286. Memorandum of a Conversation, Washington, September 30, 1955, 3:30 p.m.1


  • The Secretary
  • Mr. MacArthur
  • Mr. Jackson
  • Mr. Bowie
  • Mr. Merchant
  • Mr. Phleger
  • Mr. Stoessel
  • Mr. Beam
  • Mr. Goodkind
  • Mr. Galloway
  • Mr. Sturgill

Mr. Jackson explained that his purpose in asking for this meeting was to outline his general approach and ascertain, before doing more outside work or drafting, whether the Secretary approved his approach. He suggested that the Secretary look over his written report.2 After reading the summary portion of the paper, the Secretary said he thought it was a good approach.

Mr. Jackson said there was great risk in being too cautious; the US would be too vulnerable if it did not go along with the hopes of the President as expressed at Geneva. While there were some dangers in going too fast in attempting to lower barriers, there was less danger of misunderstanding with regard to the free dissemination of information than with regard to exchange of persons. The Secretary remarked that so far as he was aware the only restrictions involving dissemination of information were those of the Post Office Department on subversive materials. Mr. Jackson added that the US probably could reciprocate any USSR proposals in the field of freedom of information since the Soviets probably would not want to go very far. There would be great advantage in this connection, the Secretary said, in having on hand something to trade for something the USSR would be willing to give.

Mr. Jackson again drew the Secretary’s attention to his written report, pointing out that the summary had been expanded by means of a series of short papers on individual items attached as annexes. He said that if the Secretary agreed with the thinking reflected in these papers, he would proceed along those lines. For example, there was the problem of Soviet jamming of radio frequencies. Mr. Jackson said he thought this should be raised at Geneva but that we should not negotiate on it, since we have nothing to concede. The Secretary agreed. Mr. MacArthur noted that the French had told him jamming involved some complications for them, although they did not say [Page 606]what they were. The Secretary wondered whether the French objections related to broadcasts to Africa and in Africa—Cairo radio for example. Mr. Stoessel said the French also had mentioned the matter of jamming to him and had indicated that almost any arrangement precluding jamming would be desirable. Mr. Jackson agreed that further consultation would be necessary with the French on this point.

Introducing the subject of a USIA center in Moscow, Mr. Jackson said that if the US made such a proposal, the Soviets would demand reciprocity. He would have no fear of this, he said, for by means of it the US would be getting information into places we had been unable to get into before. The proposal, he thought, had obvious advantages. After a short discussion, the Secretary said the Soviets would be able to control the US center better than we could control the Soviet center. Moreover, they could show films in their center in Washington with a real impact—a selection which would give a particularly distorted picture of their society. The Secretary mentioned as examples the films given to Hammerskjold portraying the life of American prisoners in China. Mr. Jackson said he would hate to argue that we were unwilling to have a USSR information center in the US. Such a center would be subject to close surveillance and we should be able to withstand any propaganda put out by it. The Secretary asked what the US now had or now permitted in the way of foreign information activities. There followed a short discussion revolving around the USIA establishment in Hungary and the Hungarian information office here. Mr. Beam said they both had been very modest establishments where books, news bulletins, etc. had been available. The Secretary asked just what it was that our own information people wanted, and Mr. Jackson replied they simply wanted the beginning of a center containing books and films and other things of a like nature by means of which news could be disseminated. The Secretary asked whether the decision to permit a Soviet information center in the US was entirely within the discretion of the Executive Branch, with no limitations. Mr. Jackson said he thought it was. The Secretary then asked whether CIA’s views were known. Mr. Jackson replied that it was his guess that CIA would want every possible contact behind the Iron Curtain. The Secretary commented that J. Edgar Hoover would not like the idea of an information center in the US. However, the Secretary said he thought we could go ahead on the idea of a USIA center in Moscow and that we should explore it further with interested agencies. Mr. Phleger remarked that any USSR personnel coming into the United States in connection with the center should be labeled official for the purpose of better controlling them. The Secretary agreed, pointing out that such personnel then could be declared persona non grata if we wanted to get rid of them.

[Page 607]

Mr. Jackson noted that Rumania had made a tentative offer to permit a USIA center in Bucharest and USIA was anxious to explore this further with the Rumanians. Would this be satisfactory? The Secretary indicated agreement, and mentioned that, in general, he felt USIA centers in the Satellites would be more valuable to us than one in the USSR.

Mr. Jackson raised the matter of exchange of broadcasts. The Secretary noted that US radio interests were in private hands, and Mr. Jackson said the Department would have to figure out ways to buy time for the Russians, although he did not think the USSR could present a decent program, particularly on TV, that any US station would be willing to present. Mr. MacArthur pointed out that there were millions of TV sets in the US but not in the USSR, so that an exchange of TV programs would work to our disadvantage. Radio would be a different proposition. The Secretary said these exchanges were worth thinking about in terms of radio but not TV.

Mr. Jackson brought up the matter of fingerprinting, saying that so far he had made no outside inquiries. The President had spoken frankly at Geneva about liberalizing the McCarran Act.3 Although he did not know specifically what the President was alluding to, he understood that fingerprinting was included. He added that if the Secretary considered this to be a concession the US might make, he would explore it outside the Department. The Secretary said he thought it was worth exploring. Mr. Jackson remarked that such exploration probably would involve contacting members of Congress through Assistant Secretary Morton. The Secretary suggested that J. Edgar Hoover be contacted initially, after seeing the Attorney General, since Congress would follow his lead. Mr. Phleger agreed. Mr. Stoessel said Warren Chase in SCA had raised this matter with the working level in the FBI. They had not shown a disposition to stand in the way of a change but indicated they would not propose a change. The Secretary said if the US were going to make a concession, it would be a very important concession. Fingerprinting was now considered routine by many people in the US, although at first it had been opposed.

In introducing a discussion of exchange of persons, Mr. Jackson said it was important that exchanges be on a basis of reciprocity and of a type which we could accept without difficulty under our laws. Mr. Stoessel explained our stand on recent visits proposed by the Soviets in plastics, automation and tractors. Our position is that such visits should be on the basis of reciprocity. The Secretary agreed. The [Page 608]Secretary raised the matter of the bearing of such exchanges on US policy regarding restricted areas. Mr. Jackson said he thought the exchanges would be conducted within those limitations. The Secretary asked whether any outline had been prepared of the advantages and disadvantages of such exchanges in view of those limitations. Mr. Jackson replied that there was a separate paper on this subject4 and that it was the Department’s hope to reduce the number of restricted areas in both the USSR and the US. The Secretary asked whether the Soviet Union had ever complained about the restrictions. Mr. Beam said no, and Mr. MacArthur added they had taken the whole thing lying down. Mr. Phleger pointed out however that exceptions had been made in the past.

The Secretary said he had never thought our controls were worth much, but that the FBI seemed to think they helped in making surveillance easier.

The problem arising in the exchange of students, Mr. Jackson said, was whether or not to encourage exchanges for a period as long as an academic year, when such a period was apparently more than current NSC policy contemplated. The Secretary remarked that this would involve a more drastic revision of the McCarran Act, and Mr. Phleger agreed with Mr. Jackson that it also involved the question of extensions. Mr. Stoessel said there was an NSC paper approving “short visits”; the question was whether one year would fall within the definition of “short”.5 The Secretary said he was not clear about the relative advantages of student exchanges and asked what case could be made for bringing Russian students to the US. Was the intention to indoctrinate them? Mr. Jackson replied that the more people the US could place behind the Iron Curtain the greater would be our advantage; and the only way to accomplish this was to take Russians in return. No final answer was necessary now. This was a problem which was being studied, and a memorandum on its pros and cons would be forthcoming. Mr. Stoessel noted we were thinking in terms of a very limited exchange at Geneva of graduate students, such as five or ten. The Secretary indicated that this should not be too much of a problem, and that he had thought we were talking of much larger numbers, which would cause legal difficulties.

Mr. Jackson asked what form agreements on exchange should take, if any such agreements were made. Mr. Phleger replied that an agreed recommendation should be formulated which the governments involved could implement according to their laws. The Secretary [Page 609]asked whether executive agreements could be made in this field. Mr. Phleger replied affirmatively.

Mr. Jackson then raised the problem of the integration of his study with work to be done on East-West trade. The Secretary remarked that the USSR undoubtedly would push for trade agreements, and he asked whether Mr. Jackson was familiar with his conversation with Molotov in New York.6 Mr. MacArthur said the problem was whether or not to set up two separate groups of experts. The Secretary asked when the Department would come up with a position on East-West trade. Mr. Goodkind replied that a presentation would be made to the Dodge Council sometime next week.7 Mr. MacArthur said it was very important to reach a position by the end of next week. Mr. Jackson thought the two areas (trade and cultural) were entirely different, but Mr. Goodkind pointed out that there were a number of overlaps, for example statistics. The Secretary inquired about the matter of airplane flights. Mr. MacArthur said he had been in touch with Defense to obtain JCS views. Then about ten days ago Nelson Rockefeller had written Admiral Radford for his views. The Admiral had responded negatively without first clearing in Defense so that now there was a snafu in Defense. Mr. MacArthur said he had written a letter yesterday to Gordon Gray as a matter of urgency, and there the matter stood.8 The Secretary remarked that these were commercial flights. Mr. MacArthur agreed but said the Department wanted JCS views on the security angle. He hoped an answer would be forthcoming by the first of next week. Mr. Jackson said the British and French also were interested in this subject. The Secretary said he thought this was a matter which should fall within Mr. Jackson’s jurisdiction. Mr. Goodkind said he had talked with Mr. Kalijarvi on this subject and that Mr. Kalijarvi was anxious to have Mr. Barringer attached to the group studying the question.

The Secretary reverted to the matter of procedure and said that two separate groups should be set up, one on East-West trade and one on other East-West contacts. He was afraid, he said, that if there were only one group, it would get into considerable argument about [Page 610]the agenda, with the Soviets wanting to discuss trade first. Mr. Goodkind drew attention to a portion of the Dodge Committee report on East-West trade9 which made the point that the USSR might want to make concessions in East-West contacts and ask in return for Western concessions on trade. The Secretary said he understood that the US position was the one prepared for the Summit, in other words, only non-strategic aspects of East-West trade would be considered for discussion. Even if the validity of the point made by the Dodge Committee were admitted, he said, it would not mean that the US had to discuss all these matters at the same time. If a single body of experts were set up to handle Item 3,10 there would be too much wrangling. He asked whether there was any guidance in the directive issued by the Heads of Governments, and, after listening to a reading of the pertinent section remarked that it did not help very much. Mr. MacArthur proposed that there be experts broken up into two groups, one to study trade, and the other to take up jamming, student exchanges, other exchanges, etc. Mr. Jackson interposed that the Secretary might want to postpone this decision. Mr. MacArthur said this was a subject which would be considered by the Paris Working Group. Mr. Phleger thought that UN bodies which had dealt with these subjects should not be overlooked.

The Secretary asked Mr. Jackson whether he now intended getting in touch with other agencies. Mr. Jackson replied he would do so beginning on Monday.

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 60 D 627, CF 606. Secret. Prepared in the Department of State but no drafting information is given on the source text. A cover sheet indicates it was circulated in the Department of State as POM(Wash) MC–23.
  2. Supra .
  3. Reference is to the Internal Security Act of 1951, which, inter alia, prohibited from entry into the United States anyone who had been a member of a totalitarian organization.
  4. Presumably reference is to Tab E of Jackson’s report, supra .
  5. Presumably Stoessel is referring to NSC 5508/1, March 26, 1955, entitled “Admission to the U.S. of Certain European Non-Official Temporary Visitors Excludable Under Existing Law”. (Department of State, S/SNSC Files: Lot 63 D 351)
  6. The three Western Foreign Ministers discussed the question of experts working on East-West contacts with Molotov in New York on September 27. Molotov raised no objection to having a group of experts work on the question, but thought it would be advisable to have a preliminary discussion among the Foreign Ministers. A memorandum of this conversation is in Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 60 D 627, CF 551.
  7. East-West trade was discussed at the 28th meeting of the Council on Foreign Economic Policy on October 11. At that time the Council approved the text of CFEP 501/7, a position paper submitted by the Steering Committee on Economic Defense Policy. A record of this meeting is in Eisenhower Library, CFEP Records.
  8. Not found in Department of State files.
  9. See footnote 7 above.
  10. Reference is to Item 3 of Document 257.