Lattimore Story - John T. Flynn

18. Perjury or Treason?

When Senator McCarthy first made against Lattimore his charge of being a Soviet agent, all that large collection of newspapers, magazines, organizations and politicians which had been influenced by the Institute of Pacific Relations went into a violent eruption of abuse against McCarthy. Immediately Senator Millard Tydings convoked an investigation, which really turned out to be an investigation not of Lattimore but of McCarthy.

The malignance and volume of the eruption of hate against McCarthy was itself an eloquent testimony to the immensity of the apparatus of propaganda which this crowd had built up. But fortune was at last to turn against them and play them a sorry trick. As we have seen, it took the form of a note to the Senate Sub-Committee on Internal Security from a young man in Massachusetts informing it of the presence in an old barn on the estate of IPR leader Edward C. Carter of the secret records of the Institute of Pacific Relations. It was from these records (seized under appropriate legal process) that, bit by bit, through long months of study, the whole story of this extraordinary cabal against the security of the United States was pieced together and later confirmed by an immense array of the seized documents, placed in evidence along with the testimony of three score witnesses. Lattimore and all of his IPR confederates were examined and given the fullest opportunity to defend themselves. Besides the fourteen volumes of printed testimony, comprising 5,000 pages, there is an exhaustive critical examination of the evidence in a 244-page Report, which every editor and student interested in this subject ought to have.

Owen Lattimore appeared before the McCarran Committee and was examined in open session over a period of twelve days. No man can read the transcript of his testimony without marveling at the decorum and restraint of the Committee in contrast to the impudence and arrogance of the witness, who flung around his insults with the utmost abandon. But far more significant is the almost incredible exhibition of evasion and circumlocution in which he enveloped his answers often to some of the simplest questions. However, for the first time he was forced, with great difficulty, to answer questions, and he met this test by transforming himself into an angry prosecutor of the Committee and almost all its witnesses. He gave as little evidence as he could and as much abuse as the Committee would tolerate. His conduct was so extraordinary that the Committee felt constrained, when he left the stand, to call public attention to his astounding performance. The statement, unanimously approved by the Committee, noted that

"Few witnesses within the memory of the members of this Committee have been permitted to use language as intemperate, provocative, and abusive of the Committee as Mr. Lattimore used in his prepared statement" (p. 3675).

The Committee stated that the precise extent to which Lattimore gave untruthful testimony will probably never be determined. But "that he has uttered untruths stands clear upon the record. Some of these have been so patent and so flagrant as to merit mention . . . as illustrative of the conduct of the witness" (p. 3677). For instance;

  1. Lattimore had a luncheon with the Soviet Ambassador. To minimize the gravity of this he said it took place after the Soviet Union had abandoned its alliance with Hitler. But the Committee confronted him with the evidence that he had this luncheon conference with Oumansky while Hitler and Stalin were allies.
  2. He testified that he had never read an article by T. A. Bisson which caused controversy within the Institute, and he said the views expressed in the article were contrary to his own. He was confronted with a letter written at the time which revealed that he had not only read the article but agreed with it.
  3. Lattimore testified that he did not know that Field was a Communist until the 1940's. He had to admit he was wrong when shown a letter he received from Field in 1939 clearly showing Communist expressions. Then he was shown to have recommended Field in 1939 for a responsible position in the Defense Advisory Commission. He then reversed his previous testimony.
  4. Lattimore testified that he had certainly never taken care of the mail of Lauchlin Currie at the White House when Currie was away. He was then presented with a letter he had written in 1942 which had in it the statement that "Currie asked me to take care of his correspondence while he was away" (Witnesses have identified Currie as having cooperated with a Communist espionage cell in Washington.)
  5. He denied he had made any prearrangements with anyone in the Communist Party to get into Communist China in 1937. He was then presented with a copy of an article he wrote in the London Times about this visit, in which he said, "I sent a letter to the Red Capital by ordinary mail and got an answer—a cordial invitation."
  6. Over two years Lattimore swore three times he did not know Dr. Ch'ao-ting Chi was a Communist, and that no one told him or had shown him evidence that he was a Communist. This testimony was directly contradicted by two witnesses—Dr. Karl Wittfogel and E. Newton Stanley.
  7. Lattimore has stated that he did not know Asiaticus was a Communist when that gentleman wrote for Pacific Affairs and Lattimore was editor. Dr. Wittfogel declared that he did tell Lattimore that Asiaticus was a Communist. Besides, Lattimore wrote a letter to Carter congratulating him on putting Asiaticus on a study commission, because Asiaticus would be sure to bring out the essential radical aspects, etc. (Pp. 3676-3679.)

In its final report the Committee unanimously recommended that the Department of Justice submit to a grand jury the question whether perjury had been committed before the Sub-Committee by Owen Lattimore.

At the end of its elaborate and carefully documented report the Committee expressed certain conclusions respecting the IPR and some of its personnel. They may be briefly summarized as follows:

The Institute of Pacific Relations has not maintained the character of an objective research organization; it was considered by American and Russian Communist officials as an instrument of Communist military policy, propaganda and intelligence and disseminated false information emanating from Soviet sources. A small core of officials, who were either Communists or pro-Communists, carried on most of its activities while most of its board members were inactive and without influence.

This was made possible by the contributions of corporations and foundations which were deceived by the effective leadership. The names of eminent individuals were, by design, used as a screen for the activities at the inner core. As for Owen Lattimore, he was from around 1930 "a conscious, articulate instrument of the Soviet conspiracy." By 1934, the IPR "established and implemented an official connection with G. N. Voitinsky, chief of the Far Eastern Division of the Communist International, and the American Council sought and maintained working relationships with Soviet diplomats and officials" (Report, pp. 214-218).

The Committee further concluded that the IPR officials testified falsely concerning the relationships between the IPR and the Soviet Union; while "Owen Lattimore testified falsely before the sub-committee with reference to at least five separate matters that were relevant to the inquiry and of substantial import" (Report, p. 224; italics added).

The Committee further concluded that the IPR "worked consistently to set up actively cooperative and confidential relationships with persons in government involved in the determination of foreign policy," and that "over a period of years John Carter Vincent (who became head of the Far Eastern Division of the State Department) was the principal fulcrum of IPR pressures and influences in the State Department," that the IPR continuously sought "to place persons selected by it in government posts" and, in the State Department particularly, the IPR "possessed close organic relations through interchange of personnel, attendance of State Department officials at IPR conferences, constant exchange of information and social contacts" (Report, p. 224).

The effective leadership of the IPR, said the Committee report, used IPR prestige to promote the interests of the Soviet Union in the United States, while a group of persons operating within and about the IPR exerted a substantial influence on United States Far Eastern policy, and a group of persons associated with the IPR attempted between 1941 and 1945 to change United States policy to suit Soviet ends. Owen Lattimore and John Carter Vincent were influential in actually bringing about a change favorable to the Chinese Communists in 1945, and persons in the Institute succeeded in continuing the course favorable to Communist objectives in China from 1945 to 1949.

The report asserts that many of the persons active in and around the IPR, particularly Owen Lattimore, Edward C. Carter, Frederick Vanderbilt Field, T. A. Bisson, Lawrence K. Rosinger and Maxwell Stewart, "knowingly and deliberately used the language of books and articles they wrote or edited in an attempt to influence the American public by means of the pro-Communist or pro-Soviet content of such writings" (Report, pp. 223-225). I doubt if in the history of Congress so grave an indictment has ever been made against a whole group of Americans.

Following this summation, the Committee voted unanimously to submit to the Justice Department the question of indicting Owen Lattimore for perjury (Report, p. 226).

The findings of the Committee were unanimous and were a blow at the rapidly sinking prestige of the State Department. However, the whole subject was next submitted to a Federal grand jury in Washington, by Mr. Truman's own Attorney General. And after a long and careful examination of the testimony of the witnesses, the grand jury brought in an indictment against Lattimore for perjury—charging he had perjured himself on seven separate essential statements before the McCarran Committee. The grand jury charged that:

  1. He had lied under oath when he told the Committee he had never been a sympathizer or any other kind of promoter of communism or Communist interests.
  2. He lied when he denied he had been told before 1950 that Ch'ao-ting Chi was a Communist when Lattimore recommended him for a sensitive appointment.
  3. He fled when he declared he did not know that a writer named Asiaticus was a Communist.
  4. He lied when he asserted under oath that he had not published any articles written by Communists in the IPR magazine Pacific Affairs which he edited*
  5. He lied when he testified that a meeting he attended with the Russian Ambassador Oumansky was held after Hitler and Stalin had broken their alliance, when as a matter of fact it was held while they were partners.
  6. He lied when he testified that he had not handled any mail for Lauchlin Currie, who was an IPR man and is accused of Red connections and who was in the White House as one of President Roosevelt's confidential secretaries.
  7. He lied when he denied that a 1937 trip to Yenan, the Communist headquarters in China, had been by pre-arrangement with the Communist Party.

Of course certain aspects of this subject will drag through the courts—as, for instance, whether Lattimore lied in several answers he made before the Senate Committee, for which he has been indicted for perjury. That is a mere subsidiary issue. What we have presented is a record of conspiracy to influence the State Department to abandon China and Korea to the Reds. That charge is supported by a mass of testimony and official exhibits. Whether Lattimore is convicted or acquitted on the charge of perjury has no definitive bearing on the central issue.

The proof of what he, along with his IPR comrades, did is overwhelming and conclusive, and the final evidence lies in the grim fact that after defeating Japan our government surrendered China into the hands of the Soviets. Whether Lattimore has lied about four or five instances in the vast array of testimony submitted is, while serious for him, unimportant in the story set out here. A Senate Committee of five and a grand jury of 24 have unanimously branded him a liar. But the case against Lattimore presented here is not based on just his testimony or on the question of whether he lied or not. It is based on an array of testimony and exhibits from scores of witnesses so clear and definitive that there can be no question in any fair mind that Lattimore and his confederates in the IPR and the State Department were responsible for our defeat in China and the victory of Russia.