Informants, Committees and Travel

Excerpt from a testimony by Louis Budenz, annotations by Linus Pauling.

[Part 6 of 7]

Over the course of their thirty years of keeping tabs on him, the Federal Bureau of Investigation utilized a wide variety of tactics to monitor Linus Pauling and his activities. They kept track of his travel, saved references made to Pauling in the media, charted his participation in various groups and documented his appearances before different committees and government bodies. Perhaps one of their most intrusive methods however, was their use of informants and incriminating information provided by those who claimed to know him well.

Pauling’s friends and neighbors were questioned throughout the FBI’s long investigation, as were his colleagues and superiors at Caltech. Nearly every filed interview suggests that Pauling’s associates held a favorable opinion of his loyalty.  And even though these FBI activities contributed to an atmosphere of suspicion, Pauling appears to have been surrounded by individuals who truly cared for his well-being. At least one of Pauling’s personal secretaries fit this description, in so much as she served as an impediment to the FBI’s information-gathering schemes, as revealed, in part, by a 1961 Bureau memo:

Pauling teaches no classes at CIT and is engaged in research work only… [substantial redaction] positive in his own mind that no one could approach Dr. Pauling’s secretary about him, without she advising Dr. Pauling forthwith. [redacted] that Pauling’s office and its effects are kept under lock and key at all times.

[redacted] unable to furnish the name of anyone with whom Dr. Pauling discusses his future plans, other than his secretary, as noted above…Efforts will continue to develop a reliable source concerning the travel plans of Pauling, and the Bureau will be advised in this regard.

While Pauling’s long history with the FBI is wrought with both peculiar observations and fastidious documentation of his political activities, the most influential and frequently referenced item in his case file undoubtedly is the 1950 accusation made against him by Louis Budenz.

A former Communist Party member and managing director of the Daily Worker, Budenz became an informant for the FBI in the late 1940s. In a book that he wrote as a staff-member at Fordham University, Budenz claimed to know the identity of 400 concealed communists in prominent professional positions across the United States. Budenz advised FBI personnel that Linus Pauling was one of the 400, lending substantial weight to the loyalty investigation which had been administered to him in 1948. In regard to Pauling, Budenz provided FBI agents with the following testimony:

Although I did not meet Professor Pauling personally, he was officially mentioned as a Communist in connection with the formation of the Independent Citizens’ Committee for the Arts, Sciences and Professions at the time that he was active in cooperating in its formation, which was in late 1943 or early 1944. Dr. Pauling had been referred to me before that as a Communist in official reports from Milton Howard, who was assigned to cooperate in infiltration of the scientists, and also in official reports from V.J Jerome and Eugene Dennis. Up until 1945 Jack Stachel officially stated to me that Dr. Pauling was an active Communist. He has been a member of many fronts and also cooperated in raising money on several occasions.


Pauling’s file is likewise filled with comprehensive documentation of his appearances before several government boards and committees. An FBI agent was in attendance at the 1950 California State Senate Committee on Education hearings where Pauling was questioned about his refusal to sign a loyalty oath – five pages of notes outline the agent’s perception of the proceedings and Pauling’s testimony. While the overview of Pauling’s appearance before the Committee on Education is unusually detailed, it is generally evenhanded, taking care to note Pauling’s personal perspective without adding much in the way of inflammatory comment:

Pauling stated that all Communists should not be in the same category. He stated that he did not believe that there was any danger of Communist infiltration into the educational system. He said that even though he knew he put himself in jeopardy, he refused to answer the question as to whether or not he was ever a member of the Communist Party… He reiterated that when the United States suppresses liberal thought it was suppressing a part of the total thought.

Pauling’s files also contain a great number of testimonies from hearings and legal proceedings, particularly in the form of transcripts from several of Pauling’s court cases. Notes regarding particular difficulties that he experienced with other official entities are frequently presented, as is extensive documentation of his travel arrangements.

While it is now possible for scholars to reconstruct Pauling’s travel schedule by using a combination of the public record as well as the receipts, tickets and bills that he kept in his own personal records, the FBI maintained its own considerable documentation of Pauling’s travel – both domestic and abroad – in exacting and even disturbing detail. That noted, much of the FBI material concerning Pauling’s travel is redacted, making it difficult to discern the full level of infiltration into his personal arrangements. The information that remains visible usually takes the form of a report sent to the FBI Director, with a statement akin to:  “Will follow and report the return of Dr. and Mrs. Pauling from foreign travel on or about 1/15/64.”


The cover sheet to Section 8 of Paulings FBI file - annotations by Linus Pauling.

The FBI files also contain transcripts and commentary from Pauling’s 1951 appearance before the Industrial Employment Review Board, as well as his testimony before the Hennings Sub-committee on Constitutional Rights. Unsurprisingly, the files likewise contain substantial content related to Pauling’s two 1960 appearances before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee (SISS). Extensive documentation demonstrates that members of the SISS maintained regular contact with FBI agents throughout the case that they built around Pauling, and updates were regularly fed to the Bureau.  The updates were especially frequent in Spring 1958, when Chief Counsel Jules Sourwine and other staff members were determining whether or not Pauling would make a satisfactory target for the committee’s next investigation:

Jay [sic] Sourwine, while discussing other matters, stated that there has been considerable activity on the part of Dr. Linus Pauling to stop atomic bomb tests, etc. He stated they have considerable front material on Pauling and he was wondering if Pauling might not be a fertile subject for inquiry by the Internal Security Subcommittee. He stated that he would appreciate any advice we might give him along this line feeling that Pauling might have some definite Party connections. Sourwine is not asking for information concerning Pauling but simply our opinion as to whether he might be a good subject to call before the Subcommittee.

RECOMMENDATION:

It is suggested that the Domestic Intelligence Division give this matter consideration.

FBI data in hand, the committee was ready to move against Pauling as early as 1958, but unforeseen political concerns, which are also documented in Pauling’s case file, delayed the confrontation. After nearly a year-and-a-half (during which time the committee focused on harassing and hastening the dissolution of SANE, a series of local but interconnected anti-bomb groups) Pauling was finally subpoenaed by SISS and questioned about his nuclear test ban petition. Pauling cooperated with the committee to some extent, but refused to provide information about those who had helped him collect petition signatures. Consequently, Pauling was commanded to appear at a second hearing before SISS later that year.

During the break that preceded his second appearance before their Committee, while Pauling was away on a pre-planned trip to Europe, SISS staff members were busy preparing material to use against him. In their ensuing efforts to weaken Pauling’s alternatives and strengthen their own general case, SISS staff members maintained contact and kept consultation with the FBI:

Mr. Sourwine stated he is attempting to convince the committee that a hearing should be held in New York City prior to 9-15-60 for the purpose of calling to such hearing several persons favorable to Pauling who could be expected to plead the Fifth Amendment. It is Sourwine’s view that with this testimony on the record, the committee’s position against Pauling would be stronger on 9-15-60 when he reappears.

Mr. Sourwine said he would keep us advised.

The final hearing with SISS ended well for Pauling. However the SISS case file, hearing transcript and a substantial amount of arguably relevant material was sequestered in Pauling’s FBI case file for future use. The information, pitched in a negative light, frequently resurfaced in Bureau reports throughout the following decade.

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