Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Ambassador Alfred Puhan
“The Loval American Underground”
Now, when McCarthy lashed out at the Voice of America, there developed a very ugly atmosphere in the Voice. There was the so-called American underground, patriotic American underground. This was a bunch of people who thought that everybody who disagreed with them was a communist.
Now, I with my upbringing in the middle west and a fairly conservative outlook and not ever having been a member of any organization except the Modern Language Association when I was a young teacher, thought I had very little to fear from McCarthy. But one morning my wife received a telephone callwe were living in New Jerseyfrom Bobby Kennedy asking me to report to the Waldorf Astoria, where to my amazement when I arrived there, there was a man who was on my staff sitting there guarding the files. And this man was Howard Hotchner. He apparently had written down, jotted down, everything that I had ever said in staff meetings and so on and he had madeI had no inkling that this man had any political ideas. He was a stamp collector. He lived in the same little town that Gene Kern and I lived in, and we often went to work together and came home together. And I never suspected that Howard had anything to do with this.
I went there and I was asked by Cohn and Schine and there was another one, I can't remember. His name began with S. But anyway, I was asked if I knew anything about communism. I said, indeed I did. I had in mind the fact that there was a public affairs officer in London who had been asked this question and who thought apparently that if he said he knew something about it that he would be accused of communism. So, he said he didn't. The interrogator said how can you be a public affairs officer when you don't know anything about communism?
So they grilled me and the worst aspectI did not feel myself threatened because I had no, as I say, I had no fear of being labeled a communist or anything like that. The worst aspect of this was that anything you said could be used in a way to get at somebody else. For instance, the case of Mr. Reed and the information program.
Q: Reed Harris?