The Kremlin’s Dupe: Ted Kennedy’s Russia Romance


The full story of his collusion with Moscow needs retelling no less than Chappaquiddick did.

As the film Chappaquiddick brings Ted Kennedy’s ugliest public scandal to the big screen, I here propose a sequel of equally high drama and even higher stakes, rising to the highest levels of national security. It was another Kennedy outrage, made more scandalous by the Massachusetts senator’s protectors in the press.

We might call this film adaptation something like, “Kennedy and the Kremlin,” or “Ted’s Russian Romance.” (Proposals?)

There are actually several facets to the Kennedy-Kremlin story. One was nicely summarized this week at The American Spectator by George Parry, who captured my original reporting. Readers know that story, as do many conservatives, but there’s much they don’t know. I urge all to read this article in full.

“Senator Kennedy’s request”

First, in brief recap, here’s what Parry noted: In books published in 2006 and 2010, I reported a highly classified May 14, 1983 memo from the head of the KGB, Victor Chebrikov, to his boss, the head of the USSR, Yuri Andropov. The lead words atop the document stated in caps: “SPECIAL IMPORTANCE.” The next words: “Committee on State Security of the USSR.” That’s the KGB. Under that followed this stunning header: “Regarding Senator Kennedy’s request to the General Secretary of the Communist Party Y. V. Andropov.” Kennedy’s request was delivered directly to Moscow by his law school roommate, John Tunney, a former Democratic senator from California.

In the memo, Kennedy was described by Chebrikov as “very troubled” by U.S.-Soviet relations, which Kennedy attributed not to the odious dictator spearheading the USSR but to President Ronald Reagan. The problem was Reagan’s “belligerence,” compounded by his alleged stubbornness. “According to Kennedy,” reported Chebrikov, “the current threat is due to the President’s refusal to engage any modification to his politics.” This was made worse, said the memo, because the 1984 presidential campaign was just around the corner, and Reagan was looking easily re-electable.

Was Reagan vulnerable anywhere? That was the launch point of the letter, namely: seeking and securing Russian involvement against Reagan.

The KGB memo speculated — compliments of Kennedy’s appraisal — that the chink in Reagan’s political armor was matters of war and peace. Thus, said the head of the KGB: “Kennedy believes that, given the state of current affairs, and in the interest of peace, it would be prudent and timely to undertake the following steps to counter the militaristic politics of Reagan.”