The Foreign Service Journal - March 2014 - page 28

MARCH 2014
Everyone was upset. There wasn’t much to do.
I called [my attorney] Ed, and he immediately asked for a delay.
Ed felt very strongly that we had a case, that the Loyalty
Review Board did not have this authority to overrule cases
that had been decided in favor of the employee. They could
be an appeal board, but since the State Department had not
appealed, they couldn’t arbitrarily assume control of a case, as
they were doing, and then decide against the employee.
[But State] refused to consider any delay or hold it up: “Too
late. Press has already got these releases.” The State Depart-
ment had a lengthy press release, the full text of the Loyalty
Review Board’s decision, and the full text of their own board’s
decision, saying that I would be fired as of the close of busi-
ness the next day.
e don’t know for sure, but as far as we could find out,
the State Department immediately got in touch with
the White House and said, “What do we do?”
The White House said, “You’ve got to fire him. Too much
heat. The president has appointed the Loyalty Review Board,
he can’t overrule them, and you’ve just got to go ahead and
fire him.”
The whole attitude of the State Department people under
Dean Acheson was to save the Secretary as much as possible
because he’d been burned so badly on the [Alger] Hiss case,
you see. After Hiss was convicted, he made a statement, “I will
not turn my back.” The repercussions and backlash on this had
been venomous and terrible.
One of McCarthy’s favorite ways of referring to me, for
instance, in public speeches was, “John Service, whom Ache-
son will not turn his back on.” You know, this sort of thing. I’m
not sure whether Acheson was involved. I suppose he must
have okayed it.
A group of Foreign Service officers tried to talk to him about
the case. I think he intimated to them that he just couldn’t do
anything about it, his hands were tied. So I think it all points to
the fact that the real decision was made in the White House.
I don’t think I was used as the [State] Department scape-
goat. There’s just no basis for that. The department, as I say,
was pretty much on my side. The State Department at the top
level tried to cut its losses at the last minute. They weren’t
going to make any fight about it. But up to that point they had
stuck by me through a lot of thick and thin.
I was a scapegoat in a sense, a whipping boy… [but] that
isn’t the right word. I turned out to be an easy, vulnerable
target for McCarthy and for the China Lobby.
More Talk than Peace
Widely hailed as one of the outstanding professional diplomats
of his generation,
Philip C. Habib
(1920-1992) served as deputy
assistant secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific affairs from
1967 to 1969. He later served as ambassador to South Korea
(1971–1974), assistant secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific
affairs (1974–1976), and under secretary of State for political affairs
(1976–1978). After retiring from the Foreign Service, Ambassador
Habib was twice recalled to duty, first as a special adviser and then,
in 1981, as a special envoy to mediate the Lebanese civil war.
In this section of his ADST
Amb. Habib recalls his
role on the U.S. delegation to the Paris Peace Talks, which began in
1968 and finally concluded in 1973 with the agreement on ending
the war and restoring peace in Vietnam.
romour standpoint, we were willing
to go for a total bombing halt, but we
wanted to get a proper negotiation going
including the South Vietnamese. We had
South Vietnamese liaison guys there in
Paris. But the actual negotiations were
between us and the North Vietnamese.
We had two levels of negotiations. For
the formal talks everyThursday, we would
convene at the Majestic Hotel at Avenue
Kléber. The delegation would file into this magnificent conference
hall, and we’d sit there and read statements to each other, and go
out and talk to the TV cameras, and go back to the office andmeet
again the next Thursday.
Well, that went on for a while, and obviously we weren’t going
to do anything under that spotlight, so we had a couple of private
meetings, and then we set up the formal secret negotiations. They
had a safe house, and we had a safe house. Nobody knew, nobody
had a clue where they were. They knew that something was wrong,
but couldn’t figure out what.
I remember one CBS reporter said, “Nowwe’ve figured it out,
you’re meeting on a houseboat on the Seine.” Yes, that’s right,
on a houseboat, you get a rowboat and follow us out. They never
discovered it, and why? We ran it, we were professionals. Nothing
ever leaked from them, or fromus. We had a whole series of good
Cy Vance and I had carried onmost of the secret negotiations.
We would bring Averell Harriman in for the key ones. Cy and I had
meeting after meeting, and a couple of times I hadmeetings alone,
at the last stages when we were drafting terms in getting the agree-
Philip C. Habib was
one of six distinguished
American diplomats
honored by the U.S.
Postal Service with
a commemorative
stamp in 2006.
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