SCI Files

The Chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Atomic Energy ( McMahon ) to the Secretary of State

top secret

Dear Mr. Secretary: Enclosed is a copy of a self-explanatory letter which I have just written to Secretary Marshall.1

I am advised that, in order to avoid loss of time, you have been kept informed as to the progress of the preliminary work performed by the former Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission regarding the scale and scope of the nation’s atomic energy effort.2 As I indicated to Secretary Marshall, I deeply [Page 576] hope that a decision on this matter can be made and translated into action with all possible speed.

If the atomic program is to be materially enlarged, the problem of raw materials derived from foreign sources, of course, becomes critical. Here I just want to reaffirm the sense of urgency which the Joint Committee feels.

Thank you for your consideration of this letter.

Sincerely yours,

Brien McMahon
[Enclosure]

The Chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Atomic Energy ( McMahon ) to the Secretary of Defense ( Marshall )

top secret

My Dear Mr. Secretary: This letter is written and transmitted on your first day as Secretary of Defense because I believe that the matter I wish to mention has very great significance.

For some months correspondence has passed between your predecessor and myself regarding the adequacy of our scale and scope of effort in the atomic energy field. Mr. Johnson and General Bradley spoke to this point during an historic session of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, held August 2, 1950.3 Their testimony, along with a quantity of additional evidence deriving from the Atomic Energy Commission, the Central Intelligence Agency, and other sources, has made a deep impression upon the Committee. As a result, I feel justified in saying that it is the sense of the Committee—and certainly it is my own conviction—that the scale of our endeavor in the atomic field should be greatly enlarged. I have so recommended to the President.

Mr. Johnson, in a letter signed on his last day as Secretary,4 advised me that he and the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission had just completed their study of this adequacy problem—a study made at the request of the President—and had transmitted joint views to the Special Atomic Energy Committee of the National Security Council.5

My purpose in writing is simply to make known the sense of urgency which the Joint Committee feels.

[Page 577]

I know that every patriotic American is grateful to you for again assuming the burdens of enormous responsibility. May you enjoy every success.

Best regards [etc.]

[File copy not signed]
  1. Gen. of the Army George C. Marshall, former Army Chief of Staff (1939–1945) and Secretary of State (1947–1949), succeeded Louis A. Johnson as Secretary of Defense on September 21.
  2. Reference is to work in process pursuant to the President’s directive of August 8; see p. 570.
  3. An account of the session of August 2 appears in Hewlett and Duncan, p. 525.
  4. Not found in Department of State files.
  5. The report, which recommended substantial expansion of atomic energy production facilities, is described in Hewlett and Duncan, p. 528. In a memorandum of September 29, Arneson recommended to Secretary Acheson that he join Secretary Marshall and Commissioner Dean in approving the report (SCI Files). The report was submitted to President Truman on October 2 and approved by him on October 9.