INT: But there was a sense in which Hoover made the anti-Communist crusade a very personal one and was involved in public education. Do think that was true? Could you describe that a little bit for me?
RT: Well, he wrote books about it, or books were written for him, he didn't actually write these books, but he stood by them and he did stand up, he was ready to testify before Congressional committees on these. He exemplified to many people and Hoover was very popular in the country, until the very end of his life when there were forces against him, but as far as education, I don't think he went into the schools or anything else, but he did speak out and the Bureau stood for this and there were movies that were made and one very important book on the FBI, 'The FBI Story' which was done by a top AP correspondent, presented his views on the subject. He wrote a book called 'Masters of Deceit', he was a voice and he was a respected voice in the anti-Communist fight.
INT: You just mentioned movies, can you just tell me what your recollection of those movies made by the FBI was and how important it was in getting people to, just to raise the awareness of people just to look around them and see what else was going on?
RT: Well, there were a number of movies.there was 'My Son John', which had Helen Hayes and was done by one of the top people, that was a very effective movie. There was one on FBI operations called 'Walk South - I think - On Beacon Street' and there was a great deal of this. And then there were books, there were a lot of books that have been written. There were my own books and a lot of other people were writing books. And when we were working on our books, you know, we could get a certain amount of it from... from our own reporting and our own information. You always went back to the FBI for information, as much as they could give you. I remember I was then editor of 'Newsweek' and 'Newsweek' decided to do a big story on the Communist Party and the underground and everything and I went down to the FBI and the man who really ran the Bureau, I mean, the nuts and bolts of it, was third in command presumably, was a man called Louie Nicholls and he was a friend of mine. I went down and I sat with him and he got this big thing, all these reports bound together and he turned pages and he'd read me stuff, then he'd say, no, I can't tell you this and so on and he said, we know that there are eight espionage rings operating in the United States at this time, which I had been told by Igor Gusenko, the code clerk in Canada, who when he defected to Canada and all this thing, broke open the atomic espionage and other espionage. And I was the first man to interview Gusenko and he said the same thing to me, before I had spoken to Hoover, he said there are eight espionage rings operating in the United States. There are more, but those are... I know of eight and I mean, you had this tremendous ring and on atomic espionage, you had the cells in the Federal government, they were all over. They were in the US army, there were only the FBI and the Office of Naval Intelligence were not infiltrated by the Communists. And, you know, in England you had Philby and Burgess and Maclean and you had a tremendous infiltration of MI5 and MI6, France, you had the same thing. It was all over the world.
INT: Great, can we pause there.
INT: So much of a threat do you think Communiwere and what did you think about and do about it?
RT: Communism was a serious threat in many ways. It was one, on the espionage basis where the Communists were draining us of very important military and diplomatic secrets and not only secrets, but operations and so on. Two, they were a threat on the policy level. When a man like Alger Hiss could leak to a newspaper the British order of battle in Greece after World War Two when British were fighting in Greece, fighting the Communists in Greece, he leaked it and forced the British to withdraw and forced the United States to move in, so that there wouldn't be a collapse there. I mean, that's very important.we had the Korean War, and also there was what happened to policy. When you had an adviser to the President who was an agent of influence. When you had an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury who was responsible for almost destroying our whole policy towards post-War Germany and putting it in line with the Soviet Union, since he worked for Henry Morgenthau, who was Secretary of the Treasury and who was a very weak man and not very bright, and policy was being inverted and in the post-War world... Now by the time of the post-War, I was aware of a lot of things that were going on, but in the post-War world, we had the threat of the Soviet Union and here were people who were working for the Soviet Union, behind the scenes, and corrupting American policy and corrupting our will to resist. You see, the major victory of the Communists in the United States and in other parts of the world was that they worked on people to destroy our will to resist our enemies and this is what the major threat was about. They were also doing things culturally, where they were destroying our values and we're talking today now about values and everything else, but this has been going on a long time. And this was the threat and even greater than that threat, was the fact that most people really didn't understand what was going on. And those of us who did, were attacked, and had a hard time, because we were considered wild men, we were considered Red baiters, we were considered Fascist and so on. And of course being considered Fascist, most of the real hard-line anti-Communists made no distinction between Fascism and Communism, they said it's two sides of the same coin.
INT: So what do you think it meant to be a good American during this period? What did you have to be like and why was it necessary?
RT: To be a good American? You know what was a good American in those days? Somebody who tried to expose what was going on, at the same time, trying to do it in a way that would not destroy our civil liberties, and not destroy the fabric of the country. The only weapon that people like myself, not only people in politics, but journalists like myself had was exposure. And that was very difficult. 'Cos the media, by and large, didn't take this seriously. One of the great writers on the media and a former New York Times reporter, writing a book on the fifties, brushes aside the whole Hiss case. He says, well, Alger Hiss was just a clerk in the State Department and that was the attitude and you had to fight this and you had to fight it, sometimes you got into some very, very bitter fights. And there were people who were sympathetic...
INT: (Interrupts) That's absolutely what we need. Sorry to cut you off mid-way through...
(End of tape)