Skip to main content

tv   Politics Public Policy Today  CSPAN  January 2, 2015 1:58pm-4:01pm EST

1:58 pm
to u.s. cities to learn about their history and literary life. we partnered with time warner cable for a visit to austin texas. >> we are in the private suite of lyndon and ladybird johnson. this was private quarters for the president and first lady. when i say private, i mean it. this is not part of a tour that's offered to the public. this has never been opened to the public. you're seeing it because of c-span's special access. vips come into this space as they did in lyndon johnson's day. it's not open to our visitors on a daily basis. the remarkable thing about the space is it's really a living, breathing artifact. it hasn't changed at all since president johnson died in january of 1973. there is a document in the corner of the room signed by among others the archivist of the united states and ladybird johnson telling my predecessors myself and my successors that
1:59 pm
nothing this this room can change. to my left down the block is the colorado river. this is an important site in the city's history. this is where waterloo was. it was a cluster of cabin occupied by four or five familieses including j. carol. i'm standing at the spot where the cabin was. this is where mirabella mar was when he and the rest got word of a big buffalo herd in the vicinity. they jumped on the horses congress avenue -- wasn't the avenue. it was a muddy ravine then that led north to the hill where the capitol sits. the men galloped on the horse s. they stuffed their belts full of pistols and rode into the midst of the buffalo firing and shouting. lamar at 8th and congress shot
2:00 pm
this enormous buffalo. from there he went to the top of the hill to where the capitol is. he told everybody this should be the seat of a future empire. >> watch our oh eventses from austin saturday at noon eastern on c are-span 2's book tv and sunday afternoon at 2:00 on american history tv on c-span 3. >> during this holiday season on c-span 3 american history tv. today's focus on spies and rogues. first a look at the relationship between benedict arnold and george washington. then a discussion about russia, cold war spies and the u.s. nuclear program. later, espionage during world war i. >> peter enrheeenriques looks at how
2:01 pm
arnold's's failed plan to deliver west point to the british offers insights. he talks about british and american participants after the plot was uncovered. this was hosted by colonial williamsburg. it's about an hour. >> thanks so much for that warm welcome. i'm really pleased to see as many people in the audience tonight when i was driving down from northern virginia through heavy rain it might be a biblical quote but fortunately that's not the case. you have to keep checking your assumptions. if your assumptions are incorrect it can lead you to some very wrong conclusions. i would like to illustrate that by the following story which i
2:02 pm
hope you will find somewhat humorous although somewhat ribald as well. here's the story. the smiths were unable to conceive children and decided to use a surrogate father to start their family. on the day the proxy father was to arrive, mr. smith kissed his wife good-bye said well, i'm off nowment the man will be here soon. half an hour later just by chance a baby photographer happened by to ring the doorbell, hoping to make a sale. good morning, ma'am, i have -- no need to explain, said mrs. smith, embarrassed. i have been expecting you. have you really? did you know my specialtieses are are babieses? that's what my husband and i hoped. please have a seat. after a moment she asked where do we start? leave everything to me. i usually try two in the bathtub, three on the couch and
2:03 pm
perhaps in the living room we have room to spread out there. bathroom? living room floor? no wonder it didn't work out for harry and me. [ laughter ] well, ma'am. none of us can guarantee a good one every time. if we try several positions and i shoot from six or seven angles i'm sure you will be pleased with the results. my, that's a lot, gasped mrs. smith. ma'am, in my line of work a man has to take his time. it would be nice -- i would love to be in and out in five minutes but i'm sure you would be disappointed with that. don't i know it said mrs. smith, quietly. the photographer opened up his briefcase and pulled out a portfolio of baby pictures. this was done on the top of a bus, he said. oh, my god, mrs. smith. these twins turned out exceptionally well, especially when you consider her mother was to difficult to work with. difficult? i'm afraid so. i finally had to take her to the park to get the job done right.
2:04 pm
people were crowding around four or five deep to get a good look. for more than three hours. the mother was squealing and yelling. i could hardly concentratement when the darkness approached i had to rush my shots. finally, when the squirrels began nibbling at my equipment i had to pack it all in. mrs. smith leaned forward meapyou mean they chewed on your equipment? it's true. if you're ready, we can get right to work. i i will set up my tripod. >> tri? oh, yes. i need a tripod to hold my cannon. it's much too heavy to be held in my hand very long. with that plt smith fainted. the moral is check your assumptions carefully.
2:05 pm
you know, it often puzzles me that there is a serious debate among historians about who is america's greatest leader. from my perspective as most of you know only too well the evidence is simply overwhelming. george washington is america's atlas. the indispensable man in the winning of independence and the creation and sustaining of our during its critical years. in essence george washington made america possible. without his leadership and vision there would have been no union for abraham lincoln to save later on. many factors combined to make washington such a remarkable leader. that's a good topic perhaps for another talk if i'm lucky enough to be invited back. foremost among his talents was remarkable talent that lay close
2:06 pm
to the core of genius. this demonstrated itself in many ways, not the least of which was his ability to recognize talent in young men from various backgrounds. in using those gifted men to achieve the goals he had in mind. i think of some of the names that come to mind. henry knox nathaniel green, alexander hamilton lighthouse harry lee, thomas jefferson, james madison to name some. well, it might surprise many of you, but in many ways benedict arnold's name belongs on the list as well. there are so many dramatic and implausible events connected with arnold's conspiracy and his treason that the story reads more like a dramatic novel than a true history. all the elements are there. you have a brilliant but deeply
2:07 pm
disillusioned and disaffected american major general. a beautiful wife only half his age. a british general with an extremely appealing character. a daring plot to hand over west point. america's most important fort to the british. a set of circumstances leading to the inevitable plot but not before the young british gentleman is facing death. we can't tell the story in all the detail it merits. it is a fascinating one. i want to focus on primarily washington's connection, how it reveals aspects of his character, personality and leadership skills as he deals with benedict arnold and the treason. the horrendous nature of benedict arnold's treason has
2:08 pm
led many people to ignore or minimize his contributions to the cause of american independence. in fact, they were very substantial. in my view the two most significant were, first his actions in lake champlain. my wife and i are lucky enough to have a place there which friends who are in the audience were happy to have them visit us this summer. right near the island. this was in 1776. it is not a military victory. but it stopped the british from coming down lake champlain. postponed their invasion for a full year which turned out to be absolutely crucial. in that following year, 1777 benedict arnold deserves tremendous credit for his daring and decisive contributions that led to the sur is render of oh general bagoin's army at
2:09 pm
saratoga in october of 1777. an event equal in importance to america's victory at york town near the end of the war with. now washington early recognized that benedict arnold possessed a unique set of talents. a british his tore yan accurately summarized what washington saw in arnold. to a boundless energy and enterprise he united quick insight into a situation, sound strategic instinct audacity of movement, a swift and unnering eye in action, great personal daring and true magic of leadership. washington and arnold were never personally close, certainly in the way he would be with someone like lafayette or henry knox. but washington is constantly working closely with arnold and seeks to help him.
2:10 pm
now, there is no doubt benedict arnold has the kind of personality. he's egotistical arrogant super sensitive to perceived slights to his honor, dismissive of legislative oversight of the military. that earns him a great many enemies. washington recognized that although arnold is flawed in many ways, he needs him. it's a good principle and washington follows it throughout his leadership career. we must make the best of man kind as they are as we cannot have them the way we wish them to be. in thinking about their relationship for my talk tonight, i was reminded of franklin roosevelt's comments about douglas macarthur and huey long. by the way mentioning fdr, if
2:11 pm
you have not seen the pbs show "the roosevelts," the new ken burns production, it is well worth your time and effort. interestingly, fdr characterized long and macarthur in fdr's words as the two most dangerous men in america. particularly interesting in connection with macarthur. then he explained his goals to an aid. fdr said we must tame these fellows and make them useful to us. george washington is going to do what he can to tame benedict arnold and make him useful to the cause. when or thold was passed over for promotion in 1777, washington wrote him a tactful letter urging him not to let personal slights cause him to resign his commission, begging him don't do anything hasty.
2:12 pm
we can resolve this problem. he urged washington -- these are -- urged arnold. in washington's words take comfort in a consciousness that you have not deserved the treatment for your exertions for the country. this is a paraphrase of washington's most famous quote from his favorite play by joseph addison. washington uses it to benedict or thold. arnold used it as well. it is a quote. i think it is an excellent quote. it's not in the power of man to assure success. no matter what we do, we can't guarantee it will work. we will do more. we deserve it. that's what he's saying to arnold. stay with it. you know you have done the right thing. take comfort in that. behind the scenes, washington
2:13 pm
works tact fully to get arnold his promotion so he'll stay in the service. he has to do it carefully. arnold is dismissive of legislators. george washington isn't. one of his greatest contributions is civilian control of the military. but he writes behind-the-scenes to friends in virginia. for example to his good friend richard henry lee. he writes about arnold. he says this. surely a more active -- a more spirited and sensible officer fills no department in your army. he urged lee to speak with the fellow delegates to avoid the loss of such a good officer. as the campaign took place in 1777 and the need for militia washington was always skeptical but knew this wases a case where they had to be employed. washington wrote hancock urging
2:14 pm
that arnold be sent north to do the job. he's active, judicious and brave. san offer with great confidence. i'm persuaded his presence will assist them greatly and spur them on. well, action with its promise of glory, frankly exhilarated arnold with his commission given back to him. he gives up the threat to resign and the stage is set for him to play the dramatic moments in the battles at saratoga that lead to burgoin's defeat. in this tremendous victory where burgoin and over 5,000 men are forced to surrender it leads directly to france's recognition of the united states as an
2:15 pm
independent country. rather ironically it leads directly to benedict arnold to go down the road to conspiracy to treason and infamy. had benedict arnold been among the slain he would have come down to posterity not as a nefarious villain but a remarkable military hero. if he died at saratoga there is a new book out. i recommend it. if you are not familiar with it. it's called "sons of the father". washington and his proteges. i have an article on washington and hamilton. quite similar to the one in my book. it has very good chapters. the one on jefferson is frankly the best of all. mentioning jefferson, i'm excited that i'm going to have a chance to reinterview thomas jefferson, bill barker, in april of oh next year.
2:16 pm
put april 15 on your calendar come back and i will come through the worm hole and try to talk to him about his relationships with washington, et cetera. but if he had died -- of course he doesn't. he was severely injured. same left leg that was almost destroyed at the battle of quebec earlier in the war. and he survives for the story to unfold. washington wrote letters of condolences, urged him to get better. said, i will find a good spot for you when you do. in may of 1778 and i think a significant date because it's right after france recognizes us as an independent country. washington gives to benedict arnold -- had received a valuable set of epaulettes and sword knots from an important
2:17 pm
frenchman. he gave a pair to benedict arnold as he put it as a testimony of my sincere regard and approbation of your conduct. in a way he's recognizing to arnold, arnold's great importance in the victory. george washington as i said, is a man of wise judgment. but george washington is a man. like every man he screws up from time to time. he makes bad judgments. he made an horrendous misjudgment, i think, when he decided to take benedict or fold and give him command of the city of philadelphia after general howe's army with drew in 1778. one his tore yan exaggerates but makes the point when he said he could not have treated him more cruelly. to put this man with his
2:18 pm
grievances and condition in this situation, an ex-tory strong hold sets the stage for trouble. you've got to remember arnold is em bittered by what happens in the aftermath of saratoga where gates gets all the credit when he feels he deserves him. from his perspective he sacrificed virtually his life for the cause. one of many quotes from arnold. having made every sack fees of fortune and blood and become a cripple in the service of my country, i little expected to meet the ungrateful returns i received from hi countrymen. he is frankly disillusioned with republican government. it seems, from his perspective it cease run by a group of short-sighted and mainly corrupt officials. feeling this way, concerned with advancing his own economic interest and or thold is always concerned about that. especially after he starts
2:19 pm
courting the beautiful peggy shippen, the teenage daughter of a wealthy loyalist family, arnold soon runs aground or -- what's the word? runs afoul is a better word, with civilian authorities. he finds himself facing numerous violations. arnold is going to clash. the head of the president of the pennsylvania council is named joseph reed. a very interesting figure in his own right. one of washington's early aids, later a critic. not a man to trifle with. he despised arnold. there's clasheses that leader arnold to be court-martialed on a number of charges which absolutely outrages arnold. and the court-martial takes a year before it can even be held. he's found guilty on two of eight counts. not super serious. one of them was denying --
2:20 pm
allowing a pass for his shape the charming nancy. he's in control of the port of philadelphia. he invested in the cargo lets the ship go. doesn't let other ships go. he is found guilty. he censured him which he does in 1880. while many see the conviction and washington's he opened up a secret correspondence with the british earlier. promising, in effect, much if they would give him much. it is, i think worth remembering that or thold enters
2:21 pm
into this negotiation shortly after he signs -- this is a photocopy of his oath of allegiance. denying loyalty to the king. at the end promising to serve the united states in the office of major general with fidelity according to the best of my skill and understanding. sworn in 1778 with henry knox as a witness. now arnold's complicated dealings with the british are beyond the scope of this talk and frankly beyond the scope of my ability. as is the role of his very interesting, beautiful wife peggy shippen who was only a teenager when she marries benedict arnold. and many people see her as a prime figure. certainly she's involvedment the
2:22 pm
ke agree she's involved take your pick. there is a new book i read "treacherous beauty." the book is better. sounds like what you would pick up for a romantic read on an airplane. it's not a badly researched book. it is interesting that arnold begins his overtures one month after he marrieses peggy. he uses her connections as the intermediary to make the contact with the british. now washington was naturallyw xç disappointed that arnold was guilty. he had to follow what the court-martial said to do. he wrote arnold a letter in which he said, i will furnish you as far as in my power the opportunity of regaining the esteem of your recountry. washington had not given up on him. knew his remarkable leadership abilities on the field.
2:23 pm
and soon fulfills his pledge as arnold begins to recover from his injury by offering benedict arnold command of the left wing of the newly reconstituted american continental army. this is a plumb assignment. arnold's reaction astounds washington. it only made sense in retrospect. later he vividly remembered what happened. arnold's countenance changed. he appeared quite fallen. instead of thanking me or expressing any pleasure at the appointment, never opened his mouth. pleading, lingering effects of his inquiry, as injury. washington learned that arnold would not accept and, indeed, would much prefer a less active role command of the key fort at west point. he lobbies with general philip
2:24 pm
skylar wo had the ear of washington for this position. it's interesting that skylar writes to arnold. another example of how much washington still admires what arnold has done for the country. skylar writes back to arnold and says, washington expressed a desire to do whatever is agreeable to you. dwelt on your abilities, merits, sufferings. on the well earned claims you have on your country. once in command of the vital stronghold which prevented the british ships from sailing upriver and basically splitting the new nation in two, arnold puts into motion the final stages of his treasonou uh s correspondence with the commander of the british forces general sir henry clinton. the only thing that remains is a face to face meeting with clinton's operatives to give
2:25 pm
them the plans for the fort, finalize the price for the treason which is extremely high and, frankly ensure to the british that this is not some kind of tricky american counter espionage plot but arnold is arnold in what it is planning to do. arnold had developed connections with one of the more interesting parts of the story. a young lawyer named joshua smith who is 31. his brother was the chief justice of oh new york state. william smith. smith is one of the figures that is controversial. arnold's aides were convinced he was a tory, that arnold and he were engaged in illegal trade or something. smith conducts -- let me see, if i move over here. this is a good map. can you hear me okay?
2:26 pm
let's see if i can fool around with my -- there we go. i don't know how well you can read that. is that clear or not? i don't know whether we can make it clearer on this thing. we have to do the best we can. this is smith's home. about 15 miles south of west point. and he meets with smith there. then tells smith to get a pass go out. this is where major john andre is on the british warship, the vulture. hopefully they will finalize the deal and the trade. arnold tells smith the reason you're going you're going to meet a british merchant named
2:27 pm
john anderson. john anderson is going to help us get back. this is the robinson house, the home of a tory that arnold has taken over for his headquarters though it's on this side of the river. and what he expects to do, he says we're going to make a deal to get robinson's back to him which in some way, completely unclear to me will help the american cause. under that ruse, smith goes out with a pass to get a pass and brings back major john andre thinking he is a british merchant by the name of john anderson. andre is in fact, the 30-year-old general of the british army in charge of their espionage and the particular favorite of general clinton.
2:28 pm
they come ashore. they meet, discuss plans, then go to smith's house continue to discuss and it is ultimately determined the vulture, this british ship, had been driven downstream. that andre can't go back by water. he's going to go back by land instead. and that sets the stage for these dramatic moments that are going to occur. arnold says to smith, "give anderson your coat, he's dressed in a british uniform." why would a british merchant be dressed in a british uniform is a fairly good question. to ask, i would think. but he puts on smith's coat and
2:29 pm
begins his role back by land to british controlled new york with a pass from benedict arnold to guide him through any stops on the way. well, near the town of kerryton, after smith takes him halfway and goes back home leaving him alone, he's stopped by a group of three men, heroes, highwaymen depending on who you read. they stop him and arnold -- excuse me, andre makes a fatal and really hard to understand mistake. seeing that one of the men were wearing a coat like the hessian soldiers wore, in the excitement of the moment andre says, i'm with the british. well, these men were with the americans. once he realized that and tried to bribe them, they didn't
2:30 pm
accept the bribe and by the way, later got mel talls from the continental congress and pensions. but in retrospect you should have said you're with the americans. if they are with the british you can convince them. if you're with the with americans you get by. but he didn't. that quick moment, as washington expressed it, he said only an unaccountable deprivation of mind in a man of the first abilities led to the unraveling of the conspiracy. ultimately washington could only understand it as divine providence to save the american cause. he later expressed it in no instance since the commencement of the war as the interposition of providence appeared more conspicuous than in the rescue of the post and gar ary son at west point from arnold's villainous purvey. they bring arnold to a colonel,
2:31 pm
a man named john jameson. not the brightest bulb on the tree. read it is pass, says someone is forging arnold's name and wants to let bin depict know this is going on. so he sends the pass to arnold. indeed initially he was going to send andre. luckily, one of the more experienced officers came by benjamin talmidge and said no. keep andre with us. send the correspondence to george washington. you've got two things going on at once. a note going to arnold saying someone is forging your name and here is the pass and the incriminating papers on the way to find washington who interestingly enough is in hartford, connecticut, copping back from a meeting will stop at west point to examine the fort. some people think arnold was
2:32 pm
hoping to capture washington as well as give away the fort. it's conceivable but probably un like li likely washington himself. missed washington with the papers. had to go all the way to the robinson house. he reads it. realizes the plot is up and that allows him just enough time to run up kiss his bride who has just given birth to their first child, says it's up races out, gets the men to row him. he's got to get back to washington. he says you can have two choices. join the british navy or become prisoners of war.
2:33 pm
they wouldn't join the navy. they were prisoners but fairly soon they were released. in the meantime washington's coming to west point. arnold's not therement again, he thinks in retrospect, as i'm quoting washington as he later recounted, the impropriety of conduct when he knew i was to be there struck me very forcibly. but it's only when he arrives at the robinson house and the messenger comes with the thing then it dawns on him. sometimes we have information coming, if you think one way, you just miss things. then everything is clear in retrospect. if you don't suspect something you can see how shg like this would happen. all of the sudden, everything falls into place. and the realization that major general benedict arnold who washington had done so much more and had such confidence in
2:34 pm
had gone over to the enemy. hit george washington with a force of a body blow. remember he prided himself on his ability to judge men. he once wrote to lafayette, i'm mortified when i find myself mistaken. he was mortified. he took arnold's betrayal not only against the country, but really as a personal betrayal. for a moment, despair overtook the great general. whom can we trust now he said? according to lafayette's reck litigations, as recorded by robert dale owen -- whether these are exaggerated, i wouldn't doubt it. it's hard to know . but according to owen's recollection of what lafayette said, the great general in an ungovernable burst fell on his friend 's neck and sobbed aloud.
2:35 pm
lafayette said, i believe this is the only occasion throughout that long and sometimes hopeless struggle that washington gave way, even for a moment under a reverse of oh fortune. perhaps i was the only human being whoever witnessed in him an exhibition of feeling so foreign to his temperament. almost immediately however and this is the key point, his excellency's remarkable ability to think clearly in times of crisis and danger took over. this is another one of his many talents. most people in times of tension, gun fire excitement. you don't think clearly. washington somehow has the ability to do that. he immediately moves to strengthen the fort for the possible attack. he explores vigorously how widespread the treason was and
2:36 pm
is. interestingly, over time it was demonstrated, not a single other officer or soldier was involved in arnold's plot. once he learned that, he worked hard to stop a witch hunt. this the moment of -- you're nervous, fearful. we understand fear. look at ebola. fear ebola as someone put it. who else is guilty? there is a rumor that an american general robert howe might be disloyal. washington quickly moved to squelch it and wrote words that are well worth remembering. it will be the policy of the enemy to distract us as much as possible by sowing jealousies. if we swallow the bait, though character will be safe. nothing but mutual distrust. in another interesting footnote, richard verik's arnold's aide. when washington finds he's
2:37 pm
innocent, he's a capable man. he makes verrick his personal secretary as a testimony. he's the man in charge of organizing washington's war records which historians are eternally grateful for as they work through the revolutionary war. the incident also demonstrates washington's force of personality, his capacity for anger and his ability to make tough if controversial decisions. he never got over his anger to washington. when an aide later said, i think arnold is suffering mental he ll for what he did washington wrote back and said i'm mistaken if at this time arnold is undergoing the torment of a mental hell. he lacks feeling. he seems to be so is hackneyed in villi lost to sense of honor and shame that while his
2:38 pm
faculties will allow him to continue his sordid pursuits there will be no time for remorse. later accounts of arnold in great britain before he dies, putting on his american uniform saluting the flag as you might guess, pure b.s. now washington desperately wants arnold to pay for his life, for his betrayal. whether he actually ok'd a back channel deal you want to save andre? give us arnold. you can't do it. somebody did it but of course from clinton's point of view much as he wants to give them arnold and save andre, you can't give away the most important person that's ever betrayed the country. who else would betray the country. it comes. washington does authorize a very daring plot by a lieutenant by
2:39 pm
the that i mean of john champion of louden county to pretend to desert the american forces. he was almost shot doing it. joining arnold's regiment, following him, learning his habits with the idea to kidnap him, bring him back. washington didn't want him assassinated. he wants to make a public example by hanging arnold if he could do so. as he expressed it. no circumstances will obtain my consent to being put to death. i want a public example. the plot narrowly fails. it's sad. maybe arnold said providence was on his side, i don't know. he escapes. are a advantages connecticut and virginia during the war and is never captured. will outlive washington before dying in great britain in 1801. now certainly joshua smith, who
2:40 pm
i mentioned before feels the full force of washington's anger and wrath. he writes a memoir in the early 1800s about what happens to him. you have to treat it carefully. but it's an interesting memoir. it reveals -- you know washington, some of you were at the talk i gave before on the tougher side of washington. this man has a tough side. he could not do what he did. that's part of the reason for success without a certain toughness. when smith is brought face to face right in the midst of what's going on smith presented -- i'm innocent. benedict arnold asked me to do it. he's a general. i did it. i didn't do anything about this. washington wasn't buying it. he warned smith nothing can save him wu a full confession including the identities of his acome pariss.
2:41 pm
he told smith i have the authority to hang you right now. he didn't. but washington is capable of shading the truth if it will make an important point for his cause. later on smith chastises washington for his -- he called him his prosecutor and declares -- chastises him for his fury, malevolence and revenge, later declaring that washington anxiously mediated my destruction. i don't have time for great detail. a lot of people think he was innocent. washington didn't. he was found not guilty. washington wrote the head of the legislature in new york. i'm going to have to let smith go unless you charge him with something else. they got the hint. they charged him quickly. he was in prison for nine
2:42 pm
months. he escapes gets to new york city. goes to great britain ultimately. seeks compensation as a loyalist. was he guilty? i think he was, myself. at least guilty of knowing what's going on. when you read the court-martial records, smith is a remarkably smart guy. i say does it make any sense to a remarkably smart guy that the british are somehow openly going to try to help william robinson get his home back in a way that's going to promote the patriot cause? as i indicated earlier, the idea that a british merchant, hey, i'm going on the american side can i wear your uniform please? i feel happy and proud to do it. it's not logical. one person said the choice seems either smith was guilty of treachery or stupidity. he was not stupid.
2:43 pm
so you can draw your conclusion from that. the real challenge facing washington involves this remarkable british general john andre. for our purposes, you need to remember three things. first, andre's guilt under the rules of war is difficult indeed virtually impossible to refute. andre doesn't come ashore under a flag of truth. if he had -- truce. if he had he would have returned the same way. he was clearly engaged in the espionage plot. he was definitely captured behind enemy lines out of uniform which made him a spy and not a prisoner of war. the accepted punishment for espionage was hanging. but there are two complicating factors. one is that, as i indicated he
2:44 pm
is the absolute favorite of sir henry clinton. clinton loves andre the way washington loves lafayette, to give you a comparable sense of importance. he's going to move heaven and earth, if he can to save him. indeed clinton had written andre, under no circumstances are you to get out of uniform. andre does things he wasn't supposed to do. but the other complicating factor, frankly, is major andre himself. this young man is clearly a remarkable individual. almost the epitome of a british gentleman of 18th century liberal enlightened gentleman. painting, music, poetry. learning. alexander hamilton writes a letter. his letter to john laurens about what happened is a 13-page
2:45 pm
letter that's really a great primary source. john laurens is a fascinating figure. could have been a james madison or alexander hamilton. so brilliant. shot and killed in a very obscure skirmish near the end of the war. a great loss. andre, you'd think hamilton is in love with the guy. he writes page after -- he's the most remarkable guy. typical quote. andre did this sketch of himself just before he was taken out to be executed. he gave it to his prison guard. >> andre united a peculiar elegance of mind and mannerers and the advantage of a pleasing person. his knowledge appeared without ostentation, embellished by a diffidence that rarely accompanieses so many talents and accomplishments. goes on and on. when hamilton writes his fiance he says i wish i could be like
2:46 pm
andre. andre knows he's doomed. he only has one request. he writes a moving letter to george washington -- shoot me like a soldier. don't hang me like a common thief or a spy. ast as most of you know washington hung him in a very emotional hanging indeed. this is a contemporary drawing. benjamin talmidge a very interesting person. he said he was never moved by any man as much as he was moved by meeting andre who he was in charge of him as a prisoner. he wrote when i saw him swinging it seemed for a time that i could not support it. all of the spectators seemed to be overwhelmed by the spectacle and many were suffused with tears. washington is severely criticized for this.
2:47 pm
washington, in clinton's mind, this is premeditated murder. inexcusable and never to be forgiven. a widely read poem at the time said this about washington. oh washington. i thought thee great and good. nor knew thy nero oh thirst for guiltless blood. severe to use the power that fortune gave. t hou cool, determined murderer of the brave. pretty tough. hamilton wrote to his bride and said, i must inform you that i urged the compliance with andre's request to be shot. i do not think it would have had an ill effect. but some people i.e. george washington with, are only sensible to motives of policy and sometimes from a narrow
2:48 pm
disposition mistaken. when andre's tale comeses to be told the present resentment is over oh. refusing him the privilege of choosing the manner of death will be branded. in a sense, washington has a heart of stone. he doesn't have a heart of stone. sometimes a leader has to act like he has a heart of stone. as douglas freeman rightly points out, i think, it was the duty of general washington to see that sentiment did not prompt leniency toward a man engaged in the most dangerous conspiracy that the war had yet hatched. washington is a stickler for discipline. once you start violating the rules, you open a pandora's box of all sorts of other problems
2:49 pm
coming. he admired andre as a person. he has no ill will toward andre. he thinks he's a victim of circumstances. he's not a guilty man. when he was -- he never interviewed andre. he didn't respond to his letter so he'd give him hope at least up until the last minute rather than ruin him earlier. he didn't go to his execution either. he wrote that andre has met his fate. with that fortitude which was to be expected from an accomplished man and a gallant officer which he recognized. but washington felt he had to hang him and he had the courage to do so. to view washington through the events surrounding arnold's treason, i think gives us just one more little window into the character of america's matchless man. the story reveals the very human
2:50 pm
side of washington. he made serious errors of judgment regarding arnold. he revealed his anger and forceful at times almost arnold. he revealed a forceful and at times had treatment for joshua smith and the desire to punish arnold. he was a man of tumultuous and violent passions. the incident demonstrates why he is such a remarkable leader. # he had a time of grave crisis. he moved to strengthen it and learn how widespread the treason was and to prevent witch hunting in the aftermath. he had i think the strength of character to make the hard, but ultimately correct decision regarding andre and willing to take the severe criticism for
2:51 pm
his actions. benedict arnold's treason in 1780 is one of a number of events that threaten america. this is a very dark time for the american revolution. but this is what robert morris called washington had. a patience in suffering. washington was able to inspire us. keep the faith. convinced in time we keep the faith with providence's help, the deploruous cause will in fact not be lost, but will be victory yausuous. he couldn't know that a little more than a year from this time, yorktown would occur and the tide would turn and independence would swing the american way. happily george washington was a man who not only deserved
2:52 pm
success, he was a man who achieved success. for that we are forever in his debt. thanks for your good attention. [ applause ] obviously anyone who needs to get up and leave that's fine. we have a time for question and answer. i always kind of start out. you can ask any question you want and lots of questions i can't answer, i don't mind you asking. we are being taped by c-span. i don't know what they are going to do with the first joke but at any rate. if you have a question there people with the microphones on the side. they will bring it to you and you can ask the question in the microphone so that they will be able to hear it clearly and will
2:53 pm
go from there. if you do have questions, raise your hand. people will pass things along to them. >> i know this is a lot of conjecture but without benedict arnold winning or at least succeeding and also helping determine what happened at battle of saratoga do you think america would have won the revolutionary war without those two things? >> jim always liked to ask the impossible question. to me, it's always a good question, what if. i find it so hard to figure out what happened, i spent very little time on what would have happened if something else occurred. certainly saratoga was crucial.
2:54 pm
french support for america is essential for us to win our independence in a formal end of the war fashion. i think the british could have given up and not won the war, but we wouldn't have ended it with a treaty of paris and recognizing boundaries and acknowledging american independence. the likelihood of a much more divicive group of little countries would be much more likely. it's very important. i'm not a military historian. i don't know enough specifically on andre's contributions. there is major major contributions. he played a crucial role in it. i think that is worth remembering.
2:55 pm
>> after the war i assume arnold remained in great britain, but was he treated with honor and respect or looked at as somebody who acted treasonously and used by the british? >> the question was whether arnold, what happened afterwards and how the british treated him. he had secret orders from the high command they they have the right to arrest him if necessary. john andre has a wonderful crypt in london in memory of him. he becomes a hero. he is a wheeler dealer. he invests in land and runs into
2:56 pm
trouble and ends up with an illegitimate child that caused peggy a certain amount of heartache. she stays with him throughout his life. he gets a significant amount of money even in failure and a pension. his is not a happy one. her with him is not very happy, but they loved him and they have a close loving relationship in the early years of their marriage. >> wasn't she involved in this experience and it counts like we
2:57 pm
should feel sorry for her. i don't. >> the secret mystery of war by charles van buren. it makes clear that they were involved to the degree. it's not that kind -- she doesn't have that power but she is a tori. she feeds on his frustration and the in fact he does it so soon after marriage. he said peggy is innocent it's clear it's a lie. she acts crazy. george washington comes in and she has a child at her breast and it's not clear whether she bares her breast and screaming. there people washington is trying to kill me and people coming out of the ceiling.
2:58 pm
aaron burr said she is guilty. he knew a lot of women. washington is sympathetic and allows her to go back to her family where she joins arnold. he did the inevitable response. there is one here. >> i know very little about
2:59 pm
hamilton and i want to know why he didn't get the promotion. is there anything written that he was a sociopath or a psychopath? >> i would not say sociopath or psychopath. my son who is a psychology professor at james madison describes him as the justifying animal. he had a remarkable ability to justify everything he did. you read his letters as a manch of honor. he is talking in terms of honor as he does as a lack of honor, lack of honor thing. benedict arnold was mistreated. no question about it. he rubs people the wrong way,
3:00 pm
but the main thing is look. the fact that you are mistreated in the army does not justify you becoming a traitor. james kirby martin is probably the best view. he basically feels that republicanism cannot work. it it can't work, the french are likely to end uptaking this over. the better course is to reassess. he signed early correspondence general monk was a british general after he went back to
3:01 pm
the crown and becomes a hero. in his mind he sees himself doing a restoration. he cannot get over the personal. he's a very grody man. we are talking about in terms of modern money millions of dollars. if you try to ratchet it up. the book i like is an older book called traitor's hero. i think that's all in all a good treatment. a retired military general on
3:02 pm
arnold and washington that has interesting points as well. >> what role do you think played into benedict arnold's behavior that was based on his inability to pay his troops? >> he is constantly complaining about that and sometimes advancing his own things and wanting to be reimbursed. it's just a general growing disillusionment of a man who sacrificed almost his life. these were not minor leg injuries. these are severe injuries where he will walk and be crippled for the rest of his life.
3:03 pm
and then it justifies his action. we might have time for one more question and i will close up shop. it's just about 6:30. did i see one more question up? >> if i had the chance to talk to general washington, i wouldn't ask about benedict arnold, but how much have i screwed up my interpretation of you? so i could get it right in the future. benedict arnold is guilty. it is always a joy for me to come. you are a friendly and knowledgeable group and i hope i
3:04 pm
have the chance to keep coming back in the future. thanks for your attention. >> you have been watching american history tv. we want to hear from you. follow us and connect with us on facebook check out upcoming programs on our website. every sunday at 4:00 eastern on american history tv, it's real america featuring films from the government, industry and educational institutions. taking them on a journey. real america every sunday at 4:00 p.m. eastern here on american history tv on c-span 3. >> the 114th congress gavels in on tuesday. we will see the swearing in and the election of the house speaker. watch the house live on c-span
3:05 pm
and the senate on c-span 2. with the new congress, you will have the best access with the most extensive coverage anywhere. it was a surprise surprise to the government when the soviet union tested their first in 1949. they talked about the spies and how they let to the development of the russian a bomb. they cohosted this 90-minute event. >> we are thrilled to have our own historian. i don't know if you have met
3:06 pm
him. he holds a ph.d. in diplomatic and history where the research centered on u.s. scientific and technological intelligence particularly nuclear in the second world war and the cold war that makes him suited to deliver today's talk. he also got his masters degree focusing between the u.s. and russia. you may get questions on the current difficulties with russia. he caught at the university on the history of theus intelligence. he's an army veteran and served where he assisted in civilian and military intelligence.
3:07 pm
help me welcome vince hauten. >> pu peter and thank you for coming here today. talking about nuclear intelligence, this is my field and my passion. i talk about this to anyone who wants to listen. it's nice to have people who are interested in this. it looks strange talking to myself about nuclear weapons. this is the first chance to speak to the smith stone jan group. i came to the museum in march.
3:08 pm
i don't want to come across like i'm pandering. you are far too good-looking, and well dressed to buy any pandering. have you lost weight? in all seriousness this is my field. nuclear intelligence was something that i fell in love with at an early age. i saw a movie called the day after and i fell in love and that's a weird word when it comes to nuclear annihilation, but with this weapons system that is the worst the world has seen, but at the same time might be responsible for us not having a major war in 70 years. that dichotomy drew me to the field. we will focus on the spies that spotted on the united states.
3:09 pm
the united states was spocked to learn they detonated the first bomb. they called it rds 1. the soviets were detonated in kazakhstan so nobody would know about it and wanted to keep it secret unlike what you assume. their worry was if they had a bomb, we would create the next generation and create more and more bombs. they were right. they didn't know about this was a modified b 29 to take air samples to find out if there by
3:10 pm
products in the air. this was called air force office of atomic energy. this was days after picking up and immediately the united states got this information and they had detonated and truman
3:11 pm
had no choice but to accept this and to announce into the american public in september that an arms race had begun. congress did what it did best. they rallied very quickly and started pointing fingers at everybody they could. how could this possibly happen and we be so surprised they detonated long before we thought they were going to. how did they get it so quickly? the estimates was 1953 as a most possible date for a soviet bomb. the worst case scenario they had given the government was 1951. new ideas were brought up. they brought it in front of them and tried to brainstorm possibilities.
3:12 pm
one was that they started earlier than we thought. the intelligence was right and it took them about eight years to build a bomb. the fact is they started in 1941. we were not really wrong. it took them eight years. it's a bit problematic but made them feel better. maybe they had better germans. you had operation paper clip and the same thing was done with atomic physicists and the top german people. we got all the good ones. the germans that were kind of second rate that were underlings of others were snapped by the soviets and all of a sudden, the germans were better than ours. no one bought!4k this but they felt better about themselves.
3:13 pm
maybe they had germans we didn't know about. there was open source intelligence intelligence. these are publicly available resources the soviets could have used to find out information about the american bomb program. maybe they used safety shortcuts. when we built the bomb here in the united states, they had a 500,000 people. only two were killed. this is exceptional for wartime. two people were killed every day building aircraft and tanks here in the united states. the fact that building an atomic bomb only killed two people meant we were good at what we were doing. we were luck i. the other was that we had stringent safety standards that we impose. if the russians decided because they are russian and they don't care about human to throw out the safety concern, they could knock a couple of years off the program. congress was happy to hear that.
3:14 pm
of course it's possible they had smart scientists. we dismissed them out of hand and talked more about the perception of soviet scientists. everyone kind of chuckled to themselves. that's not the reason. the one they were able to latch on to was this idea of espionage. the soviets were stupid and evil and able to steal our ideas. they were able to really come into the united states, deal with those that were running around and giving secrets to the soviets and got the bomb. that's going to be the premises of the conversation today. what we are focusing on are questions that are important for the atomic skies. who are the spies? what makes up their spy networks and what was the reason they were spying on the united states? what did the united states do to
3:15 pm
stop it? most of the public doesn't discover the everyday until late in the 1940s and 50s with the rosenburg trial. for my purposes, what did it matter. it's one thing to say we were doing something about it but how much of a difference did it make? they were factual and informative questions. this is the real counter factual. the what if of history. we don't want to deal with the what if questions. we like them as much as anybody else. these are the questions that academics sit around at 2:00 in the morning after having too much wine or something else and had these conversations like we all do. if i can have a time machine and go back and punch out hitler's
3:16 pm
great great grandfather before he met his great, great grandmother or stop the john f. kennedy assassination, would the beatles still be together? if the soviets did not have espionage, would they have gotten the bomb? how quickly? dee can have lots of debates and what the soviets were able to gather. the people you heard of and the rosenburgs and the people who truly believed in the soviet system that truly believed in the idea that communism was the new way of life. these are things that are
3:17 pm
publicized and course sill by or college schedules. they are foreign sources of intelligence. the french or a key component to all of this. they get a bad wrap and sometimes rightly so as the surrender monkeys. they did have brilliant scientists. this was one of the least told stories. there were professionals there for the purpose of bringing back information on the atomic bomb program. we are talking about spy rings. these are actually professionally organized infrastructure. at the top was the nkvd with assistance from the gru.
3:18 pm
it is the predecessor and soviet and military intelligence. at the head of all of this was a man who was stalin's intelligence chief. he was a man responsible for all of the foreign intelligence for the soviet union. he was a horrible person and we will talk more about this in a second. he was so good at infiltrating the program that stalin kept him around. you know the basics about the history in the late 1930s or 40s, stalin killed everybody. he took out his entire hierarchy and many of the military commanders and many of the people who could be a threat to him in the future. he survived and survived because of the ability to infiltrate. they will talk about that in a second. we call it a chief of station but the residents to the people
3:19 pm
directly responsible for running the atomic spies here in the united states. work our way down to harry gold who was an american courier bringing messages to the spies from the soviets. the main person, steve nelson was responsible for steak a little known spy ring at colleges and universities in the united states. let's break them down a little bit. at the top of the hierarchy is like i said not a nice person. he had very interesting tastes in young girls and boys. he enjoyed torturing people and took pleasure in torture. stalin did not like him very much. he was hated throughout the soviet system. he was so good at what he did that he was kept around. he was one of the pure architects.
3:20 pm
personally responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths. he is ironically the last person who fell victim. when he started destalinizing the soviet union the last summary execution of the stalin period. it was a karmic justice for him in the end. then the soviet intelligence resident and the chief of station. he was the top intelligence person in the united states. not in washington, d.c. actually he was stationed out of new york city, the main base for soviet intelligence during the war. the hierarchy continues with them and the case officer, the person who will be running the spies on a day to day basis.
3:21 pm
he came under the pretense that he was the general council and pretending he was the lawyer. this was his cover as the senior case officer. what makes him interesting is because the specialty was intelligence. you don't want to just send anybody. especially in the 1940s when few understood what was going on with nuclear fission. you wanted somebody who understood the intelligence that made him the perfect person for this. he was also the resident where he was the fact channel for the tube an missile risz and the man who robert kennedy and others spoke to to portray the jupiter
3:22 pm
missiles in turkey for cube a. his book is fascinating. called the man behind the rosenburgs. they helped resolve the cuban missile crisis. the title gives away everything. not a lot of secrecy behind the book. what this book does is came out in the war and ended a lot of debate. was he scapegoated because he was liberal leer or jewish? this ended a lot of that debate. you have lower levels. harry gold. gold was a chemist by trade. he was somebody that he was born to russian jewish immigrants. he never gave up the russian side. he was a very successful chemist and lost his job in the great
3:23 pm
depression. this helped radicalize him. any time i talk to people 40 and below, they don't understand how people can turn against their country. and become a communist. communism for anyone that age was a dying institution that obviously doesn't work. for those who grew up in the 1930s or came of age during this time period and saw the great depression and the loss of jobs and the 20 to 25% unemployment and the idea of bread lines and people were going through such hardship and looked at the propaganda out of the soviet union where everybody had a job and a good life and there were no class distinctions and in some cases no religious or racial distinctions. this was a pipe dream. it's hard to explain but this was the wave of the future.
3:24 pm
nelson was a naturalized citizen and spend a lot of time in spain during the spanish civil war. he was not somebody able to sneak back in and get away with
3:25 pm
it. and the leader in california. he had no official title and he was the guy who ran the california and communist party. his specialty in what he did during the war was directing activity at the university of california at berkeley. for those who went through the 60s, this became the hot bed of liberalism. this was the case in the 1940s. a target-rich environment for recruiting people into the communist party. he would span out from california to recruit professors and grad students from many major universities and chicago. columbia university in new york. all focusing on thesedcñ are the
3:26 pm
people that either are incredibly important when it comes to the information provided or the most well-known and was famous of the atomic spies. he is the first spy uncovered by western intelligence. you have julius rosen berg's brother-in-law. let's break them down one by one. sorry. let's talk about the second and go through. i don't know why i did that. that doesn't mean they are less penitentiary. and finally the third tier.
3:27 pm
he created a lower level and bits and pieces to the soviets throughout the second world war and the early cold war. they were not responsible for them getting a weapon, but that was a cio labor union that was recruiting ground for the communists. now let's talk about the guys individually. he pled guilty and caught because of a defector during the second world war out of the ottawa embassy.
3:28 pm
he came to canada and fell in love with the west like thexq dangers that most really feared when they got a taste of freedom. he was young and liked that you could move around the country without being chased or followed and like the fact that the canadian people reached out to help the soviet union during the second world war. we looked at the west and the canadians that have this reputation of being the most polite people in the world, even though they were facing real hardships, they did everything they could to get money. when he was called back in 1945 at the end of the war he decided he was not going to go.
3:29 pm
grab everything you k. he said he grabbed every piece of paper he saw lying around. part was the espionage effort directed at the canadian and british program. this outed alan who pled guilty in 1946. may himself is a really, really top quality scientist. he studied with a man and chad wick is famous and discovered the neutron if you remember middle school science. we didn't know about the neutron before chat wick. he studied under one of the top scientists in the 20th century. he like many of the others there was a lot of controversy about the role in the program. in 2002 before he died, he did a
3:30 pm
fell confession and said he was he was responsible for the uranium. if you think back to little school science that's a type of element that has a different atomic number. it has a couple less or a couple more neutrons. they had a couple more isotopes. he talked about the process of creating plutonium. it's not a naturally occurring element. if you look at the periodic table, plutonium comes after and we thought it was the only element, the highest element that you could find on earth. however when you refine uranium and put it through a process
3:31 pm
you create what are called transu rannics. these are elements that are heavier. plutonium is one of these. it's a process. you have to create plutonium. no one knew how to do it when the united states figured it out. he was able to provide them with key information about the manufacturing of plutonium. then you have klaus fuchs. he is by far the most important of the soviet spies. why this matters. this is not something you pull out of the ground. it's all over the world. you can't create a bomb out of it. 99.3% of uranium i pull out a chunk of uranium.
3:32 pm
99.3 can't be used to make a bomb. 7/10 of 1% about the size of a grain of rice is uranium 235. that's what you can make a bomb out of. we talk about enriching uranium and trying to get out the uranium 235. a process that we found out worked well for that is a process called gaseous diffusion. we came to that by trying dozens of different ways of refining uranium and took us years to figure out what is the best way to do this. he provided the soviets with the answer to that question. forget all the other ideas. he was a group leader at los
3:33 pm
alamos. he was not a peeon. he was part of the broader process to create the atomic bomb. his own immediate boss was robert offen himer. he was privy tow all the ideas and conversations and plans for weapons and improvements after the war. boosted weapons where you go from the nagasaki bomb equivalent of 20 kilotons of tnt and then hundreds and then the hydrogen bomb of the early 1950s where you had millions of tons of tnt. he was in all these conversations. he was part of these conversations and all of them are leak to the soviet union. then you have david green glass. he gets a lot of bad rap because he was the primary witness against the rosenburgs and he
3:34 pm
lied about a lot of things he was saying. it's a good possibility that ethyl rosenburg was executed because of his lies. that doesn't under cut his role. you have to make a physical product. he was part of this process. he he helped and provided steches and descriptions of not only the lens but the dynamics of creating the systems to the soviet union.
3:35 pm
and really what he comes down to is he is the supplement. he was providing the real physics and physics and they provided a lot of important information and we now have the sketches with the end of the cold war. this first sketch is the sketch of the fat man boy, the bomb and the implosion to create a nuclear chain reaction. the lenses or the things on the outside that instead of exploding, they imploded to create the chain reaction. this was a complicated process that communism and the system
3:36 pm
was the way of the future. he had a corporation and he had
3:37 pm
reports about the predecessor of the nasa called naca. this is about aircraft plans and the first jet fighter for the united states. plans for that was given to the soviet union by julius rosenburg and later under the guidance rosenburg is accused of believing that he did so to have recruited individuals in the service. when rosenburg's spies was the that provided all of this information to the soviet union. let's jump to the obvious next step in the case. his wife, ethyl. ethyl if you remember was part of what i considered the second
3:38 pm
tier because her role is really still up for debate. julius, there is not much debate. he was a full-fledged communist that provided lots of information. ethyl is tricky. was she a spy? the reason she was convicted of this was that david said that she typed up all the information for the spy that was provided to the soviet union. she knew about it and aided and a betted. that's what he said he lied about. ethyl probably didn't type up this information. was she a communist? absolutely. she was as yj logical as her husband. was she involved? probably. did she know about it? almost certainly. julius spied for the soviets that if she had not known, i'm not sure how that could be the
3:39 pm
case. they were true conphi dapts and talked about everything. more than anything else, we assumed ethyl knew about it. does it mean she should be executed, that's the debate that is up for grabs. very interesting scientist ted hall. he was the youngest scientist at los alamos only 19 years old. he was a full-fledged believer. really got sucked into communism at an early age. his importance rivals but he is about as key component to the design of the eventual soviet bomb as you can get. he gave a detailed description. he gave several processes to plutonium. # the bomb that went off was almost a mirror image of the
3:40 pm
nagasaki fat man bomb. hall's information directly led to this design. he also gave them a lot of information about the little boy bomb, the hiroshima bomb. including what we called a critical mass the amount of uranium necessary to create a chain reaction. this was a calculation that not only took the americans years to figure out, but that's what derails the german program. they cooperate figure out the critical mass. they made math errors and a huge american time to figure out what it was. hall handed this over to the soviets. they didn't have to do a lot of the same calculation that took the united states. he provided an information about the next generation. about boosted vision weapons and hydrogen weapons. then we have someone that is a
3:41 pm
little more controversial as far as his role in the atomic bomb. his scientific bonified are undoubtable. he ladier has the american bomb program. he discovered it two years earlier, but thought it was something else. he said you created this whole new system of heavier elements. they talk about transu rannics instead of thinking about uranium breaking into smaller things. they thought they would build bigger stuff. they looked at the results and discovered fission. they made a mistake in the conclusions. he was part of that team that discovered fission. this is a top level scientist. he worked with the british program during the second world
3:42 pm
war. the argument he made to the death was that he worked on reactor programs and not weapons. there was controversy about his role. working on reactors gives you a lot of physics and theoretical information to build weapons, but he claims he never got military secrets and he did acknowledge he was a spy and this was saying when he was asked why he did it, he didn't beat around the bush. the simple explanation is this. the fact that i could be so stupid and many people should have been quite so stupid and he trailed off. he couldn't finish that sentence. he really understood the pipe dream of the soviet system. far too late to actually do anything about it. these are the recruits. these are the people that were targeted by soviet intelligence to provide information. there is one last spy i want to talk about. the professional.
3:43 pm
this is the individual that was sent specifically in the united states to do spying on the american atomic bomb program. a man named george coval. he was born in iowa, but he went an early age to the soviet union. both of his parents were russian natives and brought to the soviet union at an early age. he went to college in the soviet union before coming back to the united states. and the great story is he was an engineer and did all the physics and chemistry research there and had a degree and sent to the united states as someone who had never gone to college. when he went to college in the united states, this guy is a natural. he learns everything so quickly. he was acing tests without studying and this guy is just like the top scientists. he had learned all of this stuff already. he was noticed for obvious
3:44 pm
reasons by the u.s. military and support to part of the atomic bomb project. we know how important he was. as you can see on the slide when this was declassified in russia in november of 2007 putin himself named him a hero of the russian federation the highest possible award you can get. what made him so dangerous is his role in the manhattan project was not as a scientist or technician but as a health physics officer. it was his job to make sure no one was getting too much radiation and no one was getting a dangerous level of any possible carcinogen or anything that could cause them problems. they talked about safety. allowed him to have free access. there was no laboratory or no one he couldn't talk to. he could go from the different labs where they were building the material for the bomb.
3:45 pm
talk to everyone from oppenheimer on down. so they provided him with any information he could possibly want. the most important thing was about the fat man bomb that was tested in 1949. we realized at an early stage that using plutonium as a fissionable product was difficult to do. plutonium was so highly reactive. he needed something to slow down the chain reaction. if you didn't, you had a fizzle. before this self sustaining chain reaction, the atomic blast, you would get a small non-atomic big bomb compared to others but it wouldn't be this massive atomic blast. you needed something to slow down the neutrons. i won't try to get technical. we could use another substance another element as an initiator. if i go back quickly to this drawing, step away from the mike
3:46 pm
for a second. that thing in the center of the fat man bomb was the initiator. the element that when the bomb imploded this sphere was able to slow down to make it nuclear. this was something we discovered by accident. this was one of the most personality discoveries during the process to build the atomic bomb. he gave it to the soviets. in many cases he was a good spy, but a lot of times pure luck. he happened to find himself in the right place at the right time. he traveled to hanford and washington and just so happened to be at the place where they were discussing the initiator and was able to get the plans and bring them back to the soviet union. this is something we will talk about later on and the impact of this. it's too hard to under state. we will talk about that in a
3:47 pm
second. what i want to move on now to is the second stage of the conversation. that is u.s. counter intelligence. when did we know about this and what were we doing? most of the public does not find out about this, but when does the government discover what's happening? counter intelligence was faced with real significant handicaps that prevented them potentially from finding out what was going on and stopping it. in hindsight we say how did they not see this coming and how did we not stop it. we saw and tried everything we could do to stop it. real things are standing in the way of us doing something significant in this respect. wartime mobilization. when the second world war began some of these hastily designed organizations like the oss, like the manhattan project and like the fact that the state department doubled and tripled in size in the span of a couple of weeks if not a couple of days
3:48 pm
was a real problem for security for doing what you normally would need to do to make sure that the people you are hiring on are not spies. in some cases with the oss for instance and the manhattan project scientists there was only an eight-day background check to be brought on. if any of you who worked in the government know that an eight-day background check was a year and a half. you didn't have the time to do that. so many were being brought in at the beginning of the war that needed top secret cleerngs andarance and so few investigators, they did it haphazardly. this grew to 500,000 people employed by the manhattan project. it begins in 1942. it ends in 1945. in three years it grows from
3:49 pm
zero to 500,000. there not enough fbi agents to check everybody's background as much as we like. this is a real problem. the next one i tongue in cheek said scientists are pinkos. they tended to be left leaning already. intellectuals and liberals who if you wanted them to work you had to overlook the fact that they had somewhat left the sympathies. if you wanted the best of the best and to build the atomic bomb, we wanted the best of the best and we had to embrace that robert oppenheimer was left wing and he was a fellow traveler as the terminology in the 1950s is used with a lot of communists. his mistress was a full-fledged member and his brother was a member. it's not just oppenheimer, but a good number of the scientists were left wing and communist-leaning. you had to overlook this if you
3:50 pm
were going build a bomb. the next real handicap is science is universal. we don't own the theory behind the weapons. this was understood worldwide. something that was developed in understood by scientists from japan, from germany and russia, the united states and all over the place. it wasn't something we could hide. it was an understood idea. the next major handicap, compartmentalization, the idea that one side didn't know what the other side was doing. the fbi didn't know what the manhattan project was doing. and vice versa except at the very highest levels. fbi agents who were trying to hunt down spies could have worked well with the counterintelligence guys, but they weren't talking to each other. scientific intelligence is hard. this is something that is incredibly difficult. most fbi agents don't have a scientific background. if you tell them to protect scientific secrets, some more important than others, they may not know what they should be looking for or they should be protecting.
3:51 pm
this is especially true in a whole other ball game for our spies that we sent out into germany and other places to look for what the german program was doing. having a scientist and a spy together was something we didn't have very many of. the spies were good at spying. the scientists were good at science. not so much crossover. this is a real problem. i have been teasing you. some of these open source ideas were really interesting. one real handicap was the fact that when american scientists rallied to work at los alamos, they stopped teaching at their universities across the country. it was very easy for any spy, german or soviet, to start looking at course syllabi or schedules from princeton and columbia and berkeley and chicago and realize, fermi is not teaching his class anymore, oppenheimer is gone all of a sudden. none of these top scientists are teaching anywhere. where are they?
3:52 pm
they must be somewhere else. it is not a far stretch to look at train schedules and to look at people who all of a sudden, why are all of these people going to new mexico in the middle of nowhere. that is open source. that is something you can find in the yellow pages. all of a sudden, oppenheimer is not publishing anything any more. why aren't there american scientists publishing stuff on nuclear physics anymore. these are things you don't need to steal secrets to find out and they can't be protected. they're common sense. nothing that we can do about it. finally, the french problem. i alluded to this before. primarily this is a very specific frenchman, a made named fredrick joliet curie. the last name curie rings a bell. he is the son-in-law of the famous marie curie and pierre curie. their daughter irene was also a physicist in her own right. married frederick. together, they ran the most important lab in france. this lab was taken over by the germans when they invaded, but with the liberation of paris, curie wanted to re-energize his
3:53 pm
lab and reach out to some of the french scientists that had left to go to canada to work for the british program and start working on the british programs. that was their manhattan project. the problem was, curie was a card-carrying member of the communist party. that's thrown around a little bit. he literally had the membership card. he was somebody that joined the communist party, was a fellow traveler, worked hand and foot to do everything he could. he was a very good physicist. and had access to a lot of information. the fbi couldn't stop him. he was in france. the american counterintelligence could do very little to stop him from sending information over to the soviet union. so how was ci set up during this time? you really have two different major organizations that were doing counterintelligence during this time period. one was the fbi. the fbi paid attention to this atomic spying during and after the war. they were the primary domestic
3:54 pm
counterintelligence wing. one of their main targets was an american federation, the federation of american scientists. that scientists began creating formal organizations to talk about nuclear weapons policy. these were organizations around the country. there is the atomic scientists of chicago. the association of oak ridge scientists. association of los alamos scientists. eventually, they came together as a federation of atomic scientists and later the federation of american scientists. the fas is now an organization that is today doing some really good work not only on atomic weapons but general foreign policy. turned into a bit of a think tank today. the fbi thought this was a front for all of the commie pinkos that were running around the united states. the fbi made a real focus on this organization. they gathered information. all the way to the fbi doing it. they surveilled scientists. after meetings.
3:55 pm
they took down license plates. they followed people from place to place. they had undercover fbi agents attend meetings themselves. they gathered literature. they used wiretaps to tap the meetings, to tap the homes of these scientists. we're talking about oppenheimer and others in this case. they used informants to spy on these agencies, everything from taxi drivers who overheard conversations in taxis to recruiting far right conservatives from universities to pretend that they were left-wing to infiltrate these organizations. in all the time they spent doing this, they caught no one doing anything wrong. they spent millions of taxpayer dollars and ran and chased their tails. what is up here is an interesting document from hoover himself to the special assistant to fdr harry hopkins, where he talked about the fact, and this is again from early in the war, that we had known from an early stage that the soviets had been spying on the united states. then there is the second tier, arguably the better tier, of the
3:56 pm
ci bureaucracy. this is the manhattan engineering district. or the m.e.d. this is the fancy name for the manhattan project, had its own intelligence branch. its own counterintelligence wing. the top of this was the head of the manhattan project itself, brigadier general leslie groves who ran everything. if you want micromanaging, look at leslie groves. he actually wrote part of my dissertation is running a 1960s era business management textbook that was taught in business schools and groves had a chapter in it. it was how to manage. the entire chapter was don't delegate anything. do everything yourself. no one had ever really brought this, it was gold for me, as far as a researcher was concerned. he had two people he trusted to do this for him. one was lieutenant colonel john lansdale. lansdale was his intelligence chief. on the manhattan project. he would go on after the war to to become an anesthesiologist.
3:57 pm
interestingly enough, you talk about research, he wrote a book that was never published. the only place you can find the manuscript of his book is in the association of anesthesiologists on their website. again, gold i found. finally, lieutenant colonel boris cash. he would do some amazing things in discovering what was happening with the german atomic program, but he was one of the top counterintelligence agents for the manhattan project. this is an interesting quote from lansdale, from his unaapublished book. talking about the germans and japanese as an enemy. but then he said from the beginning beginning russia was regarded, from an intelligence standpoint, as an enemy. this wasn't a case where the cold war brought about the animosity. this is a case where from the very beginning of the war, from 1942 or earlier, russia was regarded as an intelligence enemy, as somebody we needed to keep as far away from the manhattan project as we possibly could. what pash did under groves' direction was to run the western
3:58 pm
defense command intelligence branch. in doing so, western meant he was in charge of california. he really targeted a lot of these programs run by steve nelson and others trying to infiltrate the american program. pash's files have just been declassified, is counterintelligence, handwritten in this case, typed files about these different scientists that he was surveilling. and they're declassified because i foia requested them and whined and moaned for so many years. here's an example, you're not expected to read this stuff, just an idea to the extent to which pash was doing research -- on the left, his notes about frank oppenheimer, robert oppenheimer's brother, who he did a lot of extensive research
3:59 pm
into, surveilled, wiretapped, all these things. pash really focused on the scientists. pash cleared robert oppenheimer for work on the manhattan project. that's how much general groves trusted him. he looked at frank oppenheimer. those who were suspected were put under surveillance. the one on the right is the surveillance chart for a man named leo solar. he is famous for being the first person to warn the united states about the potential of an atomic bomb. you may have heard of the einstein letter to fdr. einstein didn't write the einstein letter to fdr. leo solar wrote the letter and signed it. reason he didn't write it is because fdr, just like you, hadn't heard of leo solar. so he said, look, albert, they were friends, please put your name on this so you get the einstein letter. pash was researching and surveilling everybody, including robert and frank oppenheimer, leo solard. across the board.
4:00 pm
so he followed these guys. they miked up their houses in places they frequented like bars and restaurants. they went into the houses and changed the telephone cords so their phones, not only so they could tap the phones, so they could turn the phones themselves into microphones so they could listen to all the conversations throughout the house. all of this without warrant. no fisa court. this is about as far of an over reach as you could possibly get when it comes to, you know, the kind of invasion of privacy that you could expect from it. these were investigations into scientists who were suspected leftists. these are two of the scientists i gave you on the third tier of steve nelson's group. i am blowing this up a little bit, so that you can see it a little bit. this is about one of the scientists in nelson's rank. in the middle under remarks it says, subject has been an active member of the communist party, and while his party affiliations are not evident at present, he is still considered to be associated by local communist party leaders, and it is


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on