In the ongoing debate sparked by Diana West’s provocative new book American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character, which details twentieth century communist infiltration into American government, West and supporters have tangled with heavy hitting historians on the right and the left.
In particular, Ron Radosh, a conservative historian and writer for Front Page Magazine who focuses on the Cold War, wrote a scathing review along with a series of follow-up articles that attack the accuracy of West’s claims.
One of the strongest accusations by West has been that President Franklin Roosevelt’s closest aid, Harry Hopkins, was Soviet agent number 19, a claim that Radosh vehemently disputes.
A number of other academics have chimed in on this claim too, including John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, who wrote a long, scholarly article detailing why it is incorrect to call Hopkins a Soviet agent.
Hayes and Klehr concluded:
We don’t think an assertion that someone was an agent of a foreign power should be made unless one has convincing evidence. To do so in the absence of convincing evidence is poisonous and contaminates civil discourse. That Hopkins made stupid or pernicious decisions is one thing: there is, however, no convincing evidence that he was a traitor.
West and Andrew C. Bostom, another Front Page Magazine writer, responded to the Hayes and Klehr article.
Bostom posted this note in the Hayes and Klehr article comments section:
Another point the authors need to address is the claim spatchcocked into the original Radosh screed, which I asked Mr. Haynes, about in an e-mail:
Dear Mr. Haynes,
I read with interest your piece at Frontpage re: Harry Hopkins http://frontpagemag.com/2013/
j…and noticed you did not repeat this definitive claim by Radosh:
“At a conference on Soviet espionage held a week before his untimely
death, West’s source, Eduard Mark, publicly stated that he now acknowledged that Harry Hopkins was not Agent 19, and that the conclusion he had reached in his 1998 article was false.”
Since you were featured prominently at the 2009 conference, can you please direct me to the point in the video coverage of the conference where one may view, as Radosh put it: “Eduard Mark, publicly stat[ing] that he now acknowledged that Harry Hopkins was not Agent 19, and that the conclusion he had reached in his 1998 article was false.” ?
Short of that–although that is what is needed–can you verify that you too heard that public proclamation??
Andrew G. Bostom, MD, MS
Radosh had this response to West and Bostom:
In answer to Andrew G. Bostom’s query, as well as that by Diana West, let me shed light on this.
The reason you did not find it on any C-Span video is that the network did not tape the entire proceedings. The long afternoon panel and another one were not recorded. At the time, a number of us commented how upset we were that they did not choose to film the very important afternoon panel in particular.
More to the point, I am now quoting the e-mail I and others received from Mark Kramer, the editor of The Journal of Cold War Studies, and Program Director at the Project on Cold War Studies, Harvard University, and Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.
“Ron, I can definitely confirm it.
I was chairing the session, and Ed intervened when Stan Evans referred to Harry Hopkins as No. 19. Ed said “The Vassiliev notebooks show that this isn’t true. I thought it was, but it isn’t. When I found out that I’m wrong, I’m willing to admit it.” I talked about this with Ed after the session, as he and I were heading for the metro station.” Others, including me, remember this quite well.
In a full length article on her website, West went after the contention over whether Hopkins gave information to an ambassador on FBI surveillance to a Soviet ambassador or agent. She said that “according to Haynes and Klehr’s source, we can’t say with certainty that Hopkins approached the ‘ambassador.'”
West also said that the “rationale for excusing Hopkins would seem to have disappeared.”