Gen. Telford Taylor, an American prosecutor at Nuremberg, charged McCarthy with conducting "a new and indefensible kind of hearing, which is neither a public hearing nor an executive session." In Taylor's view, the closed sessions were a device that enabled the chairman to tell newspapers whatever he saw fit about what happened, without giving witnesses a chance to defend themselves or reporters a chance to check the accuracy of the accusations.
McCarthy and his staff also called hearings on short notice, and often outside of Washington, which prevented the other Republican senators from attending. Senators Everett Dirksen and Charles Potter occasionally sent staff members to represent them (and at times to interrogate witnesses). By operating so often as a "one-man committee,'' Senator McCarthy gave witnesses the impression, as Harvard law school dean Erwin Griswold observed, that they were facing a "judge, jury, prosecutor, castigator, and press agent, all in one".
Theoretically the committee, rather than the chairman, issued subpoenas, Army Counsel John G. Adams noted. "But McCarthy ignored the Senate rule that required a vote of the other members every time he wanted to haul someone in.He signed scores of blank subpoenas which his staff members carried in their inside pockets, and issued as regularly as traffic tickets.'' Witnesses repeatedly complained that subpoenas to appear were served on them just before the hearings, either the night before or the morning of, making it hard for them to obtain legal representation. Even if they obtained a lawyer, the senator would not permit attorneys to raise objections or to talk for the witness. Normally, a quorum of at least one-third of the committee or subcommittee members was needed to take sworn testimony, although a single senator could hold hearings if authorized by the committee. The rules did not bar "one-man hearings,'' because senators often came and went during a committee hearing and committee business could come to a halt if a minimum number of senators were required to hold a hearing.
If witnesses refused to cooperate, the chairman threatened them with indictment and incarceration. At the end of his first year as chairman, he advised one witness: " During the course of these hearings, I think up to this time we have some--this is just a rough guess--twenty cases we submitted to the grand jury, either for perjury or for contempt before this committee. Do not just assume that your name was pulled out of a hat. Before you were brought here, we make a fairly thorough and complete investigation. So I would like to strongly advise you to either tell the truth or, if you think the truth will incriminate you, then you are entitled to refuse to answer. I cannot urge that upon you too strongly. I have given that advice to other people here before the committee. They thought they were smarter than our investigators. They will end up in jail. This is not a threat; this is just friendly advice I am giving you. Do you understand that?'' In the end, however, no witness who appeared before the subcommittee during his chairmanship was imprisoned for perjury, contempt, espionage, or subversion. Several witnesses were tried for contempt, and some were convicted, but each case was overturned on appeal
In 1950, Senator McCarthy denounced "those Communists and queers who have sold 400 million Asiatic people into atheistic slavery and have American people in a hypnotic trance, headed blindly toward the same precipice.''
If witnesses disagreed on the facts, someone had to be lying. The Fort Monmouth investigation, for instance, had been spurred by reports of information from the Army Signal Corps laboratories turning up in Eastern Europe. Since Julius Rosenberg had worked at Fort Monmouth, McCarthy and Cohn were convinced that other Communist sympathizers were still supplying secrets to the enemy. But the Soviet Union had been an ally during the Second World War, and during that time had openly designated representatives at the laboratories, making espionage there superfluous. Nevertheless, McCarthy's pursuit of a spy ring caused officials at Fort Monmouth to suspend forty-two civilian employees. After the investigations, all but two were reinstated in their former jobs.
In July 1954, Vermont Republican Senator Ralph Flanders introduced a resolution calling for the censure of Senator Joseph R. McCarthy for conduct unbecoming a senator. The resolution was referred to a select committee chaired by Utah Republican Senator Arthur Watkins. In September, after the Senate had recessed, the Watkins committee issued a report recommending the senator's censure. Following the November congressional elections, when Democrats won narrow majorities in both the Senate and House, the Senate returned in a lame duck session to debate the Watkins report and vote on censure. Friends from both parties appealed to Senator McCarthy to avoid censure by apologizing for his conduct, but he would hear none of it. On December 2, 1954, the Senate voted 67 to 22 to condemn McCarthy's conduct for having been "contrary to senatorial tradition.''
Yes, Ann. The man was a hero. As ever, you miss the point. Yes, there were Communists in the USA during the 1950s. Yes, there were spies. The reason why McCarthy is justly vilified is not because he tried to find spies, but due to the methods he used; the browbeating of witnesses, testimonies taken contrary to Congressional rules, shoddy investigations, and blatant scaremongering to try and drum up public support for his witch hunt. Your President recently railed against the idea of 'revisionist history', so perhaps you might want to turn your focus onto subjects more worthy of your attention, like, say, Tom DeLay's dubious attempts to redistrict Texas, the embarrassing lack of WMDs, or the increasingly Vietnam-like conditions around Baghdad and Basra? Just a thought.