Sometimes history replays itself – in strange and eerie ways. Our job is to remember, prepare for what may come, so we do not repeat what is avoidable, regrettable, tragic. Take the Venona Project. If you do not know about it, consider what it means for today.
Venona was a counter-intelligence effort launched in WWII. It lasted 40 years, helping us understand Soviet intentions and bring the Soviet Union to an end. The centerpiece – public now – was decoding that pointed to Communist ambitions inside the United States.
The significance of the project is that, while history, it validates concerns about international espionage, how communist foes attempt to penetrate civil and military life, politics, and media.
The project unearthed “assets” in unlikely places – senior posts in government and private sector. All this, of course, occurred before social media and ubiquitous cyber-activity.
The importance of remembering is that Americans are now again at odds with one another, being encouraged to divide, pushed to distrust the political, legal, and social institutions that bind us. As during Venona days, our adversaries could not be happier.
Internal disputes, democratic disfunction, public corruption, mutual distrust, growing disaffection are what they want. They would prefer we get impatient, consumed by emotion, entertain doubts about law, consider neo-communist ideas, and grow weaker from within.
This is where we must be smarter than we are being – especially now. We must understand that, like it or not, democratic processes and rule of law goes hand-in-glove. Seeking legal recourse to resolve the serious election anomalies is right and proper. Maturity and patience are needed.
True enough, peaceful transition of power is a hallmark of American democracy, but so are fair elections. We need both, assurance this election was fair, remedies if not, and a trusted outcome.
Without assurance of fairness, that is, confidence that significant errors and fraud did not occur, legitimacy of executive leadership is undermined. While our adversaries would love that, we should not. We should want legal processes to play out, following where the evidence leads.
Venona reminds us that liberty and election integrity are always under fire, internally and externally. Corruption is often reinforced by foreign interests, hoping we will doubt ourselves.
That is why we should put down our swords – stop pretending this election is over, that alleged voter fraud is irrelevant, or legal action is unwarranted. If material evidence exists of systematic error or fraud, we should know it – and remedy it. We have a legal system intended to find truth. We have a judicial branch to check material defections in elections.
Last point: Venona reminds us to be alert to socialist, communist, and other adverse foreign influences. They seek to corrupt free societies. Ours is the freest. In this, we represent their greatest threat – and so they ours.
Venona – and courage of leaders like Ronald Reagan – ended the Soviet Union. That said, communist ideology endures. It fed Soviet Bolsheviks and feeds neo-Maoist China today. To protect ourselves, we must respect ourselves – our political and legal systems, rule of law, free markets, and Bill of Rights. These live – all personalities aside – only while we defend them.
If Venona reminds us of anything, it is this: Democracy, rule of law, and respect for both – are vulnerable to disruption. Our job is to be vigilant, if necessary vocal, especially around elections.
The late Democratic Senator Daniel Moynihan co-chaired the Bipartisan Commission on Government Secrecy – which declassified Venona in 1995. His warning echoes Generals Patton and Bradley, Presidents Truman, and Reagan: “The Venona intercepts contained overwhelming proof of the activities of Soviet spy networks in America, complete with names, dates, places, and deeds.” Threats from within and without remain real.
Today, the threat from Communist China out-flashes all others. China – and socialist partisans within – would hurry this election, dispose of judicial review. That is what China does; that is not what we do. We await judicial rulings. We may be impatient, but are not communist yet.