317. Memorandum of a Conversation, Department of State, Washington, February 12, 19571


  • Case of Gerald Lester Murphy


  • Congressman Charles O. Porter2
  • Mr. Jack L. Billings, Administrative Assistant to Congressman Porter
  • Julian P. Fromer, Dominican Desk Officer

Congressman Porter first asked specific questions about the Murphy case. He wanted to know if the promised reports and documents had yet arrived from the Dominican Republic. I told him the last installment had been received by the Embassy on February 9, pouched on February 10 and so far to my knowledge unreceived in the Department. He wanted to know whether he could see and have use of the alleged suicide note of de la Maza. I replied that the decision was not mine to make but I would pass on his request. Mr. Billings interjected to ask what I thought would be the FBI’s reaction if Congressman Porter would ask them about their investigations [Page 897] around New York City in connection with the report that Murphy had hired a plane there. I told them that I could not speak for the FBI and that the only way to find out what would be their reaction would be to call them. The Congressman indicated that he might do so.

In view of my indications that I could not tell them more than they already knew about Mr. Murphy, Congressman Porter asked me some questions about our economic relations with the Dominican Republic. He asked if the Dominican Republic owed us any money. I said “no”. I told him they had repaid all their foreign debt in the late 1940’s but now had pending with the Export-Import Bank an application for a line of credit totalling around $50 million. I explained that this consisted of a series of nine public works projects, the first for telecommunications system having been turned down by the Bank for not being satisfactory, the second having been suspended on request by the Dominicans, and that presumably the Bank was getting ready to consider the third, a project for highway construction and other kinds of machinery. In this regard, I explained in some detail the fear of the Lock Joint Pipe Company that it might be pushed out of the water works project. Since the Congressman seemed to know little about the Export-Import Bank, I also explained its background and functions.

In response to another question, I listed what were considered the principal U.S. investments in the Dominican Republic, which totalled approximately $90 million in 1955 according to our Department of Commerce figures. I listed in sugar, the South Puerto Rican Sugar Company; in mining, the Aluminum Corporation of America; the Barium Steel Corporation, and the combine organized by William D. Pawley. When the Congressman asked me again of the possibility of off-shore oil negotiations with the Dominican Republic, I told him I knew nothing of such a thing, although it was possible that the concession given to Mr. Pawley might cover such rights. I also mentioned the Lock Joint Pipe Company, the Elmhurst Construction Company and the various U.S. petroleum distributors in the Dominican Republic, as well as the Ambassador Hotels, Inc., which operates the government-owned hotels in the Dominican Republic.

When our session broke up, the Congressman jocularly apologized for his “cross examination”, adding “the experience might be useful in case there is a congressional hearing”. The Congressman went on to say that he had assurances from Congressman Moss,3 Chairman of the House Sub-Committee on Information, that if he, Porter, had any difficulty in getting copies of some of the documents [Page 898] in the Murphy and de la Maza cases, Moss would detail one of his committee investigators, a Mr. Mitchell, to come over to the State Department to look into the matter.

It should also be mentioned that Congressman Porter again insisted on the point of who exactly in the State Department was responsible for handling the Murphy case and I again sought to explain how responsibility was divided up among various offices in the Department and possibly if anybody was responsible for knowing at least what was going on, it probably was me, although I made plain that decisions were taken upon orders from my superiors in MID and ARA, possibly right up to the Secretary.

Before Congressman Porter’s arrival, Mr. Billings showed me various documents and publications on the Galindez case, as well as the Murphy and de la Maza cases. The most interesting was a letter to Congressman Porter from Nicolas Silfa, Secretary of the Dominican Revolutionary Party in New York City, who sent him a statement on the Murphy case. This statement said, among other things, that Murphy’s body had been found somewhere in the Dominican Republic. (I have since passed this information on to Mr. Henry4 in SY.)

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 239.1122–Murphy, Gerald Lester/2–1257. Official Use Only. Drafted by Fromer.
  2. D.–Ore.
  3. John E. Moss, Jr. (D.–Calif.)
  4. Omer Henry, Assistant Chief of Domestic Investigations, Office of Security (SY), Department of State.