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Voice of America Russian Branch Chief Alexander Barmine Was An Ex-Soviet General and Ex-Spy Who Testified Before Senator McCarthy

VOA’s Strongest Critics Were Progressive Ex-Communists; Not “Right-Wingers”

Much of the truthful information about the Soviet propaganda influence at VOA came not from “right-wingers” but from ex-communists such as Alexander Barmine, Eugene Lyons, and Julius Epstein. Dr. Sidney Glazer and Gerald Dooher, who testified that they were prevented by State Department officials from effectively countering Soviet propaganda and confirmed much Barmine’s testimony. They did not testify about Barnes and Lattimore, because they were not in a position to know. They were definitely not right-wing extremists or disgruntled employees. Senator McCarthy jokingly referred to them as Stevenson Democrats. They were convinced, however, perhaps even more than Barmine, that there was a pattern among some Voice of America policy officers based at the State Department in Washington of willfully sabotaging VOA’s role in supporting democracy against Soviet communism and its propaganda.

Mr. DOOHER. Well. sir, I hate to go into the reasoning which may have been behind this pattern. However, I must say that it is exactly what the Soviet Union wanted to happen.
Senator POTTER. You think it was too consistent to be just plain stupidity?
Mr. DOOHER. It was certainly consistent, sir, and it certainly was stupid, but I believe that there, was a pattern, and stupidity, I believe, does not fall into patterns.
The CHAIRMAN. As Jim Forrestal once said: “Consistency is not a mark of stupidity. If a man is merely stupid, he does the right thing once in a while.”
Mr. DOOHER. That was my impression in this case

Alexander Barmine agreed with Gerald Dooher, the subcommittee members, and its chairman on this and other points. However, neither Dr. Glazer, Gerald Dooher, nor Barmine agreed with Senator McCarthy on everything or approved of his badgering of some witnesses who were not at fault. When Gerald Dooher died in 1961 at the age of 47, liberal Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas was quoted by the New York Times as having said that Mr. Dooher knew the Middle East as well as any American and better than most of our experts.” Justice Douglas also praised Mr. Dooher for “rendering yeoman service in keeping the Iranian province of Azerbaijan out of Communist control” in 1946 and for organizing and directing the Council of Islamic Affairs.1

NOTES:

  1. The New York Times, “Gerald F. P. Dooher Dead at 47; Middle East Expert, U.S.I.A., October 6, 1961, p. 23.
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Author
Curator

Ted Lipien is the online Cold War Radio Museum's principal volunteer editor. He is an independent journalist, writer, and media freedom advocate. He was Voice of America’s Polish Service chief during Poland’s struggle for democracy and VOA’s acting associate director. He also served briefly in 2020-2021 as RFE/RL president in a non-political and non-partisan role. His book “Wojtyła’s Women” was published in 2008 by O-Books, UK. E-mail him at: tedlipien@gmail.com.

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