Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"Spy Mystery Solved -- Scott" was Arthur Wynn


The above article, written by John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr, & Alexander Vassiliev was published in the May 4, 2009 issue of The Weekly Standard as entitled “Spy Mystery Solved, His name was Wynn. Arthur Wynn.”

Some time ago I read Venona, Decoding Soviet Espionage in America, 1999, by Haynes & Klehr. In America since the Truman Administration there has been controversy over whether or not there were any Communist spies doing anything in the US. The Spy-Deniers were slow to give ground. They were incapable of taking the perspective that the poor Soviet Union needed to spy because it couldn’t afford to duplicate everything the US and Britain did. No, there was no spying. Russian scientists did everything on their own.

We had McCarthy and HUAC but they were demonized as witch hunts in which there were no witches. No one was guilty of anything beyond a little idealistic wool-gathering. McCarthy and HUAC were works of the devil.

But time marches on. KGB files were opened now and again, and Western scholars did their best to learn as much as possible. Haynes & Klehr were perhaps preeminent in this group of scholars. As a side effect of some of what they learned in Russia, they learned about the Venona project. American decoding experts decoded the code used for diplomatic correspondence between Moscow and diplomatic personnel in the US; so Hoover knew that certain individuals were indeed Communist spies. But he withheld this information because if it were known that the FBI knew, then Soviet Russia would know that their code had been compromised and change to something else.

One of the things Hoover did was pass information secretly to McCarthy, but McCarthy was warned that he couldn’t divulge where he got the information. Arthur Herman wrote a book taking the Venona Papers into consideration and reevaluated Joseph McCarthy in the light of them: Joseph McCarthy, Reexamining the Life and Legacy of America’s Most Hated Senator, 2000. But few were willing to take another look at McCarthy. He has been too thoroughly demonized for any rehabilitation to take place. I engaged in many discussions after reading Herman’s book and found no one who sympathized with Herman’s views. Even if what Herman said was true McCarthy was a bad bad man. There were lists of his sins. They didn’t like the way he talked. He was a bully. He made allegations without explaining where he got the information. He was an alcoholic. His right-hand man Roy Cohn was gay and McCarthy didn’t seem to care. His right-hand man tried to get his gay lover a military deferment.

I tried to say, yeah, yeah, yeah, but the allegations McCarthy made have turned out to be accurate. So those who criticized McCarthy for false allegations have been proved wrong. Shouldn’t the books be balanced? No, no, no, they said. I read an article about a scholar who read Herman’s books who said something similar. Even if we were wrong about McCarthy. Back then it was right to be wrong.

The above article, however, has to do with the Communist spies in Britain. We have long known about the Cambridge “ring” of communist spies which included Kim Philby, Anthony Blunt, Guy Burgess, and Donald Maclean, but there was never strong evidence of an equivalent Oxford “ring” until now. Scholars recently found in the KGB files “A memo from Pavel Fitin, head of the KGB’s counterintelligence service to Vsevolod Merkulov, head of the KGB in July 1941, noted: ‘Scott’ is Arthur Wynn, about 35 years old, member of the CP of England, graduated from Cambridge and Oxford univs., radio expert, design engineer for the Cossor Co. Recruited in Oct. 34 by ‘Stephan’ from ‘Edith’s’ lead.’”

“Scott” was the KGB code name for Arthur Wynn. “Scott’s” name cropped up time and time again as an important Communist recruiter, but British “spycatchers” never found out who he was until this memo was released. Arthur Wynn died on September 24, 2001 at the ripe old age of 91, successful to the end.

“Scott” was of more interest to British spy-catchers than American I would imagine; although Haynes & Klehr find him fascinating: “Intelligence agencies only reluctantly open their archives for researchers, and well-documented espionage histories are slow in coming. Nonetheless, one mystery, the identity of ‘Scott,’ the ambitious recruiter of British students, is now solved.’”

It is interesting that Leftists are still reluctant to let go of their partisan defenses of the Communist Party Line; which was, in this regard, that there were no spies. Capitalists lied about Communist spies. What need had the USSR of spies? Didn’t they defeat the Nazi Army? Didn’t they send up Sputnik? There were no spies. That is the comfortable view that even today is held by many in spite of these KGB-archive releases. Reference has been found in the archives that prove Julius Rosenberg was indeed a spy but die-hard Rosenberg fans refuse to believe the evidence. Read any modern defense of Julius Rosenberg and it will be filled with anti-American innuendo. Their arguments remind me a bit of Mukhin’s Katyn Detective in which he denies that the NKVD killed the Polish Officers at Katyn and elsewhere, but his defense is fraught with anti-Polish innuendo. Just as, if you believe Mukhin’s arguments, the Polish Officers deserved to be shot; so did Capitalist America deserve to be spied upon, but Soviet Russia is innocent of both acts – according to the die-hard deniers.

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