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Excerpts mccarthy subcommittee { May 6 2003 }

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May 6, 2003
Excerpts From Secret Senate Testimony Before McCarthy Subcommittee

Following are excerpts from secret testimony before Senator Joseph R. McCarthy's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations in the early 1950's. The questioners included McCarthy; Roy Cohn, the subcommittee's chief counsel; and Senator Karl E. Mundt of South Dakota. Those questioned included Col. Chester T. Brown of the Army; Army Counsel John G. Adams; the writer Dashiell Hammett, the composer Aaron Copland and the poet Langston Hughes. The full text is online at

Colonel Brown

COHN. Have you had any contacts with the case of Irving Peress, the late Major Peress?

COL. BROWN. Any contact I may have had with that case was a classified matter.

Q. I didn't ask you that, Colonel; I asked, did you have any contact?

A. Yes.

Q. You did have contact with that case, is that right?

A. Yes.

Q. Were you aware of the fact that Major Peress was up for promotion in the fall of 1953?

A. No. . . .

Q. Did you submit to him at any time a questionnaire, or did your office submit to him at any time a questionnaire, concerning his status in the army?

A. I cannot answer that question. It is classified.

Q. You cannot tell us whether or not you submitted a questionnaire?

A. I am not permitted to tell you, sir.

McCARTHY. On what grounds? May I say something to you, sir, and to the others of you officers. I will listen to Communists refuse to answer; I will listen to no army officer protecting a Communist, and you are going to answer these questions or your case will come before the Senate for contempt and I intend to shove it all the way through. I am sick of this, sick and tired of it. This whole case is the greatest scandal I ever heard. Somebody in your command — and yours, General — has been protecting a man guilty of treason. We are going to find out who. Answer the question, and you are going to be ordered to answer it.

A. I will have to refer the committee, with regret, to special Regulation 380-320-10, paragraph 43, which states: "The disclosure of the nature, sources or even the existence of counter-intelligence information to persons mentioned in such report or to any other persons not normally entitled to such information, may be made only when specifically authorized by the assistant chief of staff, G-2, Department of the Army, or higher authority."

Under that regulation——

Q. I do not recognize that as authority to refuse to answer this question. You will be ordered to answer.

A. I respectfully must refuse to answer.

Q. All right. And I want you to know, John, that I am sick of this. These cases are going to be made public. I am going to let the public see you, sir — see what your new administration, John — is doing, protecting and covering up Communists. Let me ask you this question, Colonel: Who advised you not to answer these questions?

A. No one.

MR. ADAMS. Mr. Chairman?

McCARTHY. Just a minute.

COL. BROWN. No one advised me.

Q. You didn't discuss your testimony with anyone?

A. I have discussed — —

Q. You are under oath now, Colonel.

A. That is correct.

Q. You did not discuss your testimony with anyone?

A. I discussed it with counsel.

Q. What counsel?

A. Mr. Adams.

Q. Did he advise you you could not answer these questions? Is that correct, Mr. Adams?

A. I told him I was unable to answer them for that reason, and he agreed with me.

McCARTHY. Did he advise you not to answer the questions?

A. No.

Q. Did he tell you you should or should not answer them?

A. He agreed with me — —

Q. I would suggest you tell the truth, Colonel.

A. I am telling the truth, sir.

Q. You say that Adams did not advise you?

A. No, sir. I quoted the regulation and he agreed with me.

Q. Mr. Adams, will you stand and raise your right hand? You are more than a lawyer, you are a government employee. I am ordering you, Mr. Adams, to be sworn, because you are also an employee of the government.

MR. ADAMS. Mr. Chairman, I respectfully request the opportunity not to appear as a witness before the committee.

McCARTHY. That will not be granted.

MR. ADAMS. I appear as a representative of the secretary of the army at your invitation, sir.

McCARTHY. You are here as an employee of the government, Mr. Adams, and I intend to order you to be sworn. You are now ordered to stand up and be sworn.

MR. ADAMS. Mr. Chairman, may I request the opportunity to get instructions from the secretary of the army?

A. You may.

MR. ADAMS. That will take me some time, and I probably cannot accomplish it this afternoon in time before the conclusion of your hearing. Mr. Chairman, the colonel is not lying.

McCARTHY. If you are going to testify, Mr. Adams, you will be sworn.

COHN. Well, the question, Colonel, of course is whether or not any questionnaire was submitted. I am not asking you for any loyalty or security information.

COL. BROWN. If any questionnaire was submitted, it would be part of a classified — —

Q. No, Colonel, your interpretation is entirely wrong. There is no foundation in law whatsoever.

A. I still must refuse to answer.

Q. You are wrong.

Dashiell Hammett
MR. COHN. You are an author?

HAMMETT. That is right.

Q. For how long have you followed that calling?

A. Since about 1922, roughly thirty years.

Q. You know that a considerable number of your works are used in the State Department Information Program?

A. I did not know that until you told me on the phone.

Q. Do you think we have given you a good civil suit for royalties?

A. I doubt that, because thinking about it, the chances are the radio end that was sold is owned by the movie people.

Q. Are you a member of the Communist party today?

A. I decline to answer on the ground that the answer would tend to incriminate me, pleading my rights under the Fifth Amendment.

Q. Were you a member of the Communist party in 1922?

A. I decline to answer on the ground that the answer might tend to incriminate me.

Q. You have written a number of books between 1922 and the present time, have you not?

A. Yes.

Q. About how many?

A. Five, I think.

Q. Just five books?

A. Yes, and many short stories and stuff that has been reprinted in reprint books.

Q. If I were to ask you as to each one of these books if you were a Communist party member at the time you wrote the book what would your answer be?

A. The same.

Q. You would refuse on the ground you stated?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you write a story which could be classed as other than a detective story?

A. Yes.

Q. What?

A. I have written quite a number of short stories that were not detective stories.

Q. Any that deal with social problems?

A. I don't think so. Yes, I remember one, if you take it as a social problem. Some short stories have been in paper bound books that have been published in book form.

Q. Did any of those deal with social problems?

A. Yes. As a matter of fact, roughly one that I remember, a short story called "Night Shade."

Q. "Night Shade"?

A. "Night Shade," which had to do with Negro-white relations. . . .

Q. When you wrote this short story, "Night Shade," were you a member of the Communist party?

A. I decline to answer on the ground the answer may tend to incriminate me.

Q. Did that story in any way reflect the Communist line?

A. That is a difficult — on the word "reflect" I would say no, it didn't reflect it. It was against racism.

SENATOR MUNDT. Would you say that it resembled — whether it reflected or not — the Communist line with respect to race problems?

A. No, I couldn't pick out — I could answer that question, if you just put it, did it at all, but did it reflect that more than, say, other political parties, I would have to say no. I think the truth would be that it didn't reflect it consciously or solely.

Q. Consciously or solely. Have you ever had any contact with the publications commission of the Communist party?

A. No.

Q. You have not?

A. No.

Q. Do you know any members of the publications commission of the Communist party?

A. You would have to tell me.

Q. Do you know Alexander Trachtenberg?

A. I have to think about that. I think I decline to answer that on the ground that the answer might tend to incriminate me.

Q. Do you know Louis F. Budenz?

A. No.

Aaron Copland

McCARTHY. Mr. Copland, have you ever been a Communist?

COPLAND. No, I have not been a Communist in the past and I am not now a Communist.

Q. Have you ever been a Communist sympathizer?

A. I am not sure that I would be able to say what you mean by the word "sympathizer." From my impression of it I have never thought of myself as a Communist sympathizer.

Q. You did not.

A. I did not.

Q. Did you ever attend any Communist meetings?

A. I never attended any specific Communist party function of any kind.

Q. Did you ever attend a Communist meeting?

A. I am afraid I don't know how you define a Communist meeting.

Q. A meeting you knew then or now had been called by the Communist party and sponsored by the Communist party.

A. Not that I would know of. No.

Q. Did you ever attend a meeting of which a major or sizable number of those in attendance were Communists?

A. Not to my knowledge.

Q. Were you ever solicited to join the Communist party?

A. No.

Q. Did anyone ever discuss with you the possibility of your joining the Communist party?

A. Not that I recall.

Q. I know that every man has a different type of memory, so we can't ask you to evaluate your memory. Would it seem logical that were you asked to join the Communist party, you would remember?

A. If I had been asked to? Not unless it had some significance in my mind.

Q. So your answer at this time is that you can't say definitely whether you have been asked to join the Communist party or not?

A. No.

Q. Are any of your close friends Communists?

A. Not to my knowledge.

Q. Do you know any members of the Communist party who are Communists?

A. I don't know any member of the Communist Party, as far as I know.

Langston Hughes
Q. Were you ever a believer in socialism?

Mr. Hughes. Well, sir, I would say no. If you mean socialism by the volumes that are written about socialism and what it actually means, I couldn't tell you. I would say no.

Q. You would say no?

A. Yes, sir, I would say no.

Q. You want to tell us you have never been a believer in anything except our form of government?

A. As far as government goes, I have not.

Q. What do you mean, as far as government goes?

A. I mean to answer to your question.

Q. Do you have some reservation about it?

A. No, I have not. Would you repeat your question for me?

A. Let us do it this way. Did you write something called Scottsboro Limited?

A. Yes, sir, I did.

Q. Do you not think that follows the Communist party line very well?

A. It very well might have done so, although I am not sure I ever knew what the Communist party line was since it very often changed.

Q. Mr. Hughes, when you wrote Scottsboro Limited, did you believe in what you were saying in that poem?

A. No, sir, not entirely, because I was writing in characters.

Q. It is your testimony you were writing in character and what was said did not represent your beliefs?

A. No, sir. You cannot say I don't believe, if I may clarify my feeling about creative writing, that when you make a character, a Klansman, for example, as I have in some of my poems, I do not, sir.

Q. How about Scottsboro Limited, specifically. Do you believe in the message carried by that work?

A. I believe that some people did believe in it at the time.

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Excerpts mccarthy subcommittee { May 6 2003 }
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Mccarthy hearings reopened { May 5 2003 }
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