The Black Hood Of Censorship
Over his head, face, and neck the medieval executioner sometimes wore a loose-fitting hood of raven black. The grim garment was pierced by two eye-holes through which the wearer, himself unrecognized, caused terror by glancing among the onlookers while he proceeded to fulfill his gruesome function. In similar fashion today, under a black mask of censorship, which hides their identity and their purpose, the enemies of our civilization are at once creating fear and undermining our Constitution and our heritage of Christian civilization.
In medieval times, the onlookers at least knew what was going on, but in modern times the people have no such knowledge. Without the ignorance and wrong judging generated by this hooded propaganda, an alert public and an informed Congress would long since have guided the nation to a happier destiny.
The black-out of truth in the United States has been effected (I) by the executive branch of the national government and (II) by non-government power.
In the mention of government censorship, it is not implied that our national government suppresses newspapers, imprisons editors, or in other drastic ways prevents the actual publication of news which has already been obtained by periodicals. It is to be hoped that such a lapse into barbarism will never befall us.
Nevertheless, since the mid-thirties, a form of censorship has been applied at will by many agencies of the United States government. Nothing is here said against war-time censorship of information on United States troop movements, military plans, and related matters. Such concealment is necessary for our security and for the surprise of the enemy, and is a vital part of the art of war. Nothing is said here against such censorship as the government‘s falsification of the facts about our losses on December 7, 1941, at Pearl Harbor (Pearl Harbor, The Story of the Secret War, by George Morgenstern, The Devin-Adair Company, New York, 1947), though the falsification was apparently intended to prevent popular hostility against the administration rather than to deceive an enemy who already knew the facts.
Unfortunately, however, government censorship has strayed from the military field to the political. Of the wide-spread flagrant examples of government blackout of truth before, during, and after World War II the next five sections (a to e) are intended as samples rather than as even a slight survey of a field, the vastness of which is indicated by the following: Congressman Reed (N.Y., Rep.) last week gave figures on the number of publicity people employed in all the agencies of the Government. According to the last survey made, he said, there were 23,000 permanent and 22,000 part-time (From Thought Control, Human Events, March 19, 1952).
Our grossest censorship concealed the Roosevelt administration‘s maneuvering our people into World War II. The blackout of Germany‘s appeal to settle our differences has been fully enough presented in Chapter IV. Strong evidence of a similar censorship of an apparent effort of the administration to start a war in the Pacific is voluminously presented in Frederic R. Sanborn‘s heavily documented Design for War (already referred to).
Testimony of similar import has been furnished by the war correspondent, author, and broadcaster, Frazier Hunt. Addressing the Dallas Women‘s Club late in 1950, he said, American propaganda is whitewashing State Department mistakes … the free American mind has been sacrificed. We can‘t resist because we don‘t have facts to go on.
For a startling instance of the terrible fact of censorship in preparing for our surrender to the Soviet and the part played by Major General Clayton Bissell, A.C. of S., G-2 (the Chief of Army Intelligence), Ambassador to Moscow W. Averell Harriman, and Mr. Elmer Davis, Director of the Office of War Information, see Lane, former U.S. Ambassador to Poland (The American Legion Magazine, February, 1952). There has been no official answer to Mr. Lane‘s question: Who, at the very top levels of the United States Government, ordered the hiding of all intelligence reports unfavorable to the Soviets, and the dissemination only of lies and communist propaganda?
Professor Harry Elmer Barnes‘s pamphlet, Was Roosevelt Pushed Into War by Popular Demand in 1941? (Freeman‘s Journal Press, Cooperstown, New York, 1951, 25c) furnishes an important observation on the fatal role of government censorship in undermining the soundness of the public mind and lists so well the significant matters on which knowledge was denied the people that an extensive quotation is here used as a summary of this section: Fundamental to any assumption about the relation of public opinion to political action is this vital consideration: It is not only what the people think, but the soundness of their opinion which is most relevant.
The founders of our democracy assumed that, if public opinion is to be a safe guide for statecraft, the electorate must be honestly and adequately informed. I do not believe that any interventionist, with any conscience whatever, would contend that the American public was candidly or sufficiently informed as to the real nature and intent of President Roosevelt‘s foreign policy from 1937 to Pearl Harbor. Our public opinion, however accurately or inaccurately measured by the polls, was not founded upon full factual information.
Among the vital matters not known until after the War was over were:
(1) Roosevelt‘s statement to President Benes in May, 1939, that the United States would enter any war to defeat Hitler;
(2) the secret Roosevelt-Churchill exchanges from 1939 to 1941;
(3) Roosevelt‘s pressure on Britain, France and Poland to resist Hitler in 1939;
(4) the fact that the Administration lawyers had decided that we were legally
and morally in the War after the Destroyer Deal of September, 1940;
(5) Ambassador Grew‘s warning in January, 941, that, if the Japanese should ever pull a surprise attack on the United States, it would probably be at Pearl harbor, and that Roosevelt, Stimson, Knox, Marshall and Stark agreed that Grew was right;
(6) the Anglo-American Joint-Staff Conferences of January-March, 1941;
(7) the drafting and approval of the Washington Master War Plan and the Army-Navy Joint War Plan by May, 1941;
(8) the real facts about he nature and results of the Newfoundland Conference of August, 1941;
(9) the devious diplomacy of Secretary Hull with Japan;
(10) Konoye‘s vain appeal for a meeting with Roosevelt to settle the Pacific issues;
(11) Roosevelt‘s various stratagems to procure an overt act from Germany and Japan;
(12) Stimson‘s tatement about the plan to maneuver Japan into firing the first shot;
(13) the idea that, if Japan crossed a certain line, we would have to shoot;
(14) the real nature and implications of Hull‘s ultimatum of November 26, 1941; and
(15) the criminal failure to pass on to Admiral Kimmel and General Short information
about the impending Japanese attack.
If the people are to be polled with any semblance of a prospect for any intelligent reaction, they must know what they are voting for. This was conspicuous not the case in the years before Pearl Harbor.
(b) Almost, if not wholly, as indefensible as the secret maneuvering toward war, was the wholesale deception of the American people by suppressing or withholding facts on the eve of the presidential election of 1944.
Three examples are here given.
First of all, the general public got no hint of the significance of the pourparlers with the left, which led to the naming of the same slate of presidential electors by the Democratic, American Labor, and Liberal parties in New York a deal generally credited with establishing the fateful grip (Executive Order of December 30, 1944) of Communists on vital power-positions in our government. Incidentally the demands of the extreme left were unassailable under the We need those votes political philosophy; for Dewey, Republican, received 2,987,647 votes to 2,478,598 received by Roosevelt, Democrat and Roosevelt carried the state only with the help of the 496,236 Liberal votes, both of which were cast for the Roosevelt electors!
As another example of catering to leftist votes, the President arrogantly deceived the public on October 28, 1944, when he boasted of the amplitude of the ammunition and equipment which were being sent to American fighting men in battle. The truth, however, was that our fighting men would have sustained fewer casualties if they had received some of the supplies which at the time were being poured into Soviet Russia in quantities far beyond any current Soviet need.
It was none other than Mrs. Anna Rosenberg, an indispensable and ineradicable New Deal ideologist, old friend of Mrs. Roosevelt who, about a month before the election, went to Europe and learned that ammunition was being rationed to our troops. It apparently did not occur to Mrs. Rosenberg to give this information to the people before election day. After the election and before the end of the same tragic November, the details were made public, apparently to stimulate production (all quotes from Westbrook Pegler‘s column Fair Enough, Nov. 27, 1944, Washington Times-Herald and other papers).
A third example of apparent falsification and deception had to do with President Roosevelt‘s health in the summer and autumn of 1944. His obvious physical deterioration was noted in the foreign press and was reported to proper officials by liaison officers to the White House (personal knowledge of the author).
Indeed, it was generally believed in 1944, by those in a position to know, that President Roosevelt never recovered from his illness of December, 1943, and January, 1944, despite a long effort at convalescence in the spring weather at the Hobcaw Barony estate of his friend Bernard Baruch on the South Carolina coast.
The imminence of the President‘s death was regarded as to certain that, after his nomination to a fourth term, Washington newspaper men passed around the answer Wallace to the spoken question Who in your opinion will be the next president?‘ Former Postmaster General James A. Farley has testified that Roosevelt was a dying man at the time of his departure for Yalta (America Betrayed at Yalta, by Congressman Lawrence H. Smith, National Republic, July, 1951).
The widespread belief that Roosevelt was undergoing rapid deterioration was shortly to be given an appearance of certitude by the facts of physical decay revealed at the time of his death, which followed his inauguration by less than three months. Nevertheless, Vice Admiral Ross T. McIntire, Surgeon-General of the Navy and Roosevelt‘s personal physician, was quoted thus in a Life article by Jeanne Perkins (July 21, 1944, p. 4) during the campaign: The President‘s health is excellent. I can say that unqualifiedly.
(c) In World War II, censorship and falsification of one kind or another were accomplished not only in high government offices but in lower echelons as well. Several instances, of which three are here given, were personally encountered by the author.
(1) Perhaps the most glaring was the omission, in a War Department report (prepared by tow officers of Eastern European background), of facts uncomplimentary to Communism in vital testimony on UNRRA given by two patriotic Polish-speaking congressmen (both Northern Democrats) returning from an official mission to Poland for the House Foreign Affairs Committee. An investigation was initiated but before it could be completed both officers had been separated from the service.
(2) News was slanted as much as by a fifty-to-one pro-Leftist ratio in a War Department digest of U.S. newspaper opinion intended, presumably, to influence thought including the thought of U.S. soldiers. For example, the leftist PM (circulation 137,000) in one issue (Bureau of Publications Digest, March 14, 1946) was represented by 616 columnar inches of quoted matter in comparison with 35 1⁄2 columnar inches from the non-leftist N.Y. World-Telegram (circulation 389,257). There was also a marked regional slant. Thus in the issue under consideration 98.7 percent of the total space was given to the Northeastern portion of the United States, plus Missouri, while only 1.3 percent was given to the rest of the country, including South Atlantic States. Gulf States, Southwestern States, Prairie States, Rocky Mountain States, and Pacific Coast States.
(3) Late in 1945 the former Secretary of War, Major General Patrick D. Hurley, resigned as Ambassador to China to tell the American government and the American people about Soviet Russia‘s ability to exert a potent and frequently decisive influence in American politics and in the American government, including the Department of Justice (for details, see Chapter VI, a). General Hurley was expected to reveal sensational disclosures about certain members of the State Department‘s Far Eastern staff in particular (quoted passages are from the Washington Times-Herald, December 3, 1945); but he was belittled by high government agencies including the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate, and large sections of the press connived to smother his message. A scheduled Military Intelligence Service interview arranged with General Hurley by the author was canceled by higher authority. Be it said for the record, however, that the colonels and brigadier generals immediately superior to the author in Military Intelligence were eager seekers for the whole intelligence picture and at no transmit the order just referred to.
Incidentally the brush-off of General Hurley suggests that the leftist palace guard which was inherited from the Roosevelt administration had acquired in eight months a firmer grip on Mr. Truman that it ever had on the deceased president until he entered his last months of mental twilight. Roosevelt‘s confidence in Hurley is several times attested by General Elliott Roosevelt in As He Saw It.