Memorandum of Conversation, by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Economic Affairs (Linder) 1

  • Subject:
  • NSC Consideration of Oil Suit.
  • Participants:
  • George Brownell, of Davis, Polk, Wardwell, Sunderland & Kiendl (representing Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey)
  • Assistant Secretary Harold F. Linder

Mr. Brownell came in to see me at the suggestion of Mr. Bohlen. He indicated that he knew of the consideration that was being given to the subject of the oil suit by the NSC. Without any indication on my part as to what might come of it, I did ask him for his ideas as to how the present situation should be handled. He emphasized that he did not think that the suit would have been brought had the President not been pressed by Senator Sparkman during the period of the campaign. Obviously, the oil companies would hope that all legal action be dropped and for it an investigation by a commission be substituted. When I asked how a commission could be certain that the oil companies would accept and carry out its recommendations without Court approval, Brownell stated that the government always had the right to bring suit. He was of the opinion that there was little to choose from the point of view of repercussions on our own and the oil companies’ foreign relations between a civil and a criminal action. He admitted that it would be rather difficult for any administration formally to drop legal action and suggested that it should be possible for the President to direct the Attorney General to drag his feet and make no further presentation to the Grand Jury until a commission had opportunity to study and report on the entire situation.

Throughout the conversation, he reverted to the serious risk of repercussions, which is not borne out by the reports we have had from our missions abroad. To these I did not make any reference whatever.

Harold F. Linder
  1. A note on the source text indicates that Linder drafted the memorandum of conversation on Jan. 2.