Roosevelt Papers

The Director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development (Bush) to the British Lord President of the Council (Anderson)


My Dear Sir John: I was glad to receive your letter of August 41 and I believe that it presents an excellent basis for settlement of the question of interchange of information which we discussed. It is evident that the subject matter of the suggested agreement falls into two categories. The first four points are concerned with matters of international understanding quite beyond the definite problem of appropriate arrangements for interchange. These four points, therefore, are for the consideration of the President and the Prime Minister.

I have reviewed the fifth point only, which is concerned with arrangements for full and effective collaboration on the research and development program, with Mr. Stimson and with General Marshall and have, of course, discussed it quite fully with Dr. Conant. All of us are in agreement that it presents a procedure by which interchange on this subject can now be carried on for the purpose of the most rapid possible development of this affair. Mr. Wallace, the remaining member of the Policy Committee to which the President referred the general handling of this subject, is absent from the city and I have not been able to discuss the matter with him. I am, however, confident that he will agree. The matter, therefore, appears to be now in form for presentation to the Prime Minister and to the President, and it is to be hoped that they will agree that a suitable solution has been reached.

The object of the arrangement is so to interchange information, as you state, as to bring the project to fruition at the earliest possible moment. This has in fact been definitely in the minds of our Policy Committee from the outset, and was in fact the basis for our recommendation that interchange should be made wherever the receipt of the information would definitely advance the project as a war measure. The implementation of this in its detail has in fact become confused in recent months, but I am glad to say that I now feel that on the basis of your memorandum we have arrived at a position where all possible misunderstandings may be promptly cleared away, and fully effective collaboration restored. In order that we may be sure that there is now no misunderstanding I will comment on a few points.

There is one very small point in your first clause of the draft. You state that a very much greater expense will fall upon the United States. I suggest that this might now be put in the past tense. The fact is, of [Page 650] course, as you know, that the United States has already committed itself to the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars, and has employed the services of thousands of scientific and technical men on the project. It might, therefore, be well in the final draft to signify this fact by a minor change at this point.

As you state, the acceptance of this draft of principles will soon need to be followed by steps for implementing the arrangements in detail. I have now received your letter of August 52 along these lines, but have not placed it before our policy group. As a matter of procedure the first step after the formation of the Policy Committee would certainly seem to be the presentation to that Committee by American and British scientists [of] the over-all picture of the current situation in their respective countries and the plans for the future. On the basis of the evidence thus presented the Policy Committee would agree as to the method of providing specific interchange to carry out the provisions of the agreement.

One very important early step will be the selection of the Combined Policy Committee to which we will proceed to give thought immediately. The most important result of the creation of this Committee will, I think, be that it will provide for a thorough understanding of the general status and progress of the effort at the top level in the two Governments. It is our understanding that while the members of the Policy Committee will have access to all general information about all phases of the effort, the interchange of information about the detail of manufacture or construction of plants or of any final weapon will be governed by the provisions of (d), and that your suggested provision (b) merely is intended to provide that members of the Committee may interchange with their immediate scientific advisers the information they may have, in view of the fact that in some cases members of the Committee may not themselves be scientists. It is, of course, clear that this Committee is concerned with general policy, especially as to the extent and procedure on the interchange; and that its existence will not interfere with the control of the American program by the Corps of Engineers of the United States Army. I trust that we may find it possible to select a very strong group indeed for this purpose.

I trust that you will present this matter to the Prime Minister when you meet, and if you will let me know that you intend to do so, I will simultaneously transmit our exchange of letters to the President, so that they may both be fully informed of the successful outcome of our discussions when they meet. I hope very much we will find that they are also in agreement on the procedure at which we have now arrived.

Very truly yours,

Vannevar Bush
  1. Ante, p. 645.
  2. Not printed.