Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Paul Harvey - CAPTURED

Paul Harvey is normally considered somewhat tame even sublime. His program is mild, not hard hitting, fast-paced, trendy or edgy. His program is syndicated by ABC to over 1,000 radio stations with 22 million listeners. He appeals to a set of older, more conservative Americans residing in rural areas. What they don't know, is that Paul Harvey is a criminal mastermind. His real name is Paul Harvey Aurandt. Isn't' that a German name Herr Harvey?

In the 1950s Harvey's programs began taking on a paranoid twist. Maybe he was inspired by McCarthy's witch hunt. He criticized poor security at government installations. He got fixated on nationalistic ideas. He'd always been a populist and a conservative but the mood of the day drove him to strange depths. It's probably why he sprung to action when heard about poor security at Argonne National Laboratory a nuclear research facility.

In 1951 a security guard at the facility named Charles Rogal, reported the slacker security at the site to Illinois Rep. Fred Busbey [R], a personal friend of Harvey's. The whole idea of it stuck in Harvey's craw. The Rosenbergs had stolen nuclear secrets for the commies in the 1940s and Harvey was still pissed. (No really, Harvey is an absolutely rabid anti-communist.)

Harvey brought two friends, Rogal and John Crowley (from the office of naval intelligence.) They entered the Argonne compound at night in the dead of winter. But the entry was bungled, at the top of the 10-foot fence, his winter coat got caught on the barbed wire. While he struggled to disentangle himself, he was detected patrol discovered him.

Crowley and Rogal were more covert. They hid in the bushes, then after the patrol left with Harvey, they left. However they left their wallets and papers in Harvey's car nearby. So they two were identified. Harvey was turned over to FBI agents.

The Chicago press mocked Harvey mercilessly. The intimation that he was a patriotic idiot probably helped him when the federal grand jury convened. On March 21st , 1951 Harvey was charged with conspiracy to obtain information on national security and transmit it to the public. On April 4, 1951, the grand jury voted not to indict Harvey. He was free to return to broadcasting.

Were he convicted, he could have been fined up to $10,000 and sentenced to up to 10 years in prison. In 2005, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush. Any of the rest of us would still be in prison.