Loyalty and Security

April 4, 1950

Report Outline
Loyalty Probes and the National Security
Development of Federal Loyalty Program
Three Years of Current Loyalty Program
Loyalty Policies of British Government

Loyalty Probes and the National Security

Senate and the Mccarthy Charges; Loyalty Files

Sensational charges of Communist infiltration in the State Department, aired by Sen. McCarthy (R., Wis.) in Lincoln Day speeches and later elaborated on the floor of the Senate, have raised a storm of controversy which has gone beyond the substance of the charges themselves and become expressive of far-reaching political divisions. The McCarthy attack has stirred up intra-party as well as inter-party conflict, and observers have surmised that it represents a bid by isolationist elements for renewed ascendancy in the Republican fold and in the country. In its broad aspects, therefore, the attack may be viewed as the forerunner of a new struggle over foreign policy and America's position of leadership in the postwar world.

Meanwhile, McCarthy's specific allegations, however ill-founded they may prove to be, have had the effect of raising questions as to the adequacy of President Truman's three-year-old employee loyalty program and of bringing into the open a problem of security separate from the loyalty problem itself. Coming on top of the Hiss and Coplon convictions, the senator's charges—though vehemently denied by the President, Secretary of State Acheson, and the individuals named—could not fail to produce demands for investigation and for adoption of stricter measures to guard against Communist intrigue. Administration leaders met the challenge by themselves sponsoring an inquiry by a Foreign Relations subcommittee headed by Sen. Tydings (D., Md.). Other committees of Congress moved to advance pending bills to tighten internal security legislation and provide new methods of controlling Communist activity.

The President, while offering to cooperate with the Tydings subcommittee in every reasonable way, said he would not permit transfer to it of loyalty files pertaining to the cases cited by McCarthy. The subcommittee, as directed by the Senate resolution authorizing the inquiry, thereupon served subpoenas on the Secretary of State, a representative of the Attorney General, and the president of the Civil Service Commission. But those officials were obliged to decline all demands for the files in compliance with a Truman directive of Mar. 13, 1948. The possibility that the officials would be cited for contempt of the Senate seemed remote. A long line of precedents supports the Executive Branch in refusing to furnish information whose disclosure it considers would be against the public interest.

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