June 9, 2009


My Professor, The Spy: From admiring lectures about Soviet double agent Kim Philby to coffee at my school’s Alger Hiss Café, hints abounded that my professor, accused Cuban spy Walter Kendall Myers, might be a Communist spook. (Tom Murray, 6/09/09, Daily Beast)

Looking for some insight into a man I thought was as establishment as they come—his great-grandfather was telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell—I dug through my parents basement for my class notes, and came across lectures that in retrospect contained chilling information: Myers expressed high regard for the notorious Kim Philby and two other Brits—Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess—who became Soviet double agents during the Cold War.According to my notes, Myers suggested that they were called by their sense of duty to "save" Europe (rather than the British Empire), and that U.S. and U.K. policies "turned them into" spies.

In fact, the more I reflect back on my class with Myers, the more the clues—and the ironies—pile up. Johns Hopkins is based in Baltimore, of course, but SAIS has always been headquartered in Washington, and throughout its history dallied with those in the "business". Students at the school's Bologna Center, where I spent my first two semesters, accepted as fact that our program had been founded in the mid-1950s as a front for CIA operatives keen for a legitimate perch at the capital of Italy's "red" movement.

While I was as SAIS, the student newspaper staff ran a coffee shop in the basement of one of the school's two buildings, which they named, tongue-firmly-in-cheek, The Alger Hiss Café. Everyone in the school dropped by for a drink or nibble occasionally, surely including a man, the government says, who spent 30 years practicing what Hiss was accused of.

"Accused"? No wonder parody is dead.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 9, 2009 7:52 AM
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