Accuracy in Media

In a new revelation in the Panettagate scandal, CIA Director Leon Panetta inserted a tribute in the April 11, 1984, Congressional Record to one of his constituents, Lucy Haessler, calling her a “woman of peace” for her work in the pro-Soviet Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). This is when Panetta was a California Congressman representing Santa Cruz.

Panetta declared that Haessler participated in “peace conferences” sponsored by the Women’s International Democratic Federation “in France, the Soviet Union, Poland, and East Germany.” One has to wonder about the “peace conferences” being held in such places as the Soviet Union. But Panetta put the tribute in the record without displaying any indication of its Soviet sponsorship or casting doubt on the organization’s commitment to “peace.”

Panetta’s praise for Haessler got the attention at the time of Human Events, the national conservative weekly, which noted that WILPF “appears to take the Soviet line on virtually every issue that comes up, ranging from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and yellow rain [communist chemical warfare] to the issue of new U.S. missiles in Europe.” The Women’s International Democratic Federation was an outright Soviet front organization.

Panetta told Human Events that he was unaware of the extremist nature of the WILPF and other groups, but indicated it wouldn’t have mattered that much to him anyway. He said, “Let me tell you something. I don’t know if you know about Santa Cruz, but Santa Cruz is a center for people who’ve been real activists in all kinds of organizations. If I started doing those kinds of checks on people who help out…I’d never stop. It’s just that kind of place.”

But his tribute to identified Communist Party member Hugh DeLacy, inserted into the Congressional Record in 1983, suggests that Panetta did have keen knowledge of these “real activists,” by virtue of his praise for DeLacy’s stand against “McCarthyism.” Hence, it appears that Panetta did indeed “check” on these people, completely understood they had been accused of membership in the Communist Party or having communist sympathies, and found them totally acceptable and praiseworthy.

The series of “Dear Hugh” and “Dear Leon” letters discovered by blogger Trevor Loudon in the Hugh DeLacy papers at the University of Washington proves that Panetta had seriously checked out this particular constituent and had a working and cordial relationship with him. In fact, Panetta provided DeLacy, a key contact of a communist spy ring, with sensitive documents. And judging from the tone of some of the letters, DeLacy appears to be telling Panetta what to say and do as a sitting member of Congress. Even after Panetta attended a private “celebration” for DeLacy and his wife Dorothy, another communist, DeLacy reminded Panetta that he should return to scrutinizing the “military boondoggle.”

The tribute to Haessler proves that the DeLacy controversy is not a fluke but part of a disturbing pattern. In 1979, Panetta had spoken in Santa Cruz when the local chapter of WILPF was the site and host of the organization’s national congress.

“For 20 years, she [Lucy Haessler] and her late husband Carl conducted a public education campaign to impress upon all Americans the folly of U.S. military involvement in that region of the world,” Panetta said, referring to Indochina.

Panetta was a consistent opponent of U.S. military efforts to resist communism in such critical regions of the world as Indochina and Central America. The future CIA director was a vociferous critic of President Reagan’s use of the CIA to frustrate Soviet and Cuban designs on Nicaragua, where DeLacy and Panetta had both visited. DeLacy honored the Communist Sandinistas who had taken over the country while Panetta in 1983 sponsored a bill to terminate covert action against the Sandinistas.

After visiting Nicaragua, Panetta declared (Congressional Record, October 3, 1984) that he and his fellow members of Congress saw “real accomplishments” under the communists and that “The goal of the U.S. Government should be to normalize U.S.-Nicaraguan relations…” Panetta denounced what he called the “counter-revolutionary groups,” the Marxist term for those Reagan had praised and supported as “freedom fighters.”

After Reagan liberated Grenada from a band of communist thugs and rescued American students on the island, Panetta said in the Congressional Record (November 2, 1983) that support for the action from the American people should not be seen as a “blank check” and that it should remain “limited.” Panetta said that he was very concerned that the Reagan Administration had dispatched a U.S. naval task force to the vicinity of Cuba as a show of force. Hence, Panetta was clearly concerned that the U.S.-backed forces of liberation would undermine and threaten the Castro dictatorship.

The lines were drawn and they were clear: Panetta was on the other side—the wrong side—of the historical struggle between freedom and communism. This tendency was reflected in his tribute to Lucy Haessler, who with her husband Carl Haessler were sponsors in 1966 of the Herbert Aptheker Testimonial Dinner. Aptheker was a leading theoretician of the Moscow-funded Communist Party USA.

“The dinner was held on the occasion of Herbert Aptheker’s 50th birthday, the publication of his 20th book, and the 2nd anniversary of the American Institute for Marxist Studies,” blogger Trevor Loudon notes on his KeyWiki site. The list of attendees included Communist Party chairman Gus Hall, Hugh DeLacy, and party lawyer John Abt, whose memoir would later officially confirm DeLacy’s party membership.

In regard to Panetta’s tribute to Haessler and his rationalization for honoring her, Human Events commented, “One could bet the mortgage that if President Reagan or Sen. Jesse Helms were to take such a laissez-faire attitude towards support from Fascist or pro-Fascist groups, organizations that never deviate from the Hitlerian line, that liberals like Panetta and the Washington Post would be howling with rage—and rightly so, for a change. But such commonsense standards don’t seem to apply when liberals cozy up to the left.”

It was Aptheker who had praised the Marxist Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) as a source of “positive and stimulating products” coming out of Washington, D.C. Panetta and his wife Sylvia were members of a special “Celebration Committee” for the IPS in 1983, its 20th anniversary.

Human Events had written that “IPS…has been a driving force for radical change and socialism in the U.S…and has supported Communist regimes such as Cuba and North Vietnam and CIA defector Philip Agee.”

Had Panetta “checked out” the IPS? He most certainly did. But who “checked out” Panetta when he was nominated by Obama for CIA director? And who will check him out now that the full Senate is on the verge of voting on his nomination as Secretary of Defense?

It is natural that The Washington Post and other liberal media would protect left-wing nominees like Panetta. But how does one explain the silence of the conservative media? Do they fear being charged with McCarthyism for telling the truth?

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