Security and civil rights; Senator Hubert H. Humphrey and Congressman John Moss
Well as you may know I was the chairman of a subcommittee that conducted a rather extensive. And intensive inquiry into our national security programs particularly the security rules and regulations relating to government personnel and American industry that have that has the defense contracts. That was the actual voice of Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota on this program you will hear Senator Humphrey and Congressman John Moss of California. Both of these men are chairman of congressional committees set up to evaluate our government's security and secrecy programs. Are our government secrets being protected. Can they be overprotected to the problems of national security and government secrecy affect you. These questions will be answered now on the seventh program in this series. Security and Civil Rights produced by the University of Minnesota radio station KUNM in cooperation with the National
Association of educational broadcasters under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center. To introduce our topic for today and our special congressional guest authorities here is the consultant commentator for security and civil rights a member of the law faculty of Columbia University. Professor Paulson. Of course in any great problem such as security and civil rights in the forefront of the solution to the problem and the controversy about the problem rightfully and stands our elected representatives in the Congress. On this program. We present to you the views of two members of the Congress of the United States who are identified with committees of the Congress in important positions. We've all heard about the various committees in the Congress that have investigated American activities and the McCarthy committee operating in the Senate.
Yet these committees have not been charged with the task of reviewing the problems of security in the laws with respect there to nor have they studied the problem of the need for government secrecy so far as information is concerned. Sen human H Humphrey of Minnesota is the chairman of the Senate special subcommittee on loyalty security programs. It is a special task of this committee to evaluate the present laws and to make recommendations for change. Our second speaker on this program will be Congressman John Maass of California chairman of the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Government Information which deals directly with the question of how much secrecy is necessary how much freedom of information can be provided to the public of the United States. First. We will hear an interview with Senator Hubert H Humphrey of Minnesota. Conducted by Mr. Philip Goh producer of this series and
recorded in Senator Humphrey's office in Washington D.C. Could you talk a little about the kind of legislation that we've had in recent years in relation to national security. Well as you may know I was the chairman of a subcommittee that conducted a rather extensive and intensive inquiry into our national security programs particularly the security rules and regulations relating to government personalities and American industry that have that has the defense contracts. This hearing was based on a resolution that I introduced designed to establish a presidential commission on the subject of national security. That resolution was adopted after several weeks of hearings and debate in the Senate and House of Representatives. The president has or should I say the commission has now been appointed representing the public. The House of Representatives and the Senate of the United States. The commission has organized its staff. It's
now in the process of holding hearings and making a formal scale study of all the security laws espionage acts and other laws relating to our national security plus the president's executive order on loyalty security programs. So. I'm confident in my own mind that we're going to make genuine progress and in fact I can say now that as a result of the hearings so there have been substantial reforms in the overall government employee security program. And I feel that we're on a path around the road to equating personal rights with national security in a way in a really good sound and constructive manner. Well Senator Humphrey you're an authority to speak in this area do you feel that constitutional protections are of any unique significance today. Well I always feel that constitutional protections are of real significance. The phraseology in our Constitution as the courts have
interpreted Due Process of Law is a great protection to any individual's rights without what is meant in due process of law. Your substantive rights may very well be meaningless or at least greatly diluted. But what about this is not an unrelated question but we will show the relationship a little later. Would you comment just on the question of how great are the threats to our national security today. Well I would say that one should not underestimate the threats to our national security. The communist organization the International Communist Conspiracy is always at work. We would be very foolish to undermine underestimate its diabolical purpose. Therefore I believe that it is essential that our government always be on guard. However I must say that it is important that in the protection of national security that we do not deny the basic rights of individuals. In other words
in order to combat or to challenge and meet the totalitarian we must not keep his ways and manners. You think that this is occurring to any extent you think that there are threats to our individual constitutional protections today. I think there have been and I suppose there will always be some. I must say however that I think theres been a decided improvement. Furthermore the courts particularly the Federal District Circuit and Supreme Court have laid down some very good rules of law. The procedural rights of individuals are being protected by our courts. I think the main abuse of procedural rights or of individual rights comes in administrative agencies. But even there there is improvement and I am confident that there will be substantially more improvement in the months to come. You feel that there is any kind of innate conflict inherent conflict on the one hand between national security and individual rights. I don't think there needs to be. In fact I have addressed myself to this subject on several
occasions. I did so at the University of Minnesota last year at the annual Phi Beta Kappa dinner. I've done so with the American Political Science Association and other fine groups. It seems to me that task of statesmanship now want to reconcile our national security which is of utmost importance to all of us with our basic individual rights. I think this can be done by careful procedures by bringing into administrative agencies as much the. Idea of due process of law as is possible in an administrative tribunal and surely in the courts to proceed within the tradition of Anglo-Saxon America Long. Just one final question as I think it's a kind of thing that people back in Minnesota and other parts away from Washington ask that is the most people are very good and loyal Americans but concerned should they not have the political backgrounds of their friends that they have to check and who's written a particular book before they read it. How much of this security involves
just government employment as such and how much the average man and terms of his concerns. Well first of all I think we ought to understand that the government does not owe anyone a job as such but the government does everyone justice. And when a person is employed by the government he or she should expect that a security check will be made. It has been my view of however that when that check is made and if there is some derogatory information turned up that the individual should be confronted with that in information. The individual concerned should have the opportunity to defend himself. He should have the right of consul. He should have the right of proper review of the charges so that not so that no one person makes a a final determination. Now this goes also on for applications for jobs as well as being on the job. I want to emphasize the importance of job applicant security tests. You see if a person applies for a job with the federal government these days
he is given a security check. And in many agencies of the government the individual may be turned down on the basis of that security check and still never know why he was turned down. Just told that there's no job available yet the. They file the Cheka remains in government files and haunts that person to the last day of his life even as he or she may seek private employment. Because in many areas now of American life industry has contracts with the government and therefore checks with government security agencies with the Civil Service Commission for example to see whether or not there was any derogatory information. Now frequently this derogatory information is on is of little or no consequence. It can't be substantiated. It sometimes is based upon half truths and rumors I say sometimes. But whatever it may be I think the individual should have the right to reply to clear his or her record and up to date in many agencies this has not been permissible and therefore some grave
injustice has been done to some of our fellow citizens. Now you've asked about the general general private associations. Well I think every person who would like to be reasonably careful about his his or her private associations. But I would say that the main interest in this should be in the public eye where government is involved. It would be indeed a very sad day in American life if everybody was suspicious of his neighbor. If everyone looked with a jaundiced eye upon everyone with whom he or she visited or associated. I'm sure that the average American is sufficiently politically mature to really understand and and found her out and the one who would be a true subversive one who wouldn't try to undermine the foundations of our country. Furthermore I think it's rather good for people to rub shoulders with many kinds of people this is the only way that you can understand the good from the bad and the loyal from the disloyal. The
persons who are deeply interested in their country and those who are not. If you constantly keep people sort of closeted Oh wait they'll never be able to understand the menace of totalitarianism. Frankly I think people ought to know much more about it and they ought to be instructed as to what this communist ideology is all about in its true sense and not going around feeling that when somebody is for a two cent postage stamp instead of a three cent one that he may be communist a communist or a totalitarian is one that does not believe in democratic processes. It is one that does not believe in the rights of the individual is one that has another loyalty other than his own country is one that literally repudiates all democratic principles. And it's not too difficult to understand these people once that you understand a little bit about the whole totalitarian idiology. I frankly think that both government and educational institutions have rather failed in alerting the American people to the menace of any type of subversion of our
totalitarianism that is alerting them to its nature. That's why so many false prophets can run across the country frightening people. Now one final word. I think we have to be careful that in a free society we do not put the damper on or what should I say our of our book or tried to do away with an orthodox thinking. After all the most important thing in a free society is competition of ideas the right of free choice the right to be different. The right to dissent to discuss and to debate and the right to engage in controversy. I've noticed in recent years that people really shy away from controversial subjects. People are somewhat suspicious of anyone else who has a different point of view. There's a tendency to stamp out a kind of uniformity based on mediocrity of thought and citizenship participation. This is a bad thing. American democracy must have vitality it must be willing to tolerate many
differences. It must be willing to enjoy the experience and appreciate the experience of legitimate dissent legitimate discussion. And therefore I would say that we ought not to be going around looking for ghosts in closets or little pink elephants under beds or whatever else you may wish to call him. Let's be strong in our own state. Let's be willing to understand that people do have differences. And then let's be willing to really separate or let's be capable of really being able to separate those who are genuinely anti-democratic from those who are democratic in the fullest sense to a point of being willing to argue every point of view. And many times taking a Barry unpopular point of view simply because they believe in it. That was Senator Hubert H Humphrey of Minnesota chairman of the Senate special subcommittee on loyalty security programs. And now we shall hear an interview with Congressman John Maass of California chairman of the House of
Representatives Subcommittee on Government security information discussing with Mr. Philip gallop the work of his committee. This interview was recorded in the office of Congressman mosque in Washington D.C.. Press 1 Mr. Moss what is the House Government Operations Committee investigating alleged suppression of public information. Of course the Subcommittee on Government information and the first committee to be established by Congress for the purpose of determining information policies of the federal executive departments of government and of the independent agencies of government. Is this something new and how did it come about. It was authorized by the chairman of the Federal Government Operations Committee. Congressman William Dawson of Illinois. In May of last year under the general of the already of the Government Operations Committee which is derived from statute.
I there are particular legal reasons for suppression or allowing back of government information. But we can answer that questions to geld we'd have a much simpler problem of study than the one that faces us at the moment. There are many claimed legal authorities by the various departments and agencies for their withholding of information. Some of these authorities are correct. The Congress has from time to time granted by statute to the administrators of departments and agencies. The right to control information. We feel that in some instances this has not been a wise action because in almost every instance they place the responsibility upon me the director of the agency to justify the release of news. We believe we can bring a change of emphasis which would require the justification of the withholding that much more information about government would be available.
How are we at a stand now given the parliament can make its own rules. Well now in some instances where and we're not willing to grant that he has the overall authority. Many of the departments and agencies are claiming for themselves the. Supposed inherent powers of the president. It's the position of the staff of my committee and of the committee members that any inherent powers of the presidency are powers held by the president himself and powers which cannot be delegated. And there is considerable doubt as to what those powers might be. You may recall that in the case of the steel plant seizure ordered by former President Truman the Supreme Court ruled in that instance that the inherent powers were not so broad as to permit that action. I think perhaps if the court should rule on this general question of control of information that the chief executive would find that his powers are not nearly as broad as have been claimed by almost every president since Washington. Is
there any likely your case that would pass this the court seemed to carefully sidestep the specific point. However we hope to come up with some legislative recommendations which will certainly clarify some of these powers. What is the opposite of strategic information. If I could give you the answer to that question Mr. Gubb I would be a very happy man. After about 10 hours of hearings with the present director of the Office of Strategic Information and his two predecessors in office our committee finds and I think the record will bear us out very strongly. But no one seems to know what the office does or what its objectives might be. I think one newspaper writer in Washington following our most recent hearings characterized it as an agency of utter confusion that seems to be very descriptive and at the moment that represents the agency's activities as I see them.
But do they actually take the information which is not classified and checked over that for possible last vacation. Well that would appear to be one of the things that they are supposed to do although they deny that they do it. The only thing that they did assure us of was the fact that the directive giving the original mandate to the secretary of commerce to establish an office of strategic information is itself classified and that while the agency has to deal entirely in the field of unclassified information nevertheless its progress reports are classified. These are two interesting points which the committee intends to study with extreme care. What kind of budget is this office work roughly and this would have to be a rough quotation I believe the budget is about $60000 a year. But that's the direct budget. There's certainly other costs in connection with the agency which would run that figure up considerably higher.
And this is a pretty naive question but I think it's probably fundamental to the work of Europol subcommittee. Is public information zone portable. It's about the most important commodity of government. If the people who are themselves the governors in this nation are to intelligently exercise their franchise to be able to properly appraise the activities of government the official actions of the president and his appointees to office it's essential that they have the fullest possible information about the activities and the actions of these men and the departments and agencies of government. Without that information it would be impossible to cast an informed ballot. I think it is so important that our studies today in the subcommittee would support very strongly a constitutional right of the people to know.
One Washington editorial writer prefers not to be named told me that the present administration is government by withholding information which you comment on has. Well I think that this whole problem of control of information by government is an example of. Evolution has evolved from the very beginning of the republic and as any evolutionary process the most recent example probably represents the most extreme example. However the withholding of news is not new to this administration and one of the things that we've tried to do in our study is to point out that this is not a partisan political question. It's a matter of grave national concern and we're going to try to keep politics out of it. So far my candidate in Washington whenever there is anything obviously there steps on constitutional protections such as I don't want users or indefinite charges or the suppression of information. It seems to be done
primarily in the name of national security. Is this just an observation of my own wonder but you see it seems to be a situation on a ledge a convenient cloak and it immediately places the whole question of withholding or of employment about American tactics under the very colorful banner of patriotism. I am of the opinion that we can't continue to copy some of the methods of dictatorship. The methods of totalitarian government and preserve a free democracy. It is after all the method itself which distinguishes between the various forms of government. The methods that we have in our nation at here do we should adhere to unless there is a very compelling reason and one of real national importance to cause us to make any changes.
Would you care to color on how insecure we might be nationally today. Well whenever we give up our freedoms and our rights we impair our security as individuals and ultimately as a nation. Our strength has been derived from the freedom of the individual and the collective freedom of a strong and active people. Just as Harlan made a statement to me other day that it's not easy curity or our nation to be measured in the security of the individual and his rights as essentially which I can think of no better measurement. Well this next question my last as a comparatively long one but I think it affects people more outside of Washington and here is a lot of people in Washington are not quite aware of this. Less than 5000 teachers are opposed to a half million federal employees have been investigated and drop a security risk. To my knowledge we are probably the least sabotages nation in history. Still
we have closed hearing secret sources and definite charges and then accuse or Young was deep restrained use of such words as a version of espionage sabotage as Ed.. Other very terrifying and extreme terms and methods of cloak and dagger suspicion and particularly secrecy and just a title like offices to DZIEDZIC information would be an example of that. How might always be affecting the obviously loyal but concerned American. Of course the most important question is how does it affect the morale of the men and women who have to perform the many services of government. If their moral is low their efficiency is going to be impaired and the cost to government indirectly can be extremely happy. You cited 5000 cases as security risks I think it would be well for our listeners to understand that a security risk may involve a simple question of suitability. A man who drinks too much. A man who doesn't pay his bills. The one who habitually gets tickets for parking
violations a security risk does not deal with the individual who is subversive or who might sell out the government of the United States on the record. I doubt if there's a handful of such individuals who have been separated from federal service and many of these cases represent a constellation of post auditing evaluations of personnel files rather than actions most of these people were separated under regular civil service procedures. Some of them resigned without any idea that they had any clout over them at all. Figures therefore are somewhat meaningless. Certainly however when a man is discharged. On the basis of a tape from some undisclosed source I think it violates very fundamental American rights the constitutional right to be faced by your accuser to know specifically the charges that have been made against you. All of those things are violated in the procedures presently
followed in Washington. I think it poses a real threat to the public servants the men and women who make a career of working for government. And I hope that sometime in the not too distant future the Congress will review this rather ludicrous situation and devise a better system one more consistent with American traditions for the evaluation of those who might be charged with failure as employees of the government. I would just like to restate that question. Preppers the abstract I think your answer is very important but there is the element of individual reading about these kind of investigations and reading about subversion and sabotage in the rest of it. It disturbs them. Certain words are un-American that if you're interested in racial problems you see
this inverse of I know this is occurring back in Minnesota I swim in California where people are criticizing some of the different point of view as subversive and I'm not sure that this is a tradition that we're used to. Well of course I'm not a sensitive that to that probably as some people might be as a Democratic officeholder I've been accused of almost everything under the sun and my height has become just a little time and I think however that unnecessarily disturbs people it gives them a distorted picture. And certainly one greatly at variance with fact and the sooner we get back to a proper respect for the right of people to disagree without having to question their loyalty as Americans they still are we're going to be on a safe road. That was Congressman John Moss of California chairman of the House Subcommittee on Government Information. Our first guest was Senator Hubert Humphrey of
- Security and civil rights
- Producing Organization
- University of Minnesota
- KUOM (Radio station : Minneapolis, Minn.)
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- Senator Hubert H. Humphrey and Congressman John Moss discuss government committees evaluating security and secrecy.
- Other Description
- Interviews on balancing national security interests with personal liberty. The series is moderated by Monrad Paulsen of Columbia University.
- Broadcast Date
- Legislation--United States.
- Media type
Guest: Humphrey, Hubert H. (Hubert Horatio), 1911-1978
Guest: Moss, John
Moderator: Paulsen, Monrad G.
Producer: Gelb, Philip
Producing Organization: University of Minnesota
Producing Organization: KUOM (Radio station : Minneapolis, Minn.)
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 57-50-7 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “Security and civil rights; Senator Hubert H. Humphrey and Congressman John Moss,” 1957-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 20, 2022, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-8p5vbs7s.
- MLA: “Security and civil rights; Senator Hubert H. Humphrey and Congressman John Moss.” 1957-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 20, 2022. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-8p5vbs7s>.
- APA: Security and civil rights; Senator Hubert H. Humphrey and Congressman John Moss. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-8p5vbs7s