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Last year, William W. Remington and Michael J. Lee, employees of the Commerce Department, were cleared of charges of various types of disloyalty by the President's Loyalty Review Board. This year, new charges were brought up against them in a congressional committee and on the floor of the Senate, leading to a new review by the Commerce Loyalty Board, a review which is still in progress. Two days ago, the Secretary of Commerce asked both men to resign "in the interest of good administration in the department."
If, as the Department says, the "action is in no wise intended to reflect in any way on the loyalty of either of these two men," then it is at best ill-timed and poorly explained. There is enough vagueness about the charges occasionally lobbed by agile Congressmen into departmental backyards without the departments obscuring things further.
If Remington and Lee were not fired for security reasons, then they are entitled to a detailed justification of the step so that there will be no chance of their being branded unjustly with the hammer and sickle. If security was the reason, then the Commerce Department has erred both in concealing its motives and in taking action before its own loyalty board had published a decision.
Remington spent all his savings last year fighting off Elizabeth Bentley's charges that he had given her secret documents while he was with the War Production Board. He has recently been accused of membership in a 1937 Knoxville Communist cell. Lee was charged by a Senator with impeding the flow of aviation gasoline to the Chinese nationalists. It will be very unfortunate if the two men are fired without the public finding out what the Commerce Department thinks of these charges, if indeed it thinks of them at all.
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