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Chapter Twenty-Two Venom: Twelve Days with SISS
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Chapter Twenty-Two
Venom: Twelve Days with SISS

By the time SISS adjourned in the fall of 1951, the New York Times was among those observers skeptical about McCarran's boasts of fairness and objectivity. That paper observed, in an editorial, that it was one thing to criticize China policy but quite another to assert that Communists in the IPR were responsible for that policy: "Furthermore, the committee has permitted the loyalty of various individuals again to be impugned without giving them the opportunity to reply immediately and in public."[1]

William S. White, writing in the Times shortly after Senate Judiciary killed the Nimitz commission, observed of SISS, "That group has become incomparably the most powerful of all, as far as Congress is concerned, in raising the Communist issue against the White House." White gave the committee credit for some amenities, such as no leaks from executive sessions, but concluded, "It remains the opinion of many observers, however, that the subcommittee suffers in objectivity because all of its members are far to the right of the Administration, and therefore the ordinary interplay of different opinions and different interpretations is not at work here."[2]

The American Civil Liberties Union did not distinguish itself in the Lattimore case.[3] Nonetheless, the ACLU did protest McCarran's procedure. Patrick Murphy Malin, ACLU executive director, in a letter to the Times printed November 16, 1951, said, "As we informed Senator McCarran on October 26, his committee has, to date, refused to permit counsel for the IPR to cross-examine witnesses against it and to have access to the IPR files, which are now in the committee's exclusive custody. . . . The right to cross-examine one's accuser is essential to fair procedure and should cut across all political or partisan lines."[4]


These opinions hostile to McCarran did not lessen the atmosphere of fear and intimidation. Few of the many groups that had invited Lattimore to speak before 1950 were willing to have him now. He did get an occasional audience; when he opened the 1951 season at the Yale Law School Forum on October 22, the auditorium was packed to the doors, and a loudspeaker carried his address to an overflow room. Lattimore's talk dealt mostly with the substance of U.S. Asian policy, but in response to questions he commented on the McCarthy-McCarran crusade: "America is a country in which democracy is so sound, so deeply rooted, that in spite of the temporary hysteria and fear, we shall pull through because the people will pull us through."[5] It was a particularly inaccurate prophecy. The people, like the Congress, would gladly have thrown Lattimore to the wolves. The judicial system pulled him through.

At the time, however, Lattimore sought an opportunity to confront the witch-hunters. He had fumed through the testimony of a dozen hostile witnesses, answering their front-page publicity with press releases of his own, which, if reported at all, were buried in the back pages (except in the Baltimore Sun , which gave him good coverage). On November 6, 1951, he wrote McCarran:

It has repeatedly been reported in the press that your subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee has promised that I will be given an opportunity to refute publicly the false and slanderous allegations that have been made about me before your subcommittee. Months have now gone by without my being given this opportunity, and I am now informed that your subcommittee will hold no more public hearings until January. This long delay greatly increases the injury done to me.

I trust that you will notify me at an early date when I can expect to have a public hearing. It will, of course, take me at least a week to make arrangements and preparation for the hearing, and I should therefore appreciate as much advance notice as possible.[6]

McCarran replied curtly that Lattimore would be heard "at the convenience of the committee" and that it would indeed not be before January.

SISS staff kept busy despite the abeyance of the hearings. One of the tipsters feeding Ben Mandel claimed that a highly revealing report on Lattimore had been written by a Brigadier Menzie of the British Army to the U.S. Army in 1943. Mandel tried hard to obtain such a report from the Secretary of Defense; that office searched extensively and denied that such a report was in its files.[7] Mandel thought Army was stonewalling. He called the FBI in on his search, hoping they could move the military bureaucracy. FBI agent L.L. Laughlin reported to FBI headquarters on


November 28, 1951: "Mr. Mandel stated that he had received information from an authoritative source, which he described as 'the best,' indicating that Brigadier Menzie delivered to the Pentagon in 1943 an elaborate report on Owen Lattimore. Mandel advised that according to his information, Lattimore originally had been working for the British but he double-crossed them and when they found out about it the British turned him in to the American authorities, at which time the elaborate report in question allegedly was furnished to the Pentagon. Mandel described this report as containing 'a gold mine of information' which he was quite anxious to get hold of."[8]

The bureau was puzzled. They had implored Army for everything in its files about Lattimore. They checked again and satisfied themselves that there was no Menzie report. Six of the eight pages of the Belmont to Ladd letter burying the Menzie phantom are still denied in the interests of national security.[9]

Don Surine and Robert Morris chased the next will-o'-the-wisp. In August 1950 Surine contacted the FBI about an allegation that Lattimore had once reported the theft of a pair of field glasses from his car while parked in New York City. These were no ordinary field glasses; they were Russian made, embossed with the hammer and sickle. The bureau had checked out this story in 1950; the New York Police Department (NYPD) could find no record of this alleged theft.[10] Surine turned the tip over to Morris when SISS started operations.

On August 30, 1951, Morris wrote NYPD asking for another check of their records. Sure enough, the incident was there, classified as a "loss" instead of a "theft." But Morris did not know what to do with this new intelligence. Plaintively, he wrote Lou Nichols on January 14, 1952, enclosing the NYPD report: "You probably have done some work on the within matter. If there is anything that we can learn on it I would appreciate it." Several Lattimore case officers considered the "loss" of Lattimore's field glasses and reported, "In view of the fact that he [Lattimore] has advised the Bureau that, on at least two occasions, he traveled in the Soviet Union, the last time in 1944, his possession of these field glasses seems to be logical and it is not believed that an interview with him on this point would be productive." The bureau told Morris to forget it.[11]

McCarran, before he went off to Nevada for a winter break, gave U.S. News and World Report an interview. Seven pages of that magazine for November 16, 1951, carried his ringing endorsement of SISS, his complete faith in Budenz and other friendly witnesses, and an interim report on what SISS had concluded about IPR:


McCarran: The IPR originally was an organization with laudable motives. It was taken over by Communist design and made a vehicle for attempted control and conditioning of American thinking and American policy with respect to the Far East. It was also used for espionage purposes to collect and channel information of interest or value to the Russian Communists.

Q: Was that during the war?

McCarran: During the war and before the war. It has always been the thought of the Kremlin to control Asia. They have the same thought with reference to India today. They are going to use many of the same methods on India that they used on Asia, and they're going to use some of the same people as much as they can. I take that as a fact, on the basis of information from a number of sources. They always intended to get into Asia. . . . That plan has been, to a certain extent, accomplished. Central Asia, continental China, is Communist today. You've got to come to the conclusion that today Communist China is the vassal of the Kremlin. There is no doubt in my mind at all as to that.[12]

This hardly sounded like an "interim" report. McCarran had made up his mind: the IPR was guilty as charged, and McCarran had already done his best to see that "the same people" who delivered China to the Russians were not going to be free to run around the globe as Communist agents and deliver India to the Russians. His Internal Security Act of 1950 took care of that.

When SISS got going again in January 1952, John Carter Vincent was the first witness. The committee heard him in executive session January 24-26 and in public session January 30-31 and February 1-2. Vincent was the assigned target of Senator Homer Ferguson; in four of Vincent's seven appearances Ferguson was the only committee member present. As SISS hearings for IPR-tainted witnesses went, Vincent's was mild. Ferguson and Sourwine divided the questioning and were gentlemanly and polite. Vincent was courteous and accommodating. Only one sharp exchange occurred, when Vincent accused Sourwine of knowingly making a false inference.[13]

The SISS objective was clearly to use State Department and IPR documents to trap Vincent into making false statements. Vincent's widow told


Gary May in 1971 that Ferguson said in her hearing during a committee recess, "Come along to the hearing today. We're going to get Vincent on perjury."[14]

There were no revelations, and no minds changed, during these seven days. Vincent, a conservative and dignified Southern Baptist, was as innocent of communism as was the angel Gabriel. But Ferguson thought otherwise, and the rock-bottom China lobby creed he took into the hearings was not shaken in the slightest by Vincent's testimony. Ferguson believed that the Chinese Communist party was irrevocably subservient to the Kremlin; that Service had committed espionage and that Vincent shared that guilt by contributing fifty dollars to Service's defense fund; that Henry Wallace, with Vincent's guidance, had attempted to bring down Chiang by foisting General Wedemeyer off on him; that Dooman was accurate in claiming that State Department directives to General MacArthur had destroyed the capitalist class of Japan; and that Lattimore—always coming back to Lattimore, through hours of questioning—had always followed the Communist line, yet Vincent had wanted Lattimore appointed as a State Department adviser.

Sitting at the committee table with his stack of documents, Sourwine demanded that Vincent recall details of minor meetings, conferences, dinners, decision sessions, even the furniture in the room where he interviewed a Chinese personage eight years earlier. Vincent had had significant matters on his mind as he administered the China and Far Eastern desks, accompanied the vice president to Asia and the secretary of state to Potsdam, and carried out the duties of a Foreign Service Officer Class One. Yet Sourwine chastised him for not remembering whether he had sent his regards to Madame Sun Yat-sen via Mrs. Edward C. Carter in June 1944. Ferguson picked up this memory lapse:

Sen. Ferguson: Mr. Vincent, do you have the same difficulty in your work in the State Department, advising with other officers, of remembering things that have happened as you have here on the witness stand?

Mr. Vincent: If it is a matter of going back—

Sen. Ferguson: Are you as uncertain in your work there about what has happened as you are here?

Mr. Vincent: Senator, this all happened 7 or 8 years ago.

Sen. Ferguson: Can you answer that question?

Sen. McCarran: You better answer that question.


Sen. Ferguson: It is necessary for a foreign officer and a diplomat, such as you are, to remember things for 7 years, is it not? You have to keep them all in mind?

Mr. Vincent: These incidents here, as I say, I do not recall. . . .

Sen. Ferguson: I am asking. Are you usually in as much doubt?

Sen. McCarran: I think that is a simple question and easily understood. Why do you not answer it?

Mr. Vincent: If they were matters which I considered of as little importance as some of these things brought forward here, I would be in the same degree of doubt.[15]

At the end, Ferguson, apparently with serious intent, asked, "Do you believe it was a fair hearing?" Vincent, for the first time, lied: "Yes, sir."[16]

After Vincent, the SISS script called for a run of "Fifth Amendment Communists." Not all of those now called had been Communists, but several invoked the Fifth Amendment on principle, believing that Congress had no right to inquire into their political beliefs. There were ten of these minor witnesses, only three of whom had any significant relationship with the IPR. The others had attended a conference, had written an article, or had been ordinary dues-paying members. Most of them had never met Lattimore.

SISS learned nothing from them. When the FBI reviewed these transcripts, Branigan found that "any pertinent data contained therein" was already in bureau files.[17] Most of these witnesses, possibly all, were heard first in executive session, so the committee knew it would learn nothing from them. But it did "establish a record": here were ten subversives, unwilling to admit their past (and present) misdeeds, all connected in some way with the IPR.

Interspersed in the series of Fifth Amendment takers was one significant witness, Nicholas Poppe, also brought in to skewer Lattimore.

Poppe had been professor of Oriental languages in Leningrad, 1925-41, and head of the Mongolian department of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. Though he claimed not to have been a Party member, he had been trusted enough to be allowed access to Mongolia. When Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, Poppe moved to the Karachai region in the Caucasus, teaching in a pedagogical institute. When German troops reached Karachai, Poppe defected and helped the Germans set up a quisling government.[18] This government immediately appropriated all Jewish property and soon rounded up the Jews in the area for gassing. Poppe's ac-


count has it that he was sympathetic to the Jews and that he saved the lives of a small mountain tribe (the Tats) who were ethnic Iranians but practiced the Jewish faith. Whatever his actions in the Caucasus, he was soon brought to Berlin to work in the infamous SS Wannsee Institute. Poppe claimed that at Wannsee he worked exclusively on Mongolian and Siberian intelligence and did not contribute to SS depradations in German-occupied areas.

After the war Poppe attached himself first to British, then to American intelligence units. He was a hot property; the Russians wanted him for war crimes. But by 1947 the United States was actively seeking former Nazi experts on the Soviet Union; Talcott Parsons of Harvard's Russian Research Center pressed the State Department to have Poppe brought to this country. In May 1949 Parsons succeeded, but Harvard administrators refused to hire Poppe. The University of Washington in Seattle took him on, and he spent the rest of his career there as professor of Far Eastern languages.[19]

When he was attempting to secure academic sponsorship for emigration to the United States, Poppe had sought the assistance of Owen Lattimore. Lattimore knew of Poppe's work for the Nazis and refused to endorse him.[20] George Taylor, Poppe's superior at Seattle and an early witness before SISS, introduced Mandel to Poppe. Mandel was delighted to learn of Poppe's animus against Lattimore and arranged to have him testify on February 12, 1952.

Poppe's testimony was somewhat disappointing to SISS. Poppe denigrated the Soviet World Atlas (about which Carter and other IPR officers had been ecstatic and which Lattimore had reviewed favorably) and claimed that all the Soviet officials who briefly joined IPR in the 1930s were espionage agents. As to Lattimore, Poppe praised Mongols of Manchuria and Inner Asian Frontiers of China but thought Lattimore's treatment of the Mongolian People's Republic (MPR) in Solution in Asia was wrong. The MPR was not a progressive country, and Lattimore downplayed the "internal troubles" of 1932, which Poppe said constituted an "overt revolt of the entire population." Thus, Lattimore's picture of the MPR was not scholarly.[21]

Senator Arthur Watkins, the only committee member present, drew him out:

Sen. Watkins: Then he would be putting into his books the Soviet line?

Mr. Poppe: Yes, of course, and even involuntarily.


Sen. Watkins: Do you mean that he did not do it purposely?

Mr. Poppe: No; I don't know how, but I only say that one who takes his information always from only those papers, he depends greatly upon the ideas expressed in them, so I don't know whether purposely or not.

Sen. Watkins: It would give the American people, then, who read the books, a distorted, a completely distorted picture of what was going on?

Mr. Poppe: Yes, a distorted picture.[22]

But Poppe refused to be pushed into saying that Lattimore was ideologically motivated; he was just ill informed. Watkins dropped the subject.

Poppe, in his 1983 Reminiscences , is ambivalent about Lattimore. He is bitter that Lattimore pointed out publicly his work for the Nazi SS, but he acknowledges that the Lattimore case "reminded me of what I had witnessed on a larger scale in the Soviet Union. . . . His case should never have happened because under the provisions of the Constitution of the United States, Lattimore had the right to express any opinions, even controversial ones."[23]

Having put into the record, and the headlines, a long series of anti-Lattimore testimony, SISS was Finally ready for its chief target. Between February 26 and March 21, 1952, SISS engaged Owen Lattimore in twelve days of acrimonious interrogation. It was the longest appearance of a single witness before any congressional inquiry up to that time. And it was front-page news.

Whether McCarran at this time believed Lattimore was the "one being" he had told Biltz about as directing the whole Communist movement in the United States we do not know. Certainly Lattimore was the arch-heretic; as such, his appearance required the presence of the arch-inquisitor. McCarran himself was present for the entire Lattimore run, and there were no one-man hearings. A majority of the subcommittee was present each day; on six of the twelve days all members were present except Eastland. McCarthy attended seven times.

Writers who later held that the SISS hearings were "conscientious and productive" (H. Bradford Westerfield) or "sober and devastatingly factual" (James Rorty and Moshe Decter) cannot have read the transcripts. The Lattimore hearings were nothing but blatant harassment, what Victor Navasky calls a degradation ceremony.[24] Had the committee wanted to hear both sides fairly, they would not have held off giving Lattimore a


public hearing m challenge Budenz for six months, nor would they have allowed twelve other hostile witnesses m appear without rebuttal in the same forum. The timing alone indicates bias.

So does the contrast between the committee's coddling of anti-Lattimore witnesses, the failure even to acknowledge challenges to their credibility, compared with its bruising confrontation of Lattimore. Lattimore himself put it well: "One of the most shocking things that has happened in the proceedings is that not one of the witnesses against me has ever been asked in examination or cross-examination a question that would test his motives or his reliability."[25]

Further, SISS ignored all the evidence favorable to Lattimore that had been developed in the Tydings hearings, much of which had been reported in the press. This evidence was known to Morris, who had been minority counsel during the Tydings hearings. The entire corpus of evidence on the basis of which Tydings concluded that McCarthy's charges were fraudulent was totally disregarded. The biased selection of Asian "experts" called by McCarran has already been mentioned.

For seven of Lattimore's twelve days of testimony, Abe Fortas accompanied him as counsel; on five days, Thurman Arnold substituted. Fortas and Arnold were two of Washington's outstanding attorneys; the committee treated them like dirt. McCarran had been hard on counsel for IPR witnesses from the beginning. He had warned Edward C. Carter's counsel on opening day in July 1951: "Any witness called here may have the privilege of being accompanied and advised by counsel of his choice; but witnesses' counsel will not be permitted m testify nor to ask questions. This is not a trial, but an inquiry, and we intend m proceed in an orderly way." But when Carter's counsel suggested a clarification to Carter, McCarran shut him up peremptorily. Fortas and Arnold got the same treatment.

On the first day of Lattimore's hearing a contretemps developed during which Willis Smith defended the committee's treatment of anti-IPR witnesses on an unusual basis:

Sen. Smith: Do you understand that this is a trial or is it in the nature of a grand jury procedure? You know the difference?

Mr. Lattimore: I am sorry I don't.

Sen. Smith: You know that a grand jury proceeding is one in which you are trying m get facts on which to base a charge. This is a grand jury. In a trial you say, "This man is accused of being guilty. Is he innocent or guilty?"


You see a distinction, I know, between these. You understand that this was an inquiry in the nature of a grand jury proceeding to see what are the facts on which charges might be based.[26]

Shortly after this exchange, Lattimore protested that his lawyer was unable to counsel him:

Mr. Lattimore: I am sitting here under conditions in which my own lawyer is not allowed to tender advice to me while I am asked rather complicated questions involving legal points which might be pitfalls for me, to which I have to reply to the best of my ability.

Sen. O'Conor: Mr. Lattimore, is that not begging the question? You were advised, and if you were not advised, you are now, that on any of these so-called complicated questions if you are unable to comprehend them you have the right to consult with your counsel. Why do you give the impression in the record that you are being deprived of the right to consultation with counsel?

Mr. Lattimore: Senator, my counsel is not allowed to intervene at any time.

Sen. O'Conor: You are allowed to consult him.

Mr. Lattimore: At any time he thinks I may need advice and I in my ignorance may be at the most need of advice at any moment—

Sen. O'Conor: It is evident that you know when you need advice, and you know better than anybody else when you need it. . . .

Mr. Fortas: I wish to address myself to this program that the distinguished Senator Smith raised—that is, about procedure. It is, after all, a legal question. It is very difficult for a lawyer to sit here and hear statements that affect the interest of his client and to be in a position where he can't say anything. I am sure that all of you distinguished gentlemen who are lawyers appreciate that.

Now as to Mr. Lattimore's consulting with me, he is sitting here under an intense barrage of questions from one, two, three, four, five distinguished gentlemen, and his concentration is intense upon those questions, and he obviously can't be expected to know


when to consult counsel. Now of course I have a very fundamental difference of opinion with Senator Smith as to the purpose of a Senate investigation. I believe that the purpose of a Senate investigation is to develop the facts, both sides of the facts, impartially and fairly. . . . But it does seem to me that when Mr. Lattimore is confronted with a choice as to whether this is a grand jury or a petty jury proceeding he is obviously at a serious disadvantage. . . . I beg your pardon, Senator, for getting emotional about this, but I do believe that it should be said.[27]

Wasted effort. O'Conor simply reiterated that Fortas "has the right to advise with [Lattimore] at any time."

Fortas may have rejected Smith's grand jury analogy, but it was in many ways apt. And the committee held firm to its determination that Fortas was not to intervene, to protest the wording of a question, or to warn his client of a booby trap.

There was a further prohibition on Lattimore's counsel. On February 28 Ferguson asked Lattimore if he had "ever worked for any government other than the United States." Lattimore had worked for Chiang Kai-shek, but he was not sure whether that meant working for the government of the Republic of China.

Mr. Lattimore: May I qualify that answer, Senator? I worked for Chiang Kai-shek.

Sen. O'Conor . The question is as to any other government. It admits of a direct answer: You were or you were not. And if you were, and desire to make any explanation, that is perfectly in order. But you ought to answer the question directly first.

Mr. Lattimore . I don't think I can, Senator. I want to ask for the opinion of you gentlemen on this subject. I was in the employ of Chiang Kai-shek, who was at the head—

Sen. Ferguson: Please answer: Were you or were you not in the employ of any other government?

Mr. Fortas: Point of order.

Sen. McCarran: You have no right to ask for a point of order. Just a minute, Mr. Chairman [O'Conor was temporarily serving as chairman]. Just a minute. I object to that way of proceeding. This gentleman has no right to ask for a point of order, and he is no part of this body.


Mr. Lattimore: Let me rephrase the beginning of my reply. I do not believe—

Sen. McCarran: Just a moment.

Sen. O'Conor: Just a second, Mr. Lattimore. The question is one which, in the opinion of the Chair, does admit of a direct answer. He either was or was not. Now, he can make any explanation he desires after he has answered the question.

Sen. McCarran: Mr. Chairman, just a second, before that goes any farther. I advised this gentleman when he first came in here of what his province would be. Now, that was no part of it, your breaking in with any point of order. Now, if you do that again, you are going to be excluded from this committee.

Mr. Fortas: That is up to you.

Sen. McCarran: That is all right, and don't do it again.

Mr. Fortas: That is up to you.

Sen. McCarran: I will certainly do it.

Mr. Fortas: You have the power.[28]

Neither Fortas nor Arnold was actually ejected, despite occasional protests at McCarran's constant bullying. McCarran simply slapped them down again.

But the full force of McCarran's spleen was directed at the witness. Lattimore began his appearance by reading a fifty-page defense of his career and attack on his accusers. "Senators, I have asked for this public hearing because your proceedings have resulted in serious damage to my reputation as an objective scholar and patriotic citizen, to the Institute of Pacific Relations with which I have been connected, and to our Government's Foreign Service personnel and the conduct of its foreign policy."[29] After this first sentence Sourwine interrupted, and the acrimony began. Sourwine was spelled by McCarran, O'Conor, Smith, Ferguson, Jenner, and Watkins. For three days Lattimore tried to read his statement; he was interrupted and challenged after almost every sentence.

One of Lattimore's caustic remarks was in response to a demand that he name the members of the China lobby, on which he blamed much of IPR's troubles. He named Kohlberg, William Goodwin, and William Knowland (Republican from California), whom he called "The Senator from Formosa." This remark set off howls of outrage. Ferguson blustered, "That is a Communist line, is it not, 'the Senator from Formosa?'" Lattimore said no: he had read it in the newspapers, but he did not read


Communist papers. There followed ten minutes of badgering for Lattimore to come up with a specific paper and issue where he had read it. Finally Fortas intervened, "Can you give this witness a rest, please?" McCarran for once obliged.[30]

When the committee resumed, it was back to the China lobby.

Sen. McCarran: Let us name the Senators who belong to the China lobby, is that the question?

Sen. Smith: The persons who constituted the China lobby, and among them he named one Senator, and I would like to have him name the others, because he said or he referred to the State Department victims of the China lobby, and I want to know who constitutes the China lobby, the personnel, and the names.

Sen. McCarran: That calls for names, Mr. Lattimore.

Mr. Lattimore: All right, Senator. Before naming any further names—

Sen. McCarran: That calls for names, Mr. Lattimore.

Mr. Lattimore: Senator, I'll mention any further names only with great reluctance—

Sen. McCarran: Your statement in that regard will be stricken from the record. Name the names. That is what the answer is.

Mr. Lattimore: I am naming these names with the greatest reluctance.

Sen. McCarran: That is stricken from the record. Call the names.

Mr. Lattimore: I have characterized people as being—

Sen. McCarran: Call the names, Mr. Lattimore.

Mr. Lattimore: . . . in the lobby as being different—

Sen. McCarran: Do you want to answer the question or don't you?

Mr. Lattimore: Senator, before—

Sen. McCarran: I ask you to answer the question now.

Mr. Lattimore: Senator, yes, I will answer the question.

Sen. McCarran: Your other statements will be stricken from the record, and you are called upon to name names, and now do so.

Mr. Lattimore: Very respectfully, Senator, you are—

Sen. McCarran: Let's name the names and answer the question of the Senator from North Carolina.


Mr. Lattimore: Senator, I have mentioned Mr. Alfred Kohlberg. I understand that an employee of the China lobby has been a Miss Freda Utley. I understand there is a great deal of private Chinese money in this country—

Sen. Smith: Now that does not answer my question.

Sen. McCarran: The last part of the answer will be stricken from the record.[31]

Some things may have been stricken from the record, but in general it appears that no one on the committee staff ever bothered. It was like this for twelve long, bitter days.

McCarran at one stage decided to belittle Lattimore's educational attainments.

Sen. McCarran: Mr. Lattimore, are you a teacher in Johns Hopkins?

Mr. Lattimore: That is right.

Sen. McCarran: Of what institution are you a graduate?

Mr. Lattimore: I am not a graduate of any institution.

Sen. McCarran: Are you a graduate of any high school even?

Mr. Lattimore: I finished my studies at a high school in England—

Sen. McCarran: Did you graduate from high school? Can you not answer that question?

Mr. Lattimore: Senator, I just want to make a point here that I went to school in England where they do not graduate.

Sen. McCarran: Please answer the question. Did you ever graduate from high school? You can answer that "Yes" or "No."

Mr. Lattimore: All right, Senator.

Sen. McCarran: What is your answer?

Mr. Lattimore: I didn't graduate from a high school. I went to school in England; I left school at the age of 19 and there was no such thing as graduation ceremonies or diploma or anything of that kind.[32]

An hour later Freda Utley came back into the discussion. Lattimore expressed the belief that since she had been hired by SISS, she "undoubtedly aided in recruiting witnesses and in rehearsing their stories." Another explosion. Did he know this of his own knowledge?


Mr. Lattimore: I don't know for a fact.

Sen. Smith: Then you are making statements here under oath, that are not the truth, so far as you know?

Mr. Lattimore: I am making statements of strong opinions.

Sen. Smith: We do not want any more opinions. We want statements of fact. You are sworn. If you do not know a thing to be a fact, we do not want you to be sitting here quoting somebody else's opinion. You are just wasting the time of everybody.

Mr. Lattimore: Senator, a great many statements of opinion against me have been entered into the record. Am I not to be allowed to state my own opinions?

Sen. Smith: No; you state facts. That is what we want.[33]

As a matter of fact , Lattimore was right. The opinions of Budenz, Barmine, Wittfogel, Dooman, Kornfeder, Stassen, and all the rest of the IPR-haters were strewn throughout the record. SISS wanted to hear them and received them kindly. Lattimore's opinions did not fit the SISS ideology.

There were, of course, moments of sanity in the hearings when both committee and witness were on good behavior. But generally the hostility of the committee drew out the anger of the witness. When it came to the vital question, "Have you ever received any orders or instructions or suggestions, directly or indirectly, from any Communist or pro-Communist source?" Lattimore had again to qualify his answer. He had been in Yenan: naturally there were suggestions from Mao and Chou. He had tried very hard to get the Russians to participate in Pacific Affairs , and they had some suggestions as to how that would be possible. But the committee didn't want any qualifications; they wanted a yes or no. So they asked him the same question five times . Finally the committee accepted his answer: no orders, no instructions, suggestions only from Russians and Chinese.[34] They didn't believe it, of course, but they moved on to other things.

Time and time again he was instructed not to "give reasons," not to explain, even not to think, just to answer yes or no. Time and time again McCarran blustered, "That will be stricken from the record." Only once did McCarran backtrack. It was in a discussion of Lattimore's query to Carter as to where, if at all, he could find a plausible justification for Russia's attack on Finland. Morris was questioning. He asked Lattimore a convoluted question about whether he or Carter wanted to justify the Russian invasion.


Mr. Lattimore: My answer is "No." May I explain.

Sen. McCarran: I do not think it is necessary for an explanation. The answer is "No." That is all there is to it. It is a question of the construction of the language.

Mr. Lattimore: I think I have something pertinent to say on the subject.

Sen. McCarran: I do not think there is anything pertinent. When you say "No, it is not interchangeable," then it is not interchangeable. That is your decision.

Mr. Lattimore: May I explain why the answer is "No"?

Sen. McCarran: No. The language speaks for itself.[35]

But the senator had gone too far. There was a "disturbance" in the rear of the room, which McCarran at first sought to quell by threatening to clear the room. But the disturbance continued, and the senator relented. "Just a moment. I think the Chair ruled erroneously, and I want to correct my ruling· I refused to permit the witness to explain his view on the first two lines, or three lines of the letter. I think I ruled hastily and I want to correct that ruling· I want him to have that opportunity. You may have it now."[36] Noblesse oblige.

Harassment of the witness there was aplenty, but the attempted entrapment was worse. Arnold, in Fair Fights and Foul , evaluates the procedure accurately: "The most striking fact about these questions and the manner in which they were propounded is that they were not asked in order to obtain information, but for the purpose of entrapment, for the committee, having seized the voluminous files of the Institute of Pacific Relations, was armed with documents dealing with the details the witness was commanded to dig up from the recesses of his memory of events of ten to fifteen years before" (Arnold's italics).[37]

This judgment was not confined to friends of Lattimore. The most compelling evidence of entrapment comes from the testimony of Warren Olney III, assistant attorney general under Eisenhower, to whom fell the task of supervising Lattimore's prosecution in 1953. Olney was genuinely troubled by the Lattimore case, as he told an interviewer for the Earl Warren Oral History Project:

Lattimore was questioned in very, very great detail. He answered all of the questions completely. . . . I do believe that Lattimore's experience . . . where he answered every question, was one of the major reasons why later people who were called before those committees would take the Fifth Amendment. It was not because they necessarily felt they'd


done anything wrong, but because the questioning was being used not just to pull out the truth, but to try to lay a trap by getting some kind of a wrong answer along the line where there was contradictory evidence on which they could base a perjury charge. Lawyers, of course, advising their clients who were called as witnesses in that predicament, very properly would advise them to take the Fifth Amendment, not answer any questions.[38]

But Lattimore did answer questions, for twelve days. And the entrapment sometimes worked.

At Carter's suggestion Lattimore had lunched with Soviet Ambassador Constantine Oumansky just before he went to Chungking as adviser to Chiang. When asked in executive session, he said the Oumansky luncheon was after the German invasion of Russia. IPR files contained a letter showing that he had misdated the luncheon; it occurred before the German invasion of Russia, and Lattimore was off by several days. To SISS, this misdating was sinister; before the invasion the United States and Russia were enemies; after the invasion we were allies. Lattimore was not told in executive session that the committee had a letter showing his date to be wrong.

On March 3, 1952, Morris confronted Lattimore with the text of his executive session testimony, where he misdated the luncheon. No hint was given that the committee possessed a letter showing a different date. But Lattimore was put on record again:

Mr. Morris: Now, Mr. Lattimore, I will ask you some questions on the basis of that transcript. Did you testify that your meeting with Mr. Oumansky was after the Hitler invasion of the Soviet Union?

Mr. Lattimore: Yes, I believe I did. I couldn't guarantee that, just to the best of my recollection.[39]

It was not just entrapment; it was sleazy entrapment. Lattimore did not pretend to certainty in his answer. FBI evaluations of the Lattimore case noted this disclaimer.

Lattimore's attitude toward SISS was one of injured innocence. He knew they were out to prove him guilty of something and had suborned perjury to do it. He displayed his outrage fully in his prepared statement. As Murray Marder of the Washington Post put it, the statement "poured on the subcommittee a rolling denunciation representing eight months of accumulated ire." The New York Times also commented on Lattimore's


truculence: "Occasionally an old hand who knows how far he can go—John L. Lewis, for example—will talk back to the Congressmen, but most witnesses watch their manners. On Capitol Hill last week there was a series of hearings that produced such bitter exchanges between witnesses and committeemen that veteran observers could not recall a precedent."[40]

Was Lattimore's disdain for the committee justified? No doubt it was. But many of his friends thought it unwise. When speaking troth to power, humility is often called for. However, a softer attitude on Lattimore's part would have made no difference. He was dead center in the sights of the inquisitors, and no substitute victim could have replaced him. And if the confrontation with SISS produced nothing else, it produced some prime—and often hilarious—invective.

When Ferguson asked him if Russia were dominating the war in Korea, Lattimore snapped, "If I knew the answer to that question, Senator, I would be in Wall Street making a lot of money." When Lattimore pointed out the obvious bias against the IPR in McCarran's 1951 U.S. News interview, Sourwine attempted to justify that bias on the basis of the five volumes of testimony SISS had by then accumulated. Lattimore responded, "I have no idea, Mr. Sourwine, of how much the committee had scooped up or what it scooped it up in, but I am aware that the hearings are not complete, that this is a prejudgment in a hearing that is still under process where most of the accused have not yet been heard."[41]

Sourwine was also the butt of a jibe when Lattimore accused the committee of trying to beat up on him:

Mr. Sourwine: Does your ego, sir, compel you to the conclusion that this subcommittee is after you rather than investigating the Institute of Pacific Relations?

Mr. Lattimore: Not my ego; my epidermis.[42]

Then there was the attempt of the committee to pin the downfall of Chiang on Lattimore because he had recommended that new persons be put in charge of China policy in 1945. Shortly after Lattimore's recommendation, Grew, Dooman, Ballantine, and Hurley retired or were removed from the China scene and were replaced by Vincent, Acheson, Butterworth, and others thought to be sympathetic to the Chinese Communists. Willis Smith caught the sarcasm this time.

Sen. Smith: Mr. Lattimore, it is a fact that at the time Mr. Grew and at least some of these other men were fired, we did not have the same situation in the Far East with


respect to the Communists being in dominant control that we have today?

Mr. Lattimore: I presume you are right. That was some time ago, wasn't it?

Sen. Smith: Yes, so that since these men who were known as anti-Communists were relieved of their duties and their positions communism has made great advances in the Far East?

Sen. Jenner: That is why they were removed.

Sen. Smith: I am just asking for the facts.

Mr. Lattimore: Is your argument, Senator, a post hoc, ergo propter hoc?

Sen. Smith: I believe you said you did not want to indulge in legal or technical language, so I am asking you in plain language if, after these men were removed, it is not a fact that there have been great advances by communism in the Far East?

Mr. Lattimore: Yes. Of course, the advances of communism since the death of Julius Caesar have been even greater.[43]

Harold Stassen came in for a full share of Lattimore's contempt. Stassen's ten-point charge against Lattimore's contribution to the State Department's 1949 roundtable on China was dissected point by point. Lattimore commented on point ten:

10. That no aid should be sent to the non-Communist guerrillas, nor to the Chiang Kai-shek forces. I said nothing of the sort.

In his second hearing, after the full record had been released, Mr. Stassen backtracked. He did not, of course, admit error. That would have been out of character for a Presidential candidate. He attempted to cover up by quoting some member of what he had labeled the "Lattimore group" (who, he said, had "not differed" from each other) in support of each of his ten points. He quoted me in connection with only 1 of the 10, and that in a way to distort my meaning.

Confronted with the absurd discrepancies between the kind of conference that he had pretended to describe and the kind of conference that was revealed when the full transcript was finally published, Stassen tried to escape by doing acts on the flying trapeze, as if he were a road-show McCarthy swinging through the air with the greatest of ease from "205 names" to "57" names and all the rest of it.[44]

A few minutes later Lattimore said, "Mr. Stassen at that moment was fellow-traveling with Senator McCarthy, and I should say that Senator


McCarthy is a graduate witch burner."[45] The committee did not take kindly his challenges to its good faith. In the end, perhaps Lattimore's irreverence and sarcasm prodded McCarran m go m the extremes he reached in getting Lattimore indicted.

An interesting contrast in hearing room atmosphere occurred in a break between the tenth and eleventh Lattimore appearances. John King Fair-bank was brought before the committee. Perhaps the faithful six who had attended most of the Lattimore hearings wanted a rest; for Fairbank, Smith presided, with only Ferguson and Watkins present. The tone of the Fair-bank hearing was completely different from that prevailing for Lattimore. Fairbank thinks this difference may have been because McCarran, who was absent, was "cynical and innately evil like McCarthy," whereas Smith, Ferguson, and Watkins were not. But the latter three were as abusive of other witnesses as McCarran had been of Lattimore. More likely, Fair-bank's approach was more to the committee's liking. He began with acknowledgment that "the subcommittee has been grappling with the problems posed by Communist subversion. We know today that this is a real and vitally serious problem." Smith observed that "Mr. Fairbank's statement does not seem to be of quite the flavor of Professor Lattimore's statement," and Watkins agreed: "I think it is entirely different, from what I have read of it." In addition, Fairbank's attorney, Richard Wait, went out of his way to ingratiate himself with Senator Smith. Wait "found a relative and other things in common" with Smith. Wilma Fairbank did not like this approach; she said to Wait indignantly, "Why do you butter up that man?" Wait replied, "You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar."[46]

But Fairbank's testimony was not at all honey. He flayed Budenz, Bentley, McGovern, and the other anti-IPR witnesses at every opportunity. What he did not do was rub the committee's hypocrisy in their faces. Smith began the hearing with a statement derogating hearsay. Lattimore would have thrown that back at Smith with asperity, since Budenz's only contribution was hearsay. Fairbank stood his ground but refrained from sarcasm and invective. He emerged from the hearing unscathed.[47]

The substance of the Lattimore hearings, like the rest of the SISS product, did not impress the FBI. On April 1, 1952, Branigan wrote Belmont that the transcripts "have been thoroughly reviewed insofar as they pertain to the IPR and Own Lattimore, and it has been found that the pertinent information appearing in this testimony was already in Bureau files and had been forwarded to the Department."[48] But the committee did put Lattimore on public record under oath about a number of items pointing


toward a perjury indictment. He was led to repeat his executive session claim that he had never handled Lauchlin Currie's mail when Currie was out of Washington. He emphasized again that he had never published an article by a person he knew to be a Communist, except the Russian author. He repeated his statement that he did not know in the 1930s that Asiaticus was a Communist. He said that he didn't believe that Chi Ch'aoting was a Communist. He insisted that he had made no prearrangements for the 1937 trip to Yenan. He again misdated his luncheon with Oumansky but said he couldn't be sure.[49]

Dozens of the bizarre charges brought to McCarthy by underworld informers (discussed in chapter 16) came up in these hearings, along with the selling of the Vermont farm, the Moscow trials, and the modus vivendi cablegram. Lattimore fielded them all. But his explanations were not persuasive to the committee. At the end of the twelfth day McCarran declared that the committee had something to say.

What I am going to say now comes from the unanimous committee that has heard this hearing. It has been the settled practice of this committee to reserve its conclusions, with respect to the substance of the testimony that is taken, until the conclusion of the hearings on the particular matter under investigation. After careful consideration, however, this committee feels it proper at this time to make a statement with respect to the conduct of this witness, as a witness, during the time he has been before us. . . .

The committee has been confronted here with an individual so flagrantly defiant of the United States Senate, so outspoken in his discourtesy, and so persistent in his efforts to confuse and obscure the facts, that the committee feels constrained to take due notice of his conduct. . . .

Suggestions have been made that the committee should seek to discipline Mr. Lattimore for his contumacious and contemptuous conduct. Clearly Mr. Lattimore did, on many occasions, stand in contempt of the committee. Clearly he took that position voluntarily and intentionally. Mr. Lattimore used, toward the committee, language which was insolent, overbearing, arrogant, and disdainful. He flouted the committee, he scoffed at the committee's efforts, he impugned the committee's methods, and he slandered the committee's staff. His language was frequently such as to outrage and offend both the committee as a whole and its members individually, and, apparently, with intent to do so.

There has been no striking back on the part of the committee. The committee has employed no sanctions against Mr. Lattimore because,


through forbearance, it has been found possible to make progress without disciplinary action. Despite Mr. Lattimore's recalcitrance at many points . . . the committee has preferred to err, if at all, on the side of allowing the witness too much latitude, rather than on the side of allowing too little.[50]

Then McCarran reviewed a dozen instances where he believed Lattimore had lied. His whole oration came to twenty-five hundred words. The conclusion was muted but clear:

The precise extent to which Mr. Lattimore gave untruthful testimony before this committee will never be determined. Human limitations will prevent us from ever attaining the complete knowledge of all his activities which would make it possible to assess each statement he has made and to catalog fully whatever untruths he may have uttered. That he has uttered untruths stands clear on the record. Some of these have been so patent and so flagrant as to merit mention at this time, as illustrative of the conduct and attitude of the witness. . . . When, in the face of the record, he undertook before this committee a deliberate attempt to deny or cover up pertinent facts, this witness placed himself in a most unenviable position.

The hearing is dosed.[51]

Pure Kafka.

Newspaper accounts of the last day of the Lattimore inquisition naturally played up McCarran's "2,500-word tongue-lashing." The anti-Lattimore press carried little else. Some papers acknowledged that there was another side to the story: the Baltimore Sun headlined the statement Lattimore made in response to McCarran: "Senators' Charge He Was Untruthful Is 'Savage, Unfair' Attack: Lattimore." The most thoughtful comment was also in the Sun: John W. Owens's article "The Committee versus the Professor." Owens noted that "scarcely anybody remembers that the original charges were not only that Professor Lattimore was Russia's 'top espionage agent,' but was the principal 'architect' of American policy in the Far East. Scarcely anybody remembers that Senator McCarthy said he would stand or fall on this, the 'most important' case in his campaign against the State Department."[52]

These charges, observed Owens, had long since disappeared. The McCarran committee had issued no significant "finding of fact." What was a concerned citizen to believe? Perhaps now it was appropriate to


reflect on this unprecedented twelve-day confrontation between citizen and solon. Owens's reflection was that "the Lattimore manner and method apparently rest upon a decision that, in the United States, a citizen who is before a congressional committee has as much right to insult a Senator as a Senator has to insult a citizen. He kicked off the proceedings before the McCarran Committee by taking the hide off its members, quite as energetically as they removed his hide at the close of the proceedings." Owens wondered whether Lattimore had established a "new school of deportment before congressional committees."

He had done so, of course, and it was controversial. Lattimore believed that his confrontational style had affected the fainthearted who knew he was innocent but were afraid to say so. As he expressed it in a letter to Vincent, "Intimidation has spread widely and deeply. People find it more and more easy to take refuge in rationalizing. . . .' of course, everybody knows he isn't a Communist, but he shouldn't have talked back to senators in a manner not becoming a scholar and gentleman.' Thus we have a new standard. Senators can hit a man below the belt and keep it up day after day; but if he hits back straight from the shoulder, that is not 'becoming.'"[53]

Of course, many supported Lattimore's stand. One of the more poignant letters he received was from Barbara Tuchman: "You can have no idea what a lift one gets from a statement such as yours to the McCarran committee yesterday. If enough people will take courage from your words & attitude to fight back against the creeping glacier of McCarthyism, perhaps we can hold off the ice age of personal freedom that seems to be descending on us."[54]

Another supporter was Vincent, then in "exile" at the U.S. legation in Tangier. "I have just read carefully and with great appreciation your statement before the subcommittee. It is a masterful work of fairness, intelligence, and righteous indignation. . . . [My wife] will join me in saying catch the next freighter for Morocco and visit us in Tangier, where such committees do not exist and free enterprise is rampant—(is this latter phrase pro- or anti-Communist?)"[55]

Johns Hopkins was no sanctuary. McCarran's blast at Lattimore was sent to all faculty members; the Times said the campus was in an "uproar." McCarran disclaimed any knowledge of the mailing. The Hopkins trustees discussed the Lattimore situation at a meeting on March 28; Carlyle Barton, chair, said that the publicity was embarrassing but that nothing could be done about it until "those fellows in Washington" came up with an answer.[56]


The Philosophical Faculty (arts and sciences) of Johns Hopkins deliberated in anguish about Lattimore's contretemps with the Senate. Their academic council produced a two-page report on the matter that fussed and fumed and got nowhere. Its conclusion: "It would seem suitable at a future date—when calm judgments can be reached—for an appropriate academic body to be requested to consider whether the evidence produced indicates his [Lattimore's] unfitness as a scholar." The copy of this document in Lattimore's flies is undated, there are no names on it, and it is heavily edited, some changes obviously in favor of Lattimore, some opposed to him.

The date for calm judgments never came.


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