SAW PAPERS, STATE AIDES SAY
The Washington Post, December 20, 1948
the United Press
secret diplomatic documents which the former State Department
officer, Alger Hiss, is accused of handing to a Communist
spy ring, were accessible to dozens of persons, both inside
and out of Government, it was revealed yesterday.
information was obtained from Government officials whose
past or present duties involve the handling of highly confidential
Government material. For obvious reasons their identities
cannot be disclosed.
were asked individually a series of questions on just how
closely guarded were the secret documents just released
by the House Un-American Activities Committee and which
resulted in the indictment of Hiss on perjury charges.
was agreement on these points, based on practices prevailing
during 1937-1938, the period of the "leaks," and
until the outbreak of World War II, or later:
It was, and still may he, common practice for persons with
access to secret information to take such data to their
homes for study, with the attendant risk of improper use
or loss by theft. (One official said frankly that he once
admonished his wife to keep away from the desk in his study.)
"Secrets" such as those contained in the Hiss- Chambers
"Pumpkin Papers" were, on occasion, made available to non-Government
persons. These people included a limited number of authors,
historians, research workers and one-time officials writing
From the outset of World War II, State Department classified
information was made available to other departments, such
as War and Navy; to war agencies such as the Lend-Lease
Administration, and to interdepartmental committees.
Former department officials, including those on the lower
levels, have been known to leave the Government service
armed with copies or abstracts of classified information
for use in qualifying for advanced academic degrees, writings
on international economic or political problems, or for
other purposes. And there have been reported cases of persons
who took copious notes from secret documents simply because
they "kept a diary."
A once common practice was the "briefing" of classified
documents by junior officials for transmittal to their superiors.
These jottings were not unlike some of the material released
by the House committee, including hand notations allegedly
in Hiss' handwriting.
to the Pumpkin Papers