The Assistant Secretary of State ( Berle ) to the Director of Censorship ( Price )
My Dear Mr. Price: The receipt is acknowledged of your letter of October 747 concerning the probability that the British Ministry of Economic Warfare will discontinue its navicert system shortly after the defeat of Germany with the resultant likelihood that the effectiveness of your censorship of international mail will be seriously impaired, and requesting the Department’s comment on certain alternatives which you set forth as possible ways of meeting that situation.
As indicated in the Department’s letter to you of July 21 in reply to your letter of July 4, outlining future phases of censorship after the cessation of hostilities with Germany and Japan, respectively, the Department is in general in favor of as full an exercise of censorship functions, after the defeat of Germany and prior to the defeat of Japan, as your office may find to be feasible with the available personnel and appropriations.
However, as you state, a decision on how best to meet the situation envisaged in your letter now under reply is one which can only be made on the highest policy levels. Accordingly, a substantial amount of investigation and consultation will be necessary before the Department can give you a more specific reply to your letter of October [Page 1523] 7; in the meantime, you may rest assured that this consultation and investigation will be energetically pursued and that a further answer will be sent you as soon as possible.48
- Not printed. On October 7, 1944, Mr. Price addressed identical letters to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of State advising them that the British Ministry of Economic Warfare intended to discontinue the navicert system after the defeat of Germany. He felt that unless positive action were taken, the effectiveness of the American censorship of international mail would be destroyed. He suggested four possible alternative courses of action: (1) pressure upon the British Government to continue some form of the navicert program until all hostilities had ceased; (2) assumption by the United States of a responsibility similar to that exercised by the Ministry of Economic Warfare and negotiation of diplomatic agreements under which trans-Atlantic mail would be channeled through American ports; (3) control of the situation by force, including use of the United States Navy to control mail as a part of the naval blockade of Japan; (4) joint action to force trans-Atlantic mails into either United States or Brazilian ports by either of the methods outlined in the second and third alternatives. (811.711/10–744)↩
- In a reply dated April 6, 1945, Acting Secretary of State Acheson advised Mr. Price that the Department considered only alternative 1 to be practicable; and alternatives 2, 3, and 4 to be politically inexpedient (811.711/10–744).↩