Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

February 14, 1952

THE PRESIDENT. Please be seated.

[1.] I want to read you a statement here, a copy of which will be available to you when you go out.

[Reading] "I have had a long and satisfactory conference with Mr. Newbold Morris about his plans for carrying out his job as Special Assistant to the Attorney General.

"I am directing all departments and agencies of the Government to cooperate fully with Mr. Morris in the performance of his duties, and to give him any information and assistance he may require, and to give the highest priority to any requests made by him. Adequate funds will be provided for the activities of Mr. Morris and his staff, and they will be given separate office space outside the Department of Justice.

"I intend to see to it that Mr. Morris has access to all the information he needs that is in the possession of the executive branch, and the authority to examine and require testimony from all officers and employees of the executive branch. However, in many cases where Government employees have been subject to outside influence, the most essential evidence is not in Government hands. Mr. Morris cannot conduct a thoroughgoing and effective investigation of cases such as these unless he has the power of subpoena to subpoena witnesses and documents from outside the Government. The executive branch cannot confer such power on Mr. Morris. It must be provided by statute. Accordingly, I am going to ask the Congress to give Mr. Morris the subpoena powers necessary to the proper performance of his duties.

"The Attorney General wholeheartedly concurs in these recommendations and in the arrangements we are making to enable Mr. Morris to do an independent, thorough, and efficient job.

"Mr. Morris will have my full support, and the full support of the Attorney General, and I intend to follow the progress of his work very closely. I hope that he will also have the full support of Congress and the public."1

Now you can ask questions, if you like.

1On February 20, the President signed Executive Order 10327 providing for cooperation in the Newbold Morris investigations by members of the executive branch (3 CFR, 1949-1953 Comp., p. 851). See also Items 36, 44 [10], 64 [15].

Q. Mr. President, do the terms of that statement mean that Mr. Morris can examine income tax returns ?

THE PRESIDENT. He will have the necessary power to make whatever examinations are necessary to do the job.

Q. Mr. President, did the Executive ever have subpoena powers, which this new--

THE PRESIDENT. No, he never did have subpoena powers. No, they have the subpoena powers in the courts and committees of Congress.

Q. I know that, but did the Executive ever ask Congress before

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know. I don't know, Pete.2 I haven't read that much history. We want to give this man the authority necessary so he can do a job, so you fellows who have been charging us with a whitewash will be answered.

2 Raymond P. Brandt of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Q. Charging us with a what?

THE PRESIDENT. Whitewash. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President, could we quote you on that last statement?

THE PRESIDENT. YOU can't quote me at all, so you will have to take these questions and answers just as they come. I'm sorry. When I want to be quoted, I will make a public statement--a statement you can take in full.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, on the subject of your being quoted--[laughter]--

THE PRESIDENT. Here it comes! Go ahead.

Q. Mr. Benjamin Browdy, the head of the Zionist Organization, came out of your office yesterday and said that you said you would make up your mind about running in 1952, and make an announcement within 10 to 15 days. Was he quoting you right?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, you know, everybody is entitled to have his say when he comes out of the President's office, but I want to tell you fellows that whenever I get ready to make an announcement I will make it to you. It won't be through a third person.3

3 Later in the day, the White House released the text of this paragraph and the last two paragraphs in [2] as material which could be quoted directly by the press.

Q. Mr. President, if you thought that running would help the cause of world peace, would you run?

THE PRESIDENT. I will answer that question when I make my announcement.

Q. Mr. President, do you think the cause of world peace would be helped if you ran?

THE PRESIDENT. I couldn't hear you.

Q. Just the reverse of that question--

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I can't answer it. You needn't try to reverse your questions, because I am not under cross-examination.

I want to say to you that I know you are very much interested in this situation. I am interested too. But we don't want to make this thing ridiculous. I have carefully and conscientiously tried to answer all your questions. I always try to do that. But it seems to me that it is about time now for you to wait until I get ready to make the necessary announcement, and then you will have all the information.

I don't want to confuse you. I haven't tried to confuse you. I have told you that it is a difficult decision for me to make, and that as soon as it is time for the announcement to be made, you will have the information promptly. So let's go to some other subject that the country is interested in and discuss that, because I have said all to you that I am going to say on this subject. And I am being kindly to you, and friendly to you. It is not in any spirit of not wanting to cooperate with you. But I am not ready to make an announcement. And when I get ready, you shall have it.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, this is a question on your security order. The AEC and the Civil Aeronautics Administration have issued about 12,000 colored maps showing air spaces all over the country. They are used for the purpose of keeping pilots from going over various atomic energy plants. The Minneapolis Tribune has raised the point whether that is a violation of your security order, or whether those maps would give enemy bombers or pilots information that would lead them to be able to bomb--

THE PRESIDENT. They would, of course. Those maps are made strictly for the use of pilots so that they will not be in danger zones. They have to be made, and they have to be in the hands of airline pilots. But it will be too bad if all those maps were in the hands of people who might be our potential enemies. I would give very much to have a whole set of maps like that of a certain country with which we are all familiar. I don't suppose I will be able to get them. The people of America ought to use a little judgment, as I have told you before. This country is theirs. They don't want to see it destroyed, and they ought to do everything they possibly can in a commonsense way to keep that from happening. That's all I can say to you.

Q. These maps are posted in airports, and any citizen can call up the AEC and get copies.

THE PRESIDENT. I know, and you are calling attention to the fact, so as to help the people who ought not to have them to get them.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, is Illinois going to have anybody on the Tax Court when you fill out those vacancies down there?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer that. I don't do that on a State basis. I do it on a merit basis.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, William Loeb, a New Hampshire publisher, has asked that I ask you a question about a telegram he sent you this week, regarding Senator McCarthy's speech this coming Saturday night. He asks if you are familiar with the man in the executive department to whom the Senator intends to refer?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know a thing about it. McCarthy "don't" take me into his confidence. [Laughter]

[6.] Q. Mr. President, did you encourage Stuart Symington4 to run for the Senate ?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no answer to that question. When the time comes, I will answer it.

4W. Stuart Symington's resignation as Administrator of the Reconstruction finance Corporation became effective on February 15, 1952.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, speaking of Illinois, is the appointment of the judges to fill the two vacancies in the northern Illinois district anywhere near imminent?

THE PRESIDENT. NO, I think not. I sent two good names 5 down there. They were turned down. I am not ready to send any more at this time.

5On July 13, 1951, the President submitted to the Senate the names of three nominees to Federal judgeships in Illinois. One of the men, Joseph S. Perry, former Democratic State legislator and county chairman, was confirmed without opposition. The nominations of Joseph Jerome Drucker and Cornelius J. Harrington, the latter a Cook County circuit court judge, were rejected by the Senate.

Q. Do you intend, sir, to submit new names ?

THE PRESIDENT. Sometime or other I may. I don't promise to do it.

Q. Mr. President, in choosing a new judge for the Eastern District of South Carolina, would you consider a man who voted for Governor Thurmond 6 instead of you?

THE PRESIDENT. If he would make a good judge, of course I would. I have done that in many instances. In fact, I appointed more judges on a bipartisan basis than most any other President since 1900.

6 J. Strom Thurmond, former Governor of South Carolina and presidential candidate of the States' Rights Party in the 1948 election.

Q. Mr. President, what part of South Carolina was that ?

THE PRESIDENT. Charleston.

Q. Charleston. Oh, that's the Waring7 vacancy.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, are you bothered by the fact that Senator Taft has reiterated the fact that he has no confidence in the Joint Chiefs of Staff?

THE PRESIDENT. No comment.

7 Judge J. Waties Waring whose retirement became effective on February 15, 1952.

Q. Mr. President, it is a fact that the Gallup Poll now shows that he is even with Eisenhower--I know you don't go for polls--is now even with Eisenhower. Is he still your favorite candidate?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, sir, I don't go much on polls, as you know. [Laughter]

[9.] Q. Mr. President, would you comment on the resignation of frank Scofield of Austin, Texas, as Collector of the Internal Revenue?

THE PRESIDENT. You will have to inquire of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue on that. All I know is what I saw in the paper. I don't run those things in detail. I delegate the responsibility for running them to somebody else, so you talk to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue.

Q. Mr. President, may I ask a question?

THE PRESIDENT. Sure.

[10.] Q. Senator Taft has been saying that the Korean war is Truman's war--a useless war, I mean. I don't know whether there has been an effective answer on that-I wonder if you would comment on it, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, the public will have to come to its own conclusion, and I have no comment specifically on what Senator Taft has to say. He is running for a nomination. He is not even a candidate. [Laughter]

[Pause] My goodness!--are you fellows running out of ink? [More laughter]

Q. No, we are just writing hard.

THE PRESIDENT. Good. Go ahead.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, I wonder if you could tell us how soon you expect to fill the vacancy on the Labor Relations Board?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, just as quickly as I can find the man I think is fitted to fill it.

Q. Then you haven't found the man?

THE PRESIDENT. Not yet.

[12.] I do want to make a comment to you. I noticed in one of the papers last night a statement by a Negro man up in Harlem, after his son had been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor--it was a posthumous award. And I think that is one of the most patriotic and outstanding statements I have seen since I have been in politics. I hope you will all read it.

Q. One of the most patriotic and what, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Outstanding.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, there has been some discussion from time to time of what would happen if an armistice in Korea were achieved. I have seen a number of references that this Government has under discussion--I don't like to use the word ultimatum, but some kind of statement to the effect that if the armistice were violated, we would take retaliatory action. Can you say anything about that situation?

THE PRESIDENT. This is a very poor time, I am sorry to say, to comment on that situation. We are trying to reach an agreement over there, and any comment here will only muddy the waters for the negotiators, so I can't answer the question.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, back to the reference to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Would you care to comment on whether you think that the makeup of the Joint Chiefs is a proper subject for discussion as a political issue?

THE PRESIDENT. It is not. They are not political appointments, and I have the utmost confidence in them.

[ 15.] Q. Mr. President, in case Congress does not grant statehood to Alaska, would you favor Senator Butler of Nebraska's bill, giving the people of Alaska the right to elect their own Governor ?

THE PRESIDENT. Surely I would. But I think we are going to have statehood for them, and that is what they ought to have.

Q. Is it the same about Hawaiian statehood ?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. I set a precedent on that. Down in Puerto Rico I appointed the first native Puerto Rican Governor.8 Then I got a bill through the 80th Congress to give the Puerto Ricans a chance to elect their own Governor.9

8 On July 25, 1946, the President announced his appointment of Jesus T. Pinero as Governor of Puerto Rico.

9 An Act to Amend the Organic Act of Puerto Rico (61 Stat. 770).

Merriman Smith, United Press Associations: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. That's all right, Smitty.

Note: President Truman's two hundred and ninety-fourth news conference was held in the Indian Treaty Room (Room 474) in the Executive Office Building at 10:35 a.m. on Thursday, February 14, 1952.

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/231235

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