The investigations by the Committee on Government Operations’ Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations involving Senator Joseph McCarthy in 1953 and 1954 can be divided into two distinct phases. The first consisted of a series of hearings conducted by McCarthy, as the subcommittee’s chairman, throughout 1953 and early 1954 in which McCarthy alleged Communist influence within the press and the federal government, including the State Department, the U.S. Army, and the Government Printing Office. McCarthy had first made those accusations in February 1950 during a speech in Wheeling, West Virginia.
The second phase involved the subcommittee's investigation of McCarthy’s attacks on the U.S. Army. As early as 1950, some senators felt deeply troubled by what they considered McCarthy’s reckless accusations. After the army alleged that McCarthy had sought special treatment for one of his former staff members, McCarthy himself became a subject of the investigation—the Special Senate Investigation on Charges and Countercharges Involving: Secretary of the Army Robert T. Stevens, John G. Adams, H. Struve Hensel and Senator Joe McCarthy, Roy M. Cohn, and Francis P. Carr. McCarthy temporarily stepped down as chairman and member of the committee. Karl Mundt presided over the hearings as acting chairman and Henry Dworshak was temporarily seated as a member in McCarthy’s place. Known as the “Army-McCarthy hearings,” they were broadcast on national television and they contributed to McCarthy’s declining national popularity. Five months later, on December 2, 1954, the Senate censured McCarthy.
Chairman: Joseph R. McCarthy (R-WI)
Karl Mundt (R-SD)
Everett Dirksen (R-IL)
Charles Potter (R-MI)
John McClellan (D-AR)
Henry Jackson (D-WA)
Stuart Symington (D-MO)
Hearings: February 16, 1953 to March 10, 1954
Report: January 25, 1954; February 3, 1954
Army-McCarthy HearingsActing Chairman: Karl E. Mundt (R-SD)
Executive Session Transcripts
In addition to the public hearings held under the chairmanship of Joseph McCarthy, the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI) conducted 160 closed executive sessions during the 83rd Congress. There were 395 witnesses questioned in the closed sessions, not all of whom were questioned in the public hearings. To protect those witnesses, the PSI closed the records of these hearings for 50 years. In 2004 the Senate published five volumes of these executive session transcripts.
Volumes 1–4 cover the 1953 McCarthy hearings, and Volume 5 covers the 1954 McCarthy hearings and Army-McCarthy hearings.
Volume 1 (PDF)
Volume 2 (PDF)
Volume 3 (PDF)
Volume 4 (PDF)
Volume 5 (PDF)
Featured Oral Histories
Ruth Young Watt Interview #3: Chairman Joe McCarthy (PDF)
Floyd M. Riddick, Interview #7: The McCarthy & Dodd Cases (PDF)