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satisfactory, and the benefit to the United States may be payment or repayment in kind or property, or any other direct or indirect benefit which the President deems satisfactory.
Mr. Fish. Yes. Secretary STIMSON. And I call your attention also to the provision which underlies the whole thing, which limits him, as stated in section 3 (a) (1) To 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.
Mr. Fish. Mr. Secretary, it is the very thing which you have just read," which the President deems satisfactory," under terms he deems satisfactory.
Secretary STIMSON. Yes.
Mr. Fish. If he deems it satisfactory then he may give away any part of the Navy he deems satisfactory, under this bill, could he not?
Secretary STIMSON. I should hardly say that was correct.
Secretary STIMSON. The President would have the power today to order the Navy, or one of the ships of the Navy, to go into the war zone
Mr. Fish (interposing). He could send it now, but under the law could he give it away?
Secretary STIMSON (continuing). To places where it would be so dangerous to send it that you could be certain that no President under the high authority of his office, would dream of sending it.
In other words, Mr. Fish, you can make just as many and just as violent interpretations of our great Federal Constitution in the grant of power to the President as you are trying to extort from this bill. But we all know that no President would ever do or dream of doing it.
Mr. Fish. Mr. Secretary, I am trying to do just what you say; I am trying to bring this bill within the provisions of the Constitution; that is all I have in mind as a member of this committee.
Secretary Stimson. Then I do not think you will have a hard task.
Mr. Fish. And if we can bring the bill within the provisions of the Constitution I will support the bill.
Now, Mr. Secretary, do you know any law at the present time which permits the President to give away any part of the Navy?
Secretary Stimson. I would not want to make an error on something that I have not specifically looked up. I prefer to have you ask the Secretary of the Navy that question; and limit questions to me to authority of the President to make exchanges of materials that come under the War Department, for instance. We have not made a study of the Navy statutes and you are going to have the Secretary of the Navy here for that. But, I have told you about the situation of War Department statutes, the Army statutes.
Nr. Fish. The reason I asked these questions, Mr. Secretary, is because there was a great deal of confusion yesterday. I asked Mr. Morgenthau more or less the same question, and he said that the President had not the power, in answer to my question as to a part of the Navy.
And another member of the committee later asked him a question if it were not correct that the President could give this entire 17 billion defense away, and he said that he had that power.
There is some confusion in the minds of members of the Cabinet, apparently, and I would like to find out which statement is correct.
The CHAIRMAN. The Chair would like to state, if Mr. Fish will permit, that I do not believe the question was whether he could give the 17 billions of defense away.
Secretary STIMSON. My answer to all of these questions is that I came here to discuss this bill on a rational basis, in a manner in which you gentlemen would ordinarily be interested, and not to indulge in interpretations, which, obviously you could make in regard to every act, that are what you might call fantastic interpretations.
Mr. Fish. Maybe it is fantastic, Mr. Secretary, and assuming that it is a fantastic interpretation, have you any objection if the Congress inserts a provision in the bill prohibiting the President from giving away any part of the Navy?
Secretary STIMSON. For myself I submit that question is one which should be asked of the Secretary of the Navy. But on the knowledge that I have of the situation I should object to it, because I can well conceive that a portion, or some of the Navy, might be transferred under conditions that might be very advantageous to meet a situation that might develop.
Mr. FISH. Of course, I did not use the word "transfer" but "give away.” But I realize that question primarily should be asked of the Secretary of the Navy.
Secretary STIMSON. Yes.
Mr. Fish. The reason again I am asking you that question is because there was much confusion between the Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Treasury and members of the committee.
Secretary STIMSON. I do not want to quibble about it, but you realize that he occupies one domain and I occupy another. And I do not want him to be confronted with a statement which I might make without adequate knowledge on the subject.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Fish, would you mind, with reference to the question you have raised, to have the law read at this time?
Mr. Johnson. Mr. Shanley wants to call attention to the authority to give away a portion of the Navy, if you will permit the interjection right here.
Mr. Vores. Mr. Chairman, would it be proper to have the compilation that the Secretary referred to inserted in the record along with this statement?
Secretary STIMSON. I was going to have that made available.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Fish, do you object to Mr. Shanley reading into the record the law on the subject?
Mr. FISH. No.
As long as the question of the limitation of executive powers is going to come up in the discussion of this whole matter, may I read the limitation in the act of 1883, in which it is said that
No vessel of the Navy shall hereafter be sold in any other manner than herein provided, or for less than such appraised value, unless the President of the United States shall otherwise direct in writing.
That is in the act of March 3, 1883.
And in the statute of last year we have a limitation on the Executive, a limitation not only requiring approval of the Navy but the Chief of
Staff. That is the statute of June 30, under which the President cannot sell, unless he has authority from both the Secretary of the Navy and the Secretary of War.
That, of course, is tied up with the Attorney General's opinion, but I understand those are the only two limitations we have, plus the hodgepodge you referred to.
Secretary STIMson. Well, that first statute which you read shows very clearly the wisdom of my declining to go in to the subject of Navy legislation.
But that statute, which you read, as you read it, to my way of thinking, by clear implication authorizes the transfer of the naval vessels if the President should so designate.
Mr. SHANLEY. It uses the word "sale."
Mr. Fish. Mr. Secretary, has the War Department given away any of its defense articles ?
Secretary STIMSON. Not that I am aware of.
Secretary STIMSON (interposing). Unless it was obsolete. I can only say that I know of nothing of any importance having been transferred without compensation.
Mr. Fish. Has the War Department given away any of its antiaircraft guns?
Secretary STIMSON. I think not. I think we have so few that I would know of it.
Mr. Fish. That was the next question. How many have we got now?
Secretary STIMSON. That I should prefer not to answer except in executive session.
Mr. Fish. How many have you sold to any foreign nation?
Secretary Stimson. I think nothing that would not be called obsolescent; I do not know of any.
Mr. Fish. Have you sold or given away any bomb sights?
The CHAIRMAN (interposing). I was going to say, Mr. Secretary, that any questions that you prefer not to answer should not be answered.
Secretary STIMSON. I may suggest on this line of questions, that I have taken the position over and over again that I am perfectly ready and willing to give to any Member of Congress any information on any matter but I do not care to make myself a voluntary channel for conveying information on all these matters to Mr. Hitler by giving them publicity. I am willing to give Members of Congress information, in the confidence with which I assume they will receive it.
Mr. Fish. That is perfectly proper.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Secretary, I believe every Member feels that way about it, and I would suggest that questions of that sort should not be asked the Secretary even to get his answer that he prefers to answer the question in executive session.
Secretary STIMSON. Yes.
The CHAIRMAN. And I trust the committee will confine all questions to subjects that relate to the matter before us.
Secretary STIMSON. I may say for the information of the committee that I have instituted in the Department, for the sake of covering this very subject, a series of meetings, confidential meetings, at which the Members of the two Houses of Congress will be heartily welcome, and at which there can be shown to them with the utmost fullness everything that is being done by the Department; and that invitations have been extended to the members of the different committees of the House and Senate who we suppose would be most interested in that.
It is a policy which I adopted because I knew how valuable it had been 23 years ago at the time when we were preparing our defense then. Yesterday and the day before we had such meetings, and I intend to have them at very short intervals right along, for the convenience of the gentlemen attending. We had a large number of Senators the day before yesterday. We had a very large number of Members of the House yesterday, and they there were able to ask, and to be informed in the fullest detail, on the numerous questions which are involved in this matter.
I extend to this committee personally and individually a most hearty invitation to come to any of those meetings, or at any time, to get this information. But I do not believe it is for the interest of the defense of the United States that we should give publicity to these things which will make it any easier than it is now for our potential enemies to get it.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Secretary, the committee thanks you for your kind invitation. The Chair will state this, that any question of that kind, asked by any member of the committee from either side, will be ruled out of order; so please be guided accordingly.
Mr. Fish. Mr. Secretary, I am in entire accord with your views. I do not think we should divulge in any possible way any of our secrets. And I think, Mr. Secretary, you are the only judge of whether you should answer a question or not. But I do believe it is the duty of this committee, because this is partially a national-defense measure, and we are the Foreign Affairs Committee-and there was some dispute in the House about the jurisdiction of this bill—but I believe it is very essential before we report this bill back to the Congress that we have the fullest information from the War Department as to our national defense. And I am going to suggest before this meeting is over that you be called back for an executive session, at which you can give the fullest information. That is the proper procedure instead of having us go to the War Department or having any individuals of the committee go to the War Department. That is the regular order in the House, and I shall demand the regular order.
Secretary STIMSON. I certainly will not resist it. I will be very happy to come and I will be very happy to have any of my assistants and officers who know more about the details than I can possibly know come and help this committee. But these meetings, the purpose of which I am sorry to say Mr. Fish apparently misunderstands, were not instituted for the purpose of compelling members of the House to come down to the War Department, but to give them a convenient opportunity, in a more informal way than in a great committee hear
ing, to ask questions and to see papers which we could not always have handy at a committee hearing.
We do not at all propose to insist on members of Congress holding their committee meetings down in my rather uncomfortable Munitions Building, but if you can be benefited by what we can show you there, we will be very glad to have you. A great many of your colleagues are coming, and have been coming.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Secretary, in answer to what Mr. Fish has stated, there will be executive sessions provided those sessions will be executive; and unless each and every member of the committee states that he will keep confidential all of the testimony given before the committee in such executive sessions, the committee will not hold executive sessions;
because an executive session should be what it is supposed to be. But if such information is to be given out to the public, then those questions will not be permitted, either in executive session or in any other place.
Mr. CHIPERFIELD. You do not suggest, Mr. Chairman, that any member of the committee would give out any information obtained in executive session?
The CHAIRMAN. It has been done before, and members have stated in committee that they would not hold confidential, testimony given in executive session. Unless such statements are withdrawn, there will be no executive sessions; there will not be executive sessions unless everything mentioned there is to be held strictly confidential.
Mr. Fish. I do not know why the chairman raises this question, unless he is reflecting on the integrity of some member of the committee. I am quite in accord with the gentleman that everybody should voluntarily give a promise not to divulge any testimony, including the chairman. But I think it is not necessary to raise this in public at all, and I am sorry that the chairman has raised it.
The CHAIRMAN. The Chair would like to answer that, because Mr. Fish said that he was going to demand certain things. Now, he can demand them, but with that demand there is going to be coupled something else, and that is, it is going to be an executive session.
Mr. VORYS. Regular order, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Johnson. Mr. Chairman, I make the point of order that this is a matter that will be determined by the committee and not by any individual member of the committee; that is, whether there will or will not be executive sessions, and we can settle that at the proper time.
Mr. VORYS. Regular order, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Fish. Mr. Secretary, you said in your remarks that the British fleet stands alone against the German fleet's control of the Atlantic.
Secretary STIMSON. I think I said substantially alone.
Mr. Fish. That is the quotation that I wrote down from your address. Does the Secretary believe that any foreign nation could land troops on our coast?
Secretary STIMSON. Not now; probably not.
Secretary STIMSON. I would not dare say that it could not, at any time this year.
Mr. Fish. Our navy is 6 times greater than Germany's Navy, and it takes a navy 3 times as large to come over here; but assuming