TSCM and Eavesdropping Detection Services
New York area headquarters
Services available worldwide

800-635-0811
+1-908-832-7900


Information Protection and Privacy Assurance
for Business, Government
and at-risk Individuals


Home

     •
Introduction

     • FAQs

     • Estimate Worksheet

     • Contact

About Us

     • Qualifications

     • Instrumentation

     • Subcontracting

     • Innovations

     • Staff

     • Client Reviews

     • Comparison Chart

     • Operating Policy

General Information

     • Downloads

     • Insider Tips

     • Ask questions

     • 100+ Spybuster Tips

     • One Minute TSCM Quiz

     • MoviesCartoons

     • Books

     • Eavesdropping History

Spy News from New York
Kevin's Security Scrapbook


This appears if user doesn't have JavaScript enabled, or doesn't have the required Flash Player version.




Eavesdropping Detection and Counterespionage Consulting enquiries are invited from corporate, government and professional security entities.

TSCM Eavesdropping Detection and TSCM Services US FlagFor federal procurement purposes, U.S. Government regulations classify Murray Associates Counterespionage as a Small Business, Professional Consulting Firm.

Registered Vendor:
• National Security Agency (NSA ARC)
• DoD - CCR
• Exostar SourcePass
• Jones Lang LaSalle
• ISNetworld
• Ariba

Spybusters, LLC dba
Murray Associates
PO Box 668
Oldwick, NJ 08858
(USA)




Certified Protection Professional CPP TSCM


Certified Information Security Manager - CISM TSCM


Certified Fraud Examiner CFE TSCM


International Association of Professional Security Consultants - IAPSC TSCM


American Society for Industrial Security ASIS TSCM


HTCIA logo


InfraGard Logo


Use of this site indicates acceptance of Terms of Use, Linking, and Privacy Statements.

Copyright 1996-2014, Spybusters, LLC (140209)

(above) Replica of the Great Seal bug.
On display at the National Security Agency (NSA)
National Cryptologic Museum

Eavesdropping NSA


THE GREAT SEAL BUG STORY
Part II - John W. Ford
TSCM Team Supervisor

In August of 2009, I was contacted by a man whose father, John W. Ford, was the person who led the search The Thing in the Ambassador's office. He kindly sent his father's papers so that they may be included in this history.





from John W. Ford's unfinished memoirs...
"The year was 1951 the month of March aboard a train from Helsinki to Leningrad to Moscow. The view from our closely guarded train window, a 1900 wooden polished brass decorated Belgian passenger car was total uter (sic) sameness. As far as we could see across the Russian countryside, there was snow interrupted occasionally at station stops by the scene of heavily clad Russian women hoisting huge railway tires (sic).

My companion was an Armenian Joseph Beschian (also spelled Bezjian), an electronics technician.

I was thirty-one years of age only four years in the American Foreign Service. In this particular mission to Moscow, and in during this particular mission to Moscow there was ample time for reflection on the interesting and varied life one encounters in the American Foreign Service.

Our mission was secret at the time and our pouch bags were chuck full of electronic gear which hopefully would locate what the Soviets were using against the British, the Canadians and the U.S. Embassies in Moscow in the way of highly advanced electronic listening equipment.

Aboard that Moscow train and on many other occasions since, I have vowed that I would never encourage any of my six boys, three of whom were born in the American Foreign Service, to take up this gypsy life as a career.

As my own career nears the final chapter, I can honestly say with broad perspective of twenty-five years behind me I know of no career which would offer the adventures, travails as well as the rewards that does the American Foreign Service."
- John W. Ford


John W. Ford had a long and very illustrious career in the United States government. "Ambassadors and Secretaries of State came to rely on his judgement." (Richard T. McCormack, Ambassador). Presidents have also praised him.

Employment:
• Twenty-five years in the American Foreign Service
• Minister Counselor and Deputy U.S. Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States (OAS)

Experiences:
• One revolution. (Venezuela)
• Two earthquakes. (Peru and Mexico)
• Discover of The Great Seal Bugging Device in Moscow.
• A public encounter with Senator Joseph McCarthy.
• In charge of President Eisenhower's visit to Acapulco.
• Phased out the U.S. Counsel in Hanoi just prior to North Vietnam's takeover.
• Helped stop the El Salvador / Honduras war, in four days.


March 27, 1953 - John W. Ford (right), State department security director, uses a chart during his appearance before the House judiciary committee yesterday. He was called to explain long delays in sending U.N. loyalty reports on United States employees. Chairman Kenneth B. Keating of New York is at left. - United Press Photo (full size .pdf)

While Deputy Assistant Secretary for Security, at the Department of State, he was also involved in the Senator Joseph McCarthy hearings. He provides great insight in his writings about this parallel piece of American history.


Summaries

John W. Ford, writing to Mr. Vaky about his transition to Director of the Office of Security, 1952-1953. (2/3/69)
"Before returning from Paris, I had been two months in Moscow trying to assist British and Canadian Govt’s in the location of a new type electronic microphone the Soviets were using against them. Our eventual location in Spasso House of the type device they were using, resulted in numerous appearances before Congressional Committees interested in clandestine listening equipment."


Russ Wapensky, United States Department of State, writing to Mrs. Ford just after John W. Ford's death. (9/26/88)
"As you know, one of the highlights of John’s career was in 1951 when he and a colleague discovered a Soviet listening device planted in the Great Seal of The United States at our Embassy in Moscow. John had often wondered what became of the Great Seal after he had returned it to the U.S. After some research, I located it in the Office of Diplomatic Security here in the Department. John was surprised and delighted to see the Great Seal again, and it brought back some great memories of his earlier exploits. John was profuse in his thanks but he shouldn’t have been. It was a small token of appreciation to someone who had given so much over the years to his country and to his colleagues without asking or expecting anything in return."


The McCarthy Years Inside The Department of State - by John W. Ford
"In March of 1951, I was on special assignment to the USSR in the combined interest of the British, Canadian and United States governments and their embassies in Moscow -- to search for and hopefully uncover the latest clandestine listening device being used by he Soviets -- a miniature electronic microphone, activated by a radio from some distance away. My travelling companion, Joseph Bezjian (also spelled Beschian), worked for me as electronics technician. Months later he was honored by the Department of State for his fine work which lead to the discovery of an advanced miniature listening device hidden in the Great Seal of the United States -- a wooden replica hanging in Spasso House, the Ambassador’s official residence.

Great Seal Bug - 1961
Circa 1961: Director of Security John Reilly (right) holds the cavity resonator 'bug' microphone found inside a carved wooden image of the United States Great Seal, presented by Soviet officials to the U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union in 1948. The DS agent at left points to where the bug was placed in the carving. Security technical officer Joseph Bezjian discovered the bug with the aid of Ambassador George Kennan in 1952. (Source: U.S. Department of State Archives)

This seal was expertly carved, and beneath the eagle’s beak were barely visible pin holes made by a jewelers drill to admit voice waves to the diaphragm of the miniature microphone. For this and other ultimately successful assignments I was “rewarded” with a Washington job - - one which today is that of Deputy Assistant Secretary for Security. Little did I realize then what a return to Washington would mean with Senator Joseph McCarthy producing random lists of alleged communists within the Department of State and the Foreign Office.

First, however, with the late “Chip” Bohlen, who would soon become a prominent target of the McCarthy campaign, and with key officials of the Department of State, I conducted briefings concerning the Moscow “find”.

The most memorable of these briefings was with Secretary of State Dean Acheson who also was to become McCarthy’s favorite target. Secretary Acheson spent an hour with me taking apart the miniature device about the circumference of a quarter, and of one inch thickness, with its diaphragm, piston, and small antenna. He was fascinated and he told me “I want to make sure I know how to take it apart and reassemble it so when I am with President Truman this afternoon, I can show him how skilled I am.” Later on when I saw photos of Mr. Acheson in his carpentry shop at his home meticulously carving furniture, I recalled the sure hand of Secretary Acheson taking apart this small piece of Soviet electronic technology."


What follows is John W. Ford's story as told in his words and letters.


United States Government Memorandum (2/3/69) (.pdf)

To: Mr. Vaky
From: Mr. Ford
Date: 2/3/69
Subject: Transition 1952-53

You have no idea how tranquil a transition 1968-69 has been. Some old newspaper clips I found in a trunk this weekend brought back memories of 1952-53 when I was practically under constant subpoena to various Congressional committees particularly Senator McCarthy’s. I returned from Paris in October 1951 preparatory to taking over as Director of the Office of Security. You might be interested in the following sequence:

1. Before returning from Paris, I had been two months in Moscow trying to assist British and Canadian Govt’s in the location of a new type electronic microphone the Soviets were using against them. Our eventual location in Spasso House of the type device they were using, resulted in numerous appearances before Congressional Committees interested in clandestine listening equipment.

2. “Chip” Bohlen’s assignment to Moscow was held up by the Foreign Relations Committee. McCarthy was demanding the SY files of Amb. Bohlen, Robert Newbegin, and Willard Beaulac. I refused repeatedly under Executive privilege.

3. The Metropolitan Police claimed to have a “tape” recording implicating Amb. Bohlen. Secretary Dulles called me to his office, and with Senators Taft and Sparkman present had me arrange to play back the “tape” allegedly with Chip’s voice thereon, in order to prove it was not the Ambassador’s voice at all. Secretary Dulles allowed the Senators to review the entire SY file on Amb. Bohlen “in his office” with understanding this did not violate the Executive privilege. Amb. Bohlen was promptly thereafter approved.

4. A leak occurred. A message from Korea’s President to President Eisenhower appeared in the press before out President had had an opportunity to read it. Secretary Dulles ordered a one day investigation using over thirty of our Agents. Luckily a newspaper man confided in me that he had gotten his story from the Korean Ambassador in whom Secretary Dulles had confided the day before the leak appeared in the press.

5. One of my agents (still with SY), confessed having taking excerpts of Amb. Bohlen’s, Bob Newbegin’s, and Willard Beaulac’s files to the McCarthy Committee. I removed the Agent from access to such files and was promptly subpoenaed by McCarthy who claimed I was interfering with a Congressional witness.

6. I was ordered by my superiors at the time to employ Otto Otepka and my own security evaluator (still employed today by USIS), was removed from his position with me.

7. McCarthy through his right hand man on the Committee, Roy Cohen, claimed I was responsible for the presence of American Communists in the United Nations Secretariat. I arranged with the then Congressman Keating to be subpoenaed in order to testify and prove that the Department had acted wisely under a secret arrangement made with the Secy Gen of the UN. This made McCarthy very angry.

8. The New York Grand Jury subpoenaed me to testify on the UN matter following my testimony before Congressman Keating.

9. USIS employees were under the Security program at the Dept of State and McCarthy began a full scale inquiry of the Voice of America where Foy Kohler had been in charge for several years.

10. An employee of the Voice, shortly before testifying before McCarthy, killed himself by jumping in front of a truck in New York City.

11. Foy Kohler, returning from a local cocktail party in Washington, ran into a tree and was arrested by the Arlington Police Department. He reminded the police that he had classified documents in the trunk of his car. Before we could arrive at the Arlington Police Department in time, newspaper men had he story. Dulles ordered that Foy Kohler was not to be promoted for the next five years.

12. The Finnish Desk Officer, John Montgomery, killed himself in his Georgetown home, touching off another wave of accusations that perhaps another Alger Hiss case was in the background. Again I was subpoenaed along with General Hershey of the Selective Service.

13. An employee of the Personnel Office, under Bob Ryan (now Amb. Ryan), claimed personnel files were being stripped. There came to light that John Stewart Service had been used in temporary employment to review personnel files in order to remove duplicated material. This had all kinds of reverberations.

14. Special Agents brought in by McLeod interrogated me for a total of 16 hours attempting to prove I was “ditching” files.

15. Scott McLeod, suspecting that a certain safe in the Dept of State contained material compromising and embarrassing to a member of Congress, called in a safe expert to attempt to open the safe, after hours. Damaging the safe drawer beyond repair, and fearing an FBI or police inquiry, the damaged drawer was dumped off the 14th Street bridge into the Potomac.

16. McCarthy demanded I be removed from my job, claiming I was an uncooperative witness and holdover of the Acheson clique.

17. Befuddled Don Lourie, then Under Secretary for Administration, said he had no alternative but to put me on probation in order to satisfy McCarthy. I was subsequently removed from my job and sent to the Philippines for two and one-half years.

18. Both Sam Boykin my immediate chief and I were deluged with postcards and letters accusing us of being Communists.

19. Drew Pearson and other reporters attempted repeatedly to interview me on internal matters of the Dept during this transition period but I refused. They continued to pester my wife who remained here in Washington for eight months before joining me in the Philippines.

Oh for the tranquility of 1968-69.
John Ford



Condolence Letter to Mrs. Ford (9/26/88) (.pdf)

United States Department of State
United States Permanent Mission to the Organization of American States
Washington, D.C. 20520

September 26, 1988

Dear Mrs. Ford,

I have been away from Washington for the last three weeks and did not learn of your husband’s passing until I returned to the office this morning.

When I was transferred to the USOAS Mission in the spring of 1985, I had the occasion to meet John on one of his periodic visits to the office. We had a brief conversation, but I was impressed enough to suggest that he return the following day to meet my boss, Dick McCormack, who was awaiting confirmation as U.S. Ambassador to the OAS.

What was intended to be a brief 30 minute meeting with the Ambassador, quickly became an all-day seminar on Latin America and the OAS conducted by John. The reality was that neither Ambassador McCormack nor me wanted John to leave. His knowledge and experience was superior to anything we had encountered in the Department or anywhere else.

The day after Ambassador McCormack was confirmed, he had me offer John a full-time position with USOAS. It was difficult to regard someone like John as “retired” and we had hoped he would accept it. When he declined citing his health, we were able to persuade him to become a consultant. This allowed him to regain his security clearance so that he could continue to give us his usual excellent advice.

It might interest you to know that we could never convince John to accept payment for his services. Although his letters, ideas, and counsel were worth more than all the money we were paying to other consultants, John always felt that it was his duty to try to help us rather than something to be done for profit.

At one time, the Bureau wanted to discontinue John as a consultant, assuming we weren’t using him since there was no record of payment. It took some quick maneuvering between John and myself to ensure that he stayed on the books - he was too important to the Mission and we convinced the Bureau that this was one unique instance where we were getting much more than we paid for!

As you know, one of the highlights of John’s career was in 1951 when he and a colleague discovered a Soviet listening device planted in the Great Seal of The United States at our Embassy in Moscow. John had often wondered what became of the Great Seal after he had returned it to the U.S. After some research, I located it in the Office of Diplomatic Security here in the Department. John was surprised and delighted to see the Great Seal again, and it brought back some great memories of his earlier exploits. John was profuse in his thanks but he shouldn’t have been. It was a small token of appreciation to someone who had given so much over the years to his country and to his colleagues without asking or expecting anything in return.

Please accept my condolences.

Sincerely,
Russ Wapensky



The McCarthy Years Inside The Department of State
by John W. Ford* (.pdf) (additional McCarthy related items .pdf)

* The writer, John W. Ford, is a retired Foreign Service Officer. Over twenty-seven years ago Mr. Ford held the position in the Department of State which today is that of Deputy Assistant Secretary for Security. Mr. Ford occupied his position at the height of the campaign of the late Senator Joseph McCarthy against alleged communists in the U.S. Government and at the time was under frequent subpoena by McCarthy, various Congressional committees and a New York Grand Jury. He was threatened by the McCarthy Committee staff with contempt of Congress for alleged interference with a Congressional witness who took to the McCarthy Committee material from security files of the Department on some of our highest-ranking Foreign Service Officers. Eventually Mr. Ford was placed on indefinite probation and removed from his position.

John W. Ford at McCarthy HearingThese three State Department security officers are the principal figures in Sen. Joe McCarthy's investigation of missing State Department personnel files. Left, John William Ford, director of the Office of Security; center, Samuel J. Boykin, acting director of the Bureau of Security and Consular Affairs, and right, John E. Matson, security officer who complained he was transferred to a less desirable job after telling probers about the matter. - United Press Photo (full size .pdf with commentary by Fred Othman)

Few people who lived through the “McCarthy” era in the Department of State can ever forget the fear, intimidation and sense of outrage which permeated Foggy Bottom. As an officer of the Foreign Service (now retired), I found myself caught up in that political whirlwind in which reputations were placed in jeopardy, integrity questioned, and disloyalty frequently presumed rather than proven.

All that most of us had as our guide in that period were our own moral principles and convictions and above all our belief that the American people would demand fair play and due process. In the long run this guidance proved correct. In the short run though, many fine, loyal, decent, courageous officers of our domestic and foreign service suffered frightful traumas.

The public mood of the United States in the early 1950’s was hostile to diplomacy generally and to diplomats specifically, a situation we tend to forget but one brought home to me with frightening suddenness on my return from Paris to Washington in late 1951. ABC Anchorman Frank Reynolds captured a part of that mood most vividly this past Foreign Service Day when he observed that his audience “needed no reminder of the painful fact that distinguished public servants, foreign service officers of great integrity, have in the past been punished and even banished from the service for daring to report to Washington what Washington did not wish to hear, and reporting with detachment and accuracy and sometimes indeed with prophesy the meaning of political and military events abroad that did not support the domestic political positions of higher officials in this country.”

It was a period when Senator Joseph McCarthy had reached the height of his power and he was feared by the highest echelons of the United States Executive. “Positive loyalty” was demanded by our highest officials in the Department of State. As happened in my case and that of other colleagues, following an appearance before Senator McCarthy there was unleashed a flood of letters and postcards directed toward “unfriendly” witnesses and containing the repeated taunts of “communist”, “traitor”, and “red rat.”

In March of 1951, I was on special assignment to the USSR in the combined interest of the British, Canadian and United States governments and their embassies in Moscow -- to search for and hopefully uncover the latest clandestine listening device being used by he Soviets -- a miniature electronic microphone, activated by a radio from some distance away. My travelling companion, Joseph Bezjian, worked for me as electronics technician. Months later he was honored by the Department of State for his fine work which lead to the discovery of an advanced miniature listening device hidden in the Great Seal of the United States -- a wooden replica hanging in Spasso House, the Ambassador’s official residence.

This seal was expertly carved, and beneath the eagle’s beak were barely visible pin holes made by a jewelers drill to admit voice waves to the diaphragm of the miniature microphone. For this and other ultimately successful assignments I was “rewarded” with a Washington job - - one which today is that of Deputy Assistant Secretary for Security. Little did I realize then what a return to Washington would mean with Senator Joseph McCarthy producing random lists of alleged communists within the Department of State and the Foreign Office.

First, however, with the late “Chip” Bohlen, who would soon become a prominent target of the McCarthy campaign, and with key officials of the Department of State, I conducted briefings concerning the Moscow “find”.

The most memorable of these briefings was with Secretary of State Dean Acheson who also was to become McCarthy’s favorite target. Secretary Acheson spent an hour with me taking apart the miniature device about the circumference of a quarter, and of one inch thickness, with its diaphragm, piston, and small antenna. He was fascinated and he told me “I want to make sure I know how to take it apart and reassemble it so when I am with President Truman this afternoon, I can show him how skilled I am.” Later on when I saw photos of Mr. Acheson in his carpentry shop at his home meticulously carving furniture, I recalled the sure hand of Secretary Acheson taking apart this small piece of Soviet electronic technology.

As I settled into the Washington job the cold war was raging in full. The laws of evidence that I had learned in law school were being totally disregarded, and replaced by massive presumption of guilt - - from personal as well as institutional associations. The portfolio of security situations which I had to confront immediately looked like this:

-- Upwards of 2000 personnel on Department of State rolls, who had never been investigated other than through the use of a form letter to schools, employers and the like. This practice came to public attention following the suicide of the Department of State Officer in charge of the Finnish Desk, who using his bathrobe belt, hanged himself in his Georgetown home. A Congressional inquiry ensued and General Hershey, head of the Selective Service and I were called before a Congressional committee to review the files of the deceased and testify as to the reason for his being found unfit for military service, and the absence of a full background investigation on him by the Department of State.

-- The McCarthy Committee made known it was ready to subpoena me regarding alleged American citizen communists in the United Nations Secretariat. Fortunately, I was able to have this inquiry taken over by the late Congressman Kenneth Keating, subsequently U.S. Ambassador to India and to Israel, who handled the matter with objectivity and fairness.

-- The case of the high-ranking Department of State official, who with highly classified documents in the trunk of his automobile, ran into a telephone pole on evening in early 1953 on returning home from a cocktail party. With detention by the Virginia police this incident received major publicity and Secretary of State Dulles ordered a full inquiry by my office.

-- A suicide note, left by a Voice of America employee who killed himself by jumping in front of a truck in New York City rather than appear before the McCarthy Committee and subject himself and his family (his suicide note said) to unproven charges of disloyalty which the hearings before the Committee would entail.

-- The young officer from the Department’s personnel office who was disowned by his neighbors and friends and forced to change the local of his residence following an appearance before McCathy.

-- An anonymous letter sent to the Department containing the names of seventeen officers of the Department and the Foreign Service, alleging that they were “security risks”. This letter was also sent to Drew Pearson of the Washington Merry-go-Round, and to Senator Joseph McCarthy, prompting demands for full investigations by my office.

-- The case of “Chip” Bohlen, whose appointment as our Ambassador to Moscow was held up by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on grounds of loyalty and security questions in his file.

Shortly before he died, Ambassador “Chip” Bohlen sent me a letter commenting on the recollections of the McCarthy period I had forwarded to him, recollections which he said he would keep as a remembrance of “those disagreeable but nevertheless interesting times”. No doubt Ambassador Bohlen found amusing my portrayal of his “clearance” procedure which took place in Secretary Dulles’ office.

Senator Sparkman is the only other living witness to the Bohlen “clearance” procedure which took place in a meeting with Secretary Dulles in early 1953.

Senator Joseph McCarthy and certain other members of Congress questioned the nomination by the Eisenhower Administration of “Chip” Bohlen to be the next Ambassador to the Soviet Union. The so-called “evidence” to question his appointment took several forms: innuendoes in his security file or in FBI reports, the “raw” material which so frequently constitutes part of basic background investigations. The most highly advertised bit of “evidence” was a tape recording, allegedly containing Ambassador Bohlen’s voice. This tape purportedly implicated him in activities which made him a security risk. Secretary Dulles called me to his office, where assembled on his conference table were the Security Office file and the FBI reports on Ambassador Bohlen. I was instructed to bring a tape recorder.

As I entered Secretary Dulles’ office, I was introduced to Senators Taft and Sparkman, and the Secretary with a flourish instructed me to review with the Senators the files on Mr. Bohlen. The Secretary noted, however, that allowing the Senators to see these files was “without prejudice to the concept of executive privilege”.

Neither Senator found anything incriminating in the files and then we proceeded with the tape recording. unfortunately the extension cord for the recorder was too short, the quality of the tape was poor and the volume potential of the recorder was low. This meant that Senators Taft, Sparkman and I had to lay down on the floor of Secretary Dulles’ office in front of his desk and listen to the voice recorded. I certified in a document that it was not Ambassador Bohlen’s voice. That was also evident to all present. Shortly thereafter Ambassador Bohlen was cleared and took off for his new assignment.

Nerves were constantly on edge in the Department. This led to over-reaction whenever relatively minor incidents occurred. An illustration is the reaction of the White House over the leak of a letter President Rhee of Korea had addressed to President Eisenhower which was submitted telegraphically to the Department via our Embassy in Seoul. President Eisenhower had read the contents of the letter in the Washington press well in advance of its transmittal by the Department to the White House.

As a result, instructions handed to me by Secretary Dulles early one morning were: “by sundown today I want to know who was responsible for this leak.” The usual mad scramble occurred with dozens of agents trying to interview anyone and everyone who might have had the cable cross his desk, an admittedly futile exercise.

But for once luck was with me. By five fifteen that afternoon when I was ushered into Secretary Dulles’ office I was able to inform him we had solved the case. “The proximate cause of the leak was you, Mr. Secretary,” I said explaining that on receipt of the telegraphic letter from President Rhee in the Department, he called in the Korean Ambassador to discuss its contents. The Ambassador in turn had spoken to press shortly thereafter. My gratitude remains eternal to the newspaperman who revealed to me how he got his story.

There was a general sentiment and belief in the Department during the McCarthy years that there was telephone and mail censorship. And with good reason, considering for example one of “happenings”: A famous lock expert out of New York City was secretly introduced into a fifth-floor office of the Department of State in early 1953 at the request of the Bureau of Security and Consular Affairs. He was to practice his trade on a four-drawer combination Shaw Walker safe, whose contents evidently were of some alleged security concern. But this surreptitious break-in artist bungled the job so badly that considerable panic set in as the hours approached sunrise and the damage to the safe became impossible to hide. Time almost ran out. A new drawer was substituted. The safe contents were never checked. Today, beneath the Potomac River is whatever is left of a diplomatic pouch bag, lies a twisted, badly-mangled drawer dumped off the 14th Street Bridge.

Department of State personnel, some of who became key witnesses before the McCarthy Committee, charged that Department security and personnel files were being stripped or removed. Some testimony based on unproved allegations from official investigative and personnel files, was presented before the McCarthy Committee, including testimony by an agent of the Office of Security. The promotion list was held up for many months under new requirements while the loyalty of long-time officers of the Domestic and Foreign Service was subjected to so-called full-field investigations. Key officials of the Office of Security were interrogated at length, accused of removing files or covering up. As a consequence they were either transferred or left voluntarily.

I had opposed Senator McCarthy in his efforts to obtain the “raw” files of officials of the Department of State for use by his Committee. C.P. Trussell in a special edition to The New York Times recorded my bitter exchange with Senator McCarthy and the Senator’s frustrated response of “I give up,” in an article of February 21, 1953. I had removed from access to security files an Office of Security agent who took notes and reference from those files to McCarthy. Roy Cohn of the McCarthy Committee, threatened me with contempt of Congress for intervening with a Congressional witness.

It was in July, 1953 that I received a beautifully worded memorandum from the Bureau of Security and Consular Affairs giving me unsolicited “sick leave.” This had followed by meeting with General Walter Bedell Smith of World War II fame, our second-in-charge in the Department of State, and Don Lourie of Quaker Oats, the then Under Secretary of State for Management. I was told by Messrs. Smith and Lourie that because I had offended a committee of the Congress (Senator McCarthy’s) I would be placed on probation.

I had not intended to write this summary of my experiences within the Department of State during the McCarthy years until I was fully retired. Perhaps I, more than anyone else, can speak with considerable experience concerning what transpired in 1952-1953 at a time when alleged communists in Government was a campaign theme and the Department of State the principal target. While hopefully capitulation to demagogues is behind us there seems to me to be on the horizon some warning signals worth carefully watching. A glance at newspaper articles over the past few months will help portray what I mean, the following recent quotes being a few examples: “The American people should be informed of what the State Department is doing --- American foreign policy is reducing the nation’s allies and strengthening socialist and communist influences....”

“...the incredible sell-out to Communism continues...”

“Back in the early and middle 50’s McCarthyism was almost a way of life and the country and people in private life were afraid they could be the next victims of the McCarthy witch-hunt...no proof existed but until the matter could be cleared up the target of the charges stood accused in the public’s mind. It may be that this is the price we have to pay for the open society which we enjoy. But in the case of an innocent man charged without proof, the price can be very high...if less were leaked to the media until some proof is offered, it would help.”

“Following the ‘loss’ of a country to Communism or anarchy, Americans invariably commence a hand- wringing inquiry into who lost it. The inquiry seldom produces anything more satisfactory than a few scapegoats, but perhaps that is because it is usually held after it is too late.

The McCarthy era was an unforgettable experience. But one conclusion I came to as a result of this experience within the Department of State during the McCarthy years, was that not one single case of disloyalty to the United States surfaced during my period. Cases involving the temptations and social weaknesses to which all persons are subject, yes. But the dominant characteristics of the thousands of files I had an opportunity to review then were loyalty, devotion, and intelligence on the part of the Department of State people both domestic and foreign service.

These recollections of those unfortunate days of the McCarthy era, behoove us to recall that somehow it all began because of foreign policy reverses concerning which, only history could make an assessment. To try to preempt history may perpetuate the kind of bitter quarrels of the McCarthy years that a few of us can still remember vividly even after a quarter of a century has passed. As Winston Churchill said before the House of Commons in June, 1940, during the Battle of Britain:

“If we open a quarrel between the past and present, we shall find that we have lost the future.”


Additional John W. Ford papers...
Miscellaneous papers.
Preface to his unfinished memoirs.
The "Tickler System" and executive decisions that were never implemented
Funny story about 100 missing "Top Secret" documents and a "bomb scare."
Diplomatic Passport
Diplomatic Visa



What ever happened to the technician who actually discovered The Great Seal Bug?

All we currently think we know about Joseph Jacob Bezjian is that he was later stationed in Egypt, and may have retired near Venice, Florida. If so, he was a member of the Venice Masonic Lodge No. 301 and the Grand Master in 1974. We believe he died in 1986 at the age of 70. Any further information would be appreciated.



What did the Soviets do after The Great Seal Bug was discovered?

They continued bugging!
(The following was written in April, 1987)

"In the intervening 35 years, nothing has changed and everything has changed.

As the current furor over espionage and bugging in the U.S. Embassy in Moscow makes clear, the KGB's determination to penetrate its primary target in the Soviet capital remains as high as ever.

The amazing device uncovered in Kennan's office 35 years ago seems hopelessly primitive today. Bugs themselves have shrunk to inconspicuous motes the size of rice grains, and microwave beams, lasers, fiber-optic technology and computers have joined the armamentarium of high-technology snooping. Among the discoveries of the last decade:

--A sophisticated antenna capable of being raised and lowered through a disused chimney in the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.

Devices in Typewriters

--Tiny devices implanted in the embassy's electric typewriters that could read messages before they were encoded and transmitted.

--The suspected connection of the structural steel of the new U.S. Embassy, which is still in construction, into a huge radio antenna that can broadcast information detected by bugging devices hidden inside the building.

(from Sophisticated New Devices - KGB Eavesdropping Pervasive, Persistent)





Please help document this historic bug in greater detail.

If you have any knowledge, personal recollections, photographs, or know the current whereabouts of the original Great Seal or its bug, please contact me.

Thank you,
Kevin


Return to Murray's
Eavesdropping History
Emporium


SSL Certificates