ALG’s New York Times Should Report on Kennedy’s Well-Documented KGB Correspondence

June 25th, 2010, Fairfax, VA—Americans for Limited Government’s today blasted the lack of New York Times coverage of the late Senator Ted Kennedy’s secret correspondence with the KGB at the height of the Cold War.

“Kennedy’s many personal failings and moral transgressions are well-documented in the 2,352 pages the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) compiled on the late senator that were released earlier this month. But they only tell part of the story. There is long history of correspondence between Kennedy and high level Soviet officials during the height of the Cold War that deserves greater media exposure,” said Kevin Mooney, editor.

“The same newspapers and television stations that apologized for Kennedy’s pursuit of disarmament and a nuclear freeze in the face of Soviet aggression have a special obligation to fill out the historical record,” Mooney explained. “Kennedy also sought support from a compliant liberal news media that was severely critical of policies that eventually brought down the Soviet empire.”

Mooney said the “key ingredient” was a 1983 KGB document that includes a memo written to then General Secretary Yuri Andropov. The KGB letter to Andropov first came to light in a Feb. 2, 1992 report published in the London Times entitled “Teddy, the KGB and the Top Secret File.” Paul Kengor, a Grove City College political science professor, included the document in his 2006 book: The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and The Fall of Communism.

Kennedy offered to have “representatives of the largest television companies in the U.S. contact Y.V. Andropov for an invitation to Moscow for the interview,” KGB head Viktor Chebrikov explained in a letter to the general secretary dated May 14, 1983, the file shows. The idea was for the Soviet leader to make an end run around Reagan and make a direct appeal to the American people.

Kennedy suggested that Walter Cronkite, Barbara Walters and Elton Raul, the president of the board of directors for ABC, be considered for the interviews with Andropov in Moscow. He also asked the KGB to consider having “lower level Soviet officials, particularly the military” take part in television interviews inside the U.S. where they could convey peaceful intentions.

Former Sen. John Tunney (D-Calif.) operated as an intermediary for Kennedy and even traveled to Moscow to meet with Soviet contacts. In his book, Kengor points out that Tunney acknowledged making 15 separate trips to the Soviet Union where he acted as a conduit not only for Kennedy but for other U.S. senators.

“There is a case to be made that Kennedy’s Soviet overtures were in violation of the Logan Act, a federal law that has been in effect going back to 1799,” Bill Wilson, president of Americans for Limited Government, noted. “The law prohibits American citizens from engaging in private diplomacy with a foreign government with the intention of influencing public policy, but it is rarely enforced. This foreign policy freelancing undermines clearly constitutional directives that empower the executive with responsibility in the realm of international affairs.”

Mooney suggested that a good starting point for the Times to launch a new investigation could begin with Sen. Tunney. “Is Senator Tunney willing to disclose the other U.S. senators who also had contact with the KGB? Who did Tunney have contact with in Moscow?” Mooney asked.

Mooney noted that Kennedy’s perfidy was not limited to the Reagan years. Vasiliy Mitrokhin, a former KGB agent, defected to great Britain in the early 1990s and reported on contact Kennedy with Soviet officials while was challenging President Jimmy Carter for the Democratic nomination in 1980.

The Mitrokhin papers highlight a meeting that took place at the behest of Kennedy between former Sen. John Tunney (D-Calif.) and KGB agents in Moscow on March 5, 1980. The information exchanged during this encounter is included as part of a report Mitrokhin filed with the Cold War International History Project of the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington D.C. The former KGB man continued to work with British intelligence until the time of his death.

“Senator Kennedy undermined the Cold War policies of Presidents Carter and Reagan on an equal opportunity basis. This is a part of history that the Times can and should cover,” Mooney concluded.