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British Protect Traitor/Spy By: Alexis Amory
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, February 04, 2003

She’s 90 now and lives in a modest two-story house in a middle class suburb in southeast London. She’s a great-grandmother. Her hair has turned white, but, dressed in pale greys and pastels, she looks 10 years younger. In her tidy, English middle class garden, she grows freesias and Michaelmass daisies. Someone of 90 inevitably has a trunkful of memories. In this particular trunk, among the photos of her daughter and grandchildren, celebrations of family events and other souvenirs of Melita Norwood’s life is the Order of the Red Banner, awarded to her by the USSR for being the KGB’s most valuable female spy ever.

What Melita Norwood did to earn her her Red Banner and universal admiration from the guys in the KGB, was pass on British atomic secrets to the Soviet Union over the course of a staggering 40 years. Given the fraternal military and intelligence cooperation that has prevailed between the U.S. and the UK for well over a hundred years, Norwood damaged not only the integrity of British defense, but that of America as well. Why?

She didn’t think it was fair that we had the bomb and they didn’t.

Norwood was born in England of a British mother and a Latvian father who was a fan of Leo Tolstoy’s brand of socialism. Although intelligent, she was an unexceptional child. She did a year of college and then dropped out. Her politics reflected her father’s fiercely leftist views. As an adult, she placed standing orders at her local news agent for several communist publications, causing mild surprise in her largely Conservative-leaning neighborhood.

At 25, she got the job that changed her life. She got hired as a secretary at an organization that went by the bland name of the British Non-Ferrous Metals Research Association. It was, in fact, a government cover for a high-powered endeavor similar to America’s Manhattan Project: the development of nuclear weapons. By the time she’d made contact with the KGB (or they made contact with her; she won’t say), she had been promoted to Personal Assistant to the Director, which gave her more scope for betrayal. It didn’t take Melita long to spot that here was a chance to do something for the cause of worldwide Communism. In her highly confidential post, she had plenty of opportunities to plead pressure of work and stay late to finish typing her pre-computer/ pre-electric-typewriter documents. When everyone else was out of the building, Melita copied the documents and then slipped out into the night, not to head home but, under the code name Hola, to meet a KGB operative and hand them over.

She said, when revealed as the USSR’s best woman friend ever, "I thought perhaps what I had access to might be useful in helping Russia to keep abreast of Britain, America and Germany. I did what I did not to make money but to help prevent the defeat of a new system which had, at great cost, given ordinary people food and fares which they could afford, a good education and a health service," she has said.

"In general," she added in a bizarre fit of principle, "I do not agree with spying against one's country."

"But do you regret doing it?"she was asked by the British press, trampling the freesias and Michaelmass daisies in an attempt to get their microphone closer. Her unequivocal response was, "No! No! No!" Clearly, spying against one’s own country is only excusable if a great soul like Melita feels like it over the course of 40 years, only justified when one is irrational enough to feel that one has uniquely acute vision and judgement and one’s fellow citizens and the people they elected to power somehow don’t "get" the importance of your insights. Then, it’s OK. Her late husband, who died in 1986, was also a Communist, but apparently didn’t approve of all this staying out late nights and spying, although he never tried to stop her.

Her 40 year career in espionage was revealed by Cambridge professor Christopher Andrew as he was writing "The Mitrokhin Archive" – an account of KGB archivist Vasili Mitrokhin, who defected to Britain in 1992 carrying with him six suitcases of documents he had been carefully secreting under his floorboards for years.

With the 1999 revelations about her career came her inevitable promotion to heroine status by the British left. The Conservatives, however, failed to be charmed and grimly pressed Tony Blair's government to explain its failure to prosecute Mrs. Norwood. Slippery as an eel, the current government has managed its usual ledgerdemain and obfuscation with smoke and mirrors. It is still not known how a spy who qualifies for the Traitor’s Hall of Fame has been left unmolested in her home to live out her days clipping coupons and growing freesias.

The British Labour government stated that it is up to the security chiefs to decide on prosecution of suspected espionage agents. This is probably a half truth, but not the whole truth. It is highly unlikely that such decisions would be made by even very senior civil servants, except in consultation with the responsible ministers. This lack of will to bring Communists and terrorists to justice is consonant with the Labour government’s suspicious lassitude in the face of espionage and terrorism. Britain is currently the world centre for terrorists outside the Middle East, with tens thousands of untraceable illegal "asylum seekers" working underground, in mosques and apartments throughout Britain, for the destruction of the West.

Socialist and former activist Jack Straw, then occupying the Cabinet post of Home Secretary, decreed that Norwood not be prosecuted for her 40 years of betrayal of her country and the West in general, due to her advanced years (she was 87 when the story broke). Jack Straw should be prosecuted due to his advanced idiocy. In addition, his sudden reverence for age contrasts oddly with his iffy, quasi-legal detention of the ailing and clinically depressed 84 year-old General Pinochet, Britain’s former ally, at the behest of some small-town Spanish judge.

Trying to get to the bottom of the matter, Shadow Home Secretary Anne Widdicombe demanded of Jack Straw during a session of the British Parliament why Norwood’s name had not been made public at the time her treachery was brought to light, and whether there was going to be a government inquiry into security services MI5 and MI6.

She further demanded that Mr. Straw acknowledge there was one thing the security services had got right and that was the decision to put the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament under surveillance some years back. Among the revelations there are established links between CND and the Stasi, Communist East Germany’s secret police. Ms. Widdicombe demanded, "given the links between CND and members of the Government, will he reassure the House that no currently serving Minister had any contact with any of the persons named in the Mitrokhin archive?" The word "currently" was a cunning low blow; both Tony Blair and his wife are ex-members of the CND.

Norwood now understandably seeks to downplay her 40 year involvement (she says she never received the Order of the Red Banner, but Russia says she did), saying that her contribution to the USSR’s knowledge of the British nuclear deterrent programme was "not much." Others disagree, saying that, thanks to Hola, Stalin had better knowledge of the British nuclear programme than did British government ministers who were not themselves directly involved in the programme. Christopher Andrew, writing in The Times of London said she was the longest-serving of all Soviet spies in Britain. The KGB itself marked her report card "a committed, reliable and disciplined agent, striving to be of the utmost assistance." She also allegedly recruited another agent, code named "Hunt," to pass information to the KGB.

Three years after the revelations, Norwood is still living in her leafy suburb. Her daughter, an only child, expressed amazement when the story was first released, saying she never had the slightest suspicion that her mother was a spy. "Thank heavens I didn’t know!" she said of her mother’s red past. " I don’t think this was a secret I could have lived with!"

Norwood was a useful idiot who did incalculable damage, the fact that the West ultimately prevailed notwithstanding. But what of the people who failed to hold her to account for her base treachery? Why has the Labour government never put her on trial and why has it offered no explanation for its failure to do so?

Did Melita Norwood mean to harm Britain and the West? Yes.

Does the fact that she remains untried encourage others, including terrorists, signal that their own space cadet missions may be forgiven? Yes. Should she be tried for treason despite her age and fragile demeanor? Yes. Failure to prosecute encourages today's chameleon fellow travelers. Britain’s Labour government’s failure to hold anyone accountable for anything, all in the name of "human rights," is a clarity moment for the West and its enemies. Its message is: Terror and espionage can pay off.

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