CONGRESSIONAL RECORD - SENATE
JUNE 14, 1960
THE U-2 INCIDENT AND SUMMIT FAILURE
Mr. MUSKIE. Mr. President, over the past few weeks, there have been several references in the RECORD relative to the reaction of my constituents to the U-2 incident and the summit failure. For that reason, I ask unanimous consent that there be printed at this point in the RECORD, my latest newsletter, which deals with this subject.
There being no objection, the news letter was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:
NEWSLETTER FROM THE OFFICE OF SENATOR EDMUND S. MUSKIE, JUNE 8,1960
What consideration should a Senator give to letters which he receives from constituents?
It has been my policy always to read them thoughtfully, whether or not they expressed points of view different than my own, whether or not they were critical of me in whatever degree, and whether or not the writers expressed themselves in ways pleasing to me.
This will continue to be my policy because I have found it to be a useful one. It has been useful for at least the following reasons:
1. Such letters have drawn my attention to points of view which might otherwise have escaped my attention.
2. They have shaped or influenced my judgment on pending legislation.
3. They have indicated the extent and depth of concern felt by Maine citizens on given public questions.
4. They have injected a healthy sense of humility in this Senator's views of his own actions and judgments.
I continually learn valuable lessons from these letters. An experience of the past 2 weeks is a case in point.
Following the failure of the summit meeting in Paris, the initial letters I received from Maine constituents were unanimously and rather harshly critical of the President's handling of our affairs before and after the U-2 Incident.
I considered them carefully and, on what appeared to be an appropriate occasion, shared some of them with my colleagues in the Senate in order to indicate the depth of the concern felt by at least some of my constituents. Subsequently I received other letters, at least equally harsh in their criticism of me for giving such attention to the first group, and quite vehement in their defense of the President.
Neither group of writers was large. and one or two in each group wrote with moderation; but the remainder in each group wrote in what could hardly be described as the language of restraint. Nevertheless, I felt that the writers, in both groups, were entitled to use language which, in their judgment, would adequately convey their feelings, even though I might prefer a more moderate approach.
Apparently they are not always inclined to be as tolerant of each other; and it is not safe for a Senator to let one group know what the other group is saying to him.
Constituents ought to know and appreciate the fact that, however strongly they may hold a point of view on an issue, there are probably other constituents who are equally vehement on the other side of the issue, and that a Senator feels duty bound to listen to both.
Moreover, if a constituent writes to his or her Senator, I assume the intent is to influence, not only that Senator, but, through him, other Senators. More than once I have conveyed the views of constituents to other Senators, to Senate committees, and to executive agencies, at times at the explicit request of the constituent, and at other times because I felt the constituent made his own case best in his own words.
Returning, for a moment, to the U-2 incident, let me state my own views, lest they be confused with those of my correspondents.
First, some general comments:
1. Espionage, or intelligence, activities are a fact of modern national life which we have no choice but to accept. Maximum precautions in the interests of national security and survival require it. It is the grossest kind of cynicism for the Russians to pretend otherwise.
2. With respect to use of the "spy plane" as an instrument of such activities, the value of intelligence obtained by such means must be weighed against the risk that such a plane, appearing as an unidentified "blip" on a Soviet radar screen, might trigger Russian missiles and the start of that nuclear war which nobody can win. How would we want our continental defenses to react under similar circumstances? Have we, or the Russians, had an effective means of determining whether such an unidentified plane or planes are armed with nuclear weapons about to be fired in anger?
It should be noted that Malinovsky, Soviet Defense Minister, recently announced that he has ordered immediate rocket strikes at the takeoff base of any such spy plane. Fortunately, this policy does not appear to have been in effect over the past 4 years.
And, of course, the President has now ordered a discontinuance of such flights.
3. It is reasonable to conclude that the Russians were happy to have the U-2 incident as an excuse for wrecking the summit conference. It is not as easy to judge whether they would have found as satisfactory as a coverup of Soviet intransigence if this incident had not occurred.
4. Khrushchev in Paris was crude, brutal, arrogant, and completely cynical because he thought the weight of world opinion would hold that he was justified in the light of the U-2 incident. Fortunately, from our point of view, he overplayed his hand and the effect was to solidify the Western Allies.
5. We should leave no doubt in the Soviet mind that Americans are united in the face of the Soviet threat, whatever form it may take.
6. The President is quite right in saying that, notwithstanding the recent setbacks, we must continue to seek ways to eliminate points of friction and to reduce tensions. Negotiations through traditional diplomatic channels are likely to be the principal instrument for this purpose through the foreseeable future. I sense that most Americans, including official Washington, share serious doubts that a trip to the summit should again be undertaken.
7. A rather grim sort of satisfaction to be drawn from the current state of affairs is that we need no longer debate whether Soviet smiles are sincere or not. There are no smiles. This is a harsh world, and perhaps, a more realistic one than the one we knew during the "spirit Of Camp David" period.
If the foregoing comments are valid, what remaining questions are there to be asked and answered? In order to maintain the national unity to which I have referred, we should ask and seek answers only to those questions which meet one of the following tests:
1. Does it touch upon a national policy which ought to be reviewed in the interests of national security?
2. Does it touch upon an organizational relationship which might need correction, possibly of a legislative nature, in the interests of national security?
3. Could the answer, without breaching the safeguards of classified information, contribute to increased public confidence in the management of our affairs?
The objectives suggested by these three questions are, in my judgment, highly appropriate and much to be desired. The following are illustrative of the questions which have been raised by people interested in these objectives:
1. At what level of Government was this specific U-2 flight authorized?
2. What was the nature of the intelligence (and this should be disclosed only with strict security precautions) which, on balance, justified this specific flight at such a sensitive time?
3. Was there any advance thinking or planning as to what our reaction should be in the event the plane should be brought down in the Soviet Union; if so, were such plans followed?
4. Why did we change our story? It does not seem reasonable to suppose that we planned in advance, under any circumstances, to publicly confess that we were spying. Were we, then, caught in a situation which we had not anticipated and, if so, were there no reasonable alternatives to the public confession?
5. Secretary Herter did not say the flights would continue but that implication was drawn from his statement. Did he intend that the implication should be drawn? If so, why? If not, why did he not correct it?
These and other questions can be asked in an objective and constructive way. They should be asked in no other way.
I know this to be the attitude of Senate committees now making inquiries, with the approval of the President and congressional committees on both sides of the political aisle, and including the Subcommittee on National Policy Machinery, of which I am a member. The initial, heated flurry of partisan controversy on both sides has subsided; and we can seek to benefit from a very difficult national experience in an atmosphere of relative restraint.
The days and weeks are slipping by rapidly here in Washington. It has been the hope of everyone concerned that we might clean up our work and adjourn the session by July 2. That is a little more than 4 weeks away; and I am afraid that there is a great deal of unfinished work yet to be completed.
My mail indicates the greatest concern with the following: (1) Medical care for the aged; (2) Federal aid for public schools; (3) amendments to the minimum wage law; and,(4) the mutual security program.
I will say further that my mail is basically favorable to action in each of these fields, although there are strong voices in opposition.
In addition, there are several major appropriations bills, the Omnibus Rivers and Harbors bill, the Housing bill and many others of varying importance yet to be considered. The Rivers and Harbors bill, incidentally, will include ten projects of importance to various Maine coastal communities.
If we do adjourn as planned, I expect to attend the Democratic National Convention on July 11 and then return to Maine the latter part of July for the rest of the summer. You cannot imagine how I look forward to the possibility of spending several weeks on China Lake, drinking deep of an incomparable Maine summer. You may recall that I missed it almost completely last year inasmuch as we did not adjourn until mid-September.