|For Alec Mouhibian|
You said, in post #4, of the McCarthy era when calling it a myth and way overblown, "All but the Rosenbergs had their lives and jobs restored, replete with hero-status among the left." A little later you also claimed "As for what ended up happening, everyone but the Rosenbergs (who undoubtedly deserved it) got off scott free!" I suggest you do a little research on the following people: Charlie Chaplin, John Garfeild, Joseph Bromberg, Canada Lee, and Philip Loeb. These people were adversely affected by the House of Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) hearings, but I don't believe they had their lives or the jobs restored. (NOTE: Yes , I know that Senator McCarthy didn't have anything to do with the HUAC hearings regarding Hollywood Communists. I am using the term McCarthy era to include the broad time frame from the late forties to the mid-to-late fifties and am including activities by both the House and Senate.)
You also said, "Anyone who is involved with a treasonous organization is subject to investigation. When it comes to prosecution, of course, a distinction must be made between those who are only ideological members and those who are wittingly acting as agents of the enemy. For those who are proven to be the latter, prosecution is absolutely justified." I agree. The problem with HUAC was that they circumvented DUE PROCESS!!! (Due Process is a little something we have here in the United States of America and I am rather fond of it.)
You said in post #6, "The ineptitude of HUAC in prosecuting these people is another story. The main reason they couldn't be convicted is that eye-witness testimony was necessary, and often wasn't provided, because their fellow-travelers kept their mouths shut. There were a few heroic exceptions, such as Eli Kazan." Problem here is that no one was prosecuted sense normally understood in American jurisprudence. In these proceedings the HUAC acted as judge, jury, and (with the help of the studio heads) executioner. No one was convicted because no one was arrested and put on trial. Instead, because they had been named by others or because they had known left leaning politics, they were asked to implicate others as communists. Those who refused found that they could no longer work in Hollywood. Magically, if those who were blacklisted later admitted to being 'duped' by the commies and then 'named names' they often found that they were allowed to work in Hollywood again (i.e. Kazan). The HUAC never "convicted" anyone... that would be job of the judiciary not the legislature. Presumably, if anything of substance came of the HUAC hearings then arrests would be made, the the defendants formally charged with treason, and then tried in federal court.
However, some people were arrested (by police) and were tried (by a judge and jury in a real court of law) in the 40's. The Alien Registration Act was used against the America Communist Party and in 1949, after a lengthy trial, several people were convicted for advocating the overthrow of the US government. Over the next couple of years a few dozen people, also members of the American Communist Party, were arrested and charged with similar crimes. Oddly, I don't believe any of the infamous Hollywood 10 were included in these proceedings. Also, the victims of the HUAC hearings didn't have the courtesy of a court trial. In most instances they never really did anything wrong (you know, that whole initiate the use of force thingy) except to refuse to co-operate with the HUAC.
Also in post #6 you state, "The equation to Salem is, as I say, absolutely mythical. Salem involved goofy accusations of witchcraft. HUAC involved accusations of aiding and abetting the Soviet Union, which were true!" The parallel between HUAC and the Salem trials was that in each instance, those who incriminated others were able to avoid punishment, those who refused were dealt with harshly (the Salem witches were killed, the HUAC victims were fired from thier Hollywood jobs. Of course, in Salem they at least had the benefit of official trials.)
Lastly, at the end of post #6, you state, "I don't know if normal courts can handle charges of treason, especially when national security concerns are so pressing. Such important, time-sensitive cases in a time of war can (it seems to me) only be handled at the federal level." All I can say is WOW! this is frightening. I can see no instance were it should become necessary to pre-empt civil liberties and due process. I am very proud of the English Common law heritage in the US. Concepts like the right to a trial by jury, double jeopardy, jury nullification, habeas corpus, and others should not to be taken for granted. We should all be fighting to preserve these ideals, especially in time of crisis and distress. They are among the things that make our way of life so great.