The President's News Conference
THE PRESIDENT. Good morning. Please sit down.
Mr. Hagerty will have available at his office sometime this afternoon a statement on the Government making available considerably more U-235 or equivalent for use both at home and abroad in the development of peaceful uses of atomic power, both in research and power plants. And the statement will be ready, I should think, by 4:00 o'clock.
Q. Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Mr. President, what do you think of the proposal by Senator Russell that your civil rights program be put to the further test of a general referendum vote, if and when it does pass Congress?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, first of all, I don't know of any provision under the Constitution that you can submit a referendum to the American people. I think that the Constitution contemplates that there are responsible officials within the Federal Government that have to act in such cases; and also I don't know exactly what question you would put in a referendum.
The Supreme Court has made certain decisions, and I don't think a referendum could have any effect on them. So it would be only the specific language of the proposed bill, I assume, and I doubt that that would make a very good subject for a referendum, even if you could have one.
Q. Peter J. Kumpa, Baltimore Sun: Mr. President, a two-part question, sir: First of all, I wonder if you could give us the reaction that you received from the proposal you made at the Governors' Conference in Williamsburg; and, secondly, you have had a further chance to look at some of these Republican governors across the dining table last week, and I wonder if you could say, sir, whether you see some Presidential material for 1960 in the group?
THE PRESIDENT. AS to the first part, I believe the Conference authorized the chairman of the Executive Council to appoint a committee to work with a committee of the Federal Government to be appointed by me. Governor Stratton is that chairman; and I understand that he and Mr. Bane, who is the secretary of the Conference, are to make arrangements within, oh, a week or so, so as to get this thing started.
As to the social affair, at which I had a number of Republican governors and ex-governors, I should say it was a very enjoyable affair. I thought they were excellent and wonderful gentlemen.
Q. John L. Steele, Time Magazine: Sir, here at your news conference last week you called for statesmanlike action on the part of both industry and labor in the matter of wage and price increases. Shortly after you spoke, our largest producer of steel announced a $6-a-ton price increase.
I wonder whether you feel this falls within the scope of your dictum about merited price increases or whether it is something beyond that?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, very naturally I don't have the exact knowledge that would allow me to make a detailed judgment about such things. I do stand firmly upon the idea I advanced, which is that Government alone cannot keep a stable economy; the Government alone cannot preserve a sound dollar. There has got to be in a free economy statesmanlike action on the part of all business elements, businessmen and labor, or we are lost.
Now, the next step, if this thing got out of hand, would be governmental controls in time of peace, and I believe governmental controls in time of peace means the beginning of the end.
Now, as to the exact decision that was made, what it will mean on our economy, will not be known until we know to what extent the users of steel can absorb some of this cost, as the automobiles, the refrigerators, and all the rest of it, and also what resistance there will be to the sale of these articles as they become higher in price.
There are a number of forces operating in a free economy that could tend to vitiate the general effect of this rise. In other words, it might even force a backward step.
But in any event, there has got to be cooperation in these circles that I have spoken of or we are going to be in trouble.
Q. Chalmers M. Roberts, Washington Post: Mr. President, as a result of your remarks last week on disarmament at the press conference, especially what you told us about the scientists who called on you, there appears to be some impression, both at home and abroad, that you and the Administration are less enthusiastic about a disarmament agreement than you had been previously. Could you straighten us out on that, sir?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think if you will recall my statement--and now I am just depending upon my memory--I think I started out by saying the United States stands firmly by the agreements and the offers it has made in this regard, and we have not withdrawn from that position.
I called to your attention a fact that coming up as a rather new one in this whole scientific field kept this subject ever from being a static one. It is a very dynamic, fluid sort of subject that you are working with all the time. But I think I said last week that the political, psychological effects of doing this, going ahead with this thing, were so great that even if you suffered some scientific disadvantage, we should go ahead with it, and I still believe that very firmly; and under the conditions that the United States has always insisted upon, that is, that we have sufficient inspection to know that we are both honest, doing what we said we would do, and that it is coupled with some agreement that at some future date we will cease making bombs out of this material and devote it all to peaceful purposes, our offer always stands.
Q. Charles L. Bartlett, Chattanooga Times: Two questions on the TVA, sir: first, I wondered if you would tell us the basis upon which you determined to make Mr. Jones the Director of the TVA; and, second, I wondered if you would tell us whether you were still supporting the self-financing legislation which you proposed in your budget message this year and the year before?
THE. PRESIDENT. Well, with the first one, Mr. Jones seemed to be the most capable man, disinterested man, that I could find available for the job; and the law says that he has to .be a man that can assert that he is in sympathy with the general purposes of the legislation, as originally passed. Mr. Jones answered all these questions affirmatively. With his experience, I think he will be a good commissioner, and that is the reason I appointed him.
Now, your second question about the self-financing, I most certainly do stand by it. But, of course, I have always insisted that there should be proper budgetary and congressional control of the expansion of the facility and the building of new plants, and so on, and congressional control of the territory in which it is applicable.
Q. Charles S. von Fremd, CBS News: An Army specialist named William McOsler has been jailed by the French on charges that he killed an Algerian. Do you think he should be turned over to our authorities?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, there was a short report made to me about it, but, as I recall, this was off duty--I hope we are talking about the same case, I really do, because the name might escape me--but he was supposedly off duty, and I believe in a cafe that this occurred. In such event I would say that the man would be tried by the local authorities the same as would any tourist.
Q. David P. Sentner, Hearst Newspapers: Mr. President, would you care to give us your views on the proposal of Senator O'Mahoney for a single supply agency for the three services?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, you are asking a question, of course, on which there have been volumes, literally many volumes, written.
I have always believed this, that there should be a very strong central official at least in the Defense Department who could prevent duplication of effort, competition which drives up prices in the products of single factories or industries, and, in general, a very definite power within the Defense Secretary himself or his immediate subordinates to keep all procurement, distribution, and supply, on a very efficient, economical basis. And, as long as we don't have that power in the Secretary of Defense, you are bound to have these duplications and these competitions that do run up prices to the public.
Q. Sarah McClendon, San Antonio Light: Sir, down at Lackland Air Force Base, which is the Nation's only basic training installation for the Air Force, quite a controversy has arisen about the form of physical training. Credits are now being given for roller skating and horseback riding in preference to other forms of stiffer physical training. I wonder what you, as a former military commander, think about that in preparation for war?
THE PRESIDENT. Maybe you had better ask me as a former football coach, which I was once. [Laughter]
I haven't heard a word about it, Mrs. McClendon, and I would suggest you go to the Secretary of the Air Force and ask him, because I just don't know.
Q. Mrs. McClendon: I went to him but he didn't know much about it, sir, either.
THE PRESIDENT. I think he will find out for you.
Q. John Scali, Associated Press: In order to help us understand the disarmament picture a little more clearly, sir, could you tell us whether on May 25th, at which time you laid down the basic guidelines for our disarmament policy, whether you knew that it might be possible within four or five years to produce an absolutely clean bomb, if tests continued; and, secondly, could you also tell us, sir, how the prospect of being able to produce a clean bomb affects what you told us was your objective, several weeks ago, namely, total elimination of these weapons?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, now, there are devices that are not necessarily weapons. If you had this clean, completely clean, product, I should think that in building of tunnels or, you might say, moving mountains and that sort of thing, you could have many economical, useful, peaceful purposes for the thing; and, of course, you wouldn't want to deny civilization the opportunity of using it.
As to the first part of your question--May 25th. I knew at that time that we had succeeded in reducing the radioactive fallout from bombs by at least 90 percent. No one had suggested to me at that moment that we were going to make it completely clean, although Admiral Strauss had told me that it was certain we would get down to some 95, 96 percent, which is getting very close to it.
Incidentally, now we are talking, and very hopefully, about some kind of suspension of tests. But if ever under any circumstances there is another test made, I am going to invite any country in the world that wants to come and fire its rockets in the air and see just exactly how much radio [radioactive] fallout there is from those bombs, because we are not testing to make bigger bombs, as I have told you before. We are trying to make small bombs, clean bombs, and to develop usefulness in a peaceful world, as well as just weapons of war.
Q. Frank van der Linden, Nashville Banner: Mr. President, in choosing Mr. Jones for the TVA, you passed over Mr. Howard Baker, the Congressman from Tennessee, who was backed by Senator Cooper and others. And I wondered if this was because Mr. Jones was more qualified or merely because Mr. Baker was a Member of Congress, and you had a rule against that?
THE PRESIDENT. I don't know that Mr. Baker is not qualified, but certainly, except in the most exceptional circumstances, I would not take a sitting Member of either House and appoint him to an appointive job. He was elected for a particular time, and from my viewpoint--maybe it's a simple and naive one--I think he ought to serve out his term.
Q. James B. Reston, New York Times: Mr. President, on two occasions you have described your civil rights bill as fair and moderate. In the debate starting yesterday in the Senate, a totally different view was expressed, namely, that the purpose of this bill was not to guarantee the right of all people to vote, but actually was a cunning device, as Senator Russell called it, to enforce integration of the races in the South. Would you comment on that, sir?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I would say this. Naturally, I am not a lawyer and I don't participate in drawing up the exact language of proposals. I know what the objective was that I was seeking, which was to prevent anybody illegally from interfering with any individual's right to vote, if that individual were qualified under the proper laws of his State, and so on.
I wanted also to set up this special Secretary in the Department of Justice to give special attention to these matters, and I wanted to set up a commission, as you will recall.
Now, to my mind, these were simple matters that were more or less brought about by the Supreme Court decision, and were a very moderate move.
I find that men, men that are highly respected in their States and the Senate, have suddenly made statements, "This is a very extreme law, leading to disorder," and all that sort of thing. This, to me, is rather incomprehensible, but I am always ready to listen to anyone's presentation to me of his views on such a thing.
Q. Mr. Reston: Mr. President, in the light of that, would you be willing to see the bill written so that it specifically dealt with the question of right to vote rather than implementing the Supreme Court decision on the integration of the schools?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I would not want to answer this in detail, because I was reading part of that bill this morning, and there were certain phrases I didn't completely understand. So, before I made any more remarks on that, I would want to talk to the Attorney General and see exactly what they do mean.
Q. Rod MacLeish, Westinghouse Broadcasting: Sir, Mr. President, yesterday Senator John Kennedy told the Senate that the United States policy should express a stronger opposition to Western colonialism, such as France's position in Algeria, as well as to Communist imperialism. Do you see any means by which this opposition could be constructively expressed in our present policies?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I understand the Secretary of State commented at some length on this matter yesterday.
As I have told you before, nothing is more complicated than the questions and problems that involve foreign policy; and any attempt to oversimplify them and just to make one great statement of principle and truth and then say, "That's that, no more," is to ignore the other side of equally intricate problems.
For example, take it at home: I was just asked a question about civil rights. From one side of this picture there is no question. But from the side of people who have lived with a very, very definite social problem for a number of years, there are almost violent reactions on the other side.
Now, the same way in foreign policy, in here you have the whole standing of America in the world involved, the standing of America as a fair nation trying to be decent to all, not taking any particular side in either domestic or in international quarrels, trying to be a friend to lead back to peace. And I believe the United States' best role as a leader in the world today is to try to be understanding to both sides in any quarrel if it is any of our business, and we are invited in in any way and try to lead them back to peace. Now, this means often you work behind the scenes, because you don't get up and begin to shout about such things or there will be no effectiveness.
Generally speaking, though, I would say read Mr. Dulles' reaction to this, which I agree with.
Q. Raymond P. Brandt, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Mr. President, is there any way in which we can share our knowledge on clean bombs with Russia and the other nations which might develop them?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I raised that question, Mr. Brandt, the second the scientists talked to me about it, and they said, "Why, the minute that we have proved what we say we are going to prove, why, we would want them to have it." That is just what they
Q. Mr. Brandt: That could require legislation, of course?
THE PRESIDENT. I would think so, yes.
Q. Martin S. Hayden, Detroit News: Sir, would you elaborate a little more on this statement that you made that future atomic tests are going to be open to any country that wants to come to watch them?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't mean to say you take the men and show them all your formulae, and all that sort of thing as to what you have done. But I said certain people have questioned the proposition that Dr. Lawrence and Dr. Teller brought to me, that eventually you could make completely clean bombs, and that even now you are 96 percent clean, that is, you have only 4 percent of radioactivity, radioactive fallout, that you did in the original bomb. I say we would be glad to ask any nation there to put its proper instruments in the air to detect whether or not their contention is true.
Q. Lillian Levy, National Jewish Post, Indianapolis: Congressman Madden of Indiana has proposed a resolution that would require all questions used in radio and TV broadcasts of interviews with Communist leaders to be subject to advance clearance by the Secretary of State and the Director of CIA. Do you believe, sir, that such restrictions can serve any useful purpose?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, you ask a question, can it serve any useful purpose? I say this: that our tradition of a free press and free access to knowledge and to opinion is not only very great, but it is guaranteed really by the Constitution; and I would think any such process as you talk about would align us with that type of country where governmental, political governmental, action is a dominant factor instead of the kind of democratic processes that we believe in so thoroughly.
Q. S. Douglass Cater, Jr., Reporter Magazine: Mr. President, within the past year you have failed to reappoint Mr. Dewey Adams of the CAB, and Mr. Harry Cain of the Subversive Activities Control Board, and Mr. Murray of the AEC. It has been charged that you do not look favorably on the right of the dissenter within these regulatory commissions. I wonder if you could just say broadly what is your philosophy about the right to dissent upon these commissions.
THE PRESIDENT. Well, if someone would hear some of the conversations and discussions in conferences in my office there would be no doubt about my approval of the right to dissent. I appoint people to office on the basis of the best I think I can find, and I am responsible to myself and to my own conscience in appointing them that way, and that is the way I do it.
Q. Robert W. Richards, The Copley Press: I wagered Dick Wilson of Cowles Papers a two-drink dinner that when Congress gets through with the supplemental deficiencies next year, it will have spent more money than you asked in your budget. Do you think I am going to win that bet? [LAUGHTER]
THE PRESIDENT. I hope you don't.
I really believe that all of us should get in to find those places we can save money, not only in eliminating some of the functions for which we are now compelled to make estimates, but to find out whether we can't do some of them cheaper. Now, I am just going to say I hope you don't win your bet.
Q. Charles W. Bailey, Minneapolis Star and Tribune: Sir, last week you said that a very considerable amount of the increase in the cost of living was due to national policies aimed at bringing farmers a proper share of the national income.
THE PRESIDENT. Now, I didn't say a very considerable amount, as far as I can recall.
Q. Mr. Bailey: Sir, I think I am quoting from the transcript.
THE PRESIDENT. Well, maybe so. Then I shouldn't have said it that way.
Q. Mr. Bailey: Did you mean that farm programs were
THE PRESIDENT. I said in the present cost-of-living increases, part of it is accounted for by rises in food prices; and I said, after all, we have now policies to try to raise these prices, at least as far as the farmer is concerned, and I believe he is now only at 82 percent of parity, and actually the objective is to raise it higher.
Q. Mr. Bailey: Sir, were you equating the rise in retail food costs with the attempts to raise the prices that farmers receive for the things they sell?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I said this has some effect. Of course, if you trace the price rises that are tacked on by middlemen and the processing and so on until it gets to the consumer, it doesn't seem to have much relationship to any small rise in price that the farmers got. But, for example, right now we have a fine price in hogs. Well, people eat pork, but hogs are now 21 cents a pound, $21 a hundred. Well, that is considerably different from what it was just two or three years back.
Q. Robert G. Spivack, New York Post: Mr. President, when the Dixon-Yates contract or controversy was at its height, you ordered a chronology of the events that led up to the contract. Now, Senator Kefauver, who is investigating the Idaho Power Company's application for a tax write-off, says that his investigation is stymied, and that it would be helpful if you were to order a chronology, with full disclosure of what happened in that case. Would you be willing to do that?
THE PRESIDENT. I don't know. Senator Kefauver hasn't asked me. If he has said any such thing, he has said it for public consumption, and not to get any action, because he has not made any such request to me.
Q. Peter Lisagot, Chicago Daily News: To get back to the French-Algerian question for just a moment--when he returned from Africa, Vice President Nixon made a report to you about the situation in Algeria, as we understand it. Could you tell us whether he made any specific changes for the Administration to take a different approach in the matter?
THE PRESIDENT. No, no. As a matter of fact, he made a verbal report to me about that, and, I believe, did not mention it in his written report. That is the way I recall, because he was not actually ordered to go to Algeria in that trip. He went to some of the other countries.
He merely plead for, or recommended, understanding and trying to be fair to both sides, because there is a terrific argument. After all, there are one million, three or four hundred thousand Europeans in the country, and just turning the whole thing loose could well result in a very great disaster.
I don't know exactly what to do about it, but it is one that you study, realizing it is an internal problem primarily because Algeria was part of metropolitan France, at least legally, and you try to just be as fair and square and helpful as you can.
Q. Edward P. Morgan, American Broadcasting Company: Mr. President, would it be correct to infer from your invitation this morning about the witnessing of nuclear explosions and the forthcoming announcement this afternoon about the increased distribution of U-35 [U-235] that the Administration is attempting in this way to refute the argument that we dare not be as sincere in disarmament as we would like to be? I am thinking in terms of the debate that has been going on as to what we would lose and what we would gain by suspending tests.
THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Morgan, now you mustn't think that this whole business of disarmament, fluid as it is, is operated on the basis of shooting from the hip. For three long years everybody in the Government--with the aid of task forces on which we have had people like Dr. Lawrence and General Bedell Smith, and people of that kind--has been working on this thing to develop a policy for the United States.
You take that policy and you try to find out how it would affect other nations. You don't want to go to the Soviets or to any other nation, for example, and make a proposal that affects a third country without that third country's approval, because then you suddenly become like Napoleon and Alexander, on a raft in the Vistula, settling the fate of Europe.
We are not doing that. So, you do have though the problem, after you make out a program that seems logical and decent to us as a country, to go and take up the problem with Germany, with France, with NATO, the whole NATO group, with Britain, with Canada, everybody that is affected by that proposal, in order that you don't just destroy the whole effort by sudden recalcitrance because someone believes their own sovereignty or their own rights have been ignored.
Now, we have very valued allies and friends, and we try to work with them very, very closely in all such things. Now this means that from time to time, as new information becomes available, it takes a long, sort of laborious, process to get everybody in line again.
This is not easy. But, on the other hand, there is no shooting from the hip. It is all based on long, earnest studies by the finest people we can get together.
Q. Milton Friedman, Jewish Telegraphic Agency: Could you give us your thinking, sir, on the furnishing of submarines by the Soviet Union to Egypt, and the question of peace and stability in the Middle East?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I would say it was unhelpful; that is all I would say about it.
Q. Mrs. May Craig, Portland (Maine) Press Herald: Mr. President, Senator Russell said that his analysis of your press conference remarks on the civil rights bill convinces him that the implications of the bill have not been fully explained to you. My question is, have you talked with critics of the legislation?
THE PRESIDENT. Oh, yes. As a matter of fact, I did down in Virginia the other day. I have talked to a very great many critics, but Senator Russell has never given me any oral or written message on it himself.
Dayton Moore, United Press: Thank you, Mr. President.
Note: President Eisenhower's one hundred and fifteenth news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 10:32 to 11:01 o'clock on Wednesday morning, July 3, 1957. In attendance: 198.
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/233337