Billion-Dollar Watchdog

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Man with Errand. In a perfect democracy, run without hitch, Truman would never have been returned to the Senate in 1940. A majority of Missouri Democrats, in full revolt against the machine, opposed him in the primary. But Attorney Milligan and ex-Governor Lloyd Crow Stark split the opposition vote, and Truman slipped in with an 8,000-vote plurality. For a nation whose Administration, army and war contractors are not perfect either, it has turned out to be a good thing.

The Senate Committee Investigating National Defense was Truman's own idea. As country judge he had awarded $60,000,000 in contracts; he knew how hard it had been to get honest performance. Up rose the Senator to demand that Congress keep an eye on war expenditures: he had never yet found a contractor who, left unwatched, "wouldn't leave the Government holding the bag."

At first nobody took the Truman Committee seriously. The Senate gave him $15,000 (about as much as the Dies Committee spends every seven weeks) and a group of colleagues chosen mostly from junior Senators, such as Minnesota's young Joseph Ball, Washington's first-terming Mon C. Wallgren, New York's busy James M. Mead. Also on the committee went cagey old Tom Connally of Texas, to see that the juniors kept their heads. For its first assignment, the Committee chose a modest chore: delving into the more flagrant charges of graft in camp and war-plant construction, plugging some of the more open sewers down which Government money drained.

But Truman had bigger ideas. In selecting the Committee's chief counsel, he rejected all political recommendations, went instead to Attorney General (now Justice) Robert H. Jackson for advice. Thus he got a top-flight investigator: rotund, brilliant, young Hugh Fulton, a Justice Department prosecutor who had sent Howard C. Hopson, head of Associated Gas & Electric Corp., to prison.

Truman's junior Senators, hungry for tough assignments, went to work with a will. Harry Truman, a shrewd politician, a maker of friends, a great man for shooting trouble, always kept his committee, happy and on the ball. It got more money, branched out, found itself deep in every phase of the war. Today few committees, and few men, wield such power.

Disappointed Warrior. Harry Truman would rather be fighting the war than policing it. At 58, he still goes solemnly through his setting up exercises every morning, can still get into his World War I uniform. In 1939, like any old soldier, he dug out his old artillery maps, hung them on his office wall to help follow the fighting. He applied for active duty after Pearl Harbor, still likes to think the Army was wrong to say no. When Senate office building janitors began marking off air-raid shelters, he fetched his two rusty World War I helmets to his office, announced that he was ready to serve as warden. No planes came over Washington, so he finally stacked the helmets in his office fireplace and redoubled his efforts on the committee.

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