Fair Investigations

April 7, 1954

Report Outline
Demand for Reform of Congressional Inquiries
Purposes of Congressional Investigations
Criticisms of Investigating Methods
Reforms Proposed for Committee Inquiries
Special Focus

Demand for Reform of Congressional Inquiries

Rising indignation over abuses in the conduct of congressional investigations has generated pressures, both in and out of Congress, for reform of committee procedures to protect rights of witnesses and to give greater assurance that purposes for which the inquiries are instituted will in fact be accomplished.

The increasing tendency of legislative investigations to take on the aspects of criminal trials, with committees assuming the functions of judge, jury and prosecutor, has prompted the introduction in the present Congress of more than a dozen sets of rules to govern their proceedings. The evolution of investigating methods from a stage at which rough handling was normally reserved for persons of ill repute to the present stage where no witness seems immune from such treatment has been chiefly responsible for the growing demand that “written restraints be imposed on congressional investigators.

Anger was stirred last year by a threatened investigation of American churches and the attempted subpenaing of former President Truman to give testimony under oath before the House Un-American Activities Committee. The treatment accorded a distinguished military officer, Brig. Gen. Ralph Zwicker, by Sen. McCarthy (R., Wis.) when testifying before his permanent investigating subcommittee, Feb. 18, and the release on the following day by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Langer (R., N. D.) of unsupported charges against Chief Justice-designate Warren brought many public protests.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Ethics in Government
Jan. 31, 2014  Whistleblowers
Feb. 18, 2011  Lies and Politics
Apr. 30, 2010  Gridlock in Washington
Jun. 22, 2007  Prosecutors and Politics
Jun. 16, 2006  Pork Barrel Politics
May 07, 1999  Independent Counsels Re-Examined
Feb. 21, 1997  Independent Counsels
May 27, 1994  Political Scandals
Apr. 06, 1979  Assassinations Investigation
Dec. 05, 1973  Presidential Impeachment
May 16, 1973  Ethics in Government
May 10, 1961  Secret Societies and Political Action
Jun. 29, 1960  Conflicts of Interest
Oct. 26, 1955  Businessmen in Government
Apr. 07, 1954  Fair Investigations
Apr. 25, 1952  Congressional Immunity
Dec. 05, 1951  Ethics in Government
Jan. 28, 1948  Individual Rights and Congressional Investigations
Jul. 02, 1934  Political Reform and Federal Patronage
Mar. 07, 1924  Congressional Extravagance and the Budget
Nov. 12, 1923  Issues Developed in the Teapot Dome Inquiry