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Security Tests for Maritime Workers: Due Process Under the Port Security Program (with John D. Fassett), 62 Yale L.J. 1163 (1953)


The search for security against spies, saboteurs, and other disaffected persons has led to the creation of elaborate programs for the surveillance of federal employees. The same considerations require protective measures among those who, nominally in private employment, produce or develop secret weapons for the military establishment. Thus the Department of Defense requires clearance of defense contractors and their employees before they may have access to classified materials; and the Atomic Energy Commission has a statutory mandate to investigate the "character, associations, and loyalty," of those to whom it entrusts "restricted data." But neither of these martial agencies exercises as much sway over the livelihood of private citizens as does the United States Coast Guard. Better known for its unceasing attention to wrecks, buoys, and icebergs, since the Korean War the Coast Guard has been charged with weeding out security risks from among seamen and waterfront workers. More than half a million Americans have met the test. What is striking is that the seemingly small number found wanting—some 2,500—is probably greater than the toll of victims of any other loyalty or security program. Also striking is the lack of public attention that this aspect of the Port Security Program, as it is called, has attracted. This inattention becomes truly remarkable in view of the Program's impact: denial of clearance to a seaman bars him altogether from practicing his calling. In this respect the Port Security Program is unique; for though other federal security programs affecting private employment may have the practical effect of excluding a man from his vocation, no other one purports to do so; they are framed in terms of access to classified matter, and the world of unclassified employment is presumably still open to the reject.

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