Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

August 30, 1945

THE PRESIDENT. [1.] Byron Price has agreed to go to Germany in an advisory capacity on public relations. He is going with the approval of General Eisenhower and General Clay, and I am very happy that he is going, because I think he can be a great deal of help to that situation over there.

[2.] In yesterday's report which I handed to you I did not know at the time, because I hadn't had time to read it completely myself, that there had been some aspersions cast on Cordell Hull. I want to agree fully and completely with Secretary Stimson on what he said about Cordell Hull.

[3.] Ambassador Pauley this afternoon will hold a press conference at 3 p.m. on the reparations situation. I think it will be right interesting and instructive to those of you who are interested in reparations.

Now if there are any questions--

[4.] Q. Mr. President, do you plan to confer with General de Gaulle again before he returns to France?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know; if General de Gaulle returns to Washington I may see him.

[5.] Q. In a magazine article you wrote, or that appeared under your name, when you were a Senator--

THE PRESIDENT. Things come back to haunt you! [Laughter]

Q.--you said Admiral Kimmel and General Short were not on speaking terms. Admiral Kimmel subsequently said that was a false statement.

THE PRESIDENT. Apparently, according to this report, it was not a statement of fact. I was speaking with the best information I had at the time.

Q. Mr. President, was there any reason for putting out the report on the day that we entered Tokyo?

THE PRESIDENT. No, no reason except that there was so much conversation about it; there was no ulterior motive to it.

Q. Mr. President, despite what you said yesterday, there are some very strong reports on the Hill and elsewhere that you are going to order the Army and Navy to institute a court-martial proceeding against certain people.

THE PRESIDENT. I am not. The matter has not been brought up to me. I don't think I have authority to order a court-martial. I think it has to go through a form of procedure set up by Congress.

Q. There is a lot of talk that indicates some of them think the gentlemen, mentioning General Short and Admiral Kimmel, should have a court-martial if for no other reason than to make their side public.

THE PRESIDENT. If they want it, I have no objection to it. I want everybody to be fairly treated.

Q. You would like to see those fellows make their statement ?

THE PRESIDENT. Perfectly satisfactory to me.

Q. Is there any reason why they can't make it without a court-martial?

THE PRESIDENT. I will not put a muzzle on them.

Q. Representative May represented the reports as a "whitewash." Do you agree with that?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't. I don't think Representative May read the report. [Laughter] If you read them very carefully, they are not a "whitewash."

Q. In that same article you discussed your feeling for need of unity of command. In the light of these new reports is there anything more you would like to say about that?

THE PRESIDENT. I am still in favor of unity of command, and always have been.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, can you tell us about Mme. Chiang's visit yesterday?

THE PRESIDENT. She was in to pay her respects before returning to China. We had a very pleasant visit on the situation in the Far East. She was very happy over the Russian-Chinese treaty, just as all of us are.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, did you happen to receive a petition from some people in Indiana, near Indianapolis, about a boy named Colby who has been sentenced to hang in Germany?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't remember receiving any such petition.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, is there anything you can tell us about the general plans on what we are going to do to feed Europe this winter, now that lend-lease is--

THE PRESIDENT. I can't give you the details on that. The plans are being studied and worked on. As soon as the British representatives come here from Great Britain I think we will work out a plan that will be satisfactory to all concerned.

Q. You mean there will be an interim period between now and the time when the Bretton Woods monetary agreement begins?

THE PRESIDENT. That's the present plan.

Q. How much will that involve.

THE PRESIDENT. I can't tell you, because I haven't the figures.

[9.] Q. Will Byron Price be your representative or the representative of one of the departments?

THE PRESIDENT. He is my representative.

[10.] Q. Have you any international assignment for Senator Maybank?

THE PRESIDENT. I hope Senator Maybank will stay in the Senate. He is a very excellent Senator.

Q. We have that inference.

Q. Did you know he wanted a diplomatic post?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I didn't. He has never discussed the matter with me.

[11.] Q. Has Justice Roberts changed his mind about that international appointment you wanted to give him?

THE PRESIDENT. He hasn't made up his mind, and I would rather not discuss it until he does.

[12.] Q. If we may return to the Pearl Harbor report for a moment, it seems to me that anyone who tries to make that clear to himself has a very tough time clarifying such things as why, when Stimson reported that they had told Hull that the Army and Navy wanted 3 months more time, they didn't know about it, and why, when Hull had broken with these people, that information was not relayed to Hawaii.

THE PRESIDENT. I wasn't here then.

Q. No, but I wondered if you were clear in your own mind.

THE PRESIDENT. I have read it very carefully, and I came to the conclusion that the whole thing is the result of the policy which the country itself pursued. The country was not ready for preparedness. Every time the President made an effort to get a preparedness program through Congress, it was stifled. Whenever the President made a statement about the necessity of preparedness, he was vilified for doing it. I think the country is as much to blame as any individual in this final situation that developed in Pearl Harbor.

Q. May we have that in quotations, sir, exactly what you said?


[13.] Q. Can you tell us anything more about the nature of Mr. Price's duties?

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, they just wanted an expert's advice, and when Price's job ceased over here, they asked that Price give us the benefit of his experience and advice.

Q. Is that for the benefit of both radio and press?

THE PRESIDENT. Everything that has to do with public relations.

Q. Does that apply to Great Britain?

THE PRESIDENT. And to the United States also.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, there is one thing in the Army and Navy Board reports about Marshall and Stark telling President Roosevelt they were not ready for war in November, and the Army report says that was transmitted November 27.

THE PRESIDENT. I only know what I see in the report.

Q. Mr. President, that's what made me think a court-martial would help to lay the whole thing out.

THE PRESIDENT. It might--it might. I have no objection to a courtmartial, but I don't intend to order one.

Q. Any reason now why the whole Roberts committee report1 should not be released?

THE PRESIDENT. Only that there is still some information that should not be divulged that has nothing to do with the Pearl Harbor situation. It is the system by which we get information. We need that source of information now as we needed it then.

1The report "Attack Upon Pearl Harbor by Japanese Armed Forces" of the Commission appointed by President Roosevelt and headed by Associate Justice Owen J. Roberts is printed in Senate Document 159 (77 Gong., 2d sess.).

Q. Mr. President, in all the pages of the volumes there is not a word about the two privates who gave the warning.

THE PRESIDENT. They have been promoted; one is a lieutenant and the other a sergeant, I think.

Q. The lieutenant who said "Forget it" is a lieutenant colonel.

THE PRESIDENT. Is he? I didn't know that.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, do you plan any early recommendation on the St. Lawrence Seaway?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I do. I will let you know about it when I get it ready.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, can you tell us further about the interim plan you have in mind between lend-lease and--which departments are working on it?

THE PRESIDENT. State, FEA, and War Department.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, do you have any idea when the 52 pages deleted from the Army report will be made public?2

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think they ever will be.

2Chapter V of the report of the Army Pearl Harbor Board (released by the President to the press at his news conference of August 29) was omitted in accordance with the Secretary of War's statement of that date, which the President also released. The missing 52 pages were made public by Secretary of War Patterson on October 5, 1945.

Q. Why?

THE PRESIDENT. For the reason I just told you; there are sources of information to be protected.

[18.] Q. Did Mme. Chiang talk with you about the relations of China with America and a meeting between you and the Generalissimo?

THE PRESIDENT. The Generalissimo would like very much to see me, and I would like very much to see him, but no definite plans were made for a visit either way.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Truman's twenty-second news conference was held in his office at the White House at 10 a.m. on Thursday, August 30, 1945. The White House Official Reporter noted that the following special guests attended this conference: Secretary of State James F. Byrnes, Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, and Mrs. Alfred (Frances) Burns, a reporter on the Boston Globe who was writing a special story on the President.

Harry S Truman, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/230915

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