The President's News Conference
THE PRESIDENT. [1.] I had some announcements that I thought would be of interest to you, and some of them are going to take some time. We normally take from 12 to 15 minutes on our announcements, 80 what I thought we'd do would be to just go ahead and make all the announcements and we'll send them to the mimeograph and have them made available to you as soon as possible. And then we'll reserve 20 minutes for questioning afterwards, and we'll depend on AP or UP here to tell us when that 20 minutes is up, if that is agreeable to all of you. If none of you have any suggestions, what I plan to do is read these announcements, and as I read them, send them to the mimeograph. And if you prefer any other way I'd be glad to do it.
The Vice President has been talking to me about the developments on the Hill, the legislative program he's working on, some agriculture legislation--now in the Fish Room with a number of people. The Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission has been here discussing a variety of matters with me. I'll refer to those a little bit later.
Q. Sir, we don't hear a word.
THE PRESIDENT. The Vice President has been here--now can you hear me?"discussing some legislative matters with me. He has been in the Fish Room working on an agricultural message with various interested parties--and various would include Members of Congress, and departmental members, and agriculture people, and others-some items on the cotton bill. He has also reported to me on certain legislative developments and targets. We'll have a meeting of the leadership, if it is convenient with them, in the early part of the week, at which time we will review our remaining legislation and look at the dates that they have it targeted for.
DEPARTMENT OF URBAN AFFAIRS [2.] We have some very good news from Capitol Hill in the last few days--in a variety of fields.
I was especially gratified by the action of the House yesterday in giving approval to the legislation establishing departmental status for urban affairs. I hope, and I believe, that the Senate will act favorably. The vote in the House was impressive and decisive, and exceeded our expectations. I believe it reflects the realization throughout the land that our cities constitute the decisive challenge of these last decades of the 20th century.
By the year 2000 we estimate that approximately 80 percent of our people will be living in urban areas, so we must meet the needs of the cities because the cities are really the homes for most of our people. What our country is to mean for most Americans, therefore, depends upon the quality of life in our cities.
This is a long and a historic step forward. I congratulate the House on this forward-looking action in support of building a better America for all of our people, and I communicated my thanks and appreciation to the leadership of the House and asked them to express that view to the Members that supported the legislation.
EXCISE TAX REDUCTION [3.] Another subject. I am pleased that the Congress has now completed action on the reduction of excise taxes. The bill remains to be enrolled, and there are certain steps that you take before a bill is sent to the President. But we expect to get it later in the week. After we get it, we will have it reviewed by the experts and the Budget and the Treasury, and any other agencies that could be concerned with it, and collect their recommendations. After we get those recommendations and read them we'll take action.1 I think it is safe to predict it will not be a veto, in light of what I said this morning.
1 The Excise Tax Reduction Act of 1965 was approved by the President on June 21, 1965 (see Item 326).
This bill will realize about $1 3/4 billion extra purchasing power in the economy for the rest of 1965, and another $1 3/4 billion on top of that beginning next January. The bill itself is a little over $4 billion and adds to the $14 billion tax reduction last year, totaling something over $18 billion.
Under the bill, consumers will no longer be paying this $4 billion into the Federal Treasury, and will have it to spend instead on the products of our farms and factories.
It will help maintain the steady growth of jobs and production that are the mark of a healthy economy.
It will extend the string of production gains that the Federal Reserve Board announced yesterday--gains that have brought our total industrial production rate more than 7 1/2 percent above a year ago.
It will support the continuing growth of our economy that has already served us so well for the record-breaking 52 months. It will maintain stability of prices.
Yesterday, the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers announced that the Council, and the Treasury, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics initiated some time ago a study of the impact of excise tax reduction on prices. I am sure the study will show that businesses throughout the Nation have passed along to consumers in lower prices the tax reductions that the Congress enacted.
CEASE-FIRE VIOLATIONS IN THE DOMINICAN
REPUBLIC [4.] In the Dominican Republic in the last 2 days there has been renewed, and repeated, and totally unjustified firing on the Inter-American Force. This is in flagrant violation of a cease-fire.
This firing has been accepted without reply by the Inter-American Force for periods up to one-half hour before the necessary replies were given under the orders of General Alvim of Brazil and General Palmer of the United States.2 In these actions 3 of our fellow Americans have lost their lives, and 37 more Americans and 5 Brazilians have been wounded.
2General of the Army Hugo Panasco Alvim of .Brazil, Commander of the OAS Inter-American Force m the Dominican Republic, and Lt. Gen. Bruce Palmer, Jr., of the United States, Deputy Commander.
These unprovoked attacks on the Inter-American Force appear to have been premeditated by elements which seek to prevent the establishment of peace in Santo Domingo. Our forces there have no other mission, and they will continue to observe the same soldierly restraint that they have shown now for more than 7 weeks, in the face of more than 900 cease-fire violations, and they have already suffered almost 200 casualties.
ATOMIC ENERGY PROGRAMS [5.] Dr. Seaborg3 and I talked about the International Atomic Energy Agency's safeguards system and nonproliferation. At present, facilities in 15 countries are being inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency. I believe we should do everything we can to point out the important contributions to nonproliferation and the world's peace that the International Atomic Energy Agency is making. And I plan to make further reference to that in a speech that I now have in the works.
3 Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission.
We discussed the progress report on nuclear power and the nuclear powerplants that are being selected by American utilities because of economic considerations alone. About 20 utilities are considering such large plants and several are on the verge of announcing their orders. The Commissioner estimates that 5,000 megawatts of nuclear generating capacity by 1970, and 70,000 megawatts by 1980 seems reasonable.
The AEC and Department of Interior program on desalting also seems very promising. I have directed him, today, to undertake a new study in connection with the associated Government agencies, particularly Interior, in connection with certain cooperative efforts-that I expect to announce at a later date with other nations--in the field of desalting in an attempt to make the deserts bloom.
We discussed the United States and U.S.S.R. exchanges in atomic energy in some detail. This program is making a very effective and very positive contribution to the U.S.-U.S.S.R. relations. Dr. Seaborg reports that Ambassador Kohler has emphasized to us the great value of this program. As you know, he is our Ambassador in Russia. Dr. Seaborg stated that during his visit to the Soviet Union in May 1963 his counterpart, Chairman Petrosyants,4 and Dr. Seaborg signed a memorandum of understanding in the peaceful uses of atomic energy, which has since provided us numerous scientific exchanges.
4 Andronik M. Petrosyants, Chairman, State Committee for Use of Atomic Energy in Soviet Union.
We are hopeful and we are going to labor to the end that the scientists become a bridge between nations of differing philosophies in the hope that we can bring about, through their efforts, much better understanding.
In the last 2 years, four U.S. teams have visited the U.S.S.R. Those teams are made up of 7 to 10 men each. And four Soviet teams visited the U.S. on a reciprocal basis. Three American scientists have been sent to the U.S.S.R. on an extended basis, and reciprocally three Soviet scientists have come here to the U.S. The success of this program has furthered our hope that science can serve as a common ground between East and West even in these troubled times.
You now have a mission there, don't you?
DR. SEABORG. Yes.
THE PRESIDENT. How many men?
DR. SEABORG. We have a couple of scientists working there on a long-term basis in one of the labs. The last team was a Soviet team that came to this country just last week. That is a team of 10 scientists in the field of radioactive waste disposal.
REDUCTION IN BUDGET DEFICIT [6.] THE PRESIDENT. This one I'll go a little slow on. Earlier this year I announced to you that our expanding economy would produce more revenues than we had anticipated in our prediction to Congress in the January budget.
I also announced that the drive to keep Federal expenditures under tight rein would reduce expenditures below the estimates we made in January. We do not have any final figures for June, but I do have a final, rather strong, memorandum to all the agencies about this June spending. And on the basis of the reductions we were able to make in June spending last year, and the best estimates that the career men and Budget can make today, we want to report that our progress on both fronts is much better than we had previously expected, according to Mr. Schultze,5 of the Budget Bureau, and the Secretary of the Treasury.
5 Charles L. Schultze, Director of the Bureau of the Budget.
Instead of revenues increasing by $1.4 billion above our budget estimate, as it appeared earlier, we now anticipate a $1.6 billion revenue improvement. Our latest reports also indicate that expenditures will be in the neighborhood of $900 million lower than our January estimate. So, we expect to have a very unique thing happen to us--at present, taking in $1.6 billion more than we said we would, and spending in the neighborhood of $900 million less than we said we would spend. That will make a difference of $2.5 billion.
Now, as a result, we expect revenues to be $92.8 billion and expenditures $96.6 billion. This could be off a hundred or so million either way, but this is the estimate they make, and they have been very good on it and this is the middle of June. The budget deficit, therefore, will be only $3.8 billion, which is $2.5 billion less than the $6.3 billion estimated in our January budget.
REDUCTION IN UNEMPLOYMENT [7.] Continuing improvement in the Nation's economy has now, today, reduced to 22 the number of major manpower centers classified by the Federal Government as having substantial unemployment. The figure is the lowest since May of 1957. There were 39 such areas at this time last year, and 101 such areas in March and April of 1961.
Last month's data on employment and unemployment collected in the Nation's 150 largest manpower centers has resulted in our reclassification of 16 areas to categories denoting lower unemployment. Fifteen of these were removed from categories of substantial unemployment and were redesignated as areas of relatively low or moderate unemployment.
The Governor of Georgia told me that before they were acting on requests for new facilities they were making very careful studies because their unemployment rate is down in a good many areas 2 percent or less. Now before people come in and make surveys they try to bring them up to date. I just add that parenthetically. This is what he told me arriving at the airport yesterday.
The improved conditions can be credited to the effects of Federal programs of tax reduction, manpower training, area development, cooperation and trust and confidence between employees and business and labor and Government, in addition to the general improvement in the economic climate and the strong confidence existing in the business community, so far as new plant investments are concerned.
BALANCE OF PAYMENTS DEFICIT [8.] Another item is in connection with our voluntary cooperation program to control and reduce the balance of payments deficit. Many cooperating bankers and businessmen have asked what the Federal Government is doing for its part in the program. I have reviewed with the Secretary of the Treasury, and night before last with the Secretary of Commerce, and I will meet with Mr. Robertson of the Federal Reserve Board, and Mr. Maisel, a Federal Reserve Board member,6 tomorrow. We don't want to be overoptimistic, and we want to caution everyone to be prudent in their predictions. We are pleased with the balance of payments and it is exceeding our expectations. But these bankers and businessmen that I was speaking about--their concern is quite proper.
6J. L. Robertson and Sherman J. Maisel, members, Board of Governors, Federal Reserve System.
I have just received a report from the Budget Director today on the matter and here is what it shows. The net balance of payments costs of the Federal program-that is just Federal; what I said a moment ago has to do with banks alone, capital investments by business--this has to do with Federal programs. The net balance of payments costs of Federal programs through regular transactions abroad--keeping our troops there, Korea, Germany, our headquarters in France, and our foreign aid to all the countries--through regular transactions abroad declined 23 percent, or $635 million from fiscal 1963 to 1965.
According to present plans, these costs will decline another 13 percent, or $290 additional million, by 1967.
We have certain actions and decisions that have already been made but have to be tapered out. This major improvement has been possible because of efforts throughout the Government to reduce overseas dollar payments and to increase our receipts from abroad. The most substantial contribution to date has resulted from a reduction in overseas payments of $720 million from 1963 through 1965. In the next 2 years our receipts from abroad--loan repayments, receipts from the sale of Government-owned agricultural commodities, and even advance repayments on loans made since World War II, and we hope some of these days some from World War I--will increase sharply.
These we welcome gladly, and some of them are coming back, and some are coming back in advance, and that is what reduced this 23 percent and 13 percent. So, these contributions of Federal agencies toward sharing the burden of reducing the balance of payments deficit were also reflected in the reduction in Federal employment in foreign countries. As I reported several weeks ago, there were 8,614 fewer civilian Federal employees overseas in December 1964 than a year earlier--approximately 9,000 reduced.
These improvements have been obtained without sacrificing essential U.S. commitments abroad, and in the face of rising price and wage levels in most overseas countries where we spend our dollars.
REDUCTION IN NUMBER OF GOVERNMENT
EMPLOYEES [9.] Employment last month, I believe, is down something like over 4,000 employees in the Federal Government. I'll get those exact figures if Bill Moyers,7 or someone else, will get them for me. That is contrasted with 2.1 million more people working this May than worked last May.
7Bill D. Moyers, Special Assistant to the president.
RESIGNATIONS AND APPOINTMENTS [10.] I have today accepted the resignation of Secretary of the Army, Stephen Ailes, effective July 1st. I plan to nominate Stanley R. Resor, currently Under Secretary of the Army, to replace Mr. Ailes as Secretary of the Army. Mr. David E. McGiffert, currently Assistant Secretary of Defense, will replace Mr. Resor as Under Secretary of the Army. Secretary Ailes served as Under Secretary of the Army from February 9, 1961, until January 28, 1964, when he succeeded Cyrus Vance as Secretary of the Army. He has served in that post continuously since that time. Secretary Ailes is returning to his Washington law practice.
I have spent a good portion of my time in the last few days going back and forth-yesterday to Georgia, and other places, reading reports and evaluating employees. I expect to have some today when it is convenient to give you a number of other appointees. We are having changes from time to time. There will be more in the Defense Department. There will be a good many in the Justice Department. Some on commissions. We are in good shape with our appointees but we have a dozen or so now under active consideration.
[11.] I have today accepted the resignation of Under Secretary of the Navy, Kenneth E. BeLieu, effective July 1st. I will nominate Robert H. B. Baldwin of New Jersey, currently a partner in the investment firm of Morgan Stanley, and a consultant to the Secretary of the Navy, to take Mr. BeLieu's place.
Q. What does he do?
THE PRESIDENT. He is consultant to the Secretary of the Navy and a partner in private life--he comes from the firm of Morgan Stanley.
CABINET TO REVIEW INTERNATIONAL
SITUATION [12.] I called a meeting of the Cabinet for 11 a.m. Friday. We will have a thorough review and discussion of the international situation, and U.S. policies. I will ask the Secretary of State to review the dozen or more diplomatic proposals and initiatives that we have considered and received and proposed, so that all the members of the Cabinet may evaluate and discuss them and be informed about them in greater detail than has been permitted before.
In addition, we will explore with members of the Cabinet certain other hopes for peace that we are evaluating and considering. The Secretary of Defense will report on the status of the men in uniform, who protect us and who defend us, and the quality of their performance, the dangers that they have undertaken, the commitments that we have made to certain areas of the world. That will be thoroughly and carefully reviewed, and members of the Cabinet will make--those not on the National Security Council--the Secretary of the Treasury is, and the Attorney General comes frequently, and, of course, the Vice President is always there--but others will make any suggestions that they come to, and very likely will make some suggestions to new initiatives which we have already tried, and some unsuccessfully.
I think that is all I have at this time.
RESIGNATIONS AND APPOINTMENTS [13.] Q. Mr. President, will Mr. BeLieu have any office in Government?
THE PRESIDENT. He has resigned from his office and he has not informed me what he expects to do.
When Mr. McNamara came over the other day to talk about personnel matters he presented these resignations and made these suggestions, and while studies have been made of the men--investigations that we normally make, we brought them up to date, and since that meeting--whenever it was, 3 or 4 days ago, it was on the record--I have decided to name Mr. Resor and Mr. Baldwin.
CONGRESSIONAL COMMENTS AND THE
NEGOTIATIONS IN VIET-NAM [14.] Q. Mr. President, since you made a recent speech, you expressed a willingness and acceptance of the fact that your foreign policy was very subject to public discussion and such open remarks as this--
THE PRESIDENT. I have always believed that.
Q. Yes, sir, but in the last day or two, this criticism or discussion on Capitol Hill has become a little more pointed--
THE PRESIDENT. In recent days it has become a little more what?
Q. Pointed. Senator Clark of Pennsylvania says we must negotiate with the Viet Cong or we will never get a peace without it. What do you think of a statement like that by a member of the Foreign Relations Committee?
THE PRESIDENT. First, I think Senator Clark is a very able member of the Foreign Relations Committee. He has been interested, I recall, through the years when I was leader--he wanted to go on Foreign Relations and has been added to Foreign Relations recently. I think he has a perfect right to express himself--and a duty. His suggestion is one that I think has been carefully considered by Secretary Rusk and Secretary Ball,8 and for that matter the entire Security Council and the President.
8Secretary of State Dean Rusk and Under Secretary of State George W. Ball.
I think that you must observe--as accurate and perceptive as you are a good many times--and I think we all wish we could settle these differences by discussion and by reasoning them out instead of the way we are attempting to settle it.
I have no doubt--I am sure other Senators who are real familiar with this matter, including Senator Clark, have no doubt that if the Viet Cong had a viewpoint to present and were anxious to negotiate they would have no difficulty finding the government to negotiate.
I don't think that you would have a group that feels very strongly--maybe like the group at the Pentagon yesterday, or maybe State--I don't believe we'd ever agree to someone negotiating that is not a government. I am not aware of any government the Viet Cong has. What would you think about the State of Mississippi negotiating for us in this matter? Although it is a State it is not a sovereign government.
Now, if there is any indication, or anyone has information--I remember one time Senator Borah 9 said he had better information than the President. At that time, Smitty,10 it was a matter of much more point than it is now, and much more equal, I am glad to say. But our information is when we asked them to come into the United Nations last August, after we said you bring these people in and let's try to work through the U.N., they weren't the slightest interested-the North Vietnamese were not.
9William E. Borah, Senator from Idaho 1907-1940.
10Merriman Smith of United Press International.
In February, we started the program of trying to curtail their ammunition supply and trying to eliminate their bridges and make it more difficult for them to come in, and attempting to convince them we were there to keep our commitment and we were going to keep it although they believed from some things said in word and writing, we might not. We attempted to convince them.
They told our representatives, our spokesmen, people who were negotiating for us (not members of this Government), and this is an example that I have used in talking to a good many people in the Congress and elsewhere, "this inflexibility characterizes the position of this entire regime, and illustrates its great measure of confidence in itself. It considers it holds all the trump cards; that world opinion is becoming more sympathetic; that the United States retaliation is limited; that South Viet-Nam is having its difficulties and they are not the slightest interested."
On February 15th, the same man reported to us and just a few days ago, I believe it was June 7. And the message on June 7 was just about the same as the message on February 15. It is a confidential message but I will unclassify a paragraph or two of it for you.
He is completely persuaded, from his conversations with the officials, they are not now interested in any negotiation of any kind. He said he was able to see he names a high official--and he followed the standard line that the United States offer of unconditional discussion was deceitful. He asked them to elaborate on any proposal they would consider. He remained deliberately vague and gave no clear answer. We pressed him specifically about this matter but only received a vague and very indefinite reply.
He just talks about being impressed by an American in a foreign country, and he concludes the paragraph that his impressions from all of his meetings and discussions was there has been no change whatever in their position or at least they did not seem about to let such change be known.
Now, if any of these people want to negotiate they would have no difficulty finding a way. I told them in Baltimore we would like to go and would hope to do, and have repeated it since, and we have indicated many, many times we would be glad to negotiate with any government. Now they are going into groups of people.
Well, that is the current line. You remember first we had no policy. Second, we wouldn't explain it. Third, we ought to negotiate. Fourth, we ought to have a halt. These things originate and in about a month they come to us. You will find a good deal of it in the next few weeks--negotiate directly with the Viet Cong. And I would say the Viet Cong would have no difficulty, since they are controlled, directed, and masterminded from North Viet-Nam, in getting any view to us they wanted.
Q. Mr. President, this man who is reporting in, is this an American national?
THE PRESIDENT. You don't need to give him a blood test.
Q. This man was talking to Hanoi?
THE PRESIDENT. Yes. The negotiations, or who is carrying it on and how, I don't see how that could be of any value. The substance is what you want; not how much he weighs, how tall he is, or what country he represents. What we are trying to do is get them to talk to us.
Q. Mr. President, the Commonwealth meeting in London agreed to contact countries principally involved. Would you care to comment on that, sir?
THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I think the Prime Minister of Great Britain and the Prime Ministers of other Commonwealth countries are deeply interested in this matter and we are happy they are. We have reviewed their ideas and we are keeping close touch with them. We are very happy they have made this suggestion. We have talked to them, communicated with them about it, and they will have our full cooperation and we are delighted.
As I indicated the day after I took over as President, I'd be glad to go anywhere, do anything, see anybody, anytime that offered any hope of peace, and this is hope. We hope they can select a good committee that will be fair to all sides and we will be glad to meet with them, and we hope that every other country involved will be glad to meet.
We welcome any attempt, as we told them about the Cambodian conference11 and we replied to the 17 nations,12 as we said in 44 States and as we tried to repeat in some length in Pat Furgurson's13 town of Baltimore some time ago.
11On April 25, 1965, Secretary of State Dean Rusk stated that the U.S. would gladly participate in any conference on Cambodia. The text of his remarks is printed in the Department of State Bulletin (vol. 52, p. 711).
12On March 15, 1965, at Belgrade, Yugoslavia, a conference of 17 nonaligned nations adopted a declaration on the war in Viet-Nam. The 17-nation declaration and the U.S. reply are printed in the Department of State Bulletin (vol. 52, p. 610).
13 Ernest B. (Pat) Furgurson of the Baltimore Sun.
THE FUTURE OF THE UNITED NATIONS [15.] Q. Mr. President, what is to be done about the bad financial condition of the U.N.?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, that is a matter that deeply concerns us. We don't want to see the U.N. wrecked on account of a dollar. At the same time, we recognize the responsibilities of the member nations and there are differences of opinion there and we are trying to carefully consider the merits of the positions of various governments and find an area of agreement.
I am sorry to say we are not in a position to go any further at this time but we are very concerned about it, very anxious to find an answer to it, and we have great hopes for the U.N. and we think it would be tragic if because of a relatively minor amount of money, compared to the total budgets of the various nations, the U.N. should become less effective because of that.
I plan to--I want to put it this way, I hope that I may be able to go to San Francisco next Friday, and I wouldn't take that as a commitment that I am going to be there, but I hope to go and if I do, I may have something to say about the future of the U.N. at that time.
THE SITUATION IN VIET-NAM AND THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC [16.] Q. Mr. President, with the situation in Viet-Nam and the Dominican Republic, what is your personal assessment of the chances of improving international relations right now?
THE PRESIDENT. What is the first part of your question?
Q. With the situation in Viet-Nam and the Dominican Republic, what is your assessment?
THE PRESIDENT. I would say it is very difficult. They are strained. We are going to do everything we can to avoid provoking any controversies or straining any relations, and there has been no statement of ours toward any of the leaders of other governments, no propaganda of ours toward other peoples; and in our judgment, no act of ours that would justify irritating anyone who really loved peace and hated war.
We recognize that other nations keep their commitments and are true to their alliances and we assume that they would allow us the same privilege they reserve for themselves. We agreed to help the signatories of the Southeast Treaty Organization and the protocol states, and pursuant to that commitment we are trying to help them save their freedom from aggression. And we intend to save it.
In the Dominican Republic, forces moved in and overthrew the government. And while I am not passing on the merits of the actions that take place many times in many places, where they change governments-and we believe in change of conditions, and we are trying to obtain them through the Alliance for Progress--but in this particular instance, a fact that has been emphasized all too little, I think, some 1,500 innocent people were murdered and shot, and their heads cut off, and six Latin American embassies were violated and fired upon over a period of 4 days before we went in.
As we talked to our Ambassador to confirm the horror and tragedy and the unbelievable fact that they were firing on Americans and the American Embassy, he was talking to us from under a desk while bullets were going through his windows and he had a thousand American men, women, and children assembled in the hotel who were pleading with their President for help to preserve their lives.
We didn't start that. We didn't intervene. We didn't kill anyone. We didn't violate any embassies. We were not the perpetrators. But after we saw what had happened we took the necessary precautions as I have said so often and as I repeat again: We do not want to bury anyone and we don't intend to, but we are not going to be buried ourselves. And as we had to go into the Congo to preserve the lives of American citizens and haul them out when they were being shot at, we went into the Dominican Republic to preserve the lives of American citizens and citizens of a good many other nations--46 to be exact, 46 nationals.
While some of the nations were denouncing us for going in there their people were begging us to protect them. And the American Marines protected them. Twenty died. We removed 5,600 people from 46 nations and we didn't sprain an ankle doing it. But we had 20 of our boys killed by the rebels who fired first and who tried to keep us from evacuating these people. We established a peace zone.
We had only two purposes there. One, to get an Inter-American Force in there to bring about a cease-fire and preserve peace, that is all. We are not after their money or after their philosophy or trying to dominate them. We said that. And we tried our best to get them there as quick as we could and we finally got them--and General Alvim is doing an excellent job under great difficulties.
Yesterday I saw one of his cables, and it was 23 minutes after they started shooting before he replied. I don't know how many of you are anxious to stand up and be shot at by tommy-guns, and you ask a lot of these boys to do that. That is the first thing.
The second was to have a government broadly based to be acceptable to the people of the Dominican Republic. We are not pointing, we are not matching a computer and saying, here is what the government will be. We asked Mr. Bundy, Mr. Vance, Mr. Mann, Mr. Vaughn 14 and everyone we knew to talk to the extreme elements--some to talk to the other side, some to the loyalists, the rebels--hoping we could have a cease-fire until we could have a broadly based government, and until the OAS could give help, counsel, and mediation.
14McGeorge Bundy, Special Assistant to the President, Cyrus R. Vance, Deputy Secretary of Defense, Thomas C. Mann, Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs, and Jack H. Vaughn, Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs and United States Coordinator, Alliance for Progress.
They have appointed a very fine committee. They appointed the best men they could find and they are there talking to every group, going all over the land. They are making progress, and we hope that the OAS will have a recommendation on the political matter like they did on the military matter. We don't want it to be unilateral. We much prefer that the forces of all nations go in to save people of 46 nations. But it is taking us 7 weeks to get the two things we have done up to now and haven't got the final answer yet.
We first had a committee appointed, then a man, then another committee appointed from the OAS, and we are proud of what the OAS is doing but it is not a matter that can save lives. As a matter of fact, we landed our people in less than 1 hour from the time the decision was made. It was a decision we considered from Saturday until Wednesday evening. But once we made it, in the neighborhood of 6 or 6:30 that evening, they landed within 1 hour. But they didn't save 1,500 lives.
CONGRESSIONAL RESOLUTION OF SUPPORT [17.] Q. Mr. President, because of the growing commitment of American combat troops in Viet-Nam, there have been some discussions in Congress that you should go back to Congress for another resolution of support?
THE PRESIDENT. The evidence there is very dear for anybody that has read the resolution. 15
15The joint resolution (HJ. Res. 1145) to promote the maintenance of international peace and security in southeast Asia was approved on August 10, 1964 (Public Law 88-408, 78 Stat. 384).
First, the authority of the President is very clear and unquestioned without a resolution. The Commander in Chief has all the authority that I am exercising. But because of my desire to have the support of the Congress and to have them a part of any decision we make after consulting their leadership, exchanging viewpoints, and carefully drawing a resolution, we submitted to the Congress language that we thought would make it clear for all time, to one and all.
That language, just as a reminder to you, said the Congress approves and supports the determination of the President as Commander in Chief "to take all--all--all necessary measures to repel any--any--any armed attack against the forces of the United States" and, "to prevent further aggression."
Furthermore, the United States is prepared, as the President determines, to take all necessary steps, including the use of armed forces to assist any member or protocol state of the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty requesting assistance in the defense of freedom.
Now, the resolution--and we carefully put this in, and this, I think, will give a full response to your question--this resolution shall expire when the President shall determine that the peace and security of the area is reasonably assured by international conditions created by the action of the U.N. or otherwise; it may be terminated earlier by concurrent resolution of the Congress. I couldn't veto that resolution. We purposely put it in.
Anytime they want to take the authority the resolution gives me, they can take it away. It is just an expression and they just approved the position that we were taking. So we think that if there is anyone--and there will be some in a body of a hundred when from time to time we ask them to make appropriations, and there are such things as the military bills reported out today, and military assistance which has a lot of testimony in this connection and the economic bill just last week.
Anyone that wants to cannot only speak against us but can vote against us. We don't encourage it, and we think we are very fortunate that we are as unified as we are. The first vote was 502-2 and my study of history would indicate that that is rather unusual even for most extreme times.
I remember Jeannette Rankin of Montana16 voting against a declaration of war. And on the last vote, I believe it was 10 out of 35. So we are very happy at the support we are receiving and the people are supporting us not only in this country but other places.
16Jeannette Rankin, Representative from Montana 1917-1919 and 1941-1943.
I told Senator Long 17 yesterday morning: Do not be dissuaded and do not become discouraged because I remember your father telling about the Louisiana farmer that stayed awake night after night because of the frogs barking in the pond. Finally he got irritated and angry and the way you all describe me--those of you that never come around here--and he went out and drained the pond and killed both frogs.
17Senator Russell B. Long of Louisiana.
We aren't going to kill anybody but we recognize the frogs and the ponds and they keep us awake sometimes. That is the freedom we love.
President Eisenhower told me about a prominent Soviet general who came into his office during the war and criticized one of the newspaper reporters. He was talking about some bad articles that had been written about him, and he thought they were unjust. And President Eisenhower told him he would consider it. The next day the Soviet general came back to the headquarters and said he wanted Merriman Smith, or whoever it was, court-martialed.
President Eisenhower said, "Here is a big book compiled on what they said about me." He said, "Before I left here I went home to see my mother and there were five Eisenhower boys there, and Milton is a liberal, progressive head of a university; one is a banker, the other is a constitutional lawyer; one is a professor; and one is an engineer." He said, "My father was a railroad man who married my mother when she was 19 years old and gave birth to five children. She had five boys--there had been six but there were five there that day, I believe it was, but two of those boys are ultra-conservatives and two of those boys are progressive liberals and one of them is General of the Army. I am over here fighting for that fight and to preserve that right where a railroad man can marry a 19-year-old girl and produce five children and two of them can develop into conservatives and two liberals and one General of the Army."
So, I have been around Congress too long--35 years--not to understand that there are going to be different viewpoints but I applaud and appreciate the assistance that General Eisenhower, who is the only President of the other party that is living, has given me.
I read last night a very lengthy report of a briefing that he had received and his reactions and I have asked him to come back to the White House from time to time, and don't you think there is an emergency when he walks in. He is going to be here the latter part of this month, speaking to Howard.18 I am going to talk to him then.
18Son June 17, 1965, former President Dwight D. Eisenhower addressed an audience at Howard University in Washington, D.C., at a ceremony honoring 320 college students who were to spend the summer in Europe as "people-to-people" ambassadors.
I consult with President Truman from time to time, but the strength the opposition party has given me is very much appreciated and the support of my own people. I don't know of any similar period in history with the great difficulties we are facing now that the Congress has performed more magnificently.
I may question some individual member some time close to election, but I am not going to quarrel with any this early.
FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, JR. [18.] Q. Mr. President, Franklin Roosevelt 19 said he would like to talk to you as to whether he should run for mayor or not. Are you going to see him?
THE PRESIDENT. I have not seen him. I have not talked to him. I will be happy to talk to him. I like him. He performed a very valuable service to this administration but I am not in the business of selecting mayors for any cities. I would, of course, be happy to talk to any prominent citizen, and I include Mr. Roosevelt in that group, who desire to talk to me about his future or any others. As a matter of fact, I talked to Franklin Roosevelt, St., about my future a good many times and I would feel very bad if I refused.
19Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr., Chairman, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
THE SUPERSONIC TRANSPORT [19.] Q. Mr. President, is there anything you can tell us on the supersonic transport?
THE PRESIDENT. Yes. The Russians have made considerable advances in that field. We watched them with interest and we are glad they have been successful.
The French and the British have made rapid strides in that field and as you know it won't be long before they have their plane ready. We have carefully studied it and tested the sonic boom and other things necessary. I told the committee of the Vice President, the Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Webb, Mr. McNamara, Mr. Halaby,20 and others--we are going to build it if the Congress gives us some money. We want the best plane and we want one the airlines will buy, so, therefore, it must be a sizeable undertaking involving hundreds of millions-over a billion dollars for the first plane--and it has got to be at a price they will buy and can use to haul people 2,000 miles an hour, or however fast it goes--2,200 some of them. The Russian, I think, is 1,600.
20James E. Webb, Administrator, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Robert S. McNamara, Secretary of Defense, and N. E. Halaby, Administrator, Federal Aviation Agency.
To do that we have got to get the best brains in this country who know how to build a plane, and that is not a civil service worker or ex-governor or even manager of an airport.
So, Mr. McNamara and the Secretary of the Treasury--because of the balance of payments we want these people to buy our planes instead of buying abroad--Mr. McCone 21 worked with us because of his experience in business before he left; Mr. Webb because of the NASA interest. And we looked to try to get the best man in the United States without regard to politics, without regard to anything, and we think we got the best man in the United States. His name is "Bozo" McKee.
21John A. McCone, former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
He was the head of Wright Field, he was a procurement expert, and Mr. McNamara said he has been on a good many different sides with him and against him, but he considered him the best man. Mr. Webb grabbed him up for the space program--he is 50 and some odd years and he has an $8,000 retirement--and so he got him and sent him to some of his NASA centers to give expert advice on procurement and building and construction, because that is his business. He built a lot of airplanes. He was in charge of Wright Field.
I called him one morning at 7:30--they agreed he was best--and I said, "What are you doing?" And he said he didn't have his britches on. And I said, "Get them on and come on up." I asked him to take this job and he said he didn't like the idea of being tied down and looked forward to a vacation. I said he could have it after he gave us air supremacy, and if he could do it after 2 or 3 years he could go back to Palm Springs or Nassau. And like most men trained by West Point and Annapolis, or whatever, he said, "If that is what the Commander in Chief wants me to do I will do it." ("I have been separated from my wife in three wars ..."--that was Maxwell Taylor 22 who was separated from his wife.) I asked Mr. McKee to do the job. But they had gotten into an argument with General Quesada 23 and they had put a provision in the act that the head must be a civilian. The head or deputy is a general but he is not going to build a transport. We want the man to head it and be responsible for it, and we asked the Congress--as you do in extreme cases--to permit this man to move over from NASA, where he didn't have to be confirmed, to FAA at the same salary.
22Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor, U.S. Ambassador to South Viet-Nam.
23E. R. Quesada, former Administrator, Federal Aviation Agency.
He kept his $8,000 retirement and got the job, whatever it pays--28 or 30. So, we sent the bill up there and Congressman Harris had been against the General because of the problem with General Quesada. But he thought it was merited, and I called him down in Arkansas and he said we ought to get the best man.
But he is the most experienced and he is the best now. The bill has passed the House overwhelmingly. Only one Democrat voted against it. It is in the Senate. It is up today and I hope, as I speak, the roll is called on it and I hope McKee will take that job.24 And I told him we want him to go full steam ahead, around the clock, until we obtain the best plane at the best price that was achievable.
24A bill (H.R. 7777) authorizing the President to appoint Gen. William F. McKee to the office of Administrator, Federal Aviation Agency was approved on June 22, 1965 (Public Law 89-46, 79 Stat. 171).
THE DENVER FLOOD DISASTER [20.] Q. Mr. President, have you been apprised of the Denver flood disaster and have you taken any action?
THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Ellington 25 has that matter before him. It is a matter for the Governor. The Governor called me. I haven't been able to talk to him. Governor Ellington will talk to him and we will make all resources available to him.
Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.
25Buford Ellington, Director, Office of Emergency Planning, and former Governor of Tennessee.
FURTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE PRESIDENT
THE WHITE HOUSE STAFF [21.] I have a couple of additional announcements to make. Doug Cater26 has been working with Health, Education, and Welfare on the education bill and health bill, and he's been doing so well that I want to get him back where his time is not so divided. I hope that he can get back with the work of the Security Council, and I am going to ask him to. And as soon as I can I am going to move him over from the Executive Office Building. And I will probably move Horace Bushy,27 too. Both of them will be devotees of Mr. Bundy.
Are the wire services here?
26S. Douglass Cater, Jr., Special Assistant to the President.
27Horace Busby, Jr., Special Assistant to the President.
Q. We'll tell them, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT. This is that pool that you're always seeking there. Busby will undertake a variety of duties. As you know, he now prepares statements for me, and does research, and analyzes, and gives me advice on a good many matters. But he will concentrate some on space, on defense, on various regions of the world, and various messages and correspondence that we will be sending to other countries. We have an exchange of things that go back and forth, and I'll have him attend to and specialize in that field, and there will be others, including this but not limited to this.
Mr. Cater will be working in foreign policy, generally. He'll be doing what he can to give us advice on cooperative efforts that we can make in matters like saline water, or against the ancient enemies of mankind, or in food, health, education, with other nations. That is a big problem. If we can get those people some food and clothing and housing and some education and health, we would not be having all this bombing. It would not be necessary to make them.
They'll be working with USIA, keeping in close touch with them. Both of them will be working with certain international organizations: SEATO, CENTO, NATO, U.N.
They'll have increasingly important roles in the preparation of all of my statements and my press conferences. For that reason, they'll be kept informed of all major national security matters, and they'll be present on all security matters. They may not go to lunch with me on Tuesday. But they don't mind. I'd be glad to have them there, but they'll be in on official meetings and on a good many of the unofficial ones. They have both worked very closely with me for a good many years on a series of subjects, and they have been very helpful to me in Viet-Nam, and the Dominican Republic, and in other areas.
Now, Mr. Bundy will continue to head the staff. He has several people specializing in various areas, Bob Komer, Cooper,28 and different ones, and they'll still have their regions. But these men will be working within the fields I've told you about.
28Robert W. Komer, Deputy Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, and Chester L. Cooper, senior member of the National Security Council staff.
JUDICIAL APPOINTMENTS [22.] I anticipate that I will name very shortly Judge Homer Thornberry to the Circuit Court of Appeals of the 5th District of Texas, and former Governor I. P. Coleman of Mississippi 29 Mr. Coleman is a former attorney general of that State, a former judge of that State, and a former Governor of that State. Thornberry is a former district attorney, a former member of the city council, a former member of the legislature, a former Member of the Congress. He's now a district judge and he'll be promoted to the circuit court.
29Also appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
Q. What was Governor Coleman to be?
Q. How about replacements?
THE PRESIDENT. That's a matter we'll have to look into. I want to get the recommendation from the Bar Association. I want to consult with Senator Yarborough.
Under the Constitution, the President appoints judges and the Senate confirms judges. It doesn't mean necessarily that when a bar association checks them because of a practice they're in that we give the Bar Association the appointment power of the President. It doesn't mean that we give the Senate the appointment power. If they're not qualified they can always reject them. The Bar Association does a good many times in their judgment, and the President goes ahead and acts anyway. I don't have the record but a good many have been rejected.
A good many times men not qualified may be personally obnoxious, but I would try to select one that is qualified to meet the Bar Association's requirements, one that is not obnoxious. And I prefer someone who is actually supported by Senator Yarborough and is not offensive to any Member of the Senate and has the qualifications of the job beyond the peradventure of a doubt. I have not gone in and considered anyone.
Judge Adrian Spears will move to Austin and will reside in Austin and will succeed Congressman Thornberry there.
Q. Mr. President, of course--
THE PRESIDENT. This is not another press conference.
Q. Mr. Busby and Mr. Cater, of course, will retain their present titles?
THE. PRESIDENT. Yes, their same present titles. This is just an expansion of their duties.
Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.
Note: President Johnson's forty-fourth news conference was held in his office at the White House at 4:15 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 1965.
Lyndon B. Johnson, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/241757