Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

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Harry S. Truman
1945-1953


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Provided courtesy of The American Presidency Project.  John Woolley and Gerhard Peters. University of California, Santa Barbara.
  122. The President's News Conference  
June 16, 1949

THE PRESIDENT. I have no particular announcements to make to you. I will try to answer questions, though, if you want to ask them.

[1.] Q. Mr. President, my paper is suggesting editorially that you start a special commission like the Roberts Pearl Harbor Commission, to make a thorough inquiry into the FBI and its practices and make a report to you. They have in mind a quiet, closed study, rather than--

THE PRESIDENT. Did you ever hear of any like that in Washington? [Laughter]

Q. Do you think such a study might be valuable, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, there is a bill in Congress to establish a National Monetary Commission. Do you have any comment on that proposal?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment on that one.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, it has been reported that Dwight Griswold is going to be appointed assistant to John J. McCloy in Germany. Have you any comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I haven't. You know that Governor Griswold was in Germany at one time, then went to Greece. He is a good man. If they want to appoint him, it's all right with me.

[4.] Q. Do you think the Brannan farm plan will pass?

THE PRESIDENT. Sure do. The Brannan farm plan is going to be passed.

Q. When?

THE PRESIDENT. This session.

Q. Want to bet? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. All right.

Q. I'll bet you a dollar on it.

THE PRESIDENT. The Brannan farm plan will be passed by the 81st Congress. I will amend it that way. Might not get quite all, this Congress, but some of it--some of it has already gone through.

Q. Some of the reports from Des Moines,1 Mr. President--news reports--left the impression that the administration didn't want any action until next year.

THE PRESIDENT. No. The news reports left that impression, but the people who were running that meeting out there didn't leave that impression.

1The Midwest regional conference of Democratic leaders held in Des Moines, Iowa, on June The conference was made up of party officials from the thirteen States in the Midwest Democratic Conference and from Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. The main purpose of the conference was to organize support for the Brannan farm plan.

See note to Item 90 for further information on the Brannan plan.

Q. I noticed a cartoon in the Star yesterday which said that the plan was so good that it ought to be left over for election year 1950.

THE PRESIDENT. That is not the objective at all. We are trying to carry out the Democratic platform with regard to what was said for the farmer, and that is what we are going to try to do.

Q. Mr. President, does that mean that you believe that you can get farther in politics on accomplishments than promises?

THE PRESIDENT. I do. I have always believed that. That has always been my policy.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, do you feel equally confident about the extension of Regulation W2 before its expiration?

THE PRESIDENT, Yes, I think it ought to be extended.

2See Item 32 [8].

[6.] Q. Mr. President, because of his dissents, do you think Lewis Strauss will resign from the Atomic Energy Commission?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I do not. I think Lewis Strauss is a good man. I have requested him to stay on the Commission, and he is going to stay there.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, Mr. Webb3 of the State Department indicated that the Department is concerned about the British-Argentine trade agreements soon to be signed. Do you wish to supplement--

THE PRESIDENT. I am not familiar with the situation.

3 James E. Webb, Under Secretary of State.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, the House Un-American Activities Committee has requested a number of educational institutions to turn in lists of schoolbooks, and a California university has asked for an oath for all its faculty members. Do you see any threat to educational freedom in this general trend?

THE PRESIDENT. I think that question is pretty well answered in a cartoon in the Washington Post this morning. Look at that cartoon,4 it will entertain you.

4The cartoon appeared in the Washington Post of June 16, 1949. It depicts two members of the House Committee on Un-American Activities surveying a huge pile of textbooks that had been sent to the Committee while one says, "Okaysnow to find somebody that can read."

[9.] Q. Mr. President, the Minister of Economy from Chile is supposed to be here trying to see you about their fears that there is going to be a tariff set back on copper. Do you know anything about that, or are you acquainted--

THE PRESIDENT. I hadn't heard anything about it.

Q. Are you acquainted with it?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I don't know.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, Walter Reuther of the UAW came out after seeing you yesterday and said that you told him, presumably, that the administration would vigorously meet the crisis in unemployment and the economic situation. Do you have any comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. The administration's viewpoint on that subject will be expressed in the Economic Message that goes down in the middle of the year. We are preparing it now.5

5 See Item 151.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, everybody is making predictions now. I notice it says in Quick this morning that you are not going to run in 1952.

THE PRESIDENT. No comment.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, has the Mexican loan proposal for oil development come to your attention for final decision as yet?

THE PRESIDENT. No, not for final decision. It has been discussed with me, but no--

[13.] Q. Mr. President, an awful lot of fine people are apparently being branded as reds, unemployables, subversives, and whatnot, these days; and there are any number of trials, hearings, employment situations in the Army, and what-not. Is there any word of counsel that you could give on this rash of branding of people?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I gave it to you once before. I am going to suggest that you read the history of the Alien and Sedition laws in 1790 under almost exactly the same circumstances, and you will be surprised at the parallel; and then also read how they came out.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, a previous question in relation to Reuther mentioned a crisis in unemployment and the economy. Do you think we are in a crisis now?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I do not.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, it has been hinted that there will be a compromise offered on tidelands oil. Any comment on that, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. I know nothing about it. I will take care of that when it comes up here, if it does come before me. I have expressed my opinion on that on several occasions, but if a bill of that kind comes up, you will know what I will do when it gets here.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, to go back to the Alien and Sedition laws, how can we apply the lessons of that time to the solution today?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, continue to read your history through Jefferson's administration, and you will find what the remedy was. Hysteria finally died down, and things straightened out, and the country didn't go to hell, and it isn't going to now.

Q. Mr. President, the first thing Jefferson did was to release 11 newspaper publishers from prison. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. I think he made a mistake on that. [More laughter] He released a Federal Judge, too, if I am not mistaken, under the Alien and Sedition laws.

Q. What was the date of those Alien and Sedition laws?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, it began in John Adams's administration, and ran through part of Jefferson's.

Q. 1797?

THE PRESIDENT. 1797--about 1798.

Q. Do you think such hysteria which has caused this is fit for a country of our strength and power?

THE PRESIDENT. Such things happen after every great crisis. They happen after every great war. They happened after the First World War. Remember the crazy things the Ku Klux Klan did when they began to try to clean up, and what a fiasco they made of it in Indiana? We go through that every time we go through a crisis in this country.

[17.] Q. Is this economic message going to be routine, or is it occasioned by the present situation?

THE PRESIDENT. It's what the law calls for.

Q. Routine?

THE PRESIDENT. It's routine.

[18.] Q. Mr. President, are you confident that no part of your executive branch is gripped by this hysteria?

THE PRESIDENT. I am. I will clean them out if they are.

[19.] Q. Mr. President, I noticed that in the Clapp case6 you stepped in very quickly to straighten it out. Is it your intention to step in as quickly as possible every time the executive branch is involved?

THE PRESIDENT. Certainly. I have always done that. That is not new at all.

6 According to newspaper reports, Military Government officials had requested the Department of the Army to engage Gordon R. Clapp, chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority, as a 90-day specialist to work with the Army in Germany. The Military Government was officially notified that Clapp was "unemployable."

Upon being informed of the report Secretary of the Army Gordon Gray stated on June 9, 1949, that the Army had never investigated Mr. Clapp and "had absolutely no derogatory information about him which would warrant his not being employed by the Army for security or any other reasons."

A statement to the press by the National Military Establishment added that examination of its files, including those of the Army General Staff's Military Intelligence Division, "shows nothing reflecting on Mr. Clapp which, in any way, would cause the Department of the Army to question his loyalty or employability under Military Intelligence standards of security or for any other reason."

The word "unemployable," the statement explained, was used as a result of "an unreviewed action by a junior officer, acting upon a request for personnel received from Military Government in Germany." The situation had developed from "an unfortunate misinterpretation of the word 'unemployable.'" The word had been used in the past to designate people who were unavailable as well as those who were thought to be security risks.

[20.] Q. Mr. President, do you expect any time soon to announce the appointment on the new War Damage Commission?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I will announce it as soon as I have decided on the appointment.

[21.] Q. Mr. President, a couple of days ago Congressman Mack suggested--not suggested but urged Congress to hold a special session to start not until September 1st, for the sole purpose of enacting legislation on the Hoover Commission's report. Would you care to comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I have no comment on that particular statement, but as soon as the reorganization bill is passed, we will proceed with the reorganization plans as fast as we can get them ready. I just want to remind you that there was a reorganization law on the books when I became President, and I sent 7 reorganization plans to the Congress, 4 of which were approved and 3 of which were rejected. I asked for the extension of that reorganization law, and the Both Congress refused to make that extension. I had an interview with some Members of Congress and suggested the action under which the bipartisan commission headed by Mr. Hoover was appointed. The thing for the Congress to do is to pass the Reorganization Act, and the reorganization will take care of itself.

Q. What about the single House veto, will that stop it?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer that. I don't know. We will have to see how it works.

Q. Any study being made of the constitutionality, of that?

THE PRESIDENT. Constitutionality is not questioned at all that I know of.

[22.] Q. Mr. President, did I. Edgar Hoover submit his resignation?

THE PRESIDENT. He did not.

Q. Mr. President, do you confer with J. Edgar Hoover from time to time?

THE PRESIDENT. He makes reports to me, from time to time, and I confer with him through the Attorney General.

Q. Through the Attorney General.

Q. Well, Mr. President, there has been a lot of smoke around Mr. Hoover in the last few days. Could you go further to clear that situation up?

THE PRESIDENT. No--

Q. Is there any further--

THE PRESIDENT.--not for me to clear up. It isn't for me to clear up.

Q. There is no idea that Mr. Hoover has any intention of resigning then, is that correct?

THE PRESIDENT. I have never heard of it. I just answered it. I know nothing about it.

Q. Mr. President, does he still have your confidence?

THE PRESIDENT. Hoover has done a good job.

Q. You said last week that a lot of that publicity was headline hunting?

THE PRESIDENT. That is what it is.

Q. Mr. Hoover, you did not include Mr. Hoover in that class of headline hunting?

THE PRESIDENT. You make your own assay of the situation. You can do as well as I can.

Q. Mr. President, one of the things which puzzles people is the publicizing of those records in court, which is supposedly legal, and so forth and so on. Have you or has your administration given any thought to possible protection of such executive papers? 7

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. Every effort has been made to protect those executive papers, but it is not the policy of the Executive to interfere with the judiciary when they make up their mind that they are trying to give somebody a fair trial.

7The reporter was probably referring to the disclosure of certain FBI reports in connection with the trial of Judith Coplon.

Q. Beyond that, if there was a law on the subject, that would be something else, would it not?

THE PRESIDENT. That would relieve the Executive of having to make the decision.

Q. Have you any thought of that

THE PRESIDENT. No, no. None at all.

Q. Well, Mr. President, do you think that would be a good thing to let out of the files unsubstantiated allegations that people are reds, subversives, and things like that?

THE PRESIDENT. No comment on that.

Q. Mr. President, did Attorney General Clark take the matter of this difference of opinion between Mr. Condon and Mr. Hoover8--did he take that up with you?

THE PRESIDENT. No. No reason to take it up with me.

8The FBI reports made public in connection with the trial of Judith Coplon mentioned Mrs. Emilie Condon, wife of Dr. Edward U. Condon, Director of the National Bureau of Standards. The press reported that Dr. Condon had demanded a "personal apology" from J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

[23.] Q. Mr. President, is the Government satisfied with the attitude of the Israeli Government towards the Arab refugees?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment on that. They are sitting at a peace conference over in Switzerland, and there will be no comment on anything that takes place there, because we are one of the mediators.

[24.] Q. Mr. President, do you have any report of progress in the four-power conference in Paris?

THE PRESIDENT. The report on the fourpower conference will be made by Mr. Acheson when he gets back.

Q. Mr. President, about the Mexican oil thing, some time ago you said you would favor a loan to Mexico?

THE PRESIDENT. I do favor it. I do favor it. They are working on it now.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

NOTE: President Truman's one hundred and eightysixth news conference was held in his office at the White House at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, June 16, 1949.
 
Provided courtesy of The American Presidency Project.  John Woolley and Gerhard Peters. University of California, Santa Barbara.