Ted Kennedy Sent a Secret Letter to the Soviets in 1983 – Truth!
Summary of eRumor:
Ted Kennedy asked leaders of the Soviet Union to help the Democrats defeat President Reagan in the 1984 presidential election in a secret letter that he sent in 1983.
This eRumor is true.
Sen. Ted Kennedy wrote the letter to Soviet General Secretary Yuri Andropov in 1983. In the letter, Kennedy reportedly talked about his concerns with U.S.-Soviet relations, and about President Reagan’s plan to deploy middle range nuclear weapons to Western Europe.
Ted Kennedy’s original letter to Soviet leaders hasn’t turned up. But Kennedy’s letter was discussed in a memo from KGB Head Viktor Chebrikov to Yuri Andropov that turned up in 1992. According to the memo:
“The only real threats to Reagan are problems of war and peace and Soviet-American relations. These issues, according to the senator, will without a doubt become the most important of the election campaign. The movement advocating a freeze on nuclear arsenals of both countries continues to gain strength in the United States. The movement is also willing to accept preparations, particularly from Kennedy, for its continued growth. In political and influential circles of the country, including within Congress, the resistance to growing military expenditures is gaining strength.
“However, according to Kennedy, the opposition to Reagan is still very weak. Reagan’s adversaries are divided and the presentations they make are not fully effective. Meanwhile, Reagan has the capabilities to effectively counter any propaganda.”
The memo goes on to discuss Ted Kennedy’s request for Yuri Andropov to invite him to Moscow for a meeting. Kennedy reportedly said that he could provide “explanations regarding problems of nuclear disarmament so they may be better prepared and more convincing during appearances in the U.S.A.” Kennedy said he had similar meetings planned with British and French leaders.
Ted Kennedy also requested that Yuri Andropov do a number of interviews on American television, according to the memo:
“A direct appeal by the General Secretary to the American people will, without a doubt, attract a great deal of attention and interest in the country. The senator is convinced this would receive the maximum resonance in so far as television is the most effective method of mass media and information.”
Kennedy also reportedly said he was “very impressed” with the Soviet’s commitment to “heal international affairs, and improve mutual understandings between people.”
Historian Paul Kengor wrote about the memo in his book, “The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism.” Kengor explained in a 2008 interview how the document had been discovered:
“It comes from the Central Committee archives of the former USSR. Once Boris Yeltsin took over Russia in 1991, he immediately began opening the Soviet archives, which led to a rush on the archives by Western researchers. One of them, Tim Sebastian of the London Times and BBC, found the Kennedy document and reported it in the February 2, 1992 edition of the Times, in an article titled, ‘Teddy, the KGB and the top secret file.’
“But this electrifying revelation stopped there; it went no further. Never made it across the Atlantic. Not a single American news organization, from what I can tell, picked up the story. Apparently, it just wasn’t interesting enough, nor newsworthy.
Reports of the Ted Kennedy-KGB memo went viral after a group of Republican senators sent an open letter to leaders of Iran about ongoing nuclear negotiations. This sparked a debate about senators undermining presidents and brought new attention to the Kennedy memo.
Did Senator Ted Kennedy send a secret letter to the KGB?