The Counselor of the Department of State ( Moore ) to Representative George H. Tinkham, of Massachusetts
My Dear Mr. Tinkham: I have your letter of September 9, 193825 in which you quote two questions asked by a resident of your congressional district in regard to the export of war materials to Japan.
The first question is “Could the United States Government in any way without the consent of Congress forbid the export to Japan of all war material?”. My understanding is that your constituent is alluding to arms, ammunition, and implements of war as referred to in Section 1 of the Neutrality Act.26 The answer to the question, in that case, is that the Government is not authorized to forbid the export to any country of such articles, except when the President issues a proclamation in accordance with the provisions of that section. If your constituent is referring to commodities other than arms, ammunition, or implements of war, the answer is that this Government has no statutory authority to restrict the export of such commodities to any foreign country.
The second question is “…27 why could not the State Department request the cessation of all such exports (as it has done in regard to bombing planes) and then publish widely in the Press the names of all those who disregard the request?”. In answering this question it may be stated that the Department’s action in urging the manufacturers and exporters in this country of airplanes and aeronautical equipment not to sell or export their products to countries whose armed forces are engaged in the bombing of the civilian population from the air was based upon this country’s general and unreserved condemnation, to which the Secretary has given expression repeatedly in public utterances, of that type of activity. Only in such exceptional cases does the Department take action of that advisory character.