Truman Library, Spingarn papers, FTC International file

Memorandum for the File, by Federal Trade Commissioner Stephen J. Spingarn

  • Subject:
  • Publication of International Oil Cartel Report.

Chairman Mead and I saw President Truman about this matter at noon, May 6, 1952. Mr. Mead gave him a copy of the State Department letter of April 25, 19521 and the memorandum of April [Page 1267] 30 prepared here on this subject,2 together with his covering memorandum of May 63 which I had prepared.

The President told us that following Chairman Mead’s last discussion of the matter with him some weeks ago,4 he had taken the matter up at Cabinet5 and asked Secretaries Acheson and Lovett and Mr. Harriman to consider the question of publication, obtaining also a report on the matter from General Walter B. Smith, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and then advise the President as to their views. The President has not yet received a report from these gentlemen and General Smith, but expects it within a week or so. In the meanwhile, he naturally would like us to hold up publication of the report and we assured him that we would. It was agreed that I should act as Federal Trade Commission liaison man with the White House or other agencies on this matter. The President said that I should deal with Charlie Murphy on the matter. He also mentioned that Dave Lloyd and Dave Bell6 were familiar with the matter.

After our talk with the President, we went to see Joe Short7 to ask his advice on what to tell the press if we received inquiries about the publication of the report in view of our conference with the President. Short suggested, after consultation with Jimmy Lay, that we say that the matter was being considered by the interested agencies, notably State and Defense, for the purpose of determining whether the continued secret classification of the report would or would not be in the interest of the national security.

We then went to see Charlie Murphy and told him of our talk with the President and Joe Short, and that I was available to discuss the matter at any time with him or anyone else. The question as to whether I should now talk with General Smith or someone designated by him was discussed and Murphy said he would check and let me know. (Murphy had called me last Saturday, May 3, about 1:00 p.m., and told me about the reference of this question which the President had made and which he, himself, told us about today.)

When the press accosted us in the lobby of the White House to ask us what we had discussed with the President, we said that we had discussed the vacancy on the Commission and, without making any recommendation, had voiced the hope that it would be promptly [Page 1268] filled. We also mentioned that while at the White House, we had seized the opportunity to talk about our appropriation difficulties with respect to the antimerger act particularly. (This last discussion was, of course, with Lawton8 rather than with the President.) However, the White House reporters did not raise the question of the oil report and we did not mention it.

At the meeting of the Commission the same afternoon, Mr. Mead and I told Messrs. Carson and Mason9 about our White House visit and also about the arrangement we had with Joe Short as to how we would answer questions about the report. I have also passed this information on to Nick Carey and Scott Daniel.10

S[tephen] J. S[pingarn]
  1. Ante, p. 1261.
  2. Supra.
  3. Not printed.
  4. This conversation has not been further identified.
  5. This is apparently a reference to the discussion at the 115th meeting of the National Security Council on Apr. 23, which is described in footnote 2, p. 1263.
  6. David D. Lloyd and David E. Bell, Administrative Assistants to the President.
  7. Joseph Short, Secretary to the President.
  8. Director of the Bureau of the Budget Frederick J. Lawton.
  9. Federal Trade Commissioners John Carson and Lowell B. Mason.
  10. Nick M. Carey, Director of the Office of Public Information, Federal Trade Commission, and D.C. Daniel, Secretary and Executive Director, Federal Trade Commission.