Letter to the Chairman, Commission on Internal Security and Individual Rights.
[Released October 27, 1951. Dated October 26, 1951]
Dear Admiral Nimitz:
Now that the Congress has adjourned without completing action on the legislation which was necessary if the Commission on Internal Security and Individual Rights was to operate effectively, I have concluded reluctantly to accept the resignations of the members of the Commission which were submitted to me on May 8, 1951. Failure of the Senate to pass H.R. 2829, a bill which would have exempted members and employees of the Commission from certain conflict-of-interest statutes, has not only led to the resignation of the present members of the Commission, it also makes it virtually impossible to appoint new Commission members or staff members. In the absence of an act such as H.R. 2829, the conflict-of-interest statutes sharply limit the field from which members of the Commission and its staff might be chosen. It would be extremely difficult m select a Commission of the kind which should be chosen for this task without including members whose private business or professional activities might result in a technical violation of those statutes.
For these reasons, I have decided, therefore, not to appoint new members of the Commission to replace those whose resignations I am accepting.
Under the Executive Order establishing the Commission, its job was to make a thorough examination of the laws, practices, and procedures which protect our Nation against treason, espionage, sabotage, and other subversive activities. The Commission was to consider these matters from the standpoint of protecting the rights of our individual citizens as well as security of the United States. As you know, the members of the Commission were men and women of the highest caliber. Their recommendations on these matters would have been of the utmost value to the Congress as well as to officers of the Executive branch of the Government. I regard it as most unfortunate that Congressional failure to waive legal technicalities will deprive the Nation of the kind of objective study which would have helped all of us in our task of keeping our democratic standards high at home while we are engaged in resisting the thrust of Soviet Communism.
I had hoped that the Congress would be as anxious as I am to make sure that our procedures for maintaining the security of the Government service are working effectively. I had hoped that the Congress would be as anxious as I am to make sure that the Bill of Rights is not undermined in our eagerness to stamp out subversive activities. These were not the only purposes for which the Commission on Internal Security and Individual Rights was established, but they were among the most important.
I should like to express to you my gratitude and warm appreciation for the diligent manner in which you devoted so much of your time to studying the complex issues which the Commission was expected to analyze. I am hopeful that the knowledge that you and the other members of the Commission have gained through your own personal studies can be drawn upon in the coming months as the National Security Council, the Civil Service Commission, and other agencies continue their scrutiny of the Federal Employee Loyalty and Security Programs.
Very sincerely yours,
HARRY S. TRUMAN
[Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, U.S.N., 728 Santa Barbara Road, Berkeley, California]
Note: Copies of the letter to Admiral Nimitz were sent to the other members of the Commission along with a letter of thanks for their services from the President. The members of the Commission were: Fleet Adm. Chester W. Nimitz, Chairman; the Most Reverend Emmet M. Walsh, D.D., Coadjutor Bishop of Youngstown, Ohio; the Right Reverend Karl Morgan Block, D.D., Bishop of California, San Francisco; Anna Lord Strauss, Washington, D.C.; Russell C. Leffingwell, New York, N.Y.; Charles H. Silver, vice president, American Woolen Company, New York, N.Y.; John A. Danaher, Washington, D.C.; Harvey S. Firestone, Jr., chairman, Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, Akron, Ohio; and William E. Leahy, Washington, D.C.
On November 14, 1951, the President issued Executive Order 10305, entitled "Revoking Executive Order 10207 of January 23, 1951, Establishing the President's Commission on Internal Security and Individual Rights" (3 CFR, 1949-1953 Comp., p. 833).
See also Items 20, 35, 104.
Harry S. Truman, Letter to the Chairman, Commission on Internal Security and Individual Rights. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/231197