He definitely made a difference; from FBI field agent to police chief to protector of the Constitution, W. Cleon Skousen took on tough duties and excelled at them.
The concept of our police as champions of freedom is little understood by many, if not most, individuals. However, Skousen understood the relationship between autonomous police departments and freedom as few others did. His notable ally in that battle was John Birch Society Founder Robert Welch, who created the Support Your Local Police campaign. Skousen was almost constantly in the public eye, making abuses known, and, according to Skousen's son Paul, used the Birch Society's magazines as source material: he had them "on his desk, torn apart and scattered through his files, and as reference materials."
Welch invited Skousen to join the Society's speakers bureau in 1963, and Skousen continued in that role for several years. The JB S-affiliated magazine American Opinion--a predecessor of THE NEW AMERICAN--published Skousen's tribute to J. Edgar Hoover in September 1964. For years, both Skousen and Welch warned that the enemies of freedom intended to attack, and eventually to destroy, our American system of law enforcement.
During the Cold War era, which lasted from the end of World War II until the apparent demise of the Soviet Union, the communist conspiracy was the most visible enemy threatening the American constitutional system, in which our nation's local police departments play an integral role. How Skousen came to be a major figure in the war against communism is but one interesting part of his fascinating life.
Though Skousen was born in 1913 in Alberta, Canada, his parents were U.S. citizens, so he was an American from birth. His family moved to California when he was 10, and San Bernardino became his home. After serving his church for two years as a missionary in England, Skousen returned to California, graduating from San Bernardino Valley Junior College in 1935.
Skousen then went to Washington, D.C., where he worked for the FBI as a messenger by day while studying law at George Washington University at night. He passed the Washington, D.C., bar exam and graduated with an LL.B. degree in 1940. With these credentials, he was made an FBI Special Agent, going to the bureau's Quantico academy for firearms and martial arts training.
In 1951, he left law enforcement for a period of time to become an administrator and educator at Brigham Young University.
In 1956, reeling from a scandal in the police department, the mayor of Salt Lake City, Adiel Stewart, offered Skousen the job of chief of police. The extent of respect that Skousen enjoyed in the city was reflected in the fact that he was encouraged to accept the offer not only by his own Mormon Church President David O. McKay, but also by the local Catholic and Masonic community leadership.
So successful were Skousen's policies in combating the city's vice-related crimes that even a writer for the liberal Time magazine would later state that he had created "a model police department."
Given that during his tenure as an FBI agent Skousen was closely associated with J. Edgar Hoover (Skousen was one of two FBI agents authorized to speak about communism if Hoover could not address the topic himself), it is not surprising that Skousen became knowledgeable about the subversive communist threat, knowledge that led him to publish The Naked Communist in 1958. Skousen's friend, Cecil B. DeMille, the famous movie director, suggested the title for the work, because it stripped away communism's facade, revealing the long-term goals of the communist agenda.
Skousen's further studies eventually led him to conclude--like fellow anticommunist Robert Welch--that the communists were not the principals in the conspiracy to destroy America; they were merely the most visible arm of a much larger conspiracy. This conspiracy was run by a group of super-rich investment bankers from around the world who manipulated political agendas and public opinion to suit their own ends.
Proof of the elites' influence and their power structure was found in a book by Dr. Carroll Quigley, a professor of history at the Foreign Service School of Georgetown University, called Tragedy and Hope. Quigley was a member of the elitist Council on Foreign Relations. He had many personal connections with the super-rich and could trace their financial dealings in detail.
As revealing as Tragedy and Hope was, its formidable 1,348 page length precluded it from ever having mass appeal. In 1970, to satisfy a crucial need, Skousen wrote a book-length review of Tragedy and Hope and called it The Naked Capitalist. As The Naked Communist had exposed the lower rungs of the conspiracy threatening America, The Naked Capitalist exposed the higher-ranking elite Americans who were selling out their nation to advance their own power base.
In the latter, Skousen quoted Dr. Bella Dodd, a former member of the National Committee of the U.S. Communist Party: "I think the Communist conspiracy is merely a branch of a much bigger conspiracy!" This statement made to Skousen years earlier led him to investigate those who promoted the communist agenda and why they did it.
Supporting Local Police
Moving from the FBI headed by Hoover, a leading anti-communist of his day, into local law enforcement gave Skousen insight into one of the threats generated by the conspirators--attacking local police in order to promote a national police state. In 1966, Skousen shared his knowledge in a book entitled The Communist Attack on U.S. Police. Chapter Six of the book was devoted to the need for Support Your Local Police committees (launched by The John Birch Society in 1963), how to set them up, and what they should do to become and remain effective.
In The Communist Attack on U.S. Police, Skousen recalled a conversation with Dr. Bella Dodd about civilian police review boards:
I spoke at length with Dr. Bella Dodd, former member of the National Committee of the Communist Party who defected in 1948. During this conversation I brought up the subject of police review boards and she stated that she was appalled at the success of the Communist Party and its cadre of fellow travelers in persuading New York politicians to accept the idea of a civilian police review board.
I asked her how the idea originated and she said it was invented by the Communist Party in the 1930s when it was felt that the country was ripe for revolution. The idea was to somehow get the police out from under the control of elected officials and subject the police to the discipline of a "civilian" group which the Party could infiltrate and control.
In his book, Skousen also quoted a statement written by J. Edgar Hoover in the January 1, 1965 issue of the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin:</p>
<pre> When carefully considered, it is clear this drive for external boards is an ill-advised maneuver. It amounts to the usurpation of authority rightfully belonging to the police commander.
It is a practice which could damage effective law enforcement and reduce the orderly processes of community life to petty bickering, suspicion, and hatred. </pre> <p>In 1960, after a new mayor of Salt Lake City dismissed Skousen as police chief (a move that generated much public outrage!), Skousen became editor of Law and Order, a professional journal for law enforcement personnel. In a 1969 editorial in that magazine, he warned about the danger of federal aid to local police leading to federal control of local police:</p> <pre> All of us recall that Federal aid to local law enforcement started out in
a most modest and humble fashion. Hardly enough to frighten anyone.
But that is not the case today. Federal aid is no longer merely for planning and experimenting. It has moved over into the fields of paying for facilities, paying salaries on broad and comprehensive
programs, providing essential equipment. This is the same old well-worn path to Federal aid in every other field.... This
generation is likely to see the creation of a Federalized police system whether we intended it or not. </pre> <p>In these post-9/11 days, when not only federal money, but direct federal intervention in the name of "homeland security" has become the order of federal business, Skousen's warning appears even more ominous.
Defending the Constitution
As a champion of freedom, Skousen recognized that our Founding Fathers feared tyranny, and so they restrained the power of government "with the chains of the Constitution," as Thomas Jefferson phrased it. As a BYU professor, Skousen developed an in-depth study course to teach the students about the cherished document that safeguards freedom. Professor Skousen helped organize the conservative Freemen Institute (later called The National Center for Constitutional Studies) in 1972.
In 1985, Skousen authored the widely acclaimed book about the makeup of the Constitution, The Making of America, subtitled The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution. The Making of America has been adopted by many schools as their standard American government text.
When THE NEW AMERICAN spoke to Reed Benson, a longtime contributor to this magazine's predecessor publications American Opinion and The Review Of The News, he summed up Dr. Skousen's contributions to the cause of freedom succinctly: "He was mighty with his voice and mighty with his pen."
Skousen left behind his wife, Jewel; seven children; 48 grandchildren; 67 great-grandchildren; and countless Americans who are grateful for his lifetime of service to the cause of freedom. He also left behind a torch that needs bearing: someone needs to champion the cause of local control over police.
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|Title Annotation:||IN MEMORIAM|
|Publication:||The New American|
|Date:||Apr 3, 2006|
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