Review: Treason, by Ann Coulter

Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism, by Ann Coulter. New York: Crown Forum, 2003. 368 pp. $11.99 (hardcover).


In Treason, Ann Coulter chronicles the anti-American actions of the leftist “liberals” in the United States from the Cold War to the beginning of the “War on Terrorism.” However, the book concentrates primarily on the Cold War, and fortunately so, as this is where Coulter shines.

Among other things, Coulter informs us about Soviet espionage and treachery in the Democratic administrations of Roosevelt and Truman, the injustice done to Joe McCarthy, and the Venona Project—a series of Soviet cables declassified in the 1990s.

The Venona Project was begun in 1943 by Colonel Carter Clarke, chief of the U.S. Army’s Special Branch, in response to rumors that Stalin was negotiating a separate peace with Hitler. Only a few years earlier, the world had been staggered by the Hitler-Stalin Pact. . . . Colonel Clarke did not share President Roosevelt’s trust in the man FDR called “Uncle Joe.” Cloaked in secrecy, Clarke set up a special Army unit to break the Soviet code. Neither President Roosevelt nor President Truman was told about the Venona Project. This was a matter of vital national security: The Democrats could not be trusted. (p. 36)

Coulter shows that both FDR and Truman repeatedly attempted to thwart investigations of Soviet espionage in their administrations, while ignoring any evidence that came through.

FDR “gave strict orders that the OSS [a precursor to the CIA] engage in no espionage against the country ruled by his pal, Uncle Joe” (p. 34). And an official in the Roosevelt White House reaffirmed this stance and told the army to stop its “code-breaking” activities, which luckily, “The head of the Venona Project ignored” (p. 46). Although FDR was repeatedly warned about Soviet spy Alger Hiss—a high-level official in the State Department—he repeatedly ignored the evidence and even told one official who warned him “to go f— himself” (p. 18). At the end of the day, FDR took no action against Hiss. “To the contrary, Roosevelt promoted Hiss to the position of trusted aide who would go on to advise him at Yalta . . . where Roosevelt notoriously handed over Poland to Stalin” (pp. 18–27).

For his part, Truman would crusade against the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and Joe McCarthy’s investigations of communist spies while praising Stalin, saying things such as “I like old Joe” (p. 44), and that Joe was “a fine man who wanted to do the right thing” (p. 148). In fact, after Winston Churchill criticized communism in the “Iron Curtain” speech he delivered in Fulton, Missouri, Truman rebuffed Churchill, “apologized to Stalin and invited him to the United States for a rebuttal speech. He graciously offered the murderer the services of the U.S.S. Missouri for the trip” (p. 148).

Says Coulter of all the above, “The problem was not that Democrats were not given sufficient proof of Communist spies in their administration. It was that they didn’t give a damn” (p. 46). Eisenhower’s attorney general, Herbert Brownell, would eventually accuse Truman of knowingly appointing a communist spy, Harry Dexter White, to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). “Truman responded to Brownell’s statement by indignantly denying he had ever seen an FBI report suggesting that White was a spy. The FBI then produced the report” (pp. 45–46).

Treason vindicates Senator Joe McCarthy. “Soviet spies in the government were not a figment of right-wing imaginations. McCarthy was not tilting at windmills. He was tilting at an authentic Communist conspiracy that had been laughed off by the Democratic Party” (p. 11). “The idea that there was nothing going on and McCarthy burst onto the scene like the Terminator is preposterous” (p. 32). . . .

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