President Eisenhower gives a news conference. This one, from July 6, 1955 was his 73rd since taking office. No Press Secretaries, no spokespeople, nobody running flack – President Eisenhower taking and answering questions on a variety of issues.
Below is a transcript of part of that press conference;
Q. Clark R. Mollenhoff, Des Moines Register: Mr. President, I had in mind more the discretion that you felt your agency had had, not necessarily Mr. Wenzell, but with regard to other witnesses. There were five other witnesses in the Budget Bureau that the committee had asked to come down; and Mr. Hughes had informed the committee that they should not–
THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Hughes has not talked to me, as I recall it. Now, maybe Mr. Hughes talked to me about it, and it slipped my mind. I have explained my attitude here time and again.
If anybody in an official position of this Government does anything which is an official act, and submits it either in the form of recommendation or anything else, that is properly a matter for investigation if Congress so chooses, provided the national security is not involved.
But when it comes to the conversations that take place between any responsible official and his advisers or exchange of little, mere little slips of this or that, expressing personal opinions on the most confidential basis, those are not subject to investigation by anybody; and if they are, will wreck the Government.
There is no business that could be run if there would be exposed every single thought that an adviser might have, because in the process of reaching an agreed position, there are many, many conflicting opinions to be brought together. And if any commander is going to get the free, unprejudiced opinions of his subordinates, he had better protect what they have to say to him on a confidential basis.
It is exactly, as I see it, like a lawyer and his client or any other confidential thing of that character.
Q. Joseph A. Dear, Capital Times: Mr. President, what is your opinion of the civil defense recommendations contained in the Report of the Commission on Intergovernmental Relations?
THE PRESIDENT. I don’t recall what the item was.
Q. Mr. Dear: I mention specifically the recommendation that civil defense should be the primary responsibility of the National Government rather than the States.
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will tell you this: the problem, of course, divides itself into many phases, those of (a) detecting the intentions of some foreign government; (b) detecting as quickly as possible any evidence of an impending attack against you.
Now, those two things are obviously more the business of the Federal Government than anybody else or, let’s say, the exclusive business.
But, let’s go to the other end now for a moment. How are you going to evacuate a city? It has got to be not only municipal responsibility, it has got to be personal responsibility. You can’t in this country, by edict from the Federal Government, evacuate any city, because we don’t move in that way.
This has got to be an informed and relatively trained citizenry doing this for themselves. So it has got to be a local responsibility and a very active participation by every individual and by every responsible official in the locality, before there can be any usefulness.
Now, this is true, whether it is a mere matter of evacuation or taking shelter or rescuing the wounded or protecting yourself against fallout or anything else that could happen, and it must be a very positive local participation and responsibility.
Q. Nat S. Finney, Buffalo News: Mr. President, there are two conferences at Geneva, and I don’t believe you have expressed your feeling for some time about the Atoms for Peace meeting. And I wonder if you could give us your reflections as to the degree of importance you attach to that session.
THE PRESIDENT. I think it is very important. And I do think I told you how gratified I was that so many American scientists and American firms are participating in helping to make this demonstration of the United States very comprehensive, covering the whole field as far as we know it and as far as we are exploring it.
I think that it should be a very beneficial thing. As you know, we are actually erecting there one of these little swimming pool reactors.
Q. Mr. Finney: Sir, do you expect to see that during your visit? I understand that it will be ready to take a look at it.
THE PRESIDENT. I don’t know whether I will get–you mean the reactor?
Q. Mr. Finney: Yes.
THE PRESIDENT. I don’t know. But at Penn State I went to see an identical one because I was afraid I wouldn’t get to see it any other time.
Q. Edward P. Morgan, American Broadcasting Company: I realize, sir, that this is a delicate matter coming just at this juncture before Geneva, but could you give us the benefit of your thoughts, your own personal thoughts, now on the subject of disarmament? For instance, do you feel that we, the American people, are going to have to move away somewhat from the concept of total drastic disarmament toward a sort of a standoff?
THE PRESIDENT. I wouldn’t want to have anything I now say taken as authoritative, for the simple reason that the more one studies intensively this problem of disarmament, the more he finds himself in sort of a squirrel’s cage. He is running around pretty rapidly, and at times he has a feeling that he is merely chasing himself.
Now, when we come down to it, every kind of scheme of, let us say, leveling off, as I understand your meaning–standby, where you are now–or actually reducing, everything comes back, as I see it, to acceptable methods of enforcement.
How do you enforce such things? This brings us instantly to the question of examinations, of inspections.
Now, one way to approach this problem is what would. we, in the United States, suppose we took a vote of this body today or we started as a committee of the whole to study it, what kind of inspection are we ready to accept? Are we ready to open up every one of our factories, every place where something might be going on that could be inimical to the interests of somebody else?
When you tackle that problem you really get into the heart of the difficulties involved, entirely aside from the political contention that there can be no easing of arguments until you ease the political tension.
But the other side will say, “But that political tension is never going to ease until you take away some of the threat of these armaments.”
All of that is something, I believe, that could finally be resolved–
This question of inspection, what we will accept and what, therefore, we would expect others to accept, is a very serious one; consequently, there is just nothing today that I could say that is positive beyond this point.
We earnestly want to find some answer to this complicated question because, to my mind, it is perfectly stupid for the world to continue to put so much in these agencies and instrumentalities that cost us so much and, if we don’t have this war, do us so little good.
Here is that news conference, as it was broadcast by NBC Radio (and all the other networks as well) from July 6, 1955.
Refreshing – Presidential.