Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

The President's News Conference

April 17, 1957

THE. PRESIDENT. Please sit down.

I have no announcements. We will go right to questions.

Q. Robert E. Clark, International News Service: Mr. President, your brother Edgar is in the news this morning-for voicing some criticism about your budget and the general direction your Administration is taking.

He also says he is disturbed about the liberal influence of Milton and Sherm Adams. Do you have any comment?

THE PRESIDENT. Edgar has been criticizing me since I was five years old. [Laughter]

Q. William McGaffin, Chicago Daily News: Sir, could you tell us why you picked Scott McLeod to be an ambassador, and whether you think he can do an effective job as our representative in Ireland, in view of the criticism provoked by his appointment?

THE PRESIDENT. I appointed Mr. McLeod on the serious and earnest recommendation of Secretary Dulles, who is held responsible by me for the successful functioning of all our embassies. And when he recommended him, and did it not in a perfunctory way but in a very serious, direct way, which he does all those, I approved it.

Q. Frank van der Linden, Nashville Banner: Mr. President, the Senate Judiciary Committee this week reported out a bill which would stop the Government from selling the General Aniline and Film Corporation, which is one of the biggest of the assets we seized from the Germans. Do you favor legislation to let this property be given back to the German corporations?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I haven't seen this bill, and I wouldn't want to answer just your last question in detail for the simple reason that each one of these cases presents problems of its own.

From the day I came in here, I have been in favor of getting the United States out of this business and have done everything I could to promote progress along that line.

Q. Mr. van der Linden: Then, sir, if you favor the sale of this, this would stop the sale so that would be against your policy, then, this bill would stop the sale of it.

THE PRESIDENT. I think we should have no bill that doesn't allow the United States to get out of this business.

Q. William H. Stringer, Christian Science Monitor: In the disarmament talks in London, the Russians seem to be somewhat on their good behavior just now. Can you give us your opinion, sir, as to the prospects of any progress on the disarmament front?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, of course, I am not there; but I do have reports from Governor Stassen.

Governor Stassen says in his opinion we are now engaged in the most serious talks on disarmament, some partial disarmament, that we have been since World War II. He believes that the atmosphere is better and there is more indication that we are really, all of us, trying to get at some kind of a reasonable answer than we have been in the past. 1

1 On April 23, 1957, the following statement was released from Augusta, Ga.:

The President received from Mr. Stassen a review of the London talks. The President followed these London discussions with interest. He had arranged with the Secretary of State to have Mr. Stassen come to Augusta to give him a personal report.

The President encouraged the United States delegation to follow through thoroughly in the resumed negotiations which will start again in London on Wednesday.

The President re-affirmed that United States policy is, as stated by the Secretary of State in his speech of yesterday, that: "We consider that controls and reduction of arms are possible, desirable, and in the last reckoning indispensable. It is not essential that controls should encompass everything at once. In fact, progress is likely to come by steps carefully measured and carefully taken."

Mr. Stassen will return this morning to Washington to confer again with the Secretary of State prior to leaving for London later this afternoon from New York City.

Q. James B. Reston, New York Times: Sir, I wondered if you would explain to us your policy about placing guided missile sites within range of the Soviet Union. Is it your intention to place those without warheads in those areas all around the Soviet Union?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I wouldn't comment on the general policy. I will merely say this: we have no such plans. The particular plans that we made with Great Britain were announced as a result of the Bermuda conference, and that is the only plan of any kind that has been touched upon.

Q. John Herling, Editors Syndicate: Sir, without reference to the sibling rivalry in your family, may I ask whether in these days of criticism, general criticism, of certain budgetary proposals, could you tell us just how much store you set by the particular proposal made by the State and Labor Departments that the ceiling of this Government's contribution to the International Labor Organization should be raised from 1.7 million to 3 million dollars a year; and just how necessary you consider it, sir, that the ILO be a part of our necessary national and international commitments?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer that with the expertness of one who has been participating in these meetings.

Going on the information provided me by the Secretary of Labor, by the Secretary of State, and by the representatives we have had in the ILO, coming back to the United States and reporting to me personally, I believe that it is a very good mechanism for promoting our interests in the world; and I believe it should be supported adequately.

Now, I believe that yesterday or the day before the Assistant Secretary of State and Assistant Secretary of Labor both testified in favor of the $3 million bill. I can only say that I have to accept their judgment.

Q. Rowland Evans, Jr., New York Herald Tribune: Sir, I understand that ten members of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy have written you a letter, sir, asking that you give the highest consideration to the reappointment of Mr. Thomas Murray, whose term expires in June.

I wondered, sir, first if you have received and read the letter and, second, if you could tell us what your reaction to it was.

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't seen it; and my reaction, if I got it, was this: it is my responsibility to appoint people in the executive department.

Q. Charles S. von Fremd, CBS News: There has been a general belief, sir, that the Strategic Air Command serves mainly as a deterrent to any possible Russian strike against the United States. But last week General LeMay said that SAC is now ready to put out what he called bush fire wars with nuclear weapons. And I want to know is this correct; might we use SAC as an offensive weapon in some future small war?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, SAC would be used, of course, by the Defense Department in any place where they thought they could operate efficiently and effectively better than any other force. Now, when you get a picture of the great Strategic Air Command charging all over the world for little police troubles, of course, that would be entirely wrong.

Q. Mrs. May Craig, Portland (Maine) Press Herald: Members of the Senate labor rackets committee have spoken favorably of Federal legislation for right-to-work. Would you favor that?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I would want to see the specific bill in its details, and I should certainly want to consult with my Secretary of Labor and a number of others before I took a positive view.

But this particular point has not come up until this time. What has been happening is this: under the Federal law, as it exists, certain States are allowed, they are not prevented from passing right-to-work laws, and we have merely said: "Please, Mr. State, look at this thing very carefully, and let's don't get a confused thing operating within your State." That is as far as we have had to go.

Now, what would happen in the event that the Federal Government wanted to take cognizance of this thing, I couldn't answer in advance.

Q. William H. Lawrence, New York Times: If this Government received a. request for advice from a shipping company as to whether it should transit the Gulf of Aqaba, what would the advice be, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, we have counselled both with Suez and Aqaba that, of course, people be prudent; in other words, they not try to bull their way where they are forbidden to go.

On the other hand, with respect to the Gulf of Aqaba, we have announced our readiness to join other maritime nations in a statement that we regard that area as international waters, and we have suggested that we will do so until the World Court rules otherwise.

So I should say that we would tell them that--and I never heard of a shipping company actually asking such advice--we tell what our policy is, and then they take the initiative in doing as they choose. And if they got in trouble, we would have to go to the World Court with it, I think, right away.

Q. Mr. Lawrence: There have been suggestions, sir, from Cairo recently that apparently we were willing to defer any use of the Gulf of Aqaba while we were negotiating with the Egyptians on the Suez question.

THE PRESIDENT. If So, I have not heard it. If there is any negotiator operating in details who has said that, I haven't heard of it.

Q. Mr. Lawrence: You have not authorized any changes?

THE PRESIDENT. No, we have not changed our policy with respect either to Aqaba or to Suez, I assure you.

Q. David P. Sentner, Hearst Newspapers: Mr. President, a State Department spokesman yesterday said that the United States would come to the aid of Jordan if it were attacked. Now, could you tell us if that might mean the applying of the so-called Eisenhower Doctrine for the first time if King Hussein asked for our economic or military aid?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think there are at least two pronouncements of the United States that apply in that area today. In 1950 or '51, I have forgotten which now, but it was called the May 25th statement, which was an effort to promote peace in the area as between Israel and the surrounding Arab countries, in which the United States joined with Britain and France in saying we would come to the aid of the victim if either were attacked; and, of course, that was in the context of the Israeli-Arab dispute. So that could apply in one type of case.

The other thing is what we call the Mid-East Resolution which permits the United States, authorizes the United States, to go to the aid of any nation which is attacked by a Communist aggression, and where it requests our aid.

Now, under either of those two, whichever applied, that is the way you would do it if it were attacked under the conditions that made either one applicable. That's all you can say.

Q. Peter Lisagor, Chicago Daily News: Mr. President, can you tell us whether the Richards mission will make special efforts to go to Egypt and Syria during his current tour of the Middle East?

THE PRESIDENT. At this moment his itinerary goes only as far as Ethiopia and Sudan; and I think the end of his tour will not be actually scheduled until after he has completed those trips.

Q. Peter J. Kumpa, Baltimore Sun: Mr. President, you have been reported as favoring a restoration of the deep cuts made in the USIA budget. I wonder if you could tell us, sir, how strongly you feel that this is necessary for our overall foreign policy?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I couldn't overemphasize it. I believe that the job of explaining to the world what we are trying to do to keep our aspirations, our activities, straight before the minds of all our friends as well as others, we must not regard the USIA as a diminishing but rather somewhat increasing function of Government.

Now, I have told leaders that I have not any crystal ball that gives me an exact estimate of the exact amount that is necessary. But I do say this function is so important that I think cutting dollars here uselessly is about the worst kind of economy that could possibly be practiced.

Q. Mr. Kumpa: Sir, do you feel the same way as far as some of the State Department funds are concerned, for example, some of the, let's say, the expense funds for individual ambassadors and our other representatives?

THE PRESIDENT. I think our ambassadors are some of the poorest paid people in the world, considering what we expect of them.

Q. Andrew F. Tully, Jr., Scripps-Howard: Sir, Senator Jenner says he expects your support in his campaign for reelection. Will you give him that support?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, aren't you asking a question way ahead of time? The primaries are not over yet.

Q. John L. Steele, Time Magazine: Mr. President, a fortnight ago Great Britain made public its defense paper. I wonder if you could give us your views as to the impact of that paper on our own defense program and, secondly, on the NATO defense mission in Western Europe.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, that is a question that couldn't be answered accurately except with quite a long explanation. Of course, you must remember that Britain has been in consultation with all its NATO partners on this move for a long time; and everybody agrees, quite naturally, that Britain must have a sound economic base on which to build its forces or in the long run it is not an effective partner.

Now, as to part of your question, does this affect materially our own military program, I should say, no.

Now, while we are disappointed to see in this coming year 13,500 men taken out of Europe, still it does not, in our opinion, obviate the necessity for a shield in Western Europe; and, certainly, the compromise plan that was adopted and the phasing out of these people was in order to give the Germans an opportunity to fill that gap.

So I should say that the general policies and principles under which NATO was established and developed have not changed, and we expect the close cooperation to go ahead that has been characteristic of the organization in the past.

Q. Chalmers M. Roberts, Washington Post: I would take your remarks just now to apply mostly to the manpower side of this problem. What about the weapons side? Does the British reliance on missiles, is the timing of it so fast that there is likely to be a gap in terms of our ability to give them the missiles that you offered at Bermuda, and for them to make other missiles? Will the missiles fill up the manpower gap in time, in other words?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, you mean, are they taking out their 13,500 men too quickly?

Q. Mr. Roberts: Yes.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, of course, I think General Norstad wanted them to delay it as long as they could, and that is the reason they are delaying it, I believe, until the end of the year instead of doing it at the first.

The missile arrangement that we made with Britain at Bermuda, I believe, was explained at the time. It was when, as, and if they are ready for issue. In other words, they cannot count on them until they are all operating perfectly and ready for turning over to them.

So I don't think that their planning represents a gap. There may be some gap occur in the actual strength available there-not a big one, because, as I say, they are delaying it in order to give the Germans a chance to fill it up.

Q. Charles W. Roberts, Newsweek: Sir, this is a question on highway travel. A Senate Public Works subcommittee is studying alternate means of banning billboards from along the federally-supported highway system we are about to start building, but they seem disinclined to vote out any sort of legislation. wonder how you feel about billboards along the highways?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I probably would feel like everybody else does. I would rather see something more beautiful than a signboard.

But I would say this: when you come down to the right of the Federal Government to do certain of these things when it isn't actually purchasing a right-of-way that goes back to the extreme limit at which they want to put these boards, then I am not certain about it. I am not lawyer enough. I think you would have to go to the Department of Justice and find out what the law is.

I don't believe the Federal Government can just pass laws willy-nilly and have them obeyed in every State merely because we are buying, let's say, a 300-foot right-of-way through that State. So I think it is a very complicated question, and while I am against these billboards that mar our scenery, I don't know what I can do about it.

Q. John M. Hightower, Associated Press: Mr. President, could you tell us how long, sir, you think the United States ships should refrain from using the Suez Canal?

THE PRESIDENT. Refrain from using it?

Q. Mr. Hightower: Yes. They are not using it now.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't--we have not counselled our ships--I think we used the expression they should be prudent about the thing--I don't believe we have told them they shouldn't use it. And I believe it is up to the individual shipping company absolutely, as I see it.

Q. William S. White, New York Times: Mr. President, your Secretary, your Postmaster General has been accused in Congress of, in effect, of trying to coerce Congress by his cutting off the mail deliveries last Saturday in the budget dispute. Would you tell us whether he acted with your advance approval, and would you comment generally on the

THE PRESIDENT. Under the situation then existing, he acted with my complete approval. He came to me before he did it. But, it was perfectly clear, the Budget so informed me, he so informed me, he didn't have the money to do it. Now, if you don't have the money in sight and they won't pass any deficiency bill, you can't do it.

The real argument has centered around the point whether he spent money too rapidly. He did notify and talk it over with a subcommittee of Congress in the last session, telling them what the carrying out of service at the then level was going to cost, in his estimation.

Now, all of that passed, that is a matter of technical details between the Post Office Department and the Bureau of the Budget, and the Comptroller General, I should think. But as far as the act he had to take when he didn't have the money, well, then, I stood by him in that completely.

Q. Edward P. Morgan, American Broadcasting Company: Mr. President, the O'Mahoney subcommittee clearly, and with some surprise, brought out the fact that American oil companies doing business in the Middle East do not have to pay any American income tax on those operations, giving them, as it were, a kind of free ride on what protective aspects there may be to something like the Eisenhower Doctrine. Some Senators, as a result, are examining the possibility of withdrawing the depletion allowance privilege from companies doing business in that category.

How do you feel about that sort of thing, particularly in view of the fact that the Administration now is looking hard for money?

THE PRESIDENT. Well now, as a matter of fact, I don't believe I understand your question completely for this reason: they don't make any money in the Mid-East. They make the money when they sell their stuff here, don't they? They certainly have to pay income tax on that.

Q. Mr. Morgan: That is right, sir. I am thinking of, and I am just using this as an example that came up in the hearings, of a company called Aramco--


Q. Mr. Morgan:--which is an American company which does business in the Middle East, and also with American companies. This American company, as I understand it, does not have to pay any income tax in the United States, partly because of an arrangement with the Treasury where a balance of credit is allowed on the income tax that it pays, say, in Saudi Arabia.

THE PRESIDENT..I will have to talk to George Humphrey about this one. I have never had--this is too

Q. Warren W. Unna, Washington Post: Mr. President, as an outgrowth of the Norman case, Canada asked this country for its assurance that security information involving its citizens not be passed on by the Administration to the Congress. Are we going to be able to give Canada that assurance?

THE PRESIDENT. They are studying the matter now, and they will be communicating with the Canadian Government as soon as they possibly can.

Q. John Scali, Associated Press: Mr. President, we are about to report to the United Nations on the inability of Egypt to agree with us on an acceptable Suez Canal plan. Could you tell us, sir, whether in your view this development indicates that the practical possibilities of achieving international control of the international operation of the canal are just about nil?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, all we have insisted upon is operation of the canal under the six principles previously adopted by the United Nations.

Now, you stated something in your question that is not necessarily so, that we are about to do something. As you know, we, on our own, not attempting to speak for any other nation but for ourselves, and what we believe to be the general sentiment of the West, have been talking in Cairo for a long time.

We have not completely given up hope on those conversations. We think we have made progress, but it certainly is not yet to the point that we could say that we both are agreed that the plans developing will be within the purview and the limits of the six principles.

So while I do not deny that this thing might have to go back to the body in the United Nations with which the problem has already been lodged, still we haven't given up hope that some arrangement can be made.

Q. Charles W. Bailey, Minneapolis Star and Tribune: Sir, could you tell us about your meeting with the leaders yesterday and your discussions of the farm situation with them? Was this a routine discussion of budgetary matters or were you talking about new legislative proposals, and if so, could you tell us something about them?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, we are not talking about new legislative proposals. We are talking about certain of the problems that persist in our agriculture, regardless of all of the programs that have been tried since literally the beginning, or before the beginning of the war.

We have laws for the disposal of surpluses under a subsidized arrangement for which the taxpayers pay. Then when we get rid of those surpluses to a certain degree, the arbitrary provisions of the law operate: the price supports go up, and you get more surpluses. So you have in many ways a very, very difficult problem in this whole field.

Now, this Administration starts with this: we want to help the farmers who have been caught, as we call it, you know, in the cost-price squeeze for so long. This particularly applies to smaller farmers; and the problem is how to help them and not to go beyond reason, and at the same time not just continue to create new problems as you try to solve ones we now have.

At present you must remember that about half the income of farmers is from Federal subsidy. We are up to over $5 billion in our agricultural budget for the year, and I believe the amount they told me averages over a thousand dollars a farm family that the United States is paying in some form of subsidy; not all of that, I think, gets right into the hands of the farmers.

But the pity of it is that if the small farmers were getting their adequate share of that, probably the system would be working. But it doesn't work that way. The big farmers get the most.

So what we are doing is really looking over this whole field to see how you can best have an adequate program for the farmers, one that will stand the test of time, will be stable, and will not create new problems.

Q. Richard L. Wilson, Cowles Publications: Mr. President, do you see any need for new Federal legislation growing out of the labor disclosures which have recently been made in Congress?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, it hasn't been brought up to me in that way, Mr. Wilson. It would appear that when funds can be used in a way that does apparently create scandal in the country, that then there ought to be some legal means of looking at these things in advance so that kind of abuse of the labor cannot take place. But I am not going to judge this case in advance, because I don't know anything about it. I am merely commenting on what the reports are in the papers.

Q. Mr. Wilson: Is any study, sir, being made in the executive branch on what such legislation might be?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I have merely been told by the Labor Secretary they are watching this very closely to see whether we have any responsibility or anything we could do reasonably.

Q. Ronald W. May, Capital Times, Madison, Wisconsin: A lawyers group has suggested that some of the Federal regulatory agencies should be abolished, and special trade courts be set up. And their complaint seems to be that some of these agencies have too many political appointees in them taken from the industries which they are supposed to regulate; and the committee of the House, I understand, will also investigate this same field. I wonder if you feel these charges have any merit?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't know about that, but I can tell you this: for looking for people in regulatory commissions we have normally looked to the States' regulatory commissions, and they are organized in sort of an association, and through their officers we have gotten the names of most of the people that we have appointed. I suppose that this isn't universally true, but it's been largely true.

Now, the regulatory commissions present many difficult problems, of course, because the people, in general, believe that they are under the President and he ought to be responsible for all their decisions and all their administration and their efficiency and so on; and, of course, we know that is not true.

I think they present problems, but I don't know of any particular way in which it can be improved.

Q. Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Mr. President, Representatives O'Hara and Harris have introduced new natural gas legislation, and O'Hara has indicated that he feels that the bill probably will meet with your approval. Are you familiar with it, and if so, can you tell us how you feel about it?

THE PRESIDENT. I have heard about the bill and its general terms; I have not seen the bill. But I understand, I was told, that a number of my assistants and associates have seen it.

From what I can understand, it agrees in general with the criteria that I announced as necessary in a bill which I would approve when I vetoed the one a year or so ago. I repeat that what we have to do here is to look at the consumer's problem, both from the standpoint of a fair price immediately, and continuing supplies so that there is stability in the whole activity.

Incidentally, I am a user of natural gas myself, and when I pay $3.31 a thousand, and am notified it is going up 50 cents next month why I am very interested in this whole business. But I do believe that we do have to have a natural gas bill to bring about a fair, equitable arrangement in this whole field. And from what I understand of this bill, I believe its principles are those of which I approve, and that doesn't mean, of course, that I have seen it and approve every word of it.

Merriman Smith, United Press: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Eisenhower's one hundred and eighth news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 10:31 to 11:00 o'clock Wednesday morning, April 17, 1957. In attendance: 227.on

Dwight D. Eisenhower, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/233230

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