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Annie Lee Moss
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Scapegoat
    (August 9, 1905-January 15, 1996)
    Born in South Carolina
    Birth name was Annie Lee Crawford
    Alleged member of the American Communist Party
    Communications clerk in the US Army Signal Corps, former Pentagon cafeteria worker
    Identified as a Communist Party member by FBI informant Mary Stalcup Markward, resulting in her being suspended from her clerical position (Sept. 1951)
    Accused of using her proximity to the Pentagon's code room to decode top secret messages for the Soviets
    Interrogated by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations and its Chairman, Sen. Joseph McCarthy, as to her being a potential security risk (Mar. 1954)
    She was accused of passing herself off as a clueless, semi-literate 'washerwoman.'
    Little is known about her life after her case ended.
    Heated partisan debates still rage as to whether or not she 'was really a Communist.'
    She inevitably turns up in conservative attempts to vindicate Joe McCarthy.
    She apparently had no idea who Karl Marx was.
    She claimed she wasn't a subscriber of the Communist newspaper, The Daily Worker, but her name was on the mailing list.
    Her response that there were three other 'Annie Lee Mosses' in the phone book, which the literature could have been meant for, was widely lampooned.
    Her encounter with McCarthy is embellished for heightened dramatic effect in Michael Hickney's Broadway play, 'A Question of Loyalty' (she even flips through a phone book).
    She was suspended from her position at the height of the case, but was rehired to a non-intelligence office clerk position until her retirement (leading many to criticize Army security for being 'lax').
    It doesn't help to clear things up that, in the forty plus years following the hearing, she was never again asked directly by a reporter or biographer as to how her name and address got on a Communist mailing list.
    She is disliked by Ann Coulter.
    She grew up poor; the daughter of a sharecropper.
    She was described as humble and god-fearing.
    She has been compared to (and overshadowed by) Rosa Parks, Marian Anderson and Fannie Lou Hamer.
    It is believed that Roy Cohn fabricated many of the details about her being a 'card-carrying Communist sympathizer.'
    She was only the first of a handful of strong black women to take crap at a Congressional hearing.
    Interest in the accusations against her was revived with the release of George Clooney's 2005 'Good Night and Good Luck' movie (which featured footage from the hearing).
    It has since been theorized that the mailings were meant her late husband, who was a noncommittal member of the Communist Party in the 30s (she allegedly had little use for them).
    If she was indeed putting on an act, she successfully played negative racial stereotypes to her advantage - in doing so, saving herself from espionage charges.
    Sen. Stewart Symington drew enthusiastic applause when he told Moss at her hearing, 'I may be sticking my neck out and I may be wrong, but I've been listening to you testify this afternoon and I think you're telling the truth.'
    Joseph McCarthy came out of the hearing looking like a fool, frequently interrupted by thunderous applause in Moss' favor, to the point where he had to excuse himself from the room.
    The negative publicity surrounding the ugliness of McCarthy picking on a diminutive old black woman, along with the Army-McCarthy hearings, has been deemed the beginning of the end for McCarthyism, ultimately leading to his censure in 1954.

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair


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