The New York Times
February 19, 1953, p. 1
Dr. Compton Quits as Head of 'Voice'
At Senate Inquiry into Agency, Howard Fast, Writer, Refuses to Say Whether He is Red
By C.P. TrussellSpecial to the New York Times
Washington, Feb. 18 - The resignation of Dr. Wilson M. Compton, International Information Administrator, was accepted today by John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State. Dr. Compton's agency runs the Voice of America, which is under Senate investigation.
Mr. Dulles said Dr. Compton's resignation was submitted last month and was accepted in line with the new Administration's policy of bringing in new people where major policy changes or views were involved.
Dr. Compton, former president of Washington State College and member of a faculty of noted educators, also has been an industrialist and has been on other Government duty at the United Nations. He is listed in "Who's Who in America" as a Republican.
During the current investigation of the Voice by the Senate Permanent Investigating subcommittee, headed by Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, Republican of Wisconsin, Dr. Compton conceded there had been waste of funds. He appeared to be cooperating with the inquiry to effect corrections.
Numerous officials of the Voice's radio program to pierce the Iron Curtain with the story of American democracy have taken the witness stand, apparently with Dr. Compton's approval, to give testimony that has led subcommittee members to suspect "sabotage."
Two major broadcast relay projects, in Washington and in North Carolina, were ordered abandoned because they allegedly were located at costly places that were weak from a transmission point of view.
Held Post About Year
Dr. Compton had been at his post about a year. He succeeded Edward W. Barrett, a former Assistant Secretary of State for Public Relations. Under a State Department reorganization the information service became largely an independent organization.
The Senate Investigating subcommittee today heard Howard Fast, a Leftist novelist, in a televised session. Mr. Fast, who had been subpoenaed, was jailed in 1950 for contempt of Congress for withholding from the Committee on Un-American Activities of the House of Representatives records concerning the Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee, listed as subversive by former Attorney General Tom C. Clark.
At issue today was a State Department memorandum that apparently had been accepted as instructions to Voice of America officials regarding material to be used in broadcasts. The part that caught the subcommittee attention said:
"The reputation of an author affects the active utility of the material. If he is widely and favorably known abroad as a champion of democratic causes, his creditability and utility may be enhanced."
Similarly, if - like Howard Fast - he is known as a Soviet-endorsed author, materials favorable to the United States in some of his works may thereby be given a special creditability among selected key audiences."
Senator McCarthy brought out that, apparently as soon as Secretary Dulles had learned of this phase of the memorandum, the Secretary ordered its immediate cancellation.
Mr. McCarthy asked Mr. Fast whether he was a member of the Communist party. The writer declined to answer, invoking the protection of the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution, which says a witness may not be required to give testimony that may incriminate himself.
Further questions developed angry shouting and gestures.
Mr. Fast served in the Office of War Information between 1942 and 1944 and, testimony brought out, he had collected a fee for letting certain of his writings be put into Q.W.L. material. The testimony also developed that he had contributed to a wartime film of the Army Signal Corps, that some of his works had gone into material circulated by the Army, and that the State Department had used translations from his writings.
Senator McCarthy told the subcommittee that Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt had "helped" with the circulation of Mr. Fast's writings. He did not elaborate, and nothing further on this line was developed in later questioning.
At Dayton, Ohio, Mrs. Roosevelt said tonight she had "no idea" what Senator McCarthy was talking about.
About nine years ago, Mr. Fast testified, he had attended a luncheon at the White House on invitation from President Roosevelt. Both the President and Mrs. Roosevelt were present, he said, but he said he could not recall details of the occasion or the number of persons present.
Mr. Fast declined to answer all questions pertaining to communism. His refusals to give yes-or-no answers were accompanied by attempts to explain, as he put it, the significance of his position.
Senator McCarthy said he would not permit the subcommittee "to become a transmission belt for the Communist party," and shut the witness off as he tried repeated to "explain."
Asked by Senator Charles E. Potter, Republican of Michigan, who lost both legs in World War II, whether he would fight in Korea if drafted, the witness shouted that he had spent his life giving service to his country and would respond to the draft. He refused to say whether he would fight.
Earlier the subcommittee went into Voice of America broadcasts in Latin America. Stuart Ayers, acting chief of that division, testified that he "suspected but could not prove" that certain key men in the program had "deliberately" attempted to lessen the effect of anti-Communist propaganda in the programs broadcast there. He previously had named the suspects to the subcommittee, but the names were kept secret.
From Mr. Ayers' testimony it appeared that most of the Latin-American budget was spent on "juvenile" programs of the Superman variety. Tough anti-Communist propaganda was missing from the scripts, despite promises of its insertion, he said.