113/2–1150: Telegram

The Deputy Under Secretary of State for Administration (Peurifoy) to Senator Joseph R. McCarthy1

In view of your statement carried by the press that there are “57 card-carrying Communists” in the State Department,2 I respectfully request that you make these names public or submit them to the Department of State. It would seem to me that if you have this information, as a loyal American you owe it to your country to inform the officials responsible for any such characters existing in the government. As you know our employees have been checked and are being checked by the Federal Bureau of Investigation under the President’s loyalty program and if you have proof that there are card-carrying members of the Communist Party in this Department I assure you that they will not remain in this agency. I assume that you have given your information to the FBI. Therefore we will communicate with that agency immediately. Needless [Page 1380]to say, the thousands of loyal employees of this Department must not be placed under a cloud of suspicion and I should appreciate it if you will promptly publish the names of the departmental employees whom you say are members of the Communist Party.

John E. Peurifoy
  1. The telegram was sent to the Senator at the Mapes Hotel, Reno, Nevada.
  2. Deputy Under Secretary Peurifoy’s reference was to press reports of Senator McCarthy’s speech at Wheeling, West Virginia, on Feb. 9, 1950. The precise contents of that speech quickly became the subject of contention. On Mar. 27, 1950, William E. Rine, Managing Director of radio station WWVA in Wheeling, sent to William O. Player, Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, a 13-page “copy of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s speech made over WWVA in Wheeling on the evening of February 9”, in response to a telephone request by Player.

    On Apr. 24, 1950, Adrian S. Fisher, the Legal Adviser to the Secretary of State, wrote Rine acknowledging receipt of the transcript sent on Mar. 27 and requesting whether “we could be informed by those who actually heard the speech being delivered whether the speech as actually delivered included the following language contained on page 7 of the text which you transmitted to us:

    “‘And ladies and gentlemen, while I cannot take the time to name all the men in the State Department who have been named as active members of the Communist Party and members of a spy ring, I have here in my hand a list of 205 … a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department.’”

    Enclosed with Fisher’s request are notarized affidavits by Paul Myers, Program Director of station WWVA and Whittaker, the station’s news editor, stating that the transcript of the Senator’s speech given to the Department of State on Mar. 27 represented a true facsimile of the Senator’s remarks. All of the above documents are in Department of State file 113/3–2750.