Truman Library, Spingarn papers, FTC International file

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

  • Subject:
  • International Petroleum Cartel Report

Yesterday, Thursday, August 14, Charlie. Murphy asked me to come over to the White House for a conference about the publication of this report. I spent about an hour from 4:30 on with him andAdmiral Dennison on this matter. They told me that the President had referred Senator Sparkman’s letter1 suggesting publication with certain deletions to the CIA and that conferences there [Page 1278] had ensued with Walter Adams of Sparkman’s staff, representing him, Bob Dennison and General Smith and members of his staff. As a result, specific deletions were agreed on between Adams and the CIA people and General Smith transmitted these to the President under cover of a memorandum of August 122 which I was shown. In this memorandum Smith stated that there had been some change in the situation since his agency’s previous consideration of the matter at the direction of the President in May, that even with the deletions that he was transmitting, he expected that the report, if published, would be exploited in the Middle East by anti-American elements but that he thought the suggested deletions would minimize this exploitation.

Murphy and Dennison said they wished to keep the President out of the matter as much as possible and, therefore, suggested the following procedure: Instead of the President sending the deletions transmitted to him by Smith to the Commission formally, they were handed to me with the suggestion that if the Commission could go along with these deletions, that it write a letter to the President saying that it was proposing these deletions itself to meet the security considerations raised in his previous letter of June 5 to the Commission,3 and asking whether with these deletions, the President would approve the publication of the report at this time. Murphy and Dennison also expressed the hope that, if published, this would be done as a staff report rather than a Commission report, and that the publication would be made through the Sparkman Committee as part of its pending hearings on monopoly and small business rather than directly by the Commission. The theory behind these suggestions was that they would help to minimize the impact of the report abroad.

I said that the procedure suggested sounded reasonable to me but that I would have to present it to the Commission for approval and also that we would want the benefit of the judgment of our staff who prepared the report on how much damage to the value of the report would be done by the proposed deletions.

The first thing this morning, I had several copies of the proposed deletions made and gave them to Messrs. Edwards, Blair and Prewitt4 with instructions to examine them and be ready to advise the Commission at a meeting later in the morning as to their views about the effect of the proposed deletions on the value of the report. I told Chairman Mead and Commissioners Carson and [Page 1279] Carretta5 about what had happened at the White House (Commissioner Mason is away on a vacation) and at my suggestion, the Chairman called a meeting at 11:00 at which Messrs. Edwards, Blair and Prewitt appeared and gave their views on the deletions. All three felt that under all the circumstances, the Commission would be well advised to accept the deletions in order to get the rest of the report published although Edwards felt much more strongly than Blair and Prewitt that extremely important material was being deleted. After the staff had left, the Commission unanimously agreed to the Chairman sending a letter to the President asking whether he would now approve release of the report with these deletions. I was also authorized to make arrangements with the Sparkman Committee for them to release the report after the Presidential clearance.

I made arrangements with Walter Adams of Sparkman’s staff for them to send us a letter (a draft of which I prepared and sent him) as soon as the President had approved release, requesting us to send them the report for release and as a basis for hearings at which our people would appear and explain the contents of the report.

I prepared a letter to the President for the Chairman’s signature in accordance with the foregoing decision of the Commission and after Chairman Mead had signed it, I took it over to the White House together with a draft of a letter which I had prepared for the President’s signature to Mead approving release of the report. I left these two letters with Bob Dennison. We attempted to get in to see the President but he had gone over to Blair House. However, Dennison told me he would see the President the first thing in the morning so we should get the clearance by Monday6 at the latest.

[Here follow brief notes by Spingarn, dated August 16 and 18, which described further contacts with the White House and Senator Sparkman’s staff regarding the details of the printing and release of the report.]

  1. The letter under reference here has not been further identified.
  2. Not found in Department of State files or at the Truman Library.
  3. Ante, p. 1275.
  4. Corwin D. Edwards, Director of the Bureau of Industrial Economics, Federal Trade Commission; John M. Blair, Assistant Director of the Bureau of Industrial Economics; and Roy A. Prewitt of the Bureau of Industrial Economics.
  5. Albert A. Carretta.
  6. Aug. 18.