With the selection of the president hinging on a few hundred votes in Florida, passions rose on both sides. There was no indication that Gore, who was behind in the Florida tally by a mere 300 votes, would follow Nixon’s example in 1960 and refuse to pursue a recount if he was still behind on Nov. 17, the legal deadline for officially certifying the winner. Feelings were running high, and the differences between Bush and Gore were too great for their supporters to suggest that their man concede defeat if he was behind on Nov. 17 if he had any legal basis for challenging the tally.
Was this because they desperately wanted all the good things their candidate had promised-Bush’s tax cut or Gore’s reduction of the national debt, for example? Or was it because they believed that the candidate they opposed was bad and they feared he would do bad things? We have posed those questions to several Democrats and Republicans who acknowledged that they were passionate about wanting their candidate to prevail. With one exception they all said that their dislike or distrust of the other candidates and their fear of what he might do motivated them.
One ardent Democrat said his biggest concern was that Bush would appoint conservatives to the Supreme Court who would overturn Roe vs. Wade. While they were not part of our informal poll, we learned of two black Cub Scouts who told their white den mother that if Bush were elected, they would starve. Apparently that is what they were hearing at home. A civilian Defense Department career employee was fearful that a Gore victory would mean a continuation of what he considered to be tremendously wasteful policies pursued by the Pentagon under the Clinton-Gore administration. A veteran Justice Department lawyer who was hoping for a change explained, “I have been with the Justice Department for 18 years, and I have never seen such an unlawful administration. They ignore the rule of law. They create their own law.”
Neither candidate tried to convince a majority of the swing voters that their opponent was a bad person who would make a bad president. Bush thought a negative campaign would alienate the undecided voters. He only alluded to the Clinton-Gore record of corrupt and criminal activity in the first debate, mentioning the buck stopping at the Lincoln bedroom, his disappointment over Gore’s denying that a fundraiser he attended at a Buddhist temple was a fundraiser and his use of the term “no controlling legal authority” without even explaining the context in which he used it-excusing illegal calls he placed from his office to solicit campaign contributions. Dick Cheney, shunning the traditional role of vice presidential candidates-exposing the flaws of their opponents-did little, if anything, to expose Gore’s contempt for the truth and the law.
The Scandals: The Media’s Choice
This worked to Gore’s advantage because in a negative campaign he would have been vastly outgunned. There is a lot of evidence in the public record of serious violations of the law by Clinton and Gore and deliberate efforts to cover up their crimes. On the other hand, the worst crime committed by Bush that the pro-Gore reporters in the media could find was his arrest in 1976 for driving under the influence. A Maine newspaper that learned about the story in June didn’t think it was worth running, but when a Democrat activist planted it with a local TV reporter five days before the election, it instantly became the biggest scandal of the campaign. A Nexis search found 843 stories about it in five days. An exit poll found that a quarter of the Gore voters said it influenced their vote.
The next biggest scandal, judging from Nexis searches of media coverage, was the Bush commercial that flashed the word RATS on the screen for a thirtieth of a second. A front-page story in the New York Times suggested that this was a subliminal attack on Democrats, an idea based on a 40-year-old hoax. This story got big play in all the media. A Nexis search found 638 stories about that in two weeks.
The Real Scandals
These stories were firecrackers compared to the dynamite Bush could have used. Two days after the RATS story broke, another front-page story in the Times linked Gore to solicitation of large contributions from Texas trial lawyers, dangling the promise of a veto of a tort reform bill as bait. A Nexis search found only 157 stories about this, none of them on television, the main source of news for 70 percent of the voters.
But that is nothing compared to the discovery that for a two-year period the e-mail of the Executive Office of the President was not properly archived and could not be searched for subpoenaed material. Gore also had a system in his office that prevented his e-mail from being searched. The way all this was handled indicates that a deliberate effort was made to hide incriminating evidence. This was kept secret until last January, when Sheryl Hall, a whistleblower who knew all about it, contacted Larry Klayman of Judicial Watch.
Judicial Watch, which has filed a class action suit on behalf of individuals whose FBI files were illegally requisitioned by the White House, brought this to the attention of District Judge Royce C. Lamberth. Larry Klayman, who heads Judicial Watch, convinced the judge that the missing e-mails could include incriminating information relevant to their “File gate” suit. The judge has pursued it, hearing testimony from White House contract employees who first discovered that the e-mail had not been properly stored and searched for subpoenaed material.
Those employees had been warned not to tell anyone what they had discovered. They were threatened with jail if they did, a good indication that the White House senior officials knew that they were obstructing justice. The fact that they did nothing to correct the misdirection of the e-mail until November 1998 and that they have yet to recover most of it and have it searched for subpoenaed material shows that the obstruction of justice is continuing right down to the present time.
What Hidden E-mail May Reveal
The House Government Reform Committee investigated it and issued a report in October. Its chairman, Dan Burton, described it as possibly the biggest case of obstruction of justice in our history. That is because the e-mails, most of which have not yet been searched, could cast light on many matters in which Gore played a role or may have had knowledge of wrongdoing.
These include the probe of the TWA 800 crash; Gore’s secret deal with Chernomyrdin on Russian military sales to Iran; Gore’s management of the Citizenship USA program to naturalize a million aliens to get more Democratic voters for the 1996 elections; Gore’s solicitation of big contributions from trial lawyers in return for a veto; hush money payments to Webster Hubbell; the persecution of Billy Dale (Travel gate); File gate; illegal campaign contributions from foreign citizens, companies and China and the favors given in return; illegal use of the White House Data Base for political purposes; Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown’s selling seats on his trade missions for campaign contributions; hush money for Hubbell from the Lippo Group in exchange for a high-level Commerce Department job for their employee, John Huang; and the funneling of illegal contributions to the DNC and Clinton’s legal defense fund through Charlie Trie, Clinton’s old friend who hid out in China.
Bush Couldn’t Count On Media
A Nexis search found only 145 stories about the e-mail scandal in the three months ending in October when the Burton Committee’s thick report was released. C-SPAN aired the committee’s hearings, but they got no coverage on the TV networks. As a result, very few people knew anything about this scandal and its ramifications when they cast their votes.
This is one of several large gaps in the public’s knowledge of Al Gore’s character and record, information that could have influenced millions of votes. The media downplayed or suppressed it completely. That left it to Bush to call it to the attention of the voters and explain its significance. The pro-Gore journalists-and that was the great majority-were not going to dig up and report negative information helpful to the Republicans.
Negative Campaigns Needed
Bush may have been deterred from doing so by the belief that he would be accused of negative campaigning and mudslinging by the pro-Gore media. And he would have been, as his father was in the 1988 campaign. Some in the media called that the most negative, dirty campaign in memory. Dukakis had come out of the Democratic convention leading Bush by 17 percentage points, but the vice president demolished him, winning 54 percent of the popular vote and carrying 40 states with 426 electoral votes. The Bush campaign was managed by the late Lee Atwater, a firm believer in the value of exposing the dirty linen of your opponent.
What people remember most about that campaign is that the Republicans capitalized on an issue that had first surfaced during the Democratic primaries-the Willie Horton case and what it revealed about Gov. Dukakis? He had vetoed legislation that would have halted the practice in Massachusetts of giving murderers who were serving sentences of life without the possibility of parole-unsupervised furloughs from prison. He finally let the law be changed after it had passed the legislature with a veto-proof majority. Bush called Dukakis “a card-carrying member of the ACLU” and made an issue of the far-out ACLU policies that Dukakis supported. “Liberal” became a dirty word. He attacked Dukakis’s hypocrisy, dramatizing his failure to clean up the pollution in Boston harbor.
Gore More Vulnerable
Compared to Al Gore, Dukakis was squeaky clean, but neither George W. Bush nor Dick Cheney reminded voters of Gore’s crimes, flip-flops and reckless lies. They were determined to avoid “mudslinging.” That is what the establishment media call unpleasant truths about a candidate they favor. Lee Atwater demonstrated that you could tell those unpleasant truths and win. In the 2000 campaign, Bush and Cheney thought they would win with what Paul Weyrich has called a politically correct campaign. That means a campaign approved by the liberal establishment.
If they thought they could rely on the media to expose Gore’s serious flaws, they were badly mistaken. Last February Newsweek published a chapter from a biography of Gore written by Newsweek correspondent Bill Turque. It revealed that from 1970 to 1976, when he decided to run for Congress, Al Gore had been a heavy user of marijuana according to John Warnecke, a close friend and colleague of Gore’s on the Nashville Tennessee staff. Two other friends confirmed it. Warnecke said he and Gore smoked pot hundreds of times and occasionally marijuana laced with opium, which is known as Thai sticks. Warnecke said he supplied the drugs free.
In 1987, when Gore was running for the Democratic presidential nomination, Douglas Ginsburg withdrew his nomination to the Supreme Court when it was revealed that he had smoked marijuana when he was teaching at Harvard Law School. Gore decided to immunize himself against that fate. He called a news conference to confess that he had used marijuana after coming back from Vietnam. He said it was “rare and infrequent.” He was lauded for his honesty. Warnecke said Gore asked him to lie to reporters if they questioned him about this. Lie, he did, but he said his conscience had troubled him ever since.
Last year, when questions of possible cocaine use by George W. Bush were all over the media, Newsweek said, “There is strong journalistic justification for confronting any drug use in Bush’s past.” The establishment media didn’t apply that to Al Gore. The AP put out a tiny story giving Gore’s response to Warnecke’s charges. It quoted him as saying, “This is something I dealt with a long time ago. It’s old news.” A Nexis search found only 54 stories about Warnecke’s charges when the story broke in January.
Gore’s drug use, which was a criminal offense, was far more serious than Bush’s drinking problem, but measured by the number of stories found by a Nexis search, Bush’s DUI became the biggest scandal of the campaign. It was on all the evening TV news shows, all the morning shows and was discussed on all the Sunday TV talk shows. For two days in a row it was on the front page of The Washington Post, the second day as the lead story. Nexis found 843 stories about it in five days.
Some papers showed greater restraint. The Washington Times focused on the motives of those who broke the story in the last days of the campaign. It was true but irrelevant. That is what an editor at the Portland (Maine) Press Herald decided last July when one of his reporters learned about it from a local police officer and brought it to his attention. This was classic political mud slung by a defeated Democrat candidate for governor of Maine. Bush had no need to sling that kind of mud, but he should have informed the voters of the truths about Gore that were relevant to his qualifications for the presidency. If he had only done that, he should have won in a landslide because lawlessness and lying are not what most Americans look for in their leaders.
THE VENONA SECRETS
In 1995, the National Security Agency released several thousand World War II-era Soviet spy cables intercepted by a top-secret program now known as “Venona.” Although the program decoded only a tiny percentage of the intercepted messages, it revealed that more than 300 people in the United States were engaged in espionage for the Soviet Union. Almost half those identified as agents worked for our government.
Among those identified, as spies in Venona are Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. Julius gave the Soviets secrets about the atomic bomb and other advanced weapons. In addition, one of his assignments was to approve other spies in technical fields. Ethel dutifully typed copies of purloined documents and helped recruit new members of the spy ring. After Venona’s release, even their staunchest defenders conceded their guilt. Walter and Miriam Schneir, authors of the book Invitation to Inquest, long maintained that the case against the Rosenbergs was “the fraud of the century.” They now admit that “Julius Rosenberg was the head of a spy ring” and that his wife assisted him in performing his treasonous tasks.
The Venona Secrets: Exposing Soviet Espionage and America’s Traitors, a new book by Herbert Romerstein and the late Eric Breindel, demonstrates that there were bigger fish than the Rosenbergs who were spying for the Soviets. One of them, it claims, was J. Robert Oppenheimer, who as director of the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos fathered the atomic bomb. Two presidents, Kennedy and Johnson, honored Oppenheimer after his security clearance had been lifted. They saw him as a victim of an anti-communist witch hunt, but they underestimated the extent of the penetration of our institutions by agents whose primary loyalty was to the Soviet Union.
The Case Against Oppenheimer
“We can say for certain that Oppenheimer did in fact knowingly supply classified information on the atom bomb to the Soviet Union,” the authors claim. While he worked on the Manhattan Project, it was known that Oppenheimer’s wife, brother, and sister-in-law were all members of the Communist Party. The fact that he regularly gave a large portion of his salary to the Communist Party was also common knowledge among government officials overseeing the project, but his security clearance was not lifted until 1953.
His efforts to get it back failed even though “40 great names in American science and education offered evidence of his loyalty,” to quote his obituary in the New York Times. President Kennedy invited him to a White House dinner for Nobel Prize winners in 1962, “when, according to the Times, “the worst cyclones of McCarthyism had passed and many men and women were beginning to feel ashamed that they had bent to its winds.” In December 1963, President Johnson presented him with the $50,000 Fermi Award, the highest award of the Atomic Energy Commission.
A few months later, Special Tasks: The Memoirs of an Unwanted Witness-a Soviet Spymaster, written by Pavel Sudoplatov with Jerrold and Leona Schecter, was published. Sudoplatov a retired KGB general who was deeply involved in atomic espionage from 1942 to 1946. He claimed that four famous atomic scientists, Neils Bohr, Enrico Fermi, Leo Szilard and Oppenheimer, had all knowingly supplied the Soviets with highly classified reports on the development of the atomic bomb. His charges were hotly disputed.
Sudoplatov’s charges against Bohr and Fermi lacked strong corroborating evidence, but the Venona intercepts include a message ordering an agent to re-establish contact with Veksel, Oppenheimer’s code name. They also show that most of Oppenheimer’s closest contacts in the Communist Party were Soviet agents. In a 1982 letter to Yuri Andropov and the Politburo appealing for restoration of his pension and other rights, Sudoplatov listed Oppenheimer as one of his sources for atomic bomb secrets. Herbert Romerstein believes this is enough to close the book on Oppenheimer.
Harry Hopkins Fingered
The Venona Secrets adds to the evidence that Harry Hopkins, FDR’s right-hand man, was a Soviet agent, showing that he was involved with the Communist underground apparatus soon after he came to Washington in 1933. It says, “Venona has shown conclusively that the highest-level American government official working for Soviet intelligence was Harry Hopkins, the close friend and advisor of President Roosevelt.” Hopkins has been identified as the agent with the code number 19 in one of the Venona intercepts. During the war his controller was the spymaster Iskhak Akhmerov, who in a lecture at KGB headquarters attended by Oleg Gordievsky, described Hopkins as his most important agent in the U.S. during World War II. Gordi-evsky, who doubled as a British agent while serving as the top KGB officer in London, reported this in his 1990 book, KGB: The Inside Story. Further proof of Hopkins treachery was provided by another KGB defector, Vassily Mitrokhin, in his 1999 book, The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive.
The Venona Secrets supports these charges by exposing Hopkins’ ties with other Communist agents and his efforts to get FDR to do what Stalin wanted. He tried to persuade Roosevelt to send Viktor Kravchenko, a very important Soviet defector, back to the USSR. He failed because he couldn’t convince Roosevelt that Kravchenko would not be killed. He succeeded in getting Col. Phillip R. Faymonville, a pro-Communist army officer, promoted to brigadier general and sent to Moscow to expedite our Lend-Lease operations over objections from army intelligence.
The Role Of The Communist Party
The Venona Secrets shows that before, during and after World War II, almost all of the Soviet spies in the U.S. were members of the Communist Party USA. It shows that they were recruited, vetted and supplied to the Soviets by Communist Party officials, including Earl Browder, the head of the party. Before they were turned over to the Russians the party for “political correctness” checked out the spies.
The book draws on the Venona intercepts, material Romerstein found in the Moscow archives, and information from investigations by the FBI, the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee and the House Committee on Un-American Activities to show the extent of Soviet spying in the U.S. Its targets included the White House and U.S. government agencies, the Manhattan Project, and even ordinary Americans with contacts in Europe such as Jewish groups working to rescue potential victims of Hitler. U.S. government officials and American journalists were used to gather information and influence U.S. policies.
One prominent journalist, I.F. Stone was both an intelligence collector and a disinformation agent working for the KGB. In 1992, Romerstein, Reed Irvine and Joseph Goulden, who was then with AIM, charged that Stone, an icon of the Left, was a paid Soviet agent. This was based on information obtained from Oleg Kalugin, a former KGB general who re-recruited Stone after he had broken with the Soviets in the late 1950s. The Washington Post and The New York Times denounced Romerstein, Irvine and Goulden for using information from an unreliable source, the KGB. The Venona intercepts confirmed that Stone was a paid agent, but the Times and the Post haven’t reported that, nor have they apologized.
The Right Was Right
The media’s romance with the Communists has cooled since the collapse of the Evil Empire, but few journalists who had red stars in their eyes have publicly acknowledged that they were wrong. They seem to take no pleasure in reading books like The Venona Secrets and writing reviews recommending that others read them. That is still not politically correct.
The real victims of the Cold War, according to many journalists and academics, are not the millions who were executed or starved to death by Stalin or wasted away in the gulag. They were people like the Hollywood Ten and the Rosenbergs, who, as one noted apologist for American Communists said, merely “subscribed to a different form of patriotism.” Those who looked upon American Communists with suspicion did so because they suspected that their loyalty was to a totalitarian power whose ultimate goal was the elimination of freedom in America and the rest of the Free World. And they were right.
The Venona Secrets concludes, “The Communists never admitted to being traitors who placed the interests of America’s principal adversary (after the defeat of Nazi Germany) ahead of their own nation’s. Yet over and beyond Cold War findings, documentation that has come to light since the breakdown of the Soviet Union has provided additional proof that a significant part of the U.S. Communist Party’s energy was devoted to infiltrating the American government to obtain information useful to the Soviet Union.”
What You Can Do
A card is enclosed which may be used to make a tax-deductible contribution to Roger Hall’s POW/MIA FOIA Litigation Account. The address is 8715 First Ave. #8276, Silver Spring, MD 20910.