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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Joe McCarthy: Blacklisted by History

Rev. by Hugh Murray (complete review)
            On 22 February 2012 Reuters reported that Russian leader Vladimir Putin “praises Cold War-era scientists…for stealing U.S. nuclear secrets so that the U.S. would not be the world’s sole atomic power…Spies with suitcases full of data helped the Soviet Union build its atomic bomb, he told military commanders.  They were carrying the information away not on microfilm but literally in suitcases.  Suitcases!” (Story by Steve Gutterman).
            In the May 2009 Smithsonian Michael Walsh writes of “George Koval: Atomic Spy Unmasked.”  The man was born in Iowa, became a Communist, left for the USSR where he was trained.  He returned to the US at the beginning of WWII to work for the US government on atomic projects in Oak Ridge, Ohio. and elsewhere.  He returned to the Soviet Union in the late 1940s.  He died there in 2006, and in 2007 Putin posthumously bestowed on him a gold star as recognition of his efforts at stealing American secrets.  Putin identified him as “Delmar.”  A book published in Russia in 2002, THE GRU AND THE ATOM BOMB focused on the Soviet military spy network and the man with the code name Delmar, “who with the exception of…Klaus Fuchs may have done more than anyone to help the Soviets achieve its sudden, shocking nuclear parity with the US in 1949.”  Anyone writing prior to 2007 would have no way of connecting Koval with Delmar.
            Morton Sobell, a co-defendant of the Rosenbergs, had been convicted and served several years for spying.  Like others accused of these types of crimes, Sobell maintained his innocence over the decades.  However, in an interview published in the New York Times on 9/11/2008, Sobell finally admitted his guilt.(Wikipedia, Atomic Spies)
            American Theodore Hall (born Holtzberg) died in 1999 in Cambridge, England, where he had resided for decades.  As a precocious student at university in America, he had joined the John Reed Club, a Communist student organization.  Hall became the youngest physicist to work on the atomic project at Los Alamos.  The New York Times obituary headlined, “Theodore Hall, Prodigy and Atomic Spy, Dies at 74.”  Hall was never charged nor convicted of espionage, but apparently admitted his deeds to friends and reporters in the late 1980s.
            Some of these cases we have learnt of only recently.  Were there others spying for the Soviets?  Who was stuffing the suitcases described by Putin?  No wonder Putin could smile, brag and gloat - perhaps, smiling about more than he revealed in his speech.  Even now, do we know all?  Or are there more shocking revelations to come?
Evans’ book notes that the FBI was aware as early as December 1942 “that J. Robert Oppenheimer, the nuclear physicist then becoming a central figure in the atomic energy project, was identified by Communist leaders as a secret party member who had to be inactive because of the wartime work he was doing.”(p. 6)  Evans also notes that a Communist leader in Californian declared in November 1945 that Oppenheimer had informed them “several years ago that the Army was working on the atomic bomb.”(318 –footnote, emp. mine)  If he told them this, say in 1942, what else was he revealing to them?  “Like Hiss, Remington would later be convicted in federal court for lying about his Red connections, which meant the Truman loyalty program had been incapable of discharging a flagrant risk found guilty by a jury.   Along with Oppenheimer, Condon, Service, and Adler – all holding down significant federal posts in 1950 – the Remington case made it clear that the alleged security crackdown under Truman was a myth.” (330)
            Yet, when McCarthy first made his charges about Communists holding federal jobs in early 1950, many thought, and still think. he was being irresponsible.
            There can be little doubt that the Soviets gathered important data from their agents and spies in the US – including those working for the American government.  In February 1950 McCarthy, in a speech in Wheeling, West Virginia claimed that Communists were on the federal payroll, and many were in the US State Department.  Whether he alleged 205 or 57 became one of the first big disputes, but it is a diversion.  The question was, were there subversives in the State Department and other high government offices?
            Unfortunately, there are two major omissions that illustrate a major flaw in Evans fact-filled book.  Had these been included, and the issues that they represent been fully analyzed, then the book might provide better understanding to the McCarthy era.
            1) Though Evans refers to Democratic Representative Samuel Dickstein, a Congressman who helped establish what would later become the House un-American Activities Committee, Evans neglects to mention that Dickstein was a paid agent of the Soviet Union.(49)  Soviet agents were in high places.  2) In 1943-44 Under Secretary of State Sumner Welles was compelled to resign, but not because he was accused of being a Soviet agent (indeed, he had opposed US recognition of the Soviet takeover of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia during the era of the Hitler-Stalin non-aggression pact).  Although Welles had several marriages, he was forced out because he was also homosexual and had solicited sex with men.
            These two cases show that there were Soviet agents in government in high places – sometimes in most unexpected places.  Also, the Roosevelt Administration was more willing to force the retirement of a friend of the President because he was homosexual, than to fire Communists and Soviet agents.  To rephrase: the government deemed both Communist subversives and homosexual security risks as threats, though at different times, it seemed more interested in firing one than the other.  The red scare and the lavender scare were conflated in the minds of many, and some blame McCarthy, not only for the effort to rid the government of Communists and Soviet agents, but also of gays.  The reality was for more complex than is revealed in Evans book.
            Why were homosexuals considered security risks?  At the time, homosexuality was a mental illness and homosexual activity was a crime.  Thus, the assumption in government was that their promiscuous behavior would lead to possible arrest and blackmail whereby they might reveal the nation’s secrets.  In theory, this was not limited to gays, for there was the lingering image from WWI of the seductress Mata Hari passing on Allied secrets to the enemy Hun.  The issue would arise later when J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI discovered that Sen. John Kennedy had had a liaison with a pretty European gal who was thought to be an East German spy.  Yet, in reality, men having a good time with women did not result in punishment.  Indeed, it might enhance one’s reputation and result in promotion.  On the other hand, having a gay relationship was ground for dismissal.
            The issue of reds and lavenders is conflated from the outset of McCarthy’s charges of Communists employed by in the State Department in February 1950.  The following week Secretary of State Dean Acheson appeared before a Senate committee on another matter, where he was questioned about security in his department.  Replying for Acheson on this issue was Dept. of State official, John Peurifoy who announced that 91 had recently been dismissed as security risks.  However, under further questioning, it became clear that they were fired NOT for being Communists or Soviet agents; they were fired for being gay.
            When McCarthy demanded the firing of subversives, the Democratic Truman Administration, and even more so that of Republican Eisenhower, responded by firing sexual deviants instead.
            When McCarthy made his charges of Communists in the State Department, the Senate passed such a resolution to investigate the allegations.  Democratic Sen. Millard Tydings of Maryland was selected to chair the process.  Evans is particularly good at detailing the misuse of the committee by Tydings and its Democratic majority.  Tydings colluded with the Truman Administration and representatives of the State Department to investigate McCarthy, to allow his enemies like Owen Lattimore to expound at length and without interruption, to refuse to call McCarthy’s witnesses, to belittle the Wisconsin Senator, to whitewash any investigation of the Dept. of State, to issue a committee report that was incomplete, that lied about previous investigations conducted by the Republican controlled 80th Congress; in short, the Tydings committee was a kangaroo court determined to avoid investigating Communists in government  and smear McCarthy instead.  Moreover, to prevent McCarthy from subpoenaing pertinent material, Truman had State Department files moved to the White House.  The Democrats developed a policy of smear and cover-up, while finessing the issue the committee was created to investigate – Communists in government.  Meanwhile, the liberal press portrayed McCarthy as the bully and mudslinger.
            Furthermore, when McCarthy revealed information about suspected subversives in government, the Truman Administration was far more worried about detecting McCarthy “moles,” than rooting out Communist spies.  Evans reveals how the Trumanites investigated thoroughly seeking out employees who were suspected of providing information to McCarthy.  Truman seemed to deem a whistle blower for McCarthy as a greater threat than a Soviet agent. 
            Were there subversives in State?  Evans details the Amerasia case whereby an official of State provided secret material to the journal that had Communist connections.  J. Edgar Hoover thought the case was “air tight,” but in 1945 a deal was made by higher-ups.  The DA who was to prosecute told the grand jury that the stolen material was of little import, Amerasia was an academic journal, and the incident should be ignored.  Following his lead, the grand jury voted against an indictment.  John Service, who was charged with stealing the papers which included military information, remained an employee at State.  Worse, informants later revealed that Service spent considerable time viewing the security files of many employees of the State Department.  As there was then no proper filing system, anyone who viewed the files could also remove damaging material, and no one would be aware that it was missing.  Such was security at State.
            But there had been problems in other areas of government, too.  Lauchlin Currie (“the Soviet’s man at the White House on China policies,” Arthur Herman, Joseph McCarthy, p. 111), for example, was an executive assistant to President Roosevelt in the early 1940s, with a specialty on China affairs.  In 1941 Currie arranged to have Roosevelt appoint Owen Lattimore as the President’s personal advisor to China’s Nationalist leader, Chiang Kai-shek.  Of course, Lattimore, like Currie, was hostile to Chiang and sympathetic to the rebel forces in Yenan under Mao Tse-tung.  The Americans in this group of China hands invariably reported that Chiang was “dictatorial,” “feudal,” “fascist,” “reactionary,” “corrupt,” etc.  By contrast, their reports of Mao and his rebels were glowing: “democratic,” “popular with the peasants,” “rational,” “progressive,” “resisting the Japanese,” etc.  After Japan surrendered, the Soviets marched into Manchuria, where they aided the Communists under Mao.  Should the US aid Chiang?  The China hands in State said no.  The 80th Congress passed resolutions to aid Chiang, but subversives in the Treasury Dept. delayed and obstructed any transfer of money to the Chinese Nationalists.  When military aid was promised, again there was delay and obstruction.  Documents reveal it was purposely delayed.  Finally, when a small portion of the promised military materiel arrived in China, it was defective.  Was this American incompetence, or treason?  Who were the culprits?
            When Republicans asked, “Who lost China?” Democrats replied, “It was not ours to lose in the first place.”  Nevertheless, the Soviets were aiding the Communists, while subversives in the US government were preventing American aid from reaching Chiang and the anti-Communists.  Evans is superb in presenting much of this material.  And the same people in the American government were also writing off the little Chiang, Synghman Rhee of South Korea.  Moreover, the American leadership was planning to assassinate Chiang and award Taiwan to Mao and the mainland Communists.  Indeed, In January 1950 Secretary of State Dean Acheson announced that South Korean and Formosa were beyond the American security perimeter.  One weakness in Evans book is why Truman decided to about face in summer 1950.  After  declarinf South Korea beyond the security perimeter (and thus liable to be seized by the  North Korea), Truman decided to go to war (or police action) to defend South Korea and then placed the 7th fleet near Taiwan to prevent the mainland Communists from invading that island.  This was a major policy change.  Who made the change?  More relevant, who had favored the old policy of appeasing the Communists?
            When there were public cases where officials were identified as Communists or spies, the Administration often pressured the accused to resign, but slowly, over time.  McCarthy wanted them fired, and complained that by allowing them to resign, they entered a revolving door whereby those exposed as subversives simply left one department for another, where in the new section no one would be aware of the possible danger.  Thus, the security problem would begin all over again.  Or those who were forced to resign left for positions with the UN, the International Monetary Fund, or other such influential posts.
            After the Republican victory in 1952, McCarthy became chair of a committee and hired various researchers, including a young attorney, Roy Cohn, who had helped in the prosecution of the Rosenbergs.  Cohn was aided by another young enthusiast, G. David Schine.  They travelled to Europe to expose the imbalance of materials in the American library reading rooms, that were meant to counter the Marxist culture of the Communists.  However, many of the books intended to promote the American way, were written by Communists and fellow travelers who undermined the West and praised the Soviets.  Cohn and Schine sought to purge the libraries, and liberals were quick to denounce them as book burners.  (Of course, the left had proudly burnt Nazi and right-wing materials in 1945.)  Still, one wonders if Orwell’s Animal Farm or The God That Failed collection existed in these libraries.  Certainly the Voice of America had continued its WWII left-wing approach to broadcasts: criticizing conservatives and praising socialists and communists.  Even in 1950 during the Korean War, VOA was broadcasting attacks on South Korea’s anti-Communist, Rhee.  One wonders if VOA broadcasters preferred Kim Il Sung, founder of the present dynasty in North Korea.  But to liberals of Europe and America, Cohn and Schine were simply a pair of intolerant witch-hunters.
            McCarthy charged that there was treason in military bases in New Jersey, where radar and sophisticated technical research was conducted.  There was good reason to believe that secrets from Jersey shore were washing up in Eastern Europe.  One officer, Maj. Gen. Kirke Lawton, alarmed about the problem of subversion in the area, cooperated with McCarthy.  Unfortunately, Lawton would then be sacked.  His replacement, Gen. Ralph Zwicker, was initially cooperative with the McCarthy inquiry, but quickly learnt the lesson of Lawton.  Over night, Zwicker changed tactics from cooperation to obstruction of and lying to McCarthy and his committee.  In time Zwicker was promoted.  That was the Army way.
            The Evans book includes so many facts and exposes of the liberals that one cannot detail them here.  Yet, sometimes Evans spotlights the trees and misses the forest.  This is especially true of the Army McCarthy Hearings.
            While McCarthy maintained that there was treason in New Jersey and that to expose and end it was the purpose of the hearings, the Army had another view.  It maintained that Roy Cohn had threatened to destroy the Army through the hearings because the Army was not granting sufficient privileges to his friend, the now draftee, Private G. David Schine.  The subtext was simple – Cohn wanted hearings to undermine the Army because he felt it was mistreating his boy friend.  The issue was not Red treason, but Lavender revenge.
            McCarthy had been an amateur boxer while a student at Marquette University and he had served during WWII; he had a macho image.  In the 1952 election campaign, McCarthy planned to make a speech attacking the Democratic nominee for President Adlai Stevenson.  There were some rumors about the divorced Democrat, and McCarthy proposed a television address to denounce the Stevenson campaign as one filled with “pinks, punks, and pansies.”  Democrats heard of the project and threatened to expose Eisenhower’s liaison with his WAC chauffeur, Kay Summersby.  The family guy Ike had even considered divorcing Mamie to marry his driver.(David K. Johnson’s The Lavender Scare, pp.121-22)  With the treat of retaliation, McCarthy then abandoned that speech and the Democrats remained silent about Eisenhower’s indiscretion.
            On McCarthy, David Johnson writes, “notorious for his attacks on alleged Communists in government, [McCarthy] was often pressured by his allies to denounce homosexuals in government, but he resisted and did not do so.”(Wikipedia, “gay bashing”)  Furthermore, “McCarthy was not involved in any of the congressional investigations or hearings into homosexuals in government.  Though he was a member of the congressional committee that spent several months examining the homosexuals-in-government issue, McCarthy mysteriously recused himself from those hearings.”(Johnson, Lavender, p. 3)  Johnson speculates that the reason may have been that McCarthy, 43 and unmarried, was himself vulnerable on this issue.     
                      In the Army-McCarthy hearings the Left, the Army, and the Eisenhower Administration sought to destroy McCarthy.  The Army again used deception and diversion, the Eisenhower Administration used cover up, and all used anti-gay prejudice to smash the McCarthy assault.  Army Council Welch spent much time inquiring about a cropped photograph of Private Schine with army officers.   Instead of the GOP questions like “Who lost China?” Welch queried, “Who cropped the Schine photo?”  Cohn was called as a witness.  His “own performance on the stand was, as he admitted a quarter-century later, ‘a disaster’…The unsympathetic [Sen.] McClellan pressed him on whether there was something ‘unusual’ about his relationship with David Schine.  Cohn shifted uneasily and said no.  Then Welch had his sport with him.  Earlier he had worked in a nasty comment about ‘pixies’ and ‘fairies’ having handled the cropped photograph, which raised gales of laughter from the audience…”(Herman, p. 273)  The hearings were televised.  In an era when I Love Luch could not use the word ‘pregnant’ to describe her condition, the liberal Welch was taunting Cohn with words implying he was queer.  Yet, McCarthy is the man whom history portrays as the bully and mudslinger.
            There were tapes made of the Army officials preparing their trumped-up case against Cohn about trying to destroy the Army.  Their whole purpose was to obfuscate, divert attention from the question of possible spies on Jersey military bases, and point instead to Cohn’s queer-love vendetta against the Army.  The Army knew there was nothing to Cohn’s “threat”;  the entire Army case against McCarthy and Cohn was a fraud.  The tapes would reveal that.  And when McCarthy sought to subpoena them, Eisenhower invoked Executive Privilege to deny revealing the tapes.  Evans explicates how the New York Times and Washington Post cheered as the President rejected the demands of Congress for such data.  They expounded how Eisenhower was simply upholding the Constitution and the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches of government. The liberal Establishment all agreed with Ike, Congress had no power to subpoena the tapes.
            Evans is superb at exposing the hypocrisy of the liberals – for when Congress demanded another set of tapes in the 1970s from President Richard Nixon, those very same newspapers reversed themselves and joined the demand.  When Nixon invoked Executive Privilege to prevent Congress from snooping into the President’s affairs, the liberals denied there was such a privilege, and responded with impeachment.  But in the 1950s the same liberal Establishment praised Ike for doing what they would later condemn Nixon for doing.  The liberals did not demand the impeachment of Eisenhower – they demanded the destruction of McCarthy.
            “On June 1 [1954, liberal Republican] Ralph Flanders gave one of the nastiest, ugliest speeches ever made in the Senate Chamber…It compared him[McCarthy] to Hitler…and accused him of homosexuality…Flanders spoke of Cohn’s ‘passionate anxiety’ to protect David Schine and insinuated that McCarthy had his own reason to keep Schines’s ‘services available.’  He urged the Mundt subcommittee to investigate the ‘real issue at stake’ in the McCarthy-Cohn-Schine triangle.”(Herman, p. 274)  McCarthy did not marry until he was 44, and liberal columnist Drew Pearson had provided information which was published in Nevada alleging that McCarthy had partaken in gay activities.  On the other hand, Evans discounts the story that McCarthy or Schine were homosexual, but concedes that Cohn was.
            The Army McCarthy hearings were followed by the Senate’s censure of the Wisconsin Senator in December 1954.  All the Democrats joined with half the Republicans to condemn McCarthy.  (Democrat Sen. John Kennedy did not vote because he was in hospital recuperating from back surgery.)   Thereafter, McCarthy would cease to be a political force.  Spent, he drank more and died in May 1957 at age 48.  His name became an “ism,” a synonym for witch hunts, irresponsible charges, cruelty, smears, and bullying.
            But was McCarthy right?  Putin gloats in 2012 because of the help provided by American spies who helped to make the USSR/Russia a nuclear power.  Putin knows what is in the archives of the spy agencies in Moscow.  However, what is held in the archives of the agencies in Beijing?  Herman writes (p. 168): “In 1945 George Marshall went to China to try to arrange a truce between the warring factions and to propose a coalition government.  Chiang refused, and despaired of Marshall’s and the American government’s naivete in dealing with the Communists.  The result was an American aid embargo to force Chiang’s hand, which lasted until April 1948 – while Mao’s Communists were receiving constant supplies and training from Stalin.  When the Truman administration finally lifted the embargo and authorized an aid package of $400 million, it delayed delivery until November.  By then the Communists were poised for their victorious campaign.”
            Evans clarifies this even more.  The US withheld aid toChiang until he formed a coalition government with the Communists.  In effect, this gave the Chinese Communists a veto power over aid to Chiang.  Because the Communists refused to enter into an agreement with the Nationalists, the US government responded by cutting of aid to Chiang.  Under the circumstances, the Communists did not enter into the coalition, and Chiang received no American aid.  Meanwhile, the Communists received Soviet aid and grew more powerful.(Evans, 416-17)  
            “Sinister figures like Lauchlin Currie flit in and out of the story,…, and FE [foreign expert] officials like [John Stewart] Service and [John Carter] Vincent worked hard to undermine official and public support for the Nationalists.  One of the critical factors in Chiang’s collapse, a rampant inflation and a worthless currency, was certainly engineered by Soviet agents in the Kuomingtang and the American Treasury Department…But when all is said and done, if Chiang would have been an inadequate leader for the Chinese people, Mao was a disastrous one.  If Chiang was willing to countenance corruption and incompetence, Mao was prepared to commit mass murder: perhaps as many as 50 million would die between 1949 and 1969 thanks to Mao’s policies.”(Herman, 168)
            McCarthy was demanding that some of those responsible for America’s pro-Mao policy  be exposed, fired, and not transferred to another government department or to the UN.
            Evans reveals another aspect of the Cold War – but occurring prior to McCarthy’s prominence.  The FBI and other investigations of Communists in government had taken place, especially with the Hitler-Stalin pact.  The FBI even had a list of people to be detained in case of emergency, like J. Robert Oppenheimer.  However, in 1944 government agencies began to remove such anti-communist files to basements, or remote locations, away from personnel offices.  Then many of those files were discarded or disappeared.  In 1950 when McCarthy charged that there were subversives on government payrolls, in time the government would finally tighten security.
            In any bureaucracy, whistle-blowers are usually unappreciated and often considered a threat by and to the directors of the department.  When McCarthy encouraged everyday workers in government to send him information about possible subversives, both  the Truman and Eisenhower Administrations saw him as a threat.  Their actions demonstrate they considered McCarthy “moles” more of a threat than Communist “moles.”
            In taking on the government, McCarthy felt the wrath of the Truman and Eisenhower Administrations, and he endured the hatred of the Left and the Liberal Establishment.  The New York Times, the Washington Post, Edward R. Murrow of CBS, academia, all pitched stories with sufficient spin so that McCarthy would finally strike out. After the censure by the Senate, the Establishment had won.  It might have advised McCarthy, in the manner of the friends of Job, “to curse God and die.”  McCarthy may well have cursed some, but it is unlikely he cursed God.  He died two years after censure, along with his reputation.
            Putin’s boast of 2012 must make us ponder.  Who stuffed the suitcases for Stalin?  Did American “advisors” pull the rug from Chiang and propel Mao to power in China?  Did subversives inside the American government help to accomplish this – and all the millions of murders that ensued?  (In March 2012 even Chinese Communist Premier Wen Jiabao called the Cultural Revolution an “historical tragedy” disaster for China.)  It is time to reconsider McCarthy, and books and by Evans and Herman’s can help us to do just that.