posted on Mar, 31 2008 @ 10:17 AM
“The 1938 congressional resolution creating the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) authorized the committee to investigate the extent,
the character, and the objects of un-American propaganda within the United States.” Created on a temporary basis in 1938 to monitor the activities
of foreign agents, it was made a standing committee of the House in 1945. In 1947, under the chairmanship of Democratic representative J. Parnell
Thomas of New Jersey, the HUAC held hearings on Communist influence in the film industry, which resulted in the imprisonment of a group of writers,
directors, and producers known as the Hollywood Ten on contempt charges for periods ranging from six months to a year. As a result of the HUAC
investigations, the entertainment industry blacklisted, or refused to hire, artists and writers suspected of being Communists. Within a few years,
hundreds of other people within the film industry were dismissed and blacklisted. Like the Hollywood Ten, many of these people refused to cooperate
with HUAC and similar investigating committees. They would not talk about their own Communist connections if any, or give the names of other people
connected to Communism. Although many of these people were or had once been members of the American Communist Party, usually during the 1930s and
1940s, they had never done anything illegal. However, during the early years of the Cold War, the political and economic struggle between the United
States and the Soviet Union, Communism had become so feared that anyone who was suspected of sympathizing with it could lose his or her job.
In 1948-49, future president Richard M. Nixon became known for his role in the committee's investigation of the suspected Soviet spy Alger Hiss.
The 4-5 years of McCarthyism lasted from Feb. 9, 1950 until December 2, 1954
In September 1950, goaded by McCarthy, Congress passed, over Truman’s veto, the McCarran Internal Security Act, which established a Subversive
Activities Control Board to monitor Communist influence in the United States. A second McCarran act, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, also
became law over Truman’s veto. It kept the quota system based on national origin, although it ended a ban on Asian immigration, and required
elaborate security checks for foreigners visiting the United States. McCarthy’s influence continued until the Army-McCarthy hearings of 1954, when
the Senate investigated McCarthy’s enquiry into the army. The Senate censured him on December 2, 1954, for abusing his colleagues, and his career
collapsed ending the 5 years of McCarthyism. But fears of subversion continued. Communities banned books; teachers, academics, civil servants, and
entertainers lost jobs; and unwarranted attacks ruined lives. The HUAC became less active in the 1960s; its name was changed to the Committee on
Internal Security in 1969, and it was abolished in 1975.Essentially this department was resurrected in 2001 as the Office of Homeland Security.
In a speech before a joint session of Congress nine days after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon by international terrorists on
September 11, 2001, U.S. president George W. Bush said he was creating a new White House office, the Office of Homeland Security. The new office was
to coordinate the work of more than 40 federal agencies, including the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), in order to
prevent and respond to future terrorist attacks on U.S. territory. Subsequently Congress passed a law that expanded the federal government’s power
to investigate and prosecute suspected terrorists. (The USA Patriot Act, Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to
Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act) Among other provisions, the law allowed the government to detain noncitizens suspected of terrorism for months
or longer without filing charges and to hold court hearings about them in secrecy. Civil liberties groups have filed lawsuits challenging the
constitutionality of such detentions. This legislation considerably expanded the federal government’s surveillance powers. Federal agents were given
greater authority to wiretap telephones, to monitor e-mail and Internet use, and to secretly search a suspect’s home or office.
The Age of Anxiety McCarthyism to Terrorism. By Haynes Johnson. Harcourt Books, 2005.
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© 2004 The Unfinished Nation, Alan Brinkley