That is one of the potential sabotage dangers facing America today.
Why Convictions Are Difficult
Q Are there many suspected Communists or suspected agents of foreign governments who could not be successfully prosecuted even though you have considerable suspicion about them?
A The matter of prosecution, of course, is the exclusive responsibility of the Department of Justice. However, to successfully sustain a prosecution, legal evidence is necessary. Our laws regarding espionage are technical, requiring legal evidence, which is often most difficult to obtain because spies do not carry on their activities in the presence of witnesses but under a cover of stealth, because party members trained in deceit either decline to furnish information or misrepresent the facts in an attempt to conceal the acts of their associates.
Q Is this because you need corroborative evidence and this is not always possible to attain, or is it because the laws at present are not clear concerning the unlawfulness of Communist activities?
A We have had frequent cases in the past where we have developed the full facts, but, due to the passage of time, the fleeing of witnesses from the United States, and other matters beyond our control, the development of corroborative evidence is physically impossible. As to the adequacy of existing laws, this is a matter not within the province of the FBI.
Q Have you suggested from time to time to Congress any principles that might be embodied in legislation concerning Communists?
A The FBI is not a policy-making organization and the advocacy of specific legislation is not within the scope of its authority. The FBI, however, has furnished, from time to time, its observations to the Attorney General on ways to strengthen its activities.
Q Does the FBI have adequate means for the detection of Communists who are foreign agents or saboteurs?
A The Communists, foreign agents and saboteurs operate behind a smoke screen of stealth and deception. There must be a starting point in every investigation. The FBI has the means of detection if it receives sufficient information on which to predicate an investigation.
Every One a Potential Spy
Q Is the FBI interested in knowing of the detection of any Communists, or is it interested only in those who are connected with espionage rings or possible sabotage?
A The FBI is primarily interested in those members of the Communist Party who might be engaged in espionage, sabotage, or who constitute a potential threat to the internal security of the United States. Increasingly, however, with the development of the outward manifestations of a revolutionary movement in the Communist Party, the FBI is interested in knowing the identity of all Communists in the United States, as any Communist, properly qualified, might be recruited into espionage. He may today be circulating peace petitions or selling Communist literature. Tomorrow he may be sabotaging American industry or serving as an espionage courier. We are interested in identifying, therefore, every member of this international conspiracy in our midst, because every Communist is a potential saboteur and espionage agent.
Q Would you, for instance, have an actual list of 55,000 Communists, or is this an estimate?
A When the figure of 55,000 Communists in the United States was made public, there was considerable speculation in party circles as to the accuracy of the figures. Later, when detailed tabulations by States were made public, the Communists in various districts manifested great concern as to where we obtained our figures.
Q Are there many Communists who have confessed and turned in valuable evidence to the FBI?