Maurice Halperin

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Maurice Hyman Halperin
Born (1906-03-03)March 3, 1906
Died February 9, 1995(1995-02-09) (aged 88)
Royal Columbia Hospital
Vancouver
Cause of death
Stroke

Maurice Hyman Halperin (March 3, 1906 – February 9, 1995) was an American writer, professor, diplomat, and Soviet spy (NKVD code name "Hare").

Biography[edit]

Halperin was born on March 3, 1906. He studied Latin American issues, and in 1935 traveled to Cuba with the League of American Writers to investigate possible human rights abuses. Sometime during this period, Halperin joined the Communist Party of the USA (CPUSA). In the late summer of 1941, Halperin went to work in the Office of the Coordinator of Information which later became the Research Division of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), itself the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency. Halperin became head of the Latin American Research and Analysis Division and Special Assistant to the Director of the OSS, Duncan Lee. During this period, he became an espionage agent and agreed to provide intelligence for the Joseph Stalin-era Soviet intelligence service, the NKVD. Halperin's NKVD code name was 'Hare', and he became a member of the Golos spy network operated by the NKVD's chief of American espionage operations Gaik Ovakimian.

With access to the OSS cable room, Halperin could secure copies of secret U.S. reports from any part of the world. Through the Golos spy network, Halperin provided Soviet intelligence with a large quantity of sensitive U.S. diplomatic dispatches, including reports from Ambassador John Gilbert Winant in London on the position of the Polish government-in-exile towards negotiations with Stalin, Turkey's foreign policy toward Romania, the State Department's instructions to the U.S. Ambassador to Spain, the U.S. embassy in Morocco's reports on that country's government, reports on the U.S. government's relationship with Vichy and Free French factions and persons in exile, reports of peace feelers from dissident Germans passed to the Vatican, U.S. attitudes towards Josip Broz Tito's Communist Front activities in Yugoslavia, and discussions between the Greek government and the United States regarding Soviet ambitions in the Balkans. Halperin also distorted OSS reports with false information in order to reflect the views of Stalin, the Soviet Union, and the Communist Party of the United States.

Bentley allegations[edit]

In 1945, defecting Soviet espionage courier Elizabeth Bentley told agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that from 1942 to 1944, when he was an official of the OSS, Haperin delivered "to MARY PRICE and later to myself mimeographed bulletins and reports prepared by OSS on a variety of topics and also supplied excerpts from State Department cables to which he evidently had access." She added that "some time early in 1945 'JACK', [Soviet agent Joseph Katz][1] the Russian contact at that time, told me that Halperin had been accused by General William Donovan ] [head of OSS] of being a Soviet agent..."[2]

The next day, the FBI notified Harry S. Truman's White House that "according to a "highly confidential source," among those "employed by the government of the United States" who "have been furnishing data and information to persons outside the Federal government, who are in turn transmitting this information to espionage agents of the Soviet government," was "Maurice Halperin, Office of Strategic Services." Subsequent surveillance of Halperin disclosed that he was in contact with Nathan Gregory Silvermaster, Lauchlin Currie, Philip and Mary Jane Keeney, and others.

After the OSS was dissolved in 1945, Halperin transferred to the State Department and worked as an adviser to United States Secretary of State Dean Acheson on Latin American affairs. Halperin was an advisor to the United Nations at the first conference in San Francisco. He resigned from the State Department in 1946 to take the position of chair of Latin American studies at Boston University.

In 1953, after Soviet cables were secretly decrypted by U.S. counter-intelligence, Maurice Halperin was called before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee to defend himself on charges of espionage. Halperin denied the charges, but nevertheless fled to Mexico and then, to avoid extradition,[citation needed] to the Soviet Union. Among the friends he made there was the British defector, Donald Maclean as well as Cuban revolutionary leader Che Guevara.

Disenchanted with communism in the Soviet Union, Halperin accepted Guevara's invitation to come to Havana in 1962. There he worked for the Fidel Castro government for five years before political tensions forced him to leave for Vancouver, Canada. He then became a political science professor at Simon Fraser University, and wrote several books critical of Castro's government and the socio-political situation in Cuba.

He died in Canada on February 9, 1995.[3]

Legacy[edit]

After Halperin's death, the release of the Venona project decryptions of coded Soviet cables, as well as information gleaned from Soviet KGB archives, revealed that Halperin was involved in espionage activities on behalf of the Soviet Union while serving in an official capacity with the United States government.[4][5][6]

See also[edit]

Publications[edit]

  • Maurice Halperin, "Return to Havana". Vanderbilt University Press, Feb 1, 1994. ISBN 0-8265-1250-X
  • Haynes, John Earl & Klehr, Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America, Yale University Press, 2000. ISBN 0-300-08462-5.
  • Peake, Hayden B., OSS and the Venona Decrypts: Intelligence and National Security (Great Britain) 12, no.3 (July 1997): 14-34.
  • CIA Publications, The Office of Strategic Services: America's First Intelligence Agency, no date.
  • Kirschner, Don S.,Cold War Exile: The Unclosed Case of Maurice Halperin Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 1995

Sources[edit]

  1. ^ Lamphere, Robert J.; Tom Shachtman (1995). The FBI-KGB War: A Special Agent's Story. Atlanta: Mercer University Press. p. 296. ISBN 0-86554-477-8. 
  2. ^ Statement of Elizabeth Terrill Bentley, November 30, 1945, FBI file: Silvermaster, Vol. 6, pp. 33-34 (PDF pp. 34-35)
  3. ^ McKinley Jr, James C. (February 12, 1995). "Maurice Halperin, 88, a Scholar Who Chronicled Castro's Career". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-05-11. "Maurice H. Halperin, an exiled American scholar and former intelligence official whose books chronicled the career of Fidel Castro, died Friday at Royal Columbia Hospital outside Vancouver, British Columbia, a friend, Lenard Cohen, said. He was 88 years old and had lived in Canada since 1968." 
  4. ^ Return to Responses, Reflections and Occasional Papers
  5. ^ Schecter, Jerrold and Leona, Sacred Secrets: How Soviet Intelligence Operations Changed American History, Potomac Press, 2002
  6. ^ Haynes, John Earl & Klehr, Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America, Yale University Press, 2000

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]