Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

August 29, 1945

THE PRESIDENT. I have a release for you this morning which is being handed to you in the form of three documents. The release date is 1 o'clock today.

[Reading] I have here reports on the Pearl Harbor disaster. One is from the Army and one is from the Navy. The Navy report gives a "Finding of Facts" by a Navy Court of Inquiry. Attached to this Finding of Facts are indorsements by the Judge Advocate General of the Navy, Rear Admiral T. L. Gatch; Admiral E. J. King, Chief of Naval Operations, and the Secretary of the Navy. You will find a summation of the findings in the final indorsement by the Secretary of the Navy at the end of the document.

From the Army we have the report of the Army Pearl Harbor Board and, bound separately, a statement by the Secretary of War. Certain criticisms of the Chief of Staff, General Marshall, appear in the report of the Army Pearl Harbor Board. You will notice in the Secretary's statement, beginning on page nineteen, that he takes sharp issue with this criticism of General Marshall, stating that the criticism "is entirely unjustified." The conclusion of the Secretary of War is that General Marshall acted throughout this matter with his usual "great skill, energy and efficiency." I associate myself wholeheartedly with this expression by the Secretary of War.

Indeed I have the fullest confidence in the skill, energy and efficiency of all our war leaders, both Army and Navy. [Ends reading]

Now, these documents will be given to you. There is a lot of reading matter in them, and you have 2 hours to look them over before the release date comes. Any questions?

Q. Yes; can you give us a 30-word lead? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. I could give you a 300-word lead. [Laughter]

Q. Are your remarks quotable--on the record?

THE PRESIDENT. My remarks are on the record. We can have a copy of my statement prepared for you. It is on the record.

Q. We have until 1 o'clock to--

THE PRESIDENT. You have until 1 o'clock to study these documents, and you can consult Mr. Ross and anybody else you wish to consult.

Q. Is what you are trying to clear up, sir, also for 1 o'clock release?

THE PRESIDENT. They are all for 1 o'clock release; everything in connection with it is for 1 o'clock release. That is to give you time to look these things over so you won't have to go off half-cocked.

Q. I suppose the documents are pretty well self-explanatory?


Q. Do they present any action?

THE PRESIDENT. They state the facts so that there won't be any more argument about what the facts are.

Q. What is the status on the court-martial matter?

THE PRESIDENT. I have nothing to say on the court-martial, except that if a court-martial is necessary, the gentlemen will have a prompt and fair trial.

Q. Mr. President, can you tell us something about the circumstances surrounding the decision to make this public at this time?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, there has been a great deal of conversation in regard to Pearl Harbor and various boards have looked into the facts, and I just decided that the country is entitled to the facts. There is nothing there that needs to be covered up now that hostilities have ceased, and I think the sooner the press and the public know the facts the better off everybody will be.

Any other questions?

Q. We still have a press conference tomorrow?

THE PRESIDENT. We still have a press conference tomorrow, so you can cross-question me then on these documents if you care to. [Laughter]

Note: President Truman's twenty-first news conference was held in his office at 11:03 a.m. on Wednesday, August 29, 1945. The White House Official Reporter noted that the following special guests attended this conference: Secretary of State James F. Byrnes, Under Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson, Secretary of the Navy James V. Forrestal, Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King, Maj. M. F. Correa from the office of the Secretary of the Navy, Leo T. Crowley, Administrator of the Foreign Economic Administration, and George E. Allen, member, board of directors, War Damage Corporation.

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/231696

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