811.113 Senate Investigation/228

Memorandum by Mr. Joseph G. Green of the Division of Western European Affairs

The British Ambassador called at my office this morning by appointment. He opened the conversation by asking what had been the result of the President’s conference with the Nye Committee. I told him that that conference would not take place until noon today.

The Ambassador told me that Mr. Wiggin had reported to him the substance of our conversation of yesterday. He said that he was somewhat disturbed by the fact that Mr. Wiggin had gathered from the conversation that the Department felt that there was something still undone which he, the Ambassador, might do to assist in settling this difficulty. I replied that what we had in mind was that now that we had persuaded the Nye Committee to postpone the serving of the subpoena duces tecum until March 21, he might find it possible to ascertain from his Government whether it had any objection to the communication of the documents in question by the Bank to the Committee. This suggestion obviously did not meet with the Ambassador’s approval. He said that he thought that he had already made it clear to the Secretary that he would not telegraph his Foreign Office for instructions in the premises until he was officially requested by this Government to ascertain the attitude of his Government. He said that he felt that there was a matter of international courtesy involved and that he was awaiting an official request from this Government. He added that he had sent a mail despatch to his Foreign Office, explaining the situation, so that if it should later become necessary for him to telegraph for instructions they would understand the situation to which he referred.

I explained to the Ambassador that the Senate Committee was a body with quasi-judicial functions and that in this matter it was acting as any court might act in issuing a subpoena duces tecum. I asked him whether if such action had been taken by a Federal court requiring the presentation of papers relating to contracts between the British Government and an American company, he would expect this Government to ask him officially whether he had any objection to the presentation of the papers before the subpoena was served. He replied that he was not discussing a matter of law, but a matter of [Page 363] courtesy and that it was impossible to define courtesy with such precision. Incidentally he said that the Nye Committee was not in good odor with the British.

I told the Ambassador that I would faithfully report to the Secretary everything that he had said and that in the meantime we might await the result of the President’s conference with the Committee, in the hope that that conference might settle the question. The Ambassador concurred and requested me to telephone him as soon as I had any information in regard to the outcome of the conference.

Joseph C. Green