372 Shedden to Chifley

Letter, NEW YORK, 10 May 1949



4. As indicated in the attached notes my initial conference on 11th April was with the Assistant Secretary of the Army, who was deputizing for the Secretary of Defense in my detailed discussions. Also present were representatives of the Intelligence Services of the Navy, Army, Air Force, the Central Intelligence Authority, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the State Department. I outlined the brief on security[1] and left a copy with Mr. Gordon Gray (the Assistant Secretary of the Army), together with a copy of the brief on the security aspect of the joint Australian - United Kingdom Long Range Weapons Project. There was no discussion and Mr. Gray said that the documents would be examined and my representations considered. My concluding observations at this conference were confirmed in a note forwarded to Mr. Gordon Gray with a letter of 11th April. A copy is attached as Appendix A to the notes. Please see especially paragraph 5 of Appendix A.

5. My first meeting with Mr. Louis Johnson, the Secretary of Defense, on 13th April, proved to be in the nature of a formal call and he did not refer to the security question.

6. At my next meeting with the Assistant Secretary of the Army on 20th April, it will be noted that he asked for a frank expression of what I expected as a result of my representations. I replied that the answer in general terms was the restoration of the previous flow of classified information together with the exchange of planning information on the official level. It will be noted that at this meeting Mr. Gray raised the question of the relation of my movements to later discussions should they be necessary.

7. On 20th April I also met with the Secretary of State, and took the line with him of the effect of the stoppage of information on the Defence Programme, which had been undertaken in accordance with your declaration at the Prime Ministers' Conference in 1946 for greater co-operation in British Commonwealth Defence. I referred to the information on Australian security measures which I had furnished on 11th April, and said that we had yet to learn of any leak of classified information from the Defence and Service Departments. It will be noted that the Secretary of State observed that, though the new Security Service was being established it would take time to organize and develop it.

8. On 22nd April I saw the President, and presented your letter to him, for which he asked me to thank you. I referred to your statement at the Prime Ministers' Conference in 1946 and the vital importance of the Australian Defence Programme to Britain, because of her commitments under the Atlantic Pact (which was prominently before Congress about the date of the interview). The special importance of the Guided Missiles Range in developing a weapon essential to the air defence of Britain was stressed. I referred to measures taken for security in Australia and said that we would be glad to know where they were considered to be deficient or could be improved. In conclusion, I referred to the dimensions of Australia's recent war effort and the close co-operation established between the American and Australian Forces and the integration of Americans in the Australian Government Machinery. The president was most cordial and said he would consult the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense as to what could be done.

9. On 28th April, I met the Assistant Secretary of the Army for a discussion, before we both proceeded to the Secretary of Defense. As indicated in the notes, the former raised certain queries on the Australian measures for security and invited the submission of progress reports which might be helpful in the study of the material submitted by me. Mr. Gray explained that the embargo had not been imposed arbitrarily and it was not desired to continue it on a permanent basis. It was hoped that the measures being taken in Australia will produce results. He said that he appreciated my own personal efforts in the matter and my awareness of the problem and concern about it.

10. At the final meeting with the Secretary of Defense and the Assistant Secretary of the Army on 28th April, I told the former that I was extremely disappointed that the Assistant Secretary of the Army had been unable to inform me that the flow of classified information would be restored. I added that all I could say was that the conclusions which had been conveyed to me were noted, full consideration no doubt having been given to the greater problem that they will create. I then pointed out that there had been no indication of what is precisely held against Australia, nor had there been any indication of leakage from the Departments which handle the information sought. The effect of the stoppage of information on the Australian Defence Programme was then referred to. Mr. Johnson said that the invitation for me to visit Washington had been extended by his predecessor, but his own opinion was that the visit had been premature. Mr. Johnson then said that he had nothing to add to the statement that had been made to me by the Assistant Secretary of the Army on the likelihood of the restoration of the flow of information. Mr. Johnson enquired whether I was returning to Australia via the United States, and suggested that I should keep in touch with Mr. Gray while I am in England. He also made to Mr. Gray a rather indefinite reference to a brief visit by me to Washington from the United Kingdom. In the course of a personal message to me Mr. Johnson said that he believed that the problem would be solved within a reasonable time.

[matter omitted]

12. Though personally disappointed that immediate results have not been achieved, my discussions have enabled me to present a full and accurate statement of the Australian case, which the Americans have not had before. For this reason, General Sir William Morgan, Head of the British Joint Services Mission in Washington has expressed the view that my visit was not premature in view of the period for which the embargo has prevailed. I have established cordial relations with those handling our case, and hope that, if the subject can be kept out of public controversy and a good progress report prepared for submission by me, the embargo on the flow of information can be raised.

[1] Document 369.

[AA : A5954, 1795/1]