Heming Nelson's July 5 front-page article about Mary Markward, who infiltrated the Communist Party for the FBI from 1943 to 1950, is a long overdue recognition of the important service she performed for this country. But apart from mentioning the conviction of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, the story did nothing to puncture the myth that the effort to expose the penetration of our government by Communist Party members was much ado about nothing. Nelson quoted members of Congress and Markward's daughter praising her as a great American, but he quoted at far greater length individuals she exposed who denied that they were Communist Party members.

This left the impression that Markward, who maintained the registration rolls of the Communist Party of the District of Columbia, was reckless and irresponsible in making charges.

It is too bad that Nelson didn't check the records to see who was telling the truth. In failing to do so he joins that journalistic icon, Edward R. Murrow, who aired a famous television documentary in which he accused Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy of having falsely accused a Pentagon code-room clerk named Annie Lee Moss of being a Communist Party member on the basis of information provided by Mary Markward. Markward was vindicated when the Subversive Activities Control Board released the party membership card of Moss.

One of those quoted by Nelson suggested that "idealistic liberals, ranging from Communist Party members to Truman Democrats" were targeted by the government. That is baloney. I was one of those "idealistic liberals" during this alleged "reign of terror." Like many other federal workers and many journalists, I held Marxist, pro-Soviet views. My suitability for government employment was never questioned. I worked for two different government agencies and was even offered a job by the CIA.

-- Reed Irvine

The writer is chairman of

Accuracy in Media Inc.