Times, mum on Panetta's red links,
inferentially excuses CIA silence
As an uproar over CIA chief Leon Panetta's pro-Soviet friends was exploding, the New York Times discovered another CIA controversy that conveys the point that the CIA is forbidden to "spy on Americans."
The Times did not mention conservative disclosure of Panetta's sympathies for pro-Soviet activists.
Washington insiders wonder whether the Times' focus on the legal prohibition of domestic surveillance of Americans will suffice to deflect questions about why the CIA didn't strenuously object to Panetta's appointment as agency chief.
Related questions are why the FBI didn't flag Panetta's appointment following a background check or why the White House ignored the issue.
In recent decades, disclosures of communist connections have been routinely passed over in silence by mainstream media and lawmakers of both parties. However, the rise of the Tea Party wing of the GOP and the increasing use of alternative internet news sources may alter standard political calculations.
Today's Times story tells of a Bush White House attempt to use the CIA to get derogatory information on Juan Cole, a professor whose anti-war writings were considered annoying. A retired CIA officer was quoted as saying the CIA was forbidden to spy on Americans.
However, Cole's writings on the 9/11 attacks indicate that he, whether as a witting agent or a dupe, has been running interference for the 9/11 conspirators. Much of the discredited 9/11 commission report came from unverifiable CIA claims about what captives purportedly said.
Cole, anxious to denounce Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, also denounced anyone who disagreed with the official U.S. narrative about the events of 9/11. "Ahmadinejad’s recent speech to the Iranian Intelligence Ministry reiterates this ‘truther’ crackpot conspiracy theory about 9/11," Cole wrote in one post.
The John Birch Society, which is considered by some as "far right," is leading a drive to block Panetta's nomination as defense secretary, based on what it sees as a record of pro-Soviet sympathies.
The following information was largely provided by Accuracy in Media, a conservative watchdog group.
Panetta, as a Calfornia congressman representing Santa Cruz, inserted a tribute in the April 11, 1984, Congressional Record to one of his constituents, Lucy Haessler, calling her a “woman of peace” for her work in the pro-Soviet Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.
Panetta said that Haessler participated in “peace conferences” sponsored by the Women’s International Democratic Federation “in France, the Soviet Union, Poland, and East Germany." At the time, Poland and East Germany were members of the Soviet-dominated Warsaw Pact.
Panetta’s praise for Haessler got the attention at the time of Human Events, a national conservative weekly, which noted that the women's federation “appears to take the Soviet line on virtually every issue that comes up, ranging from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and yellow rain [communist chemical warfare] to the issue of new U.S. missiles in Europe."
Panetta told Human Events that he was unaware of the extremist nature of the women's league and other groups, countering: “Let me tell you something. I don’t know if you know about Santa Cruz, but Santa Cruz is a center for people who’ve been real activists in all kinds of organizations. If I started doing those kinds of checks on people who help out…I’d never stop. It’s just that kind of place.”
Yet Panetta's tribute to Hugh De Lacy, a man who had refused to tell Congress whether he was a communist, was inserted into the Congressional Record in 1983. Panetta, in fact, applauded De Lacy for standing up to "McCarthyism."
The series of “Dear Hugh” and “Dear Leon” letters discovered by conservative journalist Trevor Loudon in the Hugh De Lacy papers at the University of Washington shows that Panetta had had a working and cordial relationship with him. In fact, Panetta provided De Lacy, identified as a key contact of a communist spy ring, with sensitive documents.
De Lacy was never prosecuted for espionage. His communism, however, was attested by John Abt, longtime general counsel of the Communist Party, in his memoirs.
"Judging from the tone of some of the letters," AIM charges, "De Lacy appears to be telling Panetta what to say and do as a sitting member of Congress.