The Charlotte News

Thursday, April 22, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that on the first day of the televised public hearings of the Senate Investigations subcommittee special investigation of the dispute between Senator McCarthy, normally chairman of that subcommittee, and the Army, Maj. General Miles Reber had testified that in his ten years as Army liaison officer with Congress, he had recalled no case where he had been placed under greater pressure than he had been by Senator McCarthy and subcommittee chief counsel Roy Cohn regarding the case of G. David Schine, to obtain an officer's commission for the former unpaid aide of the subcommittee, prior to his draft into the Army as a private the prior fall. He said that it not been "normal action", that the appeals by both Senator McCarthy and Mr. Cohn had been "unusual". He also said that he had never been "intimidated" by the Senator. The commission, eventually rejected, had been sought the prior July 15, in advance of the anticipated draft of Mr. Schine the following fall. General Reber indicated that numerous calls had been made in Mr. Schine's behalf by Mr. Cohn and that two or three calls had been received directly from Senator McCarthy. Subcommittee special counsel during the course of the special investigation, Ray Jenkins, asked General Reber if he thought Mr. Cohn's action was "improper", to which the General responded that he felt he was being placed under pressure. Senator Everett Dirksen of Illinois, member of the subcommittee, asked if the requests by the Senator and Mr. Cohn had been made in "good temper and with restraint", to which the General responded that it was "entirely" the case. Senator McCarthy had inquired regarding the number of requests which the General had received from members of Congress, specifically members of the subcommittee, regarding military matters, and the General responded that he had received requests on about 1,000 cases per week during his ten years in the post and a lot of inquiries from members of the subcommittee. Senator Charles Potter of Michigan, also a member of the subcommittee, asked the General whether he had received many requests from members of Congress for action on commissions, to which the General responded that the number was "sizable" and that such requests were not deemed improper. Senator McCarthy had asked him whether there was any difference between the calls of Mr. Cohn and those which the General received from employees of other Senate committees and Senators, to which the General replied affirmatively, that Mr. Cohn's calls were pressing him for speed and favorable action, that the Army received very few requests for favors while it received a great many requests for information. Senator John McClellan of Arkansas, the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee, asked General Reber whether he regarded an application for a commission or a request for leave of absence because of family illness as a request for a favor, to which the General replied that he did not. Special Army counsel for the investigation, Boston attorney Joseph Welch, had asked the General whether the particular case of Mr. Schine had involved the greatest pressure of any he recalled, to which the General had replied affirmatively. He explained that during a two-week period in latter July, 1953, he had received an average of about two telephone calls per day from Mr. Cohn regarding the status of Mr. Schine, and that there were two or three calls during that period from Senator McCarthy, as well as an earlier call from the Senator to talk about a possible commission. Since that time, General Reber had been made commanding General of the Army forces in the Western European area.

It should be noted that in the linked televised excerpts from this date, the acting chairman of the subcommittee, Senator Karl Mundt of South Dakota, who delivered the opening statement, is flanked on his right by special subcommittee counsel, Mr. Jenkins, and on his left by ranking Democratic member, Senator McClellan, with minority counsel for the subcommittee, Robert F. Kennedy, seated behind the Democratic members. Mr. Kennedy had worked for a brief time as a counsel for the subcommittee as a whole in 1953 but had quit. In addition to the other members of the subcommittee, Democratic Senators Stuart Symington of Missouri and Henry Jackson of Washington to the immediate left of Senator McClellan, and Republican Senators Dirksen and Potter to the immediate right of Mr. Jenkins, other prominent faces around the table, in addition to Mr. Welch, included future chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Lyman L. Lemnitzer, seated next to Senator Jackson, to be relieved of his duties and appointed supreme commander of NATO by President Kennedy shortly prior to the Cuban Missile Crisis of October, 1962. Senator Henry Dworshak of Idaho was also serving on the subcommittee during the investigation. James St. Clair was, along with Mr. Welch, counsel for the Army, and would also act as counsel for President Nixon during the Watergate scandal.

Parenthetically, as Drew Pearson had pointed out in recent months, Mr. Schine, prior to being drafted, had avoided the draft on the basis of both physical and mental unfitness as well as for supposedly having important duties both with the subcommittee and in his wealthy father's hotel business, managing the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, where, incidentally, Senator Richard Nixon had stayed in September, 1952 while preparing for the so-called Checkers speech to defend his continued place on the 1952 Republican ticket, was the site of Vice-President Nixon's concession speech to Senator John F. Kennedy in the 1960 presidential race, and, of course, was also the locus of the mortal wounding of Senator Robert Kennedy on June 5, 1968 right after he had won the California Democratic presidential primary.

A story indicates that Capitol officials had hung a sign outside the caucus room in the Senate Office Building where the hearings were being held, stating, "Breathing room only!" The room measured 72 by 53 feet, into which were crammed 650 to 700 persons, about 200 of whom were forced to stand. The superintendent of the Senate press gallery indicated that it was the largest gathering for a single news event in his 25 years at the Capitol, an assessment with which the consensus of radio and television network representatives agreed.

Undoubtedly, the Capitol would not again see such concerted coverage of a single hearing until the gavel would come down in April, 1973 to begin the Senate Select Committee hearings into the Watergate scandal, the televised coverage of which would get underway in mid-May of that year and made for wonderful summer viewing—all summer, an educational supplement to any aspiring lawyer or journalist at the time. If you were not alive then, or tuned out of it, you do not know what you missed. Unfortunately, the available snippets from those hearings fail to convey their full impact on American culture at the time. It was those hearings, more than any other single factor, which led ultimately to the vote of articles of impeachment in latter July, 1974 by the House Judiciary Committee, and, following prominent Republicans, including Senator Barry Goldwater, going to the President and indicating to him that chances of his being acquitted in a subsequent Senate trial were practically nonexistent, as only a handful of Senators would vote to acquit, the resignation of President Nixon at noon on August 9, 1974. The President, in the course of only about ten months, went from being the overwhelming choice of the nation's electorate for re-election in November, 1972 to becoming increasingly considered a national disgrace among both Republicans and Democrats, that general opinion steadily getting worse thereafter through the fall of 1973 and the firing of special prosecutor Archibald Cox, and into the final summer of 1974 and the televised hearings before the Judiciary Committee.

In terms of the media involved centrally in each investigation, whereas the Watergate scandal involved principally bugging devices, including Chapsticks, and, of paramount focus as it turned out after July, 1973, discovered tapes of White House conversations, unknown previously to all except the President and his special assistants, the Army-McCarthy hearings turned on photographs and the careful cropping thereof, plus one butterscotch sundae had by Private Schine the following Monday, thought first to be on this date, at the Colony Restaurant in Washington—but all of that will become evident as we go along, just as the microfilm in the pumpkin, after first being hidden for a decade in the dumbwaiter shaft, and the famous Woodstock typewriter, the fixed teeth of Whittaker Chambers and the Model A Ford came to light in the dispute between Mr. Chambers and Alger Hiss in 1948 after Mr. Hiss had been labeled a Communist during the 1930's by Mr. Chambers before HUAC.

In Charlotte, three reporters from The News asked people on the street what they thought of the McCarthy investigation, and the general response was either that they had never heard of the Senator, were apathetic toward him if they had heard of him, or were completely opposed to him, one man saying that the newspaper could not print what he thought of him, another saying that if you were a Democrat, "you're a Commie", and a woman indicating that he "just made more reckless charges".

From Hanoi, it was reported that the Vietminh divisions battling to break through into the heart of the French fortress at Dien Bien Phu had increased their fire this date against the weary French Union defenders at the northwest corner of the fortress, utilizing heavy machine gun and mortar fire, mounted apparently right up against or under the first line of barbed wire barricades surrounding the fortress, comprised of a barbed wire perimeter surrounding a series of underground bunkers and trenches. A French high command spokesman said that the Vietminh had not yet launched any infantry attacks on that corner of the fortress. French guns had answered the Vietminh fire and the defenders had hurriedly built up winding trenches to block the path of the enemy to the heart of the fortress. The Vietminh held trenches on the airstrip supplying the fortress and were within hand grenade range of some of the French positions. Heavy rainstorms the previous night had turned the plain surrounding the fortress into a sea of mud, bogging down French armor. American C-124 transport planes, carrying French paratroopers, were en route to Indo-China from France.

In Paris, informed sources said this date that an impression had developed during a meeting of the Western Big Three foreign ministers that the opening of the Geneva conference, set for April 26, might be delayed by the many preliminary issues still remaining to be resolved among the Big Three, requiring also thereafter private talks with Russia's representatives prior to the opening of the conference. The major remaining issue was the role which Communist China would play during the conference, as well as the general physical organization of the conference, itself.

In Bonn, West Germany, three Soviet agents sent to West Germany on a murder mission, had given themselves up to U.S. authorities, according to a U.S. spokesman. The agents included a Russian secret police captain and two East Germans, all of whom had been assigned to kill a member of the anti-Communist Russian group in Frankfurt known as the NTSC, a U.S.-helped association of Russian refugees in Germany. A leader in Berlin of that group had been reported kidnaped by Communist agents the previous week. In addition to divulging their assignment, the three had provided to U.S. agents details of operations of the Soviet Secret Service. They had been trained for their mission in Moscow and provided specially silenced, electrically-fired pistols, plus other devices which fired poisoned lead pellets from a concealed dummy cigarette case. They had also been provided false identities and documents plus Soviet zone visas for Austria.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the cost of living index for March had declined by two-tenths of one percent, a decline for the second straight month, triggered by lower food and clothing prices. There were slight increases in rents and such services as medical care, personal care, reading and recreation. They raised the cost of reading? What next?

In Charlotte, police cars rushed to a location after a citizen reported spotting that which he believed to be the stolen 1948 dark green Buick driven by the escapee the previous Monday from the State prison for the criminally insane, accused of stealing the car two days earlier from a schoolteacher on the ruse that the car needed to be moved to conduct street repairs, as he posed as a City Engineering Department employee, and for the alleged attempted rape of a 15-year old black girl at knife point later that same afternoon. A black farmer had reported that a man fitting the description had driven to his farmhouse and had knocked, inquiring whether any black woman lived there who could cook for him, and when told there was not, had left in the described stolen car before law enforcement could be alerted. A search was continuing, but thus far had turned up nothing. Warrants had been issued against him on both of the charges. The suspect had a long history of property-related crimes, which had led to his commitment earlier in the year.

On the editorial page, "FHA Irregularities Are Not New" indicates that on April 15, Senator Harry F. Byrd of Virginia indicated that a year earlier he had stated in a Senate speech that the IRB had informed him of strange FHA practices, that loans for multiple-unit housing projects had been based on the estimated "replacement value" instead of the project's cost, that on many occasions, the FHA had winked at the limit of five million dollars per project and permitted borrowers to split up big projects into units worth five million or less, that in repeated cases the FHA had guaranteed loans far in excess of the cost of the project, that the alleged investment of the borrower's own funds had been a fiction, with many of the contractors risking virtually no capital while getting Government guarantees for loans in excess of the project's cost, that in some cases, the owner-stockholders of a project had been the lawyer, architect and builders, waiving their fee so that they could be included in the subsequently distributed profits and taxed at the lower capital gains rate rather than as ordinary income, and that generally the scheme allowed for unconscionable private profit at public risk.

It wonders why, given Senator Byrd's earlier speech, the alleged irregularities had not been investigated long earlier. It refers to an excerpt of a speech on the Senate floor by Senator Paul Douglas of Illinois from April 9, 1951, in which he had referred to many of the same abuses cited by Senator Byrd, and in which he had called for an inquiry, which was not heeded.

It indicates that there was evidence that the new section 903 of the Defense Housing Act, designed to tighten up the loopholes in the earlier section 608, had not changed much in fact, as the abuses continued to occur after the amendment. It indicates that it might be true that ultimate losses to the Government would be small, provided there was no large amount of default on Government-guaranteed loans, but that, according to Senator Byrd, the unnecessary higher costs of the projects had caused increases by as much as 25 percent to rents of the apartments. Thus it had been the renters who had been hurt, as had homeowners who had been victimized by shady practices under the FHA home modernization and repair program.

It finds that the two Congressional committees investigating the scandals were serving their proper functions of searching for facts rather than conducting trials, which was the function of the Justice Department and the courts, after the facts had been uncovered.

"A Step Toward Realistic Planning" indicates that the City Council had agreed to provide the Planning Board with a reasonable budget of $20,000 for the ensuing fiscal year and that it should not be difficult to work out the details. A proposal at the meeting would place the proposed professional planning staff directly under the authority of the City Manager, which would enable creation of a regular department for planning, with the Planning Board reduced to the status of an advisory committee. It suggests that it might be better simply to abolish the Planning Board and provide the City Manager complete authority over the new department of planning. Another possibility would be to give the Planning Board the status of an independent commission, with direct authority over the professional staff, who would work in close cooperation with the City Manager and other department heads.

"That a Child's Life May Be Saved" indicates that the City Council was moving, if somewhat belatedly, toward adoption of an ordinance which would prohibit the careless abandonment of ice boxes and refrigerators with their doors intact. A number of other U.S. cities had passed similar ordinances in an effort to avert the numerous tragedies in which small children became trapped in such abandoned refrigerators and ice boxes. It suggests that for the ordinance to achieve maximum effectiveness, its adoption should be accompanied by citywide inspection of residential areas and the removal of doors from any such appliances which may have been abandoned in the past and forgotten. It also urges that if that effort were too large for city employees, then volunteers should be enlisted to help.

Magnetic catches—get on it.

"'That Best of Fame, a Rival's Praise'" indicates that the Raleigh News & Observer, consistently a Democratic newspaper and regular critic of the Eisenhower Administration, had nevertheless praised Vice-President Nixon's controversial statement regarding Indo-China as being forthright, as were, it had also found, his answers to questions regarding the Korean armistice and the case of Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer, concluding that the Vice-President had made an impression upon those who had heard him.

The piece concludes that Mr. Nixon had reaped that which poet Thomas Moore had called "that best of fame, a rival's praise."

A piece from the Baltimore Evening Sun, titled "Unheard of—Unheard", indicates that according to the Wall Street Journal, ultrasonic waves were becoming a new "miracle tool", to be used experimentally or otherwise to clean the heads of electric razors, pasteurize beer, locate fish at sea, ferment yeast, cut tungsten carbide steel and precious stones, homogenize milk, wash clothes, age cheddar cheese, detect corrosion in oil tanker bulkheads and mix salad dressings. Some believed that it would even make possible a heatless, painless drill for dentists.

It honors the new invention for its sound being silent, unlike other clattering machines of the modern age.

Senator Paul Douglas of Illinois, as indicated in the above editorial, has an excerpt printed from a speech on the Senate floor from April 9, 1951, in which he had set forth some of the abuses in the FHA program which were now the subject of two Congressional inquiries.

Drew Pearson provides the inside story of how the Administration had indicted Las Vegas Sun publisher Hank Greenspun for writing a column on January 8 that Senator McCarthy "has to come to a violent end", that those who lived by the sword would die by the sword, that if one destroyed people, they would destroy you. The actual fact was that the Senator did not desire the indictment, that it had been pushed by certain Justice Department officials. The Senator had sent a copy of the column to Postmaster General Arthur Summerfield, desiring revocation of second-class mailing privileges for the Sun. Had he wanted criminal prosecution, he would have referred the matter to the Justice Department. The Senator was chairman of a subcommittee for Post Office appropriations and thus had a powerful hold over Mr. Summerfield. The Senator had put pressure on Time, Life and Fortune publisher Henry Luce for his publications having criticized the Senator after Mr. Summerfield furnished the Senator under the table figures on the Luce profits, threatening the publications' second-class mailing privileges. Mr. Summerfield had been a consistent friend of the Senator among Cabinet members and had convinced General Eisenhower during the 1952 campaign to drop praise of General Marshall in a speech he would make in Milwaukee, at the behest of Senator McCarthy who had recently called the General a traitor for having supposedly "sold out" the Nationalist Chinese to the Communist Chinese during his time as special Presidential envoy to China in 1946, prior to becoming Secretary of State in 1947.

When Attorney General Herbert Brownell heard about the Senator's complaint to the Post Office Department, he decided to examine it carefully and found that the column of Mr. Greenspun had described the Senator as a "disreputable pervert", a charge Mr. Greenspun had been making for some time without legal consequence. Mr. Brownell had therefore made the entire column a matter of court record with the result that it had become privileged so that it could be quoted by other publications with complete immunity. He had effectively done to Senator McCarthy what the Senator had done to General Marshall and others when he had launched privileged attacks on them from the Senate floor. The Justice Department had indicted Mr. Greenspun for inciting attacks on the life of Senator McCarthy, but had not undertaken to charge him with criminal libel for the reference to perversion and had not deleted that part of the column. (Mr. Pearson, however, does not appear to recognize that criminal libel had become a highly disfavored action for the Government to undertake, no such action having been brought since the early days of the republic at the Federal level, and such laws having been repealed in most states by 1954. At present, there are only fifteen states, including North Carolina, which still have the outmoded criminal action, in some form or other, on the statute books, albeit rarely prosecuted even in those jurisdictions, left to the civil courts.) He notes that Mr. Greenspun had appeared for arraignment recently in the U.S. District Court, but the judge had told him to return the following fall when a new judge would be appointed and had not asked him to post bail. He indicates that the judge was a friend of Mr. Greenspun.

When Vice-President Nixon had finished his speech the prior Friday before the editors, they had warned him that it would cause problems and they wanted to be sure how they could use it and how to refer to Mr. Nixon, as the speech had been previously labeled not for attribution to the Vice-President. Mr. Nixon had questioned whether they were interested in what he had said about South Korean President Syngman Rhee, and they informed him that instead it was his comments regarding sending U.S. troops to Indo-China if it became necessary in the event of a French withdrawal. He still did not understand what the newsmen were concerned about until they actually spelled it out. The reason that he was confused was that he had discussed the matter of sending U.S. troops to Indo-China so many times during National Security Council meetings recently that he had not realized its impact on the editors or the American public. Mr. Pearson concludes that the issue had definitely been decided as a matter of Administration policy sometime earlier.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop indicate that Secretary of State Dulles had returned from his recent trips to London and Paris with several rewards from his untiring efforts, the most important of which had been a firm commitment from French Foreign Minister Georges Bidault that at the Geneva peace conference, set to start April 26, he would not discuss with the Russians or the Chinese any face-saving deal to establish peace at any cost in Indo-China, which would only mean the loss of it to the Communists. That apparently included partition of Indo-China at the 16th parallel, for which there was a large amount of sentiment in Paris, based on the precedent of the Korean truce, on the argument that southern Indo-China would continue to be a bulwark against further Communist expansion. The problem with such an agreement was that the rich Red River delta region in the north, including Hanoi and Haiphong, was the key to Indo-China, both strategically and economically. Thus, such a division would constitute the beginning of the end for resistance to Communist domination.

It meant that more than likely the Geneva conference was probably a formal exercise in mutual recrimination, from which no agreement or settlement could be expected, but it was not necessarily to be the case. Secretary of State Dulles was approaching the meeting on the basis that he would not trade U.S. recognition of Communist China or agreement for its admission to the U.N. for an Indochinese settlement and would not agree to any settlement which would or could lead to Communist victory. Otherwise, his position was described as "not inflexible". One possibility was to get India's Premier Nehru to accept the mission of establishing a truly independent Indo-China after a cease-fire. Though it was likely impractical, Secretary Dulles was said to be anxious to explore every avenue except any which would lead to appeasement, on the belief that the Communists might genuinely wish a settlement, even at a price.

Moscow radio had recently indicated that Vietminh leader Ho Chi Minh had called for a cease-fire. The French Government of Premier Joseph Laniel had set forth terms for a cease-fire which amounted to unconditional surrender by Ho. The French would consider a serious cease-fire offer, provided that French commander, General Henri Navarre, would agree that its terms would not endanger his troops and provided that there was some real reason for believing that a truce would be a prelude to a real settlement. But a cease-fire could not constitute a de facto settlement, as it had in Korea, as there was no front line in Indo-China. Part of any agreement would have to be that the Communist Chinese would cease supplying the Vietminh.

If the Geneva talks were to fail, the Chinese would have to accept the likelihood that U.S. forces would be committed to Indo-China, not necessarily immediately even if Dien Bien Phu were to fall to the Communists and a neutralist Government were to take power in France, as it would still leave time to maneuver if only because the French could not evacuate their forces except over a period of many months. Both the Chinese and Russians had to be aware that the commitment of U.S. forces, at least naval and air forces, was, however, likely in the long run should the talks at Geneva fail.

Doris Fleeson indicates that Vice-President Nixon's comments the previous Friday before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, that U.S. ground troops would be sent to Indo-China if the French were to withdraw, had left the Republicans up the creek on their favorite campaign issue, that they had ended the war in Korea. He also said that in hindsight, a "better decision might have been made during the Korean War" which would have "inflicted a substantial defeat on the Chinese Communists." The end of the Korean War had permitted the Chinese to increase their aid to the Vietminh and thus had caused the present French crisis.

House Majority Leader Charles Halleck, in a debate with Minority Leader John McCormack, had told the editors that what Republicans were going to tell the American people during the fall campaign was that they had ended the war in Korea. The Vice-President had made a point of that a month earlier in his reply to the Miami statement of Adlai Stevenson at a meeting of Democrats. Mr. Nixon had wondered whether Mr. Stevenson believed the war should not have been ended and whether he favored more Korean-type wars all over the world.

The conservative isolationists among the Republicans would be reluctant of being robbed of the issue of ending the Korean war. The Vice-President had led up to the Korean question in his speech before the editors by linking Korea to Indo-China as "one war in which the real goal of Russia is Japan", with half the industrial potential of Russia, which could not be allowed to fall to the Communists any more than the industrial potential of Western Europe.

A letter from the chairman of the committee on arrangements for the rally for Adlai Stevenson in Charlotte thanks the newspaper for its assistance and cooperation in making the visiting journalists from other places feel at home in the city and making the rally a success.

A letter writer from Rockingham comments on a series of pictures published on the front page of April 5, showing distressed parents at Hermosa Beach, Calif., after discovery that their small child had been washed out to sea. She indicates that she had spent the summer at the California beach with her sister and was enclosing a clipping from the local newspaper there which had indicated that the baby's body was recovered from the sea ten days after the disappearance, as the caption beneath the pictures had not informed of that fact.

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