Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Statement by the President Upon Signing the Communist Control Act of 1954.

August 24, 1954

I HAVE TODAY signed S. 3706, An Act to make illegal the Communist Party and to prohibit members of Communist organizations from serving in certain representative capacities.

The American people are determined to protect themselves and their institutions against any organization in their midst which, purporting to be a political party within the normally accepted meaning, is actually a conspiracy dedicated to the violent overthrow of our entire form of government. The American people, likewise, are determined to accomplish this in strict conformity with the requirements of justice, fair play and the Constitution of the United States. They realize that employment of any other means would react unfavorably against the innocent as well as the guilty, and, in the long run, would distort and damage the judicial procedures of our country. The whole series of bills that the Administration has sponsored in this field have been designed in just this spirit and with just these purposes.

The new law which I am signing today includes one of the many recommendations made by this Administration to support existing statutes in defeating the Communist conspiracy in this country. Administratively, we have in the past 19 months stepped up enforcement of laws against subversives. As a result, 41 top Communist leaders have been convicted, 35 more are indicted and scheduled for trial, and 105 subversive aliens have been deported.

The new laws enacted in this session of the Congress provide to the FBI and the Department of Justice much more effective weapons to help destroy the Communist menace. They include the following:

1. Last week I signed a bill granting immunity from prosecution to certain suspected persons in order to aid in obtaining the conviction of subversives. Investigation and prosecution of crimes involving national security have been seriously hampered by witnesses who have invoked the Constitutional privilege against self-incrimination embodied in the Fifth Amendment. This Act provides a new means of breaking through the secrecy which is characteristic of traitors, spies and saboteurs.

2. The Congress has passed a bill providing for the loss of citizenship by those advocating the overthrow of our government by force and violence. In carrying out the Administration's recommendation that any citizen who knowingly and actively participates in the Communist conspiracy to overthrow the government by force and violence should be regarded as renouncing his allegiance to the United States and forfeiting his right to citizenship, the Congress has reinforced our historic concept that citizenship is a right only of those who bear true faith and allegiance to the United States and its free institutions. This bill to which I shall presently give my approval adheres closely to our standards of due process of law and provides that the loss of citizenship shall become effective only upon conviction by a court of competent jurisdiction.

3. My approval has already been given to the bill which carries out the recommendation by this Administration increasing the penalty for harboring or concealing any person who is a fugitive from justice. There are at the present time five Communist leaders who have been indicted or convicted under the Smith Act who are fugitives from justice. This bill serves notice that any person who assists such fugitives in any way to conceal their whereabouts will be subject to severe penalty.

4. My approval has already been given to a bill designed to serve as an effective additional deterrent to wilful bail jumping by making such act a crime subject to severe penalty.

5. The Congress has passed, and I shall approve, a bill to include within the definition of sabotage, acts involving the use of radioactive, biological and chemical agents not presently covered by the law.

6. The foregoing bill also includes a provision for the death penalty for persons found guilty of peacetime espionage.

7. I have already approved a bill requiring "Communist-Action" or "Communist-Front" organizations, which must register under the Internal Security Act, to submit full information regarding printing equipment in their custody or control.

8. I shall shortly sign a bill preventing the payment of annuities by the United States to former officers and employees who have been convicted of certain criminal offenses. This Act includes those who have made false statements regarding past or present membership in the Communist Party.

In addition to the foregoing measures enacted by the 83rd Congress, the bill which I have signed today further carries out an important part of the recommendations made by this Administration. It creates within the framework of the Internal Security Act of 1950 a new category entitled, "Communist-Infiltrated Organizations." This provision will enable the Administration to assist members of those few labor organizations which are dominated by Communists, to rid themselves of the Communist control under which they have been forced to operate.

In the final days of the session, the Congress added to this measure certain clauses denying to Communists all rights, privileges and immunities which they have under the Federal Government. These provisions also subject members of the Communist Party or its front organizations, having knowledge of their revolutionary aims and objectives, to the provisions and penalties of the Internal Security Act. The full impact of these clauses upon the enforcement of the laws by which we are now fighting the Communist conspiracy in this country will require further careful study. I am satisfied, however, that they were not intended to impair or abrogate any portion of the Internal Security Act or the criminal statutes under which the leaders of the Communist Party are now being prosecuted and that they may prove helpful in several respects.

The Congress has thus enacted a substantial portion of the Administration's recommendations to strengthen our internal security laws.

In order to provide aggressive administration and enforcement of the foregoing measures, I have already strengthened the mechanism for carrying out more effectively our entire anti-Communist program by the creation of the Division of Internal Security in the Department of Justice.

We have made great progress in the past year and a half in prosecuting the leadership of the Communist conspiracy. I am proud that in this battle against the subversive elements in this country we have been able to preserve the rights of the accused in accordance with our traditions and the Bill of Rights. The 83d Congress has added effective new legal weapons to assist us in our fight to destroy communism in this country.

Note: As enacted, S. 3706 is Public Law 637, 83d Congress (68 Stat. 775).

The statement was released at Lowry Air Force Base, Denver, Colo.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Statement by the President Upon Signing the Communist Control Act of 1954. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232611

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