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national crisis. Instead of hiding the facts from the American
RESULTS.— The State Department reported that the sections of the 1962 cable which were criticized by the committee as establishing a restrictive press policy in Vietnam were specifically rescinded. New press guidelines were drafted, but before they could be issued conditions changed in Vietnam. The developments resulting in the overthrow of the Diem regime included the establishment of martial law and censorship by the Government of Vietnam. Later, as the Vietnam war escalated and as U.S. participation increased, State, Defense and USIA officials developed special guidelines to permit the greatest possible flow of information while protecting military security. As tighter controls were established on the flow of information, U.S. officials took the advice of the committee and attempted to prevent restrictions on information which would not clearly endanger the lives of U.S. servicemen.
[H. Rept. 918, 88th Cong., 1st sess.) AVAILABILITY OF INFORMATION FROM FEDERAL DE
PARTMENTS AND AGENCIES (PROGRESS OF STUDY SEPTEMBER 1961-DECEMBER 1962)
Fourteenth Report by the Committee on Government Operations
(Submitted to the Speaker November 22, 1963) Although there were no specific recommendations in this report, the committee did comment on the general pattern of availability of Federal Government information. The report stated:
In the great majority of instances covered in this report, the barriers of secrecy erected by Government agencies gave way to congressional pressure. But no Government agency should be complimented for informing the citizenry. One unnecessary secret is one too many. To withhold information from the public is contrary to the basic principles of a democratic society; to inform the public is the Government's
fundamental responsibility. The report also covered specific areas of information restriction such as congressional action to remove restrictions and military arrogance toward the people's right to know the facts of Government. The committee commented that:
The increasing readiness of the Congress to assert its right to know has become a vital counterpressure against the bureaucratic penchant for secrecy, for unrestricted congressional access to executive branch information is basic to the effective operation of the "check and balance" principle which underlies our system of government.
The committee also stated:
No one wishes to disclose information which would endanger the Nation's security, but no one wants the military to take the law into its own hands as has been done repeatedly when military policemen take over civilian property at the scene of a military accident.
RESULTS. Of the 40 cases covered in the report, restrictions on access to Government information were removed or information policies were otherwise improved in 34 instances. Results were mixed in three cases, and there was no improvement in information policies in three additional instances. As a result of the investigations covered in this report and earlier reports there has been a noticeable decrease in restrictions on access to Federal information. The number of complaints filed with the Foreign Operations and Government Information Subcommittee has decreased, and many reporters have commented that documents once refused to them are made available when they threaten to complain to the subcommittee.
An improvement in relations between the Congress and the executive branch also has resulted from the work covered in the report. This improvement is highlighted by the decision of President Johnson to use the claim of "Executive privilege" to withhold information from the Congress only as a personal Presidential power. On April 2, 1965, the President wrote Subcommittee Chairman John Moss that "the claim of 'Executive privilege' will continue to be made only by the President.” He said his administration will continue "to cooperate completely with the Congress in making available to it all information possible.”
As the report points out, a result of the continuing interest in the problem of access to executive branch information has been increased congressional pressure to remove unjustifiable restrictions. Legislation introduced early in the 89th Congress to establish a Federal public records law has been passed by the Senate and is pending in the House. Language requiring full disclosure to the Congress was included in the law establishing the Communications Satellite Corp., and the certainty of legislative action also convinced the Food and Drug Administration to back away from an attempt to restrict congressional access to agency information. Congressional action also clarified the right of the General Accounting Office, acting as an arm of the Congress, to audit all documents held by Federal agencies. The Interstate Commerce Commission had refused to give the GAO files relating to the guarantee of railroad loans, so the Congress included provisions in Public Law 87-820 to clarify the fact that the GAO has the right of access to loan guarantee documents.
Among the results of the sections of the report dealing with access to information classified as military security was the issuance of departmental orders to implement Executive Order 10964. This order, which resulted from the subcommittee's continuing study of military information problems, set up a downgrading and declassification system for information restricted to protect military security. The implementing directives provide that the great bulk of classified information will be downgraded at 3-year intervals until the material is automatically declassified.
This procedure will make unnecessary the expensive protection system for out-dated security information, and Defense Department officials estimate the procedure will save the Government $1 million a year in storage costs.
As a result of the section of the report criticizing military restrictions on access to accident sites on civilian property, the Defense Department issued orders prohibiting military officials from exercising police power over civilians. The report objected that "when the press attempts to carry out the duty of informing the public about accidents involving military equipment, armed servicemen are permitted to use force against the press even in civilian areas far removed from military bases."
As a result, Defense Department Directive 5410.14 was issued directing "cooperation with news media representatives at the scene of military accidents outside military installations." This was the first time the Defense Department had issued a general order on the subject, and the directive states that military officials shall "refrain from using force if news media representatives refuse to cooperate in the protection of DOD material.”
The directive tells military authorities that they can warn reporters and photographers of the presence of classified material at a military accident site and they can warn them that photographing the material might violate Federal espionage laws. The military men can ask assistance from civilian law officers and they can contact the superiors “of the offending news media representatives,” but they are warned not to use force.
[Subcommittee Print, 88th Cong., 2d sess.)
U.S.-OWNED FOREIGN CURRENCIES
The subcommittee print (subsequently issued as the 11th Report by the Committee on Government Operations, 89th Cong., March 22, 1965) resulted from an intensive subcommittee study of the many problems relating to the huge and ever-growing stock of foreign currencies in the possession of the U.S. Government. The subcommittee studied not only the magnitude and composition of these U.S.-owned foreign currencies, but also considered those policies and concepts which brought about the accumulation and have failed to impede its reduction. Additionally, the subcommittee looked into the impact of these foreign currencies on the U.S. balance of payments and gold outflow.
A summary of the subcommittee study shows that in the period covered the United States owned about $3 billion worth of currencies in some 83 countries. These currencies result from programs authorized by the Mutual Security Act, the Foreign Assistance Act, and Public Law 480.
The subcommittee urged that renewed efforts should be made to reduce the huge stockpiles of U.S.-owned foreign currencies with a resultant savings of dollars to American taxpayers, and to help achieve this objective recommended as follows:
1. Both present and future arrangements with other countries governing the amount of U.S.-owned foreign currencies to be returned to the other countries for their own use, and the amount to be made available to the United States, should be carefully thought through so that
(a) Enough is reserved to finance the legitimate needs of U.S. mission in each country instead of spending dollars; and
(b) In countries where large amounts of local cur-
3. The administration should prepare plans and request
Programs and activities which could be financed by foreign currencies appropriated for general U.S. mission purposes include:
Providing schools for dependent children of U.S. officers and employees overseas;
Improving language instruction for Foreign Service officers and other U.S. officials overseas;
Increasing official travel for key members of U.S. mission staffs within their regional area of service;
Leasing, renting, acquiring, and constructing adequate housing facilities and office space for U.S. mission personnel before the rising real estate values and rental costs reach a prohibitive level;
Repairing and maintaining U.S. mission buildings, equipment, vehicles, and household furnishings:
Increasing international education, cultural exchange, and leader-grant activities;
Improving personnel policy for local employees in situations where it is justified; and
Establishing training institutions to teach English as a second language.
Programs and activities which could be financed by foreign currencies appropriated for foreign aid activities include:
Stimulating small industries, marketing and distribution facilities, and similar activities;
Improving agriculture through the promotion of more efficient use of modern techniques;
Providing the type of technical assistance which will improve individuals' wage-earning capacities and directly increase standards of living; and
Developing a foundation under the direction of a binational board serving without pay to concentrate on problems of economic development and social change and
much-needed studies of regional and national history. Programs and activities which could be financed by foreign currencies appropriated to the U.S. Information Agency include:
Expanding publication of low-cost books in English;
Financing the building and staffing and stocking of municipal libraries; and
Setting up schools for training illiterate or barely literate adult and youth leaders from urban areas, villages,
or local governments, and from the trades and businesses 4. If the congressional mandate to purchase commodities in one country for foreign aid to a third country is taken literally, the executive branch would have to in all circumstances practically buy up the first country's economy-to the detriment of its foreign exchange position and its domestic economy--in order to provide foreign aid for other countries. At the opposite pole, the executive branch seems opposed to almost any third country purchases on the ground that real wealth is thus subtracted from an already impoverished economy.
The subcommittee recommends a sensible view which lies
(a) the third country would not be buying the com-
RESULTS.-In response to the subcommittee study and recommendations, appropriate Government officials indicated they would explore various proposals to achieve an increased utilization of foreign currencies stockpiles, and would review and activate previously conceived plans which had been considered but not implemented. Affirmative steps taken thus far include: