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From Major Jordan's Diaries


My Visit to the State Department in 1944

     The stream of “diplomatic suitcases” passing without inspection through Great Falls weighed more heavily than ever upon my conscience. During January, 1944, I made a special trip to Washington to see whether something couldn’t be done.

     When I explained m intention to Colonel O’Neill, he agreed the matter was important enough for a trip to the Capital and promised to issue the necessary orders. I left Great Falls on Jan. 4, 1944, which was my 46th birthday.

     Because the Colonel and Mrs. Kotikov wished to visit New York at this time, I got first-class transportation. The C-47 in which we traveled belonged to the unsuspecting Colonel Kotikov, and bore the Russian red star. Lt. Col. Boaz was our pilot and when we landed in Minneapolis we were photographed by the Minneapolis Star.

     I reached Washington on the afternoon of January 6. The next morning I went to ATC headquarters at Gravelly Point, and spent the day being shuttled back and forth among eight different offices. On the following morning I appealed to Colonel Paige, who suggested that I try the Chief Air Inspector, Brigadier General Janius W. Jones.

     General Jones afterwards denied that he ever met me, but my diary entry for Jan. 8 reads: Saw Gen. Jones, Col. Wilson, Col. Vander Lugt.” As a matter of fact, Jones listened to me for fifteen minutes, and promised to send on of his ace inspectors to Great Falls. He said this officer would be Colonel Robert H. Dahm, who actually arrived on Jan. 25.

     That afternoon I went to the old State Department Building on Pennsylvania Avenue. I had been directed to John Newbold Hazard, liaison officer for Lend-Lease. He was soon to act as a special adviser to Vice-President Wallace on a mission to the Soviet Union and China, and is today professor of public law at Columbia University and director of its Russian Institute. I was not to meet Mr. Hazard, however, until some months later at a meeting of the Washington Forum.

     From his private office, after I was announced, came a young assistant.

“Major Jordan,” he began, “we know all about you, and why you are here. You might as well understand that officers who get too officious are likely to find themselves on an island somewhere in the South Seas.”

     With natural anger, I retorted that I didn’t think the State Department had any idea how flagrant abuses were at Great Falls. I said we had virtually no censorship, or immigration or customs inspection.

     Crowds of Russians were coming in of whom we had no record. Photostats of military reports from American attachés in Moscow were being returned to the Kremlin. Planeloads of suitcases, filled with confidential data, were passing every three weeks without inspection, under the guise of “diplomatic immunity.”

     “But, my dear Major,” I was admonished with a jaunty wave of the hand, “we know all about that. The Russians can’t do anything, or send anything out of this country, without our knowledge and consent. They have to apply to the State Department for everything. I assure you the Department knows exactly what it is doing. Good afternoon.”

    I returned to Great Falls in low spirits. But I took heart from Colonel Bernard C. Hahn, another of General Jones’ Inspectors who did not conceal his indignation after I took him over the base and showed him the things I had protested about. “What can we do?” he asked. I replied that the State Department was hopeless, and that our best chance was to call in Army Counter-Intelligence.

     Colonel Kotikov was displeased when he learned of this turn of events, and let me understand that he knew I was responsible. An overall report was drafted, but has never been made public. Its existence was confirmed to me in 1949 by the FBI, through their questions.

     On March 28, 1944, however, a report had been prepared by an unidentified special agent of Counter-Intelligence. It ran, in part, as follows:

     On 13 March, 1944, while in the performance of official duties, this agent had occasion to contact Major George Racey Jordan, United Nations Representative at East Base, Great Falls, Mont…, Major Jordan stated that he was desirous of conveying certain information to intelligence authorities…

       There is an incredible amount of diplomatic mail sent to Russia through Great Falls… All of this was protected from censorship by diplomatic immunity. It may be significant that it is not at all uncommon for the Russian mail or freight shipment to be accompanied by two men who openly state that they are to see that the mail or freight is not examined and the diplomatic immunity privilege violated…

     This agency observed that Major Jordan appeared to maintain accurate, detailed files and was very anxious to convey his information through intelligence channels. He requested that he be contacted at a time when the Russian activity could be outlined in minute detail, and was advised that this would be done…

     It is recommended that a prolonged interview be conducted with Major Jordan; that his records be scrutinized for information of an intelligence nature; and that he be contacted regularly.

     It is further recommended that the facts contained herein be given due consideration, with a view to contacting the State Department in order that they may be cognizant of the situation and that corrective measures be taken. [1]

     The recommendations were endorsed by the Acting Adjutant General of the U.S. Army, Brigadier General Robert H. Dunlop, who urged that their adoption, in his judgment, would result in “a more comprehensive enforcement of existing laws and regulations than hitherto has been the case.” [2]

     When the report and endorsement arrived at the State Department, it was necessary to make at least a show of activity. The matter was assigned to Charles E. Bohlen, who later became Counselor of the Department. A specialist on Russia, he acted at Teheran and Yalta as interpreter for Mr. Roosevelt, and at Pottsdam as political advisor to Mr. Truman.

     On July 6 Bohlen called a meeting of representatives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Office of Censorship, Military Intelligence, Air Transport command, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Bureau of Customs, Foreign Economic Administration and State Department. If any minutes or memoranda of the session were recorded by the Department of State, they were not made available from its files when the Un-American Activities Committee asked for them in 1950.

     Bohlen had an interview with the Second Secretary of the Soviet Embassy, and followed with a written memorandum dated July 28. It presented a statement of U.S. customs and censorship regulations, and advised that in future they would be enforced. The warning appears to have been ignored completely.

     On Sept. 20, 1944 security officers at Great Falls reported that a C-47 left for Moscow with 3,800 pounds of non-diplomatic records. They had not been censored and were therefore in violation of the Espionage Act. But local officers did not dare to remove the shipment from the Pipeline.

     An explanation of their timidity was found in a notarized statement submitted to the Un-American Activities Committee by Captain Harry Decker, chief of a new Traffic Control Unit set up in July, 1944 at Great Falls. Its function was to make sure that overseas personnel and cargo, in and outbound, were checked by the proper civilian agencies.

     Customs, Immigration, Censorship and the FBI now had staffs at Great Falls. Captain Decker had learned, as I had to, that it was possible to force the Russians to accept inspection by refusing to clear American pilots flying Soviet planes. Beyond that, nothing could be done. Captain Decker said he had asked again and again for authority to ground any plane bearing contraband persons or freight, and to hold it until the defense was rectified.

     He was enlightened by a high official of the Department of Commerce, Irving Weiss, who made a trip to Great Falls. Such authority, Weiss told him, could be granted only by a top echelon decision of the State Department, the Board of Economic Welfare and the President’s Protocol Committee. “It seemed,” Captain Decker observed ruefully, “that the power of enforcement lay at very high levels beyond the reach of us there.” [3] Needless to say, no enforcement order was issued.

     By this time, I was no longer at Great Falls.



My Visit to the State Department in 1944

1. Hearings, testimony of Donald T. Appell, March 2, 1950, pp. 1128-29.

2. Ibid., p. 1146.

3. Ibid., p. 1140.

Continue with Chapter 11

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