The President's News Conference
THE PRESIDENT. Please sit down.
Well, I am glad to see so much good sense with respect to coats here this morning. I apologize for having, on the spur of the moment, to ask you in a half hour early, but my day was a little busier than I had first understood and so I had to do this.
I want to make a short announcement about the visit of Prime Minister Kishi. It is something to which the Secretary of State and I have looked forward; we believe that great opportunities are opening up for a great increase in understanding with our friends, the Japanese, to bring our interests into closer coordination as we pursue policies in the world; and so it is with very great optimism we look forward to very profitable talks with him while he is here.
Incidentally, I am being his host at a golf game this afternoon, and I do trust the sun will cooperate a little bit, to give him not too bad an impression of our weather.
We will go to questions.
Q. Dayton Moore, United Press: Mr. President, in recent weeks the Supreme Court has handed down some far-reaching decisions on the question of individual rights under the Constitution. Do you think the Court has gone too far in protecting these rights at the expense of the law enforcement procedures of the executive department and the investigative functions of Congress?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I wouldn't want to answer that question in the specific way you seem to expect.
Like all laymen in the law, I have my fixed convictions about these things; and I suppose they are, on one side or the other, very strong. But the actual decisions are being studied within the Justice Department. If there seems to be any action we should take through asking for legal action or any further tests of any kind, they will come up with it. But until that is done, I don't want to comment.
Q. Ray L. Scherer, National Broadcasting Company: Mr. President, two Congressmen who had breakfast with you last Friday said they got a different impression of the Girard case after being at the White House. They said the public would change its attitude after the full facts were out. Could you enlighten us any on this?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, no, I don't want to say anything more about it than has been published, for a very simple reason. This man is to be tried by someone, and I believe that it would be bad for anyone in official position to take advantage of official reports, publish things that might be refuted, or at least doubt cast upon them in a trial.
In other words, you could damage the man's case before his judge and jury. So I would rather not say anything more about it.
Q. Peter Lisagor, Chicago Daily News: Mr. President, it has been widely reported that Governor Stassen was reprimanded for exceeding his authority at the London disarmament talks, and it has also been suggested that these stories themselves may have limited his effectiveness as to the negotiations. I wonder if you can tell us how you feel about Governor Stassen in his negotiation activities.
THE PRESIDENT. Well, first of all, let's get one thing clear. He was not reprimanded.
Now, in this question of carrying on international negotiations, we run into problems that are far from simple. Some are substantive, some are procedural and administrative.
Now, I say this: the Secretary of State participates, and then we have representatives over the world who represent us in many of these negotiations. Sometimes they are so far-reaching, so delicate, that you have to get people back frequently, for consultations.
This is one of those cases, and, of course, there was some feeling that maybe he was rushing too fast. We heard that, heard it rumored, talked it over, and I am quite sure that no such difficulties will arise.
Now, you say, how do I feel about him. I don't think his usefulness is ruined. He is a man that works hard, does his homework, is dedicated to his job. And I consider this whole question of lessening of tensions so important that we cannot allow anyone to stray off the path one single iota, taking any chances of it, and that is the reason we have them back so much to talk to them about such things.
Q. William H. Lawrence, New York Times: Mr. President, as a matter of policy, sir, when two important members of your Administration, in this case Secretary Seaton and Gordon Gray, take diametrically opposed views on the fast tax write-off for Idaho Power, were you brought in to resolve the difference?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, in this case, I wouldn't be brought in because one is responsible and one is not. The actual fact is that there was an associate's opinion, his personal convictions, given to Gordon Gray, and he studied them; but Gordon Gray is the responsible man in executing this law.
Q. Mr. Lawrence: If I may pursue the subject just a bit.
THE PRESIDENT. Yes.
Q. Mr. Lawrence: The Senate investigators have charged, in effect, that Mr. Gray first tried to conceal Mr. Seaton's letter in opposition to this fast tax write-off and even now, under the claim of executive privilege, is withholding another document written by Arthur Flemming before he went out of office. Would you comment on that and also deal with this practice of withdrawing from the official files documents that have been in effect overruled?
THE PRESIDENT. Well I have never heard the practice of withdrawing from the official files. I believe that the law provides a very definite punishment for the destruction of a public record; and once it has become a public record, I believe there is a law that takes care of that situation completely.
Now, as far as the privileged character of verbal or written communications between staff members of an executive organization, I follow the same practice that has been followed by every President, I think, from Washington down; and, as a matter of fact, I reaffirmed my support of the privileged character of those communications in the letter, some two, two and a half years ago, that I wrote to Secretary Wilson. You must have this privileged character of these communications or you soon are going to have no coordination in the executive department.
I don't know what the exact circumstances of the questioning of Mr. Gray were, but the first time that he may have been questioned about it, I can well understand that he was very embarrassed, because he did not know what he was allowed to do; and it would only be after he had determined that this particular communication could be exposed that he would be allowed to do it; otherwise, as far as he was concerned, it was a privileged opinion given by an associate in the executive department to him.
Q. John L. Steele, Time Magazine: Mr. President, aside from Ambassador Stassen's performance of duty in London, I wonder if we could have your thinking on the progress of the London talks, particularly in light of the new Soviet proposal for limiting nuclear testing.
THE PRESIDENT. Well, they have made a three-point proposal: one for limiting, or suspending testing for two to three years; one for establishing a commission, international commission; and one for establishing so-called land posts within certain areas.
These are hopeful signs, as I see them, and they deserve the most earnest and sympathetic study. They are, in effect, somewhat along the line that has been proposed to the--time and again, suggested, but until we find out all the details of them, you can't comment on them too specifically, because to state a generalization is one thing, to see how it works out is another.
Q. Peter J. Kumpa, Baltimore Sun: Mr. President, your civil rights bill, sir, has passed the House, now faces action in the Senate, and there it seems that delaying tactics and probably a filibuster may stop it.
As leader of your party, sir, would you recommend to Republicans in the Senate to stay on and try to break any possible filibuster to pass this legislation?
THE PRESIDENT. The point hasn't come up, and I have not discussed that with the leaders. Normally, I do not comment on the procedures of either Senate or House action, because it is their business, and it is not for me to interfere to say how they shall do things.
Now, I would like to say one word about my concept of this civil rights action. That civil rights action bill was designed and conceived in the thought of conciliation and moderation, not of persecution of anybody.
It seems to me that after the unanimous decision by the Supreme Court about segregation many things could have happened. You will recall that at that time I was asked questions right here in this group: did I contemplate sending the Army into the South to enforce this decision?
There was a great deal of stir, and it was time, as I saw it, for moderation and the development of a plan that everybody of good will could support.
Now, I have been very badly disappointed that some people see in this program an opportunity to disturb their own rights, or to interfere in their own social order, in an unjust and improper way. To my mind, this is a very moderate, decent thing to do, and I hope that some thinking on the part of all of us will lead others to believe the same way.
Q. Lloyd M. Schwartz, Fairchild Publications: Mr. President, suggestions have been made that you convene a White House conference on urban renewal similar to the White House Conference on Education, which would deal with urban problems such as traffic congestion, housing, parking, and so on. I wonder how this strikes you, whether you think it would be beneficial.
THE PRESIDENT. I have to meet with the governors on the evening of June 94th. I say "I have to," but I didn't mean it that way. I am privileged to meet with them. One of the things I hope to talk to them about is the relationships between the State and the Federal Government.
Now, whenever a conference of mayors comes to me to talk about urban renewal, I have the uneasy feeling that the State echelon of government is subjected there to a two-pronged attack --one from below and one from above; the State is being ignored.
I am very well aware of these urban problems, of everything from traffic to slum clearance, and the rest of it, and I am hopeful that things will be done. And I do find that the Governors Conference is itself moving to see whether they can't devise ways and means of helping.
I don't say that the Federal Government doesn't have some responsibility, but it certainly doesn't have the whole in this area.
Q. Edward P. Morgan, American Broadcasting Company: Mr. President, this may sound like a silly question, but I certainly don't mean it so.
Apart from the suffering, what do you think about when you are sick? Does some unfinished project haunt you as you are waiting to convalesce, such as the unfinished business on Presidential disability, or what?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't believe I could be too specific, Mr. Morgan. I say this: the first thing that occurs whenever I have anything that would even delay me an hour from going to my office--I understand that I can't have some of these minor illnesses in the same way that anyone else can, and I would like to find some way of preventing disturbances that are seemingly almost needless; but any time in this business that something keeps you from devoting your mind to some particular current problem, you regret it; and when you have a little upset like I had a week ago Monday, I will tell you your mind is diverted, to say the least.
Q. Robert J. Donovan, New York Herald Tribune: Mr. President, on the subject of the Cordiner report, could you tell us, sir, why the Administration has decided not to put that report into effect in full this year?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, this is the story of the Cordiner report. It was a distinguished group of people that met, went through the services, and made certain recommendations. I have met with Mr. Cordiner twice. The whole Cordiner report was brought about by the fact that enlisted men with hard skills and certain groups of very valuable young officers were finding the going just too tough for them and were leaving the service.
And it was believed--and I think proved rather satisfactorily-that if we would raise the pay or the inducements to stay in the services for these two groups we would save money, because the cost of training them and then losing them is almost prohibitive.
Now, I have supported very earnestly that part of the report; but I have not supported the idea that because of this need the Cordiner report, or the need for raising the emoluments of specialists and enlisted personnel and certain of the very young officers in the commissioned ranks should be used as an excuse for a general overall pay raise to include all the generals and everybody else in the Army, Navy, and Air Force. I think that is wrong at this time. So what I want to do is pinpoint this thing, and Mr. Wilson, in fact, has made some moves in that direction.
But remember, the rest of the report, I think, is a fine basis for examination for future action. It is a fine basis, but I do not believe at this time we should take a special need and use it as an excuse for a general overall pay raise that would be reflected everywhere in the governmental service.
Q. William M. Hines, Jr., Washington Star: Mr. President, it was reported yesterday that you had discussed with Republican Congressmen the idea of turning the Nation's postal operations over to a private firm. Would you discuss that for a moment, please?
THE PRESIDENT. It seems that even at a social affair an individual has a hard time making what he thinks is a bit of a wisecrack. [Laughter]
I facetiously suggested, when we were talking about the sums of money appropriated to the Post Office Department, that it would be interesting to see what would happen if you could give the same amount of money to a private firm and see whether they made any profit over the delivery of the mail at the end of the year. Now, such a thing is as impossible in this country as talking about flying to the moon, so I don't know how it really got to the dignity of rating a question at this conference.
Q. Robert E. Clark, International News Service: Mr. President, you told us recently that you would not agree to halting the testing of atomic weapons until there was a firm agreement that they would never be used in war. Does this apply to the temporary ban proposed by the Soviet Union?
THE PRESIDENT. Oh, no. No, no.
I would be perfectly delighted to make some satisfactory arrangement for temporary suspension of tests while we could determine whether we couldn't make some agreements that would allow it to be a permanent arrangement.
Q. Russell Baker, New York Times: Mr. President, now that we are talking seriously about disarmament, I wonder if you could tell us what your thinking is about how we deal with the China problem; that is, can we safely agree to any disarmament system that excludes agreement for the Chinese Communists?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't think, in the first instance, that that would have to be too important a factor, if all other countries made agreements that you knew were to be observed. The industrial power of China is not such as to make it a great factor in disturbing a worldwide disarmament agreement at this time.
Now, this doesn't mean that you wouldn't have to watch and be careful, but as of this moment the countries that can produce weapons and arms and be an offensive danger, an aggressive danger to their neighbors and to the whole peace of the world, those are the ones that would have to be involved.
Q. John M. Hightower, Associated Press: Mr. President, in the statement you just made about suspension of tests, there is a suggestion that what you are, in fact, doing, is making an unlimited and unconditional offer approaching the Soviet position; that is, a suspension without any conditions. Is that correct?
THE PRESIDENT. No, I didn't say suspension without any conditions at all. If I gave that impression, I made a very great error. It would have to be suspension under such a method that we both knew exactly what we were doing, and then, as I say, using that interval to work out something in which we could have real confidence.
Q. Sarah McClendon, El Paso Times: Sir, do you want the natural gas bill to go through now without substantial changes?
THE PRESIDENT. It seems to me that I have answered that question so often--
Q. Mrs. McClendon: Well, I'm speaking in the light of your recent correspondence and letters
THE PRESIDENT. All right, I think that letter explains my attitude very completely.
Q. Mrs. McClendon: The bill is now under serious attack in the committee, and it is threatened with other amendments, and I thought perhaps you might want to state your position again.
THE PRESIDENT. I don't know what the amendments are, and I don't know whether the bill can be improved or not. I suggested two points where I thought there would be an improvement, but I did not suggest them as any fixed conclusions of the Administration or myself and, as a matter of fact, sent word to the Committee Chairman, Mr. Harris, that he might want to study them. Now, that is all there was to it, and I didn't indicate that those amendments were of such importance that it would affect my action on the bill.
Now, as far as any other amendments, I don't even know what they are.
Q. John Scali, Associated Press: Mr. President, further on the impression of possibly suspending tests, do you mean to imply at all, sir, that we might be willing to reach an agreement with the Soviet Union to suspend tests for a limited period separate from the overall disarmament problem?
The reason I ask that is that we have understood before that our Government's position was that we would suspend tests only as part of an overall disarmament package.
THE PRESIDENT. Well, you say "disarmament package." It would have to be, I would call it certain opening phases to a disarmament program that would have to proceed for many years and in many small steps.
Now, such a feature would naturally not be isolated because, after all, everybody wants to know whether the other fellow is keeping faith, so there would have to be some kind of inspectional basis with it. As a matter of fact, the latest Soviet proposal suggests certain inspectional teams or inspectional commissions and teams in the respective areas, so that you couldn't possibly consider this in isolation from all other parts, but it would not necessarily be a complete overall--the very fact that there was mere suspension and not permanent elimination shows that it would be only a first step.
Q. Charles W. Bailey, Minneapolis Tribune: Sir, Senator Humphrey told us after he saw you this morning that you and he had discussed the possible increase in the use of our surplus food as a weapon as a part of our foreign policy. Could you tell us your thinking on that subject?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I suggested to him that he go see the Assistant Secretary of Agriculture--he has already talked to the State Department--see the Assistant Secretary of Agriculture, who has got the finest set of statistics as to what is happening in this area and its effects and lack of effects on world markets, and so on, that is possible to get; and the man is very competent-Assistant Secretary Butz.
[Confers with Mr. Hagerty.]
THE PRESIDENT. Earl Butz. And I suggested he go see him. Now, the matter is not so simple or so one-sided you can answer it all in one "yes" or "no," or very simple exposition, but I do say this: in some form or another our surpluses should be useful to us in the pursuance of our foreign policy for a long time to come.
Q. Donald J. Gonzales, United Press: Mr. President, would you agree to a suspension of nuclear tests without a simultaneous cutoff in production of fissionable material for weapons purposes? I believe that has been our position up until now.
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I am not certain whether you could not devise an inspectional system involving the tests that would not be sufficiently good at that point to determine whether actual flow of all weapons material went into peaceful pursuits.
I believe--and I am not committing myself beyond recall here--but I believe that it would not necessarily be part of the whole program.
Q. William S. White, New York Times: Returning to the general question of disarmament, Mr. President, it appears that the allies, and possibly or probably the Russians, too, have been told, in general, what our working paper is, by Mr. Stassen. Could you, in light of that, tell us in a general way what our position is in that paper?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think I should not talk too much about the point. As a matter of fact, it is a paper that I have studied, I assure you, until I am intimately acquainted with it.
But as long as it is in the field of discussion, and there seems to be a general agreement all around that this time a disarmament conference is not being used as merely a sounding board for propaganda, I don't want to disturb what seems to be a very improved atmosphere, and so I would prefer not to talk about it at this moment.
Q. Kenneth M. Scheibel, Gannett Newspapers: Mr. President, getting back to the surpluses, there are reports that you will recommend a new farm program to Congress next year. Could you tell us anything about that?
THE PRESIDENT. I can merely say this: that almost every week we get a new presentation in the Cabinet of some of the difficulties in this whole field, and a certainty that not everything is working as you would hope it would.
Q. Charles S. von Fremd, CBS News: Mr. President, it is that time of the year again, sir, when there are reports and rumors from various parts of the country as to where you intend to spend your summer vacation. Can you tell us if you have any tentative plans?
THE PRESIDENT. No, I haven't. As a matter of fact I'm--
Dayton Moore, United Press: Thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT. O.K.
Note: President Eisenhower's one hundred and thirteenth news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 10:03 to 10:28 o'clock on Wednesday morning, June 19, 1957. In attendance: 169.
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/233267