Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Harry Gold, McCarthy and the “Pink Dentist”

Harry Gold's career as a Soviet spy offers a vital but little understood insight into the Army-McCarthy hearings and the fake narratives that surround it.

The approved narrative from the patron saint of experty intellectuals:

Real Communists were usually too insignificant to warrant lengthy pursuit; McCarthy did not trouble himself much over an obscure radical dentist promoted by the army when he could use the case to strike at the army itself, and beyond the army at the Eisenhower administration.
Decades later, the song remains the same. From Sam Tannenhaus:

The best McCarthy could do was dredge up a 'pink' dentist at a military base in New Jersey.
We are supposed to understand that a pink dentist like Irving Peress could never be a spy because he had no access to secrets. Therefore, his promotion was no reflection on Army security procedures.

That “understanding” relies on a profound ignorance of how the Soviets operated. Gold's career shows that a successful spy ring requires a whole network of operatives who themselves have no connection to vital secrets.

Soviet espionage networks in the United States would not have been able to function without the assistance of a number of dedicated support personnel whose role was as essential as that of the sources who actually took documents from the government offices in which they worked or communicated secrets to which they were privy.
John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr, and Alexander Vassiliev, Spies
Further, Peress's profession made him especially attractive to the Soviets.

According to NKVD defector Alexander Orlov “the Soviets favored particularly the use of the surgeries of 'trusted dentists and physicians', which were the preferred sites for really important meetings.” They offered privacy and a convenient place to photograph documents. They were the perfect covert hub for communications and support. M. Stanton Evans notes that both the Bentley and Chambers spy rings included dentists as central figures. A dentist was also key player among the agents who surrounded Robert Oppenheimer in California.
Weinstein, Abraham: New York dentist who provided dental services for many CPUSA officials involved in its clandestine work as well as for many government employees who spied for the Soviets. The FBI concluded that Winstein acted as a communications intermediary; that many of the dental visits were a cover for passing of information to Weinstein, who then passed the information on to another party. Elizabeth Bentley identified a contact of Jacob Golos's who was a dentist and whom she knew only as Charlie. From her description, the FBI concluded that Weinstein was Charlie.
Philip Rosenblitt, a Communist dentist in New York, was part of the courier system for delivering Soviet money to Soviet intelligence networks in the United States.
Haynes and Kleher, Venona

Peress the man was never the real issue. His promotion, however, was an important matter for investigation. It suggested that the US Army was still lacksadaisical or worse when it came to security and counter-intelligence. This point was lost in the theatrics and agit-prop surrounding the Army-McCarthy hearings.

It remains absent in most of the histories of McCarthyism. In order to demonize McCarthy the Narrative must obscure that one key point: The Senator was broadly correct about the failures of the Administrative State to combat Soviet spying and infiltration.

As Nicholas von Hoffman put it back in the 1990s:

Point by point, Joe McCarthy got it all wrong and yet was still closer to the truth than those who ridiculed him.


The Katyn Massacre: Conspiracies and cover-ups


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Wednesday, June 14, 2023

An unlikely hero

Harry Gold was a Philly chemist who worked as a courier and spy for Soviet intelligence for over a decade. He was central to the operations that sent atomic secrets from Los Alamos to Moscow.

He was a diligent and effective agent, yet he possessed neither the ideological fervor of the Rosenbergs nor the greed of Aldrich Ames.

Allen Hornblum notes in his biography of Gold that he was "one of the most denounced, slandered, and demonized figures in twentieth-century America."

The calumny heaped upon Gold during his life and long after his death was only partially due to his disloyalty and criminal acts. It had far more to do with his confession to those acts and his naming of others who had similarly served the Soviet Union. Harry Gold was the human tripwire that brought down a host of Americans who had spied for the Soviet Union during the 1930s and 1940s.

When confronted by the FBI, Gold quickly confessed and revealed everything he knew about the Soviet spy apparatus in America.

Much of the American Left despised Gold for that confession. For decades they portrayed him as a liar and neurotic fabulist as they sought to exonerate their sainted Rosenbergs.

Hornblum's biography corrects those slanders. The Harry Gold in this book comes across as decent and generous. What most impresses is his stoicism in the face of adversity. He owned up to his crimes, did his time without whining, and then did his best to rebuild his life after his parole.