(Nov 14, 1908 – May 2, 1957) a two-term Republican U.S. Senator from Wisconsin. He dominated the anti-communist movement in the United States, 1950–54, until his career receded after censure by the Senate. Beginning in 1950, McCarthy became the most visible public figure to object to Communist infiltration of the US government. A 1954 Gallup poll found that Joe McCarthy was the fourth on its list of most admired men. He is now considered an American hero by many, though liberals still seek to tarnish his name. He was noted for claiming that there were large numbers of Communists and Soviet spies and sympathizers, engaged in a conspiracy to undermine the United States, inside the federal government. He was proven correct by government documents and inquiry, including decrypted Venona files. The term “McCarthyism”, the aggressive exposure of Communist influences in America and the people who protect them, was coined in 1950 in reference to McCarthy’s aggressive attempts to ferret out suspects. More at Conservapedia…
The Real McCarthy Record (by James J. Drummey)
Decades after the death of Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, twice-elected United States Senator from Wisconsin, the term “McCarthyism” is still widely used as a convenient and easily understood epithet for all that is evil and despicable in the world of politics. Hardly a month passes without some reference to “McCarthyism” in the print or electronic media. Despite the frequency with which the term is invoked, however, it is quite clear that not one critic of McCarthy in a hundred has the slightest idea of what he said and did during that controversial period from 1950 to 1954.
Whether Joe McCarthy was right or wrong, it is important that we know the truth about him. If he was wrong, then we can learn some important lessons for the future. If he was right, then we need to be vitally concerned about the issues he raised because virtually nothing has been done to deal effectively with those issues since the mid-1950s.
This article will attempt to answer many of the questions asked about Joe McCarthy and the criticisms directed at him. The responses are based on years of study of McCarthy’s speeches and writings, congressional hearings in which he was involved, and more than a score of books about him, most of them highly critical and condemnatory.
I. The Years Before 1950
Q. Was Joe McCarthy a lax and unethical judge?
A. Joe McCarthy was elected as a circuit judge in Wisconsin in 1939 and took over a district court that had a backlog of more than 200 cases. By eliminating a lot of legal red tape and working long hours (his court remained open past midnight at least a dozen times), Judge McCarthy cleared up the backlog quickly and, in the words of one local newspaper, “administered justice promptly and with a combination of legal knowledge and good sense.” On October 28, 1940, the Milwaukee Journal editorialized: “Breaking with the ‘horse-and-buggy’ tradition that has tied up the calendars of most Wisconsin circuit courts, young Judge Joseph R. McCarthy of Appleton has streamlined his tenth district … and has made a hit with lawyers and litigants alike.”
Q. Did McCarthy exaggerate his military record in World War II?
A. Although his judgeship exempted him from military service, McCarthy enlisted in the Marines and was sworn in as a first lieutenant in August 1942. He served as an intelligence officer for a bomber squadron stationed in the Solomon Islands and had the responsibility of briefing and debriefing pilots before and after their missions. McCarthy also risked his life by volunteering to fly in the tail-gunner’s seat on many combat missions. Those who quibble about the number of combat missions he flew miss the point — he didn’t have to fly any.
The enemies of McCarthy have seized on his good-natured remark about shooting down coconut trees from his tail-gunner’s spot (ABC’s three-hour movie about McCarthy in 1977 was entitled Tail Gunner Joe) to belittle his military accomplishments, but the official record gives the true picture. Not only were McCarthy’s achievements during 30 months of active duty unanimously praised by his commanding officers, but Admiral Chester Nimitz, commander-in-chief of the Pacific Fleet, issued the following citation regarding the service of Captain McCarthy:
For meritorious and efficient performance of duty as an observer and rear gunner of a dive bomber attached to a Marine scout bombing squadron operating in the Solomon Islands area from September 1 to December 31, 1943. He participated in a large number of combat missions, and in addition to his regular duties, acted as aerial photographer. He obtained excellent photographs of enemy gun positions, despite intense anti-aircraft fire, thereby gaining valuable information which contributed materially to the success of subsequent strikes in the area. Although suffering from a severe leg injury, he refused to be hospitalized and continued to carry out his duties as Intelligence Officer in a highly efficient manner. His courageous devotion to duty was in keeping with the highest traditions of the naval service.
Q. Was McCarthy backed by the Communists in his 1946 campaign for the U.S. Senate?
A. In 1946, Joe McCarthy upset incumbent U.S. Senator Robert La Follette by 5,378 votes in the Republican primary and went on to beat Democrat Howard McMurray by 251,658 votes in the general election. The Communist Party of Wisconsin had originally circulated petitions to place its own candidate on the ballot as an Independent in the general election. When McCarthy scored his surprising victory over La Follette, the Communists did not file the petitions for their candidate, but rallied instead behind McMurray. Thus, Joe McCarthy defeated a Democratic-Communist coalition in 1946.
Q. Had Joe McCarthy ever spoken out against Communism prior to his famous speech in Wheeling, West Virginia, in 1950?
A. Those who contend that McCarthy stumbled across Communism while searching for an issue to use in his 1952 reelection campaign will be disappointed to know that the Senator had been speaking out against Communism for years. He made Communism an issue in his campaign against Howard McMurray in 1946, charging that McMurray had received the endorsement of the Daily Worker, the Communist Party newspaper. In April 1947, McCarthy told the Madison Capital Times that his top priority was “to stop the spread of Communism.” On the Meet the Press radio show in July of that year, the Wisconsin Senator said: “We’ve been at war with Russia for some time now, and Russia has been winning this war at a faster rate than we were, during the last stages of the last war. Everyone is painfully aware of the fact that we are at war — and that we’re losing it.”
During a speech in Milwaukee in 1952, Senator McCarthy dated the public phase of his fight against Communists to May 22, 1949, the night that former Secretary of Defense James Forrestal was found dead on the ground outside Bethesda Naval Hospital. “The Communists hounded Forrestal to his death,” said McCarthy. “They killed him just as definitely as if they had thrown him from that sixteenth-story window in Bethesda Naval Hospital.” He said that “while I am not a sentimental man, I was touched deeply and left numb by the news of Forrestal’s murder. But I was affected much more deeply when I heard of the Communist celebration when they heard of Forrestal’s murder. On that night, I dedicated part of this fight to Jim Forrestal.”
Thus, Joe McCarthy was receptive in the fall of 1949 when three men brought to his office a 100-page FBI report alleging extensive Communist penetration of the State Department. The trio had asked three other Senators to awaken the American people to this dangerous situation, but only McCarthy was willing to take on this volatile project.
II. A Lone Senator (1950-1952)
Q. What was the security situation in the State Department at the time of McCarthy’s Wheeling speech in February 1950?
A. Communist infiltration of the State Department began in the 1930s. On September 2, 1939, former Communist Whittaker Chambers provided Assistant Secretary of State Adolph Berle with the names and Communist connections of two dozen spies in the government, including Alger Hiss. Berle took the information to President Roosevelt, but FDR laughed it off. Hiss moved rapidly up the State Department ladder and served as an advisor to Roosevelt at the disastrous Yalta Conference in 1945 that paved the way for the Soviet conquest of Central and Eastern Europe. Hiss also functioned as the secretary general of the founding meeting of the United Nations in San Francisco, helped to draft the UN Charter, and later filled dozens of positions at the UN with American Communists before he was publicly exposed as a Soviet spy by Whittaker Chambers in 1948.
The security problem at the State Department had worsened considerably in 1945 when a merger brought into the State Department thousands of employees from such war agencies as the Office of Strategic Services, the Office of War Information, and the Foreign Economic Administration — all of which were riddled with members of the communist underground. J. Anthony Panuch, the State Department official charged with supervising the 1945 merger, told a Senate committee in 1953 that “the biggest single thing that contributed to the infiltration of the State Department was the merger of 1945. The effects of that are still being felt.” In 1947, Secretary of State George Marshall and Under Secretary of State Dean Acheson engineered the firing of Panuch and the removal of every key member of his security staff.
In June 1947, a Senate Appropriations subcommittee addressed a secret memorandum to Secretary Marshall, calling to his attention a condition that “developed and still flourishes in the State Department under the administration of Dean Acheson. It is evident that there is a deliberate, calculated program being carried out not only to protect communist personnel in high places but to reduce security and intelligence protection to a nullity. On file in the department is a copy of a preliminary report of the FBI on Soviet espionage activities in the United States which involves a large number of State Department employees, some in high official positions.”
The memorandum listed the names of nine of these State Department officials and said that they were “only a few of the hundreds now employed in varying capacities who are protected and allowed to remain despite the fact that their presence is an obvious hazard to national security. There is also the extensive employment in highly classified positions of admitted homosexuals, who are historically known to be security risks.” On June 24, 1947, Assistant Secretary of State John Peurifoy notified the chairman of the Senate subcommittee that ten persons had been dismissed from the department, five of whom had been listed in the memorandum. But from June 1947 until McCarthy’s speech in February 1950, the State Department did not fire one person as a loyalty or security risk. In other branches of the government, however, more than 300 persons were discharged for loyalty reasons alone during the period from 1947 to 1951.
It was also during the mid-to-late Forties that communist sympathizers in the State Department played a key role in the subjugation of mainland China by the Reds. “It is my judgment, and I was in the State Department at the time,” said former Ambassador William D. Pawley, “that this whole fiasco, the loss of China and the subsequent difficulties with which the United States has been faced, was the result of mistaken policy of Dean Acheson, Phil Jessup, [Owen] Lattimore, John Carter Vincent, John Service, John Davies, [O.E.] Clubb, and others.” Asked if he thought the mistaken policy was the result of “sincere mistakes of judgment,” Pawley replied: “No, I don’t.”
Q. Was Joe McCarthy the only member of Congress critical of those whose policies had put 400 million Chinese into Communist slavery?
A. No, there were others who were equally disturbed. For instance, on January 30, 1949, one year before McCarthy’s Wheeling speech, a young Congressman from Massachusetts deplored “the disasters befalling China and the United States” and declared that “it is of the utmost importance that we search out and spotlight those who must bear the responsibility for our present predicament.” The Congressman placed a major part of the blame on “a sick Roosevelt,” General George Marshall, and “our diplomats and their advisors, the Lattimores and the Fairbanks,” and he concluded: “This is the tragic story of China whose freedom we once fought to preserve. What our young men had saved, our diplomats and our President have frittered away.” The Congressman’s name was John F. Kennedy.
Q. What did McCarthy actually say in his Wheeling speech?
A. Addressing the Ohio County Women’s Republican Club on February 9, 1950, Senator McCarthy first quoted from Marx, Lenin, and Stalin their stated goal of world conquest and said that “today we are engaged in a final, all-out battle between communistic atheism and Christianity.” He blamed the fall of China and other countries to the Communists in the previous six years on “the traitorous actions” of the State Department’s “bright young men,” and he mentioned specifically John S. Service, Gustavo Duran, Mary Jane Kenny (it should have been Keeney), Julian Wadleigh, Dr. Harlow Shapley, Alger Hiss, and Dean Acheson. The part of the speech that catapulted McCarthy from relative obscurity into the national spotlight contained these words:
I have in my hand 57 cases of individuals who would appear to be either card-carrying members or certainly loyal to the Communist Party, but who nevertheless are still helping to shape our foreign policy.
Q. Wasn’t it reported that McCarthy used the number 205 in his Wheeling speech, lowered it to 57 later, and then raised it again to 81?
A. Yes, this was reported, and here is the explanation: In the Wheeling speech, McCarthy referred to a letter that Secretary of State James Byrnes sent to Congressman Adolph Sabath in 1946. In that letter, Byrnes said that State Department security investigators had declared 284 persons unfit to hold jobs in the department because of Communist connections and other reasons, but that only 79 had been discharged, leaving 205 still on the State Department’s payroll. McCarthy told his Wheeling audience that while he did not have the names of the 205 mentioned in the Byrnes letter, he did have the names of 57 who were either members of or loyal to the Communist Party. On February 20, 1950, McCarthy gave the Senate information about 81 individuals — the 57 referred to at Wheeling and 24 others of less importance and about whom the evidence was less conclusive.
The enemies of McCarthy have juggled these numbers around to make the Senator appear to be erratic and to distract attention from the paramount question: Were there still Alger Hisses in the State Department betraying this nation? McCarthy was not being inconsistent in his use of the numbers; the 57 and 81 were part of the 205 mentioned in the Byrnes letter.
Q. Was it fair for McCarthy to make all those names public and ruin reputations?
A. That is precisely why McCarthy did not make the names public. Four times during the February 20 speech, Senator Scott Lucas demanded that McCarthy make the 81 names public, but McCarthy refused to do so, responding that “if I were to give all the names involved, it might leave a wrong impression. If we should label one man a Communist when he is not a Communist, I think it would be too bad.” What McCarthy did was to identify the individuals only by case numbers, not by their names.
By the way, it took McCarthy some six hours to make that February 20 speech because of harassment by hostile Senators, four of whom — Scott Lucas, Brien McMahon, Garrett Withers, and Herbert Lehman — interrupted him a total of 123 times. It should also be noted that McCarthy was not indicting the entire State Department. He said that “the vast majority of the employees of the State Department are loyal” and that he was only after the ones who had demonstrated a loyalty to the Soviet Union or to the Communist Party.
Further, McCarthy admitted that “some of these individuals whose cases I am giving the Senate are no longer in the State Department. A sizable number of them are not. Some of them have transferred to other government work, work allied with the State Department. Others have been transferred to the United Nations.” Senator Karl Mundt supported McCarthy on this point by noting that “one of the great difficulties we confront in trying to get Communists out of government is that apparently once they have been removed from one department there is no alert given to the other departments, so they simply drift from one department to another.”
Q. What was the purpose of the Tydings Committee?
A. The Tydings Committee was a subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that was set up in February 1950 to conduct “a full and complete study and investigation as to whether persons who are disloyal to the United States are, or have been, employed by the Department of State.” The chairman of the subcommittee, Senator Millard Tydings, a Democrat, set the tone for the hearings on the first day when he told McCarthy: “You are in the position of being the man who occasioned this hearing, and so far as I am concerned in this committee you are going to get one of the most complete investigations ever given in the history of this Republic, so far as my abilities will permit.”
After 31 days of hearings, during which McCarthy presented public evidence on nine persons (Dorothy Kenyon, Haldore Hanson, Philip Jessup, Esther Brunauer, Frederick Schuman, Harlow Shapley, Gustavo Duran, John Stewart Service, and Owen Lattimore), the Tydings Committee labeled McCarthy’s charges a “fraud” and a “hoax,” said that the individuals on his list were neither communist nor pro-communist, and concluded that the State Department had an effective security program.
Q. Did the Tydings Committee carry out its mandate?
A. Not by a long shot. The Tydings Committee never investigated State Department security at all and did not come close to conducting the “full and complete study and investigation” it was supposed to conduct. Tydings and his Democratic colleagues, Brien McMahon and Theodore Green, subjected McCarthy to considerable interruptions and heckling, prompting Senator Henry Cabot Lodge to protest that McCarthy “never gets a fair shake” in trying to present his evidence in an orderly fashion. So persistent were the interruptions and statements of the Democratic trio during the first two days of the hearings that McCarthy was allowed only a total of 17 1/2 minutes of direct testimony.
While the Democrats were hostile to McCarthy and to any witnesses that could confirm his charges, they fawned all over the six individuals who appeared before the committee to deny McCarthy’s accusations. Tydings, McMahon, and Green not only treated Philip Jessup like a hero, for one example, but refused to let McCarthy present his full case against Jessup or to cross-examine him. Furthermore, the committee majority declined to call more than 20 witnesses whom Senator Bourke Hickenlooper thought were important to the investigation. And when Senator Lodge read into the record 19 questions that he thought should be answered before the committee exonerated the State Department’s security system, not only did the Democrats ignore the questions, but some member of the committee or the staff deleted from the official transcript of the hearings the 19 questions as well as other testimony that made the committee look bad. The deleted material amounted to 35 typewritten pages.
It is clear then that the Tydings Committee did not carry out its mandate and that the words “fraud” and “hoax” more accurately describe the Tydings Report than they do McCarthy’s charges.
There is one other dirty trick played on McCarthy by Senator Tydings that should be mentioned because it shows how dishonest McCarthy’s enemies were. McCarthy wanted to present his information in closed sessions, but Tydings insisted on public sessions. So when McCarthy arrived at the first hearing, he gave reporters a press release about Dorothy Kenyon, his first case. Tydings then told McCarthy publicly that he could give his evidence in executive session if he wished and gave him two minutes to make up his mind. Since the committee had already rejected his request for closed sessions, and since he had already given the press material about his first case, McCarthy told Tydings that “we will have to proceed with this one in open session.”
As deceitful as Tydings was in trying to make McCarthy appear to be responsible for public hearings, the reporters who were present were just as bad. They knew what Tydings was trying to do, and yet they joined in spreading this malicious falsehood about McCarthy.
Q. So, was McCarthy right or wrong about the State Department?
A. He was right. Of the 110 names that McCarthy gave to the Tydings Committee to be investigated, 62 of them were employed by the State Department at the time of the hearings. The committee cleared everyone on McCarthy’s list, but within a year the State Department started proceedings against 49 of the 62. By the end of 1954, 81 of those on McCarthy’s list had left the government either by dismissal or resignation.
Q. Can you cite some particular examples?
A. Sure. Let’s take three of McCarthy’s nine public cases — those of John Stewart Service, Philip Jessup, and Owen Lattimore.* Five years before McCarthy mentioned the name of John Stewart Service, Service was arrested for giving classified documents to the editors of Amerasia, a communist magazine. The Truman Administration, however, managed to cover up the espionage scandal and Service was never punished for his crime. McCarthy also produced considerable evidence that Service had been “part of the pro-Soviet group” that wanted to bring Communism to China, but the Tydings Committee said that Service was “not disloyal, pro-Communist, or a security risk.” Over the next 18 months, the State Department’s Loyalty Security Board cleared Service four more times, but finally, in December 1951, the Civil Service Commission Loyalty Review Board found that there was “reasonable doubt” as to his loyalty and ousted him from the State Department.
Was the career of Service ruined by this decision? Not on your life. The Supreme Court reinstated him in 1956 and Service was the American consul in Liverpool, England, until his retirement in 1962. He then joined the faculty of the University of California at Berkeley and visited Red China in the fall of 1971 at the invitation of communist tyrant Chou En-lai. Following his return from the country he helped to communize, Service wrote four articles for the New York Times and was the subject of a laudatory cover interview in Parade magazine.
All that Joe McCarthy said about Philip Jessup was that he had an “unusual affinity for Communist causes.” The record shows that Jessup belonged to at least five Communist-controlled fronts, that he associated closely with Communists, and that he was an influential member of the Institute of Pacific Relations (IPR), which the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee (SISS) described in 1952 as “a vehicle used by Communists to orientate American Far Eastern policy toward Communist objectives.” The SISS also reported that 46 persons connected with the IPR while Jessup was a leading light there had been named under oath as members of the Communist Party.
The Senate apparently felt that McCarthy was closer to the truth than the Tydings Committee because in 1951 it rejected Jessup’s nomination as a delegate to the United Nations. After the Senate adjourned, however, President Truman appointed him anyway. In 1960, President Eisenhower named Jessup to represent the United States on the International Court of Justice, and Jessup served on the World Court until 1969. He died in 1986.
Owen Lattimore was one of the principal architects of the State Department’s pro-Communist foreign policy in the Far East. In a closed session of the Tydings Committee, Senator McCarthy called Lattimore “the top Russian spy” in the department. (That charge, by the way, was leaked to the public not by McCarthy but by columnist Drew Pearson.) McCarthy later modified his statement on Lattimore, saying that “I may have perhaps placed too much stress on the question of whether or not he has been an espionage agent,” and went on to say that “thirteen different witnesses have testified under oath to Lattimore’s Communist membership or party-line activities.” Although the Tydings Committee cleared Lattimore of all charges, another Senate committee, the Internal Security Subcommittee, vindicated Joe McCarthy when it declared in 1952 that “Owen Lattimore was, from some time beginning in the 1930s, a conscious articulate instrument of the Soviet conspiracy.”
Was Lattimore hurt by this or by his subsequent indictment for perjury? Of course not. He continued on the faculty of Johns Hopkins University, went to Communist Outer Mongolia for the Kennedy State Department in 1961, became head of a new Chinese studies department at Leeds University in England in 1963, and returned to the United States in the Seventies for speeches and lectures. On January 28 of this year, Lattimore told the Associated Press from his home in Rhode Island that the Reagan administration’s decision to establish diplomatic ties with communist Mongolia was “long overdue.”
Q. Even if McCarthy was right about Service, Jessup, and Lattimore, weren’t there hundreds of others who were publicly smeared by him?
A. This is one of the most enduring myths about McCarthy, and it is completely false. It is a fact, said Buckley and Bozell in McCarthy and His Enemies, that from February 9, 1950, until January 1, 1953, Joe McCarthy publicly questioned the loyalty or reliability of a grand total of 46 persons, and particularly dramatized the cases of only 24 of the 46. We have just talked about three of the Senator’s major targets, and Buckley and Bozell pointed out that McCarthy “never said anything more damaging about Lauchlin Currie, Gustavo Duran, Theodore Geiger, Mary Jane Keeney, Edward Posniak, Haldore Hanson, and John Carter Vincent, than that they are known to one or more responsible persons as having been members of the Communist Party, which is in each of these instances true.”
While McCarthy may have exaggerated the significance of the evidence against some other individuals, his record on the whole is extremely good. (This is also true of the 1953-54 period when he was chairman of a Senate committee and publicly exposed 114 persons, most of whom refused to answer questions about communist or espionage activities on the ground that their answers might tend to incriminate them.) There were no innocent victims of McCarthyism. Those whom McCarthy accused had indeed collaborated in varying degrees with Communism and Communists, had shown no remorse for their actions, and thoroughly deserved whatever scorn was directed at them.
Q. What about McCarthy’s attack on General George Marshall? Wasn’t that a smear of a great man?
A. This is a reference to the 60,000-word speech he delivered on the Senate floor on June 14, 1951 (later published as a book entitled America’s Retreat From Victory). One interesting thing about the speech is that McCarthy drew almost entirely from sources friendly to Marshall in discussing nearly a score of his actions and policies that had helped the Communists in the USSR, Europe, China, and Korea. “I do not propose to go into his motives,” said McCarthy. “Unless one has all the tangled and often complicated circumstances contributing to a man’s decisions, an inquiry into his motives is often fruitless. I do not pretend to understand General Marshall’s nature and character, and I shall leave that subject to subtler analysts of human personality.”
One may agree or disagree with McCarthy’s statement that America’s steady retreat from victory “must be the product of a great conspiracy, a conspiracy on a scale so immense as to dwarf any previous such venture in the history of man. A conspiracy of infamy so black that, when it is finally exposed, its principals shall be forever deserving of the maledictions of all honest men.” That statement was very controversial in 1951, but after 36 years of no-win wars in Korea and Vietnam, along with Soviet expansionism throughout the world, aided and abetted in large measure by U.S. policymakers, it doesn’t seem so controversial anymore. In any case, before judging McCarthy on what he is supposed to have said about Marshall, we recommend reading the book to find out what he actually said and to see how extensive was his documentation.
Q. Can it be true that State Department policy toward the Communists didn’t change very much even after McCarthy helped get many pro-Communists out of the department?
A. Unfortunately, it is true. McCarthy, you see, only scratched the surface. He did prompt a tightening of security procedures for a while, and the State Department and other sensitive federal agencies dismissed nearly 4,000 employees in 1953 and 1954, although many of them shifted to nonsensitive departments. Some of these security risks returned to their old agencies when security was virtually scrapped during the Kennedy Administration.
During the mid-1950s, a State Department security specialist named Otto Otepka reviewed the files of all department personnel and found some kind of derogatory information on 1,943 persons, almost 20 percent of the total payroll. He told the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee years later that of the 1,943 employees, 722 “left the department for various reasons, but mostly by transfer to other agencies, before a final security determination was made.” Otepka trimmed the remaining number on the list to 858 and in December 1955 sent their names to his boss, Scott McLeod, as persons to be watched because of communist associations, homosexuality, habitual drunkenness, or mental illness.
McLeod’s staff reviewed the Otepka list and narrowed it down to 258 persons who were judged to be “serious” security risks. “Approximately 150 were in high-level posts where they could in one way or another influence the formulation of United States foreign policy,” said William J. Gill, author of The Ordeal of Otto Otepka. “And fully half of these 258 serious cases were officials in either crucial Intelligence assignments or serving on top-secret committees reaching all the way up and into the National Security Council.” As many as 175 of the 258 were still in important policy posts as of the mid-1960s, but Otto Otepka had been ousted from the State Department by that time and we are not aware of anyone like Otepka keeping track of security risks since then — and that was more than 20 years ago.
Considering the State Department’s virtually unbroken record over the past 30 years of undermining anti-communist governments and backing communist regimes, of putting Soviet desires ahead of American interests, of allowing 200 Soviet nationals to work and spy for years in our embassy in Moscow, and of bitterly opposing Reagan administration efforts in 1986 to reduce the massive Soviet espionage presence at the United Nations by one-third, it is not unreasonable to wonder how many heirs of Alger Hiss are still making policy there.
Bear in mind, too, that Communist penetration of the U.S. government was not confined to the State Department. On July 30, 1953, the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, chaired by Senator William Jenner, released its report on Interlocking Subversion in Government Departments. Among its conclusions:
1. The Soviet international organization has carried on a successful and important penetration of the United States Government and this penetration has not been fully exposed.
2. This penetration has extended from the lower ranks to top-level policy and operating positions in our government.
3. The agents of this penetration have operated in accordance with a distinct design fashioned by their Soviet superiors.
4. Members of this conspiracy helped to get each other into government, helped each other to rise in government, and protected each other from exposure.
Summarizing the 1952 testimony of former Soviet courier Elizabeth Bentley, who had identified 37 Soviet agents within the U.S. government, the subcommittee also said that “to her knowledge there were four Soviet espionage rings operating within our government and that only two of these have been exposed.” In October 1953, a Soviet defector named Colonel Ismail Ege estimated that a minimum of 20 spy networks were operating within the United States in 1941-1942, when he was chief of the Fourth Section of Soviet General Staff Intelligence. Thirty-four years after Ege’s testimony, these espionage rings and networks still have not been publicly exposed.
On February 5, 1987, the New York Times reported that an 18-month investigation by the House Intelligence Committee “had uncovered ‘dangerous laxity’ and serious ‘security failures’ in the government’s system of catching spies. Even though 27 Americans have been charged with espionage in the last two years, and all but one of those brought to trial have been found guilty, the committee said in a report that it still found ‘a puzzling, almost nonchalant attitude toward recent espionage cases on the part of some senior U.S. intelligence officials.'” According to the Times, “the investigation found ‘faulty hiring practices, poor management of probationary employees, thoughtless firing practices, lax security practices, inadequate interagency cooperation — even bungled surveillance of a prime espionage suspect.'”
The same “nonchalant attitude” toward communist spies that Joe McCarthy denounced in the early 1950s still exists today. Only there is no Joe McCarthy in the Senate urging that something be done to correct this dangerous situation. Nor are there any congressional committees investigating communist subversion in government. The destruction of Joe McCarthy not only removed him from the fight, it also sent a powerful message to anyone else who might be contemplating a similar battle: Try to ferret Communists and pro-Communists out of the government and you will be harassed, smeared, and ultimately destroyed.
Q. But why do we need congressional committees? Can’t the FBI do the job?
A. The function of the FBI is to gather information and pass it along to the agency or department where the security problem exists. If the FBI report is ignored, or if the department does take action and is overruled by a review board, only a congressional committee can expose and remedy this situation. Some examples: In December 1945, the FBI sent President Truman a report showing that his Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, Harry Dexter White, was a Soviet spy. Truman ignored the warning and, early in 1946, promoted White to executive director of the U.S. Mission to the International Monetary Fund. The FBI sent Truman a second report, but again he did nothing. White resigned from the government in 1947, and his communist ties were exposed by Elizabeth Bentley when she appeared before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1948.
The FBI warned the State Department in the mid-1940s of extensive communist penetration of the department, but the warning was disregarded for the most part. It was not until Joe McCarthy turned the spotlight on the situation that dozens of security risks were removed. The FBI had also sent some 40 confidential reports about the communist activities of Edward Rothschild, an employee of the Government Printing Office, but Rothschild wasn’t removed from his sensitive position until his background was exposed by the McCarthy Committee in 1953.
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