The Charlotte News

Thursday, May 6, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports from Hanoi that U.S. Privateer bombers from an aircraft carrier situated in the Gulf of Tonkin had dropped tons of fragmentation bombs on the Vietminh threatening the French fortress at Dien Bien Phu, joining a massive air assault on the rebel lines. A French Army spokesman said that the fragmentation bombs tore large gaps in the ranks of the enemy troops. The Vietminh had regrouped and bolstered their attack positions earlier this date, but were giving no indication as to when they might launch their next massive assault. The French spokesman also said that there had been no important land fighting during the day. French Army headquarters reported that the previous night had passed "calmly". The fortress had been reduced to less than five-eighths of a mile across. Vietminh artillery and mortars continued to pound the French positions incessantly, softening the defenses in preparation for the next infantry charge. French guns counter-attacked. It was claimed, without confirmation from French sources, by the Vietminh radio that the rebels had hacked their way to within 30 feet of the command post at the heart of the fortress.

Secretary of State Dulles was now trying to form a collective security system in Southeast Asia, designed primarily to seal off and protect the two Associated States of Indo-China, Laos and Cambodia, having virtually abandoned all thought of effective "united action" to aid the French and native forces in blocking Communist conquest of the other Associated State, Viet Nam, wherein Dien Bien Phu was located. The latter was now regarded as primarily a problem for the French and Vietnamese governments to work out because any united front could not be organized in time to make any real difference, given the shifting nature of events requiring quick decisions at the Geneva peace conference. Authoritative sources had said that those points had stood out in the briefing session of Secretary Dulles at the State Department the previous night with Congressional leaders.

Secretary Dulles planned to make a report to the American people on the Geneva conference and the Indo-China crisis by radio and television the following night, the speech to last 30 minutes.

Senator Guy Gillette of Iowa told a national Democratic conference this date that the U.S. had suffered "an astounding and unprecedented reversal" at Geneva regarding Indo-China, blaming it on the split Republican Administration lacking a foreign policy. He said that the 1952 election had put one group of Republicans in charge of the executive branch and another in the majority in both houses of Congress, and that the "fiasco" at Geneva had been an example of the price America was paying in the struggle against Communist imperialism. The previous day, Secretary Dulles had stated that the Geneva talks were going about as anticipated and that he knew of nothing which had happened which justified an interpretation that the U.S. had suffered any defeat in the negotiations. Senator Gillette, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said that the Administration's decision not to use the U.N. machinery to halt the war in Indo-China was a great mistake and regrettable. Senate Minority Leader Lyndon Johnson and House Minority Leader Sam Rayburn were also scheduled to speak at the DNC event.

At Geneva, it was reported by reliable sources that Eastern and Western delegates were split over the chairmanship of the sessions regarding the war in Indo-China, and that there were signs that negotiations on establishing a peace in Indo-China would have to be postponed until the following week.

In Paris, Premier Joseph Laniel had won a vote of confidence from the National Assembly this date, by a vote of 302 to 260. The outcome of the vote had been one of the delaying factors at Geneva.

In the eleventh day of the hearings before the Senate Investigations subcommittee regarding the dispute between Senator McCarthy and the Army, a controversial document introduced two days earlier by Senator McCarthy which had been marked confidential, a purported FBI report on security risks at Fort Monmouth in New Jersey, had been ruled by Attorney General Herbert Brownell as being unauthorized for use by the Senator. The ruling covered both the original 11-page FBI memorandum and the 2 1/2 page condensation of the memorandum, dated January 26, 1951, the latter purported to be a letter from FBI director J. Edgar Hoover to the then-head of Army intelligence, though the director had stated that the letter had not derived from the FBI. Mr. Brownell indicated that a check had shown that the FBI had never authorized the release of either document.

During the course of the proceedings this date, Senator McCarthy suggested that Secretary of the Army Robert Stevens, but for correction of his testimony, would have committed perjury and Democratic Senators called for prosecutions as a result of the submission of the "fraudulent letter" by Senator McCarthy and his staff. The subcommittee voted to send a daily transcript of its hearings to the Justice Department, following a motion by Senator John McClellan of Arkansas, the ranking Democratic member. Senator Stuart Symington of Missouri supported the move and said that someone was "absolutely guilty" of violating the law in connection with Senator McCarthy obtaining the secret FBI report. Senator McCarthy had responded that Senator Symington was "trying to punish those who dare to give out information on espionage in secret radar laboratories", referring to Fort Monmouth. He said that Senators Symington and Henry Jackson of Washington were "part of a secret effort" to hamper his investigation of Communists in the Army. He also said that he was sorry that the three Democratic members of the subcommittee, who had walked out the previous summer in protest of Senator McCarthy's stance initially that, as chairman, he had the absolute right to hire and fire staff without consulting other subcommittee members, had ever returned. Meanwhile, Secretary Stevens testified that he had made an error in earlier testimony, having stated that after a February 24 meeting with Senator McCarthy's subcommittee, he had gone back to the Pentagon and conferred only with his staff, when actually he had met with 21 uniformed and civilian officials of the Pentagon, including then-Undersecretary of Defense Roger Kyes, Army chief of staff Matthew Ridgway, then-Defense Department counsel, presently Assistant Secretary of Defense H. Struve Hensel, and Assistant Secretary of Defense Fred Seaton. At that point, Senator McCarthy had said that the Secretary's admitted misstatement, had it not been corrected by him, would have amounted to a "clear-cut case of perjury"—the Senator obviously hitting the bourbon bottle again. Ray Jenkins, special counsel to the subcommittee, then told the Senator to confine himself to asking questions.

During the afternoon session, Secretary Stevens again resumed his testimony, having testified during each of the hearing dates thus far.

A brief colloquy is set forth from the previous day between Army special counsel Joseph Welch and an assistant to Mr. Jenkins, Robert Collier, regarding the 2 1/2 page letter introduced into evidence by Senator McCarthy, which turned out to be an abbreviated version of a longer memorandum which had not been signed by anyone at the FBI. Mr. Welch had asked whether or not the letter was a "carbon copy of precisely nothing", to which Mr. Collier answered in the affirmative. Mr. Welch then asked whether or not it was "a perfect phony", to which Mr. Collier indicated it was the conclusion of Mr. Welch but that he would not say it was a copy of nothing because if it had been typed as a carbon, there had to be an original, admitting, however, that no original thus far had been found. Mr. Collier also said that he would not refer to the letter as either a "phony" or "the real McCoy".

In Corpus Christi, Tex., it was reported by the Naval Air Station that one of its PBM flying boats, with ten men aboard, was missing in the Gulf of Mexico while on a routine training mission.

In London, Scotland Yard hunted for a cache of 35,000 counterfeit American $100 bills, following the arrest of a Briton accused of passing the counterfeit money. The man had told Scotland Yard officers that the total amount of the counterfeit money was about 3.5 million American dollars. The counterfeiting was believed to be the work of a gang in Europe and was said to be of excellent quality, save one minor defect, not described. The bills had been apparently distributed in London to persons who passed them, after they paid $28 apiece for them.

In San Francisco, six men and six women were deliberating as a jury regarding the case of two former private detectives who were charged with kidnaping a San Francisco real estate broker the prior January. If found guilty, the pair faced possible death or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, the latter being the least possible sentence where there was no bodily harm done to the victim. The alleged kidnap victim had been rescued 61 hours later by alert police who spotted one of the defendants making a late night ransom call from a street-corner telephone booth. No ransom had been paid out of the $800,000 demanded in two payments. The defense of one of the defendants was that there had been no kidnaping, that the alleged victim had dreamed up the scheme in an effort to extort money from his father. The other defendant testified that he had been hired by the first defendant as a private investigator and that when he realized he was involved in a kidnaping scheme, continued to go along on the belief that his life and the lives of his wife and stepson were in danger.

In Devizes, England, the local magistrates had decided the previous day to restore a driving permit to a man on his 96th birthday, having revoked it the previous August after finding him guilty of careless operation of his motorcycle.

On the editorial page, "A Way To Raise Medical Standards" indicates that at its Pinehurst convention during the week, the North Carolina Medical Society, by a voice vote, had tabled a proposal to admit black doctors to its membership, a proposal put forward by the Guilford County Society and supported by delegates from Mecklenburg, Buncombe, Durham and Orange Counties. Opponents of the proposal contended that the black membership in the state society would make it difficult to obtain desirable convention hotel accommodations and would create a problem in arranging convention social activities.

It suggests that within the context of current race relations, those contentions had some merit, but also raised the question of whether the doctors had lost sight of the larger objective, the urgent need to improve the professional standards of black doctors in the state. It says that no newspaper had the right to suggest to doctors or any other professional groups that they should embrace new social relationships more advanced than prevailing customs of the society in which they lived, that choosing one's social friends would always involve discrimination not limited to race. But raising the standards of black doctors was a responsibility of the medical profession.

In Charlotte, public demand was being expressed through a social committee formed by the Social Planning Council, seeking the best way to provide black citizens with better medical facilities and standards. The following Tuesday, the Mecklenburg County Medical Society was going to consider a motion to amend its constitution and bylaws by deleting references to the white race wherever it appeared, opening the Society to black membership. It urges the profession to take responsibility for increasing the knowledge and skill of its membership by having black doctors associating with white doctors in a professional capacity.

"Differences Are Being Smoothed Out" indicates that the previous week, the President had said at his press conference that the U.S. delegates to the Geneva peace conference were seeking a "modus vivendi" with regard to the Indo-China war, suggesting that a compromise with the Communists was desirable. This statement was widely regarded as having pulled the rug out from under Secretary Dulles in his efforts to establish "united action" by the allies to hold Indo-China against the Communists and prevent further Communist expansion generally in the Far East. The fact that the Secretary had left Geneva the prior Monday after only a week of the conference, appeared to fit that interpretation. The previous day, at his press conference, the President had clarified the statement, stating his unqualified support for the Secretary and that the fact that a Far Eastern pact was in the process of formation would have an important bearing on what would happen at the conference regarding Indo-China.

The piece indicates that since the beginning of the cold war, it had been the strategy of the Communists to try to divide the free nations, at times receiving help on both sides of the Atlantic from politicians, even if sometimes inadvertently. The coalition of free nations had nevertheless held together despite such strains, but it had been taxed when the U.S. had announced through Secretary Dulles a policy of "instant retaliation" against major aggression by the Communists. It appeared to be a threat of nuclear warfare and caused great apprehension in Europe, vulnerable to Soviet nuclear attack. The alliance was stretched further by the demand of the Secretary for "united action" in Southeast Asia. The President's press conference of the prior day suggested that the differences were being ironed out, and the confidence he expressed in the pact being formed would help to bring it to fruition.

"Forsyth Pioneers in Driver Training" indicates that the state ranked 46th in student enrollment and driver education, that only one out of every eight students in North Carolina took a driver training course in school, whereas some states had 100 percent student participation. Generally, drivers in their teens and early twenties were involved in more accidents than any other age group. A three-year study in Vermont had shown that trained young drivers had one-fourth as many accidents and one-fifth as many violations as untrained drivers.

In Forsyth County, around Winston-Salem, the Board of Education during the week had unanimously decided that beginning in 1955, completion of a course in driver education would be mandatory for graduation from high school, the course to consist of at least 30 hours of classroom education and six hours behind the wheel—those same requirements having been in place, many, many decades hence, when we went through driver education. —Another day, another dollar, see you all tomorrow. Never mind.

In Mecklenburg, driver education courses were available in some schools on a voluntary basis, and it believes that the local boards of education for the City and County should follow the example of Forsyth, recommends also to the 1955 General Assembly support of the proposal by Governor William B. Umstead, in his 1953 inaugural address, to make driver training available in every high school throughout the state.

A piece from the Richmond News Leader, titled "Full Light of What Publicity?" indicates that CIA director Allen Dulles, brother of the Secretary of State, had made a speech before the Virginia Chamber of Commerce in Richmond recently, in which he had said that the basic difference between the Communist form of government and that of the U.S. was that in the Communist world, secrecy was the order of the day, whereas in the free world, there was "full light of publicity".

It finds the observation curious coming from the director of the CIA, operating on a principle of keeping Americans in total ignorance of what that agency was doing. No reasonable person suggested that the CIA should conduct its work in "full light of publicity", but it was also not necessary for it to operate in total darkness. By law, the American people could not know how much taxpayer money was being spent by the agency, how many persons it employed, whether it wasted funds or spent them efficiently. It was exempt from all the normal rules of accountability which applied even to the Atomic Energy Commission and the defense establishment. Whether the CIA was doing a good or poor job was thus unknown, and could not be found out by the press or even Congress.

Legislation was pending which would set up a joint Congressional committee regarding intelligence. It finds it a sound proposal which ought be adopted. It indicates that while Mr. Dulles was charming, he also had powers which were more consistent with the sinister powers of a Gestapo or the Russian secret police than with the traditions of free America.

Mr. Dulles would continue to serve throughout the remainder of the Eisenhower Administration as CIA director, though he had offered to resign after the Soviets had shot down the U-2 reconnaissance flight of Francis Gary Powers over Soviet territory on May 1, 1960, causing President Eisenhower to cancel the imminent conference with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev in Paris, the President electing, however, to refuse Mr. Dulles's offer of resignation. President Kennedy reappointed Mr. Dulles as CIA director at the start of his Administration in 1961, but the disastrous Bay of Pigs operation, planned and orchestrated by the CIA, in mid-April, 1961, led quickly to discussion of his resignation and reorganization of the CIA, to delegate some of its foreign intelligence gathering operations to other departments and its paramilitary operations to the Department of Defense, and finally resulted in the decision of Mr. Dulles in July to resign, effective in November, 1961, ending his long career in intelligence, spanning back to the O.S.S. in Europe during World War II.

The linked 1961 piece on the career of Mr. Dulles, by the way, syndicated to the Kansas City Star and other newspapers, was by New York Times Washington bureau news editor Wallace Carroll, at the time past executive editor, from 1949 to 1955, and future editor and publisher, from 1963, of the Winston-Salem Journal, who had been director of the London U.S. Office of War Information during World War II and, from that experience, became a recognized expert on psychological warfare.

Drew Pearson indicates that two of the most persuasive personalities in the Western world, Prime Minister Churchill of Britain and Joint Chiefs chairman Admiral Arthur Radford, had met in London for a vital, unpublicized conference on Indo-China recently, and the Prime Minister had proved the more persuasive. The question was whether Britain should support the U.S. and back up its proposed intervention in Indo-China. Secretary Dulles had gotten nowhere with the Prime Minister when he consulted with him during his brief trip to London and Paris prior to the Geneva conference. Admiral Radford, known for his persuasive personality, quite impressive to the President, could not convince Prime Minister Churchill that the U.S. should intervene in Indo-China, calling it the worst mistake it could make. Mr. Pearson notes that after the talk with Mr. Churchill, Admiral Radford had suddenly been called home and was not scheduled to return, presumably called home to report to the National Security Council.

Senator McCarthy had good reason for becoming upset when it had been proposed the previous week that his chief investigator, Don Surine, would be called to testify before the Senate Investigations subcommittee regarding the cropped photograph of Secretary Robert Stevens and Private G. David Schine, taken at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey the prior November 17. The Senator had threatened to resume his chairmanship of the subcommittee, temporarily having stepped aside in favor of Senator Mundt, a power he did not have without the subcommittee's approval. In the end, Mr. Surine was not called to testify. Senator McCarthy's concern developed out of the fact that Senator Stuart Symington of Missouri, also of the subcommittee, had asked each former FBI agent who had testified thus far to explain why they had left the Bureau, bringing out that they had all resigned in good standing. But Mr. Surine, who had been with Senator McCarthy longer than any other investigator, had been fired by the FBI, in connection with a white slave case in Baltimore, a matter gone into by a Senate Rules subcommittee which had probed Senator McCarthy's finances in 1951. Senator Thomas Hennings of Missouri had persisted in getting at the facts regarding Mr. Surine at that time, receiving an official letter stating that he had tried to resign but had not been permitted to do so, after having been charged by a Baltimore printer with kidnaping him during the Maryland campaign against Senator Millard Tydings, in which Senator McCarthy played a prominent role in trying to associate Senator Tydings with Communists, resulting in the election of John Butler. Mr. Surine had also been among those who had scared the mother-in-law of the business partner of Assistant Secretary of Defense H. Struve Hensel. Mr. Surine had also gone to New York to investigate Assistant Secretary of Defense Anna Rosenberg, before smear charges had been made improperly against her that she was a Communist, the Senate having unanimously rejected those charges and confirmed her for her position during the Truman Administration. The faked, composite picture of American Socialist leader Earl Browder and Senator Tydings, which had been used in the Maryland campaign, was strangely reminiscent, Mr. Pearson observes, of the cropped photograph of Mr. Stevens and Private Schine.

The President had played into Senator McCarthy's hands in permitting him to examine income tax returns allowed by an executive order of February 19, 1953, giving the Government Operations Committee, which the Senator chaired, along with other investigating committees, the power to obtain income tax returns merely by writing a letter to the Treasury Department.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop indicate that as the editorial was being written, the perimeter of the French fortress at Dien Bien Phu had been reduced to about half a square mile. The Vietminh held the heights around the fortress, with their big guns and mortars pouring unceasing fire into it, now "a fortress more by virtue of simple human courage than of barbed wire and earthworks." That siege had gone on for many weeks with little respite in the meantime. By night, the attackers, yelling battle cries, piled up on the barbed wire, fighting hand-to-hand with the defenders in the darkness. By day, they gradually made their way toward the earthworks of the perimeter as the defenders threw up new earthworks, strung new barbed wire and participated in bloody counterattacks to try to regain vital ground lost the previous night.

Within the fortress, weather was a life-and-death matter, as air supply and reinforcement was critical, prevented by the onset of the tropical monsoon season during the previous couple of weeks. If the weather were clear enough, the bombers could attack the Vietminh and transports could deliver supplies, albeit because of the consistent anti-aircraft fire from the enemy, supplies sometimes had to be dropped in locations permitting the enemy to get to them first. Even the wounded, confined within the fortress for the inability to evacuate them, cheered on the reinforcements who had volunteered to join the fight, which, to the world, appeared hopeless. Many of those volunteers had come from the Indochinese Army, producing 150 reinforcements just in one of the recent days. Of the 14,000 defenders of the fortress, few now lacked wounds of some sort, but ordinary wounds were treated as things of little consequence. Those who could fight, fought, and those who could not fight comprised nearly a third of the total defenders, thus becoming a heavy burden which those still in the fight cheerfully bore, as each man knew that his time might come to join the wounded. In all, about 10,000 men could still fight, comprised of the French Foreign Legionnaires, the Moroccans, the Algerians, the French parachute battalions and the Vietnamese.

Against the defenders were arrayed about 40,000 Vietminh troops, constantly being reinforced. Yet, French commander of the fortress, Brig. General Christian de Castries, continued to inform headquarters that the danger was somewhat exaggerated.

The Alsops wonder whether some of the men they had encountered a year earlier when they had visited Indo-China at the battlefront were there at Dien Bien Phu. "It is impossible not to wonder about these men, and how many others. It is impossible, above all, to hurry every morning to find out whether the French flag still flies over Dien Bien Phu, in the inferno fire, in the cruel mud, in the narrow perimeter where the few defy the many. Maybe, as these words are written, the final onslaught will be overwhelming to De Castries and his brave men. No one can tell." They conclude that the men there had fought for the free world and whether they would succeed would be known soon enough—to be the following day.

Marquis Childs, in Geneva, indicates that if the West had agreed upon a common position from which to face the Communist challenge at the peace conference, it was not discoverable, as the divisions were very plain. Secretary of State Dulles had worked hard during the previous two weeks to put together an emergency Asian pact which he hoped would provide temporary relief to the disintegrating situation in Indo-China, keeping the Western nations aimed at a common objective. But as that appeared now impossible, the only apparent alternative was to accept the best bargain which the French could make with the Communists to end the war.

The President's statement at his press conference of the previous week regarding an arrangement with the Communists in Southeast Asia had ended the last chance for any kind of intervention of the type which Secretary Dulles had proposed a week earlier. With the distraction at home of the Army-McCarthy hearings, of which the Europeans were completely aware, the position of Mr. Dulles was lonely and futile.

The State Department had been the first attacked by Senator McCarthy four years earlier, and a consequence of it had been a serious weakening of the Foreign Service and thus the primary source of information on which foreign policy was based. U.S. policymakers were aware that the loss of Indo-China could produce public and Congressional reaction of the type which followed the loss of China to the Communists in 1949. But the U.S. diplomatic experts who might have known about China and provided valuable background knowledge at the Geneva conference had either been fired or charged with pro-Communism or even treason, and even if escaping those fates, had been exiled to safe, non-political posts.

Meanwhile, other distractions beset the allies, with an election soon to occur in Australia, causing no one there to want to rock the boat, particularly as the defection of Mr. Petrov and his wife from the Soviet Embassy there had become a campaign issue for the existing Government. At least, however, the Australian Foreign Minister, Mr. Casey, had, alone among the Western delegates, made a speech regarding Korea and the issue of unification. Not a single European delegate, however, had come forward to speak at the conference, as none of the delegates supported the unification backed by the U.S. While British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden operated under Prime Minister Churchill's long-standing injunction to go just as far as possible to get along with America, he had constantly to bear in mind the division of public opinion in Britain, among both Conservatives and Labor, where there was a deep dread of involvement in an Asian war which could become a third world conflict. Mr. Eden also could not forsake his obligation to try to hold the Commonwealth together, considering the sensibilities of Prime Minister Nehru of India and his insistence on both a line and a role in Asia which the U.S. could not accept.

In France, there were also distractions and divisions, too numerous to set forth.

The Communists also had their troubles and conflicts, which were being aired despite censorship behind the Iron Curtain. The Petrov case had been a godsend to the West, once again exposing the unceasing conspiracy underlying Soviet totalitarianism.

Doris Fleeson indicates that Senator John McClellan of Arkansas, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Investigations subcommittee, had gone home the previous weekend to mend some political fences prior to election time and had found that the Republican intra-party disputes were taking care of the problem for him. He was being challenged in the Democratic primary by former Governor Sid McMath, a formidable opponent, but having received a very good reception, now felt he had plenty of time to devote to the Army-McCarthy dispute.

While he was willing to help expedite the hearings and had pointedly refrained from using his full time for cross-examination of witnesses, he was determined to see the hearings through to the end, grim news for Republicans.

The Republican distress over the hearings was being directed more at Secretary Stevens than at Senator McCarthy, as the latter was considered a unique phenomenon who attracted or repelled people, regardless of his party identification. He was being criticized for his incessant raising of points of order, conspiratorial whisperings with Roy Cohn, and his open contempt for other Senators. But that criticism was being uttered with a certain sense of detachment. By contrast, professional politicians groaned when Secretary Stevens admitted to coddling of Private Schine as a result of urging by Senator McCarthy and Mr. Cohn. Mr. Stevens had unusual prestige in Washington, not just for having been a reputable businessman, but also for having been chairman in 1952 of a blue-ribbon commission set up by the Department of Commerce, the Business Advisory Council, which had also included present Secretary of the Treasury George Humphrey, Defense Secretary Charles E. Wilson and Undersecretary of the Treasury Folsom. Secretary Stevens had been scheduled to succeed Deputy Secretary of Defense Roger Kyes and, in time, Secretary Wilson. He was being excused by his friends on the ground of political naïveté and inexperience, that he was too nice to become involved in a dispute with Senator McCarthy. But it remained to be explained why he had failed to protect his personal dignity from encroachment and the Army from those who destroyed its morale. Ms. Fleeson speculates that he might have taken too literally the advice of the President to get along with Congress and there was no clear indication that the President would publicly side with him.

A letter writer comments on the matter raised by the above editorial, the decision by the North Carolina Medical Society not to include practicing black physicians, which he finds to have been a shocking surprise, suggesting the issue of hotel accommodations as having begged the question. He wonders what Jesus would do.

A letter from the general chairman of the Piedmont Sales Conference thanks the newspaper for its contributions to the sixth annual conference held recently in Charlotte.

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