Page images
PDF
EPUB

General JOHNSON. No, sir; I didn't say that. I said that I favored giving the President a limited appropriation, permitting him to use it, and to require him to come back for more as time required, under different authorizations, but that Congress should maintain control of the use of that power; because it is eventually the war power of the United States.

Mr. RICHARDS. And you feel that the control by Congress of the appropriation is not a sufficient control?

General JOHNSON. I know it is not, as far as this bill is concerned.

Mr. RICHARDS. I wanted to ask you one more question, here. I did not understand exactly what you said in reply to a question of Mr. Fish's awhile ago. I understood you to say that there was no use putting any prohibition against the President's convoying ships, because he has the power to send convoys already.

General Johnson. I said he has the power to convoy ships in waters where, under the law of Congress and his own proclamation, they are authorized to go. That does not include war zones, and he could not convoy ships into war zones, as I read the Constitution and the laws, without either violating the Neutrality Act or coming back to Congress for an amendment of it.

Mr. RICHARDS. But you must remember, General, that the President has got the right under existing law to define from time to time where the war zones are.

General JOHNSON. Well, is it your idea that he would do it in violation of the established fact?

Mr. RICHARDS. No; it is not my idea that he would do that in violation of good conscience or duty, nor is it my idea that he would do anything to endanger the security of the United States, if he were given the powers in this bill. I do not think that any man with that great responsibility would do a thing like that. I do not care who he is, Democrat or Republican, I believe that he would realize the responsibility that he has, and that he is answerable to our people under the Constitution and under his oath not to lead our people willfully to war.

General JOHNSON. That is just as good an argument for scrapping the whole Constitution and giving him all the war powers of the United States as it is for this bill, and I do not believe the argument is good for either.

Mr. RICHARDS. No; I do not think it is any argument to scrap the Constitution at all. Well, what do you think about it?

General JOHNSON. About what?

Mr. RICHARDS. You asked me what the President would do. Do you think the President would abuse these powers if they were given him, here?

General JOHNSON. I do not think he would abuse the powers, but I do think that some place, in somebody's mind, I think the great composite mind of 130,000,000 reflected in Congress is the ultimate decision of how far we want to go, to expend all our blood and treasure by mixing up in a world war, not in any one man's mind. I do not think God made a man who is heavy enough to carry that responsibility. I think that is what our Constitution meant, and while I am not attacking the integrity or the patriotism of the President of the United States, and I do not want one word to be construed in that regard. I do insist that we follow the forms laid down for the conduct

of this great country, and not entrust to any man the power to involve us in war without some reference to the popular will.

Mr. RICHARDS. Well now, General, give me your suggestion, please, as to how you would write this bill, or what you would do, then.

General JOHNSON. I have tried to state it as well as I could, without going off in the other room and drawing a bill. I have done that, and could do it now, but I am not prepared to dictate a bill to this committee. I will be glad to send you a draft of what my opinion is, if you will give me 5 or 6 hours, so that I can get my column out in the meantime. [Laughter.]

Mr. RICHARDS. So far as I am concerned, I am going to let you get out your column, after this one question. I just want to make this observation. Of those two problems we talked about, whether we would aid Great Britain, and if we decided to aid Great Britain whether we would do it through the methods provided in this bill, I am more worried about the proposition of whether we are thinking about aid to Great Britain short of war, than I am the second proposition. You seem to be more worried about the second proposition than you are about the first, is that right?

General Johnson. I do not think I quite followed you, but I can see one thing from your statement—that between you and me there is very little difference. There is not much difference, except thisthe extent of delegation of powers to involve us in war, to a single man, or the retention of that power in Congress.

Mr. RICHARDS. I think so, General. I thank you.

General JOHNSON. That is the only difference that we have that I can see, as a result of this colloquy.

Mr. RICHARDS. Thank you very much.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Tinkham.

Mr. Tinkham. General, I have only one question. Is it your opinion that the passage of this bill as it lies before us would create great disunity in the country?

General Johnson. The question is, would the passage of this bill as it lies before us create great disunity in this country. I do not believe that the sentiment of this country, the informed sentiment, is at all for this bill. I think it is for aid to Britain, and keeping out of war. I will say, however, that if we ever get into this situation and this bill is passed and we are embarked on this course-I think that disunity would weaken us in front of the world. In that event all I could do would be to go out and hammer the huskings for this bill in order to create unity. The time for you to decide this question is right now, and not to pass this bill and then rest on the possibility of disunity to have it repealed afterwards. Now is the time to decide this question. Yes; I think this bill is either not well understood by the people of this country, or if it is understood, it is disapproved by a very great number of them.

Mr. TINKHAM. So your answer would be yes?
General Johnson. My answer is what I made it. [Laughter.)
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Shanley.

Mr. SHANLEY. General Johnson, you say that you are for every, thing that is in this bill. Now, you understand as we all understand that what we are attempting to do in this bill is a complete departure or variation from our historic policy, the same policy that John Bassett Moore has championed for years, and which you endorsed in the

extract that Mr. Fish had, in the manufacture in arsenals and shipyards under our jurisdiction. Any defense article is permitted to put us into the war without manpower, isn't it? As I understand, you have no objection to that?

General Johnson. In the first place, you stated that I said that I was for everything that was in this bill.

Mr. SHANLEY. When I say that, I am endeavoring to get your understanding of it.

General JOHNSON. I am for almost nothing in this bill as it stands.

Mr. SHANLEY. No; I said you are for the purposes of this bill, except for the mechanics of it, and I wanted to go into detail.

General Johnson. I am not. I am against the principle of this bill, which is much broader than any question of mechanics.

Mr. SHANLEY. But you are for all aid short of war to England?

General JOHNSON. I have stated, over and over again, that I am for such aid as will insure the defense of the United States, and not for one inch more.

Mr. SHANLEY. Have you been able to make up your mind just where that aid stops and where it continues? For example, take the torpedo boats that we have been helping England with; is that "short of war?” The exchange of these destroyers—was that "short of war?

General Johnson. I am not going to get into a discussion of what is short of war and of international law as it stood before this war, because it is out the window. We are on new ground. We have got to chart a new course.

Mr. SHANLEY. I grant that, but you have got to know what is short of war, if we are going to write this bill?

General JOHNSON. I am not going to be confused by words. What has got to be done here is to maintain the United States in a position of impregnable defense, and not to foreclose our future defense by putting us into a position where we have underwritten the conduct of a war by a belligerent whom we cannot control; and that is what this bill does.

Mr. SHANLEY. We cannot put a glittering generality like that in the bill and expect to aid England, or not get a boy

General JOHNSON. I do not ask for any "glittering generality". I ask for a specific delegation of authority.

Mr. SHANLEY. We are asking you. Now, you say you know this bill-you know it by heart. Take this sectionTo manufacture in arsenals, factories, and shipyards under their jurisdiction, or otherwise procure, any defense article for the government of any country whose defense the President deems vital to the defense of the United States.

Are you for that?

General JOHNSON. Yes; of course. He has got it now. The words you read did not include any other notion. You said he bad authority to manufacture in the arsenals any defense article.

Mr. SHANLEY. Yes. Do you know what a "defense article” is, the definition of it?

General JOHNSON. Yes, sir.

Mr. SHANLEY. Does not that include belligerent defense articles, too?

General JOHNSON. Not in a definition of "defense articles," at all. It later makes a definition of "defense articles” in that category, and

the President is then authorized some other way, but that is a very different thing from what you are stating.

Mr. SHANLEY. As a matter of fact, he may take a torpedo boat and manufacture it in this country; it may go out on the high seas and be in the belligerent's service, and then come back here to be rebuilt, isn't that so, under the bill?

General Johnson. Well, I think he would have to transfer the crew, if he sent it out and delivered it to a belligerent.

Mr. SHANLEY. But he may do that? That is the method

General JOHNSON. Under that bill, yes; he can give away anything, and he can give away the battleship Oklahoma, tomorrow, if he wants to.

Mr. SHANLEY. I am not talking about giving away, as to things. I am talking about that particular case, where he is enabled to do something, that he was never able to do before; that is, to bring in a boat, or aircraft, or any other vessel in the service of a belligerent, to bring them into our harbors and be able to refit it, under the provisions of this bill, and you are in favor of that?

General JOHNSON. I never said any such thing.
Mr. SHANLEY. Well, I did not understand your testimony.

General JOHNSON. I made it as clear as I know how, and I do not think I can make it any clearer. However, I will be glad to clarify any gap that your mind has, that is obscure, but I am not willing to have you state what I said, which I do not believe I did say, and then ask me a hypothetical question based on a wrong assumption.

Mr. SHANLEY. I asked you, did you want to go into the whole detail, but I said, in giving the President the power to bring into our shipyards vessels which we had previously sold and which were brought into belligerent service. That is not hypothetical, because this is actually what is going to happen, and then to bring those vessels back here as belligerent vessels, to be able to repair them and to rebuild them, as in subsection (1) of section 3.

General JOHNSON. If you mean that this bill makes the navy yards, within the discretion of the President, available to belligerent naval vessels, which is a violation of neutrality law as it was known before, the answer is-yes, the bill does that.

Mr. SHANLEY. And you are for that?
General JOHNSON. I have not said so.
Mr. SHANLEY. Well, are you for it?

General JOHNSON. I do not know. I have not given that particular element of this bill a great deal of thought. That is a very complicated question. We already have a joint naval base with Great Britain in the South Pacific. 'I do not know what these Caribbean and Newfoundland naval bases are. That is a very small question on this whole big question we are considering here.

Mr. SHANLEY. You think it is small?
General JOHNSON. Yes; I think it is small.

Mr. SHANLEY. But we have to pass upon it. Now, let us take that second question, under the subsequent part of section 3, where the President is enabled to "sell, transfer, exchange, lease, lend, or otherwise dispose of, to any such government any defense article." Are you for that?

General Johnson. No, I am not, as I have clearly stated.

Mr. SHANLEY. Under the present law, are you for a provision which allows him to do that, provided it is necessary for the defense of this Government, and that is certified by the Chief of Naval Operations, or the Chief of Staff of the Army?

General JOHNSON. What are you talking about—that part of the bill that authorizes an exchange?

Mr. SHANLEY. No, we are talking about the statute laws, now.
General JOHNSON. What law?

Mr. SHANLEY. "No weapon," "no military weapon of this country can be sold” to anybody, or can be disposed of, unless it is approved by the Chief of Staff, or the Chief of Naval Operations.

General Johnson. It has to do with obsolete vessels, only, and hasn't anything to do with the vessels in active service. Of course, I think frankly the obsolete question has been stressed, but that has nothing to do with it. Mr. SHANLEY. Under the Attorney General's decision?

eral OHNSON. With which I do not agree, and which I think overlooks several statutes in absolute opposition to it, in arriving at the decision, which squeezed authority under one statute without considering others.

Mr. SHANLEY. But you have to further guess whether, if it were possible to get that before the Supreme Court, they would declare that constitutional, and we have to make that guess, too.

General Johnson. All right. Under your argument, they can do any of these things any way, and then just get the Attorney General to write an opinion, and it is O. K.

Mr. SHANLEY. On the contrary, I disagree with the Attorney General's opinion.

General JOHNSON. So do I, so we are in agreement on one thing.

Mr. SHANLEY. We are, on that. Now, the whole question, as I understand it, and I will try to make this as brief as we can—that there is in your mind and I do not want to quote you, unless I have this--that you do not know what those methods are, "short of war, that nobody knows. To be specific, let us suppose you want to aid England. Let us suppose that in the North Atlantic the British are suffering so desperately in their shipping that they need submarines. Let us suppose that we have continually obsolete submarines that we could transfer to them. Are you against the transfer of those submarines?

General JOHNSON. I tried to say that I am unwilling any longer to confine my thinking to the old terms of international law, because I think they are "out the window.”

Mr. SHANLEY. Well, we will assume that. Go ahead. General JOHNSON. I am not going to give you a definition as to what we could do in all circumstances. My only position is, and I want to emphasize it again, that we maintain ourselves in readiness, not to get into this thing, until we know "which way the

cat is going to jump,' and which is best for us. I do not know what Russia is going to do. I do not know what Japan is going to do. People talk about the totalitarian states walking all over the world. There never has been the rise of power that did not result in the rise of contrary power, and many of them are in existence today. It is a Kilkenny cat fight, and I want to keep out of it and keep so strong that nothing that could happen could interfere with us.

« PreviousContinue »