Memorandum of Conversation, by the
Officer in Charge of Polish, Baltic, and Czechoslovak Affairs
- US Relations with the Soviet Bloc States
- Representative James Richards, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee
- Mr. McFall—H
- Mr. Vedeler—EE
The Department’s representatives met Representative Richards today at his request to give him information on the unreliable claims of Dr. Vojtech Krajcovic about an underground in Slovakia and the latter’s connection with it. Krajcovic had published an article with many fabrications about the underground in the Saturday Evening Post for December 29, 1951 and had subsequently talked with Mr. Richards who referred him to the Department in order to discuss underground activities.
After we had presented information on Krajcovic, the conversation turned to the general subject of US relations with the Soviet bloc states. Mr. Richards expressed concern and some dissatisfaction about three points: (1%) the apparent lack of activity on the part of the Department and other Government agencies in fostering an underground in the Communist states; (2) the inadequate extent to which the principle of reciprocity was being applied in our relations with Communist regimes; and (3) the doubtful advantages of continuing the maintenance of diplomatic relations with Soviet bloc governments.
As to the first of these points, Mr. Richards indicated that nobody in Congress knew anything for certain about whether the Department was supporting underground activities in the Communist countries. Sometimes very general references were made to the subject, but (and he expressed this complaint with feeling) his Committee was kept completely in the dark about what the Government agencies might be doing in this field. While recognizing the need for secrecy about such operations, he thought that the members of Congress immediately concerned were entitled to, and should be entrusted with, information and that it was time to cease treating them like children or irresponsible people. He cited the Atomic Energy Committee, which had received highly secret information and kept it securely, as an example to be followed in this connection.[Page 9]
With reference to our treatment of Communist states on the basis of reciprocity, it was suggested that the Department already followed this principle and a number of examples were mentioned. Mr. Richards acknowledged that this might be the case insofar as the satellite governments were concerned but believed that the Department did not go far enough along this line in dealing with the Soviet Union which was after all mainly responsible for making it so difficult for the US to carry on diplomatic relations with the countries of Eastern Europe. Pointing to travel restrictions, he asked why we had not already imposed a strict limitation on Soviet representatives in the US. We explained the Government’s decision to take such a step, plans to discuss it with members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and to announce it to the public, and the reasons for not acting sooner following the Soviet Government’s notification on January 15 of new travel restrictions. The Congressman welcomed this decision but believed, as he said many others in Congress did also, that the action should have come earlier and that a strong statement should be made upon its announcement.
On the subject of continued maintenance of diplomatic relations with the Communist governments, the Congressman questioned whether the US was continuing to derive a net balance of advantage from having missions in the Communist countries. While we stressed various benefits to the US deriving from our diplomatic missions and also recalled that the National Military Establishment had a strong interest in seeing our missions continued, he considered that the question turned on whether the missions were supplying much information as observation posts. He doubted that they were doing so under the present limitations upon their operations. He tended not to be sympathetic with other arguments in favor of continuing to maintain diplomatic relations.
The Congressman reiterated that it was time to be tough with the Communist states and the Department should not wait until they have taken some action against us before we proceed against them. He declared that if the Department could not take strong steps to forestall a Rivers Resolution then he would himself hold a press conference making a demand for vigorous action, and might possibly introduce a resolution.
Throughout the conversation the remarks of Mr. Richards revealed a growing impatience among members of Congress and particularly the Foreign Affairs Committee with the situation of the US in the East-West struggle and the growing importance of domestic [Page 10] political considerations in the shaping of their views on foreign affairs at the present time.
- That steps be taken by representatives of the appropriate agencies to inform on a highly confidential basis a select group of Congressmen, as was done with the Atomic Energy Program during the war, of our plans and operations in the covert field against international Communism;
- That a special effort be made by higher offices of the Department and the National Defense Establishment to present personally to influential members of Congress the views of these Departments on the question of continuing to maintain diplomatic relations with the Communist states so that there may be closer coordination of thought between Congress and the Government agencies on this subject;
- That copies of the Department’s memorandum on application of the principles of reciprocity in relation to the Communist government be sent to Mr. Richards for the information of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.