Neither Stripling nor Dies was prepared for this realization as they encountered active White House hostility to the committee’s anti-Communist activities. A decade later, Whittaker Chambers wasn’t prepared for it, either. I doubt Joseph McCarthy knew what he was heading into later still. In his memoir, Martin Dies describes a chance meeting he had with McCarthy and his wife-to-be, Jean Kerr, at the venerable and vanished Harvey’s Restaurant, which used to stand next door to Washington’s Mayflower Hotel on Connecticut Avenue. It was 1953, and Dies had just been reelected to the House of Representatives after an eight-year hiatus. McCarthy would soon become chairman of the Senate Committee on Government Operations and, as Dies put it, “contemplated investigating Communism.” Matter of fact, Dies wrote, “Joe wanted suggestions and advice.”
Did the world hang in the balance for a pregnant pause while a trial by fire was ignited by bolts of lightning in the gathering storm—or something? Dies doesn’t mention augurs of heaven or hell. He continued, “I told him of my own experiences and warned him to expect abuse, ridicule, and every known device of ‘character assassination’ and mental torture. I told him to move cautiously until he was sure of his footing; to beware of unsupported charges that would soon be flooding his offices, and never to underestimate the cleverness and resourcefulness of the Communists and their fellow travelers.”
Clearly—at least, clearly at a remove of more than a half century—this was war. A hidden army was in place—a secret insurgency—and much of the local population was sympathetic or even in league with it. When McCarthy came along, as M. Stanton Evans documents, he was entirely correct to suspect, track, and attempt to expose the extensive and ongoing conspiracy that Dies had probed before him, that Chambers had participated in and witnessed, that official Washington, for reasons to be discussed (none of them good), sought to keep under wraps.
The historical fact is, secret Soviet forces had made massive incursions into the federal government following FDR’s first election in 1932 and reached every kind of inner sanctum during the United States’ wartime alliance with the Soviet Union (1941–45)—the one really and truly “special relationship,” as I have learned. As Evans lays out in detail, much of it drawn from newly declassified FBI and Senate records, the United States wasn’t just riddled by Communist agents; we were for all intents and purposes occupied by a small army—a small army being just what this kind of war requires. Expert estimates now peg the number of Americans assisting Soviet intelligence agencies during the 1930s and 1940s as exceeding five hundred. Not one Aldrich Ames. Not two Rosenbergs. Not five “magnificent” Cambridgers. More than five hundred willing and variously able American traitors, many operating at the very highest levels of the federal government, with who knows how many more in support roles. This was a national security fiasco of a magnitude that has never, ever entered national comprehension. ...