This is the next installment in a weekly series of exclusive interviews with Dr. Paul Kengor, professor of political science at Grove City College in Grove City, Pennsylvania, who has just released a major book revealing how the far Left—most notably, communists—has long manipulated America’s liberals/progressives. Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century, is based on unprecedented declassified materials from Soviet archives, FBI files, and more, and is being hailed as groundbreaking. Herb Meyer, special assistant to the CIA director from 1981-87, says that Dupes “alters our understanding of the 20th century.” Big Peace’s own Peter Schweizer calls it the “21st century equivalent” to Whittaker Chambers’ classic Witness.
Each week at Big Peace, Professor Kengor will profile one of his book’s Big Dupes. Today, we take a second look at Senator Ted Kennedy.
Big Peace: Last week, we left off with Soviet defector Yuri Bezmenov, who described the late Senator Kennedy as a “useful idiot” of “monumental” proportions. Let’s pick up there.
Kengor: Yes, among Bezmenov’s “chief duties” in handling Western liberals was, by his description, keeping them “permanently intoxicated” from the moment they got off the plane at Moscow airport. He helped stage phony weddings to dupe progressives. In the book, we publish a photo of Ted Kennedy dancing at one such wedding.
Bezmenov, and the Soviets generally, were amazed at how easily they deceived progressives and liberals. They shook their heads in disbelief.
Big Peace: In the book, you say that “Ted Kennedy’s Russian Romance” went further than a staged wedding. How much further?
Kengor: Let’s start with an example that ought to offend even liberal Democrats.
It was March 1980. The Soviets had just invaded Afghanistan—a tremendous shock, their first invasion outside the Warsaw Pact since World War II. It was also another betrayal of the bizarre trust President Jimmy Carter placed in the Soviet dictatorship. In fact, mere months earlier, Carter and Leonid Brezhnev embraced and kissed in Vienna. That image, the ultimate symbol of being duped, is the cover of my book, and proof positive that Jimmy Carter was incredibly weak and overly accommodating toward the USSR.
Actually, it was proof to everyone except Ted Kennedy.
Big Peace: Tell us what Kennedy relayed to the Kremlin—regarding Carter.
Kengor: We know this through the Mitrokhin Archives, a fascinating cache of documents taken out of Russia by a defector. According to those records, Kennedy, in March 1980, sent a liaison to Moscow. That liaison informed the Soviets that Kennedy was troubled by rising Cold War tensions, which Kennedy blamed not on the Kremlin but on the Carter administration.
Big Peace: That’s an amazing charge.
Kengor: It was the kind of crass absurdity you typically heard from Kremlin propagandists, although even this charge would have never made it out of the International Department. It would have been deemed too far-fetched.
Big Peace: But not for Kennedy. What exactly did he say?
Kengor: In Mitrokhin’s description, Kennedy argued that the Carter administration was trying to “distort the peace-loving ideas behind Brezhnev’s proposals,” with “the atmosphere of tension and hostility . . . being fuelled by Carter.” The Carter White House was “feeding public opinion with nonsense about ‘the Soviet military threat’ and Soviet ambitions for military expansion.”
The KGB, for the record, found Kennedy’s words “acceptable to us.”
I’m sure they did.
Big Peace: Worse, some suspect Kennedy had political motivations.
Kengor: Here’s the kicker: Remember what was happening in March 1980. This was smack in the middle of the Democratic presidential primaries, with no less than Ted Kennedy himself challenging the incumbent, Jimmy Carter, for the nomination. Need I say more?
Big Peace: No, you don’t. How will Democrats react to this?
Kengor: They’ll ignore it. I know this because of my experience with the Reagan revelation regarding Ted Kennedy.
Big Peace: Let’s cover that next.
Kengor: Three years later, in May 1983, with the next presidential election coming up—with Kennedy again a frontrunner—Kennedy did something similar to the incumbent president, Ronald Reagan, also through a private liaison. I have a May 1983 document, highest classification, sent from KGB head Victor Chebrikov to the odious Yuri Andropov. The subject head immediately grabs your attention: “Regarding Senator Kennedy’s request to the General Assembly of the Communist Party Y. V. Andropov.”
Big Peace: Andropov had been a KGB head and Soviet disinformation chief.
Kengor: And a ruthless human being. Here again, though, Senator Kennedy would beg to differ. The letter said Kennedy was “very impressed” with Andropov, but decidedly unimpressed with Reagan. Kennedy wanted the Soviet leadership to know he remained troubled by Cold War tensions, which he attributed not to the Soviets but, again, to the American president. The problem was “Reagan’s belligerence” and “refusal to engage any modification” in his politics or policies. Worse, noted the letter, Reagan was riding high, cruising to easy re-election. Americans loved him. What could be done? Where was Reagan vulnerable?
Alas, that’s where Ted Kennedy could help. He offered to meet with the Soviet leadership to discuss how to respond to Reagan’s “propaganda.” Among other things, Kennedy suggested a PR campaign by which the Soviets, including high-level military, would come to America for a media tour. Kennedy suggested Barbara Walters and Walter Cronkite as friendly interviewers. (By the way, in the book, we publish a newly declassified document on communists targeting Cronkite.)
Big Peace: Did anything come from this?
Kengor: No. Our media never demanded Kennedy give an explanation. Our nation’s “journalists” protected him, all the way to the grave.
Big Peace: You publish this document, in its entirety. And you say it has been resealed in Russian archives?
Kengor: That’s my understanding. I publish it in both Russian and English. You can read it yourself. I’ve had people say that the actual text is more scandalous than I describe—that I was charitable to Kennedy.
Big Peace: Let’s finish by transitioning to a third president, George W. Bush, which is also a transition into the War on Terror. What did Kennedy say here?
Kengor: There are a bunch of gems here as well. Here’s just one: On May 10, 2004, Kennedy went to the Senate floor and declared: “President Bush asked: ‘Who would prefer that Saddam’s torture chambers still be open?’ Shamefully, we now learn that Saddam’s torture chambers reopened under new management—U.S. management.”
This was an arrow to the heart of U.S. military personnel. It was an utterly absurd analogy that bore no semblance to reality, as anyone with the most rudimentary knowledge of Saddam Hussein’s “Republic of Fear” would have known. The single worst case of unauthorized abuse didn’t begin to compare to the daily terror employed by Saddam—human meat grinders, children in dog cages, amputations, the beheading of Iraqi women.
If I were running PR for Al-Qaeda or Ahmadinejad, Kennedy’s assessment would have been front-page, top-of-the-fold, for a month.
Big Peace: Is Ted Kennedy the biggest dupe in your book?
Kengor: The competition is steep. What nags me about Kennedy is whether he was an innocent dupe, gullible and easily misled, like Jimmy Carter, or, worse, fully aware of what he was doing. I’ll let readers come to their own conclusions.
Big Peace: Professor Kengor, who’s next week’s Big Dupe at Big Peace?
Kengor: We’ll look at Frank Marshall Davis, who in the 1970s was a mentor to a young man in Hawaii named Barack Obama, and also happened to be a member of the Communist Party. I’ll share the details, including Davis’s actual party number. Or, better yet, if you can’t wait, buy the book!