Amerasia's chief financial benefactor was Frederick Vanderbilt Field. Jaffe, a friend of CPUSA general secretary Earl Browder. Its staffers and writers included many Communists. Joseph Milton Bernstein, a Soviet Military intelligence (GRU) contact between Soviet agents in the Office of Strategic Services and the Board of Economic Warfare, was an employee.
The Amerasia Affair
Ex-Communist Louis F. Budenz, former managing editor of the Communist Party organ The Daily Worker, advised Federal Bureau of Investigation agents that Jack Stachel, a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, referred to Amerasia as "our paper." Budenz stated that Stachel told him the magazine was founded on orders of the Politburo, which appointed Frederick Vanderbilt Field, Philip Jaffe, and others "in the Communist cell within the IPR to direct Amerasia."
Frederick Vanderbilt Field testified that he had discussed with associates in the Institute of Pacific Relations (IPR) the project of starting Amerasia in 1937. Amerasia was established with the full approval of the Institute leaders. This property belonged to Fredrick Field and Philip Jaffe, with Field holding the controlling interest. Field testified that he owned 50 per cent of the stock, while Jaffe owned 49 per cent. A good many of Field's associates in IPR were on the editorial board of Amerasia. Field named Owen Lattimore, Kate Mitchell, Harriet Moore, T. A. Bisson, Benjamin Kizer, a trustee of the Institute, and Philip Jaffe, who also was a member of the Institute and a contributor to its periodical.
When Field made his effort to get into Army Intelligence, it was in writing on the letterhead of Amerasia, showing Field as chairman of the editorial board with Owen Lattimore and William T. Stone as members of the board. There was no change in ownership of this magazine from 1937 to 1943, when Field resigned and Jaffe took over.
There appeared in Amerasia a long account which was recognized in General William Donovan's Office of Strategic Services (the OSS) as verbatim reproduction of a government top secret document. The Amerasia Papers consist of documents seized by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents on June 6, 1945.
Six persons, Philip Jaffe, Mark Gayn, Kate Mitchell and three others who were U.S. government officials, Andrew Roth, Emmanuel Larsen, John S. Service, were arrested on conspiracy and espionage charges related to the possession of over 1,000 stolen classified Government documents. Documents from Military Intelligence, Naval Intelligence, Bureau of Censorship, British Intelligence, Office of Strategic Services and the U.S. State Department were confiscated. Among these documents were military reports giving secret information on the position and disposition of Chinese Nationalist armies of Gen. Chiang Kai-shek.
This resulted in the so-called Amerasia Affair.
Because the FBI had burglarized the office of Amerasia and the homes of several individuals, the evidence was deemed tainted. T.A. Bisson of the Board of Economic Warfare was also involved in Amerasia.
Congressional interest in the case continued, however. In 1946, a House Judiciary subcommittee chaired by Rep. Samuel F. Hobbs and, in 1950, the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the Investigation of Loyalty of State Department Employees, or "Tydings Committee", investigated the Amerasia case. In 1955, the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee asked the Justice Department to deliver the Amerasia materials to them. The records were declassified and, in 1956 and 1957, the Justice Department delivered 1,260 documents to the subcommittee.
The committee published The Amerasia Papers: A Clue to the Catastrophe of China (2 vols., 1970), offering a summary of the case.
The highest-level government employee arrested in the Amerasia case was State Department official John S. Service, one of John Carter Vincent's "China Hands", who shared living quarters with KGB Agent Solomon Adler of the Treasury Department when they both served in China. Upon Service's return to the United States, Service spent time in the company of Jaffe, whom he attested he had just met, showing personal copies of his reports, and commenting to Jaffe while under audio surveillance by FBI that, "What I said about the military plans is, of course, very secret." Andrew Roth, also arrested in the case, was the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) liaison officer with the Department of State.
Former Franklin Roosevelt intimate adviser, Thomas Corcoran, representing several of the accused was able to obtain reduced charges for some and have others dropped. The Truman Justice Department swept the matter under the rug. Service was restored to State Department duties. Jaffe and Larsen received fines, and all others were not prosecuted.
Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin years later said that FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover believed he had an "airtight case," and Justice Department officials were ready to prosecute. The case displayed every type of security breach imaginable, and federal crime: theft of documents, policy subversion, cover-up, perjury, and obstruction of justice. McCarthy maintained it was a security breach and cover-up of immense proportions.
- Klehr, Harvey, The Amerasia Spy Case: Prelude to McCarthyism, University of North Carolina Press, 1996. ISBN 0807822450
- Service, John S., The Amerasia Papers: Some Problems in the History of US-China Relations, Center for Chinese Studies, 1971.
- McCarthyism: Waging the Cold War in America, by M. Stanton Evans, Human Events, 05/30/1997. Updated 05/08/2003.