Document Type: 
Document Number (FOIA) /ESDN (CREST): 
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Document Creation Date: 
November 11, 2016
Document Release Date: 
December 15, 1998
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Case Number: 
Publication Date: 
November 13, 1963
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WASHINGTON STATT NOV 13 1963 Sanitized - Approved For Release : CIA- CPYRGHT RICHARD WILSON The Firing of Otto F. Otepka Security Officer Called Foe of Trickiness And Laxity and His Discharge 'Shabby'. Sxepka, . who has been fired by Secretary Dean Rusk, is-described as the last old-1lne,4ecui;ityofficer hold- ing-'& top position in the De- partment of State. In other words, there has been a housecleaning of personnel security 'officials in the Ken- n e d y administration. to, re- move the last traces of the tougher policies` of previous ministrations. tee's conclusion that the ell-7 forcement of personnel se- curity in the State 'Depart- ment is lak, and dangerous, mittee to furnish ftlrth support for the subco hnii defiance of his superiors,c putijuing the perilous career of Investigating and evapt}at- ing the loyalty, stability aid Integrity, of applicants f o r Federal, employment. ,He, was rated ",excellent" ' by" t h o s e ,who Judge the ,efficle;cy of Governp erit employes. He received the Meritorious 'S * ervice tAward i from Sedre- tart' of State John Fgster Dulles. Mr. Otepka was fired. for, telling the truth to the Sen- ate Internal Security Sub- committee. on . sloppy and tricky practices in the en- forcement of personnel secur- ity regulations .n the State Department, He undercut his superiors, the unforgivable sin of Federal bureaucracy. This he did under the pro- tection of United. States Code, Title 5, Paragraph 652 (DC), ,which states that the "right of a civil service employe to give information to Congress "shall not be denied or inter- fered with." Without guile, Mr. Otepka,* frankly and ' openly and in For tl}is, Mr. Otepka was accused of giving the subcom- mittee s e c r e t or restricted information-information, by the way, which was so in- nocuous and trifling in its security content as to be laughalle. To pin the goods on Mr. Otepka, his associates in the State Department tapped his telephone. They locked him out of his office and denied him access to his files. They riffled t h r o u g h,his waste- basket and explored his "burn bag," a container into which telltale scraps of pa- per must 'be dumped for burning, He was openly humiliated before other em- ployes. Mr. Otepka got worse than he ever gave to any applicant for Federal employment, for he was widel,,,,known as ra- tional an'r 'careful in this h#gtrli'ttive ~ siiiess. e conclusion cannot be escaped that the worst of- fense' this rational and care- ful_ employe committed was to have been connected with the more strictly applied security regulations of t h e past. He was connected v1ith former officials whose memory is hated in some S t a t e Department quarters. And when he saw laxity and trickiness developing in per- sonnel security he would not be stilled by any fear of los- ng his job or the condemna- tion of his superiors. '' Mr. Otepka denies the spe- cific charges brought against him Mainly of clipping off -the classification stamps on the, documentary evidence he supplied the Senate subcom- Xgittee. He did not do it, he says, and it will be very hard to .prove that he did, for the FOIAb3b CPYRGHT evidence as presented is flimsily circumstantial, What Mr. Otepka does not deny is that he testified before the committee in response to its request and helped counsel for the committee frame queStIgns that w o u l d show the lax' practices of his asso- ciates and superiors. In the process of getting rid of Mr. Otepka, one State Department employe is ac- cused of higher venality than Mr. Otepka himself. This employe is c h a r g e d with lying under oath in denying the tapping of Mr. Otepka's telephone. The whole business is un- savory and shabby in some of its aspects, and no more so than in the basic doctrine behind Mr. O t e p k.a's dis- charge. For this, and little else in the Otepka case, See-'y Rusk must bear responsibility. He placed the matter of employe l o y a l t y , operating through channels and "playing on the team" ahead of the more important matter of the efficiency and efi'ectiveness of Government policy. Now there is to be a trans- parently meaningless process of appeal on Mr. Otepka's discharge in which Mr. Rusk and President Kennedy will pass on their own decisions. The Otepka case probably never will become a flaming public issue, and this is too bad because it so aptly illus- trates the Kennedy admin- istration technique of diver- sion and counteraction when it comes under supported criticism. This' was the case in' the Billie Sol Estes scan- dal, in the TFX investiga' t i o n, in the resignation of Navy Secretary Korth, and now once again when a 'strong case has been. --rrG . against the personnel securi- ty policies of the State De- partment. .4 Sanitized - Approved For Release : CIA-RDP75-00149R000600040092-4