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Recent Revelations About “Fancy Bear”: Russia’s Military Hacking Unit

Aleksei Sergeyevich Morenets passport

Official Russian passport of Aleksei Sergeyevich Morenets, a GRU officer with Unit 26165. Released by the Department of Justice as an exhibit accompanying the indictment of Morenets and six of his colleagues, October 4, 2018. Source: https://www.justice.gov/opa/documents-and-resources-october-4-2018-press-conference

It has been widely reported that the 2016 election-related hacking of email accounts affiliated with the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton campaign was the work of hackers affiliated with Russian military intelligence, the Glavnoye Razvedyvatel’noye Upravlenie (GRU), the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Armed Forces General Staff. Known as Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) 28, or “Fancy Bear”, among other terms, the GRU hacking unit has been one of the world’s most active. A number of recent documents released by the US Department of Justice and several allied governments have provided much greater detail on the GRU’s cyber activities.

 

Unit 26165

A July 13, 2018 indictment returned by a grand jury in the District of Columbia revealed that “Fancy Bear” is, in fact, part of the GRU. Known officially as Unit 26165, the section consists of Russian military intelligence officers trained in hacking and cyberespionage. Beginning in March 2016, Unit 26165 began targeting individuals affiliated with the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party:

In 2016, officials in Unit 26165 began spearphishing volunteers and employees of the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton, including the campaign’s chairman. Through that process, officials in this unit were able to steal the usernames and passwords for numerous individuals and use those credentials to steal email content and hack into other computers. They also were able to hack into the computer networks of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) through these spearphishing techniques to steal emails and documents, covertly monitor the computer activity of dozens of employees, and implant hundreds of files of malicious computer code to steal passwords and maintain access to these networks. (Grand Jury Indicts 12 Russian Intelligence Officers)

According to the indictment, over 300 persons were targeted by Unit 26165 as part of their election-related hacking.

The stolen information was then weaponized as part of what is termed an “active measures” campaign, beginning in June 2016. This part of the operation, which involved releasing the various documents obtained in order to shape public opinion, was conducted by a separate GRU cyber element called Unit 74455. This unit created a website called DC Leaks, as well as a fake online persona called “Guccifer 2.0”, an alleged Romanian hacker who claimed credit for the DNC hack. In July, Guccifer 2.0 passed on the stolen material to WikiLeaks, who began releasing it later that month.

In all, 12 GRU officers were indicted on July 13. Nine of them were members of Unit 26165, including its commanding officer, Viktor Borisovich Netyksho. The other three were members of Unit 74455, including its commander, Colonel Aleksandr Vladimirovich Osadchuk.

 

Other GRU Hacking Operations

The broader scope of Unit 26165’s hacking was revealed by a second American indictment, this one from a grand jury in the Western District of Pennsylvania, and released on October 4, 2018. This indictment charged seven GRU officers with “computer hacking, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering.” Five of the seven men indicted were identified as part of Unit 26165, and three of those five had already been indicted in July for election-related hacking:

According to the indictment, beginning in or around December 2014 and continuing until at least May 2018, the conspiracy conducted persistent and sophisticated computer intrusions affecting U.S. persons, corporate entities, international organizations, and their respective employees located around the world, based on their strategic interest to the Russian government.

Among the goals of the conspiracy was to publicize stolen information as part of an influence and disinformation campaign designed to undermine, retaliate against, and otherwise delegitimize the efforts of international anti-doping organizations and officials who had publicly exposed a Russian state-sponsored athlete doping program and to damage the reputations of athletes around the world by falsely claiming that such athletes were using banned or performance-enhancing drugs. (U.S. Charges Russian GRU Officers)

Among the specific targets of these GRU cyberespionage efforts were: the World Anti-Doping Agency; the United States Anti-Doping Agency; The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons; and Westinghouse Electric Company. The international scope of the GRU’s efforts is corroborated by additional information released on October 4 in support of the US indictment, by the United Kingdom, Netherlands, and Canada.

 

Previous CWIS Blog Posts on the GRU:

The “Neighbors”: The GRU in America, from “Ales” to “Fancy Bear”

 

Federal Government and Other Primary Sources on Unit 26165:

Documents and Resources from the October 4, 2018 Press Conference. Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs, October 4, 2018.

Grand Jury Indicts 12 Russian Intelligence Officers for Hacking Offenses Related to the 2016 Election. Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs, July 13, 2018.

National Security Archive. Cyber Brief: GRU Cyber Operations.
-Collection of unclassified US government documents related to 2016 Russian election-related hacking and active measures.

Netherlands Defence Intelligence and Security Service Disrupts Russian Cyber Operation Targeting OPCW. Netherlands Ministry of Defence, October 4, 2018.

Reckless Campaign of Cyber Attacks by Russian Military intelligence Service Exposed. UK National Cyber Security Centre, October 4, 2018.

U.S. Charges Russian GRU Officers with International Hacking and Related Influence and Disinformation Operations. Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs, October 4, 2018.

U.S. v. Aleksei Sergeyevich Morenets, et al. Department of Justice, October 4, 2018.

U.S. v. Viktor Borisovich Netyksho, et al. Department of Justice, July 13, 2018.

 

 

 

Beer, Subversion, and Bolsheviks: World War 1 and the First Investigative Committee

Courtesy of YouTube, from the 1981 film Reds, Louise Bryant (Diane Keaton) testifies before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Brewing and Liquor Interests and German and Bolshevik Propaganda, February 20, 1919. The dialogue is substantially derived from the official transcript. (Brewing and Liquor Interests, V. 3, p.465)

 

When America entered the First World War in April 1917, the country witnessed a major upsurge of nationalistic sentiment, encouraged and often instigated by the federal government. Through a combination of governmental bodies such as the Committee on Public Information (CPI), dubbed America’s “first ministry of information,” and private organizations such as the American Protective League (APL), popular intolerance of anti-war sentiment, and fear of pro-German and radical subversion, reached a fever pitch.

It is thus unsurprising that World War One spawned what historian Alex Goodall has called “the first countersubversive investigative committee in American history,” the forerunner of the House Un-American Activities Committee and the other mid-20th Century congressional committees tasked with rooting out real or alleged subversion. (Goodall, Loyalty and Liberty, 45) A subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by North Carolina’s first popularly-elected senator, briefly immortalized in the 1981 Academy Award winning film Reds, the colorfully named Subcommittee to Investigate Brewing and Liquor Interests and German and Bolshevik Propaganda set the stage for all the countersubversive investigations to come.

 

The Overman Committee

Senator Lee S. Overman

Senator Lee Slater Overman (D-NC), 1854-1930, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee, pictured here circa 1910. Overman, a native of Salisbury, served in the Senate from 1903 till his death. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division: https://www.loc.gov/item/2005683904/.

 

Fear of German-sponsored subversion was widespread upon the USA’s entry into World War One. While such worries were certainly stoked by the CPI, the popular press, and groups such as the APL, it is important to note that German efforts at espionage, sabotage, and subversion were more than merely the figments of overheated imaginations. In the words of historian Francis MacDonnell:

During the period from 1914-17, the Central Powers mounted repeated acts of intrigue against America. The German and Austrian embassies supervised this clandestine warfare. It included attempts to forge passports, blow up bridges, incite labor unrest, disrupt munitions production, and plant incendiary devices aboard merchant ships. (MacDonnell, Insidious Foes, 11-12)

A particular concern was the brewing industry, dominated as it was by individuals of German descent. In this, wartime fears merged with prohibitionist and anti-immigrant sentiment. A. Mitchell Palmer, the Attorney General, openly denounced the brewing industry as a source of both funding for pro-German subversion as well as moral corruption. In response to Palmer’s accusations, the Senate, in September 1918, passed Resolution 307, which created a subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee tasked with investigating “Brewing and Liquor Interests and German Propaganda.”

The subcommittee consisted of five members. Chairing the group was North Carolina’s Lee Overman. A senator since 1903, Overman made history in 1914 when, in the wake of the passage of the 17th Amendment to the constitution in 1913, he became North Carolina’s first popularly elected senator. Overman was a loyal supporter of President Woodrow Wilson, and strongly opposed to immigration.

The new subcommittee held its first hearing on September 27, 1918, and continued its investigation into early 1919. By the end, the committee had branched out beyond the brewing industry into a broader look at German espionage and subversion. The Overman committee documented a campaign by the Imperial German government to pursue “extensive and far-reaching acts of violence,” directed at the American munitions industry, as well as a widespread effort to fund and disseminate pro-Central Powers propaganda. (Brewing and Liquor Interests, v.1, XIII)

The Overman committee’s work also reflected not only wartime fears, but prevailing concerns about the importance of preserving “Americanism,” and the dangers allegedly posed by large populations of unassimilated immigrants. Its report stated that “a large number” of foreign language publications were “unpatriotic and disloyal to the United States, its principles and institutions.” English-language newspapers that opposed the war were denounced by the committee as encouraging “Germany and German sympathizers.” (Brewing and Liquor Interests, v.1, XXVII)

In terms of the brewing industry, the Overman committee found that they sought to fund, influence, and gain control over numerous politicians, news outlets, and civic organizations. While not directly charged by the subcommittee with aiding the German war effort, the negative publicity the hearings generated for the brewing industry coincided with the ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment (Prohibition) in January 1919. In the words of Goodall, “the publicity surrounding Overman’s hearings undoubtedly contributed to the final push for Prohibition.” (Goodall, Loyalty and Liberty, 28)

 

Turning Attention to Bolshevism

In February 1919, with the defeat of Imperial Germany, and growing fears of radicalism sparked by the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, the Senate passed Resolution 436, expanding the mandate of the Overman subcommittee to include the study of Bolshevik-related subversion.

The committee began its hearings into Bolshevism on February 11, 1919. In so doing it became the first congressional committee investigation into communism. In hearings running until March 10, 1919, the Overman committee heard testimony from roughly 25 witnesses. Ironically, in light of the committee’s countersubversive mandate, the bulk of its investigation focused on conditions in Russia and the nature of the Bolshevik regime.

Most witnesses were anti-Bolshevik, but it was the handful of pro-Bolshevik witnesses who provided some of the most memorable testimony. Most notably, on February 20-21, the radical journalist John Reed, and his wife, Louise Bryant, appeared before the Overman committee. The confrontation between the conservative southerner Overman and the radical feminist Bryant was particularly heated at times. Her testimony was marked, as Goodall puts it, by a “deeply gendered hostility” that “produced an almost total impasse between witness and senators.” (Goodall, Loyalty and Liberty, 52)

In its final report, published in July 1919, the Overman committee correctly noted that “only a portion of the so-called radical revolutionary groups and organizations accept in its entirety the doctrine of the Bolsheviki.” The committee nonetheless insisted that domestic radicalism was still a threat:

The radical revolutionary elements in this country and the Bolshevik government of Russia have, therefore, found a common cause in support of which they can unite their forces. They are both fanning the flame of discontent and endeavoring to incite revolution. (Brewing and Liquor Interests, v.1, XLII)

 

Conclusion

As the first congressional countersubversive committee of the 20th Century, the Overman committee established the precedent that ultimately led to HUAC, the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, and the activities of Senator Joseph McCarthy. It also reflected the trend among countersubversives to tie the threat of foreign or domestic radical subversion to broader social phenomena that they found disturbing, such as fear of further immigration, and worries over unassimilated immigrants. The Overman committee, for example, insisted on “the necessity of Americanizing the residents of this country.” (Brewing and Liquor Interests, v.1, XLVII)

The notion of “Americanism” represented by the Overman committee and its successors remained a potent force in American society until the cultural revolution of the 1960s. When it found itself marginalized in the wake of that revolution, the countersubversive committees it spawned quickly vanished.

 

CWIS Sources:

Brewing and Liquor Interests and German and Bolshevik Propaganda: Report and Hearings of the Subcommittee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, Submitted Pursuant to S. Res. 307 and 439, Sixty-Fifth Congress, Relating to Charges Made Against the United States Brewers’ Association and Allied Interests. 1919, 3v. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4.J 89/2:P 94/4/)

 

Other Sources:

Goodall, Alex. Loyalty and Liberty: American Countersubversion from World War I to the McCarthy Era. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2013.  (Joyner Stacks: E743.5 .G63 2013)

Daly, Christopher B. “How Woodrow Wilson’s Propaganda Machine Changed American Journalism.” Smithsonian.com, April 28, 2017.

Eagles, Brenda Marks. “Overman, Lee Slater.” NCpedia.

Inman, Michael. “Spies Among Us: World War I and The American Protective League.” New York Public Library, October 14, 2014.

MacDonnell, Francis. Insidious Foes: The Axis Fifth Column and the American Home Front. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. (Joyner Stacks: E743.5 .M15 1995)

Morgan, Ted. Reds: McCarthyism in Twentieth-Century America. New York: Random House, 2003. (Joyner Stacks: E743.5 .M578 2003)

 

HUAC Goes to Hollywood: Aspects of the Blacklist 70 Years Later

The Cold War & Internal Security Collection and Joyner Library Special Collections are hosting a joint exhibit titled “HUAC Goes to Hollywood: Aspects of the Blacklist 70 Years Later.” The exhibit can be found on the first floor of Joyner Library, and will remain up through the end of December. In support of this exhibit, we have created a series of blog posts expanding on the themes discussed in the exhibit:

HUAC Goes to Hollywood, Part 1: The Forgotten Investigation of 1940

HUAC Goes to Hollywood, Part 2: Bible of the Blacklist

HUAC Goes to Hollywood, Part 3: Investigating the Blacklist’s Critics

HUAC Goes to Hollywood, Part 4: All the Party’s Men

 

Please feel free to share any questions or comments regarding these posts, or the exhibit. I gratefully acknowledge the assistance of colleagues from Special Collections and Preservation/Conservation, especially Sarah McLusky, Larry Houston, and Layne Carpenter. I am entirely responsible for any flaws.

 

David M. Durant

Federal Documents & Social Sciences Librarian

J.Y. Joyner Library

 

HUAC Goes to Hollywood, Part 4: All the Party’s Men

Robert Rossen testifying before HUAC, 1953

Robert Rossen (1908-1966), academy award nominated director and former communist, testifying before HUAC in 1953. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection: https://www.loc.gov/item/98504568/

 

The Cold War & Internal Security Collection and Joyner Library Special Collections are hosting a joint exhibit titled “HUAC Goes to Hollywood: Aspects of the Blacklist 70 Years Later.” The exhibit can be found on the first floor of Joyner Library, and will remain up through the end of December. This is the last of four CWIS blog posts that will expand on this exhibit.

 

Robert Rossen (1908-1966) was a Hollywood film director and former communist party (CPUSA) member, who on two occasions was called to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. His controversial film All the King’s Men, released at the end of 1949, would go on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. It is perhaps then, not a surprise that Rossen would be subjected to a strenuous ideological interrogation over the content of his film. Nor is it surprising that the ten “unfriendly” 1947 HUAC witnesses known as the Hollywood Ten would be present at this event. What will likely come as a surprise is that it was not HUAC, but the Hollywood Ten themselves who served as Rossen’s inquisitors.

 

The Communist Party and Artistic Freedom:

The entertainment industry blacklist imposed on those suspected of CPUSA involvement or sympathies began to fade by the late 1950s, and was all but over by the mid-1960s. Today, the blacklist is justifiably seen as a grave assault on civil liberties and artistic freedom. The specter of a congressional committee working in tandem with private  organizations and activists to deny employment to individuals based on their political views is quite disturbing. Those who resisted HUAC and the blacklist are often seen as uncompromising defenders of intellectual freedom, while those who agreed to “name names” are derided as cowards or sellouts.

There is however, a complicating factor involved. Many of those blacklisted, including all the Hollywood Ten, were at some point involved with the CPUSA. The party demanded that its members uphold what was known as the “party line” under all circumstances. Committed to upholding that line, many of them saw artistic freedom and civil liberties as tools to be used only in support of the CPUSA, not against it.The CPUSA forbade its members from reading books that were critical of communism or the USSR, and actively campaigned against films deemed “reactionary.” It demanded intellectual freedom and civil liberties for its supporters, while calling for those same rights to be denied to their opponents. Most infamously, in 1949, the pro-CPUSA actor/singer Paul Robeson spoke at a rally where he denounced the federal government’s prosecution of CPUSA leaders. At the same event, in response to a question, he defended the prosecution of Trotskyists, the CPUSA’s archenemies, under the same statute being used against the communists. Robeson justified his view by comparing Trotskyists to the Klan and argued that “Would you give civil rights to the Ku Klux Klan?” (Quoted in Duberman, Paul Robeson, 382)

Among Hollywood communists, the CPUSA sought to force its members to subordinate their art to the party line. These demands for ideological conformity drove a number of writers and directors to quit the party.  Screenwriter and novelist Budd Schulberg, for example, quit the CPUSA after being pressured to alter his 1940 novel What Makes Sammy Run to suit the dictates of the party. Schulberg’s friend, director Elia Kazan would later leave the party over similar concerns. Both would eventually become “friendly” witnesses before HUAC.

Even the Hollywood Ten themselves were subject to the party’s ideological censorship. Edward Dmytryk, the one member of the Ten who would ultimately become a “friendly” witness, was expelled from the CPUSA in 1945 for refusing to make changes to his film Cornered that the party demanded. Others, such as Albert Maltz, caved in to the party’s dictates. In February 1946, Maltz published an essay in the party literary journal New Masses titled “What Shall We Ask of Writers.” Maltz argues that art should not be seen merely as a vehicle for politics, but should be judged on its own merits. For nearly two months, Maltz was pilloried for this view by his fellow communists. Finally, in April, Maltz gave in and returned to the party fold, publishing a second New Masses piece in which he retracted his earlier views.

 

Rossen, the Party, and All the King’s Men:

Rossen had joined the CPUSA in 1937, but had become disillusioned by the late 1940s. All the King’s Men, with its strong theme of power corrupting, was deemed antithetical to the party line, possibly a thinly-veiled attack on Stalin himself, something anathema to the CPUSA.  Still a party member, Rossen was summoned, ironically, to Albert Maltz’s house, where the Hollywood Ten waited as an ideological board of inquiry. According to Dmytryk, after much heated discussion, Rossen finally told his inquisitors to “Stick the whole party up your ass!” before walking out in disgust. (Quoted in Dmytryk, Odd Man Out, 115) Dmytryk’s account is confirmed by comments made by Ring Lardner, Jr., another of the Ten: “There was a similar discussion…about the movie All the King’s Men, with Robert Rossen…and there again the result of the discussion was to drive Rossen out of the Party.” (Quoted in Schwartz, The Hollywood Writers’ Wars, 170; cited in Neve, “Red Hollywood in Transition”, 196)

Rossen would testify twice before HUAC. In 1951, he pleaded the Fifth Amendment, but in 1953, he appeared as a friendly witness. Factors such as financial hardship, career considerations, and personal animus, certainly played a major role in why many “friendly” witnesses chose to name names. However, the belief that the CPUSA itself posed a threat to artistic freedom, and that it did the bidding of a hostile foreign power in the USSR, was also a factor in persuading many such as Rossen to testify.

 

CWIS Sources:

Communist Infiltration of the Motion Picture Industry – Part 3, Hearings before the Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, Eighty-Second Congress, First Session. 1951.  (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4.Un 1/2:C 73/21 PT. 3)

-Director Robert Rossen’s first, “unfriendly” appearance before HUAC.

Investigation of Communist Activities in the New York City Area – Part 4. Hearing before the Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, Eighty-Third Congress, First Session. 1953. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y4.Un1/2:C73/38/pt.4)

-Robert Rossen’s second, “friendly” appearance before HUAC.

 

Other Sources:

Billingsley, Kenneth Lloyd. Hollywood Party: How Communism Seduced the American Film Industry in the 1930s and 1940s. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1998. (Joyner Stacks: PN1998.2 .B53 2000)

Casty, Alan. Communism in Hollywood: The Moral Paradoxes of Testimony, Silence, and Betrayal. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2009. (Joyner Stacks: PN1993.5 .U6 C347 2009)

Casty, Alan. Robert Rossen: The Films and Politics of a Blacklisted Idealist. Jefferson, NC; London: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2013. (Joyner Stacks: PN1998.3 .R673 C38 2013)

Dmytryk, Edward. Odd Man Out: A Memoir of the Hollywood Ten. Carbondale, Il: Southern Illinois University Press, 1996. (Joyner Stacks: PN1998.3.D6 A3 1996)

Duberman, Martin Bauml. Paul Robeson. New York: Knopf, 1988. (Joyner Stacks: E185.97.R63 D83 1988)

Maltz, Albert. “What Shall We Ask of Writers,” New Masses, 58 (February 12, 1946). (Joyner Hoover Collection: HX 1 N4)

-Maltz’s first article, in which he argues that writers should be permitted a degree of artistic freedom outside of political ideology.

Maltz, Albert. “Moving Forward,” New Masses, 58 (April 9, 1946). (Joyner Hoover Collection: HX 1 N4)

-Maltz’s second article, written after weeks of vituperative criticism from the communist party, in which he retracted his previous views on artistic freedom.

McGilligan, Patrick, and Paul Buhle. Tender Comrades: A Backstory of the Hollywood Blacklist. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012. (Joyner Stacks: PN1590.B5 M35 1997)

Neve, Brian. “Red Hollywood in Transition: The Case of Robert Rossen.” in “Un-American” Hollywood: Politics and Film in the Blacklist Era. ed. Frank Krutnik, et. al. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2007, 184-197. (Joyner Stacks: PN 1995.9.P6 U5 2007)

Radosh, Ronald, and Allis Radosh. Red Star Over Hollywood: The Film Colony’s Long Romance with the Left. San Francisco: Encounter Books, 2005. (Joyner Stacks: PN1998.2 .R33 2006)

Schwartz, Nancy Lynn, and Sheila Schwartz. The Hollywood Writers’ Wars. New York: Knopf, 1982. (Joyner Stacks: PN1993.S295 S3 1982)

 

HUAC Goes to Hollywood, Part 3: Investigating the Blacklist’s Critics

Robert Maynard Hutchins

Robert Maynard Hutchins (1899-1977), long-time president of the University of Chicago and chairman of the Fund for the Republic. Image via University of Chicago. Source: https://president.uchicago.edu/directory/robert-maynard-hutchins

 

The Cold War & Internal Security Collection and Joyner Library Special Collections are hosting a joint exhibit titled “HUAC Goes to Hollywood: Aspects of the Blacklist 70 Years Later.” The exhibit can be found on the first floor of Joyner Library, and will remain up through the end of December. This is the third of four CWIS blog posts that will expand on this exhibit.

 

While the blacklist was inaugurated in November 1947, in the immediate aftermath of the House Un-American Activities Committee’s infamous Hollywood Ten hearings, it was not until the early 1950s that it became truly widespread. The June 1950 publication of Red Channels catalyzed the spread of the blacklist to radio and television. In hearings from 1951-53, HUAC identified 324 people associated with Hollywood as being involved with the communist party (CPUSA). 212 of these people were still part of the motion-picture business, and HUAC’s publication of their names made it almost impossible for them to find work without first undergoing a lengthy clearance process.

While HUAC was not directly involved with the blacklist, its hearings and other publications served as ammunition for the advocacy and pressure organizations that enforced it. HUAC even weighed in against those who criticized the blacklist, most notably in the summer of 1956.

 

The Fund for the Republic and The Report on Blacklisting:

By the early 1950s, the blacklist had come under criticism even from mainstream Cold War liberals. They saw the blacklist, as well as the broader climate of suspicion and subversive-hunting, as a grave threat to civil liberties. In 1952, a number of notable liberals, including Robert Maynard Hutchins, former president of the University of Chicago, founded The Fund for the Republic. The Fund described itself as “an educational undertaking in the field of civil liberties in the United States.”

The Fund began an extensive investigation of the blacklist in September 1954. They set up a special research team under John Cogley, editor of the Catholic publication Commonweal. Cogley’s team completed their work by the end of 1955. On June 24, 1956, the Fund published the results of this effort, the two-volume Report on Blacklisting. The report discusses the workings and impact of the blacklist in great detail, clearly outlining the role played by ABC, Red Channels, and Counterattack.

Even before the Report on Blacklisting was published, the Fund’s investigation drew the ire of HUAC, and of those individuals and organizations who enforced the blacklist. There were even rumblings of taking away the Fund’s tax-exempt status.  In June, HUAC announced that it would hold hearings investigating the Fund for the Republic. These hearings began on July 10, 1956. John Cogley was the first witness.

For over three hours, the committee grilled Cogley regarding his sources, methods, and conclusions. Among other things, he was challenged over the presence of democratic socialist Michael Harrington on his research staff. At one point, a frustrated Cogley responded by saying “I did not anticipate congressional investigation of the book I was about to write.”(Investigation of So-Called “Blacklisting”, pt. 1, p. 5210) The tone of his testimony was summarized in Cogley’s 1973 New York Times obituary:

Mr. Cogley, who declined to have a lawyer at his side on the ground that “I didn’t see why I had to have anybody on hand to protect my rights before a group of Congressmen,” refused to discuss confidential sources and reportedly came close to a contempt citation. Public opinion was generally on his side, however, and no action was taken against him. (Fiske, “John Cogley Dies at 60”)

In all, HUAC held six days of hearings on the Report on Blacklisting. After Cogley finished his testimony, most subsequent witnesses were defenders of the blacklist, such as Red Channels author Vincent Hartnett.

The Fund for the Republic hearings stand out as a particularly egregious example of HUAC abusing its authority to threaten the right to free expression. While the hearings may have had a short-term chilling effect on critics of the blacklist, the tide was already beginning to turn. In 1960, former communist and Hollywood Ten member Dalton Trumbo was openly credited as the screenwriter for the films Exodus and Spartacus,  moves that heralded the end of the blacklist.

While not without its flaws, the Report on Blacklisting remains an essential source on this controversial episode of American history.

 

CWIS Sources:

Annual Report of the Committee on Un-American Activities for the Year 1952. Washington D.C.: 1953. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4. Un 1/2: R 29/952)

Annual Report of the Committee on Un-American Activities for the Year 1953. Washington D.C.: GPO, 1954. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4. Un 1/2: R 29/953)

Investigation of So-Called “Blacklisting” in Entertainment Industry: Report of the Fund for the Republic, Inc. – Part 1. Hearings before the Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, Eighty-Fourth Congress, Second Session. 1956.  (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4.Un 1/2:F 96/ PT. 1)

-Contains Cogley’s testimony before HUAC, covering pages 5175-5225.

Investigation of So-Called “Blacklisting” in Entertainment Industry: Report of the Fund for the Republic, Inc. – Part 2. Hearings before the Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, Eighty-Fourth Congress, Second Session. 1956.  (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4.Un 1/2:F 96/ PT. 2)

-Contains testimony from Red Channels author Vincent Hartnett, from pages 5291-5311.

Investigation of So-Called “Blacklisting” in Entertainment Industry: Report of the Fund for the Republic, Inc. – Part 3. Hearings before the Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, Eighty-Fourth Congress, Second Session. 1956.  (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4.Un 1/2:F 96/ PT. 3)

Tax-exempt Foundations: Hearings before the Special Committee to Investigate Tax-Exempt Foundations and Comparable Organizations, House of Representatives, Eighty-Third Congress, Second Session, on H. Res. 217. 1954, 2 pts. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4.T 19/3:F 82/954/)

Tax-exempt Foundations: Report of the Special Committee to Investigate Tax-Exempt Foundations and Comparable Organizations, House of Representatives, Eighty-Third Congress, Second Session, on H. Res. 217. 1954. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4.T 19/3:F 82/954)

 

Other Sources:

Cogley, John. Report on Blacklisting: I – Movies. New York: Fund for the Republic, 1956.  (Joyner Stacks: PN1993.5.U6 C6 V. 1)

Cogley, John. Report on Blacklisting: II – Radio – Television. New York: Fund for the Republic, 1956.  (Joyner Stacks: PN1993.5.U6 C6 V. 2)

Fiske, Edward B. “John Cogley Dies at 60; Expert on Catholicism.New York Times, March 30, 1976.

Reeves, Thomas C.  Freedom and the Foundation: The Fund for the Republic in the Era of McCarthyism. New York: Knopf, 1969. (Joyner Stacks: AS911.F813 R4)

HUAC Goes to Hollywood, Part 2: Bible of the Blacklist

Cover of Red Channels

The front cover of Red Channels, published on June 22, 1950. Image from Wikimedia Commons via NPR: https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128005395

 

The Cold War & Internal Security Collection and Joyner Library Special Collections are hosting a joint exhibit titled “HUAC Goes to Hollywood: Aspects of the Blacklist 70 Years Later.” The exhibit can be found on the first floor of Joyner Library, and will remain up through the end of December. This is the second of four CWIS blog posts that will expand on this exhibit.

While the initial Hollywood blacklist, inaugurated in the wake of the 1947 Hollywood Ten hearings, was prompted by the efforts of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), it was largely sustained by private businesses and pressure groups. Using information published by HUAC and other governmental investigative bodies, along with the results of their own research, a private-sector network of freelance “Red-hunters” emerged by the end of the 1940s. Working individually, in small consulting firms, or as part of larger pressure/advocacy organizations, these Red-hunters would produce evidence that many entertainment industry professionals were tied to the communist party (CPUSA). The persons they named would then either have to go through an elaborate clearance process, or find themselves blacklisted.

It would be one such small consulting business, founded by three former FBI agents, that in 1950 produced a volume that scholars call “the bible of the blacklist.”

 

ABC and the Origins of Red Channels:

In 1944, HUAC published its voluminous files on organizations believed tied to the CPUSA in a three volume compilation called Appendix IX. This set included the text of numerous committee lists, petitions, endorsements, and other documentation of political activities. In all, Appendix IX contained the names of over 22,000 individuals, many of whom had little or no real connection to the CPUSA.  Appendix IX was published out of fear that HUAC would not be renewed by the next congress, and thus this material would be lost. After HUAC was made a permanent body in early 1945, the committee realized the danger caused by publishing such a large amount of raw information containing so many individual names, and withdrew the document from publication. Some copies would survive, however, and become a major source of names for the blacklist.

In the spring of 1947, three former FBI agents, Kenneth Brierly, Theodore Kirkpatrick, and John Keenan, formed American Business Consultants (ABC), a small firm that researched, and published information on, communist activity in American society. Their periodical, Counterattack, eventually became a major source of names for studio blacklisters. In 1950, ABC hired a former naval intelligence officer named Vincent Hartnett to help with their research. On June 22, 1950, ABC published the fruits of Hartnett’s research, a volume entitled Red Channels: The Report of Communist Influence in Radio and Television

Drawing heavily on Appendix IX and other HUAC publications, Red Channels alleged that 151 professional entertainers were involved in communist activity. Those listed in Red Channels soon found themselves added to the blacklist, and found it virtually impossible to obtain work in radio or television. Red Channels became an indispensable source for blacklisters. Relying on information from it and other sources, groups such as the American Legion enforced the blacklist through boycotts and picketing. To have themselves removed, blacklistees had to undergo a lengthy “clearance” process, which involved renouncing communism and testifying before HUAC or a similar congressional body. The freelance “Red-hunters” at ABC and elsewhere offered their services to guide repentant blacklistees through this process, often for a fee.

With the publication of Red Channels, Hartnett found himself considered an expert on the topic of alleged communist infiltration of the entertainment industry. He would make several appearances before HUAC and related congressional committees. The blacklist his work helped fuel would reach its height by the mid-1950s.

 

CWIS/Hoover Collection Sources:

American Business Consultants, Inc. Red Channels: The Report of Communist Influence in Radio and Television. New York: Counterattack, 1950.  (Joyner Hoover Collection: HE8698.6.A63X 1950)

American Business Consultants, Inc. Counterattack, 13 (1959).  (Joyner Hoover Collection: E838 .C6 V. 13)

Investigation of Un-American Propaganda Activities in the United States. [Hearings] Seventy-Eighth Congress, Second Session on H. Res. 282. Appendix, Part IX: Communist Front Organizations, With Special Reference to the National Citizens Political Action Committee. 1944, 3 v. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4.UN 1/2:UN 1/944/APP./; also available in Joyner Hoover E743.5 .A412)

Subversive Infiltration of Radio, Television and the Entertainment industry: Hearings Before the Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, Eighty-Second Congress, First and Second sessions. 1952, 2 pts. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4.J 89/2:SU 1/7)

-Features testimony by Hartnett.

 

Other Sources:

Cogley, John. Report on Blacklisting: II – Radio – Television. New York: Fund for the Republic, 1956.  (Joyner Stacks: PN1993.5.U6 C6 V. 2)

Hill, Jason. Red Channels: The Bible of Blacklisting. Albany, GA: BearManor Media, 2016. (Joyner Stacks: PN1993.5.U6 H5 2016)

McDonough, John. “Reliving The Scare: Looking Back On ‘Red Channels’.” NPR, June 22, 2010.

Powers, Richard Gid. Not Without Honor: The History of American Anticommunism. New York: Free Press, 1995. (Joyner Stacks: E743.5 .P65 1995)

Schrecker, Ellen. The Age of McCarthyism: A Brief History with Documents. 2nd ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2002. (Joyner Stacks: E743 .S377 2002)

HUAC Goes to Hollywood, Part 1: The Forgotten Investigation of 1940

Martin Dies, February 17, 1940

Rep. Martin Dies, Jr. (D-TX), chairman of the House Special Committee on Un-American Activities, February 17, 1940. That summer Dies, acting as a one-man subcommittee, would conduct HUAC’s first investigation into communist activity in Hollywood. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division: https://www.loc.gov/resource/hec.28164/

 

The Cold War & Internal Security Collection and Joyner Library Special Collections are hosting a joint exhibit titled “HUAC Goes to Hollywood: Aspects of the Blacklist 70 Years Later.” The exhibit can be found on the first floor of Joyner Library, and will remain up through the end of December. This is the first of four CWIS blog posts that will expand on this exhibit.

The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) launched three major investigations of communist influence in the motion picture industry. The most famous HUAC hearings regarding the film industry were the Hollywood Ten hearings of October 1947. In addition to numerous “friendly” witnesses such as Ronald Reagan, Gary Cooper, and Ayn Rand, HUAC subpoenaed 19 “unfriendly” witnesses believed to be tied to the Communist Party (CPUSA). Eleven testified before HUAC; ten openly defied the committee, and were eventually sentenced to up to a year in prison for contempt of Congress. These “Unfriendly Ten” eventually became known as the Hollywood Ten. In November 1947, the heads of the major Hollywood studios issued a statement that they would no longer employ the Ten, nor anyone else known to be a communist. This was the birth of the blacklist.

HUAC’s final investigation of Hollywood occurred in 1951-52. By far the most extensive, this set of hearings featured nearly 100 witnesses. Those considered to be friendly witnesses “named names” of others they knew were part of the CPUSA; unfriendly witnesses pleaded the Fifth Amendment to avoid incriminating themselves and others.

The first investigation was the shortest, lasting only four days in the summer of 1940, and mostly being conducted behind closed doors. It remains little remembered today. It set the precedent, however, that the political leanings of Hollywood were a valid topic of congressional investigation, and paved the way for the far more extensive hearings of 1947 and 1951-52. The HUAC Hollywood investigation of 1940 was the first step on the road to the blacklist.

 

 

Fredric March, May 28, 1939.

Fredric March (1897-1975), academy award winning actor, depicted on May 28, 1939. March was among the most prominent of those film industry personalities summoned to testify before Martin Dies in August 1940. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, Carl Van Vechten Collection, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-USZ62-54231]: https://www.loc.gov/item/2004663262/

The Dies “Subcommittee” Goes to California:

On July 17, 1940, Representative Martin Dies, Jr. (D-TX), chair of the House Special Committee on Un-American Activities, was taking testimony in Beaumont TX. as a one-man subcommittee. Among the witnesses was a man named John L. Leech. A former Communist party (CPUSA) official in the Los Angeles area, Leech testified that 42 individuals involved in the motion picture industry were members of the CPUSA. Among the individuals he named was Fredric March, an Academy Award winner who was one of the major stars of the day. In a follow-up appearance before Dies on July 19, he named iconic actor James Cagney as another CPUSA member.

While Leech’s testimony was taken in executive session, meaning that it was behind closed doors, Dies released a summary that included Leech’s broad claims about CPUSA influence in Hollywood, but without naming those implicated by Leech. However, many of the names were soon released by a Los Angeles grand jury that Leech also testified before. Having generated the press headlines he was seeking, Dies headed to California the next month to question some of the film industry personalities named by Leech.

Dies held four days of closed hearings in California: August 16-17 in Los Angeles, and August 19-20 in San Francisco. Again serving as a one-man subcommittee, Dies took testimony from a number of people associated with Hollywood, including Humphrey Bogart, Cagney, March, and screenwriter Philip Dunne. All denied being members or supporters of the CPUSA. Dies found their testimony convincing. Most of Leech’s charges, in HUAC historian Walter Goodman’s words, “dribbled away like sand.” As soon as the hearings were over, Dies released a statement on August 20 absolving Bogart, March, Cagney, and Dunne of any ties to communism.

In the opinion of most writers, Dies’ main goal in going to Hollywood seems to have been to generate publicity for himself and his committee. The Dies investigation itself had little impact on CPUSA efforts in Hollywood, or film industry political activism in general. The precedent Dies set, however, would have a far reaching impact. Just seven years later would come the infamous Hollywood Ten hearings, followed by the promulgation of the blacklist.

 

 

CWIS Sources on the 1940 Hearings:

Investigation of Un-American Propaganda Activities in the United States, Hearings before a Special Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, Seventy-Sixth Congress, Third Session. Volume 2, Executive Hearings. 1941. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4.Un 1/2:Un 1/3/V. 2)

-The official transcript of John L. Leech’s initial testimony regarding communist influence in Hollywood, from pages 961-970, and 974-981.

Investigation of Un-American Propaganda Activities in the United States, Hearings before a Special Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, Seventy-Sixth Congress, Third Session. Volume 3, Executive Hearings. 1943. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4.Un 1/2:Un 1/3/V. 3)

-Features the official testimony of Bogart, Cagney, March, and others before the Dies subcommittee in August 1940. Leech’s accusations against Cagney are on pages 1123-1124.

 

CWIS Sources on the Other HUAC Hollywood Hearings:

Communist Infiltration of the Motion Picture Industry – Hearings before the Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, Eighty-Second Congress, First (Second) Session. 1951-52, 10 v.  (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4.Un 1/2:C 73/21)

-Transcript of the most extensive HUAC investigation of Hollywood, featuring dozens of motion picture industry witnesses, both “friendly” and “unfriendly.”

Hearings Regarding the Communist Infiltration of the Motion Picture Industry, Hearings before the Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, Eightieth Congress, First Session. 1947. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4.Un 1/2:C 73/3)

-The official transcript of the 1947 Hollywood Ten hearings.

 

Other Sources:

Billingsley, Kenneth Lloyd. Hollywood Party: How Communism Seduced the American Film Industry in the 1930s and 1940s. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1998. (Joyner Stacks: PN1998.2 .B53 2000)

Dunne, Philip. Take Two: A Life in Movies and Politics. New York: McGraw Hill, 1980. (Joyner Stacks: PN1998.A3 D85)

Goodman, Walter. The Committee: The Extraordinary Career of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1968. (Joyner Stacks: E743.5 .G64)

Radosh, Ronald, and Allis Radosh. Red Star Over Hollywood: The Film Colony’s Long Romance with the Left. San Francisco: Encounter Books, 2005. (Joyner Stacks: PN1998.2 .R33 2006)

NCLA Biennial Presentation: Know Your FSB From Your KGB

On October 19, I delivered a presentation titled Know your FSB from your KGB: Researching Soviet/Russian Intelligence in America, at the North Carolina Library Association’s (NCLA) 2017 Biennial Conference. Here is the abstract:

In light of last year’s election-related hacking, and the popularity of programs such as The Americans, the topic of Russian intelligence activity in America is once again prominent in the news and in popular culture. This presentation will offer an overview of the various Soviet intelligence services, their evolution, and their post-Soviet successors, as well as a brief history of their operations in America, down to the present. In addition, tips and guidance on how and where to research this topic, especially how to find federal government information, will be provided.

I am now pleased to be able to offer the slides from this presentation, as well as an extensive, but far from comprehensive, bibliography. Due to file size limitations, I have been forced to post a version of the slideshow without images:

NCLA FSB KGB-Final no images (PDF)

FSB-KGB Bibliography (PDF)

Update (11-28-17): The full slides with images can now be viewed via ECU’s ScholarShip institutional repository and via the GRS website.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or requests for additional information regarding this presentation. My thanks to NCLA, and to the Government Resources Section, for sponsoring it.

David M. Durant

Federal Documents & Social Sciences Librarian

J.Y. Joyner Library

Joyner Paraprofessional Presentation: HUAC Investigates North Carolina

On Friday, May 12, I will offer a slightly revised version of my June 2016 presentation HUAC Investigates North Carolina: How Federal Documents Can Help Uncover State and Local History, for the Joyner Library Paraprofessional Conference.

Here are the revised and updated slides and bibliography for this presentation:

HUAC Investigates North Carolina Slides (PDF)

HUAC Investigates North Carolina Bibliography (PDF)

 

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or requests for additional information regarding this presentation.

David M. Durant

Federal Documents & Social Sciences Librarian

J.Y. Joyner Library

The “Neighbors”: The GRU in America, from “Ales” to “Fancy Bear”

GRU emblem

Official emblem of the GRU. Courtesy of Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Intelligence_Directorate

Update (7-17-18): On July 13, 2018, the Department of Justice announced indictments against 12 GRU officers ” for committing federal crimes that were intended to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.” Here are links to the indictments and press release:

Indictments

Press Release

 

When most Americans think of Soviet/Russian intelligence activity in our country, they primarily think of the state security services, the KGB (Committee for State Security) and its main post-Soviet successor, the FSB (Federal Security Service). Some of the most famous and effective Soviet/Russian intelligence operations in the United States, however, have involved an organization few Americans have heard of, one dubbed “the neighbors” by their KGB/FSB rivals: the Glavnoye Razvedyvatel’noye Upravlenie (GRU), the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Armed Forces General Staff: Soviet/Russian military intelligence. From the recruitment of State Department official Alger Hiss in the 1930s, to the Cuban Missile Crisis, to last year’s election-related hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the GRU has played an important yet overlooked role in many of Moscow’s most influential intelligence activities in this country.

 

The GRU: Introduction and Overview

Yan Berzin.

Yan Berzin, head of the GRU from 1924-35, and for several months in 1937. Arguably the key figure in the development of Soviet military intelligence, Berzin was executed as part of Stalin’s Great Terror in 1938. Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/72/Yan_karlovich_berzin.jpg

The first iteration of Soviet military intelligence was founded in November 1918, but it was not until April 1921 that the body which would become the GRU was formed. Known as the Razvedupr, short for intelligence directorate, or the Fourth Directorate, it was not officially called the GRU until February 16, 1942, a name it carries till this day. Tasked with primarily gathering military-related intelligence, the GRU has often defined this in the broadest sense, gathering political, strategic, economic, and technological information. In addition to running networks of agents, GRU also controls military and naval attaches at Russian embassies, and has extensive paramilitary capabilities.

Throughout its history, the GRU has had a complicated relationship with the political security services, the KGB and its post-Soviet successors, the FSB and the SVR (Foreign Intelligence Service.) On the one hand, as a part of the military, it has no direct organizational ties to the other security services. In fact, there has often been a highly intense, competitive, rivalry between the GRU and the KGB/FSB/SVR. On the other hand, the KGB usually held pride of place in the Soviet intelligence hierarchy, and the GRU was often placed in a state of de facto subordination to the former. A number of GRU leaders, in fact, came from the KGB and its predecessors. For example, Ivan Serov, KGB chairman from 1954-1958, was demoted and sent to head the GRU from 1958-1963. In the more fractured post-Soviet environment, the GRU is now fully independent of the political security services.

 

The GRU in America: The Soviet Period

Whittaker Chambers, 1948.

Whittaker Chambers, 1948. An American communist and GRU agent during the 1930s, his famous testimony against Alger Hiss in 1948 would prove one of the most dramatic moments in HUAC’s history. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division: https://www.loc.gov/item/95512199/

In the early years of the Soviet regime, according to historian Jonathan Haslam, “military intelligence seemed more promising than its civilian counterpart, both larger and more substantial.” (Haslam, Near and Distant Neighbors, 23) Fueled by a culture of risk-taking inculcated by its most influential early leader, Yan Berzin, and heavily relying on recruitment of foreign communists, the GRU built overseas agent networks that equaled or surpassed those belonging to the KGB’s predecessors, known by the mid-1930s as the NKVD. However, the GRU’s risk-taking soon caught up to it, resulting in the exposure of several of its overseas networks. As a result, GRU was subordinated to the foreign intelligence branch of the NKVD, and many of its surviving networks were transferred to the latter.

Nonetheless, many of the GRU’s earlier efforts continued to bear fruit in the mid-to-late 1930s. This was especially true in America, where the GRU succeeded in establishing a network of communist and pro-communist agents within the Roosevelt Administration from 1935-1938. Arguably the most important of these agents was Alger Hiss, a well-connected, up and coming, Harvard law graduate, who in September 1936 began working at the State Department. Hiss’ GRU controller was an American, a communist party (CPUSA) member, a writer and editor reassigned to underground work in 1932: Whittaker Chambers. Chambers in turn reported to the head of GRU operations in America, Col. Boris Bykov.

In April 1938, disillusioned by Stalin’s Great Terror, then at its height, Chambers defected from the GRU and CPUSA. After more than a year spent hiding from Soviet intelligence, Chambers would take a job at Time Magazine, eventually becoming a senior editor.

By 1945, Hiss had become a senior State Department official, accompanying President Roosevelt to the Yalta conference in February, and organizing the opening conference of the United Nations in San Francisco. He was also still working for the GRU, under the code name “ALES.”. A March 30, 1945 report from the NKVD station chief in Washington to Moscow noted that: “Ales has been continuously working with the neighbors (i.e. the GRU) since 1935.” (Quoted in Haynes, Klehr, and Vassiliev, Spies, 20-21)

In August 1948, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) held hearings on communist espionage in the US Government. Somewhat reluctantly, Whittaker Chambers came forward to testify about his activities as a GRU agent in the 1930s. He named numerous individuals who had been part of his network, including Hiss. By now, Hiss had left the State Department to become president of the Carnegie Endowment and was a pillar of the New Deal establishment. He vehemently denied Chambers’s accusations, and the confrontation between the two men became the focus of the HUAC investigation, spawning a bitter partisan controversy that dominated the headlines and would linger for decades. Eventually, Chambers produced copies of microfilmed documents that Hiss had given him. In 1950, Hiss was convicted of perjury for denying under oath his involvement with the GRU, and was sentenced to four years in prison.  For five decades, Hiss was considered by many to be the victim of red-baiting hysteria, but post-Cold War archival revelations have largely validated Chambers’s claims.

After World War II, the GRU largely played second fiddle to the NKVD/KGB in terms of Soviet intelligence activity in America. The main exception was during the John F. Kennedy Administration (1961-1963). This was especially true during the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962. A GRU Colonel named Georgi Bolshakov, working undercover as a news correspondent, maintained a backdoor channel of communication with Attorney General Robert Kennedy that proved important in helping resolve the confrontation. Less happily for the Soviets, another GRU Colonel, Oleg Penkovsky played an equally crucial role. Arrested in Moscow in September 1962 as a spy, the information Penkovsky previously provided to the CIA helped reveal that the Soviets were installing ballistic missiles in Cuba, thus leading to the US blockade of the island.

 

The GRU in Post-Soviet Times: “Little Green Men” and “Fancy Bear”

Lt. general Igor Korobov

Lt. General Igor Korobov, head of the GRU since January 2016, sanctioned by the Obama Administration for the GRU’s role in the election-related hacking of 2016. Source: Russian Ministry of Defense (mil.ru), via Wikipedia: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Igor_Korobov_(2016-02-01).jpg

Unlike the KGB,  which was broken up into a number of separate organizations, the GRU survived the fall of Soviet communism intact. Its fortunes have waxed and waned in the quarter-century since the end of the USSR. After facing a potentially serious loss of prestige and status following its failures in Russia’s 2008 war with Georgia, the GRU has come back with a vengeance this decade. It has reverted to the ambitious, risk-taking mentality of its early years that, in researcher Mark Galeotti’s view, “reflects a wartime mindset.” It has exploited its unique paramilitary capabilities, especially in Ukraine, where GRU was the main driving force behind the “little green men” who invaded Crimea and regions of eastern Ukraine in 2014. The GRU has also shown a growing willingness to engage in paramilitary subversion beyond the former Soviet Union. It has been implicated in a planned October 2016 coup against the pro-NATO government of Montenegro. GRU agents have also been linked to a violent, radical right group in Hungary, allegedly supplying them with both weapons and training.

The GRU’s risk-taking, aggressive, war mentality transcends kinetic action. It has also been applied in cyberspace, employing the tools of the digital age to pursue espionage and influence operations. One of the world’s most ambitious and highly effective hacking organizations, dubbed APT-28, or “Fancy Bear”, is believed to be run by the GRU. It is through such cyber operations that the GRU has once again dramatically influenced events in the United States. According to US government and private analysts, it was Fancy Bear that conducted the most egregious of the 2016 election-related hacks here in the US, directed at the Democratic National Committee and other political targets.

The official unclassified US intelligence community report on the hacking, released in January, strongly emphasized the primary role of the GRU in carrying them out:

The General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) probably began cyber operations aimed at the US election by March 2016. We assess that the GRU operations resulted in the compromise of the personal e-mail accounts of Democratic Party officials and political figures. By May, the GRU had exfiltrated large volumes of data from the DNC.

 

We assess with high confidence that the GRU relayed material it acquired from the DNC and senior Democratic officials to WikiLeaks. (Assessing Russian Activities, 2-3)

In response to the hacks of the DNC and other American political organizations, on December 29, 2016, the Obama Administration sanctioned the GRU “for tampering, altering, or causing a misappropriation of information with the purpose or effect of interfering with the 2016 U.S. election processes.” (Fact Sheet) In addition, sanctions were imposed on GRU head Lt. General Igor Korobov and three of his deputies. The release announcing these sanctions likewise emphasized the leading role of the GRU in conducting the hacking.

 

Nearly three decades after the end of the Cold War, not only does the GRU continue to operate in America, the impact of those operations is arguably greater than ever before.

 

Select CWIS Sources Concerning the GRU:

Conduct of Espionage Within the United States by Agents of Foreign Communist Governments: Hearings Before the Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, 90th Congress, First Session. 1967. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4.UN 1/2:ES 6)

Hearings Regarding Communist Espionage in United States Government, Part 1: Hearings Before the Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, 80th Congress, Second Session. 1948. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4.Un 1/2:C 73/6)

Interim Report on Hearings Regarding Communist Espionage in United States Government: Investigation of Un-American Activities in the United States. Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, 80th Congress, Second Session. 1948. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4.Un 1/2:C 73/8) 

Investigation of Un-American Propaganda Activities in the United States, Volume 9, Hearings before a Special Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, 76th Congress, First Session. 1939.  (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4: Un 1/2: Un 1/v. 9) (Features testimony from GRU defector Walter Krivitsky, from pages 5719-5742.)

The Kremlin’s Espionage and Terror Organizations: Testimony of Petr S. Deriabin, Former Officer of the USSR’s Committee of State Security (KGB): Hearing before the Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, 86th Congress, First Session. 1959. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4.UN 1/2:K 88)

Patterns of Communist Espionage: Report by the Committee on Un-American Activities, 80th Congress, Second Session. 1958. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4.UN 1/2:C 73/101)

Scope of Soviet Activity in the United States, Part 1: Hearing Before the Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, 84th Congress, Second Session. 1956. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4.J 89/2:SO 8/4/ PT. 1)

The Shameful Years: Thirty Years of Soviet Espionage in the United States. Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives. 1951. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4.UN 1/2:SO 8)

Soviet Espionage within United States Government: Second Report. Committee on Un-American Activities, 80th Congress, Second Session. 1948. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4.Un 1/2:C 73/8/2d rp.)

 

Additional Federal Government and Other Primary Sources:

Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections. Office of the Director of National intelligence, January 6, 2017.

Central Intelligence Agency: Freedom of Information Act Electronic Reading Room

Cold War International History Project: Venona Project and Vassiliev Notebooks Index and Concordance

FACT SHEET: Actions in Response to Russian Malicious Cyber Activity and Harassment, White House Office of the Press Secretary, December 29, 2016

FBI FOIA Vault: Alger Hiss’ FBI File.

Wilson Center Digital Archive: Vassiliev Notebooks 

 

Other Sources:

Andrew, Christopher and Vasili Mitrokhin. The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB. New York: Basic Books, 1999. (Joyner Stacks UB251.S65 A63 1999)

Frenkel, Sheera. “Meet Fancy Bear.” Buzzfeed News, October 15, 2016.

Galeotti, Mark. Putin’s Hydra: Inside Russia’s Intelligence Services. European Council on Foreign Relations, May 11, 2016.

Haslam, Jonathan. Near and Distant Neighbors: A New History of Soviet Intelligence. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015. (Not yet owned by Joyner Library)

Haynes, John Earl, Harvey Klehr and Alexander Vassiliev. Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009. (Joyner Stacks: UB271.R9 H389 2009)

Leonard, Raymond W. Secret Soldiers of the Revolution: Soviet Military Intelligence, 1918-1933. Westport Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1999. (Joyner Stacks: UB251.R8 L46 1999)

Suvorov, Victor. Inside Soviet Military Intelligence. New York: Macmillan, 1984. (Joyner Stacks: UB251.S65 S88 1984)

Suvorov, Victor. Inside the Aquarium: The Making of a Top Soviet Spy. New York: Macmillan, 1986. (Joyner Stacks: UB271.R92 S885 1986)

Walker, Shaun. “US expulsions put spotlight on Russia’s GRU intelligence agency.” The Guardian, December 30, 2016.

Weiss, Michael. “The GRU: Putin’s No-Longer-So-Secret Weapon.” The Daily Beast, December 31, 2016.

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