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From: John E. Haynes <email@example.com> and Harvey Klehr The Venona Messages as a Historical Source. The opening up in Russia of previously closed Soviet archives has given scholars access to primary material of great richness. However, not all archives are open, and several important ones are still shut. In particular, the archives of the foreign intelligence operations of Soviet military intelligence (GRU) and those of the foreign intelligence arm of the KGB (and its predecessor agencies) are not open to research. Given the institutional continuity between the former Soviet intelligence agencies a and their Russian successors, the opening of these archives is not anticipated very soon, even for material that is more than fifty years old. For that reason, the release of the Venona messages by the U.S. National Security Agency over the past several years is most welcome. Here we have several thousand pages of material that is in those still closed archives: messages between the Moscow headquarters of the GRU and KGB and their field office in New York, Washington, London, Ottawa, and elsewhere during World War II. Venona messages are telegraphic cables. They contain time-urgent material, administrative messages, and "heads-up" alerts of more lengthy written reports, documents, and film that were sent by courier or diplomatic pouch but which took weeks to reach Moscow under wartime conditions. The messages are only a sliver of the totality of records that must be in those archives, but even a few thousand messages allow us to see more clearly a number of historically significant matters. We are writing a book on what the Venona messages establish about a number of historical matters. Even before the book, however, there is one observation and one example we would like to give. First, the observation: The Soviet foreign intelligence agencies on occasion acted as conduits for sensitive information intended for other Soviet agencies or had reason to contact other Soviet agencies about something that arose in the course of intelligence work. Consequently, while the Soviet intelligence archives are closed, one can find the open archives in Russia material contained in Venona messages. We did extensive research in Comintern records in 1992-1995, before Venona was open. We were not looking, and because the contents of Venona were then unknown, could not have looked for material related to specific Venona messages. Now that Venona is open, we find that we found by accident more than a dozen Comintern documents directly related to specific Venona messages (KGB, GRU and Naval GRU messages). In one case we found in the records of the Comintern what turns out to be the complete text of a very lengthy and badly broken Venona message. (The Venona message were enciphered, and American code breakers in a number of cases could decipher a message only in part.) We make the observation that if we could come across a dozen matches between Venona messages and material in a Moscow archive by accident, a more systematic look once one has digested the contents of Venona would probably produce many more such matches. We also note that in all cases where we found documents in a Moscow archive that match up with a Venona message, that the identification by NSA/FBI of cover names was 100% accurate. The example we wish to give about Venona to illustrates its potential as a historical documentary source is in regard to the case of the diplomat Laurence Duggan. Duggan joined the U.S. State Department in 1930 and was chief of the Division of American Republics from 1935 until 1944, a lengthy tenure. After leaving the State Department he served as a diplomatic adviser to the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. He was a close adviser of Vice-President Henry Wallace, and after Duggan's death in 1948, Wallace said that had he become president he would have considered Duggan for the post of secretary of state. In 1939 Whittaker Chambers, then a little-known journalist, met privately with Assistant Secretary of State Adolf Berle, Jr. He told Berle that Duggan was one of several mid-level government officials who cooperated with the Communist party's underground operations. Berle does not appear to have done much about Chambers' information but did eventually give it to the FBI, which was also slow in following-up on Chambers information. Duggan was forced out of the State Department in 1944, but whether this resulted from a security investigation, Secretary of State Hull's view that Duggan was one of Sumner Welles's proteges (the generally accepted view), or Duggan having lied to Hull about his contacts with the journalist Drew Pearson (see Pearson's published diaries, p. 95) is unclear. Chambers stated in his autobiography WITNESS that the Soviet espionage network with which he worked in the mid-1930s had judged Duggan a likely recruit and several times approached him. However, Duggan had rejected the recruitment, finally explaining that he was already working for a separate Soviet espionage apparatus. Hede Massing, like Chambers a former Soviet spy, confirmed this story, stating in her book, THIS DECEPTION, that Duggan reported to the Soviet intelligence network of which she was a part. In 1948 the FBI interviewed Duggan. He denied participation in espionage but cut short the interview. Ten days latter Duggan fell to his death from his 16th floor office window. A tasteless remark by Congressman Karl Mundt (asked when HUAC would name suspected Soviet spies, he responded, "we'll name them as they jump out of windows.") ignited a fire storm of protest. Duggan's prominent establishment friends fervently defended his reputation. Since then Duggan has figured in many accounts as a loyal public servant driven to suicide by baseless accusations. Judging Chambers and Massing to be reliable, however, we referred to Duggan in our book THE SECRET WORLD OF AMERICAN COMMUNISM as one of several possible sources of two stolen (copied) U.S. State Department diplomatic correspondence we found in a Moscow archive. In an otherwise generous review of our 1995 book, Arthur Schlesinger took harsh exception to a reference to Duggan, saying: "Without supporting evidence, the Yale University Press should not have permitted this book to blacken the name of a man whom many knew as an able public servant." Our book appeared before Venona was released. It was, then, with some interest that we reviewed what, if anything, Venona had to say about Laurence Duggan. We did not expect much because Chambers and Massing had described Duggan's activities in the latter half of the 1930s. Venona, however, has no material from the 1930s and the bulk is from 1944 and 1945. For all we knew, Duggan had by that time ceased cooperating with Soviet intelligence. After all, both Chambers and Massing had quit by that point . Venona shows, however, that Duggan had not ceased to spy for the Soviet Union. Nine Venona messages deal with Laurence Duggan under the cover names of Frank, Prince, and Sherwood. All of the messages regarding Duggan originate with the KGB (variously NKVD and MGB at the time) office in New York and span the period June 1943 to September 1944. Message #1025, 1035-1036, KGB New York to KGB Moscow, 30 June 1943. This message is from Mayor, the cover name of Iskhak Akhmerov. Akhmerov was a KGB "illegal" officer operating under a fake identity and without diplomatic cover. It is addressed to Victor, the cover name of General Pavel Fitin, head of the foreign intelligence directorate of the KGB. This is a very long message of which only portions of the text were broken. Duggan reported on U.S. and U.K. plans for the invasion of Italy, on troop training for an invasion of Norway [this operation was prepared but later canceled], and in a badly broken section, on American - Argentine diplomacy. A section of the message appears to give what the message text itself described as a Duggan "resume." This section is largely unbroken but one of the successfully decoded parts refers to someone as "by profession an authoress," which would be a reference to Duggan's mother who was an established writer. The presence in the message of Duggan's resume may be a routine revetting, may indicate that he had been a source temporarily on the shelf for a period and just revived, or may indicate that his former network was a Comintern related one that was being taken over by the KGB. There were a number of Comintern -linked networks that in 1943 and 1944 were shifted to direct control by the KGB, at which time often all members were revetted. Message 380, KGB New York to KGB Moscow, 20 March 1944. This message, as was the first, is from the illegal agent Akhmerov to General Fitin. It is a very long message but only part of the first sentence indicating the messages deals with a communication from Duggan was broken. Message 744, KGB New York to KGB Moscow, 24 May 1944. This message is from May, the cover name of Stepan Apresyan, the chief of the KGB residency in New York. It is a very long message with information from Duggan, although one should note that Duggan' s cover name was not completely broken. The source, however, reported on political/diplomatic conversations with Henry Wallace to whom Duggan was extremely close. Message 916, KGB New York to KGB Moscow, 28 June 1944. This message is also from Apresyan, the chief of the KGB residency in New York. It describes a Duggan report but the text is so badly broken that the subject matter is unclear. Message 1015, KGB New York to KGB Moscow, 22 July 1944. This message is to General Fitin but the sender's name was not broken. One section of the message reports that Frank [cover name for Duggan] was resigning from the U.S. State Department. By the time the message was sent, 22 July, Duggan had already submitted his resignation, 19 July. Message 1114, KGB New York to KGB Moscow, 4 August 1944. This message from Apresyan reports that Frank [cover name for Duggan] has gotten a new post with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. (Duggan officially received his appointment to UNRRA in late July 1944.) Apresyan also reported that before his resignation from the State Department, Duggan had warned the KGB's Akhmerov that his position was precarious. The text here is partially garbled due to some unbroken code groups, but appears to indicate that Akhmerov had told Duggan to hold on at State as long as possible. Message 1251, KGB New York to KGB Moscow, 2 September 1944. This message from Apresyan about changing cover names. Moscow had proposed that Duggan's cover name be changed from Frank to Sherwood. For technical cipher-related reasons, Apresyan says his office preferred to use the cover name Prince. Message 1613, KGB New York to KGB Moscow, 18 November 1944. This message from Apresyan reported that Akhmerov had tried to contact Duggan but that Duggan's wife said that he was then away on a trip to South America. [Duggan, in fact, was in South America at the time.] Apresyan went on to tell Moscow what line Akhmerov would take with Duggan when he returned and asked for Moscow's approval. The message reminded Moscow that Duggan had been forced out of the State Department because of Hull's hostility to Duggan. It then suggested to Moscow that in as much as the 1944 election was over and FDR had just forced out Hull there was a chance [this was rumored in Washington at the time] that Henry Wallace would be made secretary of state. If that happened, then Apresyan said that Duggan "must get in on it by using his friendship" to get a senior position at the State Department. Apresyan went on to say that if Wallace did not become Secretary of State, nonetheless, Duggan could exploit his close relationship with Wallace for "extracting ... interesting information" that would surely come to Wallace due to his high standing in national politics. [In the event, FDR made Wallace secretary of commerce rather than secretary of state.] Alternately, Apresyan said that the KGB would consider using Duggan in Soviet intelligence operations in South America. The message also indicated that Duggan had been out of direct touch with the KGB for several months due to Akhmerov's illness. Apresyan said that only after Akhmerov had met with Duggan to go over his future prospects should a planned hand over of control of Duggan be made from the Akhmerov (now chronically ill) to Anatoli Gromov. Gromov was at that time the head of the Washington KGB residency and had diplomatic cover as first secretary of the USSR embassy. Message 1636, KGB New York to KGB Moscow, 21 November 1944. This message mentions Prince/Duggan in connection with the assignments to given the KGB officer with the cover name Artem, indicating that based on Duggan's information something unspecified will be checked on. There is still a lot we don't know about Duggan. Because these are short cables, several of which are badly broken, and not the more detailed written reports about the information Duggan provided Moscow, one cannot judge the importance of his information. Venona also covers only a few years, and we cannot tell if Duggan spied continuously from the mid-1930s onward, or if there was a break in his service to the Soviets. Nonetheless, these messages make a number of points. Most clearly, of course, that Laurence Duggan, a mid-level State Department official with access to sensitive diplomatic information and a limited role in policy making and a larger role in implementation was cooperating with Soviet espionage. Duggan had some heated arguments with other U.S. diplomats regarding the conduct of U.S. diplomacy in Latin America. It is one thing to see those arguments as honest disagreements between American diplomats regarding what best served U.S. interests and quite a another when one learns that one party to the dispute was secretly loyal to Joseph Stalin rather than to Franklin Roosevelt. For example, Duggan's actions after an aborted Brazilian left-wing uprising in 1935, an affair in which several Comintern operatives were arrested (one, a young American, died in the custody of Brazilian police), make more sense when one accepts that he may have had in mind minimizing damage to the Soviet cause rather than protecting American interests. While the diplomatic significant of Duggan's treachery are still unclear, it is very clear that he was not an innocent hounded to his death. (We note that after Venona appeared, Mr. Schlesinger agreed that our characterization of Duggan was warranted.) Venona, along with the evidence of Chambers and Massing, shows that he took part in Soviet espionage against the United States. When writing about diplomatic events in which Duggan took part, this should be kept in mind. John Haynes, Washington, DC Harvey Klehr, Emory University -------------------------------------------------------- --Public reply to list: firstname.lastname@example.org --Private reply to sender: See e-mail address under "From" at top of message --To unsubscribe send e-mail to: email@example.com with UNSUB H-DIPLO as the only text in the body of your message --To temporarily suspend your account: send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with SET H-DIPLO NOMAIL as the only text in the body of your message. To reactivate your account, send e-mail to email@example.com with SET H-DIPLO MAIL as the only text in the body of your message --Personal help from list moderators: firstname.lastname@example.org --Visit the H-Diplo web page at: http://h-net2.msu.edu/~diplo/