Memorandum to Dr. Conant
September 25, 1944
MEMORANDUM TO DR. CONANT:
This afternoon I conferred with Secretary Stimson. I told him the essential points Of the interview at the White House which I recited to ya in my memorandum. In particular, I said that I was much disturbed because it appeared that the President had negotiated with Mr. Churchill at Quebec very definitely in regard to post-war US-UK relations on the secret project, with no technical representatives present except Lord Cherwell, and without having the advice of the American group I said that I was also appalled that have studied deeply into this matter. because it seemed to me that the President had thought the matter only part way through, and that I had been much embarrassed when he called me in and presented some of his conclusions as to the post-war relationships with Lord Cherwell present, so that I did not have an opportunity to state what seemed to me to be appropriate U.S. policy. I told him that the matter of internal controls had also been introduced, that I had told the President that you and I had given him a memorandum on this subject, but did not know his views, and that the President had said he would like to discuss this matter with us. Mr. Stimson was equally disturbed, I believe, and feels that the appropriate post-war relationship is going to be very difficult to work out, and that it should be done with the best possible advice and consultation. He felt, however, that it would be very difficult indeed to get the President to really consult or to get his attention for a sufficient length of time to give him the reasoned thinking of people who have been studying the subject. He recited to me several instances where the President has recently gone ahead in negotiation and where it has been very difficult indeed to see that he gave attention to the opinion of American advisers. The Secretary is very much harassed at the present time with a number of exceedingly difficult problems, and he is particularly worried because on some of these where a frank discussion with the President is indicated, he has been unable to get his serious attention. He asked me why I was disturbed at the President's point of view. I told him primarily because it seemed to me it was being arrived at without adequate review of the various possibilities in a situation of great difficulty and complexity, and also because it seemed to me that it was an extreme point of view which might lead to trouble. In fact, I stated that it seemed to me that the President had evidently thought he could join with Churchill in bringing about a US-UK post-war agreement on this subject by which it would be held closely and presumably to control the peace of the world, and I felt that this extreme attitude might well lead to extraordinary efforts on the part of Russia to establish its own position in the field secretly, and might lead to a clash, say 20 years from now. On the other hand, I felt that if there were complete scientific interchange on this subject among all countries that there would be much less danger of a secret race on military applications as the art changes. I also felt that there might be a possibility that an inter- national agreement involving all countries for the control of this affair might have some hope of success, and that it most certainly ought to be explored and carefully analyzed. The secretary agreed with this last statement completely and was apparently in agreement with a large part of my statement in regard to a reasonable approach, although of course I would not wish to record here any considered opinion on his part, for I have not any direct statement from him on, which to base it completely, and he should state his own opinion in any case: discussed somewhat at length what might be done. He was very pessimistic indeed an regard to the possibility Of getting the President was very pessimistic indeed in regard to the possibility of getting the President's serious consideration for a sufficient interval to get to the bottom of the subject. On the other hand, he felt that we ought to make some attempt even if it did no more than to make the record complete. He certainly has not the strength nor the time with the many pressing matters now before him to get this subject formulated. I therefore suggested, if he wished us to do so, that you and I might draft a brief statement of what we consider would be a reasonable approach to the international problem on this subject for his review, and he grasped at this and said that he would be much indebted to us if we would do so and that he felt that some such brief statement after he had had a chance to discuss it ought to get into the President's hands and that it might cause at least a pause for further study. I judge that such a document would not need to recommend an explicit plan, but would rather analyze alternatives, point out dangers, and also point out possibilities. It seems to me that you and I ought to make the attempt to get something of the sort together. I doubt, however, if the Secretary can get his mind on the matter immediately.
There were incidental matters touched on. I told him very briefly of the matter concerning Justice Frankfurter. I did not discuss the security violation which General Groves brought up as I thought he ought to report that himself. I told him that Admiral Leahy had now been brought into the matter.