1960 February 22

Groups Criticize President Eisenhower’s New Security Order for Defense Workers

 

On this day, civil rights and labor groups criticized the new rules for security investigations of defense industry workers proposed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The president’s proposal was prompted by a Supreme Court decision, in Cole v. Young, on June 11, 1956, holding that the federal loyalty program did not apply to non-sensitive national security-related jobs. The Workers Defense League (WDL) criticized a loophole in Eisenhower’s new order: The head of an accused employee’s agency could determine whether cross-examination of a witness against him or her would be permitted. The WDL argued that this made the agency head both prosecutor and judge.

President Harry Truman launched the federal loyalty program on March 21, 1947. The standard for the mandatory review of all federal employees embodied the principle of guilt-by-association: you were suspected of disloyalty based on friends or groups you may have belonged to. An important element of the federal loyalty program was the Attorney General’s List of Subversive Organizations, which became an official government blacklist (December 4, 1947).

Learn more about the federal loyalty program here.

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