Lee Pressman

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Lee Pressman

Secret communist

In 1950 Lee Pressman testified that he had been a secret member of the Communist Party USA in 1934 and 1935 and, although no longer officially a party member, a firm ideological Communist from 1936 to 1950. He agreed there had been a group in the AAA (the Ware group) that had met with J. Peters of the Communist Party. Although he depicted the group as an study club of government employees who got together to discuss political theory, he admitted that several of its leading figures (himself, Nathan Witt, John Abt, and Charles Kramer) were Communists. Later, he privately admitted to Jerome Frank, a leading AAA official, that the group, too, had been a Communist party enterprise.[1]

Ware Group

The famous Ware Group Communist apparatus was organized by Harold Ware, a son of prominent communist "Mother" Ella Bloor.

This group acted as an adjunct of the NKVD of the Soviets. The principal function of the group was to obtain information desired by the NKVD particularly with regard to individuals.

Chambers stated that frequently he turned over to Peters sizable sums which he had collected from the Ware group. Chambers has identified John Abt, formerly with the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, later with the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice, and with the LaFollette Senate Civil Liberties Committee as having been a member of this group. In 1952 Abt was representing the Communist Party USA as co-counsel with Vito Marcantonio before the Subversive Control Board.

Following the death of Harold Ware in an automobile accident, John Abt married Ware's widow, Jessica Smith, who at one time was a secretary in the Soviet Embassy in Washington, D. C. Later, when she became editor of Soviet Russia Today, she was one of the few persons ever to register as a Soviet agent.

Other members who comprised this group were Lee Pressman, formerly with the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, and later general counsel of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, Henry Collins, at one time a member of the Forestry Service of the Department of Agriculture, Nathan Perlow, an economist, and when known to Chambers was connected with the Brookings Institution in Washington, D. C., Charles Kramer, who was also employed by the La Follette committee while Chambers was in contact with him and Alger Hiss, who worked with the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, the State Department, the United Nations Organization, and finally was president of the Carnegie Foundation for International Peace.