George Seldes

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George Seldes (16 November 1890 – 2 July 1995) was an influential atheist[1] American journalist. Although held up to the public as a "liberal,"[2] he was actually a long-time secret member of the Communist Party who lied about it.[3]

In 1940, during the Nazi-Soviet pact, the Communist Party decided to create an American version of the London political weekly, The Week,[4] published by the muckraking British journalist Claud Cockburn, who was also a secret agent of the Comintern.[5] The resulting publication was In Fact,[6] a political newsletter that was extremely influential in shaping American public opinion in 1940-1950. This ostensibly "independent" periodical, supposedly published by Seldes and his partner, Bruce Minton,[7] was secretly funded by the Communist Party. Seldes later claimed that this was done through Minton without his knowledge.

"Bruce Minton" was the cover name of Richard Bransten, another secret member of the Communist Party—a fact Seldes claimed was unknown to him at the time. Bransten was also a Soviet agent code-named "Informator."[8] He was married to wealthy[9] San Francisco socialite Louise Bransten, who was yet another secret member of the Communist Party.[10] She was also not only another Soviet agent[11] (code-named Lyre),[12] but the mistress[13] of NKVD San Francisco Station Chief Grigory Kheifets.[14]

When Joseph McCarthy asked Seldes if he were a Communist, Seldes vehemently denied Communist Party membership. According to Library of Congress Cold War historian[15] John Earl Haynes, Emory University professor of politics and history[16] Harvey Klehr, and former KGB agent[17] Alexander Vassiliev, "Seldes lied."[18]

Seldes was actually a long-time secret member of the Communist Party, according to notes of KGB archival files made by Vassiliev in 1993-96. A cable from the NKVD's New York station to Moscow Center, dated April 19, 1940, identifies "George Seldes" as "a longtime fellowcountryman [Communist Party member],[19] who is listed on a special register [secret roll of Communist Party members]."[20]

"The word got around that I was a communist," said Seldes. The circulation of In Fact declined, and in 1950, the newsletter ceased publication. Two years later, Seldes urged I.F. Stone—who had lauded Seldes as a "distinguished foreign correspondent and crusading liberal journalist"[21]—to pick up where he had left off. "In 1952 I was over in Paris as correspondent for a paper that I knew wouldn't last very long," said Stone. "George [Seldes] saw me over there and encouraged me to start a little weekly like his."[22] In 1953, Stone began his own very influential newsletter, I.F. Stone's Weekly, which he published until 1971.[23] Stone was a Soviet “agent of influence,”[24] according to Oleg Kalugin, former head of KGB operations in the United States.[25]

References

  1. "[My brother] Gilbert and I, brought up without a formal religion, remained throughout our lifetimes just what Father was, freethinkers." George Seldes, Witness to a century: encounters with the noted, the notorious, and the three SOBs (Random House Publishing Group, 1988) ISBN 0345353293, p. 8
  2. Michael Kammen, "Introducton," in George Seldes, The 7 Lively Arts (Courier Dover Publications, 2001) ISBN 0486414736, pp. xii-xii
  3. Haynes, John Earl; Harvey Klehr, Alexander Vassiliev (2009). Spies: the rise and fall of the KGB in America. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0300123906. Retrieved on 9 January 2011.  "I never, never, never was a communist, even though [Communist Party General Secretary] Earl Browder kept asking me to join." Seldes quoted in Randolph T. Holhut, "The Forgotten Man of American Journalism: A Brief Biography of George Seldes," Tell the Truth and Run: George Seldes and the American Press (brasscheck.com)
  4. David Randall, The Great Reporters (Pluto Press, 2005) ISBN 0745322972, p. 85
  5. Chapman Pincher, Treachery: Betrayals, Blunders, and Cover-ups: Six Decades of Espionage against America and Great Britain (Random House, Inc., 2009) ISBN 140006807X, pp. 43-47
  6. John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr and Alexander Vassiliev, Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009), ISBN 0300123906, pp. 169-172
  7. George Seldes, Never Tire of Protesting (L. Stuart, 1968), p. 53
  8. Haynes, John Earl; Harvey Klehr, Alexander Vassiliev (2009). Spies: the rise and fall of the KGB in America. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0300123906. Retrieved on 9 January 2011.  Cf. Vassiliev, Alexander (1994). White Notebook No. 3 (Translated). Washington, DC: Cold War International History Project, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Retrieved on 9 January 2011. 
  9. John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, Venona: decoding Soviet espionage in America (Yale University Press, 1999) ISBN 0300077718, p. 232
  10. John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr and Alexander Vassiliev, Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009), ISBN 0300123906, p. 88
  11. Herbert Romerstein and Eric Breindel, The Venona Secrets: Exposing Soviet Espionage and America's Traitors (Washington: Regnery Publishing, 2001), ISBN 0895262258, p. 263
  12. Gregg Herken, Brotherhood of the Bomb: The Tangled Lives and Loyalties of Robert Oppenheimer, Ernest Lawrence, and Edward Teller (Macmillan, 2003) ISBN 080506589X, p. 129 (cf. 132 KGB San Francisco to Moscow, 18 March 1944; 257 KGB San Francisco to Moscow, 7 June 1944; 270 KGB San Francisco to Moscow, 22 June 1944
  13. Herbert Romerstein and Eric Breindel, The Venona Secrets: Exposing Soviet Espionage and America's Traitors (Washington: Regnery Publishing, 2001), ISBN 0895262258, p. 257
  14. Daniel J Mulvenna, Wales on Polenberg, H-DIPLO Discussion Log, H-Net (The Center for Humane Arts, Letters, and Social Sciences Online, Michigan State University), August 27, 2002
  15. Villamil, Patricia. Cold War Historian John Haynes Named Kluge Staff Fellow. Information Bulletin. Library of Congress. Retrieved on 9 January 2011.
  16. Harvey Klehr, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Politics and History. Department of Political Science. Emory University. Retrieved on 9 January 2011.
  17. "Alexander Vassiliev is ... a former KGB agent...."Alexander Vassiliev, author spotlight. Random House, Inc.. Retrieved on 9 January 2011.
  18. Haynes, John Earl; Harvey Klehr, Alexander Vassiliev (2009). Spies: the rise and fall of the KGB in America. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0300123906. Retrieved on 9 January 2011. 
  19. The Mystery of Ales (Expanded Version). theamericanscholar.org (Phi Beta Kappa Society) (2007). Retrieved on 9 January 2011. “In Venona cables, Communist Party membership appears under the cover word of 'zemlyak' (plural: 'zemlyaki'; feminine: 'zemlyachka'), which was translated by the NSA as 'fellowcountryman'....”
  20. Haynes, John Earl; Harvey Klehr, Alexander Vassiliev (2009). Spies: the rise and fall of the KGB in America. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0300123906. Retrieved on 9 January 2011.  Cf. Vassiliev, Alexander (1994). Black Notebook (Translated). Washington, DC: Cold War International History Project, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Retrieved on 9 January 2011. ; Vassiliev, Alexander (1994). Black Notebook (Original). Washington, DC: Cold War International History Project, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Retrieved on 9 January 2011. 
  21. A Word about Myself (The Official Web Site of I.F. Stone)
  22. Quoted in John Guttenplan, "Obituary: George Seldes," The Independent (London), July 14, 1995
  23. I.F. Stone’s Weekly, The Writings of I.F. Stone (The Official Web Site of I.F. Stone)
  24. Oleg Kalugin and Fen Montaigne, The First Directorate: My 32 Years in Intelligence & Espionage Against the West (Darby, Penn.: Diane Publishing Company, 1994), ISBN 0788151118, p. 74
  25. John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999), ISBN 0300077718, p. 247
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