882.20/544: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Chargé in Liberia (Wharton)

68. Your 55, March 3, 4 p.m. For McBride. War Department comments as follows on draft agreement:

In Article II the vesting in the United States of exclusive jurisdiction over all persons except Liberian citizens is viewed as somewhat greater than the United States can legally maintain through military courts. According to military law, the classes of civilians amenable to such jurisdiction are strictly limited to “persons accompanying or serving with” the United States Army in the field, no other civilians being amenable to military jurisdiction of the type here contemplated. In order to take care of this, therefore, it is suggested that in the second paragraph of this article the words “except as above excluded” should be omitted, making the first sentence of paragraph 2, Article II read in this manner:

“It is understood, however, that the Government of the United States may turn over to the Liberian authorities for trial and punishment any person committing an offense in such defense area.”

In Article VI the following recommendations are made:

Since the additional period is actually provided in the agreement, the expression “additional period contemplated” should read “additional period provided”.
Since the word “immediately” if taken literally and in its legal sense might make execution of the covenant of withdrawal impossible, the expression “as soon as practicable” should be substituted for the word “immediately”.
The second sentence of this paragraph should provide that the jurisdiction of the United States shall continue until all matters calling for judicial determination, but undisposed of at the termination [Page 373] of the agreement, shall have been disposed of by the United States authorities, or, alternatively, until withdrawal of the United States forces shall be complete. As the draft now stands, the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the United States is terminated simultaneously with the term of the agreement, no provision being made for the disposal of cases that may then be in various stages of progress.

The Department assumes furthermore that the proposed agreement will in no way prejudice the post-war commercial rights of Pan American Airways and that upon termination of the military uses to which the airports may be put the Pan American contract as negotiated in June 1941 will remain in effect for commercial purposes.

Subject to the above corrections and understanding the War Department informally approves the draft agreement. As soon as the signature of the Secretary of War has been obtained you will be promptly notified.