Perth Amboy, New Jersey Informal Exchange With, Reporters.
THE PRESIDENT. I had one question inside that I thought I'd better repeat to you all, because you're going to get it in the transcript. I was asked about the Republican allegations concerning whether we have revealed the information about the Stealth airplane improperly.
This is an absolutely irresponsible and false charge by Governor Reagan and by a carefully orchestrated group of Republicans. As a matter of fact, no impropriety has been committed. The only thing that has been revealed about the Stealth development, which is a major technological evolutionary development for our country, is the existence of the program itself. When I became President in January of 1977 the existence of the Stealth program then was not even classified. It was unclassified. Public testimony had been given on it, and a contract to develop a Stealth device was done with an open and published contract. We classified the Stealth program in the springtime of 1977.
Since that time it has grown, because of its importance and the major nature of it, more than a hundredfold. Lately large numbers of people were involved in the knowledge of Stealth and also the development of it. Literally thousands of workers have been involved in this project, and we have had to brief several dozen Members of the House and Senate and the crucial members of their staffs in preparation for large expenditures of funds for this major technological improvement in our Nation's defense.
It's obvious that the Republicans have taken what is a major benefit to our country and tried to play cheap politics with it by alleging that we have violated our Nation's security. The fact is that we have enhanced our Nation's security, and we took an unclassified program under the previous Republican administration, classified it, and have been successful for 3 years in keeping the entire system secret.
Q. Would you cooperate with a congressional investigation of just exactly what you were discussing then?
THE PRESIDENT. What was the question?
Q. Would you cooperate with a congressional investigation, including turning over documents, of this very subject, whether in fact you had revealed it?
THE PRESIDENT. Yes. Harold Brown will. The fact is that Harold Brown was the one who classified the program in the spring of 1977, and at the present time nothing has been revealed about the Stealth program except that it exists. No details about it, no technological elements of it, have been revealed.
The first time the Stealth program was ever revealed was in Aviation Week magazine. This is back the first part of August, and it was a critical article, not designed to help my administration or to make me look good, but to criticize the Defense Department on the B-1 bomber situation.
So, this is a campaign issue that the Republicans have created, which I think is completely ill-advised and based on an absolutely false series of statements by the Republican leaders.
Q. So, there were no politics entered into the fact that you've finally actually made a very public issue out of it?
THE PRESIDENT. No. The only public issue that has been made out of it is that the program itself exists. No details of the Stealth program have ever been revealed so far as I know.
Q. What is the advantage of having the Secretary of Defense make that announcement that he did?
THE PRESIDENT. Because there were a series of articles either in preparation, plus the one in Aviation Week magazine that had already been published, and in order to tell the American people the truth that there did exist a major development of this kind is something that's completely legitimate and which the American people have a right to know.
Q. Sir, would you now participate in a debate now that Anderson is in it, according to the League?
THE PRESIDENT. We'll decide about that and announce it later.
Note: The President spoke at 1:10 p.m. outside the Olive Street Community Center.
Jimmy Carter, Perth Amboy, New Jersey Informal Exchange With, Reporters. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/250815