McCarthy said he had the names of 57 communists or communist sympathizers working in the State Department who needed to be investigated. Separately, he cited a 1946 letter from former Secretary of State James Byrnes to Congress stating that there were 205 known security risks still working there.
His point, misconstrued by Democrats at the time and since, was not to accuse specific individuals, but rather to indict the Democrats for turning a blind eye to ridiculous security risks in important government jobs, even after Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and Alger Hiss. (Sorry, Nation magazine, they’re still guilty.)
McCarthy gave his Wheeling, W.Va., speech two weeks after Secretary of State Dean Acheson had defended celebrity communist spy Hiss on Jan. 25, 1950 – the day of Hiss’ criminal conviction for denying under oath that he was a Soviet spy.
Even after Whittaker Chambers had produced documents proving that Hiss was working for the Soviet Union while advising President Roosevelt, the Democrats were still defending a traitor. Chambers said of Acheson’s disgusting defense of Hiss, “You will look in vain in history for anything comparable to it.”
As Democrats always do when they are caught red-handed harming the country, they obsessed on some small, technical error of a Republican.
They claimed that McCarthy had said in his Wheeling speech that he had the names of 205 card-carrying members of the Communist Party – not 57. (Having only 57 communists in the State Department was apparently considered a great success for a Democratic administration.)