WASHINGTON (Jan. 6)
Americans for Democratic Action, a political group including Democratic and Republican liberals, today urged President Eisenhower to fire Milan D. Smith, the executive assistant to Secretary of Agriculture Ezra T. Benson, who endorsed an anti-Semitic letter against Wolf Ladejinsky, and J. Clenn Cassity, security officer responsible for the Ladejinsky case.
ADA called for dismissal of the two unless after a fair hearing they can justify their conduct. Criticism was also levelled by ADA at Secretary Benson. ADA said that Secretary Benson, in “reaffirming his decision against Ladejinsky after he had been given a sensitive job at the Foreign Operations Administration, dramatizes the chaotic security procedures of our government, and brings discredit upon the United States.”
Secretary Benson yesterday expressed complete confidence in his executive assistant. He defended Mr. Smith and indicated that he had confidence in him despite the endorsement by Mr. Smith of the anti-Semitic letter aimed against Mr. Ladejinsky.
The Secretary told newsmen: “I want it clearly understood that I deplore the implications of the anti-Semitism issue that has been raised because of the unfortunate use of the Vitt letter.” Secretary Benson said he discussed the matter thoroughly with Mr. Smith and is convinced the latter “did not intend in any way to cast aspersions on any group of citizens when he unfortunately discussed the Vitt letter with reporters.” Mr. Smith used “poor judgment,” Secretary Benson said. “Mr. Smith is sorry. So am I.”