I.F. Stone

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Isador Feinstein Stone (December 24, 1907 – July 17, 1989) was an atheist[1] considered by many liberals and leftists as the standard for independent investigative journalism. Several independent historians and researchers as well as retired KGB officials have come to the conclusion that Stone was among a number of persons inside the U.S. journalism community used as a Soviet agent of influence, with one columnist going as far to call Stone "the KGB's front man in American journalism."

Contents

Early life

Born Isador Feinstein in Philadelphia in 1907, Stone was the son of Bernard Feinstein and the former Katherine Novack, non-observant[2] Jewish immigrants from Russia who owned a dry goods store. As a teenager, Stone began reading (among others) Karl Marx, along with the Russian anarchist Kropotkin and the Socialist Jack London. He became a radical, joined the Socialist Party and served on its New Jersey State Committee, he wrote, "before I was old enough to vote." In 1928, he became a public-relations man for Socialist Party presidential candidate Norman Thomas.[3] In 1937, he changed his last name from "Feinstein" to "Stone."[4]

Stone got his start in journalism at age 14 with The Progress, a liberal monthly in his New Jersey neighborhood. He became a reporter on The Haddonfield Press and The Camden Courier-Post. He quit the paper to hitch-hike to Boston for the trial of Sacco and Vanzetti,[5] a Communist[6] cause célèbre,[7] In 1927 he became a rewrite man at The Philadelphia Inquirer.[8] In 1933, he became a reporter for The New York Post.

KGB recruitment

“In 1937 Stone was a fellow traveler,”[9] according to Stone hagiographer [10] D.D. Guttenplan. “[H]e freely admitted as much.”[11] In 1988, Stone himself confessed, “I was a fellow traveler.”[12] But as late as 1989—the year Communism collapsed in Eastern Europe—Stone claimed to see no conflict between Communism and American ideals of freedom: “In a way, I was half a Jeffersonian and half a Marxist,” he admitted. “I never saw a contradiction between the two, and I still don't.”[13]

Stone was indeed a “fellow traveler" who "made no secret of his admiration for the Soviet system,” according to Oleg Kalugin, former head of KGB operations in the United States.[14] But he was far more than that: he was a willing intelligence source, “who began his cooperation with the Soviet intelligence long before me,” said Kalugin, “based entirely on his view of the world.”[15]

Stone was actually an “agent of influence”[16] who “could shape public opinion, manipulate public opinion,” according to Kalugin. Furthermore, Stone “was willing to perform tasks”: he would “find out what the views of someone in the government were or some senator on such and such an issue.”[17]

Stone was identified in Venona decrypts with the code name "Blin" (Pancake).[18] An NKVD New York station report dated April 13, 1936, indicates that “Liberal” (Frank Palmer, a Soviet agent in New York) recommended Stone to his bosses as a “lead.” The same report corroborates that “Isadore Feinstein [as Stone was then known], a commentator for the New York Post” was assigned the code name “Pancake.” A report from the same station the following month states that relations with “Pancake” had entered “the channel of normal operational work,” meaning that Stone had become a "fully active agent."[19] Stone also met with "Sergei",[20] who (under cover as “Vladimir Pravdin,”[21] New York bureau chief of the Soviet government news agency TASS)[22] was actually NKVD agent Roland Abbiat,[23] murderer of Ignace Reiss.[24]

Stalinist propaganda

Stone began writing for The Nation in 1932, becoming the magazine's Washington editor in 1940. In 1939, the Committee for Cultural Freedom, co-founded by progressive educator John Dewey and Socialist Irving Howe, published a “Manifesto” in The Nation criticizing Stalin's purges, arguing that Stalinism had made the Soviet Union into a totalitarian country, like Fascist Italy or Nazi Germany. Stone was one of “400 leading Americans” who signed an “Open Letter,” published in Soviet Russia Today, denouncing the CCF as “Fascists” and “reactionaries” for propounding “the fantastic falsehood that the USSR and the totalitarian states are basically alike,” and claiming that the Soviets Union "has shown a steadily expanding democracy in every sphere."[25] Unfortunately for Stone and other apologists for Stalin, this righteous blast appeared in September 1939, just in time for the Hitler-Stalin pact and joint Nazi-Soviet invasion of Poland to kick off World War II.

After World War II, Stone welcomed Soviet domination of Eastern Europe.[26] In 1948 he supported Henry Wallace for President on the Communist-inspired[27] Progressive Party ticket.[28] Even his worshipful biographer Myra MacPherson admitted that Stone voiced "only tepid criticism of Stalin's brutalities."[29] He was much more vocal in his criticism of the U.S. Government: for example, the Eisenhower White House's "merely 'official'" condolences upon the death of Stalin were "small-minded and unworthy of a great power," wrote Stone. "Magnanimous salute was called for on such an occasion."[30] He came to be seen as “an apologist for the hammer-and-sickle,” according to another sympathetic biographer, Robert Cottrell:

there was something disingenuous in his willingness to suspend judgment or to refuse to criticize still more forcefully the terror that was being played out in Soviet Russia.... What could not be denied was that Stone, like many of his political and intellectual counterparts, continued to afford Russia and even Stalinist communism something of a double standard, fearing that to do otherwise would endanger... the very possibility of socialism.”[31]

I.F. Stone's Weekly

In 1953, Stone began his own newsletter, I.F. Stone's Weekly, which he published until 1971.[32] Stone modeled his weekly after In Fact, a newsletter founded in the 1930s by the secret Communist[33] George Seldes,[34] whom Stone lauded as a "distinguished foreign correspondent and crusading liberal journalist."[35] Seldes co-founded the paper with "Bruce Minton,"[36] who was actually Soviet agent Richard Bransten, code-named "Informator." The paper was secretly founded at the instigation of (and funded by) the Communist Party[37] as an American version of London's The Week,[38] published by Comintern agent Claud Cockburn.[39]

References

  1. Bennett Muraskin, Jewish Humanists Remembered: I.F. STONE (1907-1989), Outlook Magazine
  2. Bennett Muraskin, Jewish Humanists Remembered: I.F. STONE (1907-1989), Outlook Magazine
  3. A Word about Myself (The Official Web Site of I.F. Stone)
  4. I.F. Stone, Encyclopædia Brittanica
  5. Doug Ireland, "The Real History of a Radical, In These Times, June 15, 2009
  6. Stephen Koch, Double Lives: Stalin, Willi Munzenberg and the Seduction of the Intellectuals (New York: Enigma Books, rev. ed. 2004) ISBN 1929631200, pp. 31-39, 373 n. 23
  7. John F. Neville, Twentieth-Century Cause Celebre: Sacco, Vanzetti, and the Press, 1920-1927 (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2004) ISBN 0275977838 p. 101
  8. Peter B. Flint, "I.F. Stone, Iconoclast of Journalism, Is Dead at 81," The New York Times, June 19, 1989
  9. Myra MacPherson, 'All Governments Lie!': The Life and Times of Rebel Journalist I. F. Stone (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2006) ISBN 0684807130, p. 326
  10. Robert Fulford, “Two views on I.F. Stone,” National Post (Canada), June 14, 2009
  11. D.D. Guttenplan, “Red Harvest: The KGB in America,” The Nation, May 25, 2009
  12. Myra MacPherson, 'All Governments Lie!': The Life and Times of Rebel Journalist I. F. Stone (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2006) ISBN 0684807130, p. 354
  13. Tim Graham, Radical Writer I. F. Stone Wasn't A Paid Soviet Agent: He'd 'Perform Tasks' For Free, NewsBusters.org, September 30, 2006; The Nation, July 10, 1989, as cited in Notable Quotables, July 10-March 6, 1989
  14. John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999), ISBN 0300077718, p. 247
  15. Myra MacPherson, 'All Governments Lie!': The Life and Times of Rebel Journalist I. F. Stone (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2006) ISBN 0684807130, p. 326
  16. Oleg Kalugin and Fen Montaigne, The First Directorate: My 32 Years in Intelligence & Espionage Against the West (Darby, Penn.: Diane Publishing Company, 1994), ISBN 0788151118, p. 74
  17. Myra MacPherson, 'All Governments Lie!': The Life and Times of Rebel Journalist I. F. Stone (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2006) ISBN 0684807130, p. 327
  18. Index of Cover Names, New York-Moscow Communications (Venona, National Security Agency), p. 10. Cf. John Earl Haynes (2008), Vassiliev Notebooks Concordance: Cover Names, Real Names, Abbreviations, Acronyms, Organizational Titles, Tradecraft Terminology, p. 159
  19. John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr and Alexander Vassiliev, Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009), ISBN 0300123906, p. 150
  20. Venona 1506 KGB New York to Moscow, 23 October 1944
  21. Robert L. Benson, The Venona Story (Center for Cryptologic History, Fort George G. Meade, Md., 2001), p. 31 (PDF p. 34)
  22. Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB (New York: Basic Books, 2000), ISBN 0-465-00310-9, p. 124
  23. Harvey Klehr, “Devils in America,” The New Republic, February 12, 2004
  24. Walter Krivitsky, In Stalin's Secret Service: An Exposé of Russia’s Secret Policies by the Former Chief of the Soviet Intelligence in Western Europe (Harper & Brothers, 1939), pp. 261-263 (PDF pp. 285-287)
  25. To All Active Supporters of Democracy and Peace, Soviet Russia Today, vol. 8, no. 5 (September 1939), pp. 24-25, 28
  26. Bennett Muraskin, "Jewish Humanists Remembered: I.F. STONE (1907-1989)," Outlook Magazine
  27. The Progressive Party was in fact a creation of the Communist Party, growing out of CPUSA General Secretary Eugene Dennis's February 12, 1946 order "to establish in time for the 1948 elections a national third party." (Arthur Meier Schlesinger, Jr. A Life in the Twentieth Century: Innocent Beginnings, 1917-1950 [New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2000] ISBN 0618219250, pp. 455-456). In 1955, the Jenner subcommittee cited the Progressive Party on its list of subversive organizations, identified as a Communist front. Wallace would finally recant his support for the Soviet Union in 1952. Henry Agard Wallace, “Where I Was Wrong.” This Week, September 2, 1952
  28. Stephen Lendman, IF Stone: An Iconic Radical Journalist, OpEd News, October 19, 2009
  29. Myra MacPherson, 'All Governments Lie!': The Life and Times of Rebel Journalist I. F. Stone (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2006) ISBN 0684807130, p. 118
  30. Isidor Feinstein Stone (Karl Weber, ed.), The Best of I.F. Stone (PublicAffairs, 2006) ISBN 158648463X, pp. 112-113
  31. Robert C. Cottrell, Izzy: A Biography of I.F. Stone (Rutgers University Press, 1994) ISBN 0813520088, pp. 68, 76
  32. I.F. Stone’s Weekly, The Writings of I.F. Stone (The Official Web Site of I.F. Stone)
  33. John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr and Alexander Vassiliev, Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009), ISBN 0300123906, pp. 169
  34. "'In 1952 I was over in Paris as correspondent for a paper that I knew wouldn't last very long and George [Seldes] saw me over there and encouraged me to start a little weekly like his,' said Stone..." John Guttenplan, "Obituary: George Seldes," The Independent (London), July 14, 1995
  35. A Word about Myself (The Official Web Site of I.F. Stone)
  36. George Seldes, Never Tire of Protesting (L. Stuart, 1968), p. 53
  37. John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr and Alexander Vassiliev, Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009), ISBN 0300123906, pp. 169-172
  38. David Randall, The Great Reporters (Pluto Press, 2005) ISBN 0745322972, p. 85
  39. Chapman Pincher, Treachery: Betrayals, Blunders, and Cover-ups: Six Decades of Espionage against America and Great Britain (Random House, Inc., 2009) ISBN 140006807X, pp. 43-47

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