Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

The President's News Conference

July 08, 1953

THE PRESIDENT. One or two items, ladies and gentlemen, of possible general interest. We have had a committee, as you know, called the Jackson Committee, studying the whole field that has been called by many names, but popularly known by the name of psychological warfare. Its report, of course, is largely confidential, but at my direction they have made a summary of the report which will be handed out by Mr. Hagerty around noon today, probably around 12 o'clock.

It is very interesting; and, of course, it is trying to draw together into one place in the Federal Government responsibility for all this kind of action.1

1The summary of the report by the President's Committee on International Information Activities, headed by William H. Jackson, is published in the Department of State Bulletin (vol. 29, p. 124). The Committee recommended, among other things, recruitment of the ablest personnel obtainable for service overseas, a more effective overseas information program, and the establishment within the National Security Council of an Operations Coordinating Board. Such a board was established on September 3, 1953, by Executive Order 10483 (3 CFR, 1949-1953 Comp., p. 968).

In Korea, as you know, the Communists have accepted our suggestion that the talks be resumed looking toward the consummation of a truce.

Now, I just want to make it clear again: everybody in the United States, I believe, understands the aspirations of President Rhee and has a very warm spot in their hearts for what South Korea has done in this whole business. We must never lose sight of the fact that this is an incident in a great ideological struggle, as well as a struggle just by arms.

We look forward to a reunification of Korea by peaceful means and intend to work for it.

The question, though, of carrying on hostilities and trying to accomplish objectives by warfare in this world of today is something, of course, that you have to weigh against the future and the success of the United Nations, for which we all hope that there will be a great success.

As a matter of fact, that is about all there is to say about the Korean thing at the moment; there is no new development of which I am aware.

On Germany, I received a telegram signed by the president of the AFL and the president of the CIO. They are over there as members--in Stockholm, they are actually meeting--they are over there as American representatives of a great union of labor organizations, free labor organizations from the free countries. They made certain recommendations with respect to Germany.

The significant thing to me was that the workers of the world protest at the situation of the workers in Eastern Germany and in the satellite--well, in Eastern Germany specifically at the moment. That, to me, is certainly a very significant factor in the world opinion and in the psychology; the workers believe that the workers in Germany, supposed to be the workers' paradise, are really treated in a way that is unjustifiable.

Now, I think with those brief observations, we will go directly to the questions.

Q. Charles T. Lucey, Scripps-Howard Newspapers: Did you discuss the Pennsylvania governorship with Senator Duff, and have you urged him to run for the governorship next year?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't participate in the kind of detail which you intimate in local political questions.

I have talked of many things, including listening very carefully to Senator Duff, but I have urged him to do nothing. I merely talked on this basis, that we, locally and federally, as a party, are trying to establish a record that gains the admiration and respect of the American people. That is what I am talking about. They will have to decide their local questions themselves.

Q. D. Harold Oliver, Associated Press: Does that go for Virginia, too?


Q. Mr. Oliver: Yes, the governorship race. I was asked to have you go on record about that.

THE PRESIDENT. Actually, yes, the same observation applies. I don't consider it my function to interfere in the local and State elections. After all, there are certain responsibilities placed upon the President of the United States. There are certain attitudes I think that he is expected normally to observe. I hope to do that.

Now, my own contention is this: the only worthwhile political program, particularly for the party in power, is to present at each new election, to the people of the United States, an accomplishment, a worthwhile progress that earns approbation. I can see no other way of approaching this thing, and I don't see how the President could interfere or attempt to interfere appropriately in the local political struggles--city, county, State, or anything of that kind.

Q. Sarah McClendon, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: We in the Southwest, Mr. President, as my editors tell me, appreciate very much what you and Mr. Benson have done to alleviate the drought conditions, but they say that there is going to be need for more aid and a long-range program. I wonder if you think there is anything the Government can do to prevent the effects of such a drought in the future?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think you can prevent the effect, because drought is a meteorological condition that even the most powerful governments seem to be helpless in front of.

Now what they can do is this: plan for help, alleviation of distress, and so on--in other words, the old theory of prevention of disaster to great bodies of our citizens, particularly when that disaster could not be foreseen. Actually, I believe that the Governors of that whole region are to meet soon, again, to discuss these things. From them, I would expect worthwhile suggestions. We have moved only a little bit at a time, but certainly we hope to do what an enlightened and humanitarian America would expect us to do with respect to a whole area like that, that is so stricken.

Q. Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Mr. President, on the Korean situation, have you had any indication from your representative there that Syngman Rhee would be willing to go along with the proposed truce?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I really feel this, Mr. Arrowsmith: there is little more to be said about the Korean situation than has already appeared in the papers.

As I said last week, or at a recent press conference, there is a difficult question of misunderstanding, and I think it is unfortunate when we know so clearly that our hearts are in the same places; but those things do occur. We have to proceed step by step in the hope that methods and procedures adopted will constantly lead us further toward the realization of those hopes.

That does not mean that there are no troubles. There are; and exactly how it is going to come out, no man can foretell exactly.

Q. Elmer Davis, American Broadcasting Company: Isn't this so-called acceptance of the truce terms just about what the Communists said before? They still say they accept if we will bring Syngman Rhee in line and if we will round up all the prisoners. Is that anything new?

THE PRESIDENT. Where do you get all this information? I haven't got it.

Q. Mr. Davis: I saw it on the wires about a half hour ago.

THE PRESIDENT. No. I think you are starting with a premise that just defies answer; because there is no such thing contemplated.

Q. Edwin Dayton Moore, United Press: Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer and Gordon Dean have expressed a belief that the U.S. Government should make available to its allies and the American people more information on atomic weapons, both ours and our estimates of the Russians'. Do you agree?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, you are asking a question in very specific terms.

First of all, I assume that you are meaning, should the law be amended? There is a law, as you know, that strictly limits the kind of information to be given.

Personally, I think the time has arrived when the American people must have more information on this subject, if they are to act intelligently. I happen to be one of those people that believe that an informed American population makes good decisions.

I believe the time has come that the law, as written, is really outmoded. As you know, much of it was written in the hope, and possibly the expectation, that we could keep secret the manufacture of the bomb. Well, we know it has been manufactured elsewhere, so it would seem that certain parts, at least, of that law are outmoded. I think the time has come to be far more, let us say, frank with the American people than we have been in the past. That naturally has to include, then, your allies. Whatever you tell publicly, they are bound to know, and I think that the cooperative attitude here is important.

[Confers with Mr. Hagerty] Mr. Hagerty reminds me that this whole subject is discussed in some degree in that Jackson report. You can find further information on it there.

Q. Pat Munroe, Salt Lake City Deseret News: Mr. President, my question concerns one of those appointments in the Interior Department. There are reports that the morale among the Indian tribes is rather poor now, because of the fact that the Indian Commissioner has not been appointed as yet. I wonder if you had any idea when we might expect something on that?

THE PRESIDENT. The selection of the right people for these jobs, of course, is a difficult business. I promised, during the campaign, to the Indian tribes that they, themselves, would be consulted in the character and type of man they wanted as the head of the Indian Bureau.

Ever since, I think, he has taken office, Secretary McKay has really been looking for the right person. He hasn't given me a late report, but that is a difficult job possibly to find a man that we think capable of carrying on this work properly and finding one that they think is exactly the right man.

Now, since you have raised the question, I will look it up and make it a point for a future conference; but I don't have any better answer at the moment.

Q. Roscoe Drummond, Christian Science Monitor: Mr. President, twice recently an official spokesman of the State Department has refused to give out information on the directive which governs the selection of books in overseas libraries, and has refused to give either the names of the books that are being removed or being put back. Now, on one occasion the official spokesman explained that this was a part of the cold war strategy and had to be classified.

I would like to ask whether you feel that that kind of information should be withheld or made public, and whether you think that withholding it is in line with your new security directives.

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Drummond, now, I hope that you are not going to try to demand that I keep in touch with every step-by-step development in all the manifold and multitudinous departments and agencies of this Government. What I did ask them and direct them to do is this: for the State Department to sit down with the information section and work out a program that would be in line with the views I have so often expressed on this. It is my opinion and my conviction that that program is soon to be published and made public. So, generally speaking, to answer your question--would its withholding from the public be in line with what I believe about information to the public? No, I don't think it would. Consequently, I think there is going to be something coming out soon that will satisfy you on this point. I think that probably their evading the question has been because they were busily engaged in a new look with everybody involved; and they are coming out with something that ought to be, I should think, satisfactory. 1

1 On July 15 the State Department issued a release consisting of a statement by the Administrator of the International Information Administration together with new instructions on selection of books for the International Information libraries (Department of State Bulletin, vol. 29, p. 121).

Q. Robert E. Clark, International News Service: Mr. President, there have been suggestions in Great Britain recently that the Big Three conference would be switched to London because of Churchill's illness. Would you be willing to go to London for a Big Three conference?

THE PRESIDENT. The question was whether I would be willing to go to London for a Big Three conference.

As far as personal convenience is concerned, once you get in an airplane and start out, it doesn't make any difference much whether you travel 6 hours or 3 hours. I hadn't thought about this. I did see where, in answer to a question, Mr. Butler said it would look logical if Mr. Churchill's health allowed a meeting in London but not elsewhere, that we might hold it there. I must say that I have no real personal feeling about it one way or the other. We were going to meet in Bermuda, which is on British territory, anyway; so I would not think there was any great significance. I should add, no proposal has been made to me of any kind, nor, so far as I know, to the State Department. I think it was merely a comment made in passing and has no great significance.

Q. Mrs. May Craig, Maine Newspapers: Mr. President, so much has been said about the protections thrown around enemy prisoners that we hold under the treaty, some American families are wondering about the protection for our men, and if we would have any access to them at all, particularly if the Reds should say that some of them do not want to come home.

THE PRESIDENT. Mrs. Craig, you raised one of the questions, of course, that makes this whole business of negotiation a really heavy one. It weighs on the heart and not merely on, let us say, the logical processes of the brain.

Now, under the terms of the armistice, that is clearly guaranteed; each side has the right to go to the other where they claim there is anybody that doesn't want to return, and go through exactly the same processes in each side. So, as far as the armistice terms, as I have seen them--this is not revealing any of the new terms because it has always been there--there is equal opportunity on both sides.

Q. Nat S. Finney, Buffalo Evening News: Mr. President, action on the Dondero-Miller bill, which will control whether there be private or New York State redevelopment of Niagara Falls, has been held up pending Governor Dewey's visit. Governor Dewey opposes the Miller bill. Do you have any position on that which you could describe at this time?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, here is a point. In 1950--I believe it was 1950--when the treaty was made with Canada, Congress made a definite reservation that in this one case it reserved to itself the right and the authority to say exactly how that power should be developed. In the ordinary or normal case, the process would be to refer this to the Federal Power Commission. So, here we have a case where Congress has decided that it should take unto itself this authority.

Now, I don't question their right to do so in the first place, nor their right now to decide. For myself, I have always announced that I believe that maximum local authority should be exercised in the handling of all of these problems, and I would say my own philosophy largely would be, when you don't have interstate problems, that the State itself decides who and how these things should be done. But in this case, I say, it is a very special one. I can take no action nor even express a specific opinion, I should think, until the bill as drawn, and if passed, is presented to me. Then, of course, with all my advisers, there would be an analysis of it and action taken.

Q. Oscar W. Reschke, German Press Agency: Mr. President, it has been suggested in connection with the East German uprisings that EDC should be put aside for the time being or considered of secondary importance and everything should be done in first priority achieving German unity. What are your views, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. First may I ask your identity?

Q. Mr. Reschke: Reschke, German Press Agency.

THE PRESIDENT. No, I don't think they should be put aside. I do believe strongly in the unification of Germany. As a matter of fact, I happen to be one of those who believed in it in 1945. I went into Germany with the same hatreds and prejudices about the Hitler group that had caused this war; and unquestionably I included a certain sense of guilt in my own mind that applied to the whole German people for allowing this thing to occur. But it didn't take long reflection after the shooting stopped--it didn't take long reflection to see that Germany was bound to be always a great and influential part of that Central European complex, and therefore was going to affect the fortunes and lives of all of us. I believe it should be allowed a decent opportunity to unite itself; I worked for it when I was a member of--the-what did we call it? The Berlin Council? I forget the exact name--but you know, when all four of us used to meet there.

Now, I believe today that it is a proper aspiration for Germany-the reunification of Germany. I have always believed also that the EDC, the whole NATO concept, just like the United Nations concept under which it is authorized, is a peaceful one. I believe that free elections as of now can be held whether Germany belongs to the EDC or whether it does not. So I am personally in favor of pushing right ahead on the theory that we have done nothing wicked and nothing wrong, and intend nothing wicked or wrong; to go ahead with it at the same time that we support the German aspiration to be united.

Q. John Madigan, Hearst Newspapers: Mr. President, have you seen and read the Democratic Digest, which comes out in the first edition tomorrow?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I have not.

Q. Chalmers M. Roberts, Washington Post: Do I take it from your comments on Germany, sir, that you don't believe that there is anything incompatible between German unification and German participation in EDC ?

THE PRESIDENT. Certainly from my viewpoint there is not. I should like to make it clear, I have done nothing that I know of since 1945 that any just man in the world could interpret as aggressive, aggressive in intent, or would be compatible with what you might call forceful imperialism. I believe that this world has got to have peace or it is going to be "or else" for our civilization. Everything that I have been a party to or tried to support has been with that purpose.

Now, I don't deny for a second that I can be badly mistaken. I can make my errors just as quickly and possibly even more seriously than most people. But I do believe that. So therefore, I don't believe that EDC has one single danger for anybody else in the world except in the single case if they attack. That is all that it is meant for.

Q. Joseph R. Slevin, New York Journal of Commerce: There has been talk that an armistice in Korea would bring on a decline in United States business activity. Would you give us your views on the present strength of the economy and its prospects for the balance of the year?

THE PRESIDENT. Frankly, you ask a question on which I have two specific conferences a week, and it comes up time and time again. I just don't believe that it would be wise for me to describe or balance for you hopeful signs on one side, unhopeful on the other, because it takes a real study of the thing. I would refer you rather to people like the Secretary of Commerce or Dr. Burns, the head of the Economic Advisers, or someone like that, where you could have a long talk.

Personally my own conviction out of all these things is merely this: we can have a peaceful economy that is a prosperous economy and keeps employment at a very high level. That is the conclusion that I have formed. It does not mean that there might not have to be certain different changes and arrangements, but I know we can do it in my own heart.

Q. Barnet Nover, Denver Post: Mr. President, is there any reason why the job of Reclamation Commissioner has been held up for 6 months? The office has not been filled for 6 months.

THE PRESIDENT. As far as I know--again, you can't expect me to know all the details of the trouble that is going on--as far as I know, any office that has not been filled has merely been because the people responsible for the selection have not found exactly the fellow they are looking for. As you well know, there are many, many qualifications that have to be met.

Edwin Dayton Moore, United Press: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Eisenhower's thirteenth news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 10:30 to 10:55 o'clock on Wednesday morning, July 8, 1953.

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/231723

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