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There are often claims that Joe McCarthy started, led, or was responsible for the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).

Examples:

However McCarthy was a Senator, which presents certain issues with leading a House Committee. Is there any documentation of McCarthy actually establishing, leading, mentoring, or participating in the creation of the HUAC or its hearings?

  • I think you already know the answer. – Andrew Grimm Mar 23 '11 at 6:27
  • Not really. I'm skeptical because it's extremely hard for a Senator member to be directly involved in a house activity. Wikipedia says he was not, but Wikipedia is at it's worse on political topics. On the other hand, the "known truth" (to the point that it is taught in many schools here) is that McCarthy ran the HUAC. – Russell Steen Mar 23 '11 at 12:36
  • The second link doesn't talk about McCarthy being involved with the HUAC, and in several places talks about "McCarthy and the HUAC" as separate entities. – DJClayworth Apr 27 '11 at 15:18
  • The first link is of course a British organization, who might be forgiven for an error involving the detailed structure of US committees (not that I don't expect better of the BBC). – DJClayworth May 4 '11 at 16:49
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From Wikipedia:

"The [HUAC] committee's anti-communist investigations are often confused with those of Senator Joseph McCarthy. McCarthy, as a U.S. Senator, had no direct involvement with this House committee. McCarthy was the Chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Government Operations Committee of the U.S. Senate, not the House."

From encyclopedia.com:

"The work of HUAC in the 1940s, while not as wide-ranging as that under the Senate Permanent Investigations Committee under the chairmanship of Joseph McCarthy, was the beginning of the great search for Communists in American life that dominated the early part of the 1950s."

So no, the investigations by McCarthy were not part of the HUAC. He had his own organization, the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Government Operations Committee of the U.S. Senate, in which he did the same work. It's indeed a common mistake. However that mistake doesn't in any way reduce McCarthy's involvement in the "Red Scare". The investigations he carried out in the Subcommittee on Investigations were very similar to the HUAC, were at least as aggressive and were later condemned in much the same way. Encyclopedia.com considers the Senate committee investigations to be "more wide ranging" than the HUAC.

  • Influenced in what way? To be more anti-communist? To go after specific people? – Russell Steen Mar 24 '11 at 20:30
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    Bad phraseology. I've changed the wording. – DJClayworth Apr 18 '11 at 21:19
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    The confusion probably happens because "House Unamerican Activities Committee" is a much catchier, snappier and Orwellian name than "Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Government Operations Committee of the U.S. Senate" – Tacroy Oct 16 '12 at 18:08

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