The Librarian Spies: Philip and Mary Jane Keeney and Cold War Espionage

By Rosalee McReynolds; Louise S. Robbins | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 10
Guilt and Association

The threat to liberal democracies from Soviet Communism was real, as history has now demonstrated, and the United States had every right and duty to defend its constitutional form of government and the rights and liberties it embodies against harm from its enemies. At times of great national stress, however, the threat to a government may come, wittingly or unwittingly, from the very efforts taken to defend it. The peril is that the government, through its secrecy, its investigatory and punitive processes, and actions of its elected and appointed officials, accomplish the work of the enemy by subverting the very constitutional values it would protect. It gets tangled in its own web. The tension between security and liberty is fraught with ambiguity and ambivalence, as this case exemplifies.

The phenomenon called McCarthyism has at its core the process of attributing guilt by association. Because the tactics of McCarthy and his ilk have long been discredited, there is an assumption today that those to whom guilt was imputed were innocent, but that was surely not always true—and assuredly not true in the case of Philip and Mary Jane Keeney. Grigory Dolbin, in August 1948, referred to Mary Jane as “our agent.”1 However, the case of the “Librarian Spies,” as they are dubbed in John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr’s Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America,2 illustrates the phenomenon at work. Page after page of the Keeneys’ FBI file lists persons “associated with,” “contacted by,” “invited by,” “close friend of,” “met with,” “acquainted with,” “known to,” “called by,” “correspondent of,” Philip or Mary Jane. Some were called to testify about their knowledge of the Keeneys; associates

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The Librarian Spies: Philip and Mary Jane Keeney and Cold War Espionage
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Preface xi
  • Abbreviations xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 - Philip 9
  • Chapter 2 - Mary Jane 15
  • Chapter 3 - The Librarians 25
  • Chapter 4 - Struggle 47
  • Chapter 5 - The Progressive Librarians’ Council 53
  • Chapter 6 - The Spies at Home 65
  • Chapter 7 - The Spies Abroad 87
  • Chapter 8 - Caught in the Web 99
  • Chapter 9 - The Un-Americans 112
  • Chapter 10 - Guilt and Association 125
  • Notes 135
  • Bibliography 161
  • Index 169
  • About the Authors 185
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