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Navy Clears Chasanow of Security Charges; Restores Him to Duty

The Navy Department announced today that it has cleared Abraham Chasanow of security charges made against him and that he would be restored to duty at once. This closes one aspect of a case which attracted national attention after Chasanow maintained that some of his accusers were motivated by anti-Semitism, and Jewish organizations called on the Navy to review the case.

The finding that Chasanow’s employment is clearly consistent with the interests of national security was made by James H. Smith, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Air, on the basis of evidence submitted to a special hearing board convened by order of Smith as a matter of executive grace.

Smith told a press conference today that he felt that false allegations, such as those lodged against Chasanow, were contrary to the national security interests of the United States. He declined to comment on whether other Greenbelt, Md., Jews whose separation from the Navy Department was similar to that of Chasanow, would be reinstated.

Chasanow was one of five Jews residing in Greenbelt and employed by the Hydrographic Office to be suspended on security grounds. Chasanow’s petition asking reconsideration of the case last April pointed out that “there are but five members of the Jewish faith who are or were both Greenbelt residents and employees of the Hydrographic Office. There are at least eight members of the Gentile faiths who are both residents of Greenbelt and employees of the Hydrographic Office. All five of the Jews have had security difficulties…All Gentiles remain undisturbed. In the absence of a statement of reasons for the adverse decision of the Assistant Secretary (of the Navy), it may well be believed that the proceedings which led to that decision were tainted by anti-Semitism.”

Chasanow was dismissed from the Navy Department as a security risk on April 7, 1954, and was afforded reconsideration after a public outcry followed newspaper reports. A re-interrogation of informers against Chasanow was conducted. The Navy said today that “those informants who were re-interrogated and who had initially given derogatory information against Mr. Chasanow either failed to corroborate their original testimony or were unable to produce specifics of earlier allegations,”

A defense of Loyalty Board procedures was made by Smith who sought to place the principal blame on informers who supplied the Navy with unfounded allegations against Chasanow. He conceded, however, that the appeal board might have been “a little naive” in failing to investigate the informers. An attempt is now being made by the Navy to prevent such malicious smears from receiving serious consideration in the future, Smith said.

NAVY CALLS CHASANOW “ABOVE AVERAGE LOYAL AMERICAN CITIZEN”

Smith was asked if sworn testimony would be henceforth required from those making allegations and whether the accused would be given the right to confront the accuser. He said that these matters would have to be resolved elsewhere in the government.

The Navy Department, noting “the grave injustice” done to Chasanow by the original statements and the lengthy proceedings, said it wished to emphasize that the findings of the board show Chasanow’s life “portrays an above average loyal American citizen.” It also cited his “long creditable service for the government, his many varied civic and patriotic activities, his exemplary family life, the high esteem in which he was held by his former colleagues who associated with him for many years, his active religious life, and the high esteem in which he is held in his community.”

Chasanow, commenting on his clearance, thanked those who aided him and said he felt as if he had just “woke up from a bad dream.”

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