Friday, March 9, 2012

Catching a Spy

Although the Soviet Union's effort to dominate other nations took decisive shape after WWII, it had already set its intentions into motion before the war. One of the steps it took was the creation of a network of intelligence and counterintelligence agents planted inside the United States government. These operatives would do immense damage - costing lives and placing entire nations under Stalin's political oppression.

The Americans learned of this plan when a few of these agents defected - they switched sides. One of these defectors was Whittaker Chambers. He decided that he did not want to be a part of Stalin's plan; he did not want to take people's freedom away. Ann Coulter writes about him:

In what would turn out to be one of the most significant events of the twentieth century, Whittaker Chambers broke with the Communist Party. The political battle lines were drawn over Chambers and they have never been redrawn. His story would become the story of the nation. Years later, Chambers would write of his fear that the Communist Party would murder him, as it had murdered so many other apostates, saying, "They must sometimes have thought bitterly since about their failure to do so."

When Chambers and other defectors left the Communist Party, they took with them information which helped the United States government discover plots by various spies. Stopping these plans would prevent the Soviet government from obtaining military and political control over other nations. The Communist Party often murdered such defectors. It was so dangerous to defect that people jokingly referred to it as suicide, and the murders committed by the Communists were often disguised as suicides.

Chambers had planned his break for months. In addition to the practical concern of avoiding a "suicide," leaving the Communist Party was more than "leaving one house and occupying another." He was "reversing the faith of an adult lifetime, held implacably to the point of criminality." When he took up the cause of the free world against the Communists, he said he had moved to a house "manifestly in collapse and the caretakers largely witless." But had had no choice. Agonizingly, he had come to the realization that he had been working on the side of evil - for terror, torture, fascism, and death. A fellow ex-Communist, Walter Krivitsky, would force him to state the painful truth out loud: The Soviet government was a fascist government and it had been from the beginning.

Defectors like Chambers were able to tell the rest of the world about the Soviet Union: the prison camps, spy networks, torture and execution of ordinary civilians for merely questioning the wisdom of the Communist Party, millions living in constant fear of accidentally saying something which would cause their imprisonment.

Krivitsky was the first to tell Chambers of Stalin's feverish efforts to align with Hitler in 1939. The proposed alliance, Chambers said, was "thoroughly justified" as Communist strategy, but from "any human point of view, the pact was evil." As Chambers imagined the coming conflict, he rued that conservatives would be "all but helpless." He said the fate of the free world could only be decided in a struggle between the Communists and the ex-Communists, for "no other has been so deeply into the total nature of the evil with which communism threatens mankind." After meeting with Krivitsky, Chambers said, "I knew that, if the opportunity offered, I would inform." Soon thereafter, the Hitler-Stalin Pact was signed. Days later, as Hitler's armies marched into Poland, Chambers was on a plane from New York to Washington, D.C.

Insiders like Chambers and Krivitsky understood that the Communists would stop at nothing. The Soviets would not even pause at the deaths of millions of innocent civilians if it meant an expansion of Communist power. These defectors were able to alert the world to grave danger.