December 6, 1957: Memorandum From the President's Special Assistant for Science and Technology (Killian) to the President:
SUBJECT: Publicity Concerning U.S. Earth Satellite Tests
Today I reviewed with Mr. Snyder, Mr. Holaday, Mr. Dearborn and Dr. Waterman the news policy, responsibility and procedure concerning U.S. satellite tests.
It was agreed that henceforth release of information by Government personnel concerning Satellite tests would be centralized and controlled directly from Mr. Snyder's office in DOD. This will be done, not to deprive the press of proper information, but rather to permit more orderly handling of information and statements about tests.
DOD will also attempt to make improper observations and eavesdropping more difficult at Patrick but with limited prospect of success.
Mr. Snyder will inform me in a few days about arrangements he is making with the Army about publicity on forthcoming Army satellite tests. Secretary Quarles and I will review plans for future tests.
The following background facts were developed in reaching these decisions:
1. The Operations Coordinating Board has given full consideration to the problem for over a year and has issued a series of guidelines for handling public information. The first were issued on January 23, 1957, the most recent on November 1, 1957. The latter specifically stated:
"Releases and statements . . . 4 should . . . avoid arousing unfounded expectations by over-commitment in areas of uncertainty such as launching schedules, and possibilities of achieving orbit."
Draft news releases were agreed to by the Operations Coordinating Board on December 2, 1957.
2. The National Science Foundation and the National Academy of Sciences are responsible for the release of information concerning the "participation of the U.S. in the Earth Satellite program of the IGY" and information "relating to the scientific aspects of the program."
3. The Department of Defense has the responsibility "for the review, coordination and release of all new information relating to
the launching vehicle and the launchings."
4. The policy has been for release of maximum information concerning the Satellite within security limitations.
5. The Office of Naval Research has handled verbal inquiries about tests but the Defense Department's Office of Public Information has issued all formal statements after clearance with the Operations Coordinating Board.
6. The Press has developed effective audio-visual monitoring techniques which make it impossible to conduct any major firings at
Patrick without their knowledge.
7. It is impossible to conduct launchings safely from any other site now existing.
J.R. Killian, Jr.
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