THE PRESIDENT. I have an announcement or two to make, one of which you seem to have gotten from the Senate. I am making Charles R. Denny, Jr., Acting Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.
And I want to issue a short statement about the air conference at Bermuda. I am very well pleased with it; and you will be handed a copy of the release as you go out. [Reading] 'The major purpose of the two governments'--this is the last paragraph-'in regard to civil air transport has now been set forth in writing.' And the paragraph from the conference is quoted here.
And I also want to say to you that the Army is doing a right good job. Six million, 300 thousand discharges now, on the 22d of February. In the Navy it must be about a million, three. So that makes over seven million who have been--over seven and a half million who have been discharged since last October.
Q. A million, 300 thousand?
THE PRESIDENT. I think the Navy is about a million, 300 thousand, and Army at 6 million, 300 thousand.
Q. Is this all since V-J Day?
THE PRESIDENT. This is--Oh yes--Oh yes.
Q. Since October?
THE PRESIDENT. In September there had been--well, we'll say in August--by the end of August there had been a little over 500,000 discharged. And now, on the 22d of February, the--6 million, 300 thousand in the Army; and the Navy, I think, is about a million, 300 thousand.
I have this from the President of Harvard University, which I think might help the situation. He, President Eliot of Harvard, speaking of the University, said, 'Things seem to be going fairly well, now that a spirit of pessimism prevails in all the departments.' That could apply to the Government, I think.
Q. By a spirit, or with a spirit of pessimism?
THE PRESIDENT. Now that a spirit of pessimism prevails in all the departments.
Q. When did he say that, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT. Yesterday or the day before. [Laughter] I think he was talking about politics--not the Government.
Mr. Ross: That was some time ago, Mr. President. He said it was Eliot.
THE PRESIDENT. Oh, I have got the wrong President. This was said by President Eliot of Harvard, and somebody said that would apply now.
Q. When was Eliot last President of Harvard?
THE PRESIDENT. Oh, 25 or 30 years ago. [Laughter]
I have appointed Julius A. Krug to be Secretary of the Interior.
I just wanted to say that I had considered a large number of names, among them Senator O'Mahoney, but I decided that O'Mahoney's usefulness in the Senate should not be interfered with. He has been there for 113 years, and Senator Barkley was very happy that Senator O'Mahoney was going to stay in the Senate.
I think Mr. Krug is an able administrator. He was WPB Administrator here, and he has had a great deal of experience in administrative jobs. And I think he will make an excellent Secretary of the Interior. He will take office the 15th of March.
Q. The 15th of March?
THE PRESIDENT. Yes.
Q. Mr. President, is that your own personal selection in that case, is it?
THE PRESIDENT. It happens to be, yes. [Laughter]
Q. Mr. President, what is--[more laughter]--what is Krug doing now?
THE PRESIDENT. He has organized an engineering firm of his own in the City of New York, and he is doing a marvelous business.
Q. He is head of the firm?
THE PRESIDENT. I don't know about that, whether he is the head of the firm. He is a member of an engineering firm in New York.
Q. What happens to Oscar Chapman?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, he will still be Assistant Secretary of the Interior.
Q. Still be Assistant?
Q. How many people on your staff were familiar with your selection, up until what hour? [Laughter] I checked them all, that's the reason I want to know.
THE PRESIDENT. Not any.
Q. Tony's practically cross-examining you.
THE PRESIDENT. Well, Tony has got a right to cross-examine me. You know he was confused the last time, and I told him I wasn't. I knew something he didn't.
Q. Did most of them learn for the first time this morning?
THE PRESIDENT. Yes. They all learnt it this morning. [More laughter]
Q. What is Mr. Krug's home State?
THE PRESIDENT. Wisconsin. [More laughter]
Q. Mr. President, when is the Panama Canal going to be returned to civil administration?
THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer that. I don't know.
Q. Mr. President, have you had any preview of the speech Mr. Churchill will make next week in--
THE PRESIDENT. No, I have not.
Q. Whatever speech he makes, then, will be made on his own, without--
THE PRESIDENT. That is correct. That's the way it should be. I don't know. After all, he has the greatest command of the English language of anybody in the world.
Q. If he comes out for closer Anglo-American unity, the contention will be that you were familiar with what he will say?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I am not familiar with what he will say. And I won't be familiar with what he will say. He will be responsible for his speech. That will be made perfectly clear when I introduce him.
Q. Mr. President, does Mr. Bowles's new job give him general supervisory powers over CPA as well as OPA?
THE PRESIDENT. What's that?
Q. Does Mr. Bowles's new job as Economic Stabilization Director give him general supervisory powers over the Civilian Production Administration as well as OPA?
THE PRESIDENT. No, it does not.
Q. Mr. President, do you favor one bridge or two bridges, to replace the highway bridge over the Potomac?
THE PRESIDENT. Here in Washington? Still considering that. I went down and took a look at it with the Secretary of the Interior, and I am still considering it. I haven't yet studied the other viewpoint on the subject. [Laughter] But I imagine in the long run I will make a decision on it some day.
Q. Did Mr. Ickes make a recommendation?
THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Ickes? He made a recommendation for one bridge.
Q. Mr. President, your Cabinet subcommittee on food has been very busy. Secretary Anderson, meanwhile, was saying that we will not meet our food export quotas. Do you expect to issue any more memoranda or directives on that subject?
THE PRESIDENT. We have that under consideration. Now, if it is necessary to issue any more, they will be issued.
Q. Mr. President, with respect to that bridge, have you had any contact with any other Government or semiofficial sources, like the planners, and the various commissions, art commissions? They have--all of them have varying views on it.
THE PRESIDENT. I was with the Capital Park and Planning Commission at the same time that I was with Secretary Ickes; and then Mr. MacDonald of the Roads has been in and talked to me about it, and there are several other people who are interested in it. I haven't seen the Institute of American Architects yet, but I suppose I will. [Laughter]
Q. Have you seen the District Commissioners on it?
THE PRESIDENT. I haven't seen the District Commissioners--
Q. Was MacDonald for one or two bridges?
THE PRESIDENT. He was for two.
Q. I thought so.
Q. Mr. President, the Russians last night said--they announced that they had achieved a unified command of their armed forces.
THE PRESIDENT. I congratulate them on it.
Q. Will that have any bearing on our--
THE PRESIDENT. Why should it? We are tending to our own business, and I suppose they will be able to attend to theirs. They have up to date, and so have we.
Q. Did you say you congratulate or congratulated?
THE PRESIDENT. Congratulate them. I said I do it now. I had no reason to do it previously.
Q. Could you tell us anything about your 3:30 conference with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Treasury?
THE PRESIDENT. It was an administrative matter which interested only the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Attorney General, and the President.
Q. It has up to this point. If you will let us know, we would be interested. [Laughter]
THE PRESIDENT. I don't think you would.
Q. We were told it might have some bearing on the size of this world commission in Canada, in connection--
THE PRESIDENT. No connection with it whatever. I can say that to you.
Q. Mr. President, you couldn't give us any idea what it was?
THE PRESIDENT. No. It's none of your business. [Laughter]
Q. Can we carry on the Pauley story into our conference? Is there any change in the--
THE PRESIDENT. None whatever. I answered that last week, and it still stands--still stands.
Q. Mr. President, did you discuss it at lunch at the Capitol today
THE PRESIDENT. I did not.
Q.--or was it hot tamales only?
THE PRESIDENT. It was chili. It was chili, and then apple pie and coffee. And it was good! [Laughter]
Reporter: Well, thank you, Mr. President.