« PreviousContinue »
Mr. CULVER. Do you think it could have been a decision on behalf of the party, which I am sure they gave great thought to, whether in terms of political and tactical propaganda it would be well to dramatize the existence of this legislation and suggest the United States society did not represent to itself and the world what it professed to?
Mr. YEAGLEY. Yes, I believe that is part of it.
Mr. Watson. I yielded to you, but I would like to get back to my line of questioning.
Mr. CULVER. What about the time and money of the Justice Department in terms of the litigation involved in all the constitutional cases and the appeals that have resulted from the Subversive Activities Control Board?
The very existence has cost the taxpayers $5 million in the last 18 years.
This does not take into consideration other than the actual appropriations by the Congress for the Board's existence. When you speak of time and money, with those people like yourself charged with law enforcement responsibilities and particularly security responsibilities, what has been the calculated estimated time and cost of Justice Department legal counsel and FBI efforts directly earmarked to implement and defend the Subversive Activities Control Board legislation ?
Could you give us an estimate on that?
Mr. YEAGLEY. I could, but I don't know how well I could do right now because I have not tried to compile such information or such figures.
I can mention a few facts that come to mind that may have a bearing on this, in which you may be interested.
As I recall, the peak personnel ceiling level of the division was roughly 1957, and maybe in 1958 it may have been the same, at which time the budget authorizations for lawyer positions was 102.
I think the lawyer personnel probably was running around 94 at the time, maybe 92. Since that time, we have cut down substantially, so the ceiling now is, I think, around 56.
Mr. Tuck. Do you consider that time and money well spent in fighting communism in this country?
Mr. YEAGLEY. Yes, I certainly do.
Mr. CULVER. Do you think you could fight communism more effectively if those men involved in this particular work were actually engaged directly in the efforts of your Department aimed at this and not involved in the exercise of working around this particular legislation?
Mr. YEAGLEY. As part of your question, I would like to mention that most of our lawyers at that time and even now are not dealing with matters under this act. Most of them at that time were working on Smith Act prosecutions. We also have lawyers working on the Foreign Agents Registration Act and we have the Criminal Section which deals with violations of the Neutrality Act, espionage, trading with the enemy, and things of that type.
So, part of the personnel, whatever the number may be, would be assigned to one of the particular sections that works on these matters.
As to your other question, the balance of your question, it is rather speculative for me to answer that. It would be my feeling again as I indicated before, I think, that the proceedings under this law have been useful in the manner in which I have described, and you don't quite get that type of disclosure in espionage cases or neutrality cases or trading with the enemy.
It is not quite the same.
Mr. Tuck. The Subversive Activities Control Board is a part of our judicial body, is it not, and it has no powers to institute proceedings on its own.
Mr. YEAGLEY. I am sorry, I did not understand your question.
Mr. Tuck. I said the SÅCB is a quasi-judicial body and it has no powers to institute proceedings of its own. That is right, is it not?
Mr. YEAGLEY. The petitions have been filed by the Attorney General—do you mean the Board can file petitions ?
Mr. Tuck. I mean the Board for its work and existence is dependent upon the activity of the Attorney General or the divisions of the Attorney General's office in filing proceedings before that Board ?
Mr. YEAGLEY. That is correct.
Mr. Tuck. Whatever failings or shortcomings there may have been or whatever criticism that was made against the SACB, and there was much, for its failure to do any work was really the failure of the Attorney General's office rather than the Board; isn't that correct?
Mr. YEAGLEY. The only petitions they have are the ones filed by the Department of Justice. They cannot file petitions on their own.
Mr. Tuck. They can only hear petitions that are filed. No one can file petitions except the Attorney General; is that right?
Mr. YEAGLEY. That is correct. Mr. Tuck. I am somewhat astonished in light of all of the conditions of unrest going on in the country now that you would be unwilling to tell this committee that you recommended to the Attorney General of the United States either that these proceedings be inaugurated, or that they not be.
Mr. YEAGLEY. I may be old fashioned. I have seen and heard of other Government employees who tell privately what they recommended to their boss. I don't think it is the way to play the game. I am sorry.
Mr. CULVER, Mr. Yeagley, you were also on the Attorney General's staff during the administration of the Republican Party as well, as I recall.
Mr. YEAGLEY. Yes, I was.
Mr. CULVER. I think the thing that interests me, and perhaps it may be misleading based on our present discussions, but has it not been true generally throughout the course of the last 18 years there has not been a large number of petitions ever initiated by the Attorney General to the Board.
Mr. Y EAGLEY. Twenty-three front organizations and forty-four membership petitions were more or less scattered. They were not all filed at one time.
Mr. Culver. It has generally been a light system.
Mr. Watson. You filed 23 organizational and 44 individual, I understand, but since the amendments which we passed and were signed
by the President on January 2 of this year, there have been none; isn't that correot?
Mr. YEAGLEY. That is correct.
Mr. Watson. Now why the sudden change in philosophy? It is not a matter of whether the Department wishes to do this, I am not critical of you—but I am speaking of the Department. It is not a matter of whether you wish to disclose these organizations and membership.
You know it is a matter of law and this act says, “Disclosure of Communist organizations and of the members of Communist-action organizations as provided in this Act is essential to the protection of the national welfare."
That is the law of the land passed by the Congress and signed by the President.
It is not optional with anyone as to whether or not disclosure is good or bad. If we want to change this law, anyone can introduce a bill to change it. This is the law of the land.
I fail to understand why, in view of the good job you have done before, the SACB cannot do a thing without petitions filed by the Department of Justice.
You have been the longtime head of this Department. Why haven't we had any petitions filed? That is a simple question and I believe this committee is entitled to an answer since this is the law of the land as passed by the Congress and signed by the President.
Mr. YEAGLEY. I will try to answer it. I don't think the answer is as simple as the question.
First of all, it is not easy to routinely produce FBI informants as witnesses and thereby destroy the coverage of the area they are covering. Sometimes there are other factors militating against any particular informant becoming a witness. In each case, on a front organization, we must maintain a burden of showing that the organization is dominated and controlled by the Communist Party.
Mr. Watson. That is no new burden. You had that in prior years, prior to the advent of this act.
Mr. YEAGLEY. That is right, and the Communist Party influence has diminished.
Mr. Watson. Your position now is that the Communist Party influence has diminished in this country! Is that your position?
Mr. YEAGLEY. I am trying to talk now about facts. We have to produce witnesses that the party in fact dominates and controls the organization. The National Council case that came down a few years ago defined that burden of proof in a more strict manner than we had interpreted it, which makes a stronger burden on us in our opinion.
When a party or organization declines in membership, from say 80,000 to well, less than 10 percent of that, the extent of its influence in organizations cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be as influential or as widespread as it had been before.
What I am trying to say is that when you combine the reduced influence of the Communist Party in these organizations with our problem of producing FBI informants as witnesses it is not an easy matter.
Mr. Culver. Mr. Yeagley, isn't this exactly what President Truman predicted and isn't this exactly the reason you had the uniform coun
sel of all security agencies within the United States Government make the same recommendation that this would pose problems of compromising evidence which would not be in the national security interest of the country?
That is the reason you are hamstrung right now, is it not, and it would not be in the national security interest to bring forward informants and bring forward FBI sources which would publicly compromise this terribly important information?
Under those circumstances, I raise the very serious question of which disclosure is more important in the national security interest. Is it the forced disclosure of informants and intelligence information which is of crucial importance in this vital area!
Does it override the importance and value which you suggest is available by way of the public disclosure of the nature and operation of the Communist conspiracy in this country!
Mr. YEAGLEY. The Attorney General said a short time ago that he will enforce this law as he recognizes that he is bound to enforce all of the laws for which he is responsible. If he feels that he has adequate, usable evidence to file an important case, I am convinced that he will file such a case.
Mr. CULVER. It would not be then in the national security interest, for example, given our present example with the DuBois case, regardless of how important you view the disclosure value to the United States public of the nature of the Communist Party, to perhaps come forward with wiretapped evidence of that kind which would serve to compromise your whole operation.
Mr. Y EAGLEY. This is another problem of the last year or two that comes to us in an entirely different context than it was in before, partly because of the recent court decisions concerning electronic surveillance.
As you know, the executive branch over the years has believed it has the right and duty to resort to electronic surveillances in national security cases which are of sufficient importance to warrant it.
Obviously, if there are electronic surveillances as has been testified to by the Attorney General and Mr. Hoover, these are facts of life which we must deal with in light of what the law is, and they do have a bearing on our entire operation. We have to find out in every potential case exactly the nature of our evidence and whether it is evidence we
Mr. Tuck. Mr. Yeagley, I understand you have the same view that I do, that it is the duty of the Attorney General to enforce the laws passed by the Congress whether it is wise or unwise as long as those laws remain on the statute books.
Mr. Y EAGLEY. Yes, sir, that is our position.
Mr. Watson. If the chairman will yield, I understand that my friend and colleague's concern about maybe if vou pursue this matter with a petition before the SACB that you might reveal the identity of your informant.
Is it not a fact that one Julia C. Brown and Lola Belle Holmes have already identified before this committee and they have been already publicly identified as informants-Brown 100 members and Holmes 75 members, and you have already used these two informants for the 44 petitions that you brought earlier?
Why did you not pursue the additional ones that these have identified? There is no question they have already been revealed to the public as informants.
Mr. YEAGLEY. I am not familiar with the exact numbers that you referred to, but I am sure that your information is substantially true.
I would make two points: One is when they identify so-and-so as a member of the Communist Party, we must go beyond that in preparing a petition. We must find out how long they knew this, how they knew it, under what circumstances, did it come to them by direct evidence or hearsay, which is often the case within the party.
We must make sure that we feel we have two witnesses to the same membership, not merely one witness to each membership, and I think that has been our position throughout in filing these cases, that we have two witnesses testify to the same person's membership.
The other factor that may have been true here, although I don't remember, we have to show that the person was known by the witness to be a member of the party at the time the petition was filed.
We can't get an order against a person who resigned before the petition was filed. Consequently, if an informant has been out of the party for 9 months or longer or some similar period of time, he ordinarily cannot testify to current party membership.
Mr. Watson. Is it not your responsibility to identify them as a member or a former member of the Communist Party?
If you follow the position you are taking there now, you would absolutely never proceed against anyone because if you get the information today, by the time you bring your petition tomorrow he could be out of the party and you could not swear that he was still a member of the party.
Is it not your responsibility to bring the petition upon the basis that they are or were formerly a member of the Communist Party? And in these instances these people identified them as members of the Communist Party, and you proceeded in a number of cases on the basis of these informants' testimony, direct testimony, not hearsay, that they were members of the Communist Party. Why have you not proceeded in the other instances?
Mr. YEAGLEY. For the reasons I have stated. We must have current evidence, two witnesses as to the same member that they knew as of the date of the filing of the petition he was a member of the party.
If a person leaves the party and identifies others 9 months later, that would not be current evidence. They can only identify them as of the time they knew them in the party.
Mr. Watson. In other words, now your regulation is that you require two people to identify a member?
Mr. YEAGLEY. I think we have always followed that policy.
Mr. Y EAGLEY. Yes, or corroborating evidence. If we can corroborate it with documentary evidence or some other way, plus one witness, that is all right.
Mr. WATSON. Are you saying that 100 identified by Julia Brown and 75 by Holmes, are you telling this committee that it was not justifiable that you proceed to file a petition to identify these people?
every case ?