Where did Joe McCarthy get his names? I mean his *real* names?

Asking the good folks here because a Google search, I believe, would have too many “junk” hits, and I want real info.

Ann Coulter, and various other posters here, have cited a report (name I can’t remember, I think it begins with a “v”) that supposedly vindicates Joseph McCarthy, showing that many/most/all (depending on who you ask) of the people he accused of being Communist actually were.

Whether this means anything to how we should view him is a subject for GD. What I want to know is this: we know that his infamous list was fake. I don’t think many people dispute that. But given that, where did he get the people he actually ended up accusing that this report refers to? Where did he find specific folks to accused when it came time to walk the walk? Were those sources accurate? How much role did McCarthy play in actually getting those names, and in getting them out to the public!

Enquiring minds etc. etc.

There seems a real question as to whether there was such a lsit at all. IIRC, he would wave a sheaf of paper in his hands and claim it was his list, but never showed it to anyone. And the number of people supposedly on it kept changing.

As to genuine communists that he found, well, you spread your net broadly enough, and haul in enough people and threaten them with the ruination of their lives, some people will name names.

Ann Coulter is hardly a reliable source. Unless something has changed, the judgement of history is that he had no such less. Any cites to change me mind?

McCarthy’s charges led to witch hunts. There may have been a few communists unearthed, but there were many more non-Communists who lost their jobs because they might have flirted with Communism years before and decided it was crap. Most dispicable were the various attacks on those who said good things about Stalin during WWII – when he was our ally. It was official policy to work with Stalin, but people were punished for following that policy.

The “v” report you’re talking about might be the Venona transcripts, which were declassified in 1995. The Venona transcripts are intercepts of Soviet diplomatic and intelligence communications, and were a joint project of the US and British intelligence. The Venona intercepts list several hundred people in the United States who were cooperating with the Soviets. Some of these people worked in the State Department and were the same people McCarthy accused of being Communist agents.

I read a book about Whittaker Chambers that mentioned McCarthy. As I recall, he was getting some inside information on some of the investigations, but I’ll have to check the book to be sure.

Let me clarify my post. McCarthy didn’t accuse every person listed in the Venona transcripts. He also accused people that weren’t listed in the transcripts. So there is overlap between McCarthy’s accusations and the Venona transcripts, but they do not match completely.

That’s it!

And perhaps my question wasn’t clear. Let me try again: given that his infamous list was really a laundry list, where did McCarthy get the names of the people he accused? Did he, as Boyo Jim suggested, just accuse a bunch of people and hope that some worked out? Did he have a crony make up a list? If so, where did the crony get the criteria to add names? Just people McCarthy hated, or vice versa?

Can you give an example or provide a cite? (I’d like to be able to drop something like this on a rather loudmouth FOAF.)

The book I mentioned, Whittaker Chambers: A Biograph by Sam Tanenhaus, didn’t have as much information as I hoped. Chambers was a communist turned anti-communist who most famously accused Alger Hiss, a powerful State Department official who was involved in the Yalta Conference with being a communist infiltrator.

McCarthy met with Chambers on several occasions and advised the investigation, but it doesn’t appear that Chambers provided any specific names. The book does discuss McCarthy’s activities briefly. It appears that McCarthy accused those he felt were soft on communism. It also looks to me like many people who were involved in or defended the Yalta Conference were accused. Yalta was targeted because (1) many felt FDR was bullied by Stalin and gave up too much, and (2) Hiss was involved. Since McCarthy believed Hiss was a communist he apparently targeted like-minded individuals. For instance, he accused Owen Lattimore – a journalist and professor at Johns Hopkins – of being “the top Russian espionage agent in the United States, and the boss of Alger Hiss.” My book describes it as a wild charge but doesn’t explain why he chose to accuse Lattimore but says the charge was made in response to a “put up or shut up” challenge by the Democrat’s committee investigating communism. Later, the former editor of the Daily Worker came forward and said Lattimore had belonged to a Communist party cell.

My take on it is that McCarthy got bits of information on possible communists and made accusations sometimes and sometimes he just played politics. On occasion, he got lucky and accused somebody who really was a communist or who was sympathetic. He was also lucky in that there actually were some communists in the government, so there was always a chance he would name a communist.

Sorry I don’t have more information on all the names.

As an example of how supportive–or merely neutral–language about Stalin during World War II came back to haunt people, a number of people who worked–at studio orders–on films showing the Russians in a favorable light during the war were later investigated. This is discussed in Hollywood on Trial, among other documentaries.

I’ve read a couple of times that the infamous list McCarthy held up and waved when he first spoke out about Communist infiltration was later found to be his laundry list.

There is an interesting parallel here to an incident in Great Britain during the first world war. There a member of Parliament claimed that there was a vast network of homosexuals in England who were secretly working for Germany. The list of names he produced later proved to be a list of potential sales prospects worked up by a German auto manufacturer before the war.

Italics mine. And that’s the point. My own gradmother was a nominal pinko. From the 30s to the 50s virtually every intellectual was too. Even if the “list” was real it wouldn’t have meant much. People forget.

After the release of the Venona decripts, many books were written showing that McCarthy was right more often then not. Some have also been written after the fall of the Soviet Union and those confirm, and expand on, those decripts. Actually before the McCarthy hearings, the FBI and Army sources released parts of Venona to the executive branch and certain legislators. McCarthy was certainly one of them. But he could never reveal the source or specific contents of the “list” because that would have allowed the Soviets to learn that their diplomatic messages were being intercepted. Can you imagine having those facts in your hands, and not being able to release them to protect the country? I believe that would drive anyone to drink, and it did. At that time, government and academic circles were full of communist supporters and sympathizers, and their fear of being identified as such forced a maelstrom of criticism. That is still true today, but they have been forced to change their affiliation titles because too many people have become aware of how communism and Stalin really worked. Today they prefer to be called either socialists or “progressives”. Those names have a more benign and peaceful ring to them. They are still afraid of Venona and even today will say anything to discredit or ridicule what it revealed. They would prefer America did not know. Read the more recent books like:
If you do, you will not want or need to come back here for the answer. You will be writing them.

And could one of those names be… Ohhhh… I dunno… Hmm, lemme see… OBAMA-MA-Ma-ma-ma-ma… ?! [/cupped hands over mouth]

Zombies! Run!

For balance, check the Wikipedia page on Blackmailed by History.

Gag me! Another rightwing, selfserving book. You got a link to the list? Of course not. It doesn’t exist. Spam the internet with your trash, but don’t bring it here.

Posted not as a moderator but an intelligent poster.

You are correct that books defending McCarthy were written, but they are all full of bullshit. The assertion that McCarthy “was right more often than not” is completely ludicrous. He was wrong 99% of the time, and when he was right it was by accident.

The kooks who defend McCarthy are quick to point to the declassification of the Venona project, but misstate and overstate what the decrypted messages revealed. Worse, they ignore more important documents, such as the circa 2005 release of the transcripts of closed sessions of McCarthy’s subcommittee. They reveal his deranged obsessiveness and his excesses and abuse of power. McCarthy knew that many of his accusations were false, and history has shown his claims of there being a vast communist infiltration of our government to have been a concoction.

The OP acknowledges that the list of names was fake, but asks where McCarthy got it. That first list came from an FBI agent named Lee, and was a list of people whose background checks had revealed “derogatory” information. Some of them had Communist connections, some had other left wing connections, some were homosexual, some had drinking problems, etc. McCarthy claimed in a speech that he’d seen a list showing 205 known members of the Communist party working for the State Department. He exagerated the number and the contents of the Lee list, but McCarthy saw that people got riled up at his accusations of Communists. From that point on starting people against whom he had personal vendettas, or those who spoke out against him. It was all nonsense.

Were there any zombies mentioned in the Venona transcripts?

It makes a lot of sense in the context of the '50s to see McCarthyism as one thing “sold” as another. It was promoted as an anti-communist campaign to get the public behind it, but what it really was was an anti-intellectual, anti-New Deal, anti-liberal campaign. The real targets were loyal Americans who made the mistake of loyalty to principle, not to power.

There were more “commies” than we thought, yes. But still McCarthy and his list were bullshit.

What I’m getting at is that Commies were more a convenient target than the real rationale. They picked Commies not primarily because they were a threat in themselves, but because they contained large numbers of intellectuals, dissenters, social critics, etc., who were the real threat to their plans for the country.