Russian Spies in the McCarthy Era

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Here are just a few of the folks either being operatives for the Russian government, or at least belonging to groups affiliated and helping them. Tydings 9, Amerasia, Rosenberg spy ring, Army Signal Corps Intelligence Agency (SCIA), and more. Instead of this being an invention of McCarthy's imagination, it turns out virtually all of the people on his lists were put on them by professional intelligence agents, and were suspected for very valid reasons. If not of being spies, of certainly being friends to many people who were later exposed as spies.

Tydings 9

  • (1) Dorothy Kenyon - McCarthy accused of being a member of 28 Communist front organizations, based of HUAC's study that concluded as much. Her defense was even if true, doesn't mean she's a communist. She called him a liar, but it appears his claims were true. We have no idea if she was actively working for the communists, or just a useful idiot. But she had helped many front groups (which was the standard of the day).
  • (4) Esther Brunauer - She and Stephen had been involved in the Communist League and 9 different front organizations, and had worked for Benton (a known spy), worked with IPR, and got caught lying to the Loyalty Board. He and Esther were considered security risks, and had been on the Lee List, thus was on McCarthy's list. Later, after an investigation, State and the Navy made her and her husband resign (details not public).
  • (2) Haldore Hanson - McCarthy only said others had accused him of being a Communist Party member: this was true. There was little evidence, and McCarthy didn't push this one, and it was mostly dropped and his name never showed up in Venona.
  • (7) Gustavo Duran - State Dept Expert, later exposed as a Soviet Spy. Audio
  • (6) Harlow Shapley -
  • (5) Frederick Schuman -


  • (8) John Stewart Service zealous Marxist, arrested for giving classified documents to the editors of Amerasia, a Communist magazine (Jaffe) - but it had been covered up by Truman (and no punishment had happened). He convinced the FDR administration the Chinese Communists were "simple agrarian reformers" that should be supported over Chiang Kai-shek, which worked and lead to the Marshal Mission. He was eventually fired in 1951 (partly because of McCarthy) for questions about his loyalty. But he was hardly ruined: he joined the faculty of the University of California at Berkeley.
  • (9) Owen Lattimore - IPR (Institute of Pacific Relations) another Soviet Front. Professor at Johns Hopkins University and part of OWI. In a closed session, Senator McCarthy called Lattimore "the top Russian spy”, and this was leaked by one of the Democrats. Many of his writers, producers, and actors at OWI were confirmed members of the Communist Party (some showed up in Verona Decrypts). Tydings whitewashed Lattimore, claiming he was cleared. In 1952 the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, vindicated McCarthy when it declared that "Owen Lattimore was, from some time beginning in the 1930s, a conscious articulate instrument of the Soviet conspiracy.” He was a named Soviet Agent by multiple sources including a defecting GRU General and other witnesses. But it never hurt his career: he remained a faculty member of Johns Hopkins University, and went on to head the Chinese studies department at Leeds University in England in 1963.
  • (3) Philip Jessup - McCarthy said he had an "unusual affinity for Communist causes” because he belonged to at least five Communist-controlled fronts, associated closely with Communists, was an influential member of the Institute of Pacific Relations (IPR) which existed to, "orientate American Far Eastern policy toward Communist objectives” and had 46 other IPR members were also members of the communist party. The senate wouldn’t confirm him to the U.N. but Eisenhower named Jessup to represent the United States on the International Court of Justice where he served until 1969.
  • T.A. Bisson - Venona Decrypts: paid spy while he was at OSS - Part of Amerasia
  • J. Edgar Hoover handed the DOJ an airtight case with wiretaps, conversations, etc. This case was whitewashed and covered up by the Truman DOJ & AG, using Tommy "the Cork" Corcoran (FDR's go to fixer, who lived in the White House with FDR). The FBI released wire-taps of Corcoran committing felonies to fix the Service case and get him off. This is part of why when Joe McCarthy brought up Service/Amerasia, he had to not just be silenced, but destroyed, or the bigger conspiracy might have been exposed.

Treasury combine - many were paid spies, some "useful idiots"

  • Solomon Adler - Venona Decrypts: paid spy, identified by Bentley & Chamers in 1939, 1945, 1948.
  • Nathan Gregory Silvermaster (and his wife Hellen/Elizabeth) - Venona Decrypts: paid spies. Identified by Bentley in 1945, 1948. Head of a large ring of spies. FBI's Silvermaster File is named after him.
  • Lauchlin Currie - executive assistant to FDR - fled to Latin American after being named. Part of Silvermaster spy network, identified by Bentley, Chambers, Venona.
  • Harry Dexter White - Venona Decrypts: paid spy - identified by Bentley & Chamers, 1939, 1945, 1948. After leaving Treasury, went to work for the IMF.
  • Harold Glasser - Venona Decrypts: paid spy - friend of Alger Hiss, work for Harry Dexter White.
  • V. Frank Coe - Venona Decrypts: paid spy - identified by Bentley & Chamers, 1945, 1948 - plead the 5th to being a member of the Communist Party. Fed info to Harry Dexter White
  • David Karr - Venona Decrypts: paid spy - One of McCarthy's critics, was named by McCarthy, and the FBI had documents on him because of being part of the treasury combine (which he used to funnel info to the Soviets). Later the Soviets published that he had been a good KGB asset.

Rosenberg spy ring / Army Signal Corps Intelligence Agency (SCIA)

  • Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were convicted of spying and executed for giving Russia the Bomb (while working for the SCIA). But there was a deeper problems than just them in Signal Corps, and nothing was happening. Ten Signal Corps officials brought charges of lax security and alleged that "staffers of pro-Red sympathy and background had infiltrated its operations", and classified papers had gone missing, and had appeared in the hands of North Koreans in the Korean war. After trying internally and with Congress, they went to McCarthy on the "hush-up."
  • Annie Lee Moss - FBI confirmed Annie Lee Moss was a Communist and briefed the Democrat Senators (John McClellan (Ark.), Stuart Symington (Mo.), and Henry "Scoop" Jackson (Wash.)) to that fact. Still, they played up an angle to make Joe McCarthy look incompetent, like it was mistaken identity, when they knew better. In 1958 the Subversive Activities control Board (SACB) confirmed Moss was a communist, and McCarthy had been right to question her.
NOTE: George Clooney did a 2005 film "Good Night and Good Luck" making Moss look sympathetic and innocent victim of evil Joe McCarthy. When questioned, Clooney admitted he knew she was a communist, but spun her as innocent and Joe as confused/evil anyways, showing you what kind of man Clooney is.

  • Aaron Coleman - had been illegally bringing secret documents home while he had attended communist meetings and his roommate had been suspended from the same unit on loyalty grounds in 1949.
  • Barry Bernstein - took the Fifth Amendment when asked about his attendance at Communist Party meetings, association with the Rosenberg's, whether he was a spy, and about whether the Pentagon board that reinstated him had asked about his attendance at those meetings
  • Showing the Signal Corps (Army) in a bad light, even if true, turned the Eisenhower administration against McCarthy. They attacked Joe, instead of admitting that he'd exposed a major screw-up. Senator Carl Hayden [D-Ariz.], later admitted that they'd moved the operation from New Jersey to Arizona to clean house (because of the security penetration), but did it under cover of other reasons, because "they didn't want to admit that McCarthy was right in his accusations."
  • Major General Kirke Lawton was cooperating with McCarthy and admitting security was bad, and he was being thwarted on cleaning up. He was immediately put on medical leave, and forced to retire a year later. But the writing was on the wall for whistle-blowers.
  • General Ralph Zwicker was far more evasive, and likely perjured himself, and antagonized a famous exchange where Joe lost his cool and came off looking bad for the cameras. Later he was challenge by a democratic senator for perjury in this case, but the Eisenhower administration blocked it, and promoted him to Major General instead.
  • Robert Oppenheimer -


  • Leonard Mins - plead the 5th to being a member of the Communist Party while working with Classified Documents for Armed Forces. Later outed as working for the GRU.
  • Cedric Belfrage - Venona Decrypts: paid spy - plead the 5th to being a member of the Communist Party while working with Classified Documents for OSS. The Financial Times said he was the 6th man in the Cambridge (5) Spy Ring.
  • Mary Jane Keeney - Venona Decrypts: paid spy - courier for the Communist Party, worked with Cedric Belfrage. Resigned from State went to the U.N.
  • Franz Neumann - Venona Decrypts: paid spy (short term).
  • Theodore Geiger - member of communist party
  • William Marx Mandel - took the Fifth Amendment before McCarthy's committee as to whether he was a Communist and whether he had committed espionage or other illegal activity against the U.S.
  • Alger Hiss - while he was already convicted, he was named multiple times. Still, to show how ignorant and biased Truman and his Administration had been, their DOJ had been fighting against Chambers and Bentley and wanted to convict them of perjury for outing Hiss. When Chambers produced irrefutable evidence (secret documents) that could have only come from Hiss, Truman justice wanted to prosecute Chambers for holding out and lying. But under overwhelming evidence Hiss was convicted. 6 years later, Truman in a TV interview said that Hiss had been a red herring and was never a communist spy, despite all the evidence against him. Everyone involved, including the Russians via multiple sources including the Venona decrypts disagrees.