The President's News Conference
THE PRESIDENT. Good morning, please sit down. I have no announcements.
Q. Robert E. Clark, International News Service: Mr. President, there have been reports that withdrawal of our combat troops from Japan is the first step in a program to reduce our manpower commitments in other parts of the world. Are we planning to reduce our military strength in any other countries?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, only in this way: first of all, there are no definite plans for reductions anywhere else; but, as you know, for many months the military services have been working on redesigning of military organization to take advantage of the increased power of weapons and to streamline so far as individuals are concerned.
Now, as that takes place, there should be, I would think, some saving in numbers; but when it comes to the taking out of units, specifically NATO, there are no plans whatsoever of that nature.
Q. Chalmers M. Roberts, Washington Post: It has been printed in London, sir, that in order to get the British to agree to your proposal for cessation of tests and an end to production of nuclear material for weapons, that you have promised Prime Minister Macmillan that you would ask the Congress to change the law so that this country could turn over nuclear weapons themselves to the British. Is that correct?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, of course, there is a great deal of speculation everywhere about these things.
Now, as far as any definite plans of the kind you were describing, those don't exist. In other words, I haven't drawn up any recommendations to make to the Congress at this moment.
This whole business of disarmament has to proceed along in steps, and sometimes very tiny steps, until you can see what the next one must be; and I don't know exactly what the next one must be.
Q. William H. Lawrence, New York Times: Mr. President, quite naturally, there does seem to be a hesitancy on the part of the Government to an unequivocal yes or no on this business of immediate suspension of nuclear testing. The issue, of course, is not wholly black or white, but would you give us your thinking as to the conditions and reservations which you regard as indispensable to such an agreement.
THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Lawrence, this is one of the most complicated subjects that the Government has to deal with.
Now, first of all, let me make this clear: we have made an offer of a cessation of tests as an integral part of what we call a general first step toward disarmament. This would include, among other things, an agreement to cease building arms out of a new production; it would be coupled with limited sky inspectional plans, and possibly some beginning in general reduction of armaments, and, of course, the necessary inspectional system to make certain that the whole scheme was being carried out faithfully on both sides--and by that offer we stand.
But, I should like to give you just a little bit of the other side of the picture. I have been visited by people that certainly, by reputation and common knowledge, are among the most eminent scientists in this field, among them Dr. Lawrence and Dr. Teller.
Now, what they are working on is this: the production of clean bombs. They tell me that already they are producing bombs that have 96 percent less fallout than was the case in our original ones, or what they call dirty bombs; but, they go beyond this. They say, "Give us four or five years to test each step of our development and we will produce an absolutely clean bomb." So that the weapon becomes completely military in its application. If you use it on the battlefield, you will have an effect only so far as its blast and heat waves reach, and there will be no fallout to injure any civilian or any innocent bystanders that are off X miles, the necessary distance to get out of the area of heat and blast.
Moreover, they go on to say this: if you are going to get the full value out of the atomic science in peaceful development, that is, let us assume that there are no more bombs made or used, and you want to make certain that you are getting the best out of this new science for the peaceful uses of mankind, these tests must go on. So you realize that when you are making these agreements to stop, you are not doing something that may not have an adverse effect, finally, on what we hope to get out of this; but for the moment, it would appear that the psychological factors and the fears of the world are such that we should go right ahead with the plan, with the offers that we have made, and we have no intention of pulling back from them for a minute.
But, it does show, as you so aptly say, the question is not black and white; it is one where judgment must be exercised.
Q. Peter J. Kumpa, Baltimore Sun: Sir, your Security Commission, after a very long and exhaustive study, made some rather far-reaching recommendations to overhaul, in some parts, our security system. We have been told, sir, that you in general approve of these recommendations. Are there any specific proposals that were made that you disapprove?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, now, there I can't say it that specifically. What happened was: as these studies have been going on, from time to time I have heard parts of the conclusions that they were reaching. The book was given to me and I had a chance to glance through it very hastily.
I could see what the careful approach was, and I knew that there would be many parts in it that should result in some revisions of our security system to its betterment, not only in increasing the security of the United States but in insuring complete justice to the individuals that were affected.
The only point that I happened to run into that made me raise my eyebrows, and question its wisdom, was the transferal of the visa privilege or responsibility from the State Department to Justice. I don't think I would agree with that.
Q. Mrs. May Craig, Portland ( Maine ) Press Herald: Mr. President, our first atomic bomb was dropped on a city. When you speak of battlefields in a nuclear age, what do you mean?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think you have a question that I can't answer, and no one else can, Mrs. Craig; but I do say this, at least with the talking about a clean bomb--you are not setting up a force that can roam over the countryside and hit something outside of the target at which you are definitely aiming.
For example, we bombed Germany terribly in the war. We would send 1500, 1600, even 2000 bombers on a raid and we bombed cities. Why? Because there's where their manufactories were, and of course many people were killed who not only had no part in starting the war, were perfectly innocent, some of them, of course, tragically, children.
But all I am saying is that you can attack and confine the effects to the target you decide you must hit. That's all I was saying.
Q. Francis M. Stephenson, New York Daily News: Mr. President, is there any possibility that Russia may learn how to make these clean bombs, and do we have any assurance they would use them on us?
THE PRESIDENT. You know, I don't know of any better question, because I asked it myself. I would say this: I would hope that they would learn how to use clean bombs, and if they ever used any atomic bombs would use clean ones--for the simple reason that then at least the bombs used would be specific weapons instead of weapons of general and uncontrolled destruction. 1
1 This sentence incorporates a revision in the transcript made by the White House immediately following the news conference.
Q. Lloyd M. Schwartz, Fairchild Publications: The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported yesterday that prices had risen for the ninth consecutive month to an all-time high, and for fourteen of the last fifteen months, and there are warnings in Congress about inflation threatening the economy.
Are you still confident that appeals to labor and industry for moderation on prices and wages will succeed, or are we approaching the point where some more drastic restraints might be necessary?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, of course I believe that if you have to resort, in time of peace, to strict governmental control of prices, of wages, services and things, then we are abandoning the system that has made us great and by which we have lived, in which we believe.
So that, your suggestion, when you say "something more drastic," I assume you mean by governmental authority taking over all of these functions that are now entrusted to the interactions of economic forces in our country.
Now, we watch all of the developments in the economy very closely. As you know, first of all, I have this Council of Economic Advisers; but on top of that, the Federal Reserve Board watches every movement. They cooperate closely with the Treasury, which does the same; and there are others, including the Secretary of Commerce and his group--and Labor.
The only point I make is this: Government, no matter what its policies, cannot, of itself, make certain of the soundness of the dollar, that is, the stability of the purchasing power of the dollar in this country. There must be statesmanlike action, both by business and by labor. Frankly, I believe that boards of directors of business organizations should take under the most serious consideration any thought of a price rise and should approve it only when they can see that it is absolutely necessary in order to continue to get the kind of money they need for the expansion demanded in this country and at the same time labor should demand wages, wage increases that conform roughly to the increase in productivity of the individual; and the only exception I think they ought to make to that, when there are demonstrable injustices existing in particular areas.
If we don't do this, I tell you, if you go to specific governmental controls, rigidly applied in time of peace, then you are beginning to help make come true a prediction we heard a few weeks ago from a man who certainly is no friend of ours, and I am not going to be a party to it.
Q. Edward P. Morgan, American Broadcasting Company: Mr. President, under our system, as is well known, the judiciary cannot defend itself as the legislative and executive branches can and do. Right now the Supreme Court, prominently including some Justices appointed by you, are under heavy attack for a series of decisions they have made defending the rights of individual citizens under the Constitution.
In view of the fact that the Court is unable to answer back, so to speak, do you think there is a danger of these attacks being intemperate and, in your own philosophy of government, what is the position of importance occupied by an independent judiciary?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, of course, our system of government, in my opinion, could not exist without an independent judiciary; I answer that question first.
Next, you say they are completely without means of defending themselves. They write their decisions, as I understand it, in such a way that they hope at least that even a layman like myself can understand them.
They lay out their reasoning, the processes of logic that they followed, and the conclusions they reached; and if some of their number disagree with the majority, then they, in turn, write out their opinions in full. And in some of our laws that I have heard lawyers talk about, some of these dissenting opinions have, in the long run, had greater effect than the majority opinion at the moment. So, I don't agree with you that they don't have any means of defending themselves, because they lay out the whole works.
Now, you say they are under heavy attack. I still believe that the United States respects the Supreme Court and looks to it as one of the great stabilizing influences in this country to keep us from going from one extreme to the other; and possibly in their latest series of decisions there are some that each of us has very great trouble understanding.
But, even so, I think we should not forget this: the Supreme Court is just as essential to our system of government as is the President or the Congress, and we should respect its duties and its responsibilities.
Q. John R. Gibson, Wall Street Journal: Mr. President, on the inflation question, sir, could you give us your appraisal of just how serious the threat of inflation is now?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, you have had the beginnings of a type of inflation because, after having been successful over a period of almost four years in keeping the cost of living from rising more than a percent or two, I've forgotten exactly, within the past year, we now have it going up more rapidly and that becomes alarming because the curve bends upwards.
Now, part of that, of course, is due to deliberate policy to bring to the farmer his own proper share of national income. We say "proper share" and I am not exactly sure what that means; but, as you know, they have taken certain years to be representative of justice in this matter and have tried to approach that through all sorts of laws. The whole country is still experimenting with laws in that question. But that has accounted for a very considerable amount of this increase in cost.
The other comes about through increases in governmental spending, some of it absolutely vitally necessary--the defense, and things we do abroad, to keep the peace, to develop better situations. Some of it is that, and some of it is undoubtedly what we call the wage-price spiral.
Now, it is very difficult to find what is absolutely the just thing in those cases. I have had in to see me representatives of both sides, not together, at different times. One side gives you a list of statistics and shows you what this means. For example, the manufacturer who is putting five hundred million dollars into a factory to make new jobs and greater prosperity in this country will show you that his write-off of taxes, extending over twenty five years, will finally be in dollars that are much cheaper than he had to put in to build the thing, because the dollar tends to inch up on him all the time. Therefore, he thinks he should have a faster write-off, or he should have his write-off on the basis of what it is going to cost him to replace these facilities rather than what the original cost is.
The other side comes in and shows you all of the privileges exercised by the boards of directors and what stipends they get, and so on; and it is very difficult, at least for me, to find out where justice lays on this point.
I do say that unless there is statesmanship exercised both by business and by labor, as well as sound, sane policies pursued by Government according to the advice of the best economists we can get in this country, then there is real danger of inflation.
Q. John M. Hightower, Associated Press: Mr. President, when you talk about the development of a clean bomb, or the possible use of a dirty one, what assumptions do you make with respect to the possibilities of avoiding war in the future?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I have told you this time and time again--I repeat it almost in my sleep: there will be no such thing as a victorious side in any global war of the future. I believe that any time we begin to think of war as an inescapable event of some future time, that we have become completely pessimistic on the future of humanity, at least in the Northern Hemisphere and as we have known it; and it is really a tragedy that the human imagination and mind won't encompass. So what we have to do is to keep that force and that power that keeps the war from happening; and when I say "making clean bombs," and all these things, I'm interested in what this science is going to be some day for the building of a civilization instead of tearing it down.
Q. Rod MacLeish, Westinghouse Broadcasting Company: Sir, are there any indications coming out of the London Conference that you can see that the Russians are relaxing their stand against inspection, the kind of stand that has made it impossible for any real agreement on disarmament, anything within the last week, sir?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, there have been some indications. They have talked, and as you well know, about the acceptability of certain kinds of inspection; and the only thing we can do is patiently, with our allies, to explore and to see whether this inspectional system in any direction is sufficiently sound and good that we can, in that area at least, make some agreement.
Q. Frank van der Linden, Richmond Times Dispatch: Mr. President, several of the southern governors who heard your speech at Williamsburg Monday night agreed with you in your States rights appeal, but they said they sought to see some contradiction between that and your civil rights bill which gives new powers to the Attorney General and sets up another Federal commission; and they wondered if there was any chance of the States taking over that, or whether there would be any modification of the civil rights program.
THE PRESIDENT. Well, as I have expressed myself time and again, I think the civil rights program is eminently reasonable and moderate. You people well know I believe in moderate government. I don't believe you can change the hearts of men with laws or decisions or anything else, or put them in jail or any other of these terrible things.
I think there is here a great educational problem that involves a moral value and human values. At the same time, when the Supreme Court finds, nine to nothing, that such-and-such is the law of the land, and they issue an order--now, they are the Supreme Court, not of Massachusetts or Mississippi but of the United States, and the Executive automatically acquires certain responsibilities.
Now, to find out what those responsibilities are, I mean, exactly what they are and what might be done about them, was the reason I advocated the Commission. To have somebody in Federal Government who had nothing else to do, I advocated the Assistant Secretary in the Office of the Attorney General. To make sure that we could proceed on civil rather than criminal channels, I put that into the recommendations. And, finally, the one that has caused so much struggle is merely that the Federal judge, as his custom, could commit a man for contempt of court if his orders were not obeyed.
Now, to my mind, this is a very moderate decent thing, and is designed to bring about better understanding and not to persecute anybody.
Q. Spencer Davis, Associated Press: The North Korean Communists, Mr. President, have been calling now for a meeting with the allied powers to discuss the withdrawal of foreign troops and the unification of Korea.
Would you say, sir, how we feel about that, and whether you consider the conditions exist which would make this a fruitful conference?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, you would have to find out exactly what the proposals are. To talk in the generalities in which they were speaking is not, in itself, a proposal.
Now, they can call a meeting of the Council, that is provided in the armistice order, and we will find out more as to exactly what they mean; and then, of course, we will have to find out what our allies think about it.
Q. Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Mr. President, you spoke of one recommendation in the security report as having raised your eyebrows. I just wondered how you feel about the recommendation that Congress make it a crime for private citizens, including newsmen, to disclose secret Government information?
THE PRESIDENT. I saw that only in the papers, Mr. Arrowsmith. I haven't read that part of the report, nor the argument leading up to it.
I do regard this deliberate exposure of a governmental secret that is not an administrative secret, but involves the security of our country, most seriously; and there was I think during the war an act, I think they called it the Official Secrets Act or something of that kind--I don't want to be quoted on this because I served so much of my time in Britain it might have been there I heard of it--but in one of these places, this act was very severe during the war. But, I do think that any man who knowingly reveals a secret that affects the security of our country is doing something for which he ought to be ashamed, even if there is no law to that effect.
Q. Rowland Evans, Jr., New York Herald Tribune: Sir, recent voting indicates that your program has made substantial gains among the Republicans--I think the civil rights skirmish, the foreign aid bill, the Atomic Treaty. I wondered, sir, if you attribute these gains to your own personal campaign with Congressmen, with Republican Congressmen? You have had meetings in the White House, sir, you have written a number of letters and made a number of phone calls. Do you think that that is a major factor in these apparent gains, and do you plan to continue that kind of a personal intimate campaign with your party on the Hill?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, of course, there has been more public interest in them lately, but I have always done this, I assure you. I have always tried to keep in close contact with the Members of Congress. It happens that now I am repeating a thing that I did in the first year, to have everybody in. I just want to say this: so far as I am concerned, and I am sure this applies to every associate I have, we try to devise programs we believe will work best for the benefit of the United States, so our programs of information are not propaganda programs. We are not trying to get something to reelect me, you know that can't be done.
So, what we are trying to do is to educate people; and my only hope is that they are learning that these programs are pretty good and are sticking with them, and that is very comforting.
Q. Dayton Moore, United Press: Mr. President, first may I apologize for interrupting your remark last week on your vacation plan.
THE PRESIDENT. I was delighted. [Laughter]
Q. Mr. Moore: When you paused, I thought you had finished. Would you finish it now, sir?
THE PRESIDENT. I forget where I was.
Q. Mr. Moore: You were at "As a matter of fact." [Laughter]
THE PRESIDENT. You will have to admit I hadn't committed myself.
Actually, the facts are these: I have no definite plans at this time, although quite naturally if I found the place that had the necessary facilities, I would like to go away somewhere to the northward, or at least a little higher than this for whatever time I could get away.
Now, you must remember, I have to have an airfield so the staff and I can communicate easily. We have to have signal communications set up. There have to be places to house the Secret Service and the staff, and a few newspaper people.
It is not an easy thing to find all of these; and since for a number of reasons I don't want to go back to Denver this year, it has been quite hard to find one. So, I haven't any plans at all.
Mr. Moore: Thank you, Mr. President.
Note: President Eisenhower's one hundred and fourteenth news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 10:31 to 11:00 o'clock on Wednesday morning, June 26, 1957. In attendance: 215
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/233293