United States Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security

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McCarran in 1947.

The Special Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws, 1951–77, more commonly known as the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee (SISS) and sometimes the McCarran Committee, was authorized under S. Res. 366, 81st Cong., approved December 21, 1950, to study and investigate (1) the administration, operation, and enforcement of the Internal Security Act of 1950 (Public Law 81-831, also known as the McCarran Act) and other laws relating to espionage, sabotage, and the protection of the internal security of the United States and (2) the extent, nature, and effects of subversive activities in the United States "including, but not limited to, espionage, sabotage, and infiltration of persons who are or may be under the domination of the foreign government or organization controlling the world Communist movement or any movement seeking to overthrow the Government of the United States by force and violence." The resolution also authorized the subcommittee to subpoena witnesses and require the production of documents. Because of the nature of its investigations, the subcommittee is considered by some to be the Senate equivalent to the older House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).

The chairman of the subcommittee in the 82d Congress was Patrick McCarran of Nevada (1950–53). William Jenner of Indiana took over during the 83d Congress after the Republicans gained control of the Senate in the 1952 election. When the Democrats regained control in the 84th Congress (1955–56), James Eastland of Mississippi became chairman, a position he held until the subcommittee was abolished in 1977.

Communist Subversion in Government

The subjects of its investigations during the 1950s include the formulation of U. S. foreign policy in the Far East; the scope of Soviet activity in the United States; subversion in the Federal Government, particularly in the Department of State and Department of Defense; immigration; the United Nations; youth organizations; the television, radio, and entertainment industry; the telegraph industry; the defense industry; labor unions; and educational organizations. In the 1960s, the investigations were expanded to include civil rights and racial issues, campus disorders, and drug trafficking. The subcommittee published over 400 volumes of hearings and numerous reports, documents, and committee prints. The major classes of records of the subcommittee are the investigative and administrative records, and the special collections. There are also several smaller files. Due to the ongoing nature of the investigations, the investigative files were not maintained either by year or Congress; instead, individual files may contain information accumulated over a period of 20 or more years. It is impractical, therefore, to limit a description of the records of the subcommittee to those through 1968. And although the files were begun in 1951, some contain data that precedes the creation of the subcommittee.

Institute of Pacific Relations

See also: Amerasia and Reece Committee

The investigation of the Institute of Pacific Relations was the first major investigation initiated by the subcommittee. Some people accused the IPR leadership of spying for the Soviet Union. Owen Lattimore, editor of the IPR journal Pacific Affairs, was especially singled out for criticism.

To investigate these charges, the SISS took possession of the older files of the IPR, which had been stored at the Lee, Massachusetts farm of E. C. Carter, an IPR trustee. The subcommittee's investigators studied these records for 5 months, then held hearings for nearly 1 year (July 25, 1951 – June 20, 1952). The final report of the subcommittee was issued in July 1952 (S. Rpt. 2050, 82d Cong., 2d sess., Serial 11574).

On October 17, 1951, former FDR Vice-President Henry Wallace testified under oath that most of a book written under his name detailing an official trip to Soviet Siberia and China in 1944 had actually been written by Andrew J. Steiger, a person identified under oath as a member of the Communist party. The Communist party at that time advocated the violent overthrow of the United States Constitution. To Joseph Fels Barnes, Owen Lattimore, and Harriet Lucy Moore, all of whom had been named under oath as Communist party members, Wallace expressed his gratitude for their "invaluable assistance in preparing the manuscript." [1]

1960s Domestic terrorism

The Human Cost of Communism in Vietnam, a hearing conducted by the SISS in 1972, included predictions of a bloodbath if the Communists of North Vietnam won the war. A government report submitted to a Congressional committee in 1974 had documented the brutality of the Khmer Rouge in areas of the country under its control.

Soviet financial support

Investigations into financing for the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the parent organization of the Weather Underground (WUO), determined that Howard (Jeff) Melish handled financial transactions for the SDS. Jeff Melish's father, William Howard Melish,[2] had also been a member of the board of the National Council of American-Soviet Friendship and oversaw the awarding of the Stalin Peace Prize in 1953. An FBI memorandum August 1968 during the Democratic National Convention describes a working relationship, including a financial connection, between the CPUSA and the "new left," defined as including the SDS and the National Mobilization Committee to End the War.

Weather Underground

In 1974 the SISS investigated the activities of the WUO which was found to be affiliated with foreign powers hostile to the United States and responsible for several terrorist acts in an effort to further Soviet objectives throughout the world. An FBI informant who had infiltrated the organization delivered this sworn testimony on October 18, 1974,

"When he (Bill Ayers) returned, we had another meeting at which time -- and this is the only time that any Weathermen told me about something that someone else had done -- and Bill started off telling us about the need to raise the level of the struggle and for stronger leadership inside the Weathermen 'focals' [i.e., cells] and inside the Weatherman organization as a whole. And he cited as one of the real problems was that someone like Bernardine Dohrn had to plan, develop and carry out the bombing of the police station in San Francisco, and he specifically named her as the person that committed that act."

The informant added that Ayers said "the bomb was placed on the window ledge and described the kind of bomb that was used to the extent of saying what kind of shrapnel was used in it." He was asked, "Did he say who placed the bomb on the window ledge?" He replied, "Bernardine Dohrn."[3] Dohrn was also a member of the cited Soviet controlled front organization, the National Lawyers Guild.

See also


  1. The Yalta Betrayal, Felix Wittmer, Caxton Printers, 1953, pg. 59.
  2. The Weather Underground, Report of the Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws of the Committee of the Judiciary. United States Senate, Ninety-fourth Congress. First Session. January 1975. P. 17, quoted in Communism in Chicago and the Obam Connection, Cliff Kincaid and Herbert Romerstein, usasurvival.org, pp. 14-15.
  3. Terroristic Activity inside the Weathermen Movement, Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, October 18, 1974, pp. 4-6 pdf; pp. 7-8 pdf; also quoted in Communism in Chicago and the Obama Connection, Cliff Kincaid and Herbert Romerstein, usasurvival.org, pp. 6-8