Preferred Citation: Newman, Robert P. Owen Lattimore and the "Loss" of China. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1992 1992. http://ark.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/ft296nb15t/


 
Chapter Seventeen A Fool or a Knave

Chapter Seventeen
A Fool or a Knave

Lattimore arrived in London from Afghanistan on March 30, the same day McCarthy addressed the Senate. One of Lattimore's worries was whether he would get a chance to read his mail and be briefed on all the happenings in Washington before he had to face the press. He need not have worried; the British had everything arranged. They took him to their VIP room, where his mail was waiting, as was a telephone call from the UN office in London.[1]

The mail of greatest import was from Eleanor and the lawyer she had engaged, Abe Fortas. Eleanor's letter was almost apocalyptic: "You are going to have an opportunity of a lifetime to affect the future of democracy in this country. McCarthy has staked everything now on this one case, so that if he is thoroughly demolished now his whole house of cards tumbles and his methods and all he stands for fall with them. I am too tired to express myself sensibly, but all your friends and all the decent people in America are backing you and counting on you to come out with flying colors. You will have saved the 81 people on his State Department list, and a lot of other people who will soon be on other lists if he gets by with this."[2]

It was an admirable pep talk, but the mood of the country was too angry, the number of liars willing to capitalize on the Red Scare too large, the need of frustrated Republicans and ultraconservative Democrats for a scapegoat too great for one lone professor to turn things around.

Abe Fortas was more realistic. In addition to warning Lattimore that the country was deranged and that Lattimore was facing a gutter fight, Fortas described what he had done to present Lattimore's case. He had requested Tydings to schedule Lattimore for an appearance before the


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subcommittee and had arranged a press conference for the Mongols. Fortas also wrote McCarthy and enclosed a copy of the letter for Lattimore to read in London:

We write this letter to you at this time to give you an opportunity publicly to retract and repudiate your charges that Mr. Lattimore is a Communist or Communist sympathizer or the agent of a foreign power. We suggest that a decent regard for the welfare of your country, for the high office that you hold, and for elementary Christian values, require you immediately to put a stop to this fantastic outrage. We are required, however, to inform you that any withdrawal of your charges that you now make will not, as a matter of law, exonerate you from such legal liability as you may have in the event that Mr. Lattimore chooses to bring action against you for the statements that you have made concerning him, including your "off-the-record" identification of him as the person whom you libelously accuse of being the "top Soviet espionage agent."[3]

But Joe McCarthy was careful of his own neck, if not those of others. He had restricted his actionable statements to the Senate; senatorial immunity would protect him. His caution became clear on April 8, when he made an impassioned speech to the Marine Corps League in Passaic, New Jersey. There he attacked Lattimore, Jessup, and Service for "following the Communist Party line" and dared them to sue him. It was clever semantics. How would one prove that he had never "followed the Communist Party line?" Everybody in the country had followed the "Party line" during the war, when Russia was our ally. Even MacArthur had uttered outrageously pro-Soviet statements. And even though Drew Pearson offered to pay McCarthy's legal expenses if the senator made specific and actionable charges outside the Senate, he never did.[4]

After Lattimore had digested his mail in London, he met the press. This was encouraging. The doctrinaire American journalists who accepted McCarthy's hallucinations were absent, and the group at the London airport was "quite obviously assuming that 1 was innocent until proven guilty." Lattimore was particularly pleased to see Hamilton Owens of the Baltimore Sun among them; Owens flew to London to get an early story carrying Lattimore's reaction to the McCarthy charges.[5] This decision took some courage. Owens was well aware of the sentiment against Lattimore in Maryland and of the hostility of one of the Sun's columnists. His story was upbeat and fair.

Lattimore was scheduled to arrive in New York March 31, but the flight


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was delayed and did not reach Idlewild until the next day. Eleanor, Fortas, and the press were waiting. At the airport Lattimore made only brief remarks showing his contempt for McCarthy. He made a longer statement at a press conference later in the day. This statement had been carefully prepared by Fortas, and copies of it were passed out. It was a frontal challenge to McCarthy's integrity: Latimore called him a "madman" and said, "The Soviet Union ought to decorate McCarthy for telling the kind of lies about the United States that Russian propagandists couldn't invent."[6]

Lattimore also reviewed his few connections with the State Department: being on State's payroll during the Pauley mission, since Pauley had no payroll of his own; taking part in Jessup's China policy roundtable for three days in 1949; and lecturing once to State Department personnel on Japanese problems. He categorically denied membership in or sympathy for the Communist party, a statement he later repeated under oath before Tydings. And he defended his extensive writings, which, he said, never advocated or supported the cause of communism. What he had done was "to find out and state publicly not only the weaknesses of the Communists' position in Asia, but also the points that might increase the danger that they will make progress with the people of that part of the world." Anticipating McCarthy's promise to produce testimony proving him to be a member of the Party, Lattimore threw down a challenge: "If anybody has sworn that I have been or am a member of the Communist party he is a perjurer. He should be prosecuted to the limit of the law."[7]

The press received him well, and questions were friendly. If the Hearst people were present, they passed up this opportunity to heckle.

Before Lattimore and his family left for home, Fortas got his approval for one more operation: "a telegram to Budenz, asking him in the interests of fair play either to disavow the press rumor that he had signed an affidavit for McCarthy, or, if he had, to advise us immediately and to disclose its contents. No answer ever came."[8]

The Lattimores had a weekend at home before moving to Washington on Monday, April 13, where preparations for appearing before Tydings were already under way at the firm of Arnold, Fortas, and Porter. One of their first activities that Monday was to release Lattimore's memo on Far Eastern' policy that he had furnished Jessup in 1949. This memo got good play in the papers; it was the lead story in the New York Times . The headlines were absolutely accurate: "Lattimore Bares His Memorandum on Far Eastern Policy. Professor Acts after McCarthy Challenges State


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Department to Release the Document. He Opposed Aid to Chiang. But Urged Efforts to Convince Orientals They Should Turn to U.S. and Not Russia."[9]

Next to the Times story about Lattimore's memo was a startling revelation from Henry Cabot Lodge, one of the two Republicans on the Tydings committee. Lodge had submitted a bill in the Senate to take the investigation of Communists in the State Department out of the hands of the Senate, where partisan wrangling and public charges against people like Kenyon, Jessup, and Lattimore were proving to be "a very defective way of promoting loyalty, since it often besmirches the character of innocent persons, weakens the position of the United States before the world, fails to find the really dangerous individuals and, by putting the spotlight on others, can actually increase the security of the real Communist ringleaders. . . . Mistakes have been made in the past and they must be ruthlessly corrected. All we can learn so far shows clearly that none of the current charges have been proven."[10] It was a ringing condemnation of Joe McCarthy. Abe Fortas could not have put it better.

Lodge called for a bipartisan commission of twelve private citizens to take charge of the inquiry and to conduct it in confidence. Unfortunately, matters had already gone too far for his proposal to gain widespread support. The Senate Democratic leadership could not support Lodge, since calling off the public Tydings hearings would deprive Lattimore and others of a chance to clear their names. And since the Democrats believed McCarthy to be a liar, they wanted to expose him in public. Lodge was too late.

While Lattimore and his crew were getting ready for Tydings, the FBI was reversing its stance on interviewing Alfred Kohlberg. On March 30 the Washington field office, noting that McCarthy derived most of his anti-Lattimore speech from Kohlberg, recommended to headquarters that Kohlberg be interviewed. Two days later SAC Scheidt in New York supported this recommendation. Hoover, still mindful of Kearney's opinion that Kohlberg was not trustworthy, was reluctant. But fear that McCarthy would steal a march on the bureau prevailed; on April 3 Hoover reversed himself, and the next day New York agents called on Kohlberg.[11]

The interview yielded little. Kohlberg affirmed giving McCarthy most of the documents used in his Senate speech and provided the agents with copies of some new ones. One document not previously seen by the bureau revealed Kohlberg at his mendacious best: claiming that Lattimore went secretly to Moscow in 1944; claiming that an IPR writer named


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Abraham Chapman had been dishonorably discharged from the military; and stating that Lattimore had advocated turning over half of China to the Japanese in 1938.[12] These falsehoods did not particularly agitate the bureau; Kohlberg's major debacle was yet a week off.

For three frantic days the Lattimore party worked on his statement for the Tydings committee. Eleanor Lattimore was chief of staff; Fortas was prime legal adviser, with help from Thurman Arnold and Paul Porter. Joe Barnes broke off a lecture tour to help, mostly as devil's advocate; Stanley Salmen of Little, Brown edited. Lattimore's students and associates from the Page School, including George McT. Kahin, Dave Wilson, John De-Francis, and Ruth Bean concentrated on an analysis of how McCarthy quoted Lattimore contrary to context. By the afternoon of April 5, a forty-two-page statement was ready.[13]

Thursday, April 6, 1950, the nation's spotlight was focused as never before on a lone professor, charged with being the top Soviet spy in the United States. He appeared before a subcommittee of the U.S. Senate determined not only to defend his loyalty and integrity but also to counterattack the senator who had maligned him.

The hearing room was crowded when Chairman Tydings called the subcommittee to order at ten-thirty.[14] Senators Theodore Green, Brien McMahon, Bourke Hickenlooper, and Henry Cabot Lodge flanked the chairman. Senator Tom Connally, chairman of the parent Foreign Relations Committee, sat with the members. Behind them were Senators McCarthy, Scott Lucas, Charles Tobey, Karl Mundt, and William Know-land. Lattimore sat at the witness table with Fortas. Tydings swore Lattimore to tell the truth and asked him to proceed. Lattimore began his statement:

Mr. Chairman, and members of the subcommittee, I wish to express to you my appreciation for this opportunity to reply to the statements about me which have been made by Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin. The Senator has in effect accused me of disloyalty and treason. He made these accusations when I was in Afghanistan, and I did not hear of them until some days after they were first made. . . .

The technique used by the Senator in making these charges is apparently typical. He first announced at a press conference that he had discovered "the top Russian espionage agent in the United States." At this time he withheld my name. But later, after the drama of his announcement was intensified by delay, he whispered my name to a group of


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newspapermen, with full knowledge that it would be bandied about by rumor and gossip and eventually published. I say to you that this was unworthy of a Senator or an American.

As I shall show in detail, McCarthy's charges are untrue. As soon as I heard of the substance of the charges I denounced them for what they were: base and contemptible lies. In fact, as I recall, on several occasions I used somewhat more colorful words.

Gentlemen, I want you to know that it is most distasteful to me to use language concerning a United States Senator which, to say the least, is disrespectful. To me, the honor and responsibility of American citizenship carry with them an obligation to respect the high office of a Member of the United States Senate. But that office, the position of United States Senator, likewise carries with it a responsibility which this man Joseph McCarthy has flagrantly violated. As a citizen who holds no official position, it is my right and duty to list these violations which are illustrated by the Senator's conduct in my own case.[15]

Lattimore then listed McCarthy's main offenses: making the U.S. government the object of suspicion and derision throughout the world, instituting a reign of terror among employees of that government, using classified documents without authorization, accusing people of high crimes without giving them opportunity to defend themselves, refusing to submit alleged evidence to the Senate, and going back on his word. It was prime invective.

One thing McCarthy had done that pleased Lattimore was to make Americans conscious of the fact that Asia was important to American security. He had himself "been trying all my life to arouse interest in this area." Now there would be a public debate on Asian policy, which was all to the good. Where McCarthy and his China lobby allies were mistaken was in assuming that anyone who disagreed with them about supporting Chiang in his aim to retake the mainland was disloyal.

Then Lattimore reverted again to sarcasm:

I wonder a bit how a man so young as Joseph McCarthy, whose acquaintance with national and international affairs is so recent, can have become such a great expert on the difficult and complex problem of China and the Far East. My wonder on this score increased when I read his speech on the Senate floor. Some of his material is from Chinese and Russian sources. Or perhaps I should say that some of his exotic material on Mongolia appears to trace back to some Russian source of distinctly low caliber.

I did not know that the Senator was a linguist. But really, the mate-


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rial that the Senator read is so badly translated and so inaccurate that I am sure that I should not like to place the blame for it on the learned Senator. Indeed, I fear that the sound and fury come from the lips of McCarthy, but that there is an Edgar Bergen in the woodpile. And I fear that this Edgar Bergen is neither kindly nor disinterested.

In any event, the Senator has stated that he will stand or fall on my case. I hope this will turn out to be true, because I shall show that his charges against me are so empty and baseless that the Senator will fall, and fall flat on his face. I trust that the Senator's promise that he will retire from the arena if his charges against me fail is not as insincere as his twice-repeated promise to resign if he should fail to repeat his libelous accusations in a forum which would expose him to suit. I hope the Senator will in fact lay his machine gun down. He is too reckless, careless, and irresponsible to have a license to use it.[16]

Brave words, but they were too optimistic. The senator was never to lay down his machine gun voluntarily.

Lattimore took an hour and forty-five minutes to present his case against McCarthy. He covered the Point Barrow charge, the claim that the IPR was a tool of the Russians, and Kohlberg's attack on the IPR. "It is easy to understand the joy of Kohlberg and his associates when they found the willing hands and innocent mind of Joseph McCarthy. It is easy to imagine their pleasure when they observe a United States Senator creating an international sensation by regurgitating their own fantastic and discredited venom."[17] He explained his trip to Yenan in 1937, his nonconnection with the Amerasia case, his distaste for Henry Wallace, his connection with the Maryland Association for Democratic Rights, the OWI letter to Joe Barnes, and the Soviet attacks on him as a "learned lackey of imperialism" and a mad scholastic.

Then he moved into the substance of China policy and the options open for the United States. There were four, as Lattimore saw it. (1) Support Chiang in an attempt to reconquer China: this was impossible. (2) Support a middle-of-the-road, non-Communist group in China: this was no longer feasible. (3) Recognize the possibility of Titoism in China and encourage it: this was his preferred position. (4) Adopt a policy of unremitting hostility toward the People's Republic: this would drive Mao completely into the orbit of the Soviet Union. In regard to the last possibility, he had a warning. Nationalist air attacks then being made on the mainland would cause Mao to seek Russian planes to counter them. This strategy would lead to the Soviets establishing air bases in China. "I person-


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ally believe that if the Soviet Union establishes air bases in China they will not be dismantled when the Nationalist forces are defeated. To me, this is an appalling prospect."[18]

After this lecture on geopolitics, Lattimore said, "Now, gentlemen, my analysis may be partly or wholly wrong. But if anybody says it is disloyal or un-American, he is a fool or a knave." He then read two pages summarizing recommendations he had made that were not followed by the State Department, concluding with a plea for open debate on the issues.[19] The audience applauded vigorously, and Tydings declared a brief recess. The rest of the morning session was taken over with questions from Senator Hickenlooper about events in China. Lattimore fielded them easily.

McCarthy did not return for the afternoon session. It was relatively mild, with Hickenlooper again struggling through inept questions about Asian politics, Sino-American relations, Lattimore's opinions about Chiang, and so forth.

There was one bombshell at about four-thirty. It came from the chairman, Senator Tydings.

Dr. Lattimore, your case has been designated as the No. 1 case, finally, in the charges made by Senator McCarthy. You have been called, substantially, I think, if not accurately quoting, the top Red spy agent in America. We have been told that if we had access m certain files that this would be shown.

I think as chairman of this committee that I owe it to you and to the country to tell you that four of the five members of this committee, in the presence of Mr. J. Edgar Hoover, the head of the FBI, had a complete summary of your file made available to them. Mr. Hoover himself prepared those data. [He didn't; it was probably Supervisor Branigan.] It was quite lengthy. And at the conclusion of the reading of that summary in great detail, it was the universal opinion of all the members of the committee present, and all others in the room, of which there were two more, that there was nothing in the file m show that you were a Communist or had ever been a Communist, or that you were in any way connected with any espionage information or charges, so that the FBI file puts you completely, up m this moment, at least, in the clear.[20]

There was great elation in the Lattimore camp. Dozens of spectators congratulated him. Press comment, except for the Hearst, Scripps Howard, and McCormick Patterson group, was favorable. Lattimore says the exhilaration lasted for two days; strangers would stop him on the street


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to shake hands. His father, a classicist, told him that his statement compared with Cicero's oration against Catiline.

Lattimore was particularly heartened by the presence at the hearing of Robert LeMoyne Barrett and his wife. Barrett, an explorer-philanthropist living in California, had supported Lattimore's travels until he took the job at Johns Hopkins. Now, with Lattimore's strong response to McCarthy, Barrett decided he was a solid citizen after all. From then until Barrett's death in 1969 Lattimore was again the recipient of Barrett subsidies. McCarthy never knew that he had inadvertently furthered Lattimore's travels.

David Oshinsky accurately describes the score at the end of the first Lattimore hearing. McCarthy was the big loser: "By first overstating his case and then retreating to safer ground, he seemed unsure of his own evidence. And Lattimore had proved to be a tough adversary, someone more than willing to slug it out in public. The blood had begun to flow, but most of it was on Joe's face. One reporter noted that 'a majority of Senate Republicans are clearly, if silently, exasperated and alarmed. They are deeply disturbed over the injury to the country's prestige . . . and they are certain that, politically, McCarthy's blast is going to do more harm by its backfire than it is on the target.' "[21]

But McCarthy was not giving up. He had missed Tydings's claim that the FBI files cleared Lattimore. When he heard about it, he exploded. "Either Tydings hasn't seen the files, or he is lying. There is no alternative."[22] But there was an alternative. The Lattimore case summary that Hoover took to the Tydings committee showed no credible evidence against Lattimore.

Tydings nonetheless muddied the waters in a press conference after the hearing. Reporters asked him whether Hoover had questioned Lattimore's loyalty and whether Hoover would hire Lattimore for the FBI. Tydings denied to the reporters that Hoover had said anything like this, though Hoover had disparaged Lattimore's loyalty. When the Tydings interview appeared in the press on April 4, Hoover wrote a strong memo to Attorney General McGrath emphasizing the "absolute necessity of being circumspect in discussion of matters in executive session because apparently some member of the Senate who was in attendance at the meeting in your office has seen fit to report in substance the comments which I made about Lattimore."[23] Hoover cared about leaks from the bureau only when he couldn't control them.


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Hoover also wanted, as much as did McCarthy, to get the goods on Lattimore. The investigation was ratcheted up a notch. One of the ways in which Lattimore might be impaled was by checking out his finances. If he had unaccounted-for income, or if his net worth was greater than his legitimate income warranted, he had to be getting paid by the Soviets. Thus, a separate investigation into his finances was launched. For the next two years the source of every penny Lattimore had deposited in a bank since 1937 was traced. More than three hundred pages of the Lattimore file report microscopic inspection of his income and investments. Every magazine he wrote for was queried about what they had paid him; since many of his articles were gratis for academic journals, this investigation did not lead far. Every job Lattimore had held for the previous fifteen years was checked out. The fee for every paying lecture he gave was uncovered. Book royalties were determined. Eleanor's income was also checked. The interest on every government bond the Lattimores cashed was calculated.

Since his publisher, Little, Brown, was itself suspected of Soviet connections, the FBI was especially careful in getting their figures. Since espionage was suspected, the bureau would need "to determine whether payments made to Lattimore were actually in keeping with the royalty earnings."[24] No progress there: royalties matched sales.

Some of the bureau's findings were trivial to the point of farce. One check Lattimore had deposited shortly after his summer at the Vermont farm was for $6.03. It was from the Eastern States Farmers Exchange, a rebate on the purchase of paint brushes. Equally absurd was the bureau's tracing of the royalties on the copies of his books sold abroad. Lattimore wrote the introduction to Gateway to Asia: Sinkiang , by Martin W. Norins. Three copies of this book were sold in Europe, with Lattimore's earnings less than a dollar.[25]

Some bureau inquiries revealed the narrowness of agent experience. One of Lattimore's monographs, "The Gold Tribe, 'Fishskin Tatars' of the Lower Sungari," had been published by the George Banta Company in Menasha, Wisconsin. Banta denied paying Lattimore anything, but the bureau found out that the National Academy of Sciences had subsidized the publication. Perhaps NAS had paid Lattimore directly? The Baltimore FBI office, collection center for this mass of information, wrote the Milwaukee office, in whose jurisdiction Banta was located, asking the agent there "to ascertain the address of the National Academy of Sciences, and thereafter set out an appropriate lead to determine any income which LATIMORE may have received from this source." Milwaukee replied with


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just a slight tinge of sarcasm: the NAS was located on Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C.[26]

The whole federal project came to nothing.

The day after Lattimore's Tydings appearance, Hoover approved a second avenue of investigation: interviewing Lattimore himself. The bureau was touchy about talking to possibly hostile persons. Hoover absolutely refused to let his agents talk to employees of the Washington Post , to journalists such as I. F. Stone, and to iconoclastic academicians such as Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. Initial approaches to Lattimore, however, revealed that he would cooperate. Consequently, agents Ralph C. Vogel and Frank Johnston were assigned this task and briefed extensively on how to act. Ladd's memo of instructions for the interviewers is detailed and sophisticated. The bureau was afraid that Lattimore would insist on one of his attorneys being present, which would cramp the agent's style. A telephone call to Abe Fortas secured permission to talk to Lattimore alone.[27]

Beginning on April 10 and proceeding intermittently through August 4, Vogel and Johnston spent twelve days with Lattimore, soliciting from him comments about every allegation from any informant the bureau thought even somewhat plausible. At the end of this process a 134-page transcript was prepared; Lattimore read, corrected, and signed it.[28] There was mutual respect on both sides; Lattimore had spoken candidly, and the agents felt that he had pulled no punches. The bureau did not, of course, assume that Lattimore always told the truth, but it found no significant weaknesses.

A third investigation examined the extent to which Lattimore's writings followed the Party line. This was a specialized task for the Central Research Desk, which was not overjoyed at getting the assignment. Bureau files at that time credited approximately 125 books and articles to Lattimore's pen; they had apparently no listing of his extensive ONA articles. But even 125 items scared Baumgardner of Central Research: as he wrote Belmont on April 12, "It is quite apparent that if a detailed review and analysis of all the written works of Owen Lattimore are desired it will create a project which will take six Supervisors three weeks. It is to be kept in mind that after the entire works of Lattimore have been studied and analyzed, they must be compared and contrasted with the Communist Party line relative to China and to any other nation to which Lattimore's books may refer." Baumgardner's plea: let's be sure we want this, and even if we do, let's confine it at first to his books. Tolson and Ladd took pity on the overworked Central Research Desk and on April 17 agreed to confine the research to books. This task, they thought, should


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take no more than a week.[29] Ten weeks later Central Research produced the report.

It was not favorable to Lattimore. Baumgardner and his staff had an easy time finding statements from Lattimore with which some Communist authority agreed. In one instance, the kidnapping of Chiang Kai-shek at Sian in December 1936, they found seven specific statements agreed to by both Lattimore and the Communist party:

1. There was a widespread popular demand in China for united resistance to the Japanese.

2. The Kuomintang was responsible for the lack of unity.

3. Chiang Kai-shek's Northeastern armies were on amicable terms with the Communist armies.

4. The Chinese Communists did not take vindictive advantage of the situation to kill Chiang.

5. The Communists contributed to the happy solution: Chiang's release.

6. The release put an end to civil war and created a united front.

7. Chinese Communist policy had beneficial results.[30]

Going about it this way, it was easy to rack up a big score against Lattimore. What Baumgardner undoubtedly did not know is now the conventional wisdom of historians of modern China: every one of these statements was substantially true. There is no significance in such a "comparison." Nevertheless, the bureau analysis did not approach the convoluted sophistry of later efforts.

Five clays after Lattimore's appearance before Tydings, Hoover wrote a letter to the attorney general that revealed how shallow Hoover's understanding of the responsibilities of his office really was.

In connection with the charges that have been made in the Senate to the effect that Owen J. Lattimore is an espionage agent and the widespread public interest which has resulted, I am wondering if you have given any serious thought to the desirability of immediately convening a Grand Jury in order that it might hear any person who has or might have information indicating espionage violations on the part of Mr. Lattimore.

In this connection, should consideration be given to convening a special Grand Jury, the thought occurs to me that if the names of the


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witnesses were to be made public, regardless of the outcome of the Grand Jury deliberations there would be a wholesome public response.[31]

This incredible proposal was answered by Peyton Ford, assistant to the attorney general, two days later. The answer was calm and designed to give no offense; Hoover's power was such that not even the attorney general felt able to lecture the FBI head on his proposed exercise in punishment by publicity: "I have discussed this matter with the Attorney General and he feels that the proposed action is premature and that we should exhaust completely the investigative possibilities of this case. Such action would probably create the general impression that we have available evidence of the commission of a crime, since grand jury proceedings are not ordinarily started unless such evidence is available. As the situation now stands, the grand jury would be unable to take any action and its failure to act might possibly be construed as a "whitewash" proceeding."[32] Not a word about Lattimore's rights or the legal requirement for grand jury secrecy to protect the innocent—just a warning that this action might miscarry.

Tydings held no more hearings for two weeks. Speculation about what would happen when he brought on McCarthy's "mystery witness" occupied the press and the Washington cocktail circuit. The bureau was also concerned, as we shall see in the next chapter.

But the bureau had another hot potato on its hands. New York agents interviewed Kohlberg April 4, at his home, and he told them he had additional documents on Lattimore and the IPR.[33] If they called him later, he would have this new material ready for them. He was also scheduled to go to the New York FBI office for an interview April 7 about Philip Jessup. Kohlberg, always distrustful of the FBI, showed up on the seventh with Howard Rushmore of the New York Journal-American . The agents did not want an audience; they made Rushmore wait in a different room while they talked to Kohlberg.

On April 10, when the New York FBI called him again, Kohlberg said he was going to Washington and could not give them his additional documents until he returned. The genesis of Kohlberg's trip to Washington remains obscure; apparently it arose out of a letter he received from Miller Freeman, an ultrarightist in Seattle who had written Kohlberg complaining about an interview Freeman had with Seattle FBI agents. Since Kohlberg was also unhappy with his FBI interviews, he wanted to go to the


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top with his dissatisfactions. He apparently telephoned somebody in headquarters and somehow got the idea that he had an appointment with Hoover on April 13.

On the day before he was to go to Washington, Kohlberg talked to reporters James O'Connor and Philip Santora of the New York Mirror . He was, as Father Kearney had predicted, indiscreet. The Mirror edition of April 13 carried a lengthy story by O'Connor and Santora:

Alfred Kohlberg, importer and anti-Communist who furnished much of the information on which Sen. Joseph McCarthy based his pro-Red charges against Owen J. Lattimore and Ambassador Philip Jessup, yesterday disclosed the FBI will photograph the documents in his files next week. He said the files contain additional charges against Lattimore.

Kohlberg said he was notified by FBI agents that they were ordered by J. Edgar Hoover to "dig up whatever they could on Jessup right away." Later they were directed to photograph all of Kohlberg's papers.

"I told the FBI I had tried to interest them in these documents for five years," commented Kohlberg. "Now they'll have to wait until I get back from Washington, next week. . . ."

Kohlberg, a member of the IPR for 19 years, remarked at a press conference in his office . . . that Lattimore played a "very important part in the sellout of China." He pointed to what he considers one instance of Lattimore's alleged change in sentiment.

From June, 1941, to Spring, 1943, said Kohlberg, the Red Party line favored the Chiang Kai-shek regime.

Lattimore, in a book titled "America and Asia," published in 1943, paid tribute to Chiang Kai-shek as "a world statesman, a real genius." The Communist Party line shifted. In June, 1943, said Kohlberg, when Lattimore became political advisor to President Roosevelt, he recommended Chiang's ouster.

The following year, continued Kohlberg, Lattimore, in a book called "Solution in Asia," attacked Chiang's government as corrupt, reactionary, and feudal.[34]

The story went on to describe Kohlberg's long struggle with IPR.

When Kohlberg called FBI headquarters from the Mayflower Hotel the morning of April 13, expecting to get directions to Hoover's office, he was instead connected with Alan Belmont. Belmont told him the director was unavailable, but he could see Belmont at eleven o'clock. When Kohlberg appeared at Belmont's office, the assistant director had the New York Mirror article prominently displayed on his desk. He was seething.[35]

According to Belmont's report, Kohlberg started off by relating the Miller Freeman story. Freeman said the agents who talked to him "were at-


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tempting to have Freeman make statements to their liking, rather than to get the facts." This triggered a lecture from Belmont about the bureau's objectivity; they were interested only in "accurate information," and Freeman was simply wrong.

Kohlberg then complained that different pairs of agents had conducted his interviews in New York. Why didn't the bureau use the two agents who were best informed on the subject for both interviews? Belmont explained that the two agents who conducted the first interview were specialists on Lattimore; the second interview concerned Jessup, and Jessup specialists were used.

Having listened to Kohlberg complain for a while, Belmont opened up with his agenda. Why had Kohlberg thought he was scheduled for an appointment with the director? All bureau contacts with him had specified that he was to be interviewed in New York and was not to come to Washington. This criticism threw Kohlberg into confusion. There had been so many inquiries from the press and from the bureau that he had simply gotten mixed up.

Then Belmont lowered the boom. Why had Kohlberg lied to the Mirror reporters about Hoover ordering agents "to dig up whatever they could on Jessup right away"? Kohlberg spluttered, waffled, and apologized for an "incorrect inference." And why, asked Belmont, had Kohlberg claimed that "he had tried to interest the FBI in certain documents for five years," when the FBI had considered the matter carefully, discussed interviewing him, and decided against it. Kohlberg snapped back, "Because you were afraid I would do what I am doing now," pointing to the Mirror article on Beimont's desk.

This response brought from Belmont a lecture on bureau procedure. They never made public comment on active investigations. "It was pointed out to him that publicity during a case is harmful to an investigation and that as a general rule persons contacted by the FBI respected this and did not publicize the activities of the FBI. After considerable discussion, Mr. Kohlberg advised that he would, if so directed, retain in confidence any contact by the FBI in this and other matters and would refrain from making any comment to the press."

Kohlberg then calmed down and discussed some of his conclusions about the IPR. He had no proof it was engaged in espionage, but it had nonetheless served the Communist cause. At the end of this discussion, Kohlberg "particularly mentioned that he had been in dose contact with Louis Budenz."

Belmont's report concludes, "The above interview was handled on a


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rather firm basis, inasmuch as it appeared definitely necessary to set Kohlberg straight. There is no guarantee that he will not run to the papers and mention this interview. However, his attitude upon leaving indicated that he would not do so." Hoover scrawled beneath this conclusion, "Right. H."[36] Kohlberg kept his word—until the Tydings committee released its report in July.


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Chapter Seventeen A Fool or a Knave
 

Preferred Citation: Newman, Robert P. Owen Lattimore and the "Loss" of China. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1992 1992. http://ark.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/ft296nb15t/