By: Trevor Loudon
I speculated that Bayer may be both a communist spy and agent-of-influence inside Sanders’ Vermont Progressive Party.
It turns out that Bayer is not the first possible communist agent to back Bernie Sanders.
During his unsuccessful 1988 run for U.S. Congress, then Burlington, Vermont Mayor Sanders received the endorsement of I.F. Stone, an iconic leftist journalist, alleged communist sympathizer, Soviet spy and possible agent-of-influence.
Here is a letter that Stone mailed out on behalf of the Sanders’ campaign in October 1988, only a few months before his death.
Note Stone’s praise and admiration for Bernie Sanders’ open socialism.
I’ve been politically active all my life. I was a member of the Executive Committee of the Socialist Party in New Jersey before I was old enough to vote.
Now I’d like to ask you to join me in a historic step forward in American politics. My favorite Mayor — Bernie Sanders of Burlington, Vermont — is running for Congress and with our help he can win an unprecedented victory for us all.
Bernie is a unique figure in our political system. He’s an unapologetic socialist who has been elected Mayor of Vermont’s largest city four times. He has proved that a socialist, running as an Independent against the combined opposition of Republicans and Democrats, can be successful by speaking out for working people, the elderly and the poor.
Bernie has been a leader in the struggle for peace and justice. His activism was instrumental in Vermont’s strong support of the Nuclear Freeze in its town meetings in 1982. He has traveled to Nicaragua to speak out against the Reagan Administration’s war, and to establish a Sister City relation between Burlington and Puerto Cabezas. More recently, he went to the Soviet Union to set up a Sister City program with Yaroslavl..
Having Bernie in Washington will widen out the limits of political discussion. He’ll speak up loudly, as he has in Vermont, for real alternatives. He’ll show that we need a pragmatic socialism to deal with the grave problems of our economic system.
Sanders went on to enter Congress in 1990, where he went on to found the now more than 80 strong Congressional Progressive Caucus, a body with ties to Democratic Socialists of America, the Communist Party USA and the far left Washington DC based “think tank” Institute for Policy Studies.
What is the evidence that I.F. Stone was a communist sympathizer or a Soviet agent?
As a young journalist in the 1930s, Stone was a presence in the Popular Front, an effort by the Communist Party to make common cause with other left-wing groups. Although Stone had briefly been a member of the Socialist Party USA in the early 1930s, he soon “had a reputation as a fervent pro-Communist.”
Stone also signed a statement, published just days before the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939, defending the Soviet Union and its “progress toward democracy” and denying it shared any commonalities with Nazi Germany.
In 1940, Stone moved to PM, the leftist New York daily. There, he became a member of the paper’s pro-communist faction. Another PM staffer was Myril Bennett, later the mother of David Axelrod, now a key adviser to President Barack Obama.
A few years after PM folded in 1948, Stone created his own highly influential newsletter, I.F. Stone’s Weekly, which gained a wide audience, especially on the left.
Stone’s slavish support of Soviet and communist policies continued until the Stalin era came to an end in 1953. In 1952, Stone had written “The Hidden History of the Korean War,” which promoted the Soviet propaganda theme that South Korea had sparked the war by invading the communist North
The first report of Stone’s possible ties to Soviet intelligence came in 1992, when Oleg Kalugin, a retired KGB general, told a British journalist, “We had an agent — a well-known American journalist — with a good reputation, who severed his ties with us after 1956. I myself convinced him to resume them. But in 1968, after the invasion of Czechoslovakia… he said he would never again take any money from us.”
When KGB cables deciphered by the Venona Project in the mid-1990s were made public, some were found to mention Stone.
On September 13, 1944, the KGB New York station had sent a message to Moscow that Vladimir Pravdin, a KGB officer working under cover as a correspondent for TASS, the Soviet news agency, had been trying to contact “Pancake” in Washington, but that Pancake had been refusing to meet, citing a busy schedule. Samuel Krafsur, an American KGB agent code-named “Ide” who worked for TASS in the building that housed Stone’s office, had tried to “sound him out, but Pancake did not react.” An October 23 message then reported that Pravdin had succeeded in meeting with Stone:
P. [Pancake/Stone] said that he had noticed our attempts to contact him, particularly the attempts of Ide [Krafsur] and of people of the Trust [USSR Embassy], but he had reacted negatively fearing the consequences. At the same time he implied that the attempts at rapprochement had been made with insufficient caution and by people who were insufficiently responsible. To Sergey’s [Pravdin’s] reply that naturally we did not want to subject him to unpleasant complications, Pancake gave him to understand that he was not refusing his aid but one should consider that he had three children and did not want to attract the attention of the Hut [FBI]. To Sergey’s question how he considered it advisable to maintain liaison P. replied that he would be glad to meet but he rarely visited Tyre [New York].
While Stone earned a good living, the message added, “he would not be averse to having a supplementary income.”
A KGB New York station report of May 1936 stated: “Relations with Pancake have entered the channel of normal operational work. He went to Washington on assignment for his newspaper. Connections in the State Dep. and Congress.” By stating that its relationship with Stone had entered “the channel of normal operational work,” the KGB New York station was reporting that Stone had become a fully active agent.
Stone assisted Soviet intelligence on a number of tasks: talent spotting, acting as a courier by relaying information to other agents and providing gossip and harder data to the KGB.
Stone’s name also appeared in a 1944 KGB report on Victor Perlo (cover name “Raid”), head of a network of Soviet sources in Washington during World War II. “In 1942–43,” the report said, “R. [Raid/Perlo] secretly helped Pancake compile materials for various exposés by the latter.” This indicates that Stone was being used by Soviet intelligence as an agent-of-influence as well as a spy.
A 1945 report about Stanley Graze, a secret communist and a Soviet source, noted that in 1943 Graze’s wife had been “Pancake’s personal secretary, maintaining ties with the latter’s informants in government agencies.”
The Soviets knew little about Harry Truman when he succeeded to the presidency on the death of Franklin Roosevelt. In June 1945, Moscow Center told Pravdin, then chief of the New York KGB station:
Right now the cultivation of Truman’s inner circle becomes exceptionally important. This is one of the Station’s main tasks. To fulfill this task, the following agent capabilities need to be put to the most effective use: 1. In journalistic circles — Ide, Grin, Pancake… Bumblebee. Through these people focus on covering the principal newspaper syndicates and the financial-political groups that are behind them; their relationships with Truman, the pressure exerted on him, etc.
No evidence has yet surfaced to prove that Stone aided the Soviets after this period.
He did later work with the Washington DC based Institute for Policy Studies which was described by British intelligence expert Brian Crozier as the “perfect intellectual front for Soviet activities which would be resisted if they were to originate openly from the KGB.”
Stone certainly stayed in sympathy with the Communist Party well into the 1960s.
As of May 1964, “I.F. Stone, writer-editor,” was listed as a sponsor of the Communist Party USA front, National Committee to Abolish the House Un-American Activities Committee.
This organization was the driving force behind the destruction of U.S. Senate and Congressional Committees charged with rooting out communist and radical subversion in the U.S.
By the mid 1970s, these bodies had all been closed down due to combined pressure from the National Committee to Abolish the House Un-American Activities Committee and leftist Senators and Congressmen.
Had I.F. Stone’s comrades not succeeded in shutting down America’s counter subversion committees, Bernie Sanders may have ended up in front of a Senate Sub-committee, rather than serving on one.