De Toledano,









M. Wesley




INT: Right. And you were following, so you were following all these people around Chicago and you knew, you know, what they were doing on a day to day basis. Did you ever catch anyone was a spy?

WS: Not members of the Communist Party. The closest thing we came to catching spies, were agents of the Soviet Union. Course we knew that they were coming over and we knew they were spies, this is why they were sent over here and we would follow them. There was one occasion where we did get information of a person who, I guess you'd call 'em a sleeper, it's rather strange the way it came about, because a landlord called the FBI one time and said, I think there's a spy living in my apartment building. And the agent on complaint duty said, why do you think he's a spy? And he said, well his two kids were sick the other day and he wouldn't let the doctor in his apartment. Well, I think the agent who took the phone call wrote it up just as a comedy routine, because this is, you know, a little ridiculous, that someone would call up and say that a man is a spy because he won't let the doctor in his apartment. So we went out and talked to the janitor and he said, yeah, I saw him come out one day and he's got books lined all across the wall, from floor to ceiling. Well, a lot of people have books and they're not spies. He said, he never goes out of the apartment, except between midnight and about three o'clock in the morning. We said, well does he go to work? I don't know, he doesn't have a regular day, I mean, he's not gone for eight hours. And so we thought, well, why not? We didn't have anything else really exciting and so a group of us went out at midnight and waited for him to come out and we photographed him with ultra-violet light, you know, that's the red light that goes on at night, and we had to be careful that he wasn't looking in our direction, because you can see when the light goes off, if you're looking that way. And he would come out and he walked down an ally, so we had to have someone tell us when he's looking in a different direction than where the camera is, so we could take his picture. Well, we took the picture and we sent all this information back to Washington DC. And they were getting a little upset back in Washington because they felt, probably like the agent who wrote this thing up originally, that somebody's just pulling our leg, this guy really isn't a spy. But we thought, well the only way to find out if he's a spy is to find out if he's a spy, you know, play it like it's for real. Well, after about a month, the people back in Washington said, you've spent enough time on this, go interview him. Well, we had taken some good photographs and we had sent them copies to New York and to San Francisco and Los Angeles to contact informants, does anybody know this man? Well, we hadn't gotten an answer and Washington said, go interview him, go interview him tomorrow. We said we don't want to do that. They said interview him. Well, the other agent and I didn't want to interview him so we talked to the woman he was living with, they were not married, and we introduced ourselves, we found her coming home from work one day, and we said, you know, we want to know who he is, where you met him. So she told us the whole story. Well, I met him one day, he seemed lonesome and he was looking for a place to live and I had two kids and she worked as a nurse and he was willing to stay home and watch the kids during day time. She said,, he's not home right now, he might have been. Anyway, we didn't go home when she did - that was a mistake, we should have. So we came out the next day and we were going to interview him and we got her going to work, about eight o'clock in the morning. We approached her and said, is your husband or boyfriend home? And she burst into tears. She goes, oh, he ran away last night, he just walked out and left. About two weeks later, we got word and I think it was Jack Childs, that's the brother of Maurice Childs, in New York, identified the photographs of this person as being someone who had gone to the KGB school back in the Soviet Union and we blew it, just because some idi

INT: Now given the climate of the time, were you encouraging people to spy on each other? Was there a sort of a whole climate of suspicion created by the Cold War, created by the FBI?

WS: In connection with informants, we were encouraging them to spy on other people and, you know, sometimes spy on your other informants. So that, you know, if you have two informants and they're telling different stories, you know one of 'em's lying. So we would have our spies spy on our other spies at times, just to corroborate the information.

INT: Do you think the...

INT: So this is a continuation of the interview with Wesley Swearingen, roll 112, tenth of February. Now when you went to the training school for the FBI, in what way were you taught to think about Communists? What was your... you know, what were you taught, what was your attitude, what were you told to think about them?

WS: Well, we were taught that... I forget what percentage was, they covered something like forty per cent of the and twenty five per cent of the land mass, you know, we were given these fantastic figures and they were... the map of the world was made up and every place there was a Communist population, it was painted over in red. There were some countries thmaybe only tenth of the people were Communist, but that one was still red, because they wanted to impress upon us that Communists were really dangerous and Communism was a threat to the United States. And you look at the United States here, and you see England's over there and then over here, there's red, there's red all around, there's red in China and there's red all over the Soviet Union, yeah, Poland is red, Czechoslovakia's red. It looked like the whole world, except, you know, the United States and England and a couple of other countries that hadn't been painted over as red yet. So it was real impressive. And there was one agent who was an outstanding lecturer and actually I looked forward to his lectures on Communism, because he was so good at telling stories and he would tell stories about spies who defected to the United States and he was very entertaining. It seems as though there was a good percentage of the whole training school - and I hate to put a figure on it - it was like forty per cent or fifty per cent, but there was a lot of time spent on Communism.

INT: Well, you'd just come out of the Second World War, did that affect the way you were thinking, what you were doing?

WS: Yeah, I had come out of the navy and I went to college and after I graduated, a year later, I joined the FBI and so my experience in the military and World War Two, I was thinking we're going to have to go through this all over again. And when I joined the FBI, I was beginning to think that General Patton was right, you see. I think he was the one who said that we should have taken the war to the Russian soil and stamped out those no-good Commie bastards and that's exactly how I felt after training school and learning just how bad these people really were.

INT: Right. Do you think the FBI needed the Cold War, is there a sense of that?

WS: It enhanced the image and I think Hoover used the Cold War, because he didn't like foreigners to begin with. When he was in the Department of Justice, as a clerk, and, you know working his way up, he was the one mainly responsible for the Pommer Raids back in 1919, 1920, when something like ten thousand people were arrested without warrants, but he was just obsessed with foreign people in the United States. When you think about it, it's a little ridiculous, you know, it was settled by foreigners. The only people who were here before the foreigners came over were the native Americans and so, you know, here you have somebody like Hoover in the Department of Justice then later becomes head of the FBI and he thinks the best way to get foreigners out of the country is to arrest them and ship 'em out, which, you know, he did get a few of them shipped out when he was in the Department of Justice. But this was his thinking. He didn't like foreigners, especially ones who were talking about a little different system, whether it was Communism or Fascism or any other system, he wasn't going to accept it and he had enough influence, you know, he had arrested a few bad criminals back in the late twenties and the thirties, and he got an image of being a real tough cop and he was a master blackmailer, he collected information on every politician in the country and especially on the Congressmen and the Attorney General and the President and if there was anything at all in their background that they didn't want exposed, he would let them know that he knew. And from then on, they were real friendly and whatever he wanted, he got.