Loyalty-Security Programs

Author:Ralph S. Brown

Page 1649

This hyphenated phrase refers chiefly to the measures that were taken under Presidents HARRY S. TRUMAN and DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER to exclude from public employment, and from defense industries, persons who were believed to pose risks to national security. Because the gravest threat to security was believed to flow from world communism, loyalty and security programs were designed almost entirely to counter communist influence and penetration.

In earlier periods of tension attendant upon wars, LOYALTY OATHS were the preferred device for separating the loyal from the disloyal. If oaths were taken seriously, they were self-enforcing. But when necessity or duplicity led to bales of unreliable oaths, the authorities responded by empowering officials to go behind the oaths with investigations and to make their own judgments. Such procedures, usually under military control and untrammeled by judicial control, were widespread during the CIVIL WAR and RECONSTRUCTION.

WORLD WAR I was distinguished by the overzealous prying of the American Protective League and other amateurs who were given extraordinary aid and comfort by the Department of Justice. In WORLD WAR II the military departments, both determined to avoid the excesses of the crusade against the Kaiser, effectively centralized loyalty screening. They emerged with a minimum of criticism. After the war, the Soviet Union abruptly came to be viewed as enemy rather than ally. The insecurities of the postwar world aroused mistrust and anxiety. President Truman, aiming to forestall harsher congressional action, launched a new kind of program with his EXECUTIVE ORDER 9835 of March 21, 1947.

The Truman loyalty program covered all civilian employees. The Department of Defense had its own program for the armed services. Defense and the Atomic Energy Commission had programs for employees of defense contractors. The Coast Guard screened maritime workers. A few states developed systematic programs of their own. Many millions thus became subject to proceedings that sought to establish whether, in the language of E.O. 9835, there were "reasonable grounds" for a belief that they were disloyal (softened in 1951 to require only a finding of "reasonable doubt" as to loyalty). In 1953 President Eisenhower's Executive Order 10450 replaced the Truman program. It required employment to be "clearly consistent with the interests of the national security." That standard remains in effect.

All of these programs worked from personal histories supplied...

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