A/MS files, lot 54 D 291, “Relations with Congress”

The Deputy Under Secretary of State for Administration (Humelsine) to Senator William Benton1

My Dear Senator Benton: I refer to your letter of June 232 the body of which is as follows:

“When Senator McCarthy took my deposition on June 4, Senator McCarthy quoted recent testimony by you before the Appropriations Committee. He stated that subsequent to his charge that there were ‘57 card-carrying communists in the State Department’, you testified that 54 had been dismissed or had resigned while they were being investigated—and another three had appealed from the rulings of the loyalty boards. Your figures of 54 and 3 make 57 and he contended that these were the 57, as he had alleged. I, of course, said that this was preposterous and called it a ‘numbers game’.

“Will you please illuminate me in some detail on your own testimony and on the background here?”

In response to your question, I submit the following information:

The testimony to which Senator McCarthy refers appears on pages 480, 481 and 482 of the Hearings before the Senate Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations, 82nd Congress, Second Session, on H.R. 7289 (hereinafter referred to as the Hearings). This testimony followed a letter which I wrote to Senator Pat McCarran at the request of Senator Homer Ferguson. Senator Ferguson’s letter and my reply, both printed in the Hearings (pages 239 and 240) are as follows:

“My Dear Mr. Secretary: I wish you would please advise the subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee considering the appropriation for the State Department (sending me a copy of your letter) as to the number of employees of the State Department who have resigned since the inauguration of the loyalty and security program, the number who have resigned after proceedings were started before the Loyalty Board, and the number who resigned after the FBI had started an investigation. I would like to know the salary of these and the amount of pension each will draw.

“Sincerely, Homer Ferguson”.

“My Dear Mr. Chairman: In a letter to the Secretary, dated March 4, 1952, Senator Ferguson requested certain information in regard to Department of State employees who have left the Department since the Inauguration of the loyalty and security program.’ The following information from the Department’s records is submitted in accordance with his request.

[Page 1418]
  • “1. Since the inception of the President’s loyalty program in 1947, 54 employees who were under investigation or whose cases had not been completely processed, including post-audit review of the Loyalty Review Board of the Civil Service Commission, resigned or retired. It should be emphasized that the resignation of an employee while under investigation does not necessarily imply any unusual circumstances; for example, an employee may resign to enter military service, for health or maternity reasons, or for any number of other reasons, having no knowledge whatsoever that he is under investigation or that his case is in process.
  • “2. Of the 54 employees who resigned or retired since 1947, fifty-three resigned. None of these individuals was qualified to receive civil-service or foreign-service annuity (pension) at the time of his resignation, and they are not receiving any such annuity now. Qualification for either foreign-service or civil-service annuities is based on length of service and age requirements established by law.
  • “3. Of the 54 employees who resigned or retired since 1947, 1 retired. The salary of this employee at the time he resigned [retired?] was $13,600 per annum; his annuity will be $6,619.13 per annum.

“I trust that the foregoing will provide the information Senator Ferguson seeks. As he requested, I am sending a copy of this letter directly to him.

“Sincerely yours, Carlisle H. Humelsine.”

During the course of the hearings, I referred several times to the fact that the Department’s Loyalty Security Board had found reasonable doubt as to the loyalty of three individuals—in other words, that the Loyalty Security Board had made three adverse loyalty determinations. As the following testimony—to which you refer and which appears on pages 480, 481 and 482 of the Hearings—clearly illustrates, Senator McCarthy added the 3 adverse loyalty determinations to the 54 resignees and retirees I referred to in the above letter. He then said, “That, by a strange coincidence, makes 57, does it not?”, referring, of course, to the “57” he alleges he mentioned in his Wheeling, West Virginia speech in February 1950.

“Question of 57 Card-Carrying Party Members

“Senator McCarthy. All right, let me ask you this: I have made the statement, as you say, and correctly so, that either there were 57 individuals who were card-carrying members of the party—I do not remember for sure whether I used the term ‘members of the party’, or ‘loyal to the party’ or ‘doing the work of the party’—who were presently in the State Department or had been in the State Department.

“Now, you tell us that 54 disloyal cases were allowed to resign under investigation and that three other individuals had been found to be disloyal or are in the process of appeal. That, by a strange coincidence makes 57, does it not?

“Mr. Snow. Unfortunately, they are not the same individuals.

[Page 1419]

“Senator McCarran. Wait a minute, I wish you would answer the question. I think we can get along better if you do.

“It was a strange coincidence that the number was 57? Will you answer the question?

“Mr. Snow. It must be a strange coincidence. The answer is ‘No, they are not the same individuals.’

“Senator McCarthy. I did not ask you whether they were the same individuals. I said that there were 57 disloyal people, and you said that there had been baseless accusations made.

“Mr. Snow. Yes.

“Senator McCarthy, I now say that 54 people under charges of disloyalty were allowed to resign and three others have been found to be disloyal and their cases are on appeal. That does make 57, does it not?

“Mr. Snow. Oh, yes.

“Senator McCarthy. And that makes 57 people who were certainly seriously suspected of being disloyal or you would not have filed charges against them; is that right?

“Mr. Snow. I do not know as a matter of fact that there were charges filed against 57.

“Senator McCarthy. Well, you know that they were being investigated?

“Mr. Snow. I know that.

“Mr. Humelsine. There were some 800.

“Mr. Snow. The Security Division had mentioned that 54 people had resigned, but I did not know that charges had been filed against them. The board does not know that.

“Senator McCarthy. Mr. Chairman, I want to call the Chairman’s attention to the statements made by this witness. I think you should be sworn now.

“I want to call attention to the statement that the witness just made, and I think you should be sworn.

“He made the statement a minute ago that the 57 individuals whose names you had were not the same as the 57 who either resigned or were found disloyal.

“Now, he has made the statement, and the Chair can have it read back if the Chair desires to have that done.

“Now he says, ‘I do not know who the 54 were. I do not know what their names were.’

“Now, either you are lying, Mr. Snow, when you said that you did not know who they were, or you were lying to us when you said they were different from the 57 that McCarthy named. You cannot be telling the truth at both times. Does not that follow as the night follows the day?

“Mr. Snow. No, it does not.

“Senator McCarthy. Now, you tell us you do not have the names of the 54.

“Mr. Snow. Which 54 are you talking about now? Are you talking about the 54 that resigned?

“Senator McCarthy. I am talking about the 54 who resigned when they were under loyalty investigation.

“Mr. Snow. I have nothing to do with their resignations.

“Senator McCarthy. You had nothing to do with the 54?

[Page 1420]

“Mr. Snow. No.

“Senator McCarthy. You know that they were being investigated for disloyalty and that they were in the channel?

“Mr. Snow. Well, I would assume so. I heard the Security Division say so.

“Senator McCarthy. You know you do.

“Senator McCarran. Just a minute, please. Mr. Humelsine, do you want the attention of the Chair? I did not want to interrupt the Senator in the middle of a sentence.

“Mr. Humelsine. I just want to make the point that the Senator has taken two figures and added them together and has gotten a total of 57 individuals. That list of 57 that he makes by adding 54 and 3, I am certain, is not the list of the 57—

“Senator McCarthy. Do you want to testify now?

“Senator McCarran. Wait a minute.

“Mr. Humelsine. That is not the 57 that you refer to. I do not think that is fair to General Snow because he would not know anything about the 54 who resigned when under loyalty investigation. He would not have anything to do with the 54 resignations.

“Senator McCarthy. Then he must not lie to us if he does not know anything about it. Mr. Snow just got through saying that the 54 were not the 54 on McCarthy’s list, and now you say you could not possibly know.

“I am going to ask the Chair—and I will certainly understand if the Chair refuses to do it, as it may be establishing a precedent which he does not have on this committee—but I am going to ask the Chair to have you sworn.

“Mr. Snow. I will be very glad to be sworn.

“Senator McCarthy. That may be establishing a precedent which the Chair does not care to establish.

“Senator McCarran. It would not be establishing a precedent. We have done it many times before. However, I prefer to have you go on, Senator, for today, until we have more members of the committee present. I have no objection to doing it, and I have done it before and I can do it again. But I would like to have more members of the committee present and to get their guidance.”

As you can see, any attempt to add 3 to the 54 referred to in my letter to Senator McCarran and then say that the resulting 57 is the same 57 Senator McCarthy alleges he referred to in his 1950 Wheeling, West Virginia speech could not be supported by the facts. As you are aware, the Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee which investigated Senator McCarthy’s allegations in 1950 found that actually he used the figure “205” rather than “57” at Wheeling, West Virginia (February 9, 1950) and that he used the figure “57” in his speech at Salt Lake City, Utah (February 10, 1950) when he said, “Last night I discussed Communists in the State Department. I stated that I had the names of 57 card-carrying members of the Communist Party”.
In conclusion, I should like to point out that some of the 54 concerning whom I testified had resigned previous to the Senator’s [Page 1421]speech at Wheeling and hence could not have been among his “205” or his “57”; some of the 54 were not even employed in the Department at the time of his speech at Wheeling and hence could not have been among his “205” or his “57”; and none of the 54, as far as the Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation could ascertain were “card-carrying Communists”. With regard to the three adverse loyalty determinations to which I referred, the names of the three employees found against have never been identified by Senator McCarthy publicly or privately to the best of my knowledge.

Sincerely yours,

Carlisle H. Humelsine
  1. Drafted by Everard K. Meade, Jr., Special Assistant to the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Administration, on June 26, 1952. Senator Benton was a Democratic Senator from Connecticut, 1949–1953.
  2. Not found.