Memorandum by the Assistant Legal Adviser for Economic Affairs (Metzger) to the Legal Adviser (Fisher)

  • Subject:
  • Anti-Trust Oil Case

This is to bring you up-to-date on the National Security Council’s consideration of further measures relating to the Anti-Trust Oil Case. The National Security Council requested State, Defense, and Interior to submit a paper with recommendations by January 5, 1953, for consideration by the Council; the Justice Department is to prepare a separate paper containing its side of the matter for submission at the same time.

Regarding the recommendations in the State, Defense, Interior paper, the officers on the economic side of the Department below Mr. Linder have been unanimously of the view that the recommendations should call for the discontinuance of proceedings which would result in a criminal indictment, the simultaneous translation of these proceedings into a civil suit, and the creation of a Cabinet Commission which, within 120 days, would recommend, from the security standpoint, those measures which should be sought by the Government in a civil decree (either consent or litigated, depending on the course of the litigation), with the Commission having a longer time to study and report upon longer range international aspects of oil policy.

Mr. Linder is not convinced that there should be a civil suit, being inclined to the view that the Grand Jury proceedings should be terminated and the Commission established with only a longer term frame of reference, with no civil suit. Attached is a memorandum from Mr. Armstrong to Mr. Linder,1 setting forth the reasons why it is desirable to translate the criminal proceeding into a civil proceeding rather than “whitewash” the whole matter.

From a working party meeting held on December 28th with representatives of Interior and Defense, it appears that Interior agrees with Mr. Linder that there should not be a civil proceeding, but that the Grand Jury proceeding should simply be called off; Defense tends to share that view but did not appear to hold to it so strongly. If State Department were to take a firm position for the civil proceeding, it is believed that Defense could be lined up with State; on the other hand, if State Department does not take a strong position for a civil suit, that proposition will not carry the day.

[Page 1315]

I agree with Mr. Armstrong’s memorandum to Mr. Linder, believing that if anything is to be done, translation of the present proceeding into a civil proceeding is the least bad thing.

  1. Not found as an attachment to the source text, but this is presumably a reference to the memorandum of Dec. 26 from Armstrong to Linder, supra.