<Photo: Front page of the Senate Subcommittee records of 1962 in which citizen Walker testified that JFK improperly fired him from the US Army.>
Yes, I know I promised to use today’s blog post to share sworn testimony from psychiatrists to a Mississippi Grand Jury about the resigned General Edwin Anderson Walker. It convened in November 1962 to hear evidence about Walker’s alleged leadership role in the Ole Miss racial riots of September 30, 1962. The psychiatrists gave the Grand Jury their professional opinions about Walker’s mental health.
Upon further reflection, however, I noticed that these psychiatrists often referred to Walker’s April 1962 testimony for the US Senate Subcommittee on Military Cold War Education and Speech Review Policies (87th Congress, Session 2). They cited some things Walker said in these hearings as evidence that Walker might be suffering from the initial stages of paranoia.
Since these psychiatrists so often cited these Senate hearings, we should review them.
In my reading, General Walker had accepted his commission as Army commander over the 24th Division in Augsburg Germany partly because he had an idea for troop education, namely, teaching troops anti-Communism from the literature of the John Birch Society (hereafter JBS).
I see the JBS as a sort of anti-American version of anti-Communism, because it claimed that Communists had controlled Washington DC and the previous four US Presidents.
In early 1960, General Walker implemented his “Pro Blue” (i.e., “Anti Red”) program for his 10,000 troops and their families in Augsburg. The Pro Blue program (like JBS politics) was simple, viz., Communism was America’s biggest enemy even though the US President himself turned out to be a Communist.
Pro Blue was a considerable success throughout 1960. Walker was now at the peak of his career. In early 1961 he still held that high peak until something horrible happened to him in Germany. The US Army newspaper, “Overseas Weekly,” had begun to spy on Walker.
Here’s my reading. The ‘Overseas Weekly’ was an ordinary US Army newspaper – it included lots of pinup girl photos. General Walker didn’t want it in his Division. So, the newspaper took a second look at Walker – 50 years old, unmarried, and had no girlfriend. Hmm. Actually, he was never known to have ever had a girlfriend. Hmm. Could General Walker possibly be gay?
It would have been a big scoop for any reporter in 1961, not just because it was a court-martial offense to be gay in the US Army. But how could any Army soldier lie to the US Army for 30 years and get away with it? And even rise to the rank of General?
So, the ‘Overseas Weekly’ spied on Walker on-base, off-base, and even his private office – until Walker caught them. Walker sued the newspaper in civil court and he won, collecting hefty damages.
But that didn’t stop the ‘Overseas Weekly.’ Apparently out of sheer revenge, just days later, on April 17, 1961, the ‘Overseas Weekly’ published a different scandal, exposing General Walker’s Pro Blue program as a front for the JBS. This exposé covered the entire front page, both center pages and more, with article after article about the bizarre beliefs of the JBS.
The JBS believed US Presidents were secret Communists. Like Joe McCarthy in the 1950’s, the JBS found Communists everywhere – especially in Washington DC. Walker had told his troops that former US First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was “definitely pink.” Walker said the same about former US President Harry Truman to crowds of his troops and their families.
The story became an international scandal immediately upon publication. The ‘Overseas Weekly’ printed that General Walker was brainwashing over 10,000 troops close to the Berlin Wall with radical, disloyal nonsense. The scandal was so gigantic and shocking throughout Europe and America that the US General staff in Europe instantly removed Walker from his command and demoted him to the rank of Colonel.
This was instant – before any trial hearings – because the most critical issue was managing the Cold War in Western Europe, and scandals were no help at all. A military investigation into Walker began the next day as Colonel Walker was reassigned to a desk job in Heidelberg with nobody reporting to him. It was a bitter fate.
The US State Department as well as the Pentagon Generals quickly allowed the European Generals to take these measures by all means. They didn’t care about the JBS – they only cared about the fact that General Walker would be so incompetent that he would so violently clash with the US Army newspaper in Germany, causing a global stink!
A rumor still hangs on today that JFK fired General Walker from the Army for his right-wing politics. That rumor is clearly false; in fact, JFK didn’t fire General Walker at all. JFK offered to restore Walker’s rank of General in a new command in Hawaii. In early November 1961, however, Walker turned down JFK’s Hawaii command offer and chose to resign from the US Army completely.
In doing this, as the story goes, Walker knowingly forfeited his Army pension. Wait a minute. Forfeited his Army pension? That’s a lot of money! Why would anybody spurn all that money? It would only hurt Walker himself who had served the US Army for 30 years and was eligible for a fat retirement. His politics had nothing to do with the matter. (I still see this as an open question).
Or was Walker really involved in a radical political plan with some extremely wealthy people who hoped to use Walker for political gain?
Walker officially left the US Army in November 1961 and moved to Dallas, Texas. This was not his own hometown but the hometown of the oil baron H.L. Hunt – another famous member of the JBS.
Citizen Walker moved into a two-story house in Oak Lawn; the same neighborhood where Hunt’s relatives lived. Where Walker got the money to move there the books don’t tell – but we do know that H.L. Hunt and the resigned General Walker had a plan for Walker to run for Governor of Texas in 1962. H.L. Hunt paid all the expenses for Walker’s political campaign. Perhaps Hunt gave Walker other money as well.
Hunt and Walker promoted the story that JFK had fired Walker from the Army. Also, that JFK was a secret Communist and that Communists were especially afraid of the JBS, General Walker, and his Pro Blue program.
Walker immediately began writing and copyrighting political speeches. In December 1961, Walker gave his first political speech at the Dallas Memorial Auditorium to an audience of ultra-conservatives. He received several standing ovations. He would support Alabama Governor George Wallace for US President and would attack Earl Warren’s Brown Decision, so Walker’s speeches were welcomed with open arms in the Southern States.
Throughout January, February, and March 1962, Walker gave sold-out speeches throughout the South spreading the rumor that JFK fired Walker from the Army because JFK was a secret Communist working with Moscow. The standing ovations just kept coming.
In the meantime, Walker and H.L. Hunt worked with friendly US Senators (e.g., John Stennis and Strom Thurmond) to organize a US Senate Subcommittee for the 87th Congress regarding Military Education that could feature Walker proving his innocence. The news media build-up and exposure might serve their conservative constituents well.
Also, if Walker could salvage his national reputation and reverse JFK’s alleged firing, he might become a candidate for a higher political office. Thus, the Military Preparedness Subcommittee was born.
WALKER TESTIFIES TO THE SENATE SUBCOMMITTEE IN APRIL 1962
The Senate hearing room was packed on the afternoon of April 4, 1962, as the special Subcommittee convened, Senator John Stennis presiding. Present were Senators Strom Thurmond, E.L. Bartlett, Howard Cannon, Stuart Symington, and J. Glenn Beall. Attorney James T. Kendall was the chief counsel.
The Subcommittee convened and began the day’s agenda with the testimony of citizen Walker. He opened with a prepared statement about how Communism was winning the Cold War. We were losing because we lacked anti-Communist troop education. We lacked it because the United Nations was helping Communism control Washington DC, said Walker.
Walker answered questions for this Subcommittee for three days, April 4-5-6. Walker’s recurring slogan was:
“I have been charged with nothing. I have been found guilty of nothing. I have been punished for nothing.”
The slogan referred to his sudden demotion in 1961 before his resignation. Walker hoped that some well-known US Generals would arrive to vouch for him. None did. (Nor, over the course of the entire Subcommittee did any other US General). Walker tried to explain the true cause of his demotion as follows:
“I was a scapegoat of an unwritten policy of collaboration and collusion with the international conspiracy of Communism. The result of what happened to me is that there is today no effective program of psychological warfare training [against Communism] in the US armed services.”
Walker often repeated that the US Army ‘Overseas Weekly’ newspaper was responsible for his loss of his Augsburg command, so therefore the ‘Overseas Weekly’ newspaper leadership had to be anti-American. For example, Walker said:
“The ‘Overseas Weekly’ continually represented the soldiers and the Army as brutal and criminal...I will here add that the ‘Overseas Weekly’ is subversive.”
Walker would drill this message multiple times. For example:
“Gentlemen, I have one consolation – that the entire world knows that this newspaper and I are enemies. I should not like to have it on my conscience that I had ever willingly tolerated it on Army newsstands or even treated it with any respect. I was disgusted for the 17 months of my command. Today I have no respect for anyone responsible for keeping it on soldier newsstands. It is a vicious, immoral, corrupt, destructive, subversive tabloid.”
Walker decided that the Pentagon could allow such subversive newspapers in the US Army only because the Communists now also controlled the Army. Walker said:
“...How unscrupulous the forces...are, and how powerful they must be to involve the Department of Defense and the Executive branch of our Government in such devious methods, and in continued association and collaboration with a repulsive tabloid! The history of the Army’s association with the Overseas Weekly provides convincing evidence that the newspaper has access to power greater than the Army’s!”
Whenever a commissioned US Army officer resigns instead of retiring, he forfeited his pension. Here is how Walker explained his own forfeiting of his US Army retirement pension:
“I have been removed from command of the 24th Division. My career has been destroyed in its usefulness to my country. I cannot accept retirement with its emoluments and benefits. To do so would be a compromise with my principles.”
Walker also fervently believed the JBS doctrine that President JFK was a secret Communist who happily helped Moscow get its foothold in Cuba:
“In other nations of our hemisphere, we have seen these groups seize absolute power. In Cuba, it was with our help. I say this with sorrow, but I say it with conviction.”
Then Walker famously exclaimed:
“I must be free from the power of little men who, in the name of my country, punish loyal service to it!”
At this point attorney James Kendall responded to Walker. US Army General Clarke led the investigation against Walker through May 18 when he published his findings to the Generals. General Clarke had found no fault in the Pro Blue operation. However, he found Walker guilty of violating the Hatch Act, which prevented Generals from influencing the votes of their troops.
Walker objected to the rules, but he didn’t deny the fact.
Attorney Kendall noted that Walker wrote two official recommendations (May 26 and June 3) to ban the Overseas Weekly newspaper from all Army newsstands. Why was Walker’s recommendation not acted upon? Walker admitted that he didn’t know, but he suspected it was due to people above the US Army.
Next, Senator Bartlett stepped up to ask, since Walker felt the Overseas Weekly newspaper was subversive, did he initiate an investigation by Army Intelligence? Walker admitted:
“No. I do not understand it either in detail, but I can assure you that I consider that it is all involved in the overall intent to stop a hard anti-Communist line in an Army Division in Europe.”
Walker alluded to his own Army Division there. Next, Senator Bartlett asked what General Walker meant by a key phrase in a prepared statement about the conspiracy, namely, the “real control apparatus.” Walker replied:
“The ‘real control apparatus’ can be identified by its effects. . . what it did in Korea, what it did in Cuba, what it is doing in the Congo. So, the ‘apparatus’ is in those who wanted to see these things happen. The propaganda front that they are using for this and the means to do it with is the United Nations. It is evident that the ‘real control apparatus’ will not tolerate militant anti-Communist leadership by a Division commander.”
Walker there was speaking of his own post of Division commander duties in Augsburg. Next, Senator Bartlett asked if Walker meant that in US positions of ultimate leadership there is a group of sinister men, anti-American, wishing to sell this country out. Walker replied:
“That is correct; yes, sir! A ‘sellout’ of our traditions, our Constitution, our sovereignty, our independence – that is correct! “
So, Senator Bartlett asked the resigned General Walker for the names of these traitors. Walker replied according to articles in JBS publications:
“Mr. Dean Rusk – it is my understanding. . .he was a member and a supporter of the Institute of Pacific Relations which was greatly influenced by Owen Lattimore. All the other names are available, I believe, in the Internal Security Committee and their records. “
Senator Bartlett paused -- did Walker just accuse the US Secretary of State Dean Rusk of Communism? Bartlett asked Walker for more names due to the urgency of the claim. Walker again replied according to articles in JBS literature:
“Mr. Walter Rostow has been in control of the operating arm of CIA, I believe since 1954.”
Bartlett paused again – did Walker just accuse the US Deputy National Security Advisor of Communism? But Walter Rostow was an outspoken supporter of the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Vietnam War! Bartlett pressed for even more names of alleged traitors, but Walker cut off this line of questioning, saying:
“I believe their responsibilities will cover enough of the others. “
Senator Bartlett stood down, wondering why Walker dared to provide only two debatable names with no supporting details. Next, Senator Cannon from the Full Armed Service Committee asked about Walker’s earlier statement:
“As far as my military career was concerned, my assignment to Germany amounted to entrapment! “
Senator Cannon asked Walker why he believed that. Walker replied:
“It could have been a deliberate attempt to keep me from resigning at that time, and to censor me further in placing me in a command of a US Army Division.“
In that answer Walker referred to the fact that he had submitted his resignation from the Army in 1959 to President Eisenhower after reading JBS literature accusing Eisenhower of being a secret Communist. Eisenhower rejected that resignation and tempted Walker with a Division command in Germany. Then it turned out that Walker was demoted from that post.
“A Moscow dossier was being made on me, no doubt, from the time of my Little Rock assignment and even from my career assignment! I am sure! As events occurred and as you can trace them through the Communist publications overseas and over here, it finally led up to me being pointed out while I was still in Germany as an Ultra. . .a Communist target.”
Senator Cannon saw that Walker’s claim offered no supporting details. So, he changed the topic to General Clarke’s June 1961 admonition which found Walker guilty of violating the Hatch Act. Cannon asked Walker if he thought the admonition was legal or illegal. Walker replied that it was certainly illegal. So, Cannon asked Walker whether he appealed. Walker admitted that he never appealed.
Senator Cannon then asked Walker for current names regarding his claim that the Communists had infiltrated the US Army. Walker replied:
“I know that they have people in the military service and have had, and continuously have people under surveillance and close watch, and I believe the information you desire can be found from the FBI or the Internal Security Committee.”
In other words, no names. Senator Cannon asked Walker if he had instead given the FBI any military names. Walker replied:
“None that I can recall.”
Senator Cannon asked Walker if he had any specific persons in mind today. At length, Walker complained that US Secretary of State Robert McNamara had mocked Walker’s membership in the John Birch Society as his new means to continue to swear allegiance to the US Constitution, and to defend her against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Walker concluded that McNamara must be also a secret Communist, with:
“A hidden, secret agenda of US national policy as outlined in State Department publication No. 7277. The Pro-Blue training program is needed more than ever, since McNamara will never willingly disseminate this program to Army soldiers!”
In briefest terms, this was the end of Walker’s appearance in this Senate Subcommittee in April 1962. Senators Stennis and Thurmond rose to commend General Walker for his great patriotism, his great dedication, and his testimony.
In the end, Walker’s Subcommittee testimony had failed to salvage his national reputation. His sensational accusations, his undocumented allegations, his long pauses, his rambling replies, his reading texts for answers, and his heavy reliance on lawyers – all this weakened his case.
More importantly to our point, federal psychiatrists took their own notes on Walker’s Subcommittee answers and found that certain ones suggested early signs of paranoia.
© Copyright Trejo Academic Research, 2012, 2022
Edwin A. Walker and the Right Wing in Dallas, 1960-1966
(DISSERTATION: SOUTHWEST TEXAS STATE UNIVERSITY, 1991)
Hearings Before the Special Preparedness Subcommittee of the Committee on Armed Services,
United States Senate, 87th Congress, Second Session, Part 4
(US GOVERMENT PRINTING OFFICE, WASHINGTON, 1962)