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Stevens May Resign If He Does Not Receive Public Support From Eisenhower

Angry At McCarthy

Say Army Secretary Also Troubled Over Possible Effect On Moral Among Forces

WASHINGTON (AP)- Secretary of the Army Stevens was reported today to be seeking a public expression of support from President Eisenhower in his dealings with Sen. McCarthy (R-Wis), and to be prepared to resign if he doesn't get it.

Sources close to Stevens said the Army secretary had been in touch with top White House aides, and had told them he would insist on one of the two following courses of action:

1. A statement from the President that Eisenhower agrees with Stevens that he did not "capitulate" during yesterday's secret session with McCarthy on the question of calling Army officers for testimony in McCarthy's inquiry into what he calls the Army's "coddling of Communists."

2. Agreement from the President that Stevens can say in a statement that Eisenhower is in full agreement with the secretary's position.

Stevens was reported to be angry and indignant over some phases of his go-round with McCarthy.

Army Morale

Further, he was said to be troubled over the possible effect on Army morale.

The secretary sent to his office early and launched into a series of conferences with top advisers.

One high Army officer told a reporter: "I would not be surprised at anything that happens."

Sources close to the secretary said it was Stevens' understanding that agreement was reached in his conference yesterday with Republican members of McCarthy's sub-committee that any Army officers called before the subcommittee in the future would be accorded respect.

He was said to be angry that the memorandum of agreement, read by Sen. Mundt (R-Sd) after the session, omitted any reference to this and to feel it left him in an untenable position.

The memo said it had been agreed that (A) the subcommittee should be given the names of all those involved in the honorable discharge of an officer McCarthy calls a 'Fifth Amendment Communist," and (B) these officers shall be available for questioning.

This was widely interpreted as a capitulation by Stevens since earlier her had directed two officers disregard subpoenas from McCarthy.

Defying Congress

Sourches at the Capitol said it was argued to Stevens in the closed door session with the subcommittee members that he had put himself in the position of defying Congress.

Further, it was argued that irreparable damage might be done to the Republican party and to the Eisenhower administration if Stevens and McCarthy had a hammer-and-tongs session before a nation-wide TV audience.

Stevens was scheduled to appear before the committee today and major TV networks had arranged telecasts. This session was called off when the agreement was reached.

Pentagon reporters were given to understand that senior Army officers had been urging Stevens to put his side of the case on the record, primarily to bolster morale in the Army.

These officers told Stevens that the rank and file of the Army knew only what they had read in the newspapers or heard over the radio and that the line taken by virtually all publications was that Stevens had yielded to McCarthy.

At the White House presidential press secretary James C. Hagerty said in response to questions that Stevens had telephoned him at home last night to discuss the new paper stories.

Hagerty said Stevens, also conferred by telephone with "several other members" of the White House staff.

He declined to name the other members and would not shed any light on the nature of the conversations.

Asked whether Stevens had asked for an appointment with the President, Hagerty replied:

"I do not know of any formal request at this time."

A reporter told Hagerty that Eisenhower himself obviously was fully informed by this time of the terms of the agreement which Stevens and McCarthy reached yesterday.

Asked whether the President was satisfied with the agreement, Hagerty replied:

"I haven't any comment on that situation at all- and I'll add- at this time."

Asked about reports that Stevens might resign, Hagerty said:

"There is no resignation here- of course not."

Asked then whether Stevens had asked advice of anyone on whether he should resign, Hagerty said "there has been no mention of resignation" so far as he knew.

Hagerty repeated three or four items what he said yesterday- that the President had no advance knowledge of the Stevens-McCarthy agreement.

The following information described as Stevens's view of the secret capitol meeting, was disclosed by an informed source:

1. Stevens did not know the memo of understanding would specifically emphasize that two Army officers, whom Stevens ordered not to testify, would be made available to McCarthy.

This souce said Stevens had not read the memo before it was given to newsmen.

2. McCarthy and Sens. Mundt, Dirksen (R-Il) and Potter (R-Mich) reportedly urged Stevens to enter into the agreement in order to prevent a major split in the Republican party.

3. The four senators and Stevens had agreed no details of yesterday's meeting beyond those contained in the memorandum of understanding would be disclosed.

Stevens, though described as surprised at the actual language of the memorandum, reportedly decided to keep his own silence on details of the meeting despite his feeling that the statement did not give an accurate picture.

Nevertheless, in view of the situation, the Army Secretary was reporting to be considering the advisability of holding a news conference to publicize his understanding of the results of the conference.

Stevens was described as shocked that his agreeing to McCarthy's demands was considered a defeat for him and a victory for the senator. At a showdown meeting yesterday attended by the two principals and the other Republican members of McCarthy's sub-committee, an agreement was reached that McCarthy might question all Army personnel involved in the Peress matter.

Stevens earlier had ordered two officers to disregard subcommittee subpoenas and the Army had ignored McCarthy's call for the names persons involved.

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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label levels:

There is currently no available "Beginner" label. The following is the default level label: On January 30, 1954, army captain Dr. Irving Peress appeared before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, and Senator Joseph McCarthy. Peress had been drafted into the army in October 1952, and was promoted automatically through the provisions of the Doctor Draft Law in November 1953. Peress had not signed a loyalty oath and had been recommended for discharge, but somehow, nothing was done. McCarthy investigated Peress' promotion on December 5 and called for an immediate discharge. When Peress appeared before the committee he refused to answer McCarthy's questions by claiming his Fifth Amendment rights. McCarthy then sent a message to Secretary of the Army Robert Stevens demanding that Peress be court-martialed. At the same time Peress requested that he be discharged from the Army immediately, and the next day, Brigadier General Ralph Zwicker, the commanding officer at Camp Kilmer in New Jersey, gave Peress an honorable discharge. Zwicker was summoned to appear before the committee on February 18, and on the advice of counsel, refused to answer all of the questions McCarthy asked. McCarthy accused Zwicker of perjury and said that he had the brains of a "five year old" and was "not fit to wear the uniform." Secretary Stevens ordered General Zwicker not to return to the hearing. Stevens then agreed to meet with Senators McCarthy, Dirkson, Mundt and some other Republians over lunch, where he signed a memorandum of understanding, in which he agreed to most of McCarthy's demands. McCarthy told a reporter that Stevens "could not have given in more abjectly if he had got down on his knees." This whole incident lead to the Army-McCarthy hearings which were televised live by ABC and an estimated 80 million people watched part of them. These hearings were largely responsible for McCarthy's fall from popularity. On December 2, 1954, the Senate voted by a two-thirds majority to censure him.

 

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"Stevens May Resign If He Does Not Receive Support From Eisenhower" article from Greenfield Recorder-Gazette newspaper

publisher   Greenfield Recorder-Gazette
date   Feb 25, 1954
location   Greenfield, Massachusetts
height   22.0"
width   1.5"
process/materials   printed paper, ink
item type   Periodicals/Newspaper
accession #   #L06.068


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See Also...

"Committee Recommends Senate Censure McCarthy, Charges He Treated Group Contemptuously" article from Greenfield Recorder-Gazette

Editorial on "Sen. Joseph McCarthy" from the Greenfield Recorder-Gazette newspaper

"High Court Bars Alien Deportation" article in Greenfield Recorder-Gazette newspaper


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