Hard Working Traditional Values With A Dash of Fun

Hard Working Traditional Values With A Dash of Fun

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Eleanor Roosevelt - Soviet Informer

The recent PBS documentary on the Roosevelts spent plenty of time profiling the unconventional First Lady we had in Eleanor Roosevelt. She was acknowledged to be more liberal than her husband Franklin.

A liberal First Lady is something we are familiar with in modern times. Most people would put Hillary to the left of Bill and Michelle to the left of Barack. Both women have plenty of detractors, but as far as we know, neither of them have gone so far as to put the interests of anti-American powers above those of our country.

As crazy as it sounds, Eleanor Roosevelt took steps to protect a communist mole in the Treasury Department.

Harry Dexter White, was the number two man in the Treasury Department and an influential policy maker.  In 1941 communist Russia found itself in the desperate struggle for survival against Nazi Germany which invaded Russia during the summer. Stalin's bumbling military leadership made things worse and Russia casualties quickly rose to over 1 million troops.  Russia had another million troops protecting the border in the east against Japan.

If Russia could get Japan and America to go to war, the 1 million troops could be moved to fight the Germans. The American public was in no mood to go to war with either Germany or Japan.  Japan was at war with China, then a friend of the United States, and the U.S. took economic steps with the hopes that it would curtail Japanese aggression. White realized that these steps were reasonable and not likely to escalate into a conflict, so he drafted a hard line list of demands he knew Japan would reject.  He was able to get the Roosevelt administration to adopt this as official U.S. policy and Japan felt trapped. The result was Pearl Harbor. Russia was now able to move its Asia armies west to fight Germany.

White continued to serve the interests of the Soviets for the balance of the war. In 1944 Finnish troops fighting the Russians captured a diplomatic code book. Recognizing the value this information would have, the Finns sold the book to the United States.  The FBI had long known that there were secret messages going out from Russian agents in the United States, but they did not know what these messages said because they were in code.  Now they had the code book and were able to read everything. Much to their surprise they were able to identify White as working for the Russians. Was he stopped and arrested?

No, Eleanor Roosevelt found out about the code book and was furious that the United States would be reading the secret messages of one of our allies. She ordered the book returned to the Soviets who immediately changed the code. White was allowed to stay in office and continue to work for Soviet interests.

This would have made an interesting addition to the PBS story. However, the documentary was a puff piece with a goal of making a big government Democrat a hero for another generation.

For more details on this story read
Operation Snow: How a Soviet Mole in FDR's White House Triggered Pearl Harbor

Other Fiddling Ant blog posts about FDR:

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