant friend was concerned that Soviet agents still in place in the Federal Government could weaken the resolve of the West to stand up to global tyranny. After being hit with a libel suit about CPUSA ties to his former friend, the brilliant friend was obliged to present evidence of espionage The resulting trial and conviction of the clever friend created a split in leftist circles and a cottage industry in contrived exoneration attempts.

If we were to compare academic records, personal appearance, and big-name connections, the clever friend comes out on top. Yet on his creative skills and integrity when it was most needed, the brilliant one is the one worthy of admiration.

I need not mention the names of the parties.


  1. Alger Hiss and the Rosenbergs weren’t guily, Art. Didn’t you hear? The Venona decrypts were FBI fabrications, and the Mitrokhin archives a staged revelation.

    See, Art, Hiss couldn’t have been a Soviet spy, because even if he was a spy, he couldn’t have been Ales; because Venona discovered references to Ales and HISS violated Soviet best tradecraft practices, which is something the Soviets would never do, unless they had to reuse one time pads in Finland, or use up spies in Britain in order to get critical information.

    Oh, speaking of Vasili:

    ” The World Was Going Our Way: The KGB and the Battle for the Third World, Basic Books (2005) hardcover, ISBN 0-465-00311-7, pages 69-85. According to the book, Allende made a personal request for Soviet money through his personal contact, KGB officer Svyatoslav Kuznetsov, who rushed to Chile from Mexico City to help Allende. The original allocation of money given by the KGB for these elections claimed the amount was $400,000, with an additional personal subsidy of $50,000 directly to Allende. Andrew argued that help from KGB was a decisive factor, because Allende won by a narrow margin of only 39,000 votes of a total of the 3 million cast. After the elections, the KGB director Yuri Andropov obtained permission for additional money and other resources from the Central Committee of the CPSU to ensure Allende’s victory in Congress. In his request on 24 October, he stated that KGB “will carry out measures designed to promote the consolidation of Allendes’s victory and his election to the post of President of the country” In his KGB file, Allende was reported to have “stated his willingness to co-operate on a confidential basis and provide any necessary assistance, since he considered himself a friend of the Soviet Union. He willingly shared political information…”. ”

    From, Wiki, as I don’t have the book here at the office.

  2. It should be noted that while Rosenberg was not a key player in the atomic espionage, he ran a rather large spy ring. One of their more valuable thefts involved data on the SCR-584 radar, the mist advanced system of its day. With it could automatically track flying targets and with the associated mechanical computer, direct 90mm AA guns. It was effective against V-1 flying bombs and was in use for quite some years.

    Brother in law Greenglass was closer to atomic secrets and evenly stole a sample of plutonium. Julius and wife did not consider Greenglass to be a ‘good Communist’ and spoke of ‘educating him’ after escape via Mexico. Those FBI guys in that Acme Construction Company van outside of their apartment building never was noticed.

    Ethel fried because she and Julius were such good Communists. A 1200 volt zap did not make her a modern Joan of Arc.

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