Just as the news of one spy ring unfurls, another one sets sail. On July 16, the Department of Justice issued a press release stating that an official of the State Department, and his wife, were sentenced to “life in prison without the possibility of parole and 81 months in prison, respectively, for their roles in a nearly 30-year conspiracy to provide highly-classified U.S. national defense information to the Republic of Cuba.”
The State Department official who received the life sentence for espionage and disclosures of national defense secrets was identified as Walter Kendall Myers, age 73. His wife, and accomplice, was identified as Gwendolyn Myers, age 72.
The Myers were arrested at their Washington, D.C., residence, on June 4, 2009, and pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and stealing of sensitive information on November 20, 2009. Judge Reggie B. Walton, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, handed down the final verdict on July 19, 2010.
Unlike the 11 Russian spies arrested over the last few weeks, these spies were U.S. citizens, one of whom was a high-ranking employee of the federal government at the U.S. Department of State. In addition to that, the Myers were self-avowed communists. Below are several quotes from the couple:
- “We wish to add at this time that we acted as we did for 30 years because of our ideals and beliefs.”
- “Our only objective was to help the Cuban people defend their revolution.”
- “We share the ideals and dreams of the Cuban revolution.”
- “We are equally committed to helping the struggling people of the world.”
Upon handing the defendants their sentences, Judge Walton told the Myers, “Cuba is not a beacon of liberty…. I see no sense of remorse. You were proud of what you did.”
The sentencing memorandum shed some light as to the backgrounds of the defendants: Kendall Myers started “working at the State Department in 1977 as a contract instructor at the Department’s Foreign Service Institute (FSI) in Arlington, Va.” Advancing up the ranks, Kendal Myers would go on to work full-time at the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR). His last State Department assignment had him working as “an intelligence analyst for Europe in INR,” according to the memorandum, “where he specialized on European matters and had daily access to classified information through computer databases and otherwise.”
These positions are not low-key posts; they require high-security clearances, which he had held. In 1985, he was designated with a “Top Secret” security clearance and, in 1999, assigned access to “Sensitive Compartmental Information.”
The FBI managed to recover a diary kept by Kendall Myers, which contained a detailed elaboration of his sympathies with the Marxist Cuban Revolution and its communist leader Fidel Castro. The diary also included a first-hand written account of a two-week trip to Cuba, in December 1978. The trip was made at the behest of a Cuban government official who made contact with Myers at the State Department’s FSI. The Cuban official was, in fact, an undercover intelligence operative for the Cuban Intelligence Service (CuIS). It was during this two-week stay that Kendal Myers became trained in the art of intelligence gathering and espionage on behalf of the communist-controlled Cuban government.
For the next 30 years, the Meyers would transmit to Cuba top secret and classified information, pertaining to U.S. national defense and foreign policy. Kendal Meyers obtained the “Top Secret” clearance, in 1985, after he persuaded his superiors at the State Department for such a position; this too was originally at the behest of the CuIS. Through money provided by the CuIS, the Meyers purchased shortwave radio equipment to transmit their messages back to their Cuban handlers. Like the diary, the shortwave radio was also recovered by the FBI.
U.S. Prosecutor Attorney Michael Harvey said of Kendall Myers, “He said, ‘I was actually thinking it would be fun to get back into it.’ That’s what he said what, fun. He sold out the United States because he thought it would be thrilling and he should pay the price for his treachery.”
Harvey continued, “He is a traitor. He betrayed his colleagues at the State Department. He betrayed his country, and today shows no remorse.”
When the words treacherous, communist, spy, and State Department come together, one instantly harkens to memories of the Cold War and the warnings espoused by anti-communist Senator Joseph McCarthy, of Wisconsin.
In his famous “Speech on Communists in the State Department,” delivered on the 141st birthday of President Abraham Lincoln, on February 12, 1950, Senator McCarthy passionately said:
The reason why we find ourselves in a position of impotency is not because our only powerful, potential enemy has sent men to invade our shores, but rather because of the traitorous actions of those who have been treated so well by this nation…. This is glaringly true in the State Department. There the bright young men who are born with silver spoons in their mouths are the ones who have been worst…. In my opinion the State Department, which is one of the most important government departments, is thoroughly infested with communists.
McCarthy no longer needs to rely on opinion alone, or the investigatory findings of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover; instead, McCarthy’s verification and vindication can be seen in news headlines that read of Communist espionage in our government and/or of Russian spies that blend in everyday society.
The words of Joe McCarthy have never been as true as they are right now. Unfortunately, even if McCarthy were around today, the essential Senate Internal Security Committee no longer exists and whatever layers of the Homeland Security that have come into place since then, are too many, bureaucratic, and counterproductive, possessing none of the same capabilities or effectiveness of the Internal Security counterintelligence tools that protected the United States from 1950 to 1975.
“We do need another Joe McCarthy to come out of the state of Wisconsin…. We need members of the House of Representatives from Wisconsin who will join men John Ashbrook and myself to resurrect the Committee on Internal Security,” said Democratic Congressman Larry McDonald, and former chairman of The John Birch Society, in a speech honoring Senator McCarthy, delivered on May 3, 1981.
Although Congressmen John Ashbrook, Larry McDonald, and Senator Joe McCarthy may no longer be around to investigate the communist subversion and espionage in our government, new elected Representatives can pick up where these men left off by hearing the cry of Larry McDonald and honoring not just the legacy of Senator McCarthy but in rooting out the communist subversion whereever it may lie in the federal government, such as the case of Walter Kendall Myers and Gwendolyn Myers.
Photo of Senator Joseph McCarthy: AP Images