Annie Lee Moss

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Annie Lee Moss testifying before Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations on March 12, 1954

Annie Lee Moss was a communications clerk in the US Army Signal Corps in the Pentagon accused by the US Army, the FBI, and Senator Joseph McCarthy of being a member of the American Communist Party.

Contents

Career

Moss began her career in the Federal government as a dessert cook in government cafeterias and was promoted to a code clerk in the Pentagon. In 1945, she moved to a job as a clerk in the General Accounting Office (GAO).[1] Mary Stalcup Markward, Moss' accuser, had been working undercover for the FBI for seven years as a member of the Washington, D.C. American Communist Party, and she had worked as the director of the party's membership.

The FBI had passed this information on to the Army and the Civil Service Commission, yet the Army had still hired Moss as a code clerk, and she was given clearance to do this work.[2] McCarthy’s chief purpose was to find out how Moss, with her Red background, had been promoted from a cafeteria worker to a Pentagon code clerk with access to classified information.[3]

In October 1949, the GAO board cleared her,[4] determining that there were “no reasonable grounds” to believe that Moss was disloyal.[5]

The case

  • Moss acknowledged that one of the top three Washington, D.C., Communists had visited her home and that she had lived, briefly, with an active party member who hosted Communist meetings at her house.[6]
  • Copies of the Communist Party organ Daily Worker were delivered to Moss's home, addressed to her, but she denied that they were for her, and claimed that “there are three Annie Lee Mosses” in Washington, DC.[7] At her testimony, Moss stated "We didn't get this Communist paper until after we had moved to Southwest, at 72 R Street."[8] "[T]he address she gave in getting Government employment was the same as that of an Annie Lee Moss known to FBI Undercover Woman Mary Markward as a Communist."[9] "[N]one of the other Anne Mosses lived at the three addresses contained in the CP [Communist Party] records — but this Annie Lee Moss had lived at all of them." [10]
  • Copies of the communist newspaper Daily Worker were delivered to her address under her name, but she denied that they were for her, and claimed that there was another "Anne Moss" in the Washington, DC phone book.[8][11] At her testimony, Moss stated "We didn't get this Communist paper until after we had moved to Southwest, at 72 R Street."[8]
  • "In 1958, the federal Subversive Activities Control Board reported that 'the Communist Party's own records, the authenticity of which the Party has at no time disputed … show that one Annie Lee Moss, 72 R Street SW, Washington DC, was a party member in the mid-1940s.' Joseph E. Persico's 1988 biography, Edward R. Murrow: An American Original, reports this finding as does historian Arthur Herman's 1999 revisionist account, Joseph McCarthy: Reexamining the Life and Legacy of America's Most Hated Senator."[12][13][14] The SACB verdict was that the Communist Party membership rolls “corroborate Markward’s testimony in the Moss security hearings.”[15] In its September 19, 1958, report, the SACB concluded, “the Communist Party’s charge that Markward gave perjurious testimony was not substantiated. Consequently, Mrs. Markward’s credibility is in no way impaired by the Annie Lee Moss matter.” [16]
  • Donald Ritchie, associate historian in the Senate Historical Office, "In 1958 the Subversive Activities Control Board confirmed Markward’s assertion that Moss’ name had appeared on the Communist party rolls in the mid-1940s."[17] The SACB report states:
"The situation that has resulted on the Annie Lee Moss question is that copies of the Communist party's own records, the authenticity of which the party has at no time disputed, were produced to it (Exhibits 499 to 511 inclusive), and show that one Annie Lee Moss, 72 R Street, S.W., Washington, D.C., was a party member in the mid-1940's. Yet, on several occasions before the Court of Appeals and the Board the party charged that witness Markward had committed perjury before the Defense Department in the Moss Security Hearing in testifying to what the party's own records showed to be fact.
"We conclude that upon production of the documents demanded by respondent, the Communist party's charge that Markward gave perjure testimony was not sustained. Consequently, Mrs. Markward's testimony is in no way impaired by the Annie Lee Moss matter."[18]
  • In the landmark United States Supreme Court decision of Communist Party of the United States v. Subversive Activities Control Board, 367 U.S. 1, 86 (1961)[19], Justice Felix Frankfurter (who had been a mentor of and character witness for Alger Hiss) , writing for the majority, noted in response to allegations by the Communist Party that Markward had committed perjury, “On December 18, 1956, the [Subversive Activities Control] Board issued its 240-page Modified Report. It found that Mrs. Markward was a credible witness....”
  • Andrea Friedman, associate professor of history and of women and gender studies at Washington University in St. Louis, reported "substantial, if contested, evidence possessed by the U.S. government of her [Moss's] involvement in the [Communist] party. That evidence—consisting of perhaps a dozen pieces of paper—included a list of “party recruits” that identified Moss by name, race, age, and occupation; membership lists from two Communist party branches, the Communist Political Association, and various ad hoc committees containing Moss’s name and address, as well as the number of her CP [Communist Party] membership book; and receipt records from 1945 for Daily Worker subscriptions that included Moss’s name and amounts paid."[21]

From 1943 to 1949, Mary Markward had held such positions in the Communist Party as membership director and treasurer, reporting regularly to the FBI, providing copies of party documents, membership lists, and detailed accounts of meetings and activities.[22]

At an executive session of HUAC on February 22, 1954, Markward identified Annie Lee Moss as a former cafeteria worker whose name had appeared on the Communist party’s membership rolls in 1944. Immediately following this executive session, Markward testified in a public hearing that as treasurer of the Northeast Club of the Communist party that she had seen “a woman by the name of Annie Lee Moss on the list of card-carrying, dues-paying members” of the Communist Party membership rolls. [23]

At her first loyalty hearing, Moss admitted attending a meeting, which she claimed she expected would be a “social affair,” only to realize it was a Communist meeting. In 1954, she told HUAC that she had accompanied an acquaintance to yet another meeting, this time at the church down the street that hosted Communist Party meetings. She claimed not to know that the acquaintance was an active member of the Communist party.[24]

Markward's testimony was the only evidence presented that Moss was a member of the American Communist Party,[Citation Needed]. Neither McCarthy nor Markward ever accused Moss of being an active spy for Russia.

See also

References

  1. Friedman, 2007, p. 447.
  2. M. Stanton Evans, “How Senate Historian Botched Data on McCarthy,” Human Events, May 23, 2003
  3. Allan H. Ryskind, “George Clooney's Clueless Movie,” October 14, 2005
  4. Donald A. Ritchie, “Introduction,” S. Prt. 107-84 – Executive Sessions of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Committee on Government Operations (McCarthy Hearings 1953-54), Volume 5, “Editor’s Note,” p. XV (PDF p. 17)
  5. Friedman, 2007, p. 448
  6. Allan H. Ryskind, “George Clooney's Clueless Movie,” October 14, 2005
  7. The 1930 US Census for Washington, DC, lists an "Annie K. Moss" born in 1891, wife of Otto Moss. There is also an "Anne Moss (1910-?) of Connecticut Avenue" born in 1910, wife of Benjamin Moss.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Oshinky
  9. "Committee v. Chairman", Time magazine, March 22, 1954. Retrieved on 2007-10-15. 
  10. Friedman, 2007, p. 461.
  11. The 1930 US Census for Washington, DC, lists an "Annie K. Moss" born in 1891, wife of Otto Moss. There is also an "Anne Moss (1910-?) of Connecticut Avenue" born in 1910, wife of Benjamin Moss.
  12. Shafer, Jack (October 5, 2005). Edward R. Movie: Good Night, and Good Luck and bad history.. Slate.com. Retrieved on 2007-10-15.
  13. Herman, Arthur (1999). Joseph McCarthy: Reexamining the Life and Legacy of America's Most Hated Senator. Free Press, pp 333+. ISBN 0-684-83625-4. 
  14. Herman, Arthur (1999). Joseph McCarthy: Reexamining the Life and Legacy of America's Most Hated Senator. Free Press, pp 333+. ISBN 0-684-83625-4. 
  15. Allan H. Ryskind, “George Clooney's Clueless Movie,” October 14, 2005
  16. M. Stanton Evans, “How Senate Historian Botched Data on McCarthy,” Human Events’’, May 23, 2003
  17. Ritchie, 2003, p. XV
  18. Subversive Activities Control Board, Docket No. 51-101, William P. Rogers, Attorney General of the U.S. v. The Communist Party of the U.S., recommended decision on second remand, September 19, 1958, p. 5
  19. Communist Party of the United States v. Subversive Activities Control Board, 367 U.S. 1, 86 (1961)
  20. "Mrs. Moss Is Accused As Card-Carrying Red.", New York Times, August 6, 1954. Retrieved on 2007-09-25. “Washington, DC, August 5, 1954 (Associated Press) A report that Annie Lee Moss was given a Communist party membership book for 1943 resulted in her suspension for a second time from her job with the Army Signal Corps.” 
  21. Ritchie, 2003.
  22. Friedman, 2007, p. 459.
  23. Ritchie, 2003, p. XIV
  24. Friedman, 2007, p. 451.

Further reading

  • New York Times; February 24, 1954. McCarthy Says Red Decodes Secrets, But Army Denies It; Senator Charges Woman Is Still In Key Job. She Says She Never Was Communist FBI Ex-Aide Testifies Asserts Accused Was In Party -- Pentagon Insists She Had No Access To Vital Room McCarthy Accuses Employee Of Army. Washington, D.C., February 24, 1954. Senator Joseph R. McCarthy engaged the Army today in another verbal duel over an alleged Communist in the Pentagon's Signal Corps communications center.
  • New York Times; March 12, 1954. Cohn Scored When Woman Denies McCarthy’s Charges; Mrs. Moss Counters Accusation As Red While Senators Decry 'Innuendo'. Crowd Applauds Hearing Scene Red Denial Stirs McCarthy Session. Washington, DC, March 11, 1954. Mrs. Annie Lee Moss, suspended Army Signal Corps employee, softly but flatly denied all Communist party activities or membership today.
  • New York Times; August 5, 1954. Mrs. Moss ousted by Army again. Pentagon Reports New Data on Case of Employee Called Communist by McCarthy. Washington, DC, August 4, 1954 (United Press). The Army suspended Mrs. Annie Lee Moss from her Pentagon job for the second time today pending final settlement of her security case.
  • New York Times; August 25, 1954. Denial by Mrs. Moss; She Asks That Army Produce Those Who Called Her Red. Washington, DC, August 24, 1954. Mrs. Annie Lee Moss, again denying Communist ties, has asked the Army to produce her accusers at a security screening board hearing.
  • New York Times; January 20, 1955. Mrs. Moss Restored To a Job by Wilson. Charles E. Wilson restored Annie Lee Moss to an Army job today, but transferred her from the Pentagon.
  • New York Times; May 3, 1957. She Lost Job With Army as a Result of McCarthy Charge. Mrs. Annie Lee Moss, who temporarily lost her job because of Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, said tonight she was "sorry" to hear of his death.
  • In the landmark United States Supreme Court case of Albertson v. Subversive Activities Control Board, 382 U.S. 70, 86 S.Ct. 194, 15 L.Ed.2d 165 (1965), the Court struck down a federal statute requiring individuals to register as members of the American Communist Party as unconstitutional for violating the Self-Incrimination Clause of the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Later, in the companion US Supreme Court cases of Baird v. State Bar of Arizona, 401 U.S. 1, 91 S.Ct. 702, 27 L.Ed.2d 639 (1971), and Application of Stolar, 401 U.S. 23, 91 S.Ct. 713, 27 L.Ed.2d 657 (1971), the Court, in 5-4 decisions, struck down as unconstitutional a requirement of the Arizona State Bar that applicants for state bar membership could be denied admission for failure to list membership in the Communist Party on their applications. In a plurality opinion in which three other justices joined, Justice Hugo Black opined that such a requirement violated the principle of Freedom of Association guaranteed under the First Amendment.


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