Accuracy in Media

A new book titled The Sword and the Shield has attracted considerable media attention, because it is based on copies of KGB documents that were smuggled out of the Soviet Union six years ago. Vasily Mitrokhin a KGB archivist had painstakingly copied KGB files for many years. He had kept his copies hidden under the floor of his country house until 1992, when British intelligence managed to get both him and his six trunks of copied documents out of Russia. Christopher Andrew, a Cambridge don, has now published a book based on them.

The New York Times, The Washington Post, 60 Minutes and Nightline have all done substantial stories about the revelations Christopher Andrew has plucked from Mitrokhin?s archive. They have exposed an 87-year-old English grandmother who fed atomic secrets to the Soviets beginning during World War II and who has never been prosecuted. They have told about Soviet plans to sabotage our electric power facilities and oil pipelines in the event of war. They have told about a Soviet effort to blame the spread of the AIDS virus on the U.S. military, disinformation that Accuracy in Media exposed 12 years ago when Dan Rather put it out on the CBS Evening News.

But they have all overlooked the biggest news in the Andrew book? New evidence that proves that Harry Hopkins, the closest and most influential adviser to President Franklin D. Roosevelt during World War II, was a Soviet agent. Andrew had reported this in a book he had written in 1990 based on information provided by Oleg Gordievsky, a high-level KGB officer who had also been smuggled out of the Soviet Union by British intelligence. Gordievsky reported that Iskhak Ahkmerov, the KGB officer who controlled the illegal Soviet agents in the U.S. during the war, had said that Hopkins was “the most important of all Soviet wartime agents in the United States.”

Hopkins secret meetings with Ahkmerov were not known to anyone until Gordievsky revealed them. They began before Hopkins made a trip to Moscow in July 1941, a month after the Germans invaded the Soviet Union. His insistence that aid be extended to Stalin with no strings attached justifies Ahkmerov?s evaluation of his performance. There is evidence that Hopkins even went so far as to arrange for the shipment of uranium to the Soviet Union to help them develop the atomic bomb. Despite this, Andrew argued that Harry Hopkins was “an unconscious rather than a conscious agent.”

Mitrokhin?s documents showed that Hopkins had warned the Soviet ambassador that the FBI had learned through a bug it had placed in the home of Steve Nelson, a Soviet illegal agent, that Nelson was getting money from the embassy. He met Ahkmerov from time to time, giving him information to send to Moscow and receiving secret messages from Stalin.

Andrew tries to put an innocent face on this, saying Hopkins was using Ahkmerov as a “back channel” to communicate with Moscow. Ray Wannall, former FBI assistant director for counter-intelligence, says he always suspected that Hopkins was a Soviet agent and that this is proof of his treachery.

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