346. Editorial Note

At his news conference on January 31, 1962, President Kennedy made an announcement about the national stockpiling program. He said that the size of the stockpile, $7.7 billion worth of materials, exceeded emergency needs by nearly $3.4 billion and that his administration had [Page 775]taken steps to halt any new acquisitions. He deplored the secrecy surrounding the program, which he said was “only an invitation to mismanagement.” He stated that he had discussed the matter with Senator Stuart Symington (D.-Mo.), chairman of the Senate stockpiling subcommittee, who agreed on the need to explore the program completely. President Kennedy said that he assured Senator Symington that the “executive branch will cooperate fully with any investigation.” He noted that he was appointing a commission to review stockpiling policies, programs, and goals. He was “very much aware of the intricate and interrelated problems involved in this area, including the difficulties experienced by certain domestic mineral industries, the impact on world markets, and the heavy reliance of certain countries on producing one or more of these minerals.” In this regard he gave assurance that the United States “will take no action which will disrupt commodity prices.” (Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1962, page 91)

The Senate Subcommittee on the National Stockpile and Naval Petroleum Reserve held hearings intermittently, beginning March 28, 1962, and ending January 30, 1963. (Inquiry into the Strategic and Critical Material Stockpiles of the United States: Hearings before the National Stockpile and Naval Petroleum Reserves Subcommittee of the Committee on Armed Services, United States Senate, Eighty-seventh Congress, Second Session, (Washington, 1962-1963)) On September 25, 1963, Senator Symington made public a draft report critical of waste and mismanagement, alleging improper assistance by certain officials in the Eisenhower administration to some suppliers of raw materials. (Inquiry Into the Strategic and Critical Material Stockpiles of the United States: Draft Report of the National Stockpile and Naval Petroleum Reserves Subcommittee of the Committee on Armed Services, United States Senate, Under the Authority of S. Res. 295 As Amended (87th Cong., 1st Sess.) on the National Stockpile (Committee Print, Washington 1963)) The subcommittee failed to approve the report, but did vote to make it public. On October 31, 1963, Senator Symington introduced a bill (S.2272, 88th Cong.) in line with certain recommendations in the report, revising current stockpile legislation to establish new management and disposal procedures. The Subcommittee held hearings on S.2272, December 3-4, 1963, and the Senate Armed Services Committee reported the bill on May 26, 1964 (S. Rept. 1025, May 26, 1964), but the Congress took no further action on this bill.