My Usual Charming Self

Stylish Comfort
July 2003

Me and the Cold War

By Bernie Reeves


My mother plopped me down in front of the TV set in my pajamas to see my great-uncle resign the presidency of the United Nations General Assembly. Sir Leslie Munro also served three times as President of the Security Council in his six years as ambassador to the UN from New Zealand, my mothers birthplace. She met and married my father from Raleigh during World War II. He joined the 27th regiment of the 25th Army Division immediately after his graduation from the School of Architecture and Engineering at NC State in 1942 and fought in several campaigns in the Pacific. He was in New Zealand for R&R when he met and married my mother.

Her ancestors are the original settlers of New Zealand, English on her mothers side, Scottish on her fathers. A statue of one of our relatives stands astride Rangitoto Island, the extinct volcano that guards Aucklands harbor. Farmers and professionals for the most part, New Zealanders lost more men in World War II per capita than any of the Allies. My mothers fathers effort to remove his daughters to the inland resort of Whangarei to keep them away from the Yanks failed. My parents were married in New Zealand in 1944. Mother, Cam, as we called her, came to the States in 1946 and I came along in 1947.

It was now 1956 and Sir Leslie called for UN action when the Soviet Union invaded Hungary to put down a revolution that sought to remove the heel of the Soviet jackboot from the artery of democracy. The brave Hungarians were the visible victims of the invisible Iron Curtain slammed down by the Soviet Union over Eastern Europe. The savage attack on the Hungarians verified that Churchills term for Soviet tyranny in Eastern Europe was accurate. The Iron Curtain was real.

For his stand, Sir Leslie (KCMG, KCVO), a lawyer, newspaper editor and Member of the New Zealand Parliament during his distinguished life, was disappeared from the UNs public information directorate, although his books were widely read, most notably United Nations: Hope for a Divided World. His brave act to defend freedom made it clear to me there actually was a huge nation bent on imprisoning its own citizens and the people and countries of Eastern Europe. It was indeed true that this sinister Soviet regime had designs to spread its brand of tyranny wherever it could, with special emphasis on America, the main adversary. This barbarous empire also had nuclear weapons and seemed inclined to use them.


In 1963, I was fascinated with the rest of the world to learn that a high ranking British diplomat and spy, who had served as liaison to US intelligence services during World War IIand therefore privy to our deepest secrets, including the atom bombappeared before the international media from Moscow in the uniform of a KGB Colonel. Kim Philby, it turned out, had been working as a Soviet agent since his student days at Cambridge in the 1930's. He was part of what British intelligence knew was a ring of five Cambridge moles recruited by the KGB. The suave and debonair Philby followed two members of the ring, Guy Burgess and Donald McLean, who had suddenly shown up in Moscow in 1951 with MI5 hot on their heels. Philby then was number three.

The fourth Cambridge Mole, as they came to be known in the West, was unearthed in 1978, although MI5 knew his identity earlier. It turned out to be Sir Anthony Blunt, a former MI5 agent, Surveyor of the Queens Pictures and the head of the London Courtauld Institute of Art. The elegant and acerbic Blunt operated in the inner circles of British life and visited Buckingham Palace regularly in his role as the keeper of the Queens magnificent art collection.

The hunt for the Fifth Man occupied the 1980's. Dozens of books, documentaries and articles appeared speculating on his identity. Peter Wright, formerly the science officer for MI5 (Q to you Bond fans) actually accused the director-general of MI5 in his book Spycatcher. Banned from publication in the UK, Wright found a publisher in Australia and the book remained on the New York Times bestseller list for 20 weeks. But he and the others who thought they knew the identity of the Fifth Man were wrong.


In 1965 I entered UNC little knowing that our class, the first boomers, would cause havoc. At first it was due to our sheer size. Housing, parking and classroom crowding were problems but Vietnam, the Black Power Movement and labor issues were forming thunderheads that burst over the campus as the year moved on.

I remember very distinctly being told during freshman orientation that the innocence of the Rosenbergs was a given. They were victims of an imperialist and racist America that we should learn to loathe. In English composition class we were asked to write about the music of the day. I wrote a piece about how love seemed to be the main topic of modern pop music. I received a C because I did not write about protest songs.

We were warned about a conflict far away that America was fighting that should concern us. The Speaker Ban Law, passed by the North Carolina Legislature, galvanized professors. Under the ban, avowed communists were not allowed to speak on campus.

At first the demonstrations against Vietnam were quiet affairs. Once a week, peace protestors would gather in front of the Post Office on Franklin Street. By 1967, the crowds were in the thousands. National Guard and Highway Patrol were on campus regularly until it seemed they blended into the landscape. Most of us went about our routines with no sympathy for the demonstrators until draft boards started threatening us with conscription. Every few months there was a new directive from the Selective Service and every day students sympathized more and more with the anti-war protest.

As Franklin Street came to resemble an Arab souk, with vendors selling whales and bongs and beads, I noticed that just before a large demonstration, dozens of vans and cars with license plates from Michigan, Wisconsin, California, Maine and New York would arrive and disgorge these cool dudes and gals dressed in the hippie fashion of the era. Not until I happened upon film footage of the era 20 years later did it hit me that the campus uprisings look fixed. Some group was organizing all this.


World War II was my favorite subject in college. Not only was it the greatest world event in history, I was a direct product of its widespread impact. Its big bang touched and involved everyone and flung people and materiel into nearly every nook and cranny on earth. Out of this cataclysm the modern world we know today was formedradar, the atomic bomb, the jet engine, the Cold War, NATO, the UN, Israel, just about everything about our era can be traced to the war.

In 1979 the British declassified a startling secret. They were reading the German code during World War II. Agents, including Polish operatives who had escaped the Nazi invasion in 1939, located pieces of an Enigma machine, the typewriter-like device used by the Germans to transmit and receive coded messages. The British gathered the greatest minds they could muster and locked them up in a country estate with the directive to break the Enigma code with its million of electronic permutations. They cracked the code and named it the Ultra Secret. In the process they invented the first computer, but most urgently created a secret weapon that would sustain them until the US entered the war.

In 1986 the declassification of Ultra coincided with my interest in establishing a World War II seminar series at UNC-Chapel Hill. After being informed by the Chairman of the Department of History that they didn't teach war at UNC, I was introduced to Dr. James Leutze who was indeed teaching war under the title of the Curriculum in Peace War and Defense, actually the new cover name for ROTC.

Keying on the recently declassified Ultra revelations, Dr. Leutze and I kicked off our World War II seminar with Winston Churchills relationship to the secret services during World War II. The drama of Ultra went beyond reading codes. The secret that the British were reading the messages had to be kept from the Germans at all costs. Churchill, knowing from Ultra that the English town of Coventry was to be bombed, did not evacuate its citizens, choosing the ultimate importance of Ultra over the deaths of thousands.


Jim Leutze suggested that we invite Christopher Andrew of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge to address our topic of the importance of espionage in World War II (and the modern era as well). Chris had written Her Majestys Secret Service that year based on recently declassified documents from World War I (they hang on to their secrets over there) and became the first genuine scholar to address espionage as a serious subject. Chris came to Chapel Hill a relatively unknown don and was astounded that over 1000 people showed up for his lecture. Naturally, I was pleased too as the turnout verified my belief that students and citizens alike were interested in the true events surrounding World War II. They were fascinated that espionage played a significant role, requiring that history be rewritten and conclusions modified.

On my first of many trips to visit Chris in Cambridge, he told me there was something interesting going on but he could not tell what it was. It turned out to be collaboration with KGB Colonel Oleg Gordeivsky who had worked as a double agent for the British, rising to head of station for the KGB in London. Gordeivsky was arrested by the KGB in 1984 and escaped from house arrest in the Soviet Union by a pre-arranged operation designed by Britains M16 in case of his capture.

After his daring escape, Gordeivsky lived in disguise outside London in a safe house under 24-hour protection. He read Chris book and asked MI6 if he could tell his story with Chris as co-author. In 1990 the most important book to date on KGB activities appeared: KGB: The Inside Story. The book identified the elusive Fifth Man (John Cairncross) and catapulted Chris to the highest echelons of intelligence scholarship. (In 2000, Chris co-authored The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrohkin Archives with KGB General Vassily Mitrohkin.


In 1992 the Soviet Union collapsed and for a brief period the KGB archives were opened to researchers. It became clear that Soviet agents had penetrated deeply into the American political system. Then, in 1995, Chris cleared the way for me to attend the Venona Conference, hosted by the NSA and CIA at the National War College located on the grounds of Fort McNair just outside Washington.

Venona was the code name for an operation instituted by the forerunner to the NSA that revealed they had been reading cable traffic from Moscow to American Soviet agents since 1942. Of the more than 200,000 cables, only 10 percent have been decoded, but there is enough information out in the open to end the arguments that raged during the early Cold War. For example, Alger Hiss, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Harry Dexter White (assistant Treasury Secretary under FDR), Harry Hopkins (FDRs White House advisor), Henry Wallace, FDRs vice-president in his third term, and nearly 400 more Americans working for the US government in the Roosevelt administration have been identified as Soviet agents. If the US had allowed the release of this information in the 1940's and 50s there would have been no McCarthyism. As the noted historian Arthur Schlessinger Jr. noted after the revelations in Venona, McCarthy, it turns out, was right.

In a related culmination to the end of the Cold War, the International Spy Museum opened in Washington last July. Today, visitors to the museum are required to buy a ticket just to stand in line. In other words, espionage is popular as revelations continue to come out about what actually happened behind the headlines from World War II, through the Cold War, Korea, Vietnam and now Alqueda, the Iraq War and the ever increasing critical role intelligence will continue to play in the 21st century.


Now you see my interest in espionage and active measures against the US by the KGB. And it should be your interest too if you are at all curious about the events that shape our world today. We now know that history needs to be rewritten to account for the recently declassified revelations of the Ultra Secret and Venona. And while there is a lot we now know since the end of the Cold War, there is much more to come. In 20 years, for example, we will know what is really going on in the war against terrorism. And it is the intelligence community who will stay the course, never to be recognized in their lifetimes for their service in the secret world.

That is why I have organized the first annual Raleigh International Spy Conference that will bring together the top experts in the field. The keynote speaker is the most famous international expert on espionage, Chris Andrew, recently appointed to write the history of Britains security services. He has been sworn in as an agent in order to be given full access to all secret files. CIA officer Brian Kelley, the wrong man in the Robert Hanssen investigation will be here too, along with Keith Melton who supplied most of the trade-craft equipment on display at the International Spy Museum. Former KGB Major General Oleg Kalugin, who ran operations against the US is coming and will tell us just what the KGB was up to. So is former Member of Parliament Nigel West, the leading expert on Venona and author of 26 books on intelligence. And Hayden Peake, curator of the CIAs Historical Intelligence Collection will tell you what books to read out of the hundreds available on espionage and the revelations of the last few years. Jim Leutze, who has just retired as chancellor of UNC-Wilmington, will serve as Chairman of the conference.

The conference will be held at the North Carolina Museum of History, August 27-29, and you are going to want to be there. Never have the leading lights in this field been all together at one time and its happening right here in Raleigh. Go to for information and details or call Vincent Cavallari at the Museum of History: 919-733-3076, ext. 291 or call us here at Metro at 919-831-0999. You will be granted top-secret clearance to participate.


Talking trash: In a weird confluence of extremism from the far sides of the political spectrum, citizens of Raleigh are being herded into a gulag of misery. The Politburo we used to call the City Council is being shoved into policies concocted by the City staff apparatchiksthemselves serving extreme pressure groupsand are instituting a trial garbage pick-up scheme. Citizens are to forego twice-a-week yard collection to once-a-week curbside pick-up after stuffing their trash in special containers provided by Big Brother himself.

It appears that the North Raleigh anti-tax zealots have teamed up with the fanatic environmentalists to screw the taxpayers. One member of the Raleigh Politburo told me that citizens of North Raleigh would prefer to have their trash picked up once a week curbside in special containers rather than to have the current twice a week residential collection. That is, well, garbage. Its the mean-spirited downtown-hating right-wing rednecks pushing for this while hiding behind the skirts of the bald-faced lie that homeowners desire to haul their trash to the street once a week.

On the obverse side of this imposition on the citizenry are the left-wing eco-nuts who want to punish citizens for being capitalist pig consumers. Remember last year when Mayor Red Charles Meeker floated the idea that more affluent households should pay more taxes since, according to absolutely unreliable data, the rich consume more and therefore create more trash than the poor?

This preposterous political legerdemain is behind the new trash collection proposals. Actually, they are saying that citizens who pay local taxes (especially the elderly who can't drag their trash themselves) are to be singled out for punishment for not being environmentally politically correct. The real reason behind this outrage is to hide the scandal that the Citys recycling program is costly and useless. But it makes people feel good that they are helping the environment by dragging their cans and newspapers to the curb every other week to be picked up by an expensive workforce in special trucks that cost several hundred thousand dollars just so it appears that we are an eco-sensitive city. The new collection program is a pilot project but so was busing.


In another melding of citizens on opposite ends of the political spectrumthis time in a noble causeboth right and left showed up at public hearings to protest new FCC regulations allowing further concentration of broadcast media ownership. But to no avail. FCC Chairman Michael Powell, son of Colin, rammed through further deregulation of broadcasting companies, continuing the trend of lower-quality radio and TV while displaying complete contempt for the concept of the need for local ownership of media.

The big guys own the cable networks, most of your local TV and radio stations, and can now control daily newspapers in a community to add to their tasteless grip on American culture. Do like I do and go satellite to avoid the wasteland of local radio before it too falls into the hands of charlatans like CBS-Viacom-USA Network chairman, the crude and despicable Sumner Redstone.


Im attempting to BLOG, that is, publish pieces between issues of Metro on a weblog, the newest web technology for posting opinions. Go to and check it out.