He had all-American cover: born in Iowa, college in Manhattan, Army buddies with whom he played baseball.
George Koval also had a secret. During World War II, he was a top Soviet spy, code named Delmar and trained by Stalin’s ruthless bureau of military intelligence.
Atomic spies are old stuff. But historians say Dr. Koval, who died in his 90s last year in Moscow and whose name is just coming to light publicly, was probably one of the most important spies of the 20th century.
George Koval was a spy for the Soviet Union, and yet the Times never condemns Koval for his betrayal of the United States- a country that gave his parents refuge, and allowed him to gain a career as a highly regarded nuclear physicist. Instead, the Times writes of Koval,
Dr. Koval died on Jan. 31, 2006, according to Russian accounts. The cause was not made public. By American reckoning, he would have been 92, though the Kremlin’s statement put his age at 94 and some Russian news reports put it at 93.
Posthumously, Dr. Koval was made a Hero of the Russian Federation, the highest honorary title that can be bestowed on a Russian citizen. The Kremlin statement cited “his courage and heroism while carrying out special missions.”
Dr. Kramish surmised that he was “the biggest” of the atomic spies. “You don’t get a medal from the president of Russia for nothing,” he said.
The comment that Koval was "the biggest of the atomic spies" is as critical as the Times can allow itself to get. There is no discussion in the article of how badly Koval's betrayal hurt the United States, and the Times does not even consider the negative effects of Koval's spying. They only state that
By 1934, Dr. Koval was in Moscow, excelling in difficult studies at the Mendeleev Institute of Chemical Technology. Upon graduating with honors, he was recruited and trained by the G.R.U. and was sent back to the United States for nearly a decade of scientific espionage, from roughly 1940 to 1948.
How he communicated with his controllers is unknown, as is what specifically he gave the Soviets in terms of atomic secrets. However, it is clear that Moscow mastered the atom very quickly compared with all subsequent nuclear powers.
In addition to its failure to present Koval's spying in a negative light, the Times mainly presents Koval as the Soviet Union would have wished- a Hero. I can only surmise that, for the Times, anything that hurts America is to be celebrated.
In contrast, consider the Times' reporting of America's recent Congressional Medal of Honor winner, First Sergeant Paul Smith, who received a much less gushing story when reports of his heroism reached the Times. Smith, who is the first Medal of Honor winner since 1993 (the medal is extremely difficult to earn and most are present, like Smith's, posthumously), gave his life protecting his fellow Americans and was responsible for the defeat of a force of elite Iraqi Republican Guards in defense of the Baghdad Airport. Yet the Times's report of Smith's Medal of Honor- the highest award for gallantry an American can receive- contained fewer references to heroism than did the story on Koval. Yet Smith gave his life defending his country and his fellow Americans. Koval did his best to help an unfriendly power defeat his adopted country and lived a comfortable life in the USSR as a professor and soccer fan. Who's the real hero? To the New York Times, it is apparently Koval. I disagree. To me, it is Sergeant Smith- Koval is nothing more than one more traitor.
Hat tip to NewsBusters reader Denney Abraham. Cross-posted on NewsBusters.