Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Fact or Fiction: Alsop and the KGB

We've had a number of people ask about the KGB aspect of the story. That piece is mostly true. From a piece from the Sydney Morning Herald:

On April 1, 1957, CIA director Allen Dulles wrote a "SECRET EYES ONLY" memo to Hoover, enclosing a nine-page confession by Alsop, Washington socialite and conservative journalist, detailing that he was homosexual and that, consequently, eight weeks earlier he had been framed by the KGB in Moscow when men burst into a hotel room, catching him in "the act" with a young Russian "pleasant-mannered fellow". This was not an April Fool's day joke, this was the hard-core side of the Cold War. So sensitive was the matter it took 42 years for the confession to become unclassified. Alsop initially became suicidal when caught by the Russians, who tried, but failed according to Alsop, to get him to change sides. He was helped by US ambassador Charles Bohlen in Moscow (himself subject to rumours of homosexuality and an appointment opposed by McCarthy). Initially, Hoover and Dulles accepted Alsop's abject mea culpa and self-described "folly". A memo to Hoover marked "top secret" indicates Dulles was still suspicious: "I am not at all satisfied with the subject's evaluation of his own situation or his refusal to co-operate more fully in the interview." 
Nevertheless only six years later, Alsop is recorded in tapes three days after John F. Kennedy's assassination strongly urging, in a subtle blend of insistence and grovelling, that Johnson set up a blue ribbon commission that would "carry unchallengeable convictions".

The transcript of that LBJ phone call has been released and you can read it in its entirety here.  From this it sounds like Joe Alsop was basically the guy behind the Warren Commission. Who knew?

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