« PreviousContinue »
This committee is doing an excellent job. I was pleased to be one of the sponsors with Mr. Willis, along with the members of this committee, of H.R. 15626. I think it is widely important that this committee go into this bill fully and report it out and that the Congress enact it and that it be adopted into law.
It is one means of saving America, trying to salvage something for our people. I think it will go a long way toward trying to correct some of the decisions that have been so detrimental in recent years.
I ask unanimous consent to file a statement.
Mr. Tuck. Your statement will be filed and I take this opportunity to thank the gentleman from Virginia for his cooperation, not only as a copatron of the bill, but for his cooperation in bringing to us the information which he has collected.
(Congressman Abbitt's prepared statement follows:)
STATEMENT OF HON. W. M. ABBITT OF VIRGINIA
Mr. Chairman: I wish to express my appreciation to you and other members of the committee for inviting me to present my views with reference to H.R. 15626, which I cosponsored and which is the subject of hearings currently being conducted by the House Un-American Activities Committee.
Recent court decisions have rendered ineffective certain parts of the Subversive Activities Control Act of 1950, and it is essential that Congress take some action in order to plug the loopholes created by these decisions and to deal with the problems which have resulted.
I personally do not believe that the Communist infiltration menace to our country has lessened to any degree whatever. On the contrary, it is my view that we need to guard with more vigor than ever before the constitutional free doms which the Subversive Activities Control Act of 1950 intended to protect. That act made it unlawful for members of Communist-action organizations to engage in employment in a defense facility, but the Supreme Court in United States v. Robel has largely voided this action. Other court decisions have made ineffective various sections of the act and an enumeration of these decisions and their effect is unnecessary at this point inasmuch as considerable testimony has already been given.
The real issue here seems to be whether the Congress should take action to overcome the problems raised by the courts in their decisions on provisions of the law. I do not believe there is any question but that Congress should move and move expeditiously in order that there not be any great concern on the part of the general public as to our intentions in this regard, although the situation has changed considerably since the basic law was passed nearly 2 decades ago. The threat to our security has increased if anything and certainly has not been lessened either by actions of the Communists overseas or by subversives here at home. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and other agencies of the Government have clearly indicated that subversives are constantly at work in the United States, and the evidence of their successes is still considerable.
I call upon the committee to take immediate action with reference to the problems which have been considered and which would be dealt with in the bill before you at this time.
May 1, 1968.
Mr. Tuck. Our next witness is Mr. Albert E. Green, assistant chief counsel. United States Coast Guard.
Mr. Green, we are delighted to have you before our committee this morning and we look forward to hearing your statement.
You may proceed.
STATEMENT OF ALBERT E. GREEN, ASSISTANT CHIEF COUNSEL,
UNITED STATES COAST GUARD, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Mr. GREEN. I am Albert E. Green, assistant chief counsel of the Coast Guard and I am pleased to have the opportunity to comment on H.R. 15626 particularly as it affects the Coast Guard.
I have with me this morning Captain Garth H. Read, who is chief of the Merchant Vessel Personnel Division, Office of Merchant Marine Safetv.
Before discussing the proposed amendments to section 1 of the Espionage Act as amended, it may be helpful to discuss briefly the merchant vessel personnel screening program established in basically its present form during 1950.
Under the amendment to the Espionage Act enacted in 1950, the President was authorized to initiate measures to protect vessels, harbors, ports, and waterfront facilities against destruction, loss, or injury due to sabotage, subversive acts, accidents, or causes of a similar nature whenever he found the security of the United States endangered by actual or threatened war, invasion, or insurrection, subversive activity, or disturbances, either threatened or real, of the international relations of the United States.
Executive Order 10173 was issued under this authority indicating that the security of the United States was threatened by subversive activity and it established the basis for the Coast Guard's Port Security Program. That program had two parts, the first directed generally to the physical security of facilities, the second directed to personnel. It is the latter portion to which I will direct my remarks.
The personnel screening program relates directly to persons employed aboard merchant vessels of the United States. Under this program, the Coast Guard exercised authority to bar employment of a merchant mariner aboard a merchant vessel of the United States of over 100 gross tons unless his normally required document contained an endorsement evidencing that the Commandant was satisfied that his presence aboard the vessel would not be inimical to the security of the United States.
In addition, authority has been exercised to bar persons from waterfront, port, and harbor areas and from vessels located therein whenever these areas are “restricted” and also from certain types of small boats which in their normal course of employment contact larger vessels on which mariners must have endorsements unless these persons have "Port Security Cards” issued by the Coast Guard under the same conditions as for endorsement of merchant mariners' documents.
Until 1955 a person applying for an endorsement to his merchant mariners' document or for a Port Security Card was denied clearance before a hearing was held if, upon investigation derogatory information reasonably sufficient to raise a doubt was uncovered. The applicant was informed, however, of the general grounds for denial and was afforded an opportunity to appear before a board to rebut the derogatory information. Much of this information was obtained from confidential informants, and names, dates, and places were not furnished to the applicant and in most cases heard by a board, Government witnesses did not appear. In effect, the burden was upon the
applicant to prove that he was not a risk. Under this procedure, it was possible to appeal an adverse decision of the board to a headquarters board where basically the same format was followed. Under this system, only about 34 of 1 percent of all applicants, and there were several hundred thousand, were finally denied the endorsement or the card.
The procedure I have just described was successfully attacked in court and as a result of the decision in Parker v. Lester, 227 F.2d 708, in late 1955, the Coast Guard completely overhauled its procedures to correct the deficiencies noted by the court. These included the absence of adequate notice of the basis for denial, the failure to produce witnesses for confrontation and cross-examination, and refiance upon confidential information in reaching a denial. The result of the revision in procedure was a marked decrease in the number of denials.
Under this procedure, the Coast Guard had taken the position that failure of an applicant to answer questions submitted to him in the course of the application procedure prevented the Commandant from making a final determination in the matter, and, accordingly, the application was not processed any further.
This procedure was also attacked in court, and on January 15, 1968, the Supreme Court in Schneider v. Smith held that although the present act, 50 U.S.C. 191(b), authorized keeping the merchant marine free of saboteurs, it did not authorize the establishment of the screening program for personnel on merchant vessels. The Court stated it was loathe to assume that Congress in its grant of authority to the President to safeguard vessels and waterfront facilities from sabotage and other subversive acts undertook to reach into the first amendment area. The Court ruled that the act speaks only in terms of action and not in terms of ideas, beliefs, reading habits, or social, educational, or political associations and therefore does not authorize a screening program to inquire into these areas.
This decision has the effect of eliminating the personnel screening portion of the Port Security Program and leaves the Coast Guard without any authority to prevent the presence of merchant mariners or other persons on board vessels and in waterfront port or harbor facilities when their presence represents a risk to the security of the United States.
The amendments proposed in section 2 of H.R. 15626 would cure the deficiency found to exist by the Supreme Court in the Schneider case and would therefore permit the Coast Guard to continue a screening program.
To the extent that the standards, provisions, and regulations authorized under the proposed section 5A to be added to the Subversive Activities Control Act would be made applicable to the screening program, no difficulties are anticipated in accommodating the existing procedures to any new requirements. As a matter of fact, as a result of the changes made in 1956, the existing procedures parallel many of the guidelines found in section 5A.
That concludes my prepared statement. I would be happy to answer any questions that you might have.
Mr. Tuck. We thank you very much, Mr. Green, for your splendid statement, and I take it that you share the view which I have, and that
is it is imperative that the Congress of the United States or some agency of the Government take some steps that are necessary to keep these subversive elements out of our defense program.
Mr. GREEN. Yes, we concur completely, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Tuck. I have here a letter in the nature of a memo from the agency which will be made a part of our record.
(The letter from the Office of the Secretary of Transportation follows:) OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION,
Washington, D.C. Hon. EDWIN E. WILLIS, Chairman, Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAX: Reference is made to your request for the views of this Department on H.R. 15626, a bill "To amend the Subversive Activities Control Act of 1950 to authorize the Federal Government to deny employment in defense facilities to certain individuals, to protect classified information released to United States industry, and for other purposes.”
The proposed bill would amend the Subversive Activities Control Act of 1950 by changing the definition of "facility", by changing the provision relating to employment of members of Communist organizations, by changing the provisions relating to the designation of defense facilities, by adding a new section 5A to the Act relating generally to measures and procedures designed to protect and safeguard defense facilities and classified information including requirements for inquiries, investigations, proceeding and hearings to determine the fitness and qualifications for employment in or access to a defense facility or access to classified information, by changing the definition of "affiliate", and by changing the requirements for publication of final orders of the Subversive Activities Control Board.
Additionally, the bill would also amend the Act of June 15, 1917, (50 U.S.C. 191) by adding provisions to section 1 of title II of that Act which would specifically authorize a program to deny, revoke or suspend access to vessels, harbors, ports, and waterfront facilities making the procedures, standards, provisions, and regulations authorized by the proposed new section 5A apply to such program to the extent deemed applicable by the President. A new paragraph would also be added to the section dealing with jurisdiction of courts to issue restraining orders and temporary or permanent injunctions and requiring the exhaustion of administrative remedies in matters dealing with the denial, suspension, or revocation of employment on or access to vessels, harbors, ports and waterfront facilities.
With respect to the provisions contained in section 1 of H.R. 15626 dealing with defense facilities and the procedures of the proposed section 5A, the activities of this Department have not resulted in any accumulation of knowledge or expertise which would permit a meaningful comment. Accordingly, the Department would defer to the views of the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice with regard to these provisions of the bill.
The amendments proposed to be made to the Espionage Act would directly affect the activities of the Coast Guard in connection with its merchant vessel personnel screening program. On January 16, 1968, the Supreme Court held in Schneider v. Smith, that although the present Act authorized keeping the Merchant Marine free of saboteurs, it did not provide express authority for the personnel screening program which had been employed for some time by the Coast Guard. The Court indicated that the Act speaks only in terms of actions and not in terms of ideas, beliefs, reading habits, or social, educational, or political associations. Since this was so, a screening program involving inquiry into the latter areas was not authorized by the Act.
The amendments proposed in section 2 of H.R. 15626 appear to cure the deficiency found by the Supreme Court in Schneider and would furnish an adequate statutory basis for continuing the personnel screening program. The Coast Guard in the operation of the screening program in the recent past, has followed procedures paralleling those found in the proposed new section 5A of the Subversive Activities Control Act. As a result, there would be no great difficulty in accommodating the procedures of the program to those found in the proposal.
In order to make clear that the provision amending the Espionage Act would apply to all vessels in the United States ports regardless of fag it is recommended that the "to such vessels", at line 23, page 23, of H.R. 15626 be changed to read “to vessels, foreign and domestic,”.
Subject to the foregoing comments, the Department of Transportation would have no objection to the enactment of H.R. 15626.
The Bureau of the Budget advises that from the standpoint of the Administration's program, there is no objection to the submission of this report for consideration of the Committee. Sincerely yours,
/s/ John L. Sweeney
JOHN L. SWEENEY, Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs.
Mr. CULVER. I have no questions, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Tuck. We thank you very much indeed and we do have appreciation of your cooperation in supporting this proposal.
Mr. GREEN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Tracy is the former Assistant Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He is an outstanding American.
STATEMENT OF STANLEY J. TRACY, FORMER ASSISTANT DIRECTOR
OF THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
Mr. Tracy. Thank you, sir. I have a prepared statement, Mr. Chairman, and I want to thank you for this opportunity to appear before your committee to discuss the provisions of H.R. 15626, a bill to amend the Subversive Activities Control Act of 1950 and to authorize the Federal Government to deny employment in defense facilities to certain individuals and to protect classified information released to United States industry.
I was for 20 years at the headquarters of the FBI, retiring as an assistant director in 1954.
I was associate counsel of the Commission on Government Security which studied the Coast Guard program. The Commission made recommendations in 1957 that there be a legislative basis for a Coast Guard program which is one of the provisions of this bill.
I would like to comment on the bill itself.
The proposed amendment of section 5(b) is particularly important and pertinent to a sound security program. Authorizing and directing the Secretary of Defense to designate defense facilities in the manner provided, yet permitting both management and labor to voice opposition to such dsignation if either wishes to do so, is very sound procedure.
Management, labor, and Government should be full partners in every defense facility operation.
With reference to the wording of the bill, I suggest that subsection 5(b) (6) be amended by inserting the words "or indirectly" in line 15 on page 3 so that it will read: "** * or other act of subversion would directly, or indirectly, impair the military effectiveness of the United States
In making this suggestion I have in mind that there could be instances where direct impairment might not be subject of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.