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we do not help the cause of the United States by openly discussing here all the possibilities of this trouble in Laos and the possible steps that we could or might take.
Now, I have been hearing for several months some of these same points that I consider to be at the highest possible level of secrecy.
I am amazed at the extent to which we go in discussing these things for whatever good may come to our enemies, our adversaries, and so forth.
I think that the disclosure of the details or even the disclosure about the U-2 incident is hurtful.
I say that as a background for my thinking.
My point is, Mr. Secretary, are you using your discretion in answering these questions as to whether or not they should be in open or closed hearing?
Mr. BALL. Yes, I am, Mr. Chairman.
Senator STENNIS. This subcommittee has full authority, and we expect to pursue it, to get the answers to these questions; but I am seriously in doubt as to the advisability of having in open session what our future policy may be.
Mr. Ball. I would agree, Mr. Chairman, that the situation in Laos is one of peculiar sensitivity, and I think that there is only a minimum that should be said in public with regard to it.
If the committee wanted to go into executive session, I am perfectly prepared to discuss the situation, and I do not mean to suggest that we are trying to hold back any information.
Senator STENNIS. I know that, and this is not a matter of a mistaken idea about the public's right to know. That is the principle of our Government.
The question is whether or not all this discussion will help our adversary and, therefore, hurt us.
I think your judgment on it would be better than mine. You are in touch with the entire matter from day to day, so if you wish to proceed, if you think it is all right to proceed in open session, then it is all right with me.
Mr. Ball. Yes.
Senator STENNIS. But I emphasize that you should feel free to ask for a closed session on any of these points you may wish.
Mr. BALL. Mr. Chairman, I would say that I am somewhat inhibited in what I can say with regard to Laos in a public session because of the very complexity and sensitivity of that situation.
But if the committee wishes to go into executive session, I would be glad to discuss it or this could be postponed and taken up later at whatever time meets the convenience of the committee.
Senator STENNIS. With this emphasis on your right and your duty to ask that these matters be taken in executive session, I will pass it by for the time being.
Mr. BALL. Thank you.
As a matter of fact, Mr. Secretary, most of this has already come out in the newspapers, has it not! Everyone knows what we are talking about right now?
Mr. Ball. I think that a great deal has been known about Laos.
I may say that there is a difference between things which are said by officials in positions of some responsibility, and matters which are discussed in newspapers, as to the effect that such matters can have, or the uses to which they can be put, by the very forces that we are contending against here.
Senator STENNIS. Senator, many of the points in connection with Laos, have not been brought out in the newspapers. They are points that Mr. Ball's answers have touched on and points that I happen to know about. I can tell he is not going into them. That is why I think we should be careful here and give him the opportunity to ask for an executive session on any question he wishes.
All right, proceed.
WHETHER STATE DEPARTMENT'S VIEWS COINCIDE WITH THOSE OF FELT
Senator THURMOND. In Admiral Felt's speech one statement is:
So much for the Communists' immediate objective in southeast Asia. In the longer term picture are other dangers: the threat to Thailand, Burma, and Cambodia, if Laos is lost to communism; the constant danger in Korea where open warfare has been halted only by an armistice and where there is no peace in a divided country, and so forth.
At any rate, the State Department's views then did not coincide with Admiral Felt's.
Mr. BALL. Well, let me say with regard to this, so far as our records would indicate, the part that you read was not recommended for deletion, Senator Thurmond. The only thing that our records would indicate was recommended for deletion was the final characterization of the Republic of China as engaged now in the bitter struggle for life.
Senator THURMOND. That is right. I did not say it was.
Mr. Ball. I am sorry. I had the impression that you meant that we had recommended all of this for deletion.
Senator THURMOND. Now
Mr. BALL. Excuse me, sir, I only now understand the sense of your question.
You were asking me if the State Department agreed with what Admiral Felt said at the bottom of the page, “The Communists' immediate objective in southeast Asia,” and so on?
Senator THURMOND. I say they must not have agreed because they did not act in accordance with his expressions on that subject.
Mr. BALL. Well, I could not quite agree with you, sir, about that. Senator THURMOND. Would you tell us how the State Department effectuated what the admiral stated in his expressions there?
Mr. BALL. Well, again, the question of stopping the aggression in Laos, as I suggested a moment ago, could have been dealt with in several ways.
We have sought to deal with it through a political solution. Now, if that political solution is effective
Senator THURMOND. Mr. Ball, you have told us that. That is not the question I asked you.
You have told us how you attempted to deal with it. The question I asked you, you said that you would not agree to the statement I made that the State Department did not act in accordance with Admiral Felt's recommendation, and you said you would not agree with that.
Then I asked you to tell us how the State Department did effectuate what Admiral Felt recommended ?
Mr. BALL. I do not know what Admiral Felt recommended. I do not find any recommendation.
Senator THURMOND. Well, there is the statement right there. There is his expression right there. His other statements before the House Foreign Affairs Committee were censored.
Mr. BALL. What this suggests is that he believes that there are very serious dangers in the situation.
DISCUSSION ON POLICIES AND DECISIONS REGARDING LAOS RULED OUT IN
Senator THURMOND. Of losing Laos, and now we have lost it, have we not?
Mr. BALL. No, certainly not. I cannot accept that, Senator Thurmond.
Senator THURMOND. Are we going to win in Laos?
Mr. Ball. Mr. Chairman, I think that, if we are going to continue this dialogue, it should be in executive session.
Senator STENNIS. All right.
Senator THURMOND. Whether we are going to win in Laos ought to be in executive session?
You are not willing to tell the American people in open session whether we are going to win in Laos !
Mr. Ball. Senator Thurmond, I will say to you that we are going to pursue
the policies which, in our judgment, are in the best interests of the United States in the protection of our vital interests.
Senator THURMOND. And whether those policies are going to win in Laos is going to be withheld from the American people?
Mr. BALL. I am afraid that the problem is much more complicated than that and I really think
Senator THURMOND. I do not think it is so complicated, Mr. Secretary, that the American people fail to have intelligence to understand it. If the State Department people have the intelligence to explain it, we think we have the intelligence to understand it.
Mr. BALL. I do not question the matter of the intelligence to understand. The question which I am raising, and I think it is a serious one,
is whether a public discussion of the elements that exist in Laos is useful to the United States interests. At the moment I cannot believe that it is in these terms.
Senator STENNIS. The Chair thinks clearly that this matter involves the policy and the decisions that are imminent with reference to our position and future steps that we take regarding Laos, and that disclosure of them now would be helpful to our adversaries who are alined against us, and the Chair rules that that question, although subject to answer by the Secretary, will be in executive session only.
Senator THURMOND. I will pass on to the next question.
If I may add for the record, I speak with some knowledge, although not wide, on the subject. I have recently been briefed extensively by the CIA.
I have recently had a long conference with a competent man, General Clay, on related matters, and I think I understand fairly well the policy decision with which we are confronted.
All right, Senator.
POLICYMAKERS IN STATE DEPARTMENT WHO HAVE HELD ELECTIVE OFFICE
Senator THURMOND. Mr. Secretary, how many people in the State Department who make policy have ever been elected to office by the people of the United States?
Mr. BALL. Quite a few. We have two Governors among the top policy officials.
Senator_THURMOND. I mean those that are making policy now. Is not Mr. Rostow your chief policymaker?
Mr. BALL. No.
Mr. BALL. They are two quite different things, Senator. I should say everyone in a position of responsibility in the State Department makes policy. The people who are charged
— Senator THURMOND. Everyone in the State Department makes policy, you say?
Mr. Ball. I say everyone in a position of major responsibility makes policy.
I would say that particularly the Assistant Secretaries in charge of the Regional Bureaus are very important policymakers because they conduct the day-to-day operations of the State Department in the vital areas in the world.
As I say, there are two Governors among those, in response to your question about how many have been
DISCUSSION ON POLICIES PROPOSED BY CAREER EMPLOYEES AND REJECTED
BY FORMER GOVERNORS NOW IN STATE DEPARTMENT
Senator THURMOND. Could you tell us how many times these Governors have rejected the recommendation of the employees who have been there for years in civil service, in positions where they cannot be removed without cause ?
Mr. BALL. Many times. Constantly, I would say.
Senator THURMOND. Would you furnish that for the committee for the record ?
Mr. BALL. Senator, it is impossible to answer that in precise terms.
Senator THURMOND. Well, I want precise terms. I want the instances in which those two Governors have rejected what those under them have recommended in the way of policy. Would you furnish that for the record ?
Mr. Ball. I find the question really quite baffling because questions of policy arise on the sending of every telegram to an oversea post.
Senator THURMOND. I am talking about the policies that affect this Nation and the survival of this Nation.
Mr. BALL. These are the policies.
What is a major policy, Senator Thurmond ? It is an accumulation of day-to-day actions over a period of time which leads to a particular result.
These day-to-day actions take the form of telegrams of instructions to our ambassadors, of actions taken with respect to the ambassadors of countries in Washington, of all kinds of decisions, of which there may be 50 or 60 important ones made in the course of a day.
Now, these are all matters of policy, and cumulatively they have the impact of major policy.
These are decisions which are taken by the Assistant Secretaries and by the other top, what we call policy officers, in the Department. They are taken constantly, and they are taken with the advice, against the advice, and with the qualification of the advice of the subordinate officials.
Very often in the case of a disagreement among the subordinate officials there are all shades of acceptance, rejection, or qualification of advice.
This is a very complex business. It is not that simple.
Senator THURMOND. And so you do not think you can furnish the answer to that?
Mr. Ball. No, I do not. I think it would be perfectly meaningless for me to try.
WHETHER INCONSISTENCIES IN CENSORSHIP REFLECT INCONSISTENCIES IN
Senator THURMOND. Mr. Secretary, it occurs to me that some of the censorship actions may be inconsistent with each other and still be the result
of a precise application of our foreign policy. It could be that the apparent inconsistencies in censorship may be reflections of inconsistencies that are rooted in our foreign policies themselves.
On the one hand, the State Department says Laos should not be treated as a geopolitical problem but as a small nation whose independence is being threatened.
The then Chief of Naval Operations was of the opinion that Laos was vital to the defense and freedom of all southeast Asia.
At the same time, in South Vietnam, a country less strategically located from a geopolitical and military standpoint, we are committing Americans to battle because of the country's importance to the freedom of southeast Asia.
It seems unbelievable that, as hard as Laos will have been to defend, that it would have been any more difficult to defend Laos than to defend South Vietnam with Laos in Communist hands.
Is it the position of the State Department or is it spelled out in our policy that the conflict in South Vietnam is less likely to escalate than a defensive effort which we might have made in Laos?
Mr. Ball. This I would be happy to answer in executive session, but I really do not propose to answer that in open session.
Senator THURMOND. Did you understand the question ?