The Destruction of Joe McCarthy
by Scott Speidel, Florida State University
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“Average Americans can do very little insofar as digging Communist espionage agents out of our government is concerned. They must depend upon those of us whom they send down here to man the watch-towers of the nation. The thing that I think we must remember is that this is a war, which a brutalitarian force has won to a greater extent than any brutalitarian force has won a war in the history of the world before.
“You can talk about Communism as though it’s something ten thousand miles away. Let me say it’s right here with us now. Unless we make sure that there is no infiltration of our government, then just as certain as you sit there, in the period of our lives you will see a Red world.
“Anyone who has followed the Communist conspiracy, even remotely, and can add two and two, will tell you that there is no remote possibility of this war which we are in today — and it’s a war, a war which we’ve been losing — no remote possibility of this ending except by victory or by death for this civilization.”
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THOSE WORDS were spoken 40 years ago by U.S. Senator Joseph Raymond McCarthy, Republican of Wisconsin, a man who since has been demonized unjustly. Since McCarthy’s time the subversion of our nation has proceeded steadily, and his warning to us resonates more and more clearly as truth, now that death for this civilization is in view. (ILLUSTRATION: Joseph McCarthy: His efforts to expose and remove Communists from the U.S. government caused forces far wider than Communism itself to viciously attack and destroy him.)
Joseph McCarthy’s fame as an anti-Communist began with a speech he delivered on February 9, 1950, to the Republican Women’s Club in Wheeling, West Virginia, in which he said that there were at least 57 known Communists in the U.S. State Department, and that the State Department knew they were there.
McCarthy’s charge was credible, because President Harry Truman’s Secretary of State at the time, Dean Acheson, was well known as a man sympathetic to Communism and Communists. As far back as the 1930s Acheson had worked as a lawyer on behalf of Stalin’s regime, prior to the diplomatic recognition of the Soviet Union by the United States, and recently he had ignored reports about the Communist Party connections of his protege at the State Department, Alger Hiss. Acheson also had been the chief U.S. advisor at the Yalta Conference, in February 1945, which consigned eastern Europe to Communist rule, and he presided over the drafting of the United Nations Charter. In the State Department Acheson fostered the careers of Communists and stifled the careers of anti-Communists.
Furthermore, as Ohio’s Republican Senator Robert Taft said at the time, “Pro-Communist policies of the State Department fully justify Joe McCarthy in his demand for an investigation.”
Grand Scale of Subversion
Communist infiltration of the U.S. government had occurred on a grand scale during the reign of Franklin Roosevelt. Congressman Martin Dies, Democrat of Texas and chairman of the House Committee on Un-American Activities from its inception in 1938 until 1945, had warned Roosevelt in 1940 that there were thousands of Communists and pro-Communists on the government payroll, but FDR refused to take action, saying:
“I do not believe in Communism any more than you do, but there is nothing wrong with the Communists in this country. Several of the best friends I have are Communists. . . .
“I do not regard the Communists as any present or future threat to our country; in fact, I look upon Russia as our strongest ally in the years to come. As I told you when you began your investigation, you should confine yourself to Nazis and Fascists. While I do not believe in Communism, Russia is far better off and the world is safer under Communism than under the Czars.”
Under the circumstances, McCarthy’s charge that there were 57 known Communists in the State Department seems very modest.
A Maverick for the Truth
McCarthy had been a maverick from the beginning. In 1949 he had dared champion the cause of German prisoners of war held in connection with the alleged “Malmédy massacre.” In truth, what had happened near the Belgian town of Malmédy in December 1944 was unclear at the time, part of what U.S. General Thomas T. Handy, who in 1949 was the commander in chief of U.S. forces in Europe, called “a confused, mobile, and desperate combat action.” It is known now that a number of American soldiers who had surrendered there to the Germans were shortly thereafter killed in cross fire when their captors, who were marching them to a rear area, were engaged by other U.S. units. When their bodies were found by U.S. forces afterward with their hands tied behind their backs, however, it appeared that they might have been deliberately killed.
After the war, Germans who had taken part in the fighting at Malmédy were turned over to U.S. Army Colonel A.H. Rosenfeld and his Jewish underlings for “interrogation.” The prisoners were arbitrarily reduced to civilian status so that they would not be protected by the Geneva Convention, and brutal torture was used to extract confessions. When 18-year-old prisoner Arvid Freimuth hanged himself after repeated beatings rather than sign a “confession,” the prosecutors were permitted to use as “evidence” the unsigned statement which they themselves had contrived.
McCarthy dared to speak against this officially sanctioned lynching, when almost no one else had the courage to do so. By fearlessly championing the underdogs, the defeated and vilified Germans, and speaking out against the actual atrocities committed by self-righteous aliens in American uniform, the Senator demonstrated the rare moral courage that later propelled him into the forefront of the struggle against Communism.
The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Senator Raymond Baldwin, Republican of Connecticut, was assigned to investigate the charges of torture, but whitewashed them instead. On July 26, 1949, Senator McCarthy withdrew in disgust from the hearings and announced in a speech on the Senate floor that two members of the Committee, Senator Baldwin and Senator Estes Kefauver, Democrat of Tennessee, had law partners among the Army interrogators they were supposedly investigating. This was in several ways a preview of things to come.
The Jews showed instant hostility toward anyone who interfered with their campaign of vengeance against the conquered Germans, and so they began turning their big guns in the media against McCarthy: a December 1949 poll of news correspondents covering the United States Senate already had reporters branding McCarthy “the worst Senator” — a high honor indeed.
When McCarthy had arrived in Washington as a freshman Senator in 1946, he had been invited to lunch by Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal. McCarthy writes:
“Before meeting Jim Forrestal I thought we were losing to international Communism because of incompetence and stupidity on the part of our planners. I mentioned that to Forrestal. I shall forever remember his answer. He said, ‘McCarthy, consistency has never been a mark of stupidity. If they were merely stupid they would occasionally make a mistake in our favor.’ This phrase struck me so forcefully that I have often used it since.”
Considering the destructive policies that thrived in Washington, McCarthy concluded that to fight Communism effectively it was not enough to denounce Communism in general; anyone — even a Communist — could claim to oppose Communism. The Senator decided that it was necessary to identify those responsible for treasonous policies and then accuse them on the basis of what they actually had done, not on the basis of the ideas to which they paid lip service.
A special investigating subcommittee chaired by Senator Millard Tydings, Democrat of Maryland, was set up purportedly to investigate McCarthy’s claim that Communists and pro-Communists were being harbored in the State Department. In reality, as Tydings himself admitted, the purpose was to silence McCarthy. Tydings boasted, “Let me have McCarthy for three days in public hearings, and he will never show his face in the Senate again.” Tydings’ effort to discredit the upstart patriot would be heavily aided by the major media.
One of the reporters present at the hearings was Elmer Davis, a prominent radio commentator who had been head of the Office of War Information (OWI). McCarthy noted:
“Many of the [principals in the] cases I was about to present had once been employees in the OWI under Davis and then had moved into the State Department. As I glanced at Davis I recalled that Stanislaw Mikolajczyk, one of the anti-Communist leaders of Poland, had warned the State Department, while Davis was head of the OWI, that OWI broadcasts were ‘following the Communist line consistently,’ and that the broadcasts ‘might well have emanated from Moscow itself.’ There could be no doubt how Davis would report the story. . . .
“At one of the other tables I saw [left-wing, muckraking columnist] Drew Pearson’s men. I could not help but remember that Pearson had employed a member of the Communist Party, Andrew Older, to write Pearson’s stories on the House Committee on Un-American Activities and that another one of Pearson’s limited staff was David Karr, who had previously worked for the Communist Party’s official publication, the Daily Worker. No doubt about how Pearson would cover the story. . . .
“As I waited for the chairman to open the hearing I, of course, knew the left-wing elements of the press would twist and distort the story to protect every Communist whom I exposed, but frankly I had no conception of how far the dishonest news coverage would go.”
In the case of Owen Lattimore, the testimony of McCarthy’s chief witness, ex-Communist Louis Budenz, was widely misrepresented. Lattimore was a scholar on Far Eastern affairs employed by the State Department as a consultant; he had advised the State Department that Chinese Communist leader Mao Tse-Tung was merely “a liberal agrarian reformer” at a time when Washington was still unsure how to react to Mao’s efforts to overthrow the Chinese government. In McCarthy’s words:
“[Budenz] . . . testified that . . . [Lattimore], who had been employed by the government, consulted for years by State Department officials on Far Eastern policy, and looked to by newspapermen and magazine editors for news on Far Eastern trends, had been a member of the Communist Party.”
Reporters, Some of them Honest
Many newspapers and wire services so twisted Budenz’s testimony about Lattimore, however, that it was not clear to most Americans that Lattimore had indeed been identified positively as a Communist.
One honest reporter, Dave McConnell of the New York Herald Tribune, wrote in the May 16, 1950, edition of his now defunct paper that “you have to use a sieve to strain out the bias in the McCarthy stories published in many papers.”
“Tail-gunner Joe,” as McCarthy was nicknamed by the press, was seen by many as a national hero. A Gallup poll taken May 21, 1950, showed that among the general public he had four supporters for every three detractors. In a later Gallup poll, taken in January 1954, 50 per cent. of the public viewed him favorably, and 29 per cent. viewed him unfavorably. McCarthy was the one man in Washington, D.C., who bucked the bipartisan pressure to be polite to America’s enemies and to “get along by going along.” He was the one man who took anti-Communism seriously and was willing to do something about it.
At the time conservative writer Harold Lord Varney wrote in the American Mercury:
“McCarthy is where he is today because he satisfies the deep national hunger for an affirmative man. In a Washington of vacillating, irresolute, pressure-group-cowed politicians, he stands out in sharp relief as a man sure of himself. His unshaken self-confidence is shown by the opponents he has tackled: they have been Marshall, Acheson, Tydings, Conant — men in the full tide of their authority. And he has never lost a major Washington fight. . . .
“He sometimes gets too far out in front of public opinion, but so far public opinion has always followed him. . . .
“Because McCarthy has been willing to act as the shock absorber of the main stream of pro-Communist abuse, the careers of all [other] anti-Communists have been made easier. . . .
“One far-reaching consequence of [McCarthy’s fight] has been its impact upon the American world of ideas. The climate of American public discussion has been amazingly cleared since McCarthy began to fight. . . . The long grip on the nation’s communications media exercised by the literary Reds and Pinkos has been broken. . . .”
This is all very different, of course, from today’s popular conception, which was molded by the controlled media. Little is said of McCarthy’s popularity, which even Eisenhower dared not challenge directly. Instead, we are led to believe that McCarthy was a brutal tyrant who somehow managed to run roughshod over everyone’s civil liberties and give the entire country a very bad case of claustrophobia for several years, all of this as chairman of a Senate subcommittee.
Make no mistake about it, McCarthy did cause considerable discomfort to some people: to the alien subversives and traitors whose ultimate goal was and still is the New World Order. It was these people who, in their effort to silence McCarthy, ironically characterized him as an enemy of free speech. The First Amendment, of course, had been drafted precisely to protect men like McCarthy, who dared to identify treason in high places.
There were undoubtedly, however, some sincere, patriotic Americans who agreed with McCarthy’s aim of removing Communists from government, but who found his method, with all of its sensationalism and public-relations gimmickry, distasteful. McCarthy’s method was, as he himself explained, a last resort:
“I have followed the method of publicly exposing the truth about men who, because of incompetence or treason, were betraying this nation. Another method would be to take the evidence to the President and ask him to discharge those who were serving the Communist cause. A third method would be to give the facts to the proper Senate committee which had the power to hire investigators and subpoena witnesses and records. The second and third methods . . . were tried without success. . . . The only method left to me was to present the truth to the American people. This I did.”
People who criticized McCarthy’s public accusations merely as being in poor taste clearly did not appreciate the gravity of the situation and the necessity for taking action. Also it should be noted that McCarthy had not wanted to read his original list of 57 subversives publicly, but the Tydings Committee required it of him. According to the Congressional Record of Feb 20, 1950, p. 2049, McCarthy protested on the Senate floor:
“I think . . . it would be improper to make the names public until the appropriate Senate Committee can meet in executive session and get them. . . . It might leave a wrong impression.”
Unfortunately, “the wrong impression” was exactly what the Tydings Committee wished to promote. In other words, contrary to the reputation for “recklessness” that was applied to him, McCarthy exercised his First Amendment right with great care.
Republicans Without Honor
Like some resurrected Paul Revere or latter-day Cicero, it was he who sounded the alarm, who let the American people know that their government had been subverted by alien interests; and it was the shadow government of “globalists” who wished to silence him, so that their power and their pernicious influence would remain hidden from the American people.
International Communism and international finance — the twin thrusts of Jewish power — were both ill-served by the attention McCarthy drew to the issues of loyalty and subversion.
In the 1952 elections the Republicans captured both houses of Congress and the Presidency, largely due to McCarthy’s influence. McCarthy became chairman of the Senate’s Government Operations Committee and its Subcommittee on Investigations. The new President, however, was a pet of the New World Order clique, and he would succeed where Truman had failed in discrediting McCarthy.
In the discrediting of McCarthy, there is no doubt that there was a conspiracy at work. We know this because men who were privy to the conspiracy later wrote books about it. The activities of the conspirators were, of course, necessarily subtle; Eisenhower himself studiously avoided even mentioning McCarthy’s name in public, and the media coverage was almost unbelievably biased. Thus, for the general public, the arrangements which brought down McCarthy were a mystery, though in essence they were very simple: McCarthy was maneuvered into an awkward position, the major media portrayed him as unfavorably as possible, and his colleagues deserted him.
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Fear of “Anti-Semitism” Provides an Opening
MCCARTHY’S REPUTATION was destroyed chiefly by the feud that two staffers on his Subcommittee on Investigations, Roy Cohn and G. David Schine, conducted against the United States Army, contrary to McCarthy’s wishes.
Under pressure from influential Jewish columnist George Sokolsky and the Jewish president of the Hearst Corporation, Richard Berlin, both purported anti-Communists, McCarthy announced on January 2, 1953, that 26-year-old Roy Cohn would be the chief counsel of the Investigations Subcommittee. Cohn, the son of New York Supreme Court Judge Albert Cohn, had been well served by his Jewish connections in the past, having been hired as an assistant U.S. attorney immediately after passing the New York bar examination. Cohn himself later admitted that he was hired by McCarthy primarily because he was a Jew:
“There was a growing slander abroad in the land . . . that McCarthy was a Jew-hater . . . and he wanted to deflect it. I was the obvious answer, and the alternative — [Robert Kennedy,] the son of the well-known, well-documented anti-Semite Joseph P. Kennedy, the former pro-Hitler ambassador to the Court of St. James — was the last person McCarthy needed to head his committee.”
It probably need not be stressed that the Jews themselves were the source of this “slander” that McCarthy felt obliged to counter.
Thus, McCarthy was stuck with Cohn; privately he expressed the fear that if Cohn resigned for any reason the charge of “anti-Semitism” immediately would be raised against him again.
Furthermore, with most of the news media already solidly against him, McCarthy was desperate for some favorable press coverage. Illinois Republican Senator Everett Dirksen commented, “Cohn was put on the Committee by the Hearst press, and Joe doesn’t dare lose that support.”
Cohn, who died of AIDS in 1986, was a homosexual, and rumor of the perversion became widespread after Cohn had brought another young Jew, G. David Schine, onto McCarthy’s staff. According to Cohn himself in his autobiography, Cohn and Schine were then rumored to be “Jack and Jill.” This rumor was undoubtedly a great embarrassment to McCarthy, since the controlled media had not yet succeeded in making homosexuality fashionable, and homosexuals were among the security risks to be investigated.
At Cohn’s insistence, Schine was accepted as an unpaid “chief consultant” on Communism. Schine’s credentials for this position were that he had authored a pamphlet, Definition of Communism, which his wealthy parents had allowed him to distribute in their hotel chain. This pamphlet gave incorrect dates for the Russian Revolution and the founding of the Communist Party, confused Marx with Lenin, Stalin with Trotsky, and Kerensky with Prince Lvov, and got Lenin’s name wrong. The Jewish millionaire-playboy was thus highly qualified, in Cohn’s view, to be a consultant.
McCarthy hoped that he could save himself from accusations of “anti-Semitism” with Roy Cohn, and if necessary, with Dave Schine. But the day McCarthy accepted these two Jews as his assistants was the day his downfall really began.
As the son of a Jewish multi-millionaire, Schine had avoided the draft for the Korean War by getting himself classified 4-F. As soon as he became a staff member of McCarthy’s committee, however, at the instigation of left-wing journalist Drew Pearson the Army reclassified Schine 1-A and drafted him. Thus, the stage was set for Roy Cohn to involve McCarthy in a dispute with the United States Army.
Army-McCarthy Hearings: Dragged Against His Will
It is clear that McCarthy was dragged into this dispute against his will. Army lawyer John Adams relates:
“Senator McCarthy spoke out quite freely about his irritation over Schine. He told me that the individual is of absolutely no help to the committee, was interested in nothing but the photographers and getting his picture in the papers, and that things had reached the point where he was a complete pest. McCarthy stated to me quite emphatically that he was anxious to see this individual drafted, and . . . he hoped . . . we would send him as far away as possible ‘to get him out of [his] hair.” . . . “Send him wherever you can, as far away as possible. Korea is too close.’”
Cohn raised hell with the Army, first threatening revenge for the drafting of Schine, then agitating for special treatment for his putative boyfriend. John Adams stated in a January 21, 1954, meeting in Attorney General Herbert Brownell’s office that demands for the names of Army loyalty-board members usually were preceded by flare-ups over the reassignment of Schine. McCarthy was not happy about this behavior, and he privately complained that Cohn was indeed carrying out a vendetta against the Army on account of Schine.
McCarthy had instructed Adams on December 17, 1953, that, having learned the extent of the interference Cohn and Schine were causing for the commanding general of Fort Dix, he wished the Army to discontinue all special treatment for Schine. Subsequently, the alleged anti-Communist Jew, columnist George Sokolsky, contacted Adams repeatedly, continuing to urge special treatment for Schine. On February 12, 1954, Sokolsky went so far as to tell Adams that he, Sokolsky, would “get them to drop all this stuff they are planning for the Army [i.e., McCarthy’s investigation of Communist subversion in the Army],” if a special assignment were arranged for Schine. It seemed that Sokolsky was more concerned about the comfort and convenience of one fellow Jew than about the national security of the United States — or he was deliberately exacerbating the animosity between the Army and McCarthy.
Meanwhile, in late January 1954 a story in the New York Post featured Fort Dix recruits complaining that Schine lived among them like a visiting dignitary — and Joseph McCarthy was taking the blame.
Secretary of the Army Robert Stevens said that he was wary about “discriminating against” Schine, because Schine was a Jew. Likewise, McCarthy said that he was afraid to fire Cohn, “because [I] might be accused of being anti-Semitic.” Here we have the Secretary of the Army and the chairman of a Senate committee, both paralyzed by fear of being called “anti-Semitic,” allowing 26-year-old Roy Cohn and the utterly inconsequential G. David Schine to walk all over them.
It was not only the fact that McCarthy had felt the wrath of the Jews when he had spoken out against the barbarous treatment of German prisoners five years earlier that made him wary of offending them again. His investigations into Communist subversion were turning up a vastly disproportionate number of Jewish Communists, and he was afraid that the Jews would believe he was hunting Jews rather than Communists.
By using the threat of investigation as a weapon to coerce the Army into giving special treatment to his friend Schine, Cohn had tainted the legitimacy of McCarthy’s patriotic work. Cohn was creating exactly the impression of reckless disregard for fairness and propriety that McCarthy had wished to avoid.
McCarthy had apparently hoped that the alleged anti-Communist Jews with whom he dealt were what they claimed to be. With their involvement, however, all his efforts met with grief. If the Senator had taken account of Jewish traits — especially their bent for deception, which goes far beyond anything encountered in the Gentile world — then perhaps he would have braved the charges of “anti-Semitism” rather than tolerate Jews on his staff.
The anti-Communist credentials of Jewish columnist George Sokolsky, for example, who had recommended Roy Cohn, were invented rather late in life. In 1917, at the age of 24, Sokolsky had gone to Russia with a large number of other Jews, filled with ardor for the prospect of world Communism and hoping to lend a hand to the Bolsheviks in fastening the Communist yoke on the Russians. For a while he edited the English-language Communist newspaper Daily News in Petrograd; then he left for China to practice his journalistic skills on behalf of the revolutionary leader Sun Yat-sen, who was working to set up a Communist government in China and was receiving aid from the Soviets. In 1931, claiming disillusionment with the methods of Bolshevism, he returned to the United States, where he used different methods.
As a right-wing columnist for the Hearst newspapers, Sokolsky was well-placed to accomplish much for the Jewish obsession with the New World Order by misdirecting the anti-Communist movement into blind alleys, false hopes, and confusion — and away from the truth. Considering these facts, are we justified in believing his claim that he had completely changed his ideals and in the 1950s was fervently against what he had been fervently for earlier in Russia and China? A clue may be provided by Sokolsky’s 1935 book, We Jews, in which he lamented the fact that Jews are not even more cohesive than they are. Certainly, no race-conscious Jew could have genuinely supported McCarthy’s efforts to root Communists out of positions of influence in American life, since he would have understood that exposing Communism meant exposing Jews.
Similarly, Roy Cohn, who called Sokolsky his “rabbi,” was another member of the far left who claimed a miraculous conversion: as late as 1949 he was openly calling anti-Communism a “witch-hunt” and said that Alger Hiss was a victim of a “right-wing conspiracy.” Given the legendary cohesiveness of the Jewish people and the Jewishness of Communism, one is justified in viewing these overnight conversions with suspicion.
There is more than Roy Cohn’s youthful attachment to leftist causes to make us suspicious of his motives: his father Albert Cohn had been the first judge appointed by Franklin Roosevelt after the latter became governor of New York. Thus, the Cohns were firmly attached to the very clique that had fostered what McCarthy called “twenty years of treason.”
It looks very much as if McCarthy, who wished so much to avoid crossing the Jews, allowed himself to be swindled in the age-old game of Good Jew/Bad Jew.
Ike and McCarthy
The man whom Eisenhower had appointed Secretary of the Army, Robert Stevens, head of the J.P. Stevens textiles business, was staunchly anti-Communist, having witnessed the pernicious influence of Communists in exacerbating labor disputes. Stevens was even distrustful of New Deal supporters. He was thus appointed not as a member of the New World Order clique around Ike, but merely as a valuable (if misguided) Republican booster. Stevens had apparently taken Eisenhower’s anti-Communist campaign rhetoric at face value.
Upon assuming office in February 1953, Stevens requested a briefing on the Army’s Loyalty and Security Program: “The presentation should set forth what steps are to be taken to prevent disloyal and subversive persons from infiltrating the Army, and what steps have been taken to discover and remove such persons who may have found their way into the Army Establishment.” So concerned was Stevens about combatting subversion that he asked advice from J. Edgar Hoover, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Finally, when Stevens heard that McCarthy was concerned about security risks in the Army, he rushed a telegram to him, offering his assistance in the investigation.
McCarthy’s staff announced on September 10, 1953, that there was very serious evidence of espionage at Fort Monmouth. The evidence was an extract of a report from J. Edgar Hoover to the head of Army Intelligence. The document mentioned 35 Fort Monmouth employees as security risks, most of them Jews of Russian origin who had been in contact with the atom-bomb spies, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. Stevens instructed the commanding general at Fort Monmouth: “Cooperate! See to it that they interview anyone they wish to.”
During the investigation at Fort Monmouth, however, attention was diverted to nearby Camp Kilmer. This was the case of the Jewish Communist Irving Peress. Peress, an Army dentist who was proved to be not only a member but an organizer of Communist groups, had sworn a false oath upon receiving his officer’s commission. Worse, when the matter was exposed Peress was promoted and later given an honorable discharge, thus escaping the jeopardy of a court-martial. The Peress case was a tremendous embarrassment to the Army, because it showed that security in the Army was a mere formality which was easily circumvented.
McCarthy’s confidential informant on the Peress case was General Ralph Zwicker. A hearing in New York City was arranged, and General Zwicker was called to testify as to the identity of the Pentagon official who had ordered Peress’ honorable discharge. On the very morning of the hearing, however, Zwicker received an order from John Adams not to reveal the official’s name. McCarthy did all he could to persuade Zwicker to talk in spite of the order, but he failed.
Thereafter the press made a great fuss over McCarthy’s rough treatment of Zwicker and the “insult to the uniform.” It was alleged that McCarthy had without cause accused Zwicker of shielding subversives.
Secretary Stevens decided not to allow General Zwicker or other Army officers to testify further. Says William Ewald, a Department of Defense official at the time: “A cheer went up: from anti-McCarthyites within the Administration itself, from editorial writers far and wide, from liberals coast to coast.” Especially noteworthy was a telephone call to Stevens from Marshall Plan administrator Paul Hoffman in California — at whose residence Eisenhower was then vacationing. This congratulation was inferred to represent the attitude of that champion McCarthy-hater, President Ike.
Eisenhower’s friend Hoffman was married to Anna Rosenberg, who had been Truman’s Jewish Assistant Secretary of Defense in 1950 and had been diligent in promoting liberal programs in the Army and the other armed services. She, more than anyone else, had forced full racial integration on the services.
Unlike Ike, however, Secretary Stevens was not an implacable foe of McCarthy and anti-Communism. Although he thought Roy Cohn was awful, he said he saw McCarthy as a “reasonable” man. In a conference with the majority members of McCarthy’s subcommittee, an agreement was reached and Stevens signed a document that stated this accord. The anti-McCarthy interpretation of this event has been that Secretary Stevens did not understand what he was doing. More likely, Stevens did not understand what Eisenhower was doing. Nor did the American people understand!
Stevens said of the media’s explosively hostile reaction to his reconciliation with McCarthy, “I think I have been absolutely crucified. . . .” Furthermore, he showed naiveté by saying that he thought the press had “misunderstood” the agreement.
Eisenhower decided to have Secretary Stevens “admit an administrative error” and renege on the agreement. A repudiation of Stevens’ agreement with McCarthy was composed, and Stevens was made to read it publicly.
Meanwhile, President Eisenhower’s staff, without Stevens’ knowledge, had instructed Stevens’ subordinate John Adams to compile a written record of Cohn’s and Schine’s behavior. Adams, a holdover from the Truman administration, apparently was considered more politically reliable than the conservative Stevens.
On March 8, 1954, when Secretary Stevens was asked about the record of improper pressure by Cohn and Schine (which John Adams had leaked to the press a few days earlier) he said, “I personally think that anything in that line would prove to be very much exaggerated. . . . I am the Secretary, and I have had some talks with the committee and the chairman . . . and by and large as far as the treatment of me is concerned, I have no personal complaints . . . .”
On March 10, although Stevens had not even been aware of the Schine chronology two days earlier, he was pressured into approving a version heavily “revised” by Defense Department attorney Struve Hensel. It was called the “Stevens-Adams chronology,” although Stevens had only just learned of it. Under pressure, the Secretary of the Army was now lending his name to a document that he had said would be “very much exaggerated.”
The Army-McCarthy Hearings Commence
In late April 1954 the Army-McCarthy hearings began. The Army had accused McCarthy and Roy Cohn of using improper pressure, evidence of this being the so-called “Stevens-Adams chronology.” McCarthy counter-charged that the Army was trying to discredit his committee and stop its investigation of the Army.
During the hearings Stevens was the Army’s “star witness.” He “stonewalled” the subcommittee, giving vague, unresponsive, and often self-contradictory testimony. It became clear to McCarthy that Stevens was acting under orders from Eisenhower’s staff. The Army’s case, however, already had been blown sky-high, and McCarthy essentially vindicated, when Senator Everett Dirksen, a member of the McCarthy Subcommittee, testified that the Army’s counsel John Adams and Eisenhower’s administrative assistant Gerald Morgan had approached him on January 22, 1954, seeking to stifle part of McCarthy’s investigation of the Army. Dirksen testified that Adams had mentioned the Army’s file on Cohn and Schine, dropping a “hint” that these files might be very damaging if they were “issued and ventilated on the front pages” of newspapers.
At this point, John Adams, not wishing to be the lone scapegoat for Eisenhower, and, furthermore, living under the possibility of a prosecution for perjury, revealed that he had been told to compile the chronology on Cohn and Schine by members of Eisenhower’s staff in a secret meeting in the Attorney General’s office the day before approaching Dirksen.
The White House was now clearly implicated in a conspiracy to shield subversion in the government. On May 17 Eisenhower, in an obvious attempt to prevent his own role from being investigated further, issued what became known as the “iron curtain” order. Eisenhower claimed that it was a Constitutional principle that the President could forbid his subordinates from revealing any information to the Congress.
On May 27, after several more days of vague, unresponsive, and sometimes conflicting testimony from Stevens, McCarthy responded in exasperation to Eisenhower’s gag order: “The oath which every person in this government takes, to protect and defend the country against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that oath towers far above any presidential security directive.” He urged federal employees to come forward with any information they might have about corruption and subversion in government.
The next day Eisenhower had his press secretary convey to the media a statement that likened McCarthy to Hitler: a comparison that was not meant to flatter McCarthy. Edward R. Murrow and other media figures took their cue and began echoing that line.
McCarthy, however, was expressing essentially the same idea which Theodore Roosevelt had expressed half a century earlier, when the latter said:
“It is patriotic to support [the President] insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. . . . In any event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth — whether about the President or anyone else.”
And of course, the truth was exactly what Ike feared. Was this not the Eisenhower who had carried out Operation Keelhaul after the Second World War, in which anti-Communist Russians, Hungarians, and others were forcibly repatriated to a certain death under Communism? Was this not the Eisenhower who deliberately starved to death over a million German prisoners of war? And was this not the same Eisenhower who later sent paratroopers into Little Rock to enforce racial integration with bayonets?
Regardless of the legal result, biased media coverage made the Army-McCarthy hearings a propaganda victory for the pro-Communists. Army counsel Joseph Welch, through hyperbole and histrionics, managed to convince a large portion of the public that a few peripheral issues he raised during the hearings were serious embarrassments to McCarthy.
Welch, the Television Cameras, and the End
For example, Welch insisted for the television cameras that part of an FBI report listing subversives at Fort Monmouth was “a carbon copy of precisely nothing” and “a perfect phoney,” even though FBI Director Hoover said that he had written it. Similarly, Welch dramatically accused McCarthy of introducing a “doctored” photograph into evidence: it was a quite genuine photograph, which merely had been cropped and enlarged for the sake of clarity. The media played up Welch’s accusations and ignored McCarthy’s explanations.
Welch was much more an actor than a lawyer: later, in 1959, he starred in a major Hollywood production, Anatomy of a Murder, alongside Jimmy Stewart and Lee Remick. In any event, during the Army-McCarthy hearings the Senate hearing room was his stage, and he played his role to the hilt. When McCarthy pointed out that a member of Welch’s own law firm, Fred Fischer, had been a member of the National Lawyers’ Guild, an organization cited as a Communist front by the Attorney General, Welch waxed maudlin and sobbed the famous line, “Have you no sense of decency at long last?” Later, outside the hearing room, Welch wept again for the benefit of the news photographers. (Welch’s goading of McCarthy and tearful denouement may have been planned in advance; see Appendix below. — Ed.)
As reported by the media, Welch was a man of great humanity who was shocked that McCarthy would be so ignoble as to attempt to ruin Fischer’s career with his accusation, while McCarthy was a heel for even raising the matter. The fact that McCarthy’s charge was perfectly accurate seemed to make no difference at all to the media.
And so it was with other episodes in the hearings. One contemporary observer, Harold Varney, noted in the American Mercury:
“Unfortunately, the anti-McCarthy press was not honest enough to admit publicly that the Senator had been vindicated. The smearers continued to parrot the smears, just as if the disproof were not before the country.”
The masters of the controlled media were determined to “get” McCarthy, and they did. They had not directed as much hatred on any public figure since Adolf Hitler.
By September many of his supporters in the Congress, ever sensitive to the direction of the political wind, had thrown in the towel. McCarthy’s Senate colleagues stripped him of his committee chair in November. On December 2, 1954, the Senate voted 67-22 to condemn him for “conduct contrary to Senatorial traditions.” The condemnation permanently ended his effectiveness as a legislator.
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Additions and annotations by Kevin Alfred Strom; originally published in 1994; American Dissident Voices broadcast series title “Joe McCarthy: Tragic hero.”
The Set Up: Welch and McCarthy
MANY BELIEVE that Welch set up McCarthy through his breaking of a pre-hearing agreement and threatening to expose Cohn and Schine as homosexuals. According to writer Brian Burns:
The quote, “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?” was asked of the notorious Senator Joe McCarthy by Attorney Joseph Welch at the climactic moment of the Army-McCarthy Hearings, a 55-day spectacle that riveted the attention of the nation in the spring of 1954.
A grandfatherly, bespectacled man with a fondness for neckties, Walpole’s Welch was the lead counsel for the Army during the hearings, which aired live on the ABC and DuMont networks.
Welch’s memorable excoriation of McCarthy came as the bullet point of a tearful and impassioned speech in which he blasted McCarthy for his “cruelty and recklessness.” It was a moment that would forever alter the lives of both men….
Welch, an attorney at the Boston law firm of Hale and Dorr, was hired to represent the Army….
The penultimate confrontation with the Wisconsin senator came on June 9, while Welch was needling Cohn in cross examination about the contention that there were 130 known Communists working in Army labs throughout the country.
After stewing for a while in the background, McCarthy finally interjects after Welch playfully asks Cohn why he doesn’t just have the FBI get all of the Communists out of the Army by sundown.
McCarthy tells Welch that one of his co-workers at Hale and Dorr, “a young man named Fischer,” had belonged for three or four years to the National Lawyers Guild, an organization that was named “years and years” ago as the legal bulwark of the Communist party.
Since Welch was so interested in ferreting out Communists, he should be made aware of the fact that Fischer was a member of his own firm, McCarthy said. Welch’s response was brutally effective.
Welch: ‘Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. Fred Fischer is a young man who went to the Harvard Law School and came into my firm and is starting what looks to be a brilliant career with us. When I decided to work for this committee, I asked Jim St. Clair, who sits on my right, to be my first assistant. I said to Jim, “Pick somebody in the firm to work under you that you would like.” He chose Fred Fischer, and they came down on an afternoon plane. That night, when we had taken a little stab at trying to see what the case was about, Fred Fisher and Jim St. Clair and I went to dinner together. I then said to these two young men, “Boys, I don’t know anything about you, except I’ve always liked you, but if there’s anything funny in the life of either one of you that would hurt anybody in this case, you speak up quick.”
‘And Fred Fisher said, “Mr. Welch, when I was in the law school, and for a period of months after, I belonged to the Lawyers Guild,” as you have suggested, Senator.
‘He went on to say, “I am Secretary of the Young Republican’s League in Newton with the son of [the] Massachusetts governor, and I have the respect and admiration of my community, and I’m sure I have the respect and admiration of the twenty-five lawyers or so in Hale & Dorr.”
‘And I said, “Fred I just don’t think I’m going to ask you to work on the case. If I do, one of these days that will come out, and go over national television and it will just hurt like the dickens.” And so, Senator, I asked him to go back to Boston.
Little did I dream you could be so reckless and so cruel as to do an injury to that lad…It is, I regret to say, equally true that I fear he shall always bear a scar needlessly inflicted by you. If it were in my power to forgive you for your reckless cruelty, I would do so.
‘I like to think I’m a gentle man, but your forgiveness will have to come from someone other than me.’
McCarthy: ‘Mr. Chairman, may I say that Mr. Welch talks about this being cruel and reckless. He was just baiting; he has been baiting Mr. Cohn here for hours, requesting that Mr. Cohn before sundown get out of any department of the government anyone who is serving the Communist cause. Now, I just give this man’s record and I want to say, Mr. Welch, that it had been labeled long before he became a member, as early as 1944.’
Welch: ‘Senator, may we not drop this? We know he belonged to the Lawyers Guild. And Mr. Cohn nods his head at me. I did you, I think, no personal injury, Mr. Cohn?’
Cohn: ‘No, sir.’
Welch: ‘I meant to do you no personal injury, and if I did, I beg your pardon. Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?’
Welch’s stirring condemnation was the beginning of the end for McCarthy, who would be censured by the Senate later that year.
Following his censure McCarthy returned home to Wisconsin, where he died of complications from alcoholism in 1957. He was only 48.
Welch, on the other hand, found himself a national celebrity. His exposure of McCarthy’s bluster earned him high praise from the media and various civic organizations and his stirring speech secured him a permanent place in the annals of history.
…While there is little question of the effectiveness of Welch’s condemnation, recent evidence has suggested that it may not have been as spontaneous as it seemed to those who watched it unfold live on the air.
A number of historians now believe that McCarthy may have blundered his way into a carefully planned trap.
One of the strongest advocates of this theory is Nicholas von Hoffman, who describes the encounter from Cohn’s perspective in Citizen Cohn (The Life and Times of Roy Cohn. Doubleday). Von Hoffman writes that despite the animosity between the two parties, Welch and McCarthy agreed before the trial that several areas would be off limits.
Welch agreed that he would not mention Cohn’s avoidance of the draft during World War II. In return, McCarthy’s camp agreed that they would not bring up Fischer’s membership in the Lawyer’s Guild.
Von Hoffman and several other sources suggest that the agreement also extended to Cohn’s sexual orientation. Though he denied it to his dying day, Cohn was widely known as a homosexual, especially to the Washington insiders that packed the hearing room each day.
According to several sources, it is possible that Welch had intentionally provoked McCarthy earlier in his cross examination by showing Cohn a picture that had been doctored by the McCarthy camp prior to being submitted as evidence.
After Cohn offers no explanation for how the altered picture came to be, Welch playfully asks him if it might have been created by a pixie. McCarthy angrily jumps in.
McCarthy: ‘Will the counsel for my benefit define — I think he might be an expert on that — what a pixie is?’
Welch: ‘Yes, I should say, Senator, that a pixie is a close relative of a fairy. Shall I proceed, sir? Have I enlightened you?’
At this point, according to sources, the room erupted in laughter. It was a dig at Cohn’s expense, but it wasn’t a direct violation of the agreement, a subtle point that may have been lost on McCarthy.
Von Hoffman quotes from Michael Straight, who wrote about the moment in the New Republic.
“As law the comment was improper; as humor it was unjust; as drama it was beyond anything that the theatre could conceive or reproduce.”
Was this dig, and Welch’s subsequent needling about getting all the Communists out by sundown, designed to lure McCarthy into making a foolish attack on Fischer?
There seems to be some legitimacy to this argument, especially when one considers the way that McCarthy later reacts.
McCarthy: ‘Mr. Chairman, may I say that Mr. Welch talks about this being cruel and reckless. He was just baiting; he has been baiting Mr. Cohn here for hours…’
Cohn, a talented if unscrupulous lawyer in his own right, is smart enough not to respond to Welch’s thrust and later tries to dissuade McCarthy from pursuing his inquiry into Fischer, though it is to no avail.
Welch: ‘Senator, may we not drop this? We know he belonged to the Lawyers Guild. And Mr. Cohn nods his head at me. I did you, I think, no personal injury, Mr. Cohn?’
Cohn: ‘No, sir.’
Yet McCarthy insists on pursuing the issue, sealing his own fate at the hands of Welch’s eloquence.
Without asking Welch himself, it’s difficult to know how much of his speech was real and how much was part of a carefully designed plan. This anecdote recounted by von Hoffman seems to suggest that it was a bit of both.
“Welch had tears in his eyes as he delivered the last line; they were rolling down his cheeks as he left the center area; he passed a young reporter named John Newhouse who had been late and had to accept standing room by the door. As Welch went by, tears still coursing, he looked at Newhouse and winked.”
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Source: National Vanguard magazine No. 114, November-December 1994