Major General Charles S. Willoughby served as Douglas MacArthur's chief of intelligence (G2) from 1941 to 1951. With the American occupation of Japan in 1945, American military intelligence acquired the Japanese police records that dealt with subversive elements. Ferreting out Communist spies and sympathizers was a high priority for the Japanese political police. Richard Sorge was a German Communist and Stalin's man in Tokyo. He was caught in October 1941 and executed in 1944.
The first section of this book documents the recruitment, organization and activities of the Sorge spy ring in Tokyo and Shanghai. The second section is Sorge's own account of his activities that is over one-hundred pages long. It was written while he was incarcerated by the Japanese. From 1930 to 1932, Sorge ran a spy ring in Shanghai for Moscow. Sorge report includes this interesting bit on recruiting agents:
At first I selected people from among [Agnes] Smedley's friends, approaching them by asking Smedley to introduce me to them and then waiting until I could negotiate with them directly.... I am sure that before I met him I asked Smedley repeatedly to introduce a suitable Japanese to me. There is no doubt that Smedley conferred with her Chinese acquaintances concerning my request and that it was relayed to suitable Chinese and Japanese in Shanghai.
Agnes Smedley was a Communist traitor to betrayed America to not one, not two but to three foreign nations. This brings us to the book's third section: Agnes Smedley and the War Department. Smedley was born in Missouri in 1892. Her strongest motivation was a burning hatred of her native land and its people. During the First World War she was an agent of subversion for Imperial Germany (really). After the war, she moved on to being a lifetime servant of Joe Stalin and Mao Tse-tung.
General Willoughby sent Washington a full, documented report on Sorge's spying in both China and Japan in 1948. Included in this report were documents obtained from the Shanghai Municipal Police on Sorge's espionage there. This report included detailed information on Smedley's spying in Shanghai as a member of the Sorge ring. The American media got wind of this report and was clamoring for the release of such a juicy story. The War Department was happy to oblige with at least a partial release of the report. Then, the War Department reversed its decision and refused to go public with the document.
It is difficult, if not impossible, to get the full story on this strange episode from the early Cold War. Smedley was prominently mentioned in the report and her activities made it into the press. But, she must have had friends in high places. The Army pulled the report and the media vociferously defended her. She even threatened to sue both MacArthur and Willoughby. Willoughby told her to go ahead. He had the documents and Sorge's own testimony. Willoughby providing damning evidence of Smedley's treason in his book. One of Smedley's many supporters was Harold Ickes. Ickes was President Roosevelt's Secretary of the Interior for thirteen years. A lifetime leftist and power grabber, he came into conflict with MacArthur during World War II over Philippines' policy. After the war, he became a newspaper commentator. As Willoughby explained in his previous book MacArthur: 1941-1951:
This smoldering, implacable enmity burst into open flame in 1949, when Tokyo intelligence reports disclosed the leftist writer Agnes Smedley as an accomplice of Richard Sorge, Soviet master-spy in the Far East. Ickes at once sponsored Smedley in his vituperative newspaper column. While his diatribe was directed against intelligence, MacArthur was the real target. Ickes protegee died in 1950 and left her belongings to Chu-Teh, the Commander in Chief of the Red hordes at war with America. Her ashes were placed in a state shrine in Peking. [p. 270]
Even Smedley's comrades at Wikipedia admit that her "ashes were buried at the Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery in Beijing in 1951."
There are several reasons why this long forgotten episode of the Cold War is important. For instance, it illustrates how the Communists were able to take over China. Mao's best and most important allies were in Washington and New York. The ChiComs had/has numerous press agents and agents of influence in the United States. Some may actually have been ignorant dupes - but, it's difficult to believe that anyone is that stupid. The pattern would repeat in Cuba, Southeast Asia, Central America, Venezuela, etc., etc.
The Smedley episode demonstrates the standard "liberal" tactic of denying that Communists and traitors are who they are, while attacking genuine whistle blowers as "red baiting" "witch hunters." Only long after the fact will the "liberals" admit the truth. Only when it is too late for justice or even damage control will the media acknowledge historical reality.
To this day, Charles Willoughby is smeared as an incompetent buffoon by the "experts." Meanwhile, Hollywood's flagship flacks at Variety extol Smedley the Communist traitor/spy as some sort of feminist icon. Of course, Willoughby's book has been out of print for nearly seventy years and is long forgotten. Funny how that works. This is how the media, academia and the "experts" rewrite history to fit their ongoing and never changing agenda.
Addendum: Here's a quote from General George C. Kenney's introduction to Robert L. Scott's biography Flying Tiger: Chennault of China:
Among other things, Chennault's insistence that the Chinese Communists were a threat, as well as the Japanese, had brought him into conflict with his army superiors in the theater and in Washington. Chennault had lived with the Chinese, he had fought side by side with them, he had enjoyed their confidence; and, shrewd analyst that he was, it is reasonable to suppose that he knew the situation in China, but his advice was ignored. To him, Mao Tse-tung and his gang were Reds, closely allied with Moscow, not the harmless "agrarians" that some of out starry-eyed "experts" called them. To him, they were no more to be trusted than events have since proved them to be. If we had gone along with his recommendations it is quite conceivable that China today would be the traditional friend of the United States that she used to be, rather than a tool of the Kremlin, dedicated to the conquest of the world and the enforcement of the dictates of communism by the slave-labor camp and the firing squad.