Truman Library, Murphy papers

The President to the Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission (Mead)

top secret

Dear Jim: I have been giving further consideration to the question of publication of the report prepared by the staff of the Federal Trade Commission on the International Petroleum Cartel.

I realize that there are very strong reasons why the contents of this report should be made public. I myself made a survey of the cartel situation in the Second World War and found some very startling things in connection with some of the big oil companies. However, I believe that the publication of the report at this time would probably have very serious adverse effects upon our foreign relations. The reasons for this are stated in a report from the Central [Page 1276] Intelligence Agency1 which I am enclosing with this letter. Consequently, I am requesting the Commission not to make the report public at this time. However, I would have no objection to the contents of the report being made available to appropriate Congressional Committees on a classified basis.2

I am going to speak to the Attorney General about the possibility of presenting the facts in this matter to a grand jury. I think it is possible that this should be done and could be done without having such an adverse effect upon our foreign relations as would the publication of this report as an official Government document.3

Sincerely yours,

Harry S. Truman
  1. Not found as an enclosure to the source text, but, according to a marginal notation, this is a reference to SE–28, “Consequences of the Future Revelation of the Contents of Certain Government Documents,” p. 1272.
  2. In a letter to President Truman on June 12, Chairman Mead stated that he would comply with the President’s request that the report not be published. A copy of this letter is in the Federal Trade Commission, Bureau of Industrial Economics files.
  3. On July 17, 1952, Attorney General James P. McGranery announced that a Federal Grand Jury would shortly begin investigating the activities of the international oil cartel. In August subpoenas were issued against 21 oil companies and a request was made for the impanelling of a grand jury.