I.F. Stone

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Isador Feinstein Stone (December 24, 1907 – July 17, 1989) was an atheist[1] considered by many liberals and leftists as the standard for independent investigative journalism. Several independent historians and researchers as well as retired KGB officials have come to the conclusion that Stone was among a number of persons inside the U.S. journalism community used as a Soviet agent of influence,[2] with one columnist going as far to call Stone "the KGB's front man in American journalism."

Contents

Early life

Born Isador Feinstein in Philadelphia in 1907, Stone was the son of Bernard Feinstein and the former Katherine Novack, non-observant[3] Jewish immigrants from Russia who owned a dry goods store. As a teenager, Stone began reading (among others) Karl Marx, along with the Russian anarchist Kropotkin and the Socialist Jack London. He became a radical, joined the Socialist Party and served on its New Jersey State Committee, he wrote, "before I was old enough to vote." In 1928, he became a public-relations man for Socialist Party presidential candidate Norman Thomas.[4] In 1937, he changed his last name from "Feinstein" to "Stone."[5]

Stone got his start in journalism at age 14 with The Progress, a liberal monthly in his New Jersey neighborhood. He became a reporter on The Haddonfield Press and The Camden Courier-Post. He quit the paper to hitch-hike to Boston for the trial of Sacco and Vanzetti,[6] a Communist[7] cause célèbre,[8] In 1927 he became a rewrite man at The Philadelphia Inquirer.[9] In 1933, he became a reporter for The New York Post.

KGB recruitment

“In 1937 Stone was a fellow traveler,”[10] according to Stone hagiographer [11] D.D. Guttenplan. “[H]e freely admitted as much.”[12] In 1988, Stone himself confessed, “I was a fellow traveler.”[13] But as late as 1989—the year Communism collapsed in Eastern Europe—Stone claimed to see no conflict between Communism and American ideals of freedom: “In a way, I was half a Jeffersonian and half a Marxist,” he admitted. “I never saw a contradiction between the two, and I still don't.”[14]

Stone was indeed a “fellow traveler" who "made no secret of his admiration for the Soviet system,” according to Oleg Kalugin, former head of KGB operations in the United States.[15] But he was far more than that: he was a willing intelligence source, “who began his cooperation with the Soviet intelligence long before me,” said Kalugin, “based entirely on his view of the world.”[16]

Stone was actually an “agent of influence”[17] who “could shape public opinion, manipulate public opinion,” according to Kalugin. Furthermore, Stone “was willing to perform tasks”: he would “find out what the views of someone in the government were or some senator on such and such an issue.”[18]

Stone was identified in Venona decrypts with the code name "Blin" (Pancake).[19] An NKVD New York station report dated April 13, 1936, indicates that “Liberal” (Frank Palmer, a Soviet agent in New York) recommended Stone to his bosses as a “lead.” The same report corroborates that “Isadore Feinstein [as Stone was then known], a commentator for the New York Post” was assigned the code name “Pancake.” A report from the same station the following month states that relations with “Pancake” had entered “the channel of normal operational work,” meaning that Stone had become a "fully active agent."[20] Stone also met with "Sergei",[21] who (under cover as “Vladimir Pravdin,”[22] New York bureau chief of the Soviet government news agency TASS)[23] was actually NKVD agent Roland Abbiat,[24] murderer of Ignace Reiss.[25]

Stalinist propaganda

Stone began writing for The Nation in 1932, becoming the magazine's Washington editor in 1940. In 1939, the Committee for Cultural Freedom, co-founded by progressive educator John Dewey and Socialist Irving Howe, published a “Manifesto” in The Nation criticizing Stalin's purges, arguing that Stalinism had made the Soviet Union into a totalitarian country, like Fascist Italy or Nazi Germany. Stone was one of “400 leading Americans” who signed an “Open Letter,” published in Soviet Russia Today, denouncing the CCF as “Fascists” and “reactionaries” for propounding “the fantastic falsehood that the USSR and the totalitarian states are basically alike,” and claiming that the Soviets Union "has shown a steadily expanding democracy in every sphere."[26] Unfortunately for Stone and other apologists for Stalin, this righteous blast appeared in September 1939, just in time for the Hitler-Stalin pact and joint Nazi-Soviet invasion of Poland to kick off World War II.

After World War II, Stone welcomed Soviet domination of Eastern Europe.[27] In 1948 he supported Henry Wallace for President on the Communist-inspired[28] Progressive Party ticket.[29] Even his worshipful biographer Myra MacPherson admitted that Stone voiced "only tepid criticism of Stalin's brutalities."[30] He was much more vocal in his criticism of the U.S. Government: for example, the Eisenhower White House's "merely 'official'" condolences upon the death of Stalin were "small-minded and unworthy of a great power," wrote Stone. "Magnanimous salute was called for on such an occasion."[31] He came to be seen as “an apologist for the hammer-and-sickle,” according to another sympathetic biographer, Robert Cottrell:

there was something disingenuous in his willingness to suspend judgment or to refuse to criticize still more forcefully the terror that was being played out in Soviet Russia.... What could not be denied was that Stone, like many of his political and intellectual counterparts, continued to afford Russia and even Stalinist communism something of a double standard, fearing that to do otherwise would endanger... the very possibility of socialism.”[32]

Korean war disinformation

Stone became Washington correspondent for the New York daily P.M.,[33] then in 1948 for its successor, The New York Star,[34] the next year moving, in turn, to that paper's successor, The Daily Compass,[35] for which he was a columnist until it went out of business in 1952.

That year, Stone published the The Hidden History of the Korean War, in which he lent credence to the Communist propaganda that South Korea was the aggressor in that conflict, peddling the conspiracy theory that it had “deliberately provoked” an attack by Communist North Korea, with “secret support from Chiang Kai-shek and some elements of the U.S. Government.”[36] His double-talk style may be glimpsed in the following excerpt:


Whether on June 25 the North attacked without provocation or went over to the offensive after an attack from the South, the attempt to pick that tempting plum solved many political problems on the anti-Communist side.[37]

James Wechsler, a former leader of the Young Communist League[38] and writer at The Nation, who was at this time editor of the New York Post (from which he launched vicious attacks on Senator Joe McCarthy) characterized Stone as “a fairly regular apologist for the Communists.”[39] Meanwhile the ex-Communist Richard Rovere, a writer for The New Masses (a Marxist journal once edited by Soviet espionage courier Whittaker Chambers) and future author of a book trashing McCarthy,[40] accused Stone of writing “heavily documented rubbish” with a pro-Communist slant. He called Stone “a man who thinks up good arguments for poor Communist positions,” adding, “Never, I think, has the communist line been upheld with such an elaborate display of the mechanics of research.” The Nation itself dismissed the book as “tendentious.”[41] Even McPherson agreed that this was Stone's “most tendentious work.”[42]

I.F. Stone's Weekly

In 1953, Stone began his own newsletter, I.F. Stone's Weekly, which he published until 1971.[43] Stone modeled his weekly after In Fact, a newsletter founded in the 1930s by the secret Communist[44] George Seldes,[45] whom Stone lauded as a "distinguished foreign correspondent and crusading liberal journalist."[46] Seldes co-founded the paper with "Bruce Minton,"[47] who was actually Soviet agent Richard Bransten, code-named "Informator." (He was married to millionaire[48] Louise Bransten -- a secret member of the Communist Party[49] and a Soviet agent[50] (code-named Lyre),[51] Who was also the mistress[52] of NKVD San Francisco Station Chief Grigory Kheifets.) The paper was secretly founded at the instigation of (and funded by) the Communist Party[53] as an American version of London's The Week,[54] published by Comintern agent Claud Cockburn.[55]

Liberal icon and Wikipedia disinformation

Stone remained a major hero to elements of the liberal media in the United States following his death just months short of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which led various print outlets from The Nation magazine to the Columbia Journalism Review to seek to exonerate him following the emergence of the new charges in 1992. In the pages of the Nation, liberal journalist D. D. Guttenplan argued that Stone could have agreed with some aspects of Soviet policy without his writing being limited to parroting their propaganda and that they may have considered him an agent of influence and sought meetings with him only to the extent he agreed.[56] Leftists like Guttenplan and MacPherson pointed out that one NKVD document that lists Stone among journalists identified as "probationers" [agents] Samuel Krafsur and John Spivak also mentions Walter Lippmann, an influential columnist, ex-Socialist[57] and Soviet intelligence source[58] who is not generally regarded as a Soviet agent (although his secretary, Mary Price, was).[59] Either Lippmann must have been an agent, they argue, or Stone must have been innocent. But as Max Holland, a contributing editor at The Nation, observes, "Lippmann’s relationship with Pravdin was overt. The columnist knew of Pravdin only as a senior correspondent for the TASS news agency."[60] Stone, on the other hand, went out of his way to keep his contacts with Pravdin covert, and gave every indication that he knew he was talking to a representative of Soviet intelligence:


...“Blin” said that he had noticed our attempts to [contact] him, particularly the attempts of [Krafsur] and of people of the [Soviet embassy in Washington], but he had reacted negatively fearing the consequences. At the same time he implied that the attempts at rapprochement had been made with insufficient caution and by people who were insufficiently responsible... “Blin” gave him to understand that he... did not want to attract the attention of the [FBI]...[61]

Even Christopher Hitchens, former Washington correspondent for The Nation, had to admit, "I can’t quite see why a man who wouldn’t lunch with a Pentagon official would deign to break bread with a Soviet Embassy goon."[62]

In 2008, the Nieman Foundation established the “I. F. Stone Medal,” an annual award in recognition of the “spirit of independence, integrity and courage that characterized I. F. Stone’s Weekly.”[63] Wikipedia of course got into the act and ended its own lengthy section of the I. F. Stone article by stating, "years of tailing by agents, informants, illegal car searches, and even pawing through his trash produced not a shred of evidence of clandestine activities." [64] These years apparently began only at the end of the Korean War and continued into the 1970's, when COINTELPRO was shut down. However, this statement notably lacked a cite, so we do not know where to go to read the declassified investigative reports accessed by Wikipedia.

References

  1. Bennett Muraskin, Jewish Humanists Remembered: I.F. STONE (1907-1989), Outlook Magazine
  2. Originally a Soviet term meaning "An agent of some stature who uses his or her position to influence public opinion or decision making to produce results beneficial to the country whose intelligence service operates the agent." Glossary (Unclassified): Terms & Definitions of Interest for DoD Counterintelligence Professionals (Office of Counterintelligence [DXC], Defense CI & Humint Center, Defense Intelligence Agency, 2 May 2011) , p. 8
  3. Bennett Muraskin, Jewish Humanists Remembered: I.F. STONE (1907-1989), Outlook Magazine
  4. A Word about Myself (The Official Web Site of I.F. Stone)
  5. I.F. Stone, Encyclopædia Brittanica
  6. Doug Ireland, "The Real History of a Radical, In These Times, June 15, 2009
  7. Stephen Koch, Double Lives: Stalin, Willi Munzenberg and the Seduction of the Intellectuals (New York: Enigma Books, rev. ed. 2004) ISBN 1929631200, pp. 31-39, 373 n. 23
  8. John F. Neville, Twentieth-Century Cause Celebre: Sacco, Vanzetti, and the Press, 1920-1927 (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2004) ISBN 0275977838 p. 101
  9. Peter B. Flint, "I.F. Stone, Iconoclast of Journalism, Is Dead at 81," The New York Times, June 19, 1989
  10. Myra MacPherson, 'All Governments Lie!': The Life and Times of Rebel Journalist I. F. Stone (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2006) ISBN 0684807130, p. 326
  11. Robert Fulford, “Two views on I.F. Stone,” National Post (Canada), June 14, 2009
  12. D.D. Guttenplan, “Red Harvest: The KGB in America,” The Nation, May 25, 2009
  13. Myra MacPherson, 'All Governments Lie!': The Life and Times of Rebel Journalist I. F. Stone (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2006) ISBN 0684807130, p. 354
  14. Tim Graham, Radical Writer I. F. Stone Wasn't A Paid Soviet Agent: He'd 'Perform Tasks' For Free, NewsBusters.org, September 30, 2006; The Nation, July 10, 1989, as cited in Notable Quotables, July 10-March 6, 1989
  15. John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999), ISBN 0300077718, p. 247
  16. Myra MacPherson, 'All Governments Lie!': The Life and Times of Rebel Journalist I. F. Stone (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2006) ISBN 0684807130, p. 326
  17. 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
  18. Myra MacPherson, 'All Governments Lie!': The Life and Times of Rebel Journalist I. F. Stone (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2006) ISBN 0684807130, p. 327
  19. Index of Cover Names, New York-Moscow Communications (Venona, National Security Agency), p. 10. Cf. John Earl Haynes (2008), Vassiliev Notebooks Concordance: Cover Names, Real Names, Abbreviations, Acronyms, Organizational Titles, Tradecraft Terminology, p. 159
  20. 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. 150
  21. Venona 1506 KGB New York to Moscow, 23 October 1944
  22. Robert L. Benson, The Venona Story (Center for Cryptologic History, Fort George G. Meade, Md., 2001), p. 31 (PDF p. 34)
  23. Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB (New York: Basic Books, 2000), ISBN 0-465-00310-9, p. 124
  24. Harvey Klehr, “Devils in America,” The New Republic, February 12, 2004
  25. Walter Krivitsky, In Stalin's Secret Service: An Exposé of Russia’s Secret Policies by the Former Chief of the Soviet Intelligence in Western Europe (Harper & Brothers, 1939), pp. 261-263 (PDF pp. 285-287)
  26. To All Active Supporters of Democracy and Peace, Soviet Russia Today, vol. 8, no. 5 (September 1939), pp. 24-25, 28
  27. Bennett Muraskin, "Jewish Humanists Remembered: I.F. STONE (1907-1989)," Outlook Magazine
  28. The Progressive Party was in fact a creation of the Communist Party, growing out of CPUSA General Secretary Eugene Dennis's February 12, 1946 order "to establish in time for the 1948 elections a national third party." (Arthur Meier Schlesinger, Jr. A Life in the Twentieth Century: Innocent Beginnings, 1917-1950 [New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2000] ISBN 0618219250, pp. 455-456). In 1955, the Jenner subcommittee cited the Progressive Party on its list of subversive organizations, identified as a Communist front. Wallace would finally recant his support for the Soviet Union in 1952. Henry Agard Wallace, “Where I Was Wrong.” This Week, September 2, 1952
  29. Stephen Lendman, IF Stone: An Iconic Radical Journalist, OpEd News, October 19, 2009
  30. Myra MacPherson, 'All Governments Lie!': The Life and Times of Rebel Journalist I. F. Stone (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2006) ISBN 0684807130, p. 118
  31. Isidor Feinstein Stone (Karl Weber, ed.), The Best of I.F. Stone (PublicAffairs, 2006) ISBN 158648463X, pp. 112-113
  32. Robert C. Cottrell, Izzy: A Biography of I.F. Stone (Rutgers University Press, 1994) ISBN 0813520088, pp. 68, 76
  33. P.M., The Writings of I.F. Stone (The Official Web Site of I.F. Stone)
  34. The Star, The Writings of I.F. Stone (The Official Web Site of I.F. Stone)
  35. The Compass, The Writings of I.F. Stone (The Official Web Site of I.F. Stone)
  36. Myra MacPherson, 'All Governments Lie!': The Life and Times of Rebel Journalist I. F. Stone (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2006) ISBN 0684807130, p. 264
  37. Lionel Abel, “Cold War, Reader Letters, Commentary, August 1969
  38. Herbert Romerstein and Eric Breindel, The Venona Secrets: Exposing Soviet Espionage and America's Traitors (Regnery Publishing, 2000) ISBN 0895262754, p. 172
  39. Myra MacPherson, 'All Governments Lie!': The Life and Times of Rebel Journalist I. F. Stone (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2006) ISBN 0684807130, p. 126
  40. Richard Halworth Rovere, Senator Joe McCarthy (University of California Press, 1996) ISBN 0520204727
  41. Myra MacPherson, 'All Governments Lie!': The Life and Times of Rebel Journalist I. F. Stone (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2006) ISBN 0684807130, p. 268
  42. Myra MacPherson, “Review: Spies: the Rise and Fall of the KGB in America and 'Three Tales of I.F Stone and the KGB: Kalugin, Venona and the Notebooks'”, HuffingtonPost.com, May 28, 2009
  43. I.F. Stone’s Weekly, The Writings of I.F. Stone (The Official Web Site of I.F. Stone)
  44. 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
  45. "'In 1952 I was over in Paris as correspondent for a paper that I knew wouldn't last very long and George [Seldes] saw me over there and encouraged me to start a little weekly like his,' said Stone..." John Guttenplan, "Obituary: George Seldes," The Independent (London), July 14, 1995
  46. A Word about Myself (The Official Web Site of I.F. Stone)
  47. George Seldes, Never Tire of Protesting (L. Stuart, 1968), p. 53
  48. Gregg Herken, "Target Enormoz: Soviet Nuclear Espionage on the West Coast of the United States, 1942–1950," Journal of Cold War Studies, Vol. 11, No. 3 (Summer 2009) ISSN 1520-3972, pp. 68-90
  49. Haynes, Klehr, Vassiliev 2009: 88
  50. Romerstein, Breindel 2001: 263
  51. Herken 2003: 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
  52. Romerstein, Breindel 2001: 257
  53. 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
  54. David Randall, The Great Reporters (Pluto Press, 2005) ISBN 0745322972, p. 85
  55. 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
  56. D. D. Guttenplan, "Izzy an Agent?", The Nation, August 3/10, 1992
  57. "Joined the Harvard Socialist Club and later became president... Elected to Executive Committee, Intercollegiate Socialist Society... Joined the Socialist Party, New York County, and the Socialist Press Club of New York City." Even after ending his formal membership, Lippmann remained a loyal fellow traveler: In the midst of the Nazi-Soviet Pact, "WJL" (Walter J. Lippmann) wrote to "ECC" (Edward C. Carter, head of the Communist-front "American Russian Institute" and Institute of Pacific Relations—"a vehicle used by the Communists to orientate American far eastern policies toward Communist objectives," according to the Senate Judiciary Committee's S. Rept. 2050: 225 [PDF 233]), urging "cooperation with the European revolutionaries and the Soviet Union in their attempt to build a socialist Europe as a nucleus for a world socialist order, with the obvious corollary of the establishment of socialism in this country." Walter Lippmann to Edward C. Carter, June 10, 1940, p. 5 (PDF p. 100), FBI file: Institute of Pacific Relations, Section 54, Part 11, pp. 96-101.
  58. According to Eric Alterman, a columnist and blogger for The Nation, Lippmann "offered much more useful information to the Soviets than Stone ever did."
  59. Venona 868 New York to Moscow 8 June 1943; Venona 588 New York to Moscow, 29 April 1944; cf. Institute of Pacific Relations Hearings, Part 2, Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws, Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, 82d Cong., 1st Sess. (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1951), p. 406 (PDF p. 62); Herbert Romerstein and Eric Breindel, The Venona Secrets: Exposing Soviet Espionage and America's Traitors (Regnery Publishing, 2000) ISBN 0895262754, p. 439; John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999), ISBN 0300077718, p. 99
  60. Max Holland, "I. F. Stone: Encounters with Soviet Intelligence," Journal of Cold War Studies, Vol. 11, No. 3 (Summer 2009), p. 172 (PDF p. 29)
  61. John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999), ISBN 0300077718, p. 248
  62. Christopher Hitchens, "I. F. Stone’s Mighty Pen," Vanity Fair, September 11, 2006
  63. Max Holland, "I. F. Stone: Encounters with Soviet Intelligence," Journal of Cold War Studies, Vol. 11, No. 3 (Summer 2009), p. 145 (PDF p. 2)
  64. Accessed online May 1, 2007

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