INT: That's a great answer, thank you. Now just to move on a bit. Would you be able to describe to me Senator McCarthy and the techniques that he was using, 'cos there's a whole culture, a whole, you know, way that they deal...
AK: (Interrupts) Yes, which we now know. The techniques of Senator McCarthy is something that everybody in this country now knows as McCarthyism. And we're very concerned, because sometimes, even after the end of the Cold War some forces in this country try to re-establish McCarthyism. And what was the main technique of Senator McCarthy? He had this control over this Senate committee that meant he had powers to subpoena anybody throughout the country and his technique was - and I'll never forget this, as a youngster, as a young lawyer, I would go through the experience when someone who I deeply respected, whether she was a school teacher orwhether she was a writer or whether he was a plant worker, they would be subpoenaed and then we would show up at McCarthy's committee andwhat would be the first thing that Senator McCarthy would do to himself or his aide, Roy Cohn, who goes down in our history as one of the most vicious and, you know, just brutal people that this country has ever experienced, they would not call our person to the stand, they would call what became to be known as a friendly witness, friendly to everybody except you. Friendly to McCarthy. And that witness would get on the stand, he would look at our folks, and the witness would say, with an absolute straight face, oh, I know, that person's a Communist. How do I know? I went to Communist meetings with them. And either that person was someone - and I'll never forget how upset our clients, our people would get, because sometime these so-called friendly witnesses had been at one time really friends of theirs, had worked with them together. They'd never been in a Communist organisation, yes, they'd been in the union together, but they'd been in a friendly little community organisation fighting for better housing. And the person, then we'd realised what happened. McCarthy and his whole gang would get a hold of these people and would privately say to them, either you testify for us, what we want you to say, that the people that we're going to point out to you, who you were working with, who you were friendly with, were Commies or, if you refuse to do that, we'll subpoena you and you'll be forced to lose your job or go to jail. So we had that. Then, the other half of the friendly witnesses were people who never knew our people and who were just what, paid by McCarthy. He had loads of money coming into him. He got money in years later, we discovered, not only did he have official moneys from the Senate, but private funds were given to him by the powerful corporates' offices to do this and he would buy-off people to get up there and say, oh I know so and so, she's a Commie, he's a Commie and they even knew those people. So this was the technique, this was McCarthyism. But then what he developed, 'cos he had very close relations with the media and with the press, was that they would begin to develop publicly, in the media, the fact that any activity which was designed against, for example, the foreign policies of the Truman administration, where people were getting together, whole movement was developing among a lot of us who had been in World War Two, we didn't want another war and we were beginning what later was known as the Anti-War Movement. But what was McCarthy's approach through the media and the power structure? If you took a position against the war policies of the Truman administration, that automatically meant you were Communist. Or, if you took a position saying the moment has come for higher wages for workers, that was a Commie approach and this would be in the media, this would be in the newspapers, all over the country. So we would develop this and that was McCarthyism in its strongest form.
INT: And why was it damaging in some ways to America to make heroes of informers?
AK: It was totally damaging to what we deeply believed America was supposed to stand for. And America was supposed to stand for what our Declaration of Independence said, that we were a country - and I'll never forget, in the days of the Cold War, I would take a little document out of my pocket to read to McCarthy or to whatever character I was fighting against as to what his country really was and I'll never forget once, I pulled this little document out and I was starting to read from it. This was a country that was based upon life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness of all of its people. And I'll never forget, when I first started to pull that out once, Roy Cohn said to me, where'd you get that Commie document? I said, Commie document? That's the Declaration of Independence and we should throw our most powerful statements from what? Everybody tended to forget and I'd have to remind people that the people who wrote the Declaration of Independence, the people who wrote the Constitution of the United States were not long-haired radicals, they were... most of them were federalists, most of them were conservatives, but they believed deeply in these principles and so we had to fight against the destruction of these concepts and of these principles.
INT: OK. In the long term, do you think American society was damaged? What was the damage done by McCarthyism to American society?
AK: Oh, there was terrific damage, that it took certain very important developments in our history to overcome and the damage was that people became frightened to exercise their political rights. They were frightened... people were actually frightened to go to vote. People were frightened to join any kind of political party, which might be in opposition to the present to the administration or the power structure. People were frightened to express themselves publicly on any issue and this was damaging. This was turning us into a... what was the road? I'll never forget what we learned as young people again, one of these older folks told us we should never get. What the then Governor of Louisiana said, Huey Long, who was one of the most incredible students of our history and what was it that Huey Long said that we never forgot during those days and don't forget today and what was it? He said publicly, what the American people must never forget is that when Fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in an American flag. And that's what we were experiencing. We were on a path of total destruction of what this country was supposed t stand for and that's what we had to live through.
INT: That's a great answer. Now I'm just going to jump across really to the Rosenbergs and I wondered if you could tell me the story about your final encounter with the judge and what he said to you?
AK: , one of the most upsetting experiences that we had as young people in the Cold War was what we went through in the experience of the final days of the life of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and of Morton Sobell. They had been attacked as atomic spies and had been tried and they were found guilty and JJulius and Ethel were condemned to death, Morton Sobell was sentenced to thirty years in prison and what we felt that this was again part of the whole McCarthyite strategy, because it's one thing... they started out by saying, all right, if you're going to oppose us in any way, then you're radical, then they would say, if your a radical, you're a Commie and if you were doing anything whatsoever to oppose our positions, you were a Commie and, but they then needed a third prong to their strategy and what was it? That if you do anything to oppose us whatsoever, you are a traitor, you are an atomic spy or you were supporting spies and that's why they had to frame up Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and Morton Sobell. And the years later, it's just very important to put it in its historical perspective. We discovered papers and documents, secret papers in which Roy Cohn, who was one of them working with the US Attorneys who were trying, they met secretly with the judge before the trial ever started and they had a secret meeting in which they agreed - this is before there was even a conviction - that Julius and Ethel Rosenberg had to be executed. That this was a frame-up of the worst type. But in any event, there was a great deal of deep feeling that they were at least entitled to the full protection of the Constitution and so what happened? We, as young lawyers, get a telephone call from Manny Block, who was the lawyer, together with Gloria Agran, for the Rosenbergs and Mort Sobell and they had been sentenced to death, Julius and Ethel, Mort to prison and then something had to happen... An execution date had been set. Then something happened which everybody felt so relieved about. Justice Douglas, who we all loved dearly, he's a liberal, one of the few liberal then members of the Supreme Court of the United States...