Truman Library, PSF–Subject file

Memorandum of Discussion at the 116th Meeting of the National Security Council on Wednesday, April 30, 19521

top secret

[Here follows discussion of the situation in the Far East, the effective utilization of civilian manpower of non-Soviet nations for work of value to the national defense, a provision for state military forces, the Japanese Peace Treaty, and the status of National Security Council projects.]

At the end of the meeting, the President asked the Secretaries of State and Defense and Mr. Harriman if they had been able to work out jointly a solution to the problem posed at the last Council meeting2 by the threatened publication of the Federal Trade Commission’s report on cartel practices in the oil field.

Secretary Acheson said that, regrettably, they had as yet been unable to come up with a solution. Various suggestions had been made, continued Secretary Acheson, including one that responsibility for the report be shared by the Congress, but each one of these solutions seemed to provide worse complications.

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The President stated that he had been thinking the matter over, but he himself could find no ready solution to a bad situation. Plainly, we would have to do some more thinking about the matter.

General Smith offered to have the Central Intelligence Agency prepare an estimate of the dangers to be anticipated if the Federal Trade Commission report leaked out. He noted that the impact was bound to be serious and was certain to give aid and comfort to anti-Americans in the Middle East. On the other hand, bootleg leaks might be better than official publication of the FTC report.

After further discussion, the President suggested that General Smith and Mr. Vanech get together and see whether they could propose recommendations to him which might succeed in solving the problem. The President said that the Council could well imagine what would happen if the press were able to headline the allegation that the President of the United States had intervened to prevent the Department of Justice from pressing anti-trust suits against the powerful oil companies. There was no need, he added, to point out again the bad effects on the national security of the publication of this report.

  1. This memorandum, presumably prepared on May 1 by the Secretariat of the National Security Council, was addressed to the President. According to the minutes of the meeting, which consist of a list of the participants and a brief list of the decisions taken at the meeting, the following members of the Council attended: President Truman, presiding; Secretary of State Acheson; Deputy Secretary of Defense Foster, Director for Mutual Security Harriman, and Chairman of the National Security Resources Board Gorrie. Others present at the meeting were Secretary of the Treasury Snyder, Acting Director of Defense Mobilization Flemming, Mr. Vanech of the Department of Justice, Acting Secretary of Labor Galvin, Director of the Bureau of the Budget Lawton, Acting Federal Civil Defense Administrator Wadsworth, Special Consultant to the President Souers, General Bradley, General Smith, Commander Clausner, Major Rule of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Lay and Gleason of the NSC Secretariat. (Truman Library, Truman papers, PSF–Subject file)
  2. According to the memorandum of discussion at the 115th meeting of the National Security Council on Apr. 23, President Truman had raised the question of the Federal Trade Commission’s report regarding the oil companies and had said that there was great danger that the contents of the report would leak out, with resultant damage to the national security. Secretary of Defense Lovett had suggested that he and Secretary of State Acheson together frame a statement to the effect that “release of the Federal Trade Commission’s report to the public at this time would seriously damage our relations with the British, would have a detrimental effect on U.S. policy with regard to the Arab states, and would certainly accomplish nothing positive to compensate for this change.” Acheson had recommended that Harriman also take part in the preparation of this statement. President Truman then had asked that all three join in making a recommendation to him on this problem. (Truman Library, Truman papers, PSF–Subject file)