David Niles

David Niles

David K. Niles (November 23, 1888 – September 28, 1952; Boston, Massachusetts) was a political advisor who worked in the White House from 1942–1951 for the administrations of Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman. Niles was one of only two Roosevelt aides retained by Truman upon his assumption of the presidency.[1] Niles was deeply sympathetic to the Zionist hope of establishing a Jewish state in their homeland in Palestine, and was important in providing access to the White House for American Zionists. Niles was said to be capable of bending the president's ear to Zionist arguments.[2] [3] In 1947, President Truman awarded him the Medal for Merit.

Niles was the first of six children born to Russian Jewish immigrants Asher K. Neyhus and Sophie Berlin. He and his father kept the middle initial "K" to honor their heritage as kohanim. While in attendance at Brimmer Grammar School, Niles became acquainted with author Edward Everett Hale, who became a mentor to Niles as he "supplied the boy with reading material and urged him in his ambition to acquire knowledge".[4]

He graduated from the prestigious Boston Latin School in 1906.

Niles served as both the Associate Director and Director of Boston's Ford Hall Forum (1921-1952), the Director of the American Business Census in Massachusetts (1933-1934), a consultant, director, and assistant administrator of the Works Progress Administration (1936-1939), Special Assistant to the Secretary of Commerce (1939-1940), as well as a consultant and advisor to the Office of Production Management and War Production Board before becoming a presidential advisor. Niles never married.

Allegations of communist connections

In 1943, Congressman Fred Bradley accused Niles of having Communist connections while involved with the Ford Hall Forum. These accusations are thought to have been largely motivated by antisemitism.[5]

More recent allegations of Communist connections to Niles have arisen: A Venona decrypted message from New York to Moscow reported on a plan to send a husband and wife team of NKVD 'illegals' to Mexico.[6]

The message reads:

Through CAPITAN'S (Roosevelt’s) advisor David Niles –will take 3-4 days, will cost 500 dollars.... [A]round Niles there is a group of his friends who will arrange anything for a bribe. Through them TENOR (Michael W. Burd) obtains priorities and has already paid them as much as 6000 dollars. Whether NILES takes a bribe himself is not known for certain.

Burd was a Soviet agent and an officer of the Midland Export Corporation in New York City.[7]


  1. ^ Cohen, Michael Joseph (1990). Truman and Israel. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-06804-1. 
  2. ^ "Oral History Interview with Edwin M. Wright". Truman Presidential Museum and Library. http://www.trumanlibrary.org/oralhist/wright.htm. 
  3. ^ Who Killed James Forrestal?, David Martin, November 10, 2002
  4. ^ "Hale's Gift Carried Abroad". New York Times. June 13 1909. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F40A10F73C5A15738DDDAA0994DE405B898CF1D3. 
  5. ^ "David K. Niles Papers". Truman Presidential Museum and Library. http://www.trumanlibrary.org/hstpaper/niles.htm. 
  6. ^ "Venona June 1, 1944". National Security Agency. http://www.nsa.gov/venona/releases/01_Jun_1944_R3_m1_p1.gif. 
  7. ^ Romerstein, Herbert and Breindel, Eric (1997). The Venona Secrets; Exposing Soviet Espionage and America’s Traitors. Regnery Publishing, Inc.. p. 180. ISBN 0-89526-225-8. 

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