A/MS files, lot 54 D 291, “Loyalty Security Appeals Board”

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chairman of the Loyalty Security Board of the Department of State (Snow)1

  • Subject:
  • Conversation between Senator Bingham and Mr. Snow of March 26, 1951
  • Participants:
  • Senator Hiram W. Bingham, Chairman, Loyalty Review Board
  • Conrad E. Snow, Chairman, Loyalty Security Board

Following the conference on March 21, 19512 between Mr. Snow, Mr. Sipes and Senator Bingham (at which conference Senator Bingham had expressed dissatisfaction with the record of the Loyalty Security Board of the Department of State because according to the record the Loyalty Security Board had taken adverse action in no cases whatever from 1947 to 1951), Mr. Snow had a further conference with Senator Bingham on March 26, 1951, and presented certain facts and figures which appear below.

Mr. Snow first produced a list of six cases, five being loyalty cases and the other a security case, in each of which the Loyalty Security Board had found the employee to be a security risk. In [Page 1404] four of these cases the employee had been permitted to resign and the remaining two cases are recent decisions in which the administrative disposition has not yet been made.

Mr. Snow also produced a list of eleven cases, nine of them being loyalty cases and two security cases, in which the Loyalty Security Board had voted a hearing and in which the employee had resigned prior to the hearing. In one of these cases the resignation occurred subsequent to notice of hearing, and in another the employee transferred to another agency after notice of hearing. In the remaining cases the resignation occurred prior to notice of hearing, but Mr. Snow explained that in practically all of these cases the resignation was due to administrative pressure, either in anticipation of, or subsequent to the vote of the Loyalty Security Board for a hearing.

Mr. Snow called attention also to the … case, in which the Loyalty Security Board recommended termination by administrative action and in which the employee had been induced administratively to resign.

Finally, Mr. Snow produced a list of eleven employees who were discharged just prior to the organization of the Loyalty Review Board and its procedures, and which was submitted to the Loyalty Security Board in September 1947, with the result that the Board recommended that the discharges be allowed to stand; that eight of them not be permitted to resign without prejudice; and that three of them be permitted to resign without prejudice. It was Mr. Snow’s contention that the State Department should be credited with these eleven cases which represented a house cleaning immediately prior to the loyalty program but with the assistance of the Loyalty Security Board. Senator Bingham was impressed by this argument and ordered steps to be taken to credit the State Department with these eleven cases.

Mr. Snow also presented figures, inclusive of all the foregoing figures, which indicated that the State Department between 1947 and 1950 inclusive had secured the separation from the Department of 122 cases on which there existed adverse security information and 144 cases alleged to be homosexual. Mr. Snow had explained that it had been the practice of the Department to take prompt administrative action in many cases, without submitting them to the Board, where terminations or resignations could conveniently be brought about by administrative pressure under the provisions of the McCarran Act. Mr. Snow suggested that this made a very good record for the Department but a poor record for the Board.

Mr. Snow then called attention to the contrast between the standards which the Board had to apply in cases of alleged disloyalty [Page 1405] and in cases of alleged security risk. In cases of disloyalty, the Board had to find under the rules of the Loyalty Review Board that “on all the evidence reasonable grounds exist for belief that the person involved is disloyal to the Government of the United States”. In cases of security risk, on the other hand, the Board had only to find under the Department’s standards that a reasonable doubt exists as to whether the person falls in one of the categories constituting a security risk and that “if a reasonable doubt exists …3 the Department will be given the benefit of the doubt and the person will be deemed a security risk”. It was consequently very much simpler to find a person a security risk than to find him disloyal. Senator Bingham agreed that this was so and seemed to be satisfied with this as an explanation of the action of the Board in finding six cases security risks and none disloyal.

Senator Bingham called in his secretary, Mrs. Miner, who is in charge of all the statistics of the Loyalty Review Board, passed her the lists produced by Mr. Snow, and directed that provisions be made to indicate in the statistics and to give the State Department credit for the adverse decisions on security risk, the resignations prior to hearing, and the eleven cases discharged prior to the organization of the Loyalty Review Board.

The Senator asked, with reference to the 122 cases of separation by termination, resignation, transfer, etc., whether the adverse security information which was on file was secured by FBI investigation or by Departmental investigation, and Mr. Snow agreed to produce the information if it was available.

The whole interview was on the friendliest basis, and Senator Bingham gave the impression that he was satisfied with the record of the State Department as produced by Mr. Snow. At any rate, he did not repeat any criticism of the Department. He said that the Secretary should be advised of the figures since he had previously been advised by Mr. Bingham of the status of the Department according to Loyalty Review Board figures.

In the course of the interview, Mr. Snow recommended a change in the basis of the Loyalty Review Board post-audit, saying that he believed that whenever the Loyalty Review Board was dissatisfied substantively with a favorable decision in a hearing case, it should itself take jurisdiction over the case under Regulation 14 and hear the case itself. This suggestion, of course, did not apply to cases decided without hearing in which the Loyalty Review Board might desire to return the case to the Loyalty Security Board for interrogatory or hearing. Mr. Snow felt that the Board should have a backstop in the post-audit of hearing cases to correct any possible [Page 1406] errors. Such a backstop exists automatically in the case of adverse decisions which are appealed and which must, therefore, be reheard by the Loyalty Review Board.

Mr. Snow said that he preferred the record of the State Department with no adverse decisions on loyalty to the record of other departments which had made adverse decisions on loyalty but had had half of their adverse decisions reversed by the Loyalty Review Board. He thought that this represented a substantial injustice to the employees which was not fully corrected even by the reversals. It could only be interpreted as meaning that in half of their adverse decisions the loyalty boards of these departments have made unjust decisions.

Conrad E. Snow
  1. Source text is accompanied by a covering memorandum noting submission “for the information of the Secretary and is purely a Loyalty Security Board matter.”
  2. The memorandum of this conversation, dated Mar. 23, 1951, is not printed. (A/MS files, lot 54 D 291, “Loyalty Security Appeals Board”)
  3. Ellipsis in the source text.