WASHINGTON (Aug. 29)
An Army spokesman said this week-end that there was “no basis” for charges made by the B’nai B’rith’s Anti-Defamation League that anti-Semitism was the motivation for the suspension of 38 civilian employes at Ft. Monmouth, N. J., as security risks.
The Army’s statement followed disclosure of the secret memorandum submitted to the Army by the ADL last February reporting the results of the ADL’s private investigation of the situation at Ft. Monmouth. The 10,000-word document had asked Secretary of the Army Robert T. Stevens to examine the files of 600 civilian employes at the installation in order to establish whether the suspension of the 38 Jewish civilian employes as security risks was the result of anti-Semitism.
(In New York, the Anti-Defamation League vigorously denied that it had made the secret document public. Extensive excerpts from the memorandum were quoted Thursday by a Long Branch, New Jersey, newspaper. Originally, the only copies of the secret report outside the ADL office were those delivered to the Army.)
According to the Army spokesman, Lewis W. Berry, Deputy Army Counsellor, soon after receipt of the memorandum, the Secretary of the Army “took action to check the reports” of anti-Semitism in the Ft. Monmouth case, but “we found nothing in our investigation” to bear out the charges.
EXTENT OF ARMY INQUIRIES INTO CHARGES NOT INDICATED
Mr. Berry, who said the Army investigation was carried out last February or March, did not explain why no reply had been forthcoming to the ADL until on June 24 when, in a letter to Henry E. Schultz, head of the ADL, the Army asserted there was no basis to the charges of anti-Semitism.
This conclusion was reached, according to that letter, on the basis of an independent investigation by the Army of the possibility of religious bias at Ft. Monmouth. The ADL was not informed and was never able to ascertain whether the Army had, as requested by the ADL, examined the files of the 600 civilian employes. This examination, according to the ADL, would have determined whether supervisory personnel at Ft. Monmouth had treated the cases of Christian employes differently from Jews and whether one supervisor had failed to process for action cases involving Christian employes where the adverse information respecting them “was virtually similar to the adverse information he accumulated with respect to Jewish personnel.”
A statement by the ADL subsequently pointed out that it was “significant” that in the same letter, the Department of the Army “advised us that it was directing its Chief Signal Officer to take whatever steps were necessary to ensure that racial or religious prejudice does not enter into personnel activities at Ft. Monmouth.”
The ADL disclosed that in a subsequent communication, on July 7, the Army had described the ADL memorandum as a “very excellent, exhaustive and candid study of the situation at Ft. Monmouth,” The ADL also noted that Maj. Gen. Kirke B. Lawton, retiring commander of the base, had praised the report.
“We believe that the American people is entitled to the answers to the questions which our report did not answer and which only the Army can.” the ADL declared.
The ADL, in a summary of conclusions contained in its memorandum, said this week-end that “we found sufficient evidence in addition to persuasive hearsay to conclude that one key security officer at the installation was personally anti-Semitic.” This officer was considered to have followed “a consistent pattern of delays and other dilatory tactics in clearing Jewish employes, but was expeditious when it came to non-Jewish employes.”
FULLEST EXAMINATION URGED BY A.D.L.
The ADL pointed out that it was “unable to prove that the anti-Semitism of this key security officer was a motivating factor in initiating the suspensions he stimulated.” It noted that the answer to the question could only have been obtained by careful examination of the files of each of the 600 technical civilian employes at the base.
“For this reason,” it noted, “we strongly recommended to the Secretary of the Army that he initiate such an examination. It was our belief that because of the widespread rumor that anti-Semitism was a factor in the suspensions at Ft. Monmouth, fairness to the security officer in question, and everyone else concerned, required a full examination of all the personnel files to determine whether it was the critical factor.”
The ADL statement noted a further conclusion that “the established criteria for security evaluation are so without safeguards that malicious rumor and the most careless hearsay can be the basis for suspensions and loss of security clearances.”
The statement also stressed the conclusion that “the unfortunate public impression that communism was rampant among the suspended civilian personnel at Ft. Monmouth, and that it was rooted almost without exception in Jews, came largely from the collateral activity of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.”