Military intelligence reports exaggerating the threat
of "insurrectionists" among the veteran protestors contributed
to the decision to use troops in a mass assault to clear the demonstrators
out of Washington. Criticism of this operation led military authorities
to instruct that intelligence officers be more discreet although they
continued to gather intelligence on civilian groups.63
The work of the Bureau of Investigation at this time is...of
an open character not in any manner subject to criticism, and the operations
of the Bureau of Investigation may be given the closest scrutiny at all
times...The conditions will materially differ were the Bureau to embark
upon a policy of investigative activity into conditions which, from a
federal standpoint, have not been declared illegal and in connection with
which no prosecution might be instituted. The Department and the Bureau
would undoubtedly be subject to charges in the matter of alleged secret
and undesirable methods...as well as to allegations involving charges
of the use of "Agents Provocateur."
Hoover assumed that the Immigration Bureau with jurisdiction
to deport Communist aliens conducted such investigation and, if it did
not, "would be subject to criticism for its laxity along these lines."
Thus, the Director's position was not based on opposition to the idea
of domestic intelligence itself, but rather on his concern for possible
criticism of the Bureau if it were to resume "undercover" activities
which would be necessary "to secure a foothold in Communistic inner
circles" and "to keep fully informed as to changing policies
and secret propaganda on the part of Communists."65
Following the Hoover-Roosevelt meetings, FBI officials
also began developing a systematic organization for intelligence information
"concerning subversive activities." The following general classifications
The FBI Director reviewed the current and proposed future
operations of each of the three intelligence agencies. The FBI had set
up a General Intelligence Section to investigative and correlate information
dealing with "activities of either a subversive or a so-called intelligence
Director Hoover met with the President in November 1938 and learned
that he had instructed the Budget Bureau "to include in the Appropriations
estimate $50,000 for Military Intelligence, $50,000 for Naval Intelligence
and $150,000 for the Federal Bureau of Investigation to handle counter-espionage
activities." The President also said "that had approved the
plan which (Hoover) had prepared and which had been sent to him by the
Attorney General," except for the revised budget figures. 75
The Search For Japanese Spies
The Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) suspected that the Japanese
naval attaché office at the Japanese Embassy in Washington,
D.C. controlled their spy operations throughout the United States.
Under ONI guidance, efforts were increased to cover Japanese activities,
including surveillance of Embassy military officials and suspected
Japanese naval officers posing as students at major American universities.
Their efforts resulted in the expulsion of Japanese assistant naval
attaché, Yoshiro Kanamoto, who was caught photographing the
U.S. Navy's fuel oil reserve depot at Point Loma and sketching the
North Island Naval Air Station.
William D. Puleston, ONI Director, took a personal interest in the
so-called language students. "The personality and movements of
Japanese language officers are matters of greatest interest to this
office, because experience in the past has shown that they engage
in illegal activities." ONI was able to confirm the Director's
concerns about this perceived threat from deciphering Japanese coded
In reviewing a Japanese message, a cryptoanalyst, Miss Aggie Driscoll,
had marked a section with contained the word "TO-MI-MU-RA."
Not knowing what it meant, Miss Aggie, as her colleagues called her,
showed the message to a Japanese language expert. The expert initially
said that the word could reflect a Japanese name but Miss Aggie did
not buy that explanation. The expert next suggested that the part
of the word "mura" means town but also has an alternate
meaning of "son." By putting the first part of the word
with "son," the word becomes "Tomison or Thompson.
ONI now a lead to a possible spy.
The lead led to Harry J. Thompson, a clerk in the Navy, who was contacting
his ex-shipmates on behalf of the Japanese. His case officer was Commander
Miyazaki, who was in the United States under English language student
cover. When the FBI arrested Thompson, Miyazaki suddenly left the
United States for Japan. Thompson was convicted under the Espionage
Act of 1917 and sentenced to fifteen years at McNeil Island.
The radio traffic also revealed another possible American
spy, codenamed Agent K. ONI investigation resulted in identifying Agent
K as John Semer Farnsworth.
Photograph of John Semer Farnsworth
in the US Naval Academy Yearbook
John Semer Farnsworth was arrested on 14 July 1937 and
charged with selling confidential papers of the U.S. Navy to an agent
of the Japanese government. Farnsworth, a former Lt. Commander, was
held on $10,000 bond and confined to the Washington, D.C. jail until
his preliminary hearing.
The Japanese embassy depicted the charges as "astonishing"
and stated that the first time they heard of Farnsworth was on the day
before his arrest when someone called the embassy twice to ask for money
in connection with a recent spy case. The spy case the embassy was referring
to involved a former navy enlisted man, Harry T. Thompson, who was convicted
and sentenced at Los Angeles, California for selling naval secrets to
a Japanese agent.
FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover, denied the arrest of Farnsworth was
connected to the Thompson case. Thompson was the first man convicted
of espionage since World War I. The U.S. Navy said that Farnsworth and
Thompson are the only two such espionage cases in the history of the
navy. Later years would see many more such cases.
Farnsworth, born 13 August 1893 in Chicago, Illinois, was appointed
to the U.S. Naval Academy in 1911. The Naval Academy yearbook described
Farnsworth as "daring and reckless." The writer of the account
stated that if Farnsworth had resided in the days of the old navy, he
"would have been famous for his desperate deeds and hairbreadth
escapes." The writer closed his remarks with a quote from John
Milton, "He can, I know, but doubt to think he will."
After his graduation in 1915, he was assigned to the Asiatic fleet,
where in 1916 he went aboard the S.S. Galveston. He returned
to the United States in 1917 and was given the temporary rank of lieutenant.
His next assignment was in 1920 when he took flight training at Pensacola
Air Station. He completed his training in 1922 and received ratings
on seaplanes and airships. Farnsworth returned to Annapolis for a post-graduate
course and then on to Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a college
in New York to complete his post-graduate studies.
He was assigned to duty with VO Squadron 6, Aircraft Squadron, Scouting
Fleet. Farnsworth, considered to be one of the most brilliant of the
navy's young officer, was court-martialed in 1927. He was dismissed
from the service on 12 November 1927 for conduct "tending to impair
the morale of the service" and for "scandalous conduct tending
to the destruction of good morale. The official explanation for the
dismissal of one of the Navy's bright future stars was that Farnsworth
borrowed money from enlisted men and committed perjury in disclaiming
Farnsworth was under surveillance for two years by Office of Naval
Intelligence (ONI) and FBI officers. Surveillance began after Farnsworth
visited Annapolis where he was reported to have pushed the wife of a
high-ranking navy officer to allow him to read official documents. The
wife reported the incident to Navy authorities. Since the case concerned
a former navy officer and navy equities, ONI and the FBI jointly worked
Farnsworth was destitute and needed money. To try to solve his problem,
he began to recontact former associates to solicit documents. The warrant
for his arrest charged that "on or about May 15, 1935," Farnsworth
sold to a Japanese agent a confidential Navy publication, "The
Service of Information and Security." The warrant stated that Farnsworth,
"did with intent and reason to believe that the same was to be
used to the injury of the United States, and to the advantage of a certain
foreign nation, communicate, deliver and transmit to an officer and
agent of the imperial Japanese navy a certain document and writing relating
to the national defense-to wit, a certain book entitled `The Service
of Information and Security,' a confidential publication of the U.S.
This publication was first issued in 1916 under the title, "Scouting
and Screening," but the title was changed in 1917 to the present
title. The publication contains plans for battle information and tactics
that were gathered from actual fleet maneuvers and tested by high-ranking
On 17 July 1937, Farnsworth admitted to a journalist that he did show
photographs of U.S. Navy aviation equipment to a Japanese agent while
he was negotiating employment with the Japanese Air Force. He said that
the photographs were available to anyone from the U.S. Navy's Public
Relations Office. He also said that he included with the official photographs,
some of his own photos taken during his naval service. He was attempting
to demonstrate to the Japanese his experience and knowledge by including
the photographs with his employment application.
He told the journalist that he had accidentally sent the document,
mentioned in the warrant, home with his personal affects when he left
the navy. He said the document, along with other personal items, was
destroyed by a fire at his house. He denied passing the document to
the Japanese agent.
Three days later, Farnsworth informed a newsman that he did sell two
articles or monographs on naval subjects to the Japanese agent for $1,000.
He said the articles were not classified. One of the articles was on
a London naval conference and the other on naval aviation training.
The case was given to a grand jury. During the grand jury testimony
it was revealed that Farnsworth had telephoned the Japanese embassy
twice on the day before his arrest. Lt. Commander Leslie G. Genhres
testified that Farnsworth took the confidential study from his desk
in the Navy Department on 1 August 1934. An employee of the navy photostat
plant, Mrs. Grace Jamieson, said that Farnsworth made frequent visits
to the plant to copy military documents.
Based on the evidence presented, the grand jury indicted Farnsworth
on two charges. The first charge was that Farnsworth actually transmitted
the confidential book to an agent of Japan and the second count alleges
an attempt to transmit the volume.
At the upcoming trial, Farnsworth faced a maximum penalty of 20 years,
authorized under the provisions of the law making it illegal in peacetime
"to disclose information affecting the nation's defense. Farnsworth
said he would base his defense on an aircraft accident he had when he
was an aviation student at Pensacola Naval Air Station. The Navy said
it had no record of such an accident but Farnsworth's parents insisted
that their son had been "irresponsible: since the accident.
In November 1936, Farnsworth's lawyer asked the court-martial commission
to have the American Consul General in Tokyo take depositions from the
two Japanese naval officers with whom Farnsworth was alleged to have
conspired. The two officers, Yosiyuki Itimiya and Akira Yamaki, both
Lt. Commanders of the Imperial Japanese Navy, were formerly stationed
at the Japanese embassy in Washington, D.C. as naval observers. Farnsworth's
lawyer argued that since the two Japanese officers were no longer accredited
to the United States as diplomats, they could freely testify and that
their answers to defense questions were material to the case.
In December, Japan refused to authorize its naval officers to present
testimony to any disposition in the Farnsworth case. The embassy noted
that Japanese law could not compel its military officers to answer interrogations
of foreign nations.
On 15 February 1937, Farnsworth changed his innocent plea to nolo contendere
and threw himself on the mercy of the court. The prosecution had a list
of fifty witnesses ready to testify against Farnsworth. The judge said
he wanted to review the aspects of the case before pronouncing sentence.
A few days later, Farnsworth requested to again change his plea from
nolo contendere to not guilty. In his written request to the judge,
he said that he made his decision without the advice of his counsel
and it based on the publicity the case received. He claimed that his
family suffered from the publicity and he was under the mistaken impression
that his nolo contendere plea would not bring such adverse notoriety.
The judge said that Farnsworth was in his rights to change his plea
before sentencing and that he would hear Farnsworth's motion.
This was the first in a series of moves by Farnsworth to have his
case dismissed. Farnsworth's lawyers withdrew from the case, and Farnsworth
tells the judge that he will conduct his own defense. His next move
was to file a writ of habeas corpus to get released from prison. He
argued that the facts alleged in the indictment, under which he was
convicted, did not constitute a crime. He claimed that he did not understand
nolo contendere meant guilty and wanted to withdraw the plea but the
court rejected it. The judge denied his writ and upheld the indictment.
Farnsworth was sentenced on 27 February 1937 to serve "not less
than four years nor more than twelve years in prison."
In January 1938, Farnsworth again appealed the judge's decision in
the writ of habeus corpus. He alleged that the court erred in holding
a petitioner could not be released "from unlawful imprisonment"
by habeas corpus proceedings; that the trial court did not have the
jurisdiction in the case and that the court did not have the power to
pronounce an indeterminate sentence. Farnsworth's sentence was upheld
by the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals for conspiracy to divulge
military secrets to Japan. The court ruled that Farnsworth and others
conspired "to communicate and transmit to a foreign government-to
wit Japan- writings, code books, photographs and plans relating to the
national defense with the intent that they should be used to the injury
of the United States."
Special House Committee ForThe Investigation
Of Un-American Activities
Martin Dies, a Texas Congressman, introduced a resolution on 21 July
1937 to create a special committee to investigate subversion in the
United States. After prolonged debate the resolution passed on 26 May
1938. The committee, known as the Dies Committee after its chairman,
was formed on 6 June but formal hearings did not begin until 12 August.
The major target of the committee was organized labor groups, particularly
the Congress of Industrial Organizations. A major tactic employed by
one that set a pattern for how the committee functioned until after
World War II, was his meeting alone and secretly with friendly witnesses
who accused hundreds of individuals of supporting Communist activities.
The press sensationalized these accusations but only a few of the accused
were given the opportunity to defend themselves.
Because the Dies Committee was a special committee, its mandate had
to be renewed by the Congress every two years. This changed in 1945
when it was replaced by the permanent standing Committee on Un-American
Activities. Over the next five years the committee originated investigations
into the motion picture industry, hunting for communists. Their investigation
resulted in the blacklisting of producers, writers and actors by Hollywood.
But the committee's greatest fame was its investigation of Alger Hiss
and his eventual perjury, which fixed internal communism as a leading
political issue. As a major political force, the Committee used contempt
citations as a major weapon against those who refused to testify by
taking the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. In 1950,
for example, the Committee issued 56 citations out of the 59 citations
voted by the House of Representatives.
In the 1950s, Senator Joseph McCarthy began his investigations into
communists in government, which overshadowed the work of the committee.
Being in the background, the committee did not suffer any affect from
McCarthy's downfall. The committee continued to pursue communists and
other un-American activities until the beginning of 1960. For the next
two decades, the committee focused on the black militants, the anti-war
movement, other radical youth groups and terrorism. In 1968 the committee
was renamed the Committee on Internal Security. In 1975 the committee
Alexander Gregory Barmine
Alexander Gregory Barmine, born 16 August 1899, in Russia, joined
the Red Army as a private and rose through the ranks to become a brigadier
general. He was recruited by Soviet military intelligence (GRU) from
his graduating class in the Soviet General Staff Academy in 1921.
Following three years of language study at the Oriental Institute,
he joined the People's Commissariat of Foreign Trade. He served as a
foreign trade specialists at several diplomatic posts in Europe. In
addition, Barmine reported on his contacts to the GRU.
In 1937, while assigned as Soviet Charge d'Affaires in Athens, Greece,
Barmine defected. He first fled to Paris as a political refugee. Three
years later he entered the United States where he became a naturalized
citizen in July 1943. During World War II he joined the US Army and
later served with the Office Strategic Services (OSS) from 1943 until
September 1944. He was dismissed from the OSS for absenteeism.
In October 1948, Barmine began work as a consultant with the Department
of State. Prior to his retirement in the spring of 1972, he served as
chief of the Russian Desk of the Voice of America.
In July 1951 he testified before the Senate Committee on Un-American
activities. He wrote two books, Memoirs of a Soviet Diplomat
(published in 1938 in London_translated by Gerard Hopkins) and One
Who Survived (published in 1945 by Putnam) as well as occasional
anti-Soviet magazine articles.
Ignace Reiss, born January 1899 in Galicia, a part of the old Austro-Hungarian
Empire. His true name was apparently Poretskiy. His mother was reportedly
a Russian Jewess and his father a gentile. In 1922, while in the Soviet
Union, Reiss married Else Bernaut, a student. The couple had one son,
Roman Bernaut. Else kept her maiden name and, at times, Reiss used this
From 1921 to 1931 Reiss traveled throughout Europe where he engaged
in political action operations for the COMINTERN and then in espionage
for the GRU. In 1931 he was recruited by the Soviet Security Service
and assigned to industrial espionage directed primarily against Germany.
In the Soviet Security Service he was known as "Ludwig." After
Hitler's rise to power, Reiss operated from countries bordering on Germany.
In the spring of 1937, Reiss, whose family was living in the West with
him, decided to break with the Soviets because of the brutal purges
then under way in the Soviet Union. During this time, he established
contacts with Trotskiyites in Western Europe. On 17 July 1937, Reiss
wrote a letter to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the
Soviet Union and delivered it to the Soviet Commercial Mission in Paris.
In this letter he condemned the frightful excesses of Stalin and the
Soviet Security Service. He then fled to Switzerland where his family
Turning their full attention to the liquidation of Reiss, Soviet agents
tracked him down in Switzerland. On 4 September 1937 Reiss was shot
and killed by Soviet assassins and his bullet-ridden body dumped on
the side of a road in Chamblandes outside Lausanne, Switzerland.
Reiss' wife identified the body bearing identity papers with the name
Herman Eberhardt as that of Ignace Reiss. In later years after World
War II, she was at time in contact with US intelligence about Soviet
Security Service operations and personnel. She also wrote Our Own
People: A Memoir of Ignace Reiss and his Friends (published in London
in 1969). The book is a study of their involvement in pre-World War
II Soviet operations in Europe. One of Reiss' friends mentioned in the
book was the defector Walter Krivitsky.
An active participant in the Soviet operation against Reiss was Roland
Abbiate, born 15 August 1905 in London, who lived at one time in the
United States during the early twenties. Abbiate disappeared after the
murder. Later, during World War II, he turned up again in the United
States where he served as a Soviet diplomat, Vladimir Sergeyvich Pravdin.
Anatoli Golitsyn, another Soviet defector in the 1960s, also claimed
that Pravdin was active in Austria after World War II, often passing
as a Frenchman.
The French Ministry of Interior study, A Soviet Counter-espionage
Network Abroad _ the Reiss Case, published on 20 September 1951,
stated "The assassination of Ignace Reiss on 4 September 1937 at
Chamblandes near Lausanne, Switzerland, is an excellent example of the
observation, surveillance and liquidation of a `deserter' from the Soviet
Walter G. Krivitsky
Walter G. Krivitsky, born 28 June 1899 in Podwoloczyska, Russia, was
a Soviet military intelligence officer who defected to the West prior
to World War II. Krivitsky, whose true name was Samuel Ginsburg, spent
nearly twenty years in Soviet intelligence.
At the age of thirteen, Krivitsky became active in the Russian working
class movement and five years later, in 1917, he joined the Bolshevik
Party. Shortly after the revolution, he entered the Red Army and was
assigned to military intelligence.
In 1920, he was sent to Danzig, with orders to prevent the landing
of French munitions being shipped to the Polish army. He was also instructed
to organize strikes against arms shipments in other European cities.
In 1922 Krivitsky, along with other Soviet officers, was dispatched
to Berlin to mobilize elements of unrest in the Ruhr; to create the
German Communist Party's intelligence service; and to form the nucleus
of the future German Red Army.
By 1926, Krivitsky was chief for Central Europe in Soviet Military
Intelligence. After several years in Moscow he was posted to The Hague
in 1935 as Chief of Military Intelligence for Western Europe.
During this assignment, he provided Moscow with information about secret
negotiations then taking place between Japan and Germany. In 1936, Krivitsky
was instructed to create a system to purchase and transport arms to
the Red forces fighting in the Spanish
In September 1937, one of Krivitsky's closest colleagues and friends,
Ignace Reiss, was murdered after having broken with the Soviets. Krivitsky
feared that he too was doomed to be purged. In later years he claimed
that his friend's death, coupled with Stalin's purges of the Old Bolshevik
Guard, many of whom were his friends and colleagues, were key factors
influencing his own decision to sever his connection with the Soviet
government and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in October 1937.
Krivitsky with his family were given asylum by the French government
in October 1937. During the next year, while living in France and guarded
by the French police, the Soviets tried unsuccessfully to assassinate
him. In November 1938, Krivitsky, who planned to write a book, arrived
in the United States for an extended visit. The following year he testified
before the House Committee on Un-American Activities and was interviewed
by British authorities.
Traveling from Canada, Krivitsky re-entered the United States in October
1940 in order to settle in New York under the name Walter Poref. On
10 February 1941 he was found shot to death in a hotel room in Washington,
D.C. where he was in transit to New York. Questions still remain whether
his death was a suicide or a Soviet liquidation.
Krivitsky's book I Was Stalin's Agent, was published in London
in 1940. In it, he warned of high-level penetrations in Western governments.
Aleksandr Orlov, whose true name was Leon Lazarevich Feldbin, was born
on 21 August 1985 in Bobruisk, Russia. He was drafted into the Russian
army and stationed in the Urals in 1916. The next year he joined the
Bolshevik Party and graduated as a second lieutenant from the Third
Moscow Military School.
By September 1920 he was with the 12th Red Army on the Polish
front where he was in charge of guerrilla activity and counterintelligence.
The successes of his work on the Polish front brought him to the attention
of Feliks Dzerzhinskiy, chief of the Cheka, the Soviet State Security
Service at the time. A year later, during a brief assignment to Archangel,
Orlov was married.
With his wife, Orlov returned to Moscow in 1921 to become assistant
prosecutor to the Soviet Supreme Court. While in this position, he worked
on the formation of the Soviet criminal code and, at Dzerzhinskiy's
request, investigated Soviet citizens accused of economic crimes. Soon
thereafter Dzerzhinskiy brought Orlov into the Cheka as deputy chief
of the Economic Directorate. He served in this position until 1925 when
he became brigade commander of the border guards in Armenia. The following
year Orlov was reassigned to the Foreign Department in a newly created
headquarters unit that was to oversee and control Soviet foreign trade.
Shortly thereafter, under the alias Leon Nikolayev, Orlov was transferred
to the Paris representation as chief of Soviet intelligence operations
From 1928 until 1931 he served at the Soviet Trade Delegation in Berlin
where he again was concerned with economic intelligence. As deputy chief
of the headquarters economic control component from 1933 to early 1936,
Orlov traveled frequently to Europe, directing illegals in operations
against Germany. While still assigned in Moscow, he served a year as
deputy chief of the Department of Railways and Sea Transport in the
Soviet State Security Service.
In 1936 Orlov was sent to Spain as Soviet liaison representative to
the Republican Government for matters of intelligence, counterintelligence,
and guerrilla warfare. Throughout Orlov's stay in Spain, tales mounted
of secret trials, summary executions, and widespread terror in the Soviet
In July 1938, Orlov was abruptly ordered to Paris. While in transit,
he stopped to see his family, which was living in France not far from
the Spanish border. Orlov discussed with his wife his growing suspicions
and his moral revulsion, and then decided to break with Stalin and the
Soviet Union. After first enlisting the aid of the Canadians, the Orlovs
entered the United States on 13 August 1938. Eighteen years later they
were granted permanent residence.
After Orlov's defection, he provided much information to US intelligence
on pre-World War II personnel and operations of the Soviet State Security
Service. With the publication of his book, The Secret History of
Stalin's Crimes in 1953, the true history of the Soviet Union from
1934 to 1938 was revealed for the first time. In 1955 and again in 1957,
Orlov appeared before the Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security.
His second book, The Handbook of Intelligence and Guerrilla Warfare,
was published in 1963.
In April 1973 Orlov died in the United States.