The Foreign Service Journal, January-February 2020

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2020 21 SPEAKING OUT Truth and Honor BY HARRY KOPP Former Foreign Service Officer Harry Kopp is a frequent contributor to the FSJ and a member of its Editorial Board. T he wave of truth-telling by government employees, in defiance of a White House order not to cooperate with the House impeachment inquiry, stunned The New Yorker ’s Susan B. Glasser. “This,” she wrote, “is bravery of a sort that has become so rare in our public life as to be almost unimaginable.” Whether Ms. Glasser’s judgment is cor- rect depends on the reach of one’s imagi- nation, but there should be no debate about the bravery, or the rarity. In August 2019 a public servant who saw something wrong blew the whistle and called a foul. The whistleblower’s com- plaint dealt with the president’s apparent linkage of military aid to Ukraine to that government’s willingness to state publicly its intention to investigate (a) activities in Ukraine of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter and (b) alleged Ukrai- nian interference in the 2016 U.S. election. By October the House of Represen- tatives had opened its impeachment inquiry, which White House Counsel Pat Cipollone tried to kill in its cradle: “Presi- dent Trump and his Administration,” he wrote to the House, “reject your baseless, unconstitutional efforts to overturn the democratic process. … President Trump cannot permit his Administration to participate in this partisan inquiry under these circumstances.” Yet the witnesses kept coming, responding to congressional subpoenas: Foreign Service officers, military officers, members of the Civil Service, noncareer professionals and even some political appointees testified before the House Intelligence Committee. In so doing, they stayed true to their oath to support and defend the Con- stitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. But at a cost: they risked their careers and brought down upon themselves a torrent of insults, lies and threats, some of which came from the president of the United States. The endpoint of their action remains unknown. The Foreign Service, Civil Service and armed services all recognize that elected officials, who take the same oath to support and defend the Constitu- tion, derive political authority directly from the people. That authority is to be respected and deferred to: We do not have a government of a million Supreme Court justices, each understanding the Constitu- tion in their own way. If the bravery shown by the officials who have testified is rare, it is because a conflict of the sort that now divides the government is rare. So rare, in fact, that it is tempting to say we have never seen anything quite like it. s Tempting, but wrong. Comparisons can be drawn between the present situation and the period, roughly from 1947 to 1954, when the State Department generally, and the U.S. Foreign Service in particular, were accused of acting against U.S. interests and placing national security at risk. The accusations then came from the legislative branch; and although they were bipartisan, the charges leveled by Republican members, principally Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin, are most remembered for their ferocity and recklessness. McCarthy’s attacks on State were part of a long American history of intermit- tent, frenzied searches for radicals plot- ting to subvert the country or sell it out to foreign powers. Between 1900 and 1940, government inquisitors had gone after anarchists, socialists, syndicalists, Bol- sheviks and, briefly, Nazis. After the war, Senator William Jenner (R-Ind.) wanted to “impeach President [Harry] Truman and find out who is the secret invisible government.” Today’s nightmarish vision of a “deep state” of conspirators with vague but malevolent aims fits squarely in this tradition. Joe McCarthy was no thinker. As Rob- ert Griffith wrote, he did not attack ideas, he attacked people—with invective, innu- endo, lies and nicknames. He warned of “a conspiracy so immense and infamy so black as to dwarf any previous such venture in the history of man.” He called General of the Army and Secretary of Defense George C. Marshall Jr. “a pathetic thing … completely unfit” for office, an “instrument of the Soviet conspiracy,” a man who had “an affinity for Chinese Reds.” Secretary of State Dean Acheson, a natty dresser, was the “Red Dean of Fash- ion” (a poor rhyme with Acheson). McCarthy blamed the Department of State and the Foreign Service for the