In the exercise of the power vested in the President by the Constitution and the resolution of Congress of April 6, 1917, the following order is issued:
The head of a department or independent office may forthwith remove any employee when he has ground for believing that the retention of such employee would be inimical to the public welfare by reason of his conduct, sympathies, or utterances, or because of other reasons growing out of the war. Such removal may be made without other formality than that the reasons shall be made a matter of confidential record, subject, however, to inspection by the Civil Service Commission.
This order is issued solely because of the present international situation, and will be withdrawn when the emergency is passed.
The White House
7 April 1917 49
Clearly, the concept of loyalty predates the 20th century, but loyalty as a qualification determined by large organizations maintaining confidential records was new to American society. Three days after President Wilson asked for a Declaration of War, the Civil Service Commission was ready with a choice of executive orders "excluding from the Government service of any person of whose loyalty to the Government there is reasonable doubt." The Civil Service Commission had been established pursuant to the Pendleton Act in 1883; an act of modernization, under which the Executive Branch of the United States Government was becoming a recognizable bureaucracy. (A century later, efforts would begin to extend this mode of organization to the Legislative Branch.)
It is a distinctive, and seemingly universal characteristic of bureaucracy to conduct affairs by regulation—uniformity being the principle organizational goal. Save for the survival and well-being of the organization itself. Organizations are like that. To this end, one form of bureaucratic regulation is secrecy.
Max Weber first described this characteristic in the chapter "Bureaucracy," in his work Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft (Economy and Society), published after his death in 1920, but most likely written in part prior to World War I. He writes:
The pure interest of the bureaucracy in power, however, is efficacious far beyond those areas where purely functional interests make for secrecy. The concept of the 'official secret' is the specific invention of bureaucracy, and nothing is so fanatically defended by the bureaucracy as this attitude, which cannot be substantially justified beyond these specifically qualified areas. In facing a parliament, the bureaucracy, out of a sure power instinct, fights every attempt of the parliament to gain knowledge by means of its own experts or from interest groups. The so-called right of parliamentary investigation is one of the means by which parliament seeks such knowledge. Bureaucracy naturally welcomes a poorly informed and hence a powerless parliament—at least in so far as ignorance somehow agrees with the bureaucracy's interests.51
For the concept of loyalty implied that there was much information within a bureaucracy which could be used to injure the Government or the national interest if revealed by disloyal persons to hostile nations or, for that matter, to internal elements hostile to our "way of life."
Anarchism, "a belief that every form of regulation or government is immoral,"52 became a proto-international movement in the 19th century. In its terrorist mode, it had set about blowing up czars and such. After the assassination of President William McKinley, the United States by statute barred anarchists from entering the country. The arrest, imprisonment, and deportation to Russia of Emma Goldman was a celebrated case of the later Wilson years. (Poor Goldman had just gotten out of prison for distributing birth control information.) Idealists, no doubt, these were frequently violent persons who threatened the necessary state "monopoly on violence."
Even so, there does not appear to have been any systematic search for anarchists at the Federal level. This began with the Espionage Act, and in short order bureaucracies were compiling dossiers and government officials were classifying information by various degrees of secrecy. It would appear in this regard that the predecessor of today's three-tier gradation of Confidential/ Secret/Top Secret (at that time, For Official Use Only/Confidential/Secret) was adopted by the American military from the British forces in France.53 Again, it all begins in 1917.
49 Paul P. Van Riper, History of the United States Civil Service (Evanston: Row, Peterson and Company, 1958), 266.
50 Ibid., 265-67.
51 Max Weber, Essays in Sociology, trans. and ed. H.H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills (New York: Oxford University Press, 1946), 233-34; Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft (Economy and Society), 1922.
52 William Ebenstein, "Anarchism," in The World Book Encyclopedia (Chicago: World Book, Inc., 1986) 424.
53 Harold C. Relyea, The Evolution of Government Information Security Classification Policy, 22.
Proceed to Part 4 of Appendix A
Go Back to the Top Page of the Commission Report