201. Memorandum for the Record by the Counselor of the Department of State (MacArthur)1

SUBJECT

  • Notes on the OCB Luncheon, November 21, 1956

[Here follows discussion of item 1.]

2. Radio Free Europe

Mr. Allen Dulles spoke with considerable heat about the attacks against Radio Free Europe. He was annoyed at the recent telegram from Bucharest which he said seemed to accept the Communist line that RFE was responsible for uprising and slaughter in Hungary and which he also said carried with it a criticism of U.S. policy.2 Almost the entire luncheon period was taken up with the discussion of this item. Mr. William Jackson and Mr. MacArthur mentioned that the President was concerned about reports that RFE might have gone further than U.S. policy in some of its broadcasts and suggested that the OCB take a look generally at the situation. Mr. MacArthur said that he believed that the existing procedure should be examined with [Page 480] respect to the carrying out of political guidance to RFE. He said that he was not an expert in these matters and did not know what the present procedures were, but understood that there were so many broadcasts in so many languages emanating from RFE that it was impossible to screen them all in advance. Mr. Allen Dulles said that he thought they had a good system, but it was quite true that all scripts could not be cleared in advance since timeliness was of the essence. He said that it was not possible to be 100 percent sure in every case that the guidance was being carried out, but he felt certain that it was. He said that most of the people who had been critical of RFE had yet to come up with a single bit of evidence in support of their criticism. He felt that a more aggressive stance toward the criticism should be taken. The point was made that since RFE was a private organization, the government could not very well jump to its defense without implying that RFE was a government organization. . . .

Mr. Dulles produced a copy of a recent statement made by former Ambassador Joseph Grew regarding RFE policy which all considered an excellent statement.3 All present deplored that it had not gotten any publicity in the press or otherwise and all agreed that it was desirable to have the statement publicized although no specific suggestions were made as to how this might be done.

Mr. Dulles said that the head of RFE 4 was contemplating writing a letter to the President containing much the same material as Mr. Grew’s statement, which might be made public. After some discussion, it was, I understood, agreed that it would be undesirable to involve the President publicly in the RFE operation and that such a letter should not be sent.

Mr. Dulles promised to send to Mr. Hoover or Mr. MacArthur copies of the Grew press statement and the draft letter which originally had been suggested might be sent to the White House, as well as a copy of the report which he submitted to the President last evening, I believe, regarding the recent RFE operations with respect to Hungary.5

[Here follows discussion of the remaining agenda items.]

DMacA
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 100.4–OCB/11–2156. Secret.
  2. Presumably reference is to telegram 324 from Budapest, Document 198.
  3. As head of the National Committee for Free Europe, Grew had been instrumental in the establishment of RFE and was chairman of the board of directors which ran the station. On November 30, The New York Times quoted him as having said earlier that: “It has never been the policy or practice of Radio Free Europe to incite rebellion; instead it has been the policy to keep the hope of ultimate freedom alive and to encourage the captive people to seek expanding freedom by peaceful means.”
  4. W.J. Convery Egan.
  5. See Document 199.