Roy Cohn as Torquemada
J. Edgar Hoover despised Lattimore. In the early stages of the investigation Hoover scribbled notes on several reports such as "Press vigorously investigation of Lattimore." When McCarthy made his flamboyant charges, claiming that Lattimore was the boss of the Hiss ring, Hoover let his predatory interest in Lattimore and his impulse toward drama run away with him. As noted earlier, Hoover asked for a grand jury with witnesses announced in advance to secure a "wholesome response." What he meant was an intensification of the inquisition. He failed to get the grand jury in 1950, but the right-wing press, McCarthy, McCarran, Budenz, and the China lobby provided as much intensification as he could have wished. Paradoxically, Hoover's FBI analysts gradually calmed down his eagerness to prosecute Lattimore.
Bureau investigation turned up nothing to support a Lattimore indictment. Budenz, the most spectacular witness, was a zealot and had only hearsay. Barmine and Bogolepov were no better. Utley did not impress the bureau as a potential witness. The IPR files had nothing incriminating; after each release of SISS transcripts, Supervisor Branigan wrote Belmont that there was nothing new in them.
The main push in the bureau for a Lattimore prosecution came from the Baltimore office, as witnessed by the 545-page report that office forwarded to headquarters December 29, 1950, listing sixteen possible instances in which Lattimore might have perjured himself before Tydings. Headquarters turned this report over to Agent M. A. Jones, who is not otherwise identified but appears to have been a lawyer specializing in perjury at bureau headquarters. Jones spent many months evaluating the Baltimore report; not until September 6, 1951, did he write Nichols giv-
ing his judgment. In fifteen pages he knocked down every potential charge except one: Lattimore might have lied when he told Tydings that he did not know Chi Ch'ao-ting was a Communist. Jones thought Lattimore must have seen E. Newton Steely's report on Chi in 1943: "This directly contravenes Lattimore's testimony, but appears to be the only evidence that directly does so." There is no conclusion in Jones's document, but it destroys every suggestion from Baltimore except the Steely incident.
On April 25, 1952, Branigan wrote Belmont that despite the continuing intensive investigation of Lattimore, there was still no evidence of a crime. But the SISS testimony had not yet been analyzed, and there were still six witnesses to locate. Branigan did not have much hope for them. He ended his memo to Belmont, "It is anticipated that this investigation will be closed when the leads, at present outstanding, are covered, at which time the [Justice] Department will be furnished a closing summary report."
Two weeks later D. M. Ladd reported to Hoover on "the background and status of the perjury investigation in instant case." Ladd repeated much of Branigan's earlier memo; the outstanding leads were now down to four; when these were covered, the case would be closed.
On May 7, 1952, Budenz got another black eye within the FBI, which had obtained galley proofs of a new Budenz book, The Cry Is Peace . These proofs were analyzed both in Washington and New York. The bureau was pleased that Budenz praised the FBI, but the analysts were appalled at his errors. Whether at bureau instigation or not, printing was held up until some of them were corrected. Among other errors, Budenz "drew unwarranted conclusions" from SISS and HUAC hearings; misrepresented Hiss's status with the Communist party hierarchy; connected Agnes Smedley with the IPR; got the arrest of Judith Coplon wrong; and claimed that Philip Jaffe had been proved to be a Soviet spy.The Cry Is Peace did see print in 1952, but not from the respectable New York publishers (McGraw-Hill and Harper Brothers) who had handled his earlier works. Peace came out in Chicago from Henry Regnery Company, a right-wing house. Budenz never again had a book published by a major house.
By May 27 there were only two outstanding leads. Hoover instructed Baltimore that as soon as these were covered, "you place instant case in a pending inactive status at the same time submitting a report covering the results of investigation not already reported." Despite McCarran, the FBI was clearly ready to be done with Lattimore. Any initiative now had to come from Justice. That Department turned the case over to Edward J. Hummer for evaluation.
Hummer, a former FBI agent, had worked closely with Father John F. Cronin, who had investigated Communists in trade unions for the National Catholic Welfare Conference in 1945-46. Hummer fed information from the bureau to Cronin, who in turn reported to Richard Nixon on HUAC. Hummer's anti-Communist credentials were impeccable. In 1981 Cronin told me that Hummer "might ultimately be credited with the indictment of Alger Hiss and (for better or worse) the rise of Richard Nixon." In analyzing the Lattimore case Hummer was working first with FBI reports, the Tydings transcripts, and press reports, and then with transcripts, as they became available, from the IPR hearings. He did not have the bureau's Budenz file and hence was not aware of the many derogations of Budenz's credibility. Hummer shared Hoover's dislike of Lattimore: Lattimore was too friendly with Communists, not hostile enough toward the Soviet Union, and too naive about Soviet expansionism. However, in his forty-page evaluation of the Lattimore case dated June 17, 1952, Hummer did acknowledge that Lattimore could at least explain his association with Communists: "He himself attempts to justify these associations in his statement, 'For many years I have made every effort to keep in touch with as many people as possible who are informed about the Far East, and I have obtained as much information as I could, whether they were Communists, anti-Communists, liberals, conservatives, businessmen, politicians, Army officers, or scholars.'"
Hummer knew a viable prosecution from a bunch of garbage, and his forty pages show overwhelmingly that taking this case before a jury would be a waste of time. He also realized how biased the McCarran witnesses had been. The FBI had at least gotten testimony from some acquaintances of Lattimore, the overwhelming majority of whom proclaimed his honesty and loyalty even when they disagreed with him. SISS, in contrast, had mostly hearsay, and what was not hearsay was from those few "experts" who despised Lattimore:
During the course of this investigation, the FBI interviewed several hundred individuals who could conceivably prove or disprove the allegations of espionage or membership in the Communist Party on the part of Lattimore. As was expected, many had no personal first-hand information. The majority concluded, based on a review of Lattimore's writings, that he was a loyal American and generally took the view that he is an honest, intelligent man of liberal persuasions and therefore could not be a Communist; that at one time he obviously believed that the Chinese Communists were merely a progressive agrarian movement, as did many others who now know the Chinese Communists are
Moscow-directed. [Lattimore did not believe this; Hummer had obviously not read his writings.] A minority of those interviewed using the same standard, namely, a review of Lattimore's writings, came to the conclusion that Lattimore was a Communist or at least a Communist sympathizer and Soviet propagandist. . . .
Most of [this minority] have one thing in common: they are nationally known as staunch anti-Communists. From their pens have come numerous books and magazine articles warning of the dangers of the Communist conspiracy. However, since they do not possess first-hand personal information concerning the Communist Party membership of Lattimore, their statements that he is a Communist, based upon a review of Lattimore's writings, are inadmissible in a court of law. The only way to get their statements and conclusions before a jury would be to indulge in the novel but doubtful expediency of qualifying them as expert witnesses. By the same token Owen Lattimore could produce over 170 prospective witnesses, mostly college professors and scholars interested in Far Eastern studies who would testify that, based on a review of Lattimore's writings, they have come to the conclusion that he is not a Communist or pro-Communist.
Hummer reviewed every one of the perjury counts being considered. None of them would hold up in court. Even the Chi Ch'ao-ting count would have to depend, in Hummer's view, on the testimony of Wittfogel, and it would be Wittfogel's word against Lattimore's. The new counts suggested by McCarran, which Hummer could not be certain of until he got SISS transcripts, did not impress him: "As indicated at first blush and again without attempting to prejudge the alleged 'untruths,' they do appear trivial and there is some doubt as to their materiality. The instance of meeting Ambassador Oumansky could be further developed."
Hummer's conclusion: no attempt to indict should be made. "It is my considered opinion that this should not be done at the present time." One of the reasons Hummer then summarized was that "to charge technical perjury to minor questions is to invite a full acquittal and thus place Lattimore on a pedestal and make him a martyr, a role he would relish but does not deserve." Furthermore, it would give him a chance "to write a new book, no doubt entitled Ordeal by Trial ."
Hummer updated his analysis when the McCarran committee transcripts were available and furnished the results to the FBI. As of September 18 he thought only two counts were viable: perjury in Lattimore's claiming he did not know that either Chi or Asiaticus were Communists. This conclusion was communicated to Branigan, whose response is still denied by the FBI. It is not clear what Hummer thought of going to a
grand jury with these two counts, but his earlier analysis would suggest that he still did not find an overwhelming case. Nor did the FBI.
However, Hummer and the FBI failed to take into account the immense power and zealotry of Senator Patrick A. McCarran and his ability to locate a hatchetman who would do his bidding. Roy Marcus Cohn, late of New York City, brightest of all the legal stars in the anti-Communist firmament, now followed the lure of power to the seat of government as the best man to nail the slippery Lattimore.
Roy Cohn was the son of a respected judge in the appellate division of the New York Supreme Court. He was precocious as a youth, graduating from Columbia College and Columbia Law School by the time he was twenty. He had to wait until he was twenty-one to be admitted to the bar; the same day he was admitted, he went on the staff of the U.S. attorney in Manhattan. There he specialized in subversive activities. Nineteen forty-seven was a good year to take up that trade. Cohn assisted in the prosecution of Communist party leaders under the Smith Act, worked on the Remington and Rosenberg trials, and led a federal grand jury looking into "Fifth Amendment Communists" at the United Nations.
The latter was a runaway grand jury; Cohn led it to believe that since thirty-nine Americans working for the UN had refused to answer questions from the jury about their politics, the jury should issue a presentment declaring these employees to be subversive. The Department of Justice opposed this presentment; Cohn went ahead anyway. His first effort to get the presentment out was regarded by all officers of the Department of Justice as premature. At a conference in Washington Cohn told Department officials that SISS was about to open hearings on the loyalty of American UN employees, and he wanted to act quickly so "we can beat them to the headlines." Cohn did not get the first headlines, but he made up for it later.
What he did get, when he went to Washington, was a chance to work on the hottest case around—Lattimore. Cohn had wanted to get the Lattimore case brought before his New York grand jury. He could connect Lattimore to the United Nations because of the mission in Afghanistan in 1950. As early as May 1, 1952, Jay Sourwine had picked up a rumor (this time correct) that Cohn planned to present "phases of the Lattimore case involving perjury" to his New York grand jury; Sourwine passed this rumor on to Lou Nichols, who didn't believe it. But just to make sure, Nichols asked Agent W. M. Whelan in New York to talk to Cohn.
Mr. Whelan advised at 5:30 P.M. today [May 2] that he had talked to Assistant U.S. Attorney Cohn who told Whelan frankly that he had a "theory" that David Weintraub, and Irving Kaplan, who are presently United Nations employees, had participated in discussions having to do with the selection of Owen Lattimore. . . . Mr. Cohn told Mr. Whelan that he also had the idea that the Special Grand Jury now in session in the Southern District of New York was interested in the Institute of Pacific Relations and he thought perhaps he could work something into this Grand Jury on Owen Lattimore. . . . Cohn stated that he heard confidentially that his proposed action was turned down. Cohn said it was his understanding that Mr. Lane [Cohn's supervisor] was told to discontinue any action along this line by "McGranery or McInerney."
May 5, just three days after the FBI learned Cohn wanted the Lattimore case, James P. McGranery appeared before McCarran's full Judiciary Committee for hearings on his confirmation as attorney general. Truman had fired Howard McGrath and nominated McGranery to clean up the Justice Department. McCarran knew all about the Cohn proposal; Robert Morris had lunched with Cohn the day before. So McCarran was suspicious of McGranery. The committee badgered him about the Lattimore rumors and about Amerasia , with which he had been connected, for the first hour of the hearing. Eventually it came down to this:
Sen. McCarran : If it should be related . . . that you were opposed to presenting the matter of Owen Lattimore to a grand jury, would there be any truth in it?
Mr. McGranery : There would not be, sir. I would emphatically say, as I stated here this morning, Mr. Chairman, that I never discussed it with Mr. McInerney or anyone else.
Sen. McCarran : And you have not discussed the presentation of any case with Mr. McInerney since you were nominated ?
Mr. McGranery : No, sir, I have not.
Sen. McCarran : And you are saying that under oath.
Mr. McGranery : Yes, sir.
So the attorney general-designate of the United States had in effect promised the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee that he would prosecute Owen Lattimore.
McGranery was not yet home free. Senators Ferguson and Watkins were against him and filed a minority report opposing his confirmation. But McCarran led the floor fight over the nomination, and McGranery was confirmed.
McGranery was now in a bind. He knew the Lattimore case was a hot issue, but he had the July 5 letter from Truman bitterly attacking the McCarran committee's harassment of Lattimore and opposing an indictment. The Republican national convention in July intensified McGranery's discomfort: Joe McCarthy's friends paraded around the convention hall holding up large red herrings bearing the names Alger Hiss, Owen Lattimore, and Dean Acheson. But McGranery knew what he had to do. Truman may have selected him, but Truman was a lame duck. McCarran's power would last indefinitely.
McGranery knew the Justice Department was honeycombed with people, like Hummer, who did not think there was a case against Lattimore; he had to get someone in Justice who felt differently, who was acceptable to McCarran. The impresario who cleared the way was the right-wing columnist George Sokolsky, a friend of both McCarran and McGranery. Sokolsky had watched Cohn propel himself into the front ranks of Communist hunters. Harvey Matusow says Sokolsky bragged that he had advised McGranery "to appoint Roy Cohn as a special assistant to the Attorney General to bring the Lattimore case before a grand jury. In this way, Sokolsky said he had told McGranery, McCarran could be assured that the Lattimore case would not be quashed. Sokolsky jokingly said he was lenient in not forcing the indictment to be brought forth prior to the 1952 election." Matusow appears to be accurate in this report. Nicholas von Hoffman, in his biography of Cohn, also credits Sokolsky with mediating the Cohn appointment.
Thus, on September 3, 1952, McGranery "directed the transfer of Roy M. Cohn, Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, to the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice in connection with internal security matters."
Cohn was taking a vacation in August, recuperating from his strenuous labors with the New York grand jury. In December 1979 Cohn told me that he did not discuss the Lattimore case with McGranery before breaking off his vacation and going to Washington. This seems unlikely. McGranery needed him precisely for that case, and Cohn had certainly tried to get it for himself in New York. And he wasted no time after he got to Washington. The day after his formal transfer, he called Alan Belmont at the FBI, asking for current addresses of prospective Lattimore
grand jury witnesses: Karl Wittfogel, E. Newton Steely, Louis Budenz, Freda Utley, Nicholas Poppe, George Taylor, Alexander Barmine, and David Nelson Rowe. Cohn wanted to interview them.
Thus began a frenzy of activity such as Justice had not seen for a long time. It was bad enough that Cohn swept in with all his youthful vigor; it was worse that he owed no allegiance to any of his immediate bosses and reported to McCarran every time he had a fight with his colleagues. Cohn was candid about his unpopularity with the Lattimore case team: "Here was I a twenty-five-year-old kid coming waltzing down from New York, being liked, openly liked by Attorney General McGranery, which liking I returned. . . . And here I come in, a twenty-five-year-old guy and people who were fifty, sixty or something like that were sitting around the Department reading newspapers for twenty years and here I come full of action, and you know my light was on hours after they had gone home in the afternoon and I was there hours before they got there in the morning. And I was just, as my friend Senator Jenner once put it, I was the kid who went to the party and peed in the lemonade."
The FBI got tremors from Justice immediately. On September 4 Branigan was visited by an attorney working on the Lattimore case who described the tidal wave that had hit the department. (The attorney's name is denied, but the context indicates that it could only be Hummer.) Hummer was disturbed. He thought Cohn was going off half-cocked; he and his colleagues did not want "to take a case to court unless the facts are such that a conviction will be forthcoming and that a conviction will stick." Cohn was talking about using all the SISS charges against Lattimore, most of which Hummer thought weak.
By September 19 Cohn had a ten-page memorandum prepared recommending a perjury prosecution. This document has not survived, but it must have been close to the actual charges submitted to the grand jury. Cohn was in gear. Part of his unpopularity in the department was due not to his hyperactivity but to his arrogance. One flagrant instance recorded in FBI files was the interview of witness X in San Francisco.
Witness X had something to say about Lattimore's knowledge of Chi Ch'ao-ting. Cohn was determined to interview witness X himself. Assistant Attorney General Charles Murray called the bureau on October 1, explaining that Cohn "was insistent that the Bureau not conduct the interview" because X was the "type of individual who must be coddled and babied, brought along slowly to the point where he will be cooperative, ——— that Cohn insisted that only he, Cohn, could conduct a successful interview with ———." Murray overruled Cohn and wrote a letter to the
bureau instructing them to conduct the interview. Cohn then protested to McCarran; McCarran intervened with Justice; Justice backed down and at 3:40 P.M. the same day telephoned the bureau asking them to return Murray's letter. Murray then apparently went to McGranery and got a reversal, for at 3:50 P.M. Justice telephoned the bureau again: keep Murray's letter and interview X. Belmont, reporting this imbroglio with just a touch of sarcasm, recommended that the bureau do the interview.
Belmont got another earful from Murray on October 1. Fighting over the Lattimore case had been intense, and Cohn's memorandum recommending prosecution was not accepted by the department. SISS was pressing the issue; all seven members signed a letter to the Justice Department inquiring what was being done about Lattimore. According to Murray, the department intended to answer the SISS letter by sending the committee Hummer's recommendation against prosecution, or at least the "gist" of it. Belmont observed, "It must be anticipated that if the Department advises the McCarran Committee of the results of its analysis [the Hummer memo] the McCarran Committee, with widespread publicity, will claim that the Department has whitewashed the Lattimore case."
The next day, Belmont got another call from Justice. There was then "a better than 50-50 chance that the perjury angles of the Lattimore case will be presented to a grand jury." Cohn was winning, no doubt with an assist from McCarran.
There is then a gap in the FBI file as released, and we do not know either the course of the battle over the Lattimore indictment or McGranery's role in it. The next relevant document is dated October 24, 1952. Murray wrote the FBI asking that they conduct further investigation on three of the perjury counts: the Oumansky luncheon, Lattimore's testimony that he did not take care of Currie's mail when Currie was away, and Lattimore's claim that he made no prearrangements for his 1937 visit to Yenan. Justice was now clearly preparing to go before a grand jury.
About McCarran's role there can be no doubt. On October 3 he released the letter SISS had sent to McGranery urging prosecution. The New York Times headlined its story "M'Granery Pressed on Lattimore case": "The Internal Security Subcommittee of the Senate asked the Department of Justice today what it intended to do about the group's recommendation that Prof. Owen Lattimore be prosecuted for perjury. A letter to James P. McGranery, the Attorney General, which was signed by all the members of the subcommittee, was made public by the chairman, Senator Pat McCarran, Democrat of Nevada. A spokesman for the Justice Department said no comment would be forthcoming at this time."
McGranery kept his promise to prosecute Lattimore, but he got back at McCarran for the senator's bullying by cutting Cohn out of the action. Cohn told me in 1979 that he had presented the Lattimore case to the grand jury, but his memory was false. Ed Hummer handled the presentation. McGranery had finally had enough of the abrasive Cohn.
The decision to drop Cohn was made on November 28. W. V. Cleveland, duty officer that night at FBI headquarters, reported in a memo to Belmont:
At 6:10 P.M. on November 28, 1952, former SA Ed Hummer, who is now with the Criminal Division of the Department, advised that he had just left a conference held by the Attorney General in connection with captioned case [Lattimore]. The Attorney General instructed that this case is to be presented to a Grand Jury commencing Thursday, December 4, and specifically designated Hummer to take charge of the presentation. According to Hummer the Attorney General has instructed that there is to be no publicity in connection with this matter until Wednesday, December 3. In addition, the Attorney General instructed those present (including William Foley and Assistant Attorney General Murray) that Special Assistant to the Attorney General Roy Cohn was not to be advised of this contemplated action prior to December 3, the day on which the press release is to be made.
So Cohn was sidelined from the blockbuster case he most wanted to handle. It was a humiliation that by 1979 he had fully repressed.
Between mid-October 1952, when McGranery provisionally decided to go to the grand jury, and December 4, when the presentation began, there was much pulling and hauling. The first list of eight proposed perjury counts was given to the FBI November 3. They were all specific items: the date of the Oumansky luncheon, whether Lattimore knew Fred Field to be a Communist, his handling of Currie's mail, and so on. Baltimore was instructed to prepare another report, including everything in FBI files tending to establish perjury on these eight counts.
On December 1 the bureau had its analysis of the eight counts. Ladd wrote a six-page memorandum to Hoover: "Five of these instances are considered weak because of lack of evidence and because Lattimore admitted before the afore-mentioned committee that he was wrong in his original statements which are now considered perjurious. In another instance Lattimore prefaced his statement with the phrase, 'To the best of my recollection.' It was later proved through the introduction of a document that Lattimore was wrong. No other proof is available and it is felt that this instance is also weak. In the remaining two instances, there appears to be sufficient evidence to obtain indictments."
Ladd then reviewed each of the counts and summarized the evidence. He concluded, "The Lattimore case is an extremely controversial one and it is believed the Bureau should take the position that any decision as to the merits of the evidence to support a possible perjury case is one solely for the Criminal Division to make." Hoover, reflecting the general skepticism of the FBI at this stage, wrote at the bottom of Ladd's memo, "The A.G. has decided to have Lattimore case presented to the G.J. No views of Bureau were sought."
While Ladd was telling Hoover what a weak case the department had, an attorney who had been on the Lattimore case earlier, taken off it, then brought back, submitted to Justice a long argument for a general "promoter of Communist causes" count as the first count in the indictment. The writer was C. George Anastos. Such a general count, according to Anastos, was the "gist" of the case against Lattimore and would add materiality to the specific counts, which by themselves were trivial.
Furthermore, said Anastos, this general count would enable the prosecutors to enter into evidence much testimony that would otherwise be irrelevant: testimony that Lattimore was pro-Communist. He recognized that the new count would involve difficult interpretation of documents and would raise "ideological questions of free speech," but these difficulties could be overcome. After all, he said, the proposed general count "is analogous to and no more difficult than a count demanding the banning of a book for obscenity. In both cases the tribunal is capable of making a finding of fact based on its interpretation of a publication."
Anastos carried the day. Hummer and Murray agreed, and a general count was made the first count of the proposed indictment: Lattimore had lied when he denied that he had been a promoter of communism and Communist interests. Anastos was barely in time. On December 2, a day earlier than planned, McGranery issued the news release. Lattimore's case was to go to the federal grand jury sitting in Washington, D.C., on December 4. (The news release was a violation of the law on grand jury secrecy.) The press release finessed the question of who would actually present the case; it noted only that the presentation "will be under the supervision of Assistant Attorney General Charles B. Murray."
So the Times , and probably every other daily in the country, carried the story on December 3 that Lattimore would be a subject of grand jury action. Cohn was not mentioned. The Times story was front page, but not the lead. The lead story that day, with a three-column headline, "Clearing of Spies for U.N. Laid to State Department by Defiant U.S. Jury Here," concerned Cohn's runaway grand jury. Cohn had upstaged
the Justice Department and had gotten even with Murray and Malone, who had tried to suppress his presentment about spies in the UN; moreover, he had timed the release beautifully. Cohn's talent for getting headlines soon came to the attention of another publicity genius, Joe McCarthy. And were there any doubt about Cohn's ability at self-promotion, his remarks to the court when the presentment was handed up, quoted in the Times , dispelled it: this investigation, Cohn said in all seriousness, was "probably the most important investigation ever conducted in the entire history of the United States."
Cohn's publicity coup unnerved McGranery and staff. Perhaps that was the reason for McGranery's draconian instructions to Hummer on December 4. Hummer was informed that "the presentation of the facts of instant case before the Grand Jury must be completed and an indictment returned by Christmas of this year." One can understand McGranery's concern. With all the fuss over the runaway UN grand jury, heaped on top of "twenty years of (Democratic) treason," the Yalta sellout, the Amerasia case, the loss of China—what better talisman could a departing attorney general have than an indictment of the man who masterminded the loss of China?
When school began in fall 1952, Lattimore concentrated as well as he could on the scholarly programs of the Page School. His prestige at Johns Hopkins continued high. George Carter, who had run to McCarthy with his story about Lattimore declassifying secret documents in 1950, was silent. Johns Hopkins faculty who knew Lattimore could not believe that the scurrilous SISS report could be taken seriously by the Department of Justice or that the endless hearsay of McCarran's former Communist witnesses could lead to prosecution.
Lattimore was still, at least in the international scholarly community, a major figure. He corresponded at some length with Krishna Menon, Indian foreign minister, about the situation of the Mongol exiles from communism then living at Kalimpong. Lattimore recommended to Menon that India take advantage of the intelligence these Mongols had to offer about conditions in the People's Republic of China and particularly in Tibet. Menon replied, "These Mongol exiles certainly deserve our sympathy and respect; and we shall keep an eye on them. I do hope you will come to Delhi again before long."
Max Beloff, a prominent Oxford scholar, wrote Lattimore in February 1952 soliciting Lattimore's opinions on several matters relating to Inner Mongolia and Sinkiang discussed in a book Beloff was writing. Lattimore's appearance before SISS kept him from answering Beloff until May,
when he reviewed for Beloff the latest intelligence from Central Asia and noted that both Chinese and Russians wanted to prevent a "pan-Mongolian" movement from flourishing.
At the Page School, Mongol studies continued as well as possible given Lattimore's absences and preoccupations. The Dilowa dictated his autobiography and wrote political reminiscences, which Lattimore translated. Working with David Eberle and Harold Vreeland, the Dilowa also "provided the material for an institutional and social description and analysis of the position of the Lama Buddhist Church in pre-revolutionary Mongol Society." John Hangin and Urgunge Onon, the young Mongols at Hopkins, worked with their wives to produce a linguistic description and grammar of Chahar and Daghor Mongol; they also provided material for sociological and cultural analysis of the processes of change in Mongol society. Father Louis Schram, the Maryknoll scholar associated with Lattimore, continued writing his description of the sociology of the Mongols of western Kansu.
Even during the tumult of 1952 many of these efforts came to fruition. The Dilowa's description of his former domain, the Narobanchin monastery, was published in the Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society . Lattimore's American outlets were no longer available (with one exception, noted below), but he had an article on the Genghis Khan relics in the Journal of the Royal Central Asian Society in April; an article, "Mongolia's New Relations with Her Neighbors," in the Manchester Guardian of November 24; and "Red Chinese and Red Barbarians" in Eastern World (London) in December.
Before the McCarthy onslaught, Lattimore and other IPR writers were prominent as book reviewers for the New York Times and the New York Herald Tribune . This work ceased after 1949. Of American journals, only the Nation still welcomed Lattimore's contributions. The December 6, 1952, issue, which appeared the same week McGranery announced grand jury action, carried Lattimore's "Inner Asia: Sino-Soviet Bridge." This article represents Lattimore's best effort m explain once again, and in light of current political realities, the plight of a gallant Mongol race fighting for autonomy. The article is a lucid explanation of what was then happening in the Sino-Soviet border areas, events to which Lattimore thought the United States should pay more attention. He concludes:
In his National Press Club speech of January, 1950, Secretary of State Dean Acheson declared that Russia is engaged in "detaching" from China and "attaching" to Russia the northern areas of China. "This process," said Mr. Acheson, "is completed in Outer Mongolia. It is nearly com-
pleted in Manchuria." He went on to include Inner Mongolia and Sinkiang, and to say that "this fact that the Soviet Union is taking the four northern provinces of China is the single most significant, most important fact in the relations of any foreign power with Asia."
Mr. Acheson could hardly have been more wrong, and if American policy should rest complacently on the belief that he was right, there will eventually be another uproar when it is discovered that things have happened in Asia that we have not been told to expect.
But Acheson's was the conventional wisdom. Everybody knew the Soviet Union had attached the northern provinces of China.
On December 5, 1952, while Hummer was preparing the grand jury presentation, Cohn was in Miami with Senator Homer Ferguson. Ferguson was expected to be the next chair of Judiciary when the Republicans organized the Senate in January 1953. Cohn called Hummer from Miami. His main message: even if Hummer succeeded in getting an indictment of Lattimore, Cohn would "not be able to assist the Government in the trial of the subject since he [would] then be Counsel for the Senate Committee on the Judiciary." Was this bragging? McCarran was (or had been) fond of Cohn, but would McCarran not have enough clout to keep the faithful Jay Sourwine on as counsel? Would Ferguson insist on his own man? That may have been Ferguson's intention in December, but William Langer of North Dakota, rather than Ferguson, took over Judiciary. Cohn did not go with Judiciary; he attached himself, portentously, to McCarthy.
December 15 brought bad news for the foreign service: John Carter Vincent, after yet another security investigation, was suspended.
The next day an announcement came from the Justice Department. The grand jury had indicted Lattimore on seven counts of perjury. No one was more surprised than the Lattimore case officers in the FBI. Precisely what Hummer did to overcome all the difficulties he and bureau evaluators had identified we do not know. Hummer was a professional, and despite his doubts he dearly gave the presentation his best effort.
The announcement gave credit to Hummer for presenting the case; Cohn, Anastos, and John H. Davitt were also mentioned. The seven counts were unanimously agreed to by the grand jury except for count seven, on which the vote was 22-1. The grand jury said that Lattimore lied under oath when he denied
1. that he had been a promoter of communism or Communist interests;
2. that he was told that Chi Ch'ao-ting was a Communist;
3. that he knew Asiaticus was a Communist;
4. that he had published any articles by Communists in Pacific Affairs ;
5. that a meeting with Soviet Ambassador Oumansky occurred during the period of the Hitler-Stalin pact;
6. that he handled Lauchlin Currie's White House mail when Currie was away;
7. that his trip to Yenan in 1937 was prearranged with Communist authorities.
Front-page news again, all over the country. Lattimore promptly denied all the charges.
The day after the indictment, Hummer stopped by his old haunts at the bureau. He told Inspector Carl Hennrich, and probably others, that Lattimore would be arraigned December 19; that bail would be set at $2,000; that the judge would grant a continuance for filing appeals until February 15, 1953; that Thurman Arnold claimed he could not defend the case because of other demands on his time but would bring in "the outstanding criminal lawyer in the country"; and that the defense would attack the first count on the basis of vagueness and the remaining counts as not material or significant. It all happened just as Hummer predicted. Judge James R. Kirkland of U.S. District Court in Washington deviated one day from Hummer's prediction about filing motions: the deadline was to be February 16.
The bureau now began to worry that the case might be thrown out on the basis of their illegal 1949 technical surveillance of Lattimore. Hoover wrote the Baltimore office December 19 requesting that it furnish a memorandum describing "all information obtained as a result of the tesurs [technical surveillances] utilized in instant case" and the location of the logs and recordings. This information was never needed.
December was a terrible month for China specialists. Many predicted the Lattimore trial would equal that of Hiss for bitterness and sensation. And if the Lattimore trial failed to equal expectations, perhaps that of John Paton Davies would. Davies was suspended from duty the same day Lattimore was indicted. He had not yet been indicted, but SISS was pushing for it, and McCarran got what McCarran wanted.
The right-wing press had a field day with Lattimore's indictment. McGranery's alleged softness on communism was forgotten, and the attorney general received the kind of heartwarming letters from ordinary
citizens that the temper of the times encouraged. Typical was a letter from a Brooklyn housewife:
As the mother of a young man on the line in Korea, may I thank you for at last bringing to justice the case of Owen Lattimore through whose efforts the support of the United States was withdrawn from the legitimate Chinese Government ?
This man has the blood of twenty thousand young Americans on his hands. His only excuse is stupidity and forgetfulness, strange claims for an expert.
God is not mocked. Those fine young men died through the plotting of Communists here. Your job is to get them all.
Lattimore got letters too, most of them encouraging. Many of his former IPR associates wrote in a morale-bolstering effort that meant much to him and his lawyers at Arnold, Fortas, and Porter. One of the most philosophical tributes was from Miriam S. Farley, a major writer for IPR, who compared Lattimore's tribulations with those of Job. "The parallel of Job, though obvious, is not exact. Job was the victim of an apparently pointless persecution by his own God. The persecution of which you are victims is not pointless, and it does not proceed from God but from the devil. . . . Your public vindication is not a matter of concrete proof; hence it depends on the trend of opinion, and it can never be complete. . . . You will keep the faith, and by so doing you will help others to keep it.
Arnold Toynbee was less lyrical, more optimistic:
Veronica and I were much concerned to see that the thing has been reopened again. After you had been cleared by the first senate committee, we had so much hoped that it was all over, and that you would be free once more to give your mind to scholarship.
The only consolation is a point made by the correspondent of the London Times: Now that the case is to come before a court of law, the result will surely be final, this time at least; and, as you will once again be able to prove that the charges are unfounded, I take some comfort in this. All the same, I do wish you had been spared this additional affliction, and I am very sorry about it.
The indictment, like the original 1950 McCarthy charges that brought Robert LeMoyne Barrett back into the realm of Lattimore supporters, was not without its benefits. In December 1952 Lattimore became a hero of the intellectual establishment worldwide. The testimony of Arthur and Mary Wright, prestigious Stanford scholars of Asia who maintained an extensive program of "exchanges of books, ideas and personnel" with
foreign countries, is perhaps most compelling. The Wrights knew Lattimore well, and Mary Wright was close to Senator Lister Hill of Alabama. She wrote the senator February 9, 1953, aghast at the "lunatics who are trying to wreck this country," hoping that Hill would be able to help restore the good name of an innocent scholar. Wright included in her letter a description of the impact of the Lattimore prosecution on her contacts abroad:
I don't think many Americans realize that Lattimore has become a symbol of the last stand of the "old" America, the "good" America—in England, Indonesia, Japan, India—everywhere. On the Lattimore case, the rankest Tory and the most ardent Laborite, the staidest Japanese conservative and the most volatile Indian liberal are in agreement. We do not get this impression just from letters. It is my business to keep up with a wide range of newspapers and periodicals; those who distrust us are hammering away at the Lattimore case with great effect. Those who want to trust us are almost pathetically begging their readers to wait; pointing to the fact that there is another America, that in the end the American people will not tolerate this kind of thing. We have just got to prove that this second group is right about us.
Whether "this second group" was right or not is a moot point. More important for Lattimore's ultimate salvation, intellectuals in Europe and Asia came to regard him as a hero. The payoff of this response was delayed, but significant.
Several indictments during the witch-hunt were obtained illegitimately; Lattimore's was just one of them. One other fraudulent indictment that we know about, of economist Val Lorwin in December 1953, was corrected. Lorwin was on McCarthy's hit list of eighty-one Communists. Assistant Attorney General Warren Olney III went before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on May 25, 1954, and got the Lorwin indictment dismissed. The government prosecutor, William Gallagher, had lied to the grand jury on two substantial matters. Gallagher admitted to Olney that he had pushed the indictment through rather "than attempt to explain the case to a Senate investigating committee."
Somehow a similar mea culpa never emerged from the Lattimore prosecutors.