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Loyalty Review Program

Harry S Truman

Loyalty Review Program: Harry S Truman was the 33rd American President who served in office from April 12, 1945 to January 20, 1953. One of the important events during his presidency was the establishment of the Loyalty Review Program under Executive Order 9835.

Definition and Summary of the Loyalty Review Program
Summary and definition:
The Loyalty Review Program was set up by President Harry Truman who issued Executive Order 9835 on March 21, 1947, establishing a program to check the loyalty of federal employees and any new applicants seeking employment in the government.

The Loyalty Review Program was designed to root out any communist infiltration or influence in the U.S. federal government during the Cold War.

At this time America was gripped in the second Red Scare and the search for spies had escalated into a widespread fear of Communist subversion. The Loyalty Review Program required all federal employees to have their fingerprints taken and complete a questionnaire regarding their political affiliations and associations. Various activities and associations were deemed grounds for dismissal such as sympathizing with fascist, communist or any foreign organization. Executive Order 9835 started the "Communist Witch Hunts" which witnessed the rise in power of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, the HUAC (House of Un-American Activities Committee), Senator Joseph McCarthy and McCarthyism.

Facts about Loyalty Review Program
The following fact sheet contains interesting facts and information on Loyalty Review Program.

No sooner had WW2 (1939 - 1945) ended the threat of Nazism and Fascism another threat to the stability of the West emerged with the spread of Communism.

The First Red Scare (1917 - 1920) had followed on the heels of WW1 sparking the fear and suspicion that anarchists, socialists and communists. During the first Red Scare the "Reds" or "Bolshies", were believed to be conspiring to start a workers revolution in the USA leading to widespread strikes and terrorist attacks.

The Second Red Scare began on September 5, 1945 with the defection of Igor Gouzenko who had worked as a cipher clerk in the Soviet Embassy in Ottawa, Canada.

The Soviet defector, Igor Gouzenko, brought with him 109 secret papers and documents revealing that the Soviet Union was making a massive effort to steal nuclear secrets by planting 'sleeper agents' in Canadian and American government agencies.

The Gouzenko Affair implied that that USSR spies had infiltrated the US government to obtain information about the Atomic Bomb.

The Gouzenko Affair was one of the many catalysts that initiated the Cold War and Americans began to harbor strong suspicions that Communists were secretly working to subvert the government of the United States and weaken American society.

Concerns about subversion and infiltration had been previously addressed in the Hatch Act of 1939 that had asserted that "membership in any organization advocating the overthrow of the Constitutional form of Government in the United States was made grounds for removal." In 1941, Congress had appropriated $100,000 to the FBI for a loyalty examination of federal employees.

The Cold War between the Soviet Union and America intensified as did the Cold War Arms Race with fears about nuclear weapons and homeland security leading to the second Red Scare.

The Republican Party, which had gained control of both houses of Congress in election of 1946, worked with the FBI, the Catholic Church and businesses to provoke public fear and suspicion of Communism and its anti-capitalist economic system.

On November 25, 1946 President Truman issued Executive Order 9806 establishing the President's Temporary Commission on Employee Loyalty which required the Commission to make a report of its findings.

The commission presented its report to President Truman on February 20, 1947 stating that the security of the government demanded "continuous screening, scrutiny and surveillance of present and prospective government employees".

The commission report recommended the establishment of a Loyalty Review Board and the appointment of loyalty boards within government agencies to ascertain whether "reasonable grounds" for finding of disloyalty existed.

On March 27, 1947 President Truman made a speech to Congress which became known as the Truman Doctrine outlining his pledge to prevent the spread of communism

Ten days after the Truman Doctrine Speech, on March 21, 1947, the president issued Executive Order 9835 that established the Loyalty Review Program.

The Loyalty Review Program, Executive Order 9835, required all new government employees to be investigated before being hired and the screening of present employees in order to root out Communist influence in the U.S. federal government.

Each federal department and agency was required to set up a loyalty board charged with monitoring the affiliations and activities of its workers.

Executive Order 9835 resulted in all federal employees to have their fingerprints taken and complete a questionnaire regarding their political affiliations and associations. These were forwarded on to the FBI for a file check.

Various associations were deemed to be grounds for dismissal such as membership in, affiliation with, or sympathetic association with any  organization designated by the Attorney-General as Communist, Fascist, Totalitarian or subversive.

Various activities were deemed to be grounds for dismissal such as espionage, sabotage, treason or sedition. Any activities attempting to alter the Constitutional form of the US Government or acting to serve the interests of a foreign government in preference to the interests of the United States. The intentional, unauthorized disclosure of confidential papers or documents under circumstances indicating disloyalty

Loyalty Review Program, Executive Order 9835, established a wide area for the departmental loyalty boards, with questionnaires and accompanying fingerprints, to conduct loyalty screenings of federal employees and job applicants.

Executive Order 9835 allowed the FBI to run initial name checks on federal employees and authorize further field investigations if the initial inquiry uncovered information that cast someone in a suspicious or negative light.

A person could come under suspicion due to anonymous informants and was subject to intensive scrutiny by the FBI for belonging to certain groups, traveling overseas, reading certain books or even watching foreign films.

If there was an adverse finding, the FBI report was sent to the appropriate Agency Loyalty Board and a letter of charges was sent to the employee. The employee was given the right of an administrative hearing and any adverse findings were subject to appeal.

There were three appeals during which time the employee could present evidence and be represented by a legal counsel. The third and final appeal was made to the central Loyalty Review Board that included lawyers, professors and members of the public. The decision of the Board was final.

Between 1948 and 1958, the FBI ran initial reviews of 4.5 million federal government employees as well as screening new applicants for government positions. At least 5,000 federal employees offered voluntary resignations in light of the investigations.

The government-run investigations to identify communists and drive them out of positions of influence were referred to as the "Communist Witch Hunts"

President Truman had hoped that the Loyalty Review Program would calm public fears and suspicions. Executive Order 9835 had completely the opposite effect and confirmed the public's fears that Communists had infiltrated the federal government. This increased the Red Scare and added fuel to the fear of Communism that was sweeping the nation during the Cold War.

Executive Order 9835 began the "Communist Witch Hunts" which saw the rise in power and prominence of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, the HUAC (House of Un-American Activities Committee), Senator Joseph McCarthy and McCarthyism.

The impact and actions of the Loyalty Review Program and the loyalty boards raised many to question its violation of civil rights and civil liberties. Objections were regarding the lack of protection resulting from the departmental loyalty board procedures and was dismantled by a 1953 Executive Order

US American History
1945-1993: Cold War Era

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