April 25, 2005: NSA released, perhaps some time ago, many more Venona decryptions. See an article by Robert Benson, the Venona Story, at for a summary of what was accomplished. The general Venona site is The National Security Agency (NSA) in 1996 (I think) established a Web site on the decrypted Venona documents. These were encrypted telegrams between Moscow and New York between 1941 and 1946 and were intercepted by the U.S. Army Signal Corps. The documents themselves are quite fragmentary. However, assuming the code names are correctly identified, they verify that the people reporting Soviet espionage, e.g. Whittaker Chambers and Elizabeth Bentley, were truthful. They also verify that American Communist Party members were involved including, to a considerable extent, Earl Browder, who was then head of the Party. NSA has blacked out a number of the names of people that the KGB messages said were communists in the U.S. Government for privacy reasons. There are 2200 documents in all, and I think they are all now declassified and on the NSA web site. The Rosenbergs (executed in 1953 as wartime spies) and Harry Dexter White (a Treasury official accused in the late 40s or early 50s) are explicitly identified.

The code name ALES is identified as "probably Alger Hiss". ALES had gone to Yalta with President Roosevelt and then gone on to Moscow where he was personally congratulated by Andrey Vishinsky. (Vishinsky had been the prosecutor at the Moscow purge trials and was close to Stalin). Not many Americans went to Yalta with Roosevelt and then on to Moscow, so it isn't easy to suppose that the Hiss identification is uncertain. The message mentioning ALES going to Moscow is number 1822 and is dated March 30,1945. Here's the link to the file (as a gif).

The AIM Report claims that I. F. Stone is also identified as taking Soviet money. The one decrypted message I saw in which Stone appears is mentioned in I. F. Stone' reluctance to help KGB as he fears FBI. Stone's cover name was "blin" (Russian for pancake).

Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan's excellent 1998 book Secrecy (he's almost entirely against it) relates that President Truman was not told about the Venona decryptions. General Omar Bradley, then Army Chief of Staff, took the decision not to inform the President. Moynihan relates this to the tendency of every bureaucracy, in this case the Army, to hoard its secrets. That the President wasn't told strikes me as shocking.

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