22. Memorandum of Conference with the President1

[Facsimile Page 1]


  • Mr. Gordon Gray
  • General Goodpaster

Mr. Gray first discussed his proposal to send letters of appointment to Emergency Agency designees. He drew the President’s attention to the fact that the proposed titles for the agencies used the word [Typeset Page 86] “National,” such as National Food Agency. The President thought that the title “National Emergency Food Agency” or just “Emergency Food Agency” would be better. After discussion, the style “Emergency Food Agency” was adopted. The President also approved a proposed draft text with certain minor changes.

Mr. Gray next raised a point in connection with the Emergency Food Agency. The question is whether this should be a separate agency, or whether the functions should be handled in the Agriculture Department. The President said that he did not want the same agency handling peace-type and war-type activities at the same time. If an agency had a function that stopped in war, the agency could be used in a war-time role. Mr. Gray said the proposal was that all emergency functions relating to food would go to the Secretary and the Under Secretary; all normal functions would be handled by the Assistant Secretary. The President confirmed that he thought it would be a mistake to have both groups of functions under the same man, since there would be a tendency to use the emergency powers and merge them into the normal powers of the department. He said that Secretary Benson could of course come in to discuss the matter with him if he wished.

Mr. Gray next discussed the question of radio telephones in the cars of Cabinet officers, pointing out that there are some 46 on the same channel and that this does not seem too sound a system. After discussion of some of the values of having the capability for getting in touch with these officials immediately, the President indicated that Mr. Gray [Facsimile Page 2] could modify the system (for example, through the addition of channels) as he might think best.

Mr. Gray then commented on the work of the Net Evaluation Sub-Committee. He said that estimates of tremendous numbers of casualties, such as the ones they are providing, seem to him of diminishing usefulness. The President strongly agreed, saying that he is certain that there is some maximum amount of damage we can sustain and still operate with any organization or effectiveness at all. Mr. Gray said that he has on occasion used assumptions of up to 50 million casualties, of which one-half would be killed, and it did not seem to him that a situation involving greater losses than this would be manageable or useable as a basis for planning. The President suggested that Mr. Gray talk to General Twining, with the aim of bringing out a basis for further planning which is in the range of something reasonable. Mr. Gray said he would go ahead on the basis of developing “manageable” assumptions.

A.J. Goodpaster
Brigadier General, USA
  1. Source: Emergency planning; Net Evaluation Subcommittee work. Secret. 2 pp. Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, DDE Diaries. Drafted on March 4.