2 – The Venona Project

well_chuffed, Going Postal
Meredith Gardner (far left); most of the other code breakers were young women.

The Venona Project was launched by the US Army Signal Intelligence Service in February 1943. The Russians had sent thousands and thousands of coded and enciphered messages over commercial telegraph services. The US Army decided to try and decode them.

You may remember the ARCOS fiasco in 1928 when the Home Secretary stated in Parliament that we had been reading the Soviet messages. The Soviets then switched their communications to one time pads, theoretically unbreakable if they stuck to the rules, one pad only used one time.

The demand for these one time pads was so large, the Soviets could not produce enough and so began to reuse some of them. The Americans searched these messages to try and find where the same pads had been use and ended up decoding 2,900 messages though some only partially.

The results of these decrypts were not made available to the public until 1995-1997. It came as something of a shock to see how far the Soviets had penetrated the US Government and equally, the usual leftie apologists had always maintained that members of the CPUSA were still patriots who merely engaged in dissent and wanted to reform the system. Venona proved that most of the Soviet agents were members of the CPUSA and their allegiance was to the Soviet Union rather than their own country. Soviet Union or Globalist, the lies of the left don’t change much over the decades.

Only a small number of the members of the CPUSA were chosen to act as agents or spies for the Russians, those that were, were vetted by the leadership of the CPUSA. There is no known case where a member was chosen to be an agent or spy who reported the approach to the FBI.

The Venona code-breakers were based at Arlington Hall, a former girls schooling Virginia. They were all gifted at maths and if they had a degree they could be paid as much as an Army private ! The decrypted messages were not of use until about 1948, breaking them was a painstaking job. In 1944 the higher levels of the FDR administration were informed the Army was trying to break the codes, this was swiftly passed on to the Soviets by one of the many Soviet agents at work among FDR’s people. Even Eleanor Roosevelt learned of this and, for unknown reasons, wanted it stopped. Eleanor has been described as a progressive but the way she poked her nose into all sorts of places indicates that she was at minimum sympathetic to the Soviet cause.

How they managed to find messages that had been created with identical one time pads is mind boggling and the way it was done is not easy to find. Presumably they looked for messages with identical strings in them but out of hundreds of thousands, only two or three would have been created using the same one time pad. Normal decoding depends on having as many messages created with the same codes as possible. These guys would have only had two or three such messages.

After the war Kim Philby and William Weisband, an NSA employee, both informed Moscow that the Americans were starting to break the messages. The Soviet response was to change their codes again.

The decrypts came too late to have an impact on the war itself and the change of codes meant that by the time of the Korean War, the Americans were back in the dark again. However once the agents and their code names were connected light was cast into the murk.

In 1938 Whittaker Chambers defected and his testimony named many spies but this information was little used. In 1945 Elizabeth Bentley defected, her testimony tended to prove what Chambers had said but yet again not much happened. There were many excuses, mainly that there was no corroborating evidence but the testimony of the two defectors overlapped and they confirmed much of what each said. When the Venona decrypts were added to the mix , the defectors were then proved doubly right.

By 1948 enough messages had been decoded to allow the FBI to put names to the codenames being used by the Russians. Between then and 1953 a number of Soviet agents were identified including Klaus Fuchs, Harry Gold, David Greenglass, Theodore Hall, William Perl, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean, Harry Dexter White and eventually Kim Philby.

Not only did the Soviets have agents in place to influence government policy, they had even more people to do the covering up and give a helping hand plus many in the press who followed the Soviet line on everything. Fake news is nothing new.

Once the conclusions had been drawn from the Venona evidence, it was apparent that

  • In important US government agencies, there were networks of American spies who worked for the NKVD or GRU.
  • The highest level government official working for the Russians was Harry Hopkins, close friend and advisor to FDR. He was responsible for Lend Lease operations, much to the USSR’s benefit.
  • Robert Oppenheimer, top atomic scientist, did work for the Soviets. It has long been considered bad form to say this but some of the scientists were of the opinion that the knowledge should be shared with the Russians and he was one of them.
  • The left always mocked the right wing complaint that certain members of the press had been enlisted in the Soviet cause, but it was as true then as it is today (for Soviet read Globalist). If only Jim Acosta would read this !
  • The NKVD spied on US citizens who were not members of the government. They were seen as rivals or impediments to the Soviet cause.
  • The Communist movement was consistently anti-semitic. Jewish Communists were singled out for ill treatment and still they flocked to the cause!

Once Truman had rid himself of FDR’s legacy of a communist riddled administration, he started to put in anti-communist legislation but it was akin to cleaning the Augean stables. Even today many Soviet agents remain unknown but without Venona most would have remained below the radar. Was FDR himself a Soviet agent? It is unlikely but when you look at his performance it would not be difficult to jump to the conclusion that he was. His wife had many “progressive” friends so may herself have been surrounded by agents of influence.

The parallels between then and now are uncanny, especially now that Donald Trump is President of the USA. You can see similarities with the way he is attacked by what seems to be even more progressives than there were 70 years ago. Let’s hope he drains the swamp.
 

© well_chuffed 2019
 

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