(Originally published in Human Events in December 2003 and reprinted with permission of the author, Herbert Romerstein).
Following Herb’s article is the full text of the letter he references from KGB head Viktor Chebrikov to Soviet leader Yuri Andropov regarding Mr. Kennedy's collaboration with the KGB.
EDITOR’S NOTE: HERBERT ROMERSTEIN HAS PARTICIPATED IN SEVERAL ASI CONFERENCES AND WRITTEN SEVERAL REPORTS FOR ASI.
READ HERB’S REPORT ON BILL AYERS AND THE WEATHER UNDERGROUND
READ HERB’S REPORT ON THE PROGRESSIVE MOVEMENT
By Herbert Romerstein*
Even long-time Bush watchers were surprised when former President [George H. W.] Bush presented an award to Sen. Edward Kennedy (D.-Mass.) at a time when the far-left senator was involved in a full-scale series of attacks on our current President.
Teddy Kennedy's bizarre attack on President Bush shocked even some of his supporters. With rhetoric reminiscent of "conspiracy nuts," Kennedy accused the President of deliberately getting us into an unnecessary war in Iraq, a war that was planned in Texas. Remember that the senator's brother, Jack, was assassinated in Texas almost 40 years ago.
While the tone was hysterical, it was not unusual for Sen. Kennedy to attack an American president and give aid and comfort to our country's enemies. There are some important reports found in Soviet archives, after the collapse of the communist dictatorship, that provide an interesting insight into the character of the senior Senator from Massachusetts.
One of the documents, a KGB report to their bosses in the Soviet Communist Party Central Committee, revealed that: "In 1978, American Sen. Edward Kennedy requested the assistance of the KGB to establish a relationship" between the Soviet apparatus and a firm owned by former Senator John Tunney.
The KGB recommended that they be permitted to do this because Tunney's firm was already connected with a KGB agent in France named David Karr. This document was found by the knowledgeable Russian journalist Yevgenia Albats and published in Moscow's Izvestia in June 1992.
Another KGB report to their bosses revealed that on March 5, 1980, John Tunney met with the KGB in Moscow on behalf of Sen. Kennedy. Tunney expressed Kennedy's opinion that "nonsense about 'the Soviet military threat' and Soviet ambitions for military expansion in the Persian Gulf . . . was being fueled by (President Jimmy) Carter, (National Security Advisor Zbigniew) Brzezinski, the Pentagon and the military industrial complex."
Kennedy offered to speak out against President Carter on Afghanistan. Shortly thereafter he made public speeches opposing President Carter on this issue. This document was found in KGB archives by Vasiliy Mitrokhin, a courageous KGB officer, who copied documents from the files and then defected to the West. He wrote about this document in a February 2002 paper on Afghanistan that he released through the Cold War International History Project of the Woodrow Wilson Center.
In May 1983, the KGB again reported to their bosses on a discussion in Moscow with former Sen. John Tunney. [Note: full text of this letter appended below]
Kennedy had instructed Tunney, according to the KGB, to carry a message to Yuri Andropov, the General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, expressing Kennedy's concern about the anti-Soviet activities of President Ronald Reagan.
The KGB reported "in Kennedy's opinion the opposition to Reagan remains weak. Speeches of the president's opponents are not well-coordinated and not effective enough, and Reagan has the chance to use successful counterpropaganda." Kennedy offered to "undertake some additional steps to counter the militaristic policy of Reagan and his campaign of psychological pressure on the American population."
Kennedy asked for a meeting with Andropov for the purpose of "arming himself with the Soviet leader's explanations of arms control policy so he can use them later for more convincing speeches in the U.S." He also offered to help get Soviet views on the major U.S. networks and suggested inviting "Elton Rule, ABC chairman of the board, or observers Walter Cronkite or Barbara Walters to Moscow."
Tunney told the KGB that Kennedy was planning to run for president in the 1988 elections. "At that time, he will be 56 years old, and personal problems that have weakened his position will have been resolved. Kennedy quietly settled a divorce suit and soon plans to remarry." Of course the Russians understood his problem with Chappaquiddick.
While Kennedy did not intend to run in 1984, he did not exclude the possibility that the Democratic Party would draft him because "not a single one of the current Democratic hopefuls has a real chance of beating Reagan." This document was first discovered in the Soviet archives by London Times reporter Tim Sebastian and a report on it was published in that newspaper in February 1992.
Sen. Kennedy played a major role during the 1970s in crafting the restrictions that made it so difficult for the FBI and CIA to do the job of protecting the American people. One of the most pernicious restrictions was the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) passed in 1978.
President Franklin Roosevelt, in 1940, had ordered the FBI to wiretap Nazis and Communists because they were operating in the United States on behalf of hostile foreign powers. Every President after him used the inherent power of the president to order wiretapping for national security purposes.
Kennedy told the Senate Intelligence Committee in 1976 that "For the last 5 years I and others in the Senate have labored unsuccessfully to place some meaningful statutory restrictions on the so-called inherent power of the Executive to engage in surveillance."
When Congress discussed legislation to require a court warrant to wiretap enemy agents and terrorists, Kennedy and the ACLU began a campaign to raise the barriers as high as possible.
Kennedy introduced the concept in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Bill that required evidence that someone was providing classified information to a foreign intelligence service. Someone who "only" had a clandestine relationship with a foreign intelligence officer and carried out covert influence operations for a foreign power could not be wiretapped.
When we see the KGB reports we can understand why Kennedy would want this provision in the law. Kennedy was not a KGB agent. He also was not "a useful idiot" who was used by the KGB without understanding what he was doing. Kennedy was a collaborationist. He aided the KGB for his own political purposes.
The restrictions that Kennedy successfully put in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act were so tight that when the FBI arrested Zacarias Moussaoui (the so-called 20th highjacker) in August 2001, they could not get permission to download his computer since FBI headquarters understood that they did not have enough evidence to get a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
After 9/11 when they did download his computer they found, among other interesting things, information on the air currents over New York. After 9/11 Kennedy and other demagogues in the Congress blamed the FBI and CIA for the intelligence failure. The slogan was "they didn't connect the dots."
There was no way to connect the dots when they weren't allowed to collect the dots. Inquiring minds want to know why the first President Bush should present any kind of an award to the anti-American Senator who spends so much time attacking the current President Bush.
*Herbert Romerstein is generally recognized as one of the nation’s leading experts on the intricate details of Cold War subversion and the war on terror. Romerstein retired in 1989 after 25 years service with the United States government. He served as head of the office to Counter Soviet Disinformation at the United States Information Agency from 1983 to 1989. From 1965 to 1983, he was a Professional Staff Member for the U.S. House of Representatives. This service included tours of duty as investigator for the House Committee on Un-American Activities, minority chief investigator for the House Committee on Internal Security and professional staff member for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
He is the author of a number of books and monographs on the subjects of espionage and propaganda. His books include: The Venona Secrets: Exposing Soviet Espionage and America’s Traitors (2000), Heroic Victims: Stalin’s Foreign Legion in the Spanish Civil War (1994) and The KGB Against the “Main Enemy” (1989).
Since retiring from the government, Romerstein has done extensive research in both U.S. and foreign archives. In 1992, he did research in archives in the Ukrainian republic. In 1993, he did research in the archives of the Communist International in Moscow, Russia.
APPENDIX: Full text of Chebrikov letter to Andropov
May 4, 1983
From: Special Importance Committee on State Security of the USSR 14.05.1983 No. 1029 Ch/OV Moscow
Regarding: Senator Kennedy's request to the General Secretary of the Communist Party Comrade Y.V. Andropov
To: Comrade Y.V. Andropov
On 9-10 May of this year, Senator Edward Kennedy's close friend and trusted confidant J. Tunney was in Moscow. The senator charged Tunney to convey the following message, through confidential contacts, to the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Y. Andropov:
Senator Kennedy, like other rational people, is very troubled by the current state of Soviet-American relations. Events are developing such that this relationship coupled with the general state of global affairs will make the situation even more dangerous. The main reason for this is Reagan's belligerence, and his firm commitment to deploy new American middle range nuclear weapons within Western Europe.
According to Kennedy, the current threat is due to the President's refusal to engage any modification on his politics. He feels that his domestic standing has been strengthened because of the well publicized improvements of the economy: inflation has been greatly reduced, production levels are increasing as is overall business activity. For these reasons, interest rates will continue to decline. The White House has portrayed this in the media as the "success of Reaganomics."
Naturally, not everything in the province of economics has gone according to Reagan's plan. A few well known economists and members of financial circles, particularly from the north-eastern states, foresee certain hidden tendencies that may bring about a new economic crisis in the USA. This could bring about the fall of the presidential campaign of 1984, which would benefit the Democratic party. Nevertheless, there are no secure assurances this will indeed develop.
The only real potential threats to Reagan are problems of war and peace and Soviet-American relations. These issues, according to the senator, will without a doubt become the most important of the election campaign. The movement advocating a freeze on nuclear arsenals of both countries continues to gain strength in the United States. The movement is also willing to accept preparations, particularly from Kennedy, for its continued growth. In political and influential circles of the country, including within Congress, the resistance to growing military expenditures is gaining strength.
However, according to Kennedy, the opposition to Reagan is still very weak. Reagan's adversaries are divided and the presentations they make are not fully effective. Meanwhile, Reagan has the capabilities to effectively counter any propaganda. In order to neutralize criticism that the talks between the USA and the USSR are non-constructive, Reagan will grandiose, but subjectively propagandistic.
At the same time, Soviet officials who speak about disarmament will be quoted out of context, silenced or groundlessly and whimsically discounted. Although arguments and statements by officials of the USSR do appear in the press, it is important to note the majority of Americans do not read serious newspapers or periodicals.
Kennedy believes that, given the current state of affairs, and in the interest of peace, it would be prudent and timely to undertake the following steps to counter the militaristic politics of Reagan and his campaign to psychologically burden the American people.
In this regard, he offers the following proposals to the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Y.V. Andropov.
1. Kennedy asks Y.V. Andropov to consider inviting the senator to Moscow for a personal meeting in July of this year. The main purpose of the meeting, according to the senator, would be to arm Soviet officials with explanations regarding problems of nuclear disarmament so they may be better prepared and more convincing during appearances in the USA.
He would also like to inform you that he has planned a trip through Western Europe, where he anticipates meeting England's Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and French President Mitterand in which he will exchange similar ideas regarding the same issues.
If his proposals would be accepted in principle, Kennedy would send his representative to Moscow to resolve questions regarding organizing such a visit.
Kennedy thinks the benefit of a meeting with Y.V. Andropov will be enhanced if he could also invite one of the well known Republican senators, for example, Mark Hatfield. Such a meeting will have a strong impact on American and political circles in the USA. (In March of 1982, Hatfield and Kennedy proposed a project resolution to freeze the nuclear arsenals of the USA and the USSR and published a book on this theme as well.)
2. Kennedy believes that in order to influence Americans it would be important to organize in August-September of this year, televised interviews with Y.V. Andropov in the USA.
A direct appeal by the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union to the American people will, without a doubt, attract a great deal of attention and interest in the country. The senator is convinced this would receive the maximum resonance in so far as television is the most effective method of mass media and information.
If the proposal is recognized as worthy, then Kennedy and his friends will bring about suitable steps to have representatives of the largest television companies in the USA contact Y.V. Andropov for an invitation to Moscow for the interviews.
Specifically, the president of the board of directors of ABC, Elton Raul and television columnists Walter Cronkite or Barbara Walters could visit Moscow. The senator underlined the importance that this initiative should be seen as coming from the American side.
Furthermore, with the same purpose in mind, a series of televised interviews in the USA with lower level Soviet officials, particularly from the military would be organized. They would also have an opportunity to appeal directly to the American people about the peaceful intentions of the USSR, with their own arguments about maintaining a true balance of power between the USSR and the USA in military terms. This issue is quickly being distorted by Reagan's administration.
Kennedy asked to convey that this appeal to the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union is his effort to contribute a strong proposal that would root out the threat of nuclear war, and to improve Soviet-American relations, so that they define the safety of the world.
Kennedy is very impressed with the activities of Y.V. Andropov and other Soviet leaders, who expressed their commitment to heal international affairs, and improve mutual understanding between peoples.
The senator underscored that he eagerly awaits a reply to his appeal, the answer to which may be delivered through Tunney.
Having conveyed Kennedy's appeal to the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Tunney also explained that Senator Kennedy has in the last few years actively made appearances to reduce the threat of war. Because he formally refused to partake in the election campaign of 1984, his speeches would be taken without prejudice as they are not tied to any campaign promises.
Tunney remarked that the senator wants to run for president in 1988. At that time, he will be 56 and his personal problems, which could hinder his standing, will be resolved (Kennedy has just completed a divorce and plans to remarry in the near future).
Taken together, Kennedy does not discount that during the 1984 campaign, the Democratic party may officially turn to him to lead the fight against the Republicans and elect their candidate president. This would explain why he is convinced that none of the candidates today have a real chance at defeating Reagan.
We await instructions.
President of the committee V. Chebrikov