- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 6, 2003

ASSOCIATED PRESSThe Senate yesterday unsealed 4,000 pages of transcripts from closed-door hearings led by Sen. Joseph McCarthy, shedding new light on the senator’s anti-communist crusade that riveted the nation a half-century ago.Among the roughly 400 witnesses covered in the transcripts are composer Aaron Copland, New York Times journalist James Reston and Eslanda Goode Robeson, the wife of pro-Soviet singer and actor Paul Robeson. There are also many writers and government officials, and secretaries whom McCarthy was convinced had access to classified information.McCarthy, a Wisconsin Republican, was chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations in 1953 and 1954 at the height of the Cold War. His investigation into communists in the U.S. government, denounced by critics as a witch hunt, spawned the term “McCarthyism.”Many witnesses were questioned in closed hearings before being called to testify in public hearings.”McCarthy is looking for people who either have a spectacular story to tell, or people he thinks he can break in public, or people he was certain will take the Fifth Amendment” against self-incrimination, said David M. Oshinsky, author of a McCarthy biography, “A Conspiracy So Immense,” and a history professor at the University of Texas.Mr. Copland testified before the subcommittee in closed session because he had been hired by the State Department to lecture overseas, but was never called back for a public session.When McCarthy asked the composer whether he had ever been a communist sympathizer, Mr. Copland replied, “I am not sure I would be able to say what you mean by the word ‘sympathizer.’ “McCarthy was angered when Mrs. Robeson cited the 15th Amendment, which gave blacks the right to vote, as well as the Fifth Amendment in refusing to answer whether she was a member of the Communist Party.”The 15th Amendment has nothing to do with it,” McCarthy said.Mrs. Robeson replied: “You see, I am a second-class citizen in this country and, therefore, feel the need of the 15th. … I am not quite equal to the rest of the white people.”Mrs. Robeson finally said a truthful answer would incriminate her. McCarthy brought her back to testify in public.Public opinion began to turn against McCarthy in 1954, when he looked for subversives in the Army.The Senate censured McCarthy in December 1954, and he lost his chairmanship the following month after Democrats regained the majority in midterm elections. Discredited and broken, McCarthy died in 1957 at 47.

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