The long-delayed vindication of a man wrongfully banished from his work throws new light on Washington’s witch hunt

by James A. Wechsler

THE CASE of William Walter Remington is officially closed. Seven months after his suspension from his Commerce Department post on the uncorroborated and undocumented testimony of Elizabeth T. Bentley, he has been cleared by the Federal Loyalty Review Board. He has returned to work; he will receive back pay for the long autumn and winter of exile; he will press his libel suit with stronger likelihood of success. All this suggests a comparatively happy ending to a dismal story.


Yet within 24 hours there was dreary signs that Remington still lived under a cloud. Several Senators promptly challenged the decision. Anticipating these outcries, Commerce Department officials agreed that Remington should not return to his former domain, where export-licenses for Russia and the satellite countries are handled; henceforth he would deal with imports. Remington accepted the shift without quarrel. He may even have preferred not to occupy a post in which his words and gestures would be scrutinized each moment. Nevertheless the question remained: “How many times must a man be cleared before he is readmitted to the society that ostracized him?” In effect Remington was in the position of a man who has been wrongfully jailed for seven months. Usually a democracy strives to apologize to the victim and to recompense him for spiritual damage suffered.


Source: James A. Wechsler, "The Remington Loyalty Case," The New Republic, February 28, 1949

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