Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs (Barrett) to the Secretary of State


Subject: Your Remarks to the President today on taking the Propaganda Offensive.1

After much staff consultation including a session until late last evening, I find further work is required to coordinate the multiple interests of key people here and elsewhere on the several elements in our tentative proposals for taking the propaganda offensive which you discussed with the President on Monday.2 We suggest you tell the President that this proposal is being followed up vigorously; that you will soon be able to send him at Key West concrete and definite plans and a proposed announcement for carrying out the proposals; that you hope he will find it possible to decide on such plans even before his return to the White House.

We are completing the following steps:

Speeding up the present program for throwing additional transmitting equipment into the effort to overcome Soviet jamming. I have approved plans this week for sending a special technical negotiator to Europe to find the most rapid means for getting authorized facilities for expansion of our international broadcasting into operation, and to explore possibilities of getting immediate use of additional transmitters under lease from the governments of France and Monaco.
Development of a staff paper proposing the means of establishing sufficiently high priorities for intelligence and research measures in support of the Voice of America by the various Government agencies [Page 276] concerned.3 We propose that the President request the National Security Council to give urgent consideration to the problem of technical and intelligence support for guidance on ways to strengthen the Voice of America, through NSC creation of an Ad Hoc Committee especially constituted to make such a rapid review.
Preparation of an announcement by the President that he has determined to step up every means of getting understanding of our peaceful purposes through the Iron Curtain. The announcement would include reference to the accelerated program for expansion of Voice of America facilities; to the request to agencies of the Executive Branch to give high priority to study of the technical means for conveying ideas through the Iron Curtain; and to a request by the President to General Sarnoff to head a distinguished group of private citizens to perform as rapidly as possible a technical advisory job on the findings and proposals arising from the study requested by the President from the agencies of the Executive Branch. (This last will have to be handled carefully to avoid offending the existing committee headed by Mark Ethridge.4)

With respect to the tentative suggestion I made for coordinating with the BBC and other free nation facilities for reaching Iron Curtain areas on a bold new propaganda offensive, perhaps styled “The Voice of Freedom”, I find political objections and will have to explore this further with the political officers and Dean Rusk, before making final recommendations.

[Edward W. Barrett]
  1. The proposed American propaganda offensive was one of the subjects discussed by the Secretary of State with President Truman at their meeting on foreign policy problems on March 9. According to the Secretary’s brief memorandum of conversation of March 9, not printed, he reported to the President along the lines set forth in the memorandum printed here and promised to have recommendations for the President shortly after his arrival in Key West (Secretary’s Memoranda, Lot 53 D 444, Secretary’s Memoranda—March 1950). The President vacationed briefly in Key West, Florida, in mid-March 1950. In a memorandum of April 3 to President Truman, not printed, Secretary Acheson forwarded a memorandum prepared by Assistant Secretary of State Barrett out-lining a series of practical steps to implement the ideas discussed with the President on March 9 to strengthen the Voice of America and the total information efforts abroad. The Barrett memorandum has not been found in Department of State files (511.004/4–350).
  2. March 6; see footnote 1, supra.
  3. See document UM D–87, March 22, p. 279.
  4. In his memorandum of April 3 to President Truman (see footnote 1, above) Secretary Acheson explained that the Department of State had consulted with Mark F. Ethridge, publisher of the Louisville Courier-Journal and the Louisville Times and Chairman of the United States Advisory Commission on Information, regarding the Sarnoff proposal (see the memorandum of March 1 from the President to Secretary Acheson, p. 271). Ethridge agreed that such a new committee should be set up as an advisory body to work with and advise the Government’s technical staff group under the National Security Council. The list of names for the proposed committee and a draft statement by the President, both transmitted to the President as attachments to the April 3 memorandum, have not been found in Department of State files.