CONCERNING FUTURE METHODS
CONGRESSIONAL investigations are useful cogs in the wheels of the American system of government. Each general function of Congress is more effectively performed as a result of the facts which are gleaned by inquiring committees. There are abuses, however. Indeed, so intermingled are the misuses and the benefits of the inquiries that extreme praise of or vituperation against investigations as a whole, if made in good faith, hardly reflects more than a patchwork knowledge of them. More significant than the mere presence of the abuses, however, is the inescapable conclusion that—again speaking generally—little has been accomplished by way of correction in a score of years. The absence of improvement must bring a feeling of discouragement to persons who are interested in efficient governmental processes.
There have been shining examples of investigations of the better type; the Pecora-Fletcher inquiry into the stock exchanges and banking may be cited as only one—its legislative results and its accomplishments in moulding public opinion speak for themselves. Perhaps an equal number of inquiries, however, have injured the prestige of Congressional investigating. These mismanaged investigations — present in each Congress—have an important share in contributing to the ridicule which many inquiries receive from the general public and to which previous writers have referred. 1 It is difficult to judge whether this ridicule has increased or decreased during the past decade. There seems to be little basis, however, for concluding that it has subsided to any appreciable degree. The scoffing is admittedly fostered in part by those persons who are seeking defenses against damaging revelations made by the committees. Moreover, the significance of a particular inquiry may be blurred for the man on the street because the press frequently____________________