Sunday, December 13, 2015

Lost and Found: McCarthy and His Enemies - Part I, Chapter 4, The State Department, 1947 - 1950: Three Years of Inertia

Lost and Found: L&F is a series devoted to old books which veer from our modern interpretation of historical events. The series devotes itself to seeking out truth which often lies somewhere twixt the gap between understandings.

The second of this series is devoted to McCarthy and His Enemies by William Buckley and L. Brent Bozell, published by the Henry Regnery Company in 1954. The hearings McCarthy held remain one of the most fascinating dramas of the last century.  Other chapters on this work include:

Lost and Found: McCarthy and His Enemies - Prologue
Lost and Found: McCarthy and His Enemies - Part I, Chapter 1, The Problem
Lost and Found: McCarthy and His Enemies - Part I, Chapter 2, The Background


During his day, McCarthy was often attacked for demagoguing the issue of Communist infiltration of the State Department. These detractors often claimed that the State Department already had this issue well under control by the time McCarthy got involved.

Here is what Conrad Snow, Head of State Department Security had to say:

Conrad Snow,  State Department, Loyalty Security Board

Daily Illini, February 12, 1952 -- State Department Official Accuses McCarthy of Rumor , Half Truths

Conrad E . Snow , chairman of the state department s loyalty-security board , accused Senator McCarthy ( RAVisj tonight of trying to -smear the department by resorting to rumor , invention , half truths or no truths at all .

Tydings Committee

The Tydings Committee also supported this position: -- Full text of "State Department employee loyalty investigation : hearings before a subcommittee of the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, Eighty-first Congress, second session pursuant to S. Res. 231, a resolution to investigate whether there are employees in the State Department disloyal to the United States. 1950"

Truman Directive #50

The problem with this position is that Truman had issued a directive which prevented outside parties from verifying the effectiveness of Federal security measures:

Truman -- 50. Directive on the Need for Maintaining the Confidential Status of Employee Loyalty Records 1948

Any subpena or demand or request for information, reports, or files of the nature described, received from sources other than those persons in the executive branch of the Government who are entitled thereto by reason of their official duties, shall be respectfully declined, on the basis of this directive, and the subpena or demand or other request shall be referred to the Office of the President for such response as the President may determine to be in the public interest in the particular case. There shall be no relaxation of the provisions of this directive except with my express authority.

Senate Finds Communists

Before they were prevented from further delving into this issue by the directive, the Senate found plenty of cause for concern: -- Full text of "FOIA: Alleged Communists in State Dept-EBF-240"



It becomes necessary due to the gravity of the situation to call your 
attention to a condition that developed and still flourishes In the State De- 
partment under the administration of Dean Ache son* 

It is evident that there is a deliberate, c alculated program being carried 
out not only to protect Communist personnel in high places, but to reduce security 
and intelligence protection to a nullity ♦ * ' 

Reasonable Doubt vs Grounds

There were also Executive Orders issued which made it harder to dismiss employees by lowering loyalty standards:

Liberty and Justice for All?: Rethinking Politics in Cold War America By Kathleen G. Donohue

Loyalty Review Board - A One Sided Appeals Process

It should also be noted that employees suspected of disloyalty were allowed a generous appeals process while the government was allowed no appeals against cleared employees:

222. Statement by the President on the Government's Employee Loyalty Program - Nov 14, 1974

After the heating has been completed the loyalty board in each department can recommend the retention or the dismissal of an employee. But the matter does not rest there. The employee may appeal the findings of the loyalty board to the head of the department, who can either approve or disapprove the board's recommendations.

If the head of the department orders the dismissal of the employee, he has still another avenue of appeal: namely, to the Loyalty Review Board within the Civil Service Commission. This Board is composed of outstanding citizens of the United States. These citizens have no ax to grind. They will not be concerned with personalities. Their judgment will be as detached as is humanly possible.

Rube Goldberg Enforcement Approach

Truman's Executive Order did not override the McCarren Rider with its tough enforcement provisions based on Security Risks but it was used to undermine it:

Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy by By M. Stanton Evans

Risk Classes
Loyalty Risks vs Security Risks

The McCarren Rider with its much tougher enforcement provision simply called for the government to proceed against employees based on Security rather than loyalty grounds:

The Second Red Scare and the Unmaking of the New Deal Left By Landon R.Y. Storrs

All Risks Equal Security Risks

While some security risks may not be loyalty risks, all loyalty risks are security risks. This means that persons reviewed under loyalty provisions should have been reviewed under the stricter provision of the McCarren Ryder.

Yet during this time frame the State Department action against security risks was minimal: - The Real McCarthy Record

In June 1947, a Senate Appropriations subcommittee addressed a secret memorandum to 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." 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 Wheeling 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 1940s 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."

In the next installment of this series, it will be demonstrated that this lack of action by the State Department cannot be explained by a dearth of Communist agents at this agency.

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