In the big Senate committee room last week, the newsreel floodlights beat down for short intervals on the witness chair, snapped off again as the cameramen waited for another shot. In the floods' full glare, strange specimens came sharply into public view, squirmed uncomfortably in the light, waited for the word to drop back into their own shadowy world. It was a world of conspiracy and secrecy, of Communist and informer, where the law was and is Lenin's dictum: it is necessary to "resort to all sorts of schemes and stratagems, employ illegitimate methods, conceal the truth."
First under the light was a stout, bellicose woman in a figured blue dress. She was Dr. Bella V. Dodd, onetime legislative representative for New York's Teachers Union. Until she was expelled from the party in 1949, she implied, she had been a considerably bigger Communist functionary than Louis Budenz. "I have never met Owen Lattimore," said Dr. Dodd loudly. "In all my association with the Communist Party I never heard his name mentioned . . . either as a party member or as a fellow traveler, or even as a friend." But, as her subsequent remarks made clear, she herself had not repudiated Communismshe had only fallen out of party favor.
Blocked-Out Men. The lights were supposed to glow later that day on one John J. Huber, once an undercover man for the FBI, but he never showed up. Next day Huber called a news service from a Manhattan phone booth. He had "blacked out," he explained. "I don't know what I'm doing here. I do not remember a thing until 5 a.m. when I found myself wringing-wet, walking on Seventh Avenue." He was going away, he added, to "try to get back on my feet."
Next the lights picked out a fly-blown old Communist. Earl Browder, 58, Kansas-born head of the U.S. Communist Party from 1930-45, was fired for thinking that Communists could get along even temporarily with capitalism (the Daily Worker now refers to him as "the pro-Titoist renegade"). In a reedy, tired voice, Browder testified that he had never met Professor Owen Lattimore of Johns Hopkins University, did not know him, had never heard him mentioned in Communist circles. Had there been, as Budenz had testified, a U.S. Politburo meeting in 1937 which ordered Lattimore to picture Chinese Communists as agrarian reformers? Snapped Browder: "There never was such a meeting and I never made such a statement."
Browder grew querulous under questioning. He snorted: "If I had known Communists in the State Department, I wouldn't give you their names." Iowa's Bourke Hickenlooper tried him out on a series of names. Shouted Browder: "I refuse to answer. I will have no part in a fishing expedition." Connecticut's Brien McMahon tried another tack. "You don't have to answer if you feel your answer might incriminate you," he said wheedlingly, but there were some names that had been publicly mentioned. What did he know of Dorothy Kenyon, Haldore Hanson, John Carter Vincent, John Service? Chimed in Chairman Millard Tydings: "If you felt you could answer ... I would be grateful." Browder relented. As far as he knew, he said, none of them "had any connection with the Communist Party."