At the very end of the video, Haynes can be heard lamenting that, while he understands politicians not wanting to admit to anything that might put them at a disadvantage in electoral politics--and this March 1950 press conference of Harry Truman, dishonestly denying that Senator Joseph McCarthy's Wheeling, W. Virginia speech of a few weeks earlier, had been accurate, is a perfect example--it is terrible when historians do the same thing. Haynes expresses the hope that in the coming years, as political passions cool, that will change.
So far, not so good though, if the recent brouhaha over Diana West's book, American Betrayal is an indication. About which; the most interesting part of the nearly two hour C-Span2 panel discussion linked to above, is from (the just recently deceased, RIP) Herbert Romerstein (the third speaker). Particularly what he had to say about Leon Trotsky wanting to accept an invitation by the Dies Committee in 1940, to testify to what he knew about Soviet penetration of the U.S. government. He didn't get a visa to do so, because the State Department had finally found a Communist they wanted to deny entry to the U.S.
Romerstein, during the Q&A, is asked a specific question about Harry Hopkins--FDR's most trusted adviser. Romerstein clearly states that he believes that Hopkins was a Soviet agent (based on the recollections of of defector Oleg Gordievsky, who had been told Hopkins was the most important agent the USSR had had during WWII, during his KGB training). John Earl Haynes does not object to this statement.
Now, thirteen years later, he and longtime collaborator Harvey Klehr do at the Front Page. It's a very effective presentation that the mention of Agent 19 in a Venona cable is not Harry Hopkins, but was instead friend of Edward R. Murrow, Laurence Duggan. Very scholarly, and totally unlike the approach of Ronald Radosh in the same publication. What it isn't though, is a refutation of Hopkins as a Soviet agent.
Not that it matters, really, what appellation is pinned on Hopkins, though Klehr and Haynes try to make it seem that it does;
But, even if he did not have a covert link to Soviet intelligence, why would Hopkins alert the Soviets to what the FBI had learned? It was likely yet another example of the exaggerated lengths to which not merely Hopkins but other leading officials in the Roosevelt administration, including the president himself, went in attempting to win the Soviets’ trust and make them into working partners with the United States in winning the war and in constructing the peace to follow. To give another example, in late 1944 the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (predecessor to the Central Intelligence Agency) obtained from Finnish intelligence officers a Soviet code book (or a collection of Soviet code and cipher material, the record is not entirely clear). Secretary of State Stettinius learned of the matter, and in what is in retrospect a remarkably naive act, successfully urged President Roosevelt to order the OSS to hand the material over to the Soviets as a gesture of good will. So far as is known, the OSS did not even keep a copy.
Likely Hopkins’ 1943 act was a similar gesture of good will and a friendly warning to the Soviet ambassador to keep the intelligence officers on his staff under control. Like virtually all such gestures to the Soviets, it went unreciprocated and was treated as a sign of American weakness. It was both reckless and destructive, but not evidence that Hopkins was a Soviet agent.It's better to have been stupid, than to have been a spy AND an agent of influence?
We shall return to this controversy, anon.