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Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, December 19, 1947, Image 11

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Congress Can Use Its
Broad Inquiry Power
To Ignore Privacy
Committees Have Right
To Ask Almost Anything
And Need Not Tell Why
By David Lawrenct
Investigations will become numer
ous from now on. Congress always
reveals an investigating tendency on
the eve of a presidential campaign.
Strangely enough, most people do
not know the tremendous power that
can be wielded by congressional
committees. Thus, in the discussion
recently about the questions asked
of 10 individuals as to whether they
were Communists, a number of
otherwise well-informed people
thought it was a violation of consti
tutional rights to ask such a ques
Since, they argued, it isn't a crime
or unlawful to be a Communist, why
should any one be asked to state his
political beliefs—aren't these a
matter of privacy?
Actually where a congressional
committee is concerned, there is no
privacy. The courts have decided
this again and again. The com
mittees can ask an individual almost
anything. They can ask a man to
say whether he is a Democrat or a
Republican or a Socialist ^>r a Com
munist. They can ask him how
much money he has in the bank and
how much in his pocket. They can
pursue any line of inquiry at all. and
the courts thus far have said they
are V11 within their constitutional
•rights in gathering information they
may want for the writing of legisla
Can Reveal Tax Returns.
Thus, In one of the inquiries into
stock market operations in 1933.
a congressional committee asked
questions about individual trans
actions. In a tax inquiry, Congress
can ask anything It pleases, In fact,
It can even make public Individual
Income tax returns In congressional
hearings if it chooses to do so.
Congressional committees, more
over, do not have to state why they
want the information. There is no
requirement, for instance, that Con
gress must say why it wants to know
who in Hollywood are Communists.
Congress could have In mind a law
requiring everybody to register his
political beliefs. In many States the
rolls of registered Democrats and
registered Republicans are available
to public Inspection. Many States
regard political beliefs as something
of which no man need be ashamed.
When It comes to requiring an
answer from members of the execu
tive branch of the Government, the
powers of congressional committees
are limited. Thus, In the discussion
over making public the list of grain
speculators, Secretary Anderson of
the Department of Agriculture
pointed to a specific provision of law
requiring secrecy. But he did not
need to rely on that defense. A
cabinet officer is a member of the
President’s official family, and if the
President directs him to refuse to
answer a question propounded by
Congress, the cabinet officer can
refuse. All the President needs to
say is that the granting of the re
quest for information is “incom
patible with the public Interest.”
Congress has no recourse when it
gets that kind of answer.
Confused Situation.
The reason, however, that Secre
tary Anderson got no such instruc
tion from President Truman was
that the President has publicly de
nounced speculators in grain, and it
would have been an untenable
position politically for Mr. Truman
to be arguing against speculators in
one breath and in the next breath
refusing to disclose who they are.
The administration deliberately con
■v fused the situation, therefore, by
demanding a Joint resolution to
amend the existing law regarding
disclosures of the names of specu
lators. It’s always difficult to get s
resolution passed on the eve of ad
journment. It was a simple way to
wriggle out of an awkward hole.
Congress, through its committees,
can subpoena the records of com
modity exchanges and find the
names there, but it means a lot of
work and time to find out who in
the Government has been specu
lating. Congress would be on
sounder ground in asking the Secre
tary of Agriculture to reveal who
in the executive and legislative
branches of the Government have
engaged in grain speculation. The
information would have then been
There really Is no limit to what
Congress can ask of the private
eltisen. The sooner citizens gener
ally lqjfn this fundamental rule of
our constitutional system, the fewer
the mistakes that will be made by
Innocent persons who rely on the
wrong kind of advice.
(Rtproduetlon Right* ReMrrtd)
This Changing World
Marshall’s Prestige Blocked Criticism
Of State Department Hush-Hush Policy
By Constantine Brown
If it were not for Secretary of
State Marshall's great prestige
as the result of his service as war
time Army chief of staff, the State
Depart ment’s
nusn-nusn pol
icy would have
come under
heavy lira long
The whole
matter of State
Department se
crecy was raised
Wednesday be
fore the Senate
A p p ropriations
Committee when
Bridges was un
able to obtain
any information
about the much-discussed Wede
meyer report on China and heard
only vague generalities about our
China policy from Walton Butter
worth, chief of the State Depart
ment’s Far East Division, who un
til recently was minister-counsellor
of the American Embassy at Nan
The Appropriations Committee
hearings dealt with stopgap aid to
China. In fact, however, they went
further and covered our policy
toward China’s National government
and Russian aid to the Chinese
Communists since V-J day. They
showed what an important debate
the Senate Foreign Relations Com
mittee has missed by accepting the
State Department’s policies without
"Open Door” Forgotten.
Mr. Butterworth, who is a high
ranking policy-making official of the
State Department, was unable to
throw much light on what this
country’s present attitude is toward
the recognised government in Nan
His casual statements under close
examination by Senator Bridges and
other members of the committee
revealed only that we have a series
of thoughts about China and nobody
in the department seems to remem
ber our traditional ‘‘open door"
policy established by Secretary of
State John Hay. Our long-standing
policy was aimed to preserve China’s
territorial and economic integrity.
Mr. Butterworth and Assistant
Secretary of State Thorpe spoke in
generalities, which created the im
pression among members of the
committee that they either did not
know anything about our policy or
were withholding information be
cause higher officials in the State
Department had forbidden tnem to
speak frankly.
This impression was further con
firmed when Lt. Gen. Albert C.
Wedemeyer, one of the Govern
ment’s best-informed officials on
China, asked to be excused from
questioning about his report of his
recent fact-finding mission to the
Far East. That report has been
classified top secret by Secretary of
State Marshall.
Gen. Wedemeyer was sent on his
special mission to China last year
with the purpose of investigating
conditions in areas controlled by the
National government. He returned
with a voluminous report containing
his findings. From the very char
acter of his mission it should be ob
vious that it could contain nothing
that should be kept from the Amer
ican public.
Fledge of Aid Given.
No one can question the applica
tion of secrecy rules to high diplo
matic negotiations or to plans for
national defense. Premature dis
closures are necessarily harmful and
not in the public interest. But there
is little reason to withhold from the
public a report of conditions in a
country which we pledged ourselves
to assist during and after the war.
A highly critical statement about
Chinese conditions was released to
the press by Gen. Wedemeyer at
Nanking last September, before he
returned to the United States. This
statement now does not appear to
have contained all Gen. Wede
meyer’s findings.
At the Wednesday hearing Gen.
Wedemeyer stated under oath, in
answer to questions from Senator
Bridges, that his firm conviction
was that we should extend economic
and military help to the country
which, under Generalissimo Chlang
Kai-shek, consistently refused to
accept highly favorable Japanese
peace terms in 1944. If Gen.
Chlang had been leas loyal to our
cause over 1,000.000 trained Japa
nese troops would have been re
leased for use against our still-in
adequate forces in the Pacific.
Gen. Wedemeyer also confirmed
the feeling which prevails in many
Washington quarters when he re
plied, again to a question by Sena
tor Bridges, that he did not think
we have kept our promises to China.
This was in direct contradiction to
Mr. Butterworth’s previous state
So long as our foreign policy and
official reports are kept concealed
there is little likelihood that this
country ever will know Just where
it is heading.
Constantino Brown.
On the Record
Soviet Return to Glass-War Program
Caused London Conference Failure
By Dorothy Thompson
The London Conference did not
break down because the Russians
demanded $10,000,000,000 in repara
tions from Germany, nor over any
of the given
issues. Ana al
though Walter
Lippmann was
right in criticiz
ing the Council
of Foreign Min
isters as a diplo
matic 1 n s t r u
ment, the faults
of that instru
ment are not
responsible for
the breakdown,
nor is the trans
ference of ne
gotiations from
the heads of
states to tneir ioicign
The reason that all meetings since
Yalta and Potsdam have failed to
reach agreement, and that these lat
ter failed to establish agreements
that have been kept, is not because
Molotov has supplanted Stalin,
Byrnes and Marshall have replaced
Roosevelt and Bevin has taken the
place of Churchill.
It is because shortly after Yalta
the Germans surrendered, and the
Soviets no longer needed to co
operate with the western powers.
They never wanted to co-operate.
Only the exigencies of war forced
them to. And when the war was
won they returned to their never
abandoned revolutionary program,
which precludes co-operation, since
it aims at the destruction of all
non-Communlst states.
This is the truth and the only Im
portant truth.
Co-operating With Victim.
Although it is not Impossible for
victims innocently to co-operate
with their would-be assassin, it ob
viously is impossible for the assassin
to co-operate with his victims.
Since the end of the war, or since
it was in sight, the prospective vic
tims have sought agreements with
their assassin, and these have been
useful for the latter in strength
ening his position for the next
All these agreements rested on a
fundamentally false premise: That
the goal of the Soviets was security
within their established frontiers,
for which they would sacrifice world
Communist conspiracy; in short,
that they had abandoned the Marx
Lenin thesis. No premise has proved
more erroneous.
According to the Marx-Lenln
thesis, all history is the history of
class war. All warfare is class war
fare even if it takes on national
forms. The world Is permanently at
war, open or latent. The First and
Second World Wars furthered and
were but preludes to the final strug
gle which will establish the Com
munist world state. The non-Com
munist world is, therefore—even if
unconsciously—at war witn tne so
viets to avert its own doom. Ulti
mate Soviet victory is certain.
Meanwhile, there must be no re
laxation of the struggle and no
scruples of an ethical nature, for
victory must be complete and irrev
ocable. There is no middle way.
That is the Communist thesis, ex
pressed in Innumerable manifestos,
resolutions and dialectical polemics, I
and now made visible to all with
ryes. To co-operate with the So
viets means to collaborate with that
thesis, for the Soviets never will
permanently co-operate with any
Why Many Co-operate.
Many persons within all coun- j
tries unconsciously co-operate to aid
that thesis, by convincing them
selves through wishful thinking that1
It does not exist. Others co-operate 1
consciously because they believe it
correct, its triumph inevitable and
desirable, and devotion to it a
“higher loyalty" than any due an
other nation, religion or civilization.
And some try to stand midroad be
tween victims and assassin, and
they are just silly people.
The thesis is not complicated. It
is so simple that the most simple—
not the most simple-minded—see it
clearest. It is not tiny, requiring a
microscope to find. It is as vast as
the earth, and visible at every point
of the earth. It does not include
magnanimity nor compromise. With
in it there is room for only one faith,
only one socialism, and only one in
exorable logic: Unremitting strug
gle with all means until the globe
is designed in one uniform Commu
nist pattern.
If bourgeois intellectuals and
statesmen have failed to see, it la
because they seldom can grasp any
thing simple, and their eyesight is
beclouded by their own ideas. But
by now Bevin, Bidault and Marshall
see, too. They see that really suc
cessful co-operation with the So
viets on any question whatsoever
demands not negotiations between
heads of states but new heads of
states: Pollltt, perhaps, in Britain;
Thorez, in Prance; Wallace—tempo
rarily—in the United States. . . .1
Some equivalents for the heads of
states represented in the Comin
tern, whose real head is in the
That is the way it is, and that is
why the London Conference broke
down. It had to break down. For
co-operation always must stop short
of suicide.
(Rel««**d Sr th* »«il Syndic* t*. In*.)
Dorothy Thomoion.
Ferguson to Direct Probes
G. O. P. Secures Consent of Aiken to Let
Michigan Senator Have Inquiry Power
ny uons rieeson
Republican investigations will be
continued next session under the
leadership of Senater Ferguson of
Michigan, acting as chairman of a
iiihrnmmitiii* nf
the Permanent
Expend! tures
The Repub
lican Policy
Committee has
secured the con
sent of Senator
Aiken of Ver
mont , Expendi
tures chairman,
to this arrange
ment. Now un
El e r discussion
are such matters
as the staff and
f nn H k t.n hp
swarded Senator Ferguson and some
leflnite understanding about his
Held of Inquiry. ,
The decision to allow Senator Fer
[uson to remain as the party’s
(rand Inquisitor was taken despite
considerable misgiving arising from
Us much-criticized conduct of the
Perlman, Hughes and other hear
ngs. Candid Republicans, however,
lav that they have no one else who
wants the job.
Broad Powers of Inquiry. <
Under the Reorganization Act,
Expenditures was named the in
vestigating committee of the Senate
with broad powers to act both at
Home and abroad. Chairman Aiken
Has had personal assurances from
President Truman that it could
count on his co-operation, including
icceas to income tax returns. Sena
or Ferguson is now its ranking
Senator Aiken is understood to
feel that one of Senator Ferguson’s
main weaknesses in the past has
seen his eagerness to stick a linger
into every pie. Under the new
irrangement. Senator Aiken will be
n a position to exercise some control
>ver his colleague with respect to
;hls and other matters.
Senator Ferguson has already put
;wo matters on his agenda: A con
duction of the war procurement
nvestigation—his only real success,
which exposed Gen. Benny Meyers—
ind another attack on the conduct
>f Attorney General Clark in the
Kansas City vote frauds. There will
>e no argument about the first;
Senator Taft among others is under
itood to question whether the Clark
nquiry is not merely warmed-over
In any case, what Senator Fergu
son tackles in the future will be a
matter for broader decisions than
His own impulses.
Partial Victory for Aiken.
The new setup represents at least
partial victory for Senator Aiken,
who fruitlessly battled last session
against the Brewster-Ferguson in
sistence on continuing the War In
vestigating Committee. Since thin,
the inglorious Hughes hearings in
- * - -
tvvik uuiuiiv iwuocvv*i; auu xtuTvaiu
Hughes put Senators Brewster and
Ferguson to flight, have made con
tinuation of that group impossible.
With 15 years of Democratic rule
including a costly war to examine, it
is unfortunate for the Republicans
that they lack talented prosecutors
of the calibei* of Burton K. Wheeler,
Hugo Black or the late Tom Walsh,
ft is all the more surprising as three
fourths of the Senate are lawyers.
The Democrats are in contrast
singularly blessed with talent of
that sort—among others. Senator
McGrath, a former solicitor gen
eral; Senator Pepper, Senator Mc
Mahon, who headed the criminal
division of the Department of
Justice, and Senator Tydings, who
Is both shrewdly witty and merciless.
No one questions that, partisan
politics aside, there is a Job to be
done. Senator Aiken has made a
constructive beginning with his
committee but he was held down to
110,000 in appropriations, which
won’t take him far. This is in con
trast to the nearly $300,000 to which
Senator Ferguson has had access in
his investigations.
Doris Floosnn.
Helped by Advice
To the Troubled
By Henry McLemore
Whenever I commit a slight mis
deed and my conscience worries me
and I get to wondering if there is
any one else in the whole world as
bad as X am, I
always And sol
ace In the news
paper columns
conducted for
the benefit of
the lovelorn, the
perplexed and
the troubled.
There In those
c o 1 u mn s, in
black and white,
day in and day
out, I am able
to read letters
from people who
have done or
are contemplat
uig uumg mmgB which mi&e my
little naughtinesses seem as nothing.
Not once but a hundred times letters
signed "Wife and Mother," “Miss
Naughty," “E.J.J.” and "Dismayed"
have swept the cobwebs of worry
from my own heart and have caused
me to tell myself that I am not
such a bad fellow after all.
Only yesterday, when my con
science was flailing me for having
filched $3 from my wife’s pocketbook
and then upbraiding her for having
carelessly lost the money, I turned
to the column conducted by Miss
-and found this letter:
“Dear Miss ——: I am 84 years of
age and have been happily married
for 60 years. My husband is de
voted, attentive, and a fine provider.
He always helps me on and off my
crutches and I have only to bellow
my slightest wish to have it fulfilled.
Three weeks ago I met a young man
and fell in love with him. Only 78,
he represents the gayety I want.
“You will know what a fine char
acter he Is when I tell you that not
once during his last three prison
terms was he late for roll catl or
breakfast. Only two things stand
between ns—his wife and my hus
band. He wants me to run away
with him and promises that all I will
ever have to do again is sort the
counterfeit money. I have never
done an underhanded thing in my
life, so what should I do? Should I
tell my husband about my new love
or just skip off some night?”
This message from the heart was
signed "Grandmother” and did a
lot toward lifting me from the
doldrums. After all. what is a $3
bite on your own wife's pocketbook
compared to such high jinks as
“Grandmother” is considering under
the lace of her .boudoir cap? This
letter made me feel so good that I
went back and purloined $2 more.
There is always the chance that the
money I lifted was counterfeit
money made over a hot printing
press by "Grandmother's” boy
Being a foreslghted fellow I
clipped out another letter to Miss
-and am keeping it to read when
I stray from the straight and narrow
the next time. It goes something
like this:
“Dear Miss-: I need your help.
I am a teller in a bank and raise
alligators as a hobby. To get money
for my hobby I have been mis
approprlating funds from the bank.
Alligators, like everything else, cost
more now than they did before
the war and I find myself owing
the bank $12,586.33. My wife has
just run off with a juke box
repairman and my two daughters
spend all their time walking around
the house saying, 'Elsenhower won't
run for President. Eisenhower won’t
run for President. He wants to be
president of Columbia.’
“What should I do? Should I
turn the alligators (I have 136 of
them) loose on my daughters for
telling a Ab, or should I turn loose
the alligators on the juke box re
pair man who, because he eould play
‘Near You’ for nothing, stole my
wife? Also, should I try to settle
with the bank for 10 per cent cash?"
Thank goodness there are plenty
of rascals in this world. Wouldn’t
it be awful for moet of us if the
world was made up of good, fine,
solid people?
Let us give thanks for the tcalll
{Distributed br McNsuebt Sandiest*, Bad.)
Henry Melemore.
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