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Paul V. Coates -- Confidential File, July 8, 1959

July 8, 2009 |  2:00 pm


Confidential File

How Secrets Filter From Me to Kozlov

Paul CoatesWASHINGTON, July 8 -- Allowing Soviet Deputy Premier Kozlov to visit the University of California's radiation laboratory at Berkeley has been called "soft-headed nonsense" by Rep. Lipscomb (R-Los Angeles).

Lipscomb angrily demanded official explanations for the Russian's visit to the top security installation while American newsmen were excluded for security reasons.

Rep. Lipscomb makes a good propaganda point in this Washington report, but as sometimes happens, the story is wrong. Newsmen DID tag along with Koslov.

He raises a point, though, that shouldn't go unanswered.

Should U.S. reporters be trusted with a lot of top-secret information? Or is a little knowledge a dangerous thing?

July 8, 1959, Kozlov I'm not speaking for all of us American newsmen. Just for me. But the way I look at it, Rep. Lipscomb should keep his nose out of our private battles with the State Department.

If [Secretary of State Christian A.] Herter's hired hands want to show our nuclear secrets to the Russians and bar the door to us reporters, I say they've got their reasons. They probably figure that if they let us in and deny admission to Kozlov, the Kremlin would find out soon enough, anyway.

Take me, for instance. Suppose I were admitted into the radiation lab at Berkeley as a newsman.

I'd come home that evening and my wife would say, "What happened at the office today?"

"I'm beat," I'd tell her.

"What'd you do?" she would press.


"Nothing," she'd snort.

She would keep it up a while longer, and finally I'd blurt out: "If you must know, I was at Berkeley inspecting a double meglacyclotron atom smasher with powerglide. But it's top secret."

Early the next morning the dry cleaning man would come by for his weekly pickup. She would hand him my suit.

"He looks a little baggy in the knees this week," the cleaning man would say.

Had to Get on Knees

My wife would nod. "He was out at Berkeley inspecting a top-secret double meglacyclotron atom smasher with powerglide. And I guess he had to get on his knees to get a good look."

The cleaning man would tell it to his cousin Sandra, who plays bass viol with Phil Spitainy's All-Girl Orchestra. And, on a one-nighter in Sioux City, Sandra would tell a stage-door Johnny who dates her because he digs bass viol, that her cousin, the cleaning man in L.A., has a customer who saw a top-secret double meglacyclotron atom smasher with powerglide.

July 8, 1959, Stowaways The stage-door Johnny, a salesman who travels in ladies cut-rate lingerie, would casually let it drop to the buyer at John Wanamaker in Philadelphia , who would put it in an air-mail letter to his aging mother in the Bronx, whose sister Jennie has an unmarried daughter, Sophie, who rooms with a girl named Tanya who is a waitress at the Russian Tea Room opposite Carnegie Hall on 57th Street in New York.

During the post-lunchtime lull, Tanya would confide to another waitress that her roommate's mother's sister's son at John Wanamaker knows a salesman who dates a bass viol player with Phil Spitainy whose cousin, a cleaning man, has a customer who saw a top-secret double meglacyclotron atom smasher with powerglide.

Cloak, Complete With Dagger

She would be overheard by a girl with muscular calves and an almost imperceptible mustache who has a 10-minute glass-of-tea break from rehearsals of the Bolshot ballet next door.

Now, this girl is not really a ballerina. She's a fink for Anastas Mikoyan. And she would promptly send him a coded letter.

A few days later, at the regular 9 a.m. sales conference of the deputy premier in the Kremlin, Anastas would take Kozlev aside and smugly ask: "You just got back. Do you know about their double meglacyclotron atom smasher with powerglide?"