The Charlotte News

Tuesday, April 27, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that on the fourth day of hearings in the dispute between the Army and Senator McCarthy, the Army charged, through its counsel Joseph Welch, that a photograph introduced the previous day during questioning of Army Secretary Robert Stevens about his relationship to Private G. David Schine, had been doctored. Usual chief counsel to the Investigations subcommittee, Roy Cohn, acknowledged that he had provided the photograph but denied knowing that it had been altered. The picture showed Secretary Stevens with Private Schine, and the claim by Mr. Welch was that the photograph had been cropped to eliminate two other persons who were present at the time. Mr. Cohn testified that the photograph had been sent to him by Mr. Schine, that it had been blown up and delivered to special counsel for the Investigations subcommittee during the course of the current investigation, Ray Jenkins. Mr. Cohn said that he had no knowledge of any third party being cut out of the photograph, that whoever had cropped it believed that only Secretary Stevens and Private Schine were relevant. Mr. Cohn testified further that Secretary Stevens had invited him, Senator McCarthy and Private Schine to the office of the Secretary the previous November 6, but that the Private, then in the Army, could not attend, with the Secretary expressing regret because a couple of photographers had made requests for a picture of the Secretary with the Private. The original photograph had included the Secretary, the Private, an Army colonel and a portion of a civilian. Mr. Cohn said that Secretary Stevens had repeatedly requested that he be photographed with the Private, but the Secretary had denied in his testimony the previous day that he had ever proposed to have a picture taken alone with the Private, and said that he had been photographed many times with many members of the Army. After that testimony, Mr. Jenkins had introduced the cropped picture, taken at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey.

In Geneva, Soviet Foreign Minister V. M. Molotov, in a half-hour conference with Secretary of State Dulles, replied this date to U.S. proposals regarding the President's plan, enunciated before the U.N. General Assembly the previous December 8, to establish an atomic pooling arrangement for peaceful purposes. The contents of the reply were not disclosed, but informed sources indicated that no progress had been made. The two foreign ministers also discussed problems related to the Geneva conference.

Also in Geneva, North Korea proposed this date before the conference that Korea be united by an election to be conducted along lines rejected previously by the West. The session of the conference was closed to the press and details of the proposed plan were not immediately available, but it was said to be similar to that proposed at the Big Four foreign ministers conference in Berlin the prior February. The South Korean representative called for reunification of the country and free elections. There were reports that the solidarity of the Western Big Three nations, Britain, the U.S. and France, was weakening regarding cease-fire terms for the war in Indo-China, with the U.S. reported to oppose any cease-fire not backed by certain unspecified guarantees, while Britain was ready to support France in seeking an immediate cease-fire. In London, Prime Minister Churchill announced that Britain did not intend to take any military action in Indo-China pending the outcome of the conference, a statement cheered in Commons.

At Fort Bragg, N.C., in a continuation of the Army and Air Force war games regarding preparation for an atomic attack, the Army was digging deep foxholes, dispersed to avoid clustering. During the parachute drop of 9,000 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers the previous day, the Army reported 78 had been injured, but most only slightly, and there had been no fatalities because of improvements to parachutes, lessening the initial impact and preventing panels from ripping apart when the canopy spread. The war games involved 100,000 men.

Lucien Agniel of The News had driven to Pope Field, adjacent to Fort Bragg, to observe an Airborne platoon loading for the drop, the largest since World War II. He had asked whether anyone present was from Charlotte, receiving some wisecracks, was told that the standard gear, including the parachute, a weapon, entrenching tool and personal field items weighed about 125 pounds, though a private groaned that it felt to him more like 800 pounds. They were given a briefing before takeoff, which he describes. He had asked them whether they were keeping up with the news from Indo-China, and they said that they were, with most aware that the French were seeking airborne infantry aid, and if the U.S. decided to provide that aid, the 82nd Airborne would automatically be sent.

The President this date accepted an invitation to attend a celebration in Charlotte on May 18, honoring the signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, which was purported to have been signed May 20, 1775, the celebration being advanced two days to accommodate the schedule of the President. It would also honor Armed Forces Week. It was anticipated that the President would speak at around noon on that date.

Governor William B. Umstead, in Washington for the annual governors conference, said this date that he was asking the members of the North Carolina delegation to Congress to do whatever they could to back Charlotte as the site for the proposed Air Force Academy. He was also urging Congressmen to support improvements for the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. He had visited, along with other governors, the White House this date.

A late bulletin indicates that the South Carolina Highway Patrol reported during the afternoon that the escapee from a State prison for the criminally insane, accused of stealing a local teacher's automobile the previous week and subsequently, that afternoon, having allegedly attempted a rape of a 15-year old girl at knife point, had been apprehended in Georgetown, S.C.

On the editorial page, "The Issues in the McCarthy Hearing" indicates that there was some validity to the complaint made by Senator McCarthy and his supporters that the current hearings regarding his dispute with the Army were wasting time more profitably devoted to other things. High Defense Department officials were being diverted from the critical Indochinese problem and the attention of the people, riveted to the televised hearings, was likewise being diverted from the more pressing problems of the day.

It finds, however, that the hearings served the purpose in the long run of preserving the American system, which might counterbalance the negative aspects. For the purpose was to lay bare the objectives of a "power-lusting demagogue, to expose the trickery, the deceit and the oiliness of his methods, and to reveal his willingness to trample upon people and institutions in his drive for political authority."

It finds that the issue was larger than that framed by the Senator, as being between Roy Cohn and Army counsel John G. Adams, rather regarding whether a member of Congress should be permitted such wide latitude by his colleagues that he could subject individuals in the executive branch to abuse when they did not perform as puppets at his command, and whether Congress should be permitted to encroach upon the authority of the executive branch to the point of dictating policy and practices which were clearly within the purview of the executive department. It finds it tragic that the Senate had delayed so long in considering any restraints upon Senator McCarthy, but finds that the delay would not have been in vain should the current hearings expose McCarthyism for what it was and result in safeguards against the use of Congressional authority as a springboard for future demagogues.

"Sterner Traffic Sentences Needed" indicates several recent items from the newspaper involving traffic accidents, such as a six-year old boy playing cowboy in the street having been killed by a two-ton truck driven by an 18-year old high school student, charged with manslaughter and operating a motor vehicle without a license, another involving an inveterate traffic offender, now charged with manslaughter, etc.

Those cases, it indicates, were sufficient to show that an alarming number of North Carolinians involved in traffic accidents were not properly licensed to drive or had their privilege revoked or suspended, with the courts being dangerously lenient with the chronic offenders. The Institute of Government in Chapel Hill had said that as many as 200,000 North Carolina drivers might be unlicensed and that many of them did not have a license because they could not qualify for one. While judges were permitted to sentence unlicensed drivers to as much as six months in jail plus a fine, usually the violator received a minimum fine of $25 and no time in jail. A person convicted of driving after revocation of the license could be fined $200 and/or sentenced to two years in jail.

It urges harsher minimum penalties but also indicates that there was no need to change the law, provided the courts would administer the existing law more strictly.

"Floyd I. Harper—Mr. A.A." indicates that Mr. Harper had been an energetic and successful businessman, a faithful husband and father, a loyal churchman, an active participant in civic and social welfare organizations, and one of the first members in the region of Alcoholics Anonymous, in which he spent more than eight years in service to the cause of rescuing alcoholics. He had been instrumental in forming the first A.A. chapter and each of the succeeding chapters in the community, as well as organizing the Twelve Steps Service Club, the founding of Wilmith Hospital and directing of the North Carolina Committee of the General Service Conference.

Though it was generally recognized in A.A. that not everyone could be saved, Mr. Harper had refused to give up on anyone, spending much of his time and money on alcoholics whom his associates had written off as hopeless. His work had been done anonymously during his life, but could now be told after his death. It indicates that the good he had done would live on after him.

A piece from the Asheville Citizen, titled "'Boon', Eh?" indicates that RCA had developed an electronic device called a "noise absorber" which was labeled a new boon for mankind. It set up a counteracting sound wave to dull the noise of machines, airplanes, air-conditioners, humans and even animals.

It questions whether it would be a boon, however, as on some evenings there was nothing more romantic than the ghostly call of the whippoorwill. No one would wish to counter-wave a baby's gentle sigh, as opposed to its wail (which, it is hoped, would not be shadowing metal badge). And around the office, on payday, no one would wish to stifle the sound of the approach of footsteps down the hall from the accounting office representative.

Drew Pearson indicates that the President had tried quietly to do a favor for the railroads recently, but it had backfired. A delegation of railroad presidents had gone to the White House, wanting support for a bill to force the Interstate Commerce Commission to act on rate increases of the railroads within 60 days. They made some convincing arguments regarding the delays within the ICC on rate increases, with wage increases frequently granted before the Commission would get around to granting rate increases, and so, they argued, the work should be accelerated. The President promised to use his influence in Congress to get the bill through the Senate, promptly calling Majority Leader William Knowland of California, who in turn talked to Senator John W. Bricker of Ohio, chairman of the Interstate Commerce Committee. But the latter was so upset with the President for blocking the Bricker amendment regarding the treaty-making power of the Constitution that he let it be known that the bill in question would continue to sit in his Committee, along with any other bill which the President favored.

Senator McCarthy's primary advocate inside the Administration, Postmaster General Arthur Summerfield, had attempted to make a last-minute deal to head off the showdown between the Army and Senator McCarthy, warning his Cabinet colleague, Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson, that Senator McCarthy was preparing to launch an attack on Assistant Secretary H. Struve Hensel, but would forget those charges if Secretary Wilson would call off the hearings. But Secretary Wilson said that the IRS had already investigated the same charges against Mr. Hensel and the Navy had launched an undercover campaign to promote him as the eventual successor to Secretary Wilson.

Senators were outraged over the tactics of Senator McCarthy's investigators in their attempt to find dirt on Mr. Hensel, browbeating his business partner for five hours, threatening to subpoena him if he refused to talk. They had located him by going to his mother-in-law and announcing that her daughter had been involved in a hit-and-run accident, demanding her address so that they could get in touch with her, leaving his mother-in-law in a state of nervous shock.

Intelligence agents had received reports that an international smuggling ring was selling cobalt behind the Iron Curtain, potentially useful by the Soviets to make the cobalt version of the hydrogen bomb, which theoretically could destroy all life on earth by making the atmosphere radioactive. It was believed that the cobalt came from Chile and the Belgian Congo and was being smuggled behind the Iron Curtain through Switzerland.

The 23 Japanese fishermen who had suffered radiation burns from the U.S. detonation of the hydrogen bomb at the beginning of March in the Marshall Islands had gotten worse and two were not expected to survive beyond the ensuing two weeks, with the others not responding well to treatment. Doctors claimed that Osaka was being showered by radioactive rain, requiring all fruit and vegetables sold in the area to be inspected, along with beef and pork. The Japanese Government had asked the U.S. to make a thorough scientific study of the ocean between Kikini and the Japanese coast to determine how much radioactivity remained in that fishing area.

Prime Minister Nehru had sent word to Secretary Dulles that the Chinese Communists were ready to sacrifice the Indochinese Communists for the sake of peace in the Far East, because the Soviets had drastically reduced the flow of equipment to China, which would in turn cause the Chinese to have to cut off supplies to the Vietminh. The State Department, however, was skeptical of the information, but admitted that Prime Minister Nehru had excellent contacts in Communist China and so his tip was being considered carefully.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop indicate that the six principal figures in the Army-McCarthy dispute were Senator McCarthy, Investigations subcommittee chief counsel Roy Cohn, subcommittee staff assistant Francis Carr, Army Secretary Robert Stevens, Army counsel John G. Adams, and Assistant Secretary of Defense Hensel. There was also, they suggest, a seventh principal, the President, whose leadership perception and possibly the success or failure of his Presidency depended on the outcome of the hearings.

While the President appeared to be aloof from the dispute, in fact, he was practically obsessed with it behind the scenes, consistently raising in conversation the subject of Senator McCarthy, fully realizing the threat to his leadership posed by the Senator, and aware that sooner or later, the Senator would come after the President, just as he was now attacking the Army, which had been the career of the President. He had been persuaded not to attack Senator McCarthy by name, though he had discussed having one or more television broadcasts in which he would do so and tell the American people the true nature of McCarthyism. The reason his advisers counseled against it was that they believed it would endanger the success of the President's program, as a handful of Republicans supportive of Senator McCarthy would defect in the Senate and in the House, thus convincing the President to relent.

Because of the experience with Senator McCarthy, the President had shed his illusions regarding his political advisers and businessmen-administrators, no longer believing that they were infallible or necessarily the best brains recruited for their positions. He had been less than enthusiastic about the initial handling of the matter with Senator McCarthy by Secretary of the Army Stevens and was livid over pictures appearing of Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson smiling with Senator McCarthy on the same day that the President had planned to take a strong anti-McCarthy stand at his press conference. The President had also lost his excessive respect for Congress, in private comparing it to the French Parliament, saying that all the members did was to stand around in the halls and worry about what Senator McCarthy had on them or about getting re-elected, not paying attention to the President's program and other important issues.

Since the start of the fight over the Bricker amendment, to amend the Constitution's treaty-making powers, and especially since the start of the McCarthy controversy, he had become fascinated by the subject of the powers of the Presidency, reading of late the Federalist Papers for the first time, now able to quote or paraphrase passages at almost excessive length. The controversy over the Bricker amendment appeared to have initially awakened his awareness of his Constitutional position, while the McCarthy controversy had made him determined to defend it.

James Marlow regards the Geneva peace conference and the rather hopeless position of Secretary of State Dulles in accomplishing his aims of a united Korea and peace in the Indo-China war, both dependent on appeasing the Communist Chinese with U.S. recognition and U.N. membership, neither of which would be forthcoming based on the Secretary's pledge in advance of the conference.

The U.S. wanted a vote in Korea for the government of their choice, but as South Koreans outnumbered North Koreans by four to one, the Communists would not allow that to occur, with the outcome predetermined and South Korea aligned with the West. The U.S. also wanted Communist China to withdraw aid from the Vietminh, but that would certainly mean victory for the French, and so, again, it would not be forthcoming without the concessions which the Secretary could not provide. As the Communists had not given any territory away since the end of the war, it was highly unlikely that they would begin at present.

A letter writer criticizes judges for imposing too lenient sentences on drunk drivers and drivers operating without a license, in two such cases, resulting in deaths.

A letter writer criticizes Recorder's Court Judge J. C. Sedberry for his remark in connection with an arrest of a female shoplifter, as reported April 16, that it was a wonder that a police officer did not hit her with a blackjack. He suggests that the remark turned the clock back to the Dark Ages when brute force was the method of law enforcement. He finds it therefore incredible that Judge Sedberry wanted to represent the district in Congress. He indicates that qualified police officers could subdue persons without the use of such harsh methods and compliments the two arresting officers of the female shoplifter, who had not resorted to that kind of force.

The editors remark that since Judge Sedberry was running for political office, they had afforded him the opportunity to respond to the letter prior to printing it.

A letter in response from Judge Sedberry indicates that the woman in question, black, had been charged with theft and resisting arrest, pleading guilty to the theft charge and found guilty on the charge of resisting arrest, that during the trial, the defense attorney had asked the police officer four times whether or not he had struck the woman with a blackjack, each time answering that he had not, that he had struck her only with his fist after she had taken off her shoe and beat him in the face and about the head until he was cut, bruised and bloody, evidence of which remained at the time of trial. The officer had testified that he used only such reasonable force as was necessary to make the arrest, and when the defense attorney asked about the use of a blackjack for the fifth time, the judge had instructed him that the officer had already testified several times that he had not used a blackjack, then making the comment that it was a wonder that the officer had not used his blackjack, commending him for "great restraint". He says that he offers no apology for his comment, that any lawyer who had sufficient intelligence to become a lawyer knew that when any person placed himself in defiance of lawful authority and began physically to "belabor" an officer attempting an arrest, that person invoked the duty of the officer not to retreat but to stand his ground and resort to the right to inflict great bodily harm or even take the life of the arrestee if necessary to save his own life—or, the judge could have added, the safety and lives of others. He adds that if any local Republican, in his zeal for the incumbent Republican Congressman Charles Jonas, believed he could gain anything for the candidate by attacking the Judge's record, he was not taking into account the decent, law-abiding, upright and honorable citizens of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.

We refrain from making comment about the several current cases of police shootings of arrestees because many of those cases are still pending and should be tried in the courts, not in the press or by public comment, as the tendency has become, shamefully, regardless of the side being taken by the various reporting organs, print, radio and especially television. We refer the press generally to the instructive Supreme Court case regarding the July, 1954 murder of the wife of Dr. Sam Sheppard in their Cleveland suburban home and subsequent conviction of Dr. Sheppard the following December, overturned on habeas corpus in 1966 because of the "carnival atmosphere" attendant the trial with a non-sequestered jury, leading finally to Dr. Sheppard's acquittal after retrial before a fully sequestered jury.

There is a saying in the law regarding inappropriate, loaded statements made by the court, a witness or counsel to a jury during the course of a trial, that one cannot unring a bell. It is equally applicable to the press, before, during and after a case has been tried, while appeals are still pending. The press should hang its head in shame at present, fueling, we believe, street violence and further shootings by its atrocious coverage during the past year, coverage which fuels ratings but could be made unnecessary. The advice which ought be regularly given to prevent further such shootings is simply to obey the cop, not to run or flee the scene or resist arrest in any manner, educating the public to what resistance is, that it does not require fleeing the scene, and leave it for the lawyers and the courts subsequently to determine whether the cop made an appropriate detention and arrest, with the defendant still alive and uninjured to defend him or herself.

There are circumstances where, undoubtedly, cops are using too much force and deadly force much too readily, a noticeably increased tendency to do so being evident in recent years, when non-deadly force would suffice to protect themselves and the public. But the press needs to back off, be more objectively analytical and less the cheerleader for one side or the other, more concerned about prevention of such circumstances in the future, to the extent possible, prompting the use of such deadly force in the first place. One must always assume that the cop has had a bad day and is on a hair-trigger, should one wish to stay alive.

There is plenty of room for better police officer training and better recruitment practices in this regard, but there is also room for improvement of press and public reaction to every single shooting which takes place involving an officer and a citizen. Not all of them are avoidable by the cop, should he or she wish to stay alive and keep the public safe. Most, though not all, are avoidable by the citizen by simply not being stupid when stopped by a cop, legally or not. Cooperate and live to prove your case in court, should you have one. Being compliant does not mean being complacent.

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