The Slicks
October 11, 1951 — The Valley Morning Star

The Mossadegh Project | November 21, 2018                           

U.S. President Harry S. Truman (1884-1972)

President Harry Truman’s hypocritical press censorship measures were skewered in this editorial in The Valley Morning Star of Harlingen, Texas.

Harry Truman editorial archive

Who’s Revealing Secrets?

PRESIDENT TRUMAN’S RECENT assertion that “slick magazines” and newspapers have given away “90 percent of this nation’s secrets” gets more ridiculous day by day.

He made the statement in defending his recent order to executive department heads authorizing them to or “classify”, or designate as secret, any information which they might deem essential to military security.

Mr. Truman set up no standards for such “classification” and set up no system of appeal from arbitrary rulings of his bureaucrats as to what can be given the public through the or what should be withheld as “military security information”.

When his order drew sharp criticism as dictatorial censorship the President resorted to that notorious “red herring” procedure which he once decried so bitterly. He blamed the “slicks” and the newspapers for revealing military information.
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THE TRUTH OF THE matter, is, of course, that the “slicks” and the newspapers have been publishing military information released to them by official sources.

Take that recent release by the Air Force about the “Matador”, the aerial missile which tracks down and destroys enemy planes. It got a big play in newspapers, naturally. It was an amplification of the “fantastic weapons” the Administration has been bragging about for some weeks.

Now comes a congressional committee which is bitterly critical of all the stories about the “Matador”. It was told of the new weapon, but pledged to strictest secrecy.

Yet, just a few days after they were told that any leaks concerning the “Matador” would harm our defense effort materially, the Air Force itself releases the story.

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NOW COLUMNIST DREW Pearson charges that Mr. Truman has been proudly showing off a model of a secret weapon, one of the “fantastic” category, which he has had on his desk for several weeks.

Mr. Truman’s visitors probably are — or should be — above suspicion of espionage. Yet, Pearson charges, they were under no pledge of secrecy, were free to go out and talk about that “secret” weapon in Washington’s cocktail parties, public bars, or in the Russian embassy, for that matter.

Human nature being what it is, there is little doubt that some bragged long and loudly about being on the “inside” and knowing about our secret weapons.

Again, Secretary of the Army Pace [Frank Pace] has been making speeches “off the record” on our defense preparations. The press is barred from those meetings on the ground of military security. Yet the 200 or 300 or 400 persons who hear him are under no pledge of secrecy. They aren’t even “screened” by the FBI or military security agencies.
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AND YET MR. TRUMAN says the “slick magazines” and the newspapers are revealing the nation’s military secrets!

The Crisis Technique | Bruce Barton on Emergency Powers (July 1951)
The Crisis Technique | Bruce Barton on Emergency Powers (1951)


Related links:

Just What Statements Are Lies? | Spokane Daily Chronicle, August 1, 1951

Sad Commentary | The Schenectady Gazette, December 8, 1951

It Can Happen Here | The Milwaukee Sentinel, October 17, 1951

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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