Harry S Truman on Homeland Security



1941: War profiteering is treason

In early 1941, Truman took a 10,000-mile tour around the US to look into rumors of defense contractor mismanagement. When he returned, he convinced a Senate and a president from his own party that waste and corruption would impair the nation's mobilization for war. On March 1, 1941, the Truman Committee was born, launching a 3-year marathon investigation into "waste, inefficiency, mismanagement, and profiteering," saving millions of dollars and the lives of American soldiers.

Truman considered war profiteering "treason." It still is. And the senators who stand by and allow it to happen must be called to account. Their refusal to act is killing our men and women in uniform.

Source: The Truth (with jokes), by Al Franken, p.262 , Oct 25, 2005

Truman Committee exposed military waste & fraud

As war clouds gathered in 1940, Truman chaired a Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program. The "Truman Committee" saved billions of dollars and countless lives by exposing waste, fraud, and incompetence in the country's military complex. One of its most dramatic achievements was forcing the Navy to test its own tank carrier against one designed by shipbuilder Andrew Jackson Higgins. In a moderate sea, the Navy's craft foundered. Higgins's skimmed the waves, landed, unloaded its tank, put it back on board, then repeated this operation several times. His troop landing craft did just as well. Higgins's boat later landed at Normandy on D-Day.
Source: The Wit & Wisdom of Harry Truman, by Ralph Keyes, p. 82-83 , Oct 12, 1999

Initiated full racial integration of the armed forces

In time he established a President's Committee on Civil Rights, initiated full integration of the armed forces, banned discrimination in federal firing, introduced legislation to outlaw lynching, and revived the Fair Employment Practices Committee.

On the eve of 1948's Democratic Convention, a delegation of southerners said they'd only support Truman for reelection if he'd soften his stand on civil rights, Truman wrote them:

"My forebears were Confederates. But my very stomach turned over when I learned that Negro soldiers, just back from overseas, were being dumped out of army trucks in Mississippi and beaten. Whatever my inclination as a native of Missouri might have been, as president I know this is bad. I shall fight to end evils like this."

Source: The Wit & Wisdom of Harry Truman, by Ralph Keyes, p.102 , Oct 12, 1999

1940s: Stop the Red advance by military aid to Europe

President Harry Truman called on Congress to stop the Red advance across Europe by approving US military aid to help governments in Greece and Turkey resist left-wing insurgencies.

Jack Kennedy thought stopping the Soviet advance in Europe was the only way to avoid repeating the mistake of not stopping the Nazi advance at the Munich Conference of 1938. Had Hitler been confronted before his deadly attack on Poland the following year, he might have retreated. Instead, it was the Allies who were thrown on the defensive. Having lived through prewar appeasement and its consequences, the WWII generation had come home from the South Pacific and Europe determined to prevent a sequel to the tragedy that had interrupted and harrowed their lives and erased so many others. This time, the dictator must be stopped in his tracks.

Source: Kennedy & Nixon, by Chris Matthews, p. 48 , Jun 3, 1996

Purpose of CIA was to avoid departmental intel bias

I think it has become necessary to take another look at the purpose and operations of our CIA. I would like to submit here the original reason why I thought it necessary to organize this Agency during my Administration.

Every President has available to him all the information gathered by the many intelligence agencies already in existence. But their collective information reached the President all too frequently in conflicting conclusions. At times, the intelligence reports tended to be slanted to conform to established positions of a given department. Therefore, I decided to set up a special organization charged with the collection of all intelligence reports, and to have those reports reach me as President without department "treatment."

The most important thing about this move was to guard against the chance of intelligence being used to influence or to lead the President into unwise decisions--I thought it was necessary that the President do his own thinking and evaluating.

Source: OpEd by Pres. Truman in Washington Post (page A11) , Dec 22, 1963

CIA should not have operations, especially in peacetime

For some time I have been disturbed by the way CIA has been diverted from its original Assignment. It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the Government.

I never had any thought that when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak and dagger operations. Some of the embarrassment we have experienced are attributable to the fact that this quiet intelligence arm of the President has been so removed from its intended role that it is being interpreted as a symbol of sinister & mysterious foreign intrigue--and a subject for cold war enemy propaganda.

With all the nonsense put out by Communist propaganda about "Yankee imperialism," the last thing we needed was for the CIA to be seized upon as something akin to a subverting influence in the affairs of other people.

I would like to see the CIA be restored to its original assignment as the intelligence arm of the President--and that its operational duties be terminated or properly used elsewhere.

Source: OpEd by Pres. Truman in Washington Post (page A11) , Dec 22, 1963

Cold War averted World War Three

"I suppose that history will remember my term in office as the years when the 'cold war' began to overshadow our lives. I have had hardly a day in office that has not been dominated by this all-embracing struggle--this conflict between those who love freedom and those who would lead the world back into slavery and darkness. And always in the background there has been the atomic bomb.

"But when history says that my term of office saw the beginning of the cold war, it will also say that in those 8 years we have set the course that can win it. We have succeeded in carving out a new set of policies to attain peace--positive policies, policies of world leadership, policies that express faith in other free people. We have averted World War Three up to now, and we may already have succeeded in establishing conditions which can keep that war from happening far ahead as man can see."

Source: The Wit & Wisdom of Harry Truman, by Ralph Keyes, p.165-166 , Jan 15, 1953

Propose Soviet disarmament; but build up army to 3 million

The United Nations, the world's greatest hope for peace, has come through a year of trial stronger and more useful than ever. The free nations have stood together in blocking Communist attempts to tear up the charter.

At the present session of the United Nations in Paris, we, together with the British and the French, offered a plan to reduce and control all armaments under a foolproof inspection system. This is a concrete, practical proposal for disarmament.

If the Soviet leaders were to accept this proposal, it would lighten the burden of armaments, and permit the resources of the earth to be devoted to the good of mankind. But until the Soviet Union accepts a sound disarmament proposal, and joins in peaceful settlements, we have no choice except to build up our defenses.

During this past year we added more than a million men & women to our Armed Forces. The total is now nearly 3 million. We have made rapid progress in the field of atomic weapons.

Source: Pres. Truman's 1952 State of the Union message to Congress , Jan 9, 1952

Mobilize by extending draft & taxes to pay for defense

The Congress will need to consider legislation affecting all the aspects of our mobilization:
  1. Appropriations for our military buildup.
  2. Extension of the Selective Service Act.
  3. Military and economic aid to help build up the strength of the free world.
  4. Extension of the authority to expand production and to stabilize prices, wages, and rents.
  5. Improvement of our agricultural laws to help obtain the kinds of farm products we need for the defense effort.
  6. Improvement of our labor laws to make sure that we have steady production in this emergency.
  7. Housing and training of defense workers and the full use of all our manpower resources.
  8. Means for increasing the supply of trained medical personnel critically needed for the defense effort.
  9. Aid to the States to meet the most urgent needs of our elementary and secondary schools. Some of our plans will have to be deferred for the time being.
  10. A major increase in taxes to meet the cost of the defense effort.
Source: Pres. Truman's 1951 State of the Union message to Congress , Jan 8, 1951

UN should control weapons of mass destruction

We are working toward the time when the United Nations will control weapons of mass destruction and will have the forces to preserve international law and order.

As an immediate means to this end we must continue our support of the European recovery program. This program has achieved great success in the first 2 years of its operation, but it has not yet been completed. If we were to stop this program now, or cripple it, just because it is succeeding, we should be doing exactly what the enemies of democracy want us to do. We should be just as foolish as a man who, for reasons of false economy, failed to put a roof on his house after building the foundation and the walls.

Source: Pres. Truman's 1950 State of the Union message to Congress , Jan 4, 1950

  • Click here for definitions & background information on Homeland Security.
  • Click here for VoteMatch responses by Harry S Truman.
  • Click here for AmericansElect.org quiz by Harry S Truman.
Other past presidents on Homeland Security: Harry S Truman on other issues:
Former Presidents:
Barack Obama(D,2009-2017)
George W. Bush(R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton(D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr.(R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan(R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter(D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford(R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon(R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson(D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy(D,1961-1963)
Dwight Eisenhower(R,1953-1961)
Harry S Truman(D,1945-1953)

Past Vice Presidents:
V.P.Joseph Biden
V.P.Dick Cheney
V.P.Al Gore
V.P.Dan Quayle
Sen.Bob Dole

Political Parties:
Republican Party
Democratic Party
Libertarian Party
Green Party
Reform Party
Natural Law Party
Tea Party
Constitution Party
Civil Rights
Foreign Policy
Free Trade
Govt. Reform
Gun Control
Health Care
Homeland Security
Social Security
Tax Reform

Page last updated: Feb 22, 2022