TITLE> Venona: Samuel Dickstein (congressman)

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Samuel Dickstein (congressman)

Samuel Dickstein (5 February 188522 April 1954) was a Democratic Congressional Representative from New York, a New York State Supreme Court Justice, and a Soviet spy. He played a key role in establishing the committee that would become the House Committee on Un-American Activities, which he used to attack fascists and anti-communists.
Dickstein was born near Vilnius in present-day Lithuania, and immigrated to the United States in 1887 with his parents, who settled in New York City. There he attended public and private schools in New York City, the College of the City of New York, and graduated from the New York City Law School in 1906. He was admitted to the bar in 1908 and commenced law practice in New York City. He served as special deputy attorney general of the State of New York from 19111914, member of the board of aldermen in 1917, member of the State Assembly 19191922. He served as a member of the Democratic County Committee and was elected as a Democrat to the Sixty-eighth Congress and was reelected eleven times. He resigned from Congress on 30 December 1945. He served as Chairman on the Committee on Immigration and Naturalization (Seventy-second through Seventy-ninth Congresses).
He was instrumental in establishing and serving as vice chairman of the temporary Select Committee on Un-American Activities (the Dies Committee) in 1938 to investigate fascist and Nazi groups in the United States. Later the same committee was renamed the House Committee on Un-American Activities when it shifted attention to Communist organizations. In the 1990s scholars discovered documents in the Moscow archives showing Dickstein was paid $1250 a month from 1937 to early 1940 by the NKVD, the Soviet spy agency, which hoped to get secret Congressional information of anti-Communist and pro-fascist forces. When Dickstein left the Committee the Soviets dropped him from the payroll.[1] No historian has disputed the evidence.
Dickstein later served as a Justice on the New York State Supreme Court until his death in New York City.

Sources
Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
Allen Weinstein and Alexander Vassiliev, The Haunted Wood: Soviet Espionage in America—the Stalin Era (New York: Random House, 1999)

Footnotes
^ Carlisle, Rodney (April 1, 2003). Complete Idiot's Guide to Spies and Espionage, Alpha. ISBN 0028644182., p. 36: "Among the early Soviet recruits [was]...U.S. Congressman Samuel Dickstein, who demanded such high payments that the Soviets gave him the code name "Crook." Details of these and other Soviet spies were not revealed until decades later, when some of the archives of the KGB were made available to researchers.", p. 156-157: "Code-Name: Crook Another of the unusual cases was Congressman Samuel Dickstein. Dickstein headed the House Committee on Un-American activities in 1937, which then focused on the activities of fascist groups in in the United States. Dickstein met with the Soviet ambassador, and offered to sell information uncovered by the committee regarding pro-facist Russian groups in the United States. The KGB assigned Dickstein the code name Crook. Dickstein asked for $2,500 a month to supply information and after the Soviets offered $500 a month, he counter-offered at $1,250 a month. When Congress selected Martin Dies to head the committee, Dickstein's value to the Soviets fell off. After a series of arguments over the value of his continued services, the Soviets broke off contact with him in January 1940. Altogether, Dickstein (Crook) had received $12,000, estimated by historian Allen Weinstein, who published the story later in 1997, to be the equivalent of more than $133,000 in dollar value of that year...The activities of strange characters like Martha Dodd, Samuel Dickstein, and Michael Straight were not fully understood until years after their espionage careers, with the opening of Soviet archives and the research of diligent historians like Allen Weinstein", p. 274: "However, even if American traitors made amateurish spies, several of them inflicted serious damage to American security. Some, like Samuel Dickstein (Chapter 10) or John Walker (Chapter 17), went undiscovered for years." Weinstein, Allen, Alexander Vassiliev (March 14, 2000). The Haunted Wood : Soviet Espionage in America--The Stalin Era, Modern Library. ISBN 0375755365. p. 140-150; Schrecker, Ellen (May 24, 1999). The Spies Who Loved Us?. The Nation. "the KGB [paid] New York Congressman Samuel Dickstein thousands of dollars for inside information he never delivered" Theoharis, Athan (February, 2002). Chasing Spies : How the FBI Failed in Counter-Intelligence But Promoted the Politics of McCarthyism in the Cold War Years, Ivan R. Dee. ISBN 1566634202. "Congressman Samuel Dickstein's offer to Soviet agents to provide sensitive information in return for a monthly stipend of $2,500 (the Soviets agreed to pay $1,250 and never received the promised information)." Klehr, Harvey (Mar 1, 2004). Reflections on Espionage. Morality and Politics 21 (1): 156.
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Categories: U.S. Representatives from New York New York Court of Appeals judges Accused Soviet spies Venona Appendix A 1885 births 1954 deaths