The KGB’s Source at the Baltimore Sun

A Pulitzer Prize winning Baltimore Sun reporter was a Soviet dupe and a source of information for the KGB.

Researching the history for my series on the MSP story, I came across some interesting historical nuggets. In Christopher Andrew’s The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB, I came across this passage:

..The KGB reported that a journalist from the Baltimore Sun “…said in a private conversation in early December that on assignment from a group of Texas financiers and industrialists headed by millionaire [H.L.] Hunt, Jack Ruby, who is now under arrest, proposed a large sum of money to Oswald for the murder of Kennedy.”

Cue the needle scratching off the record. What in the hell is a Baltimore Sun reporter doing having a private conversation with the KGB!

Trending: Red Maryland Radio: The Final Episode

Checking the footnote, Andrew sources the statement to an appendix in Boris Yeltsin’s book A View from the Kremlin. The appendix recreates old KGB memorandums. In this case, the memos dealt with the KGB’s reaction to and ascertainment of the political ramifications the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Typical of the KGB mindset, its governing body, the First Chief Directorate, interpreted the event as a capitalist conspiracy. The KGB used its own delusions in its political warfare against the United States. The KGB fabricated a fake letter from Lee Harvey Oswald to then CIA agent E. Howard Hunt, later of Watergate infamy, which said asked for more information “’before any steps are taken by me or anyone else.” The KGB forged the letter—dated two weeks before Kennedy’s assassination—in the 1970s, after Hunt surfaced in Watergate investigation. This was part of a disinformation campaign by the KGB to link the CIA to Kennedy’s murder. To the extent that many people still believe that a conspiracy among the CIA/Mafia/Military Industrial Complex conspired to murder Kennedy, the trick worked. It definitely fooled Oliver Stone.

However, for our purposes here, the KGB memo gives a clue to who the reporter is. The full text of that portion of the memo before Andrew’s ellipsis reads “Ward, a reporter for the Baltimore Sun, who covers foreign diplomacy, said in a private conversation…”

The Baltimore Sun reporter in question is Paul W. Ward, who won the Pulitzer in 1947 for his series Life in the Soviet Union.

It turns out Ward had been an unwitting KGB/NKVD source for at least 20 years. A September 9, 1944 NKVD cable from New York to Moscow, informs NKVD intelligence chief, Pavel Fitin (codename Viktor) that:

In a talk with IDE [YaZ] the correspondent of the Baltimore Sun Paul Ward completely confirmed what BUMBLEBEE [ShMEL] said in regard to the principal aim of CAPTAIN’s [KAPITAN] meeting with BOAR [KABAN]. CAPTAIN also intends to discuss the question of India. Joseph BIRD [BERD], a correspondent of the “Washington Star” said roughly the same thing to TODD, an employee of the Editorial Office [REDAKTsIYa].

As you can see from the link of the decrypted cable, IDE [YaZ] is Samuel Krafsur, a Soviet agent used to recruit and pump American journalists for information. BUMBLEBEE [ShMEL] is none other than Walter Lippmann, CPATAIN is Franklin Roosevelt, BOAR [KABAN] is Winston Churchill, and [REDAKTsIYa] is TASS the official Soviet news agency.

What this document tells us is that the KGB residence in New York was corroborating for Moscow what Walter Lippman had told another KGB agent, Vladimir Pravdin; that Roosevelt and Churchill were having disagreements about post-war Germany and Britain’s role in the occupation.

None of this suggests that Ward was Soviet agent. Rather it speaks to the remarkable success the Soviets had in placing agents in the American press corps. Walter Lippmann is a prime example of how the Soviets used unwitting American journalists to glean information and insight into American politics and policy. Two Venona decrypts June 8, 1943 and July 28, 1943 reveal that Soviet agent Jacob Golos placed Mary Price Wolfe (codename DIR) as Lippmann’s secretary to gain insight into the sources of Lippmann’s columns. Sources like Lippmann and Ward provided key insights for the Soviets, into American politics in general and the Roosevelt administration in particular. An October 23, 1944 cable reveals that the NKVD and famed muckraker I. F. Stone flirted with each other.

Send this to a friend