We continue with the conclusion of Fred Goerner’s July 1968 presentation to a group of Republican House members, which was, inexplicably, chaired by Kentucky Governor Louie Broady Nunn.
During his four-page presentation, “Crisis in Credibility—Truth in Government,” Goerner succinctly laid out the facts that revealed the presence and deaths of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan that he’d found during his four investigative forays to Saipan during the early 1960s, a remarkable story that made The Search for Amelia Earhart a bestseller. Goerner did his all he could to win the assembled Congressmen, most of whose names remain unknown, to the cause of securing justice for the doomed fliers. It remains the closest thing to a fair hearing the truth in the Earhart disappearance has ever received by a U.S. government group of any kind.
We continue with Fred Goerner’s transcript:
With a copy of that memorandum in hand, I polled the members of the Government information Subcommittee, and found shock and disbelief. Not one of the Congressmen or any member of their staffs had communicated or even intimated such an attitude to the Navy Department. The Honorable Donald Rumsfeld of Illinois and The Honorable John E. Moss of California, Chairman of the Committee, vowed to get an answer.
Three months ago the matter reached a confrontation in the office of the Secretary of the Navy where apologies were issued to me and to the members of the Government Information Subcommittee and the offending memorandum was withdrawn from the file. During the process two Navy officers accused each other of being the source of the wretched character assassination.
How and why such a spurious document reached the head of a file being declassified after thirty years for the edification of my fellow journalists still has not been explained. I am now considering a legal suit to be filed in Federal District Court in San Francisco to determine that fact.
But what of the justice of truth for Miss Earhart and Captain Noonan. At this moment two high-ranking former military officers and two highly-placed civilians (the names are in the hands of Congressman Rumsfeld) stand ready to reveal the truth if long-standing security restrictions which bind them can be removed. In spite of this testimony, the Navy Department maintains there are NO restrictions; however, the Navy’s cognizant authority will not issue a letter to that effect to free the men. Why such deception after thirty-one years? What possibly about Earhart and Noonan could be that important?
The following quote is from a man who a dozen years ago served in one of the highest and most responsible positions in this country/is top intelligence gathering department: “It was well known within high ranking intelligence circles that Miss Earhart, at the time of her disappearances was under government instructions to fly over and observe suspected Japanese military developments in the islands of the Pacific. There were some serious blunders made by the Navy in their attempt to provide Miss Earhart with proper guidance following the completion of her observations and the Navy was determined to conceal their participation and failure in this part of the operation. The concealment of errors is congenital with the armed services and particularly so in connection with any covert type of operation such as this was. The mission was not specifically for the United States Navy, but rather was ordered at the request of the highest echelons in the government.”
In other words, when the full truth regarding Earhart and Noonan is known, a new view of the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the years before Pearl Harbor will emerge.
Should that be classified because of “national security”? I believe not.
I would like to ask you to make the obtaining of justice for Miss Earhart and Captain Noonan the business of the Republican Party this year, but I will not be that foolish. I do ask, however, (The Scripps League of Newspapers joins me) that the Republican platform reflect a constructive concern for the American public’s right to know.
Listen to our youngsters cry, “Tell it like it is.” They have seen our hypocrisies and they want better from us. There is a great yearning in our country for a clean, emancipating wind of truth. And the political party that first fully realizes that fact will, in the vernacular, have it made! Continually one hears today the question, “What has happened to patriotism in America?”
Trust, belief and confidence are at the heart of patriotism, and those American strengths have been severely shaken in recent years by literally hundreds of incidents of news manipulation, deception, double-talking and double-dealing by the executive branch of our government. The spirit of patriotism must be restored in this country, but it cannot be rekindled by propaganda or simply by telling Americans they should be patriotic because it’s the thing to do. It will only be regenerated when Americans are convinced their government is making every effort to truthfully inform them in every area of national concern and when they once again believe their national leaders are pursuing with dedication the principles of human behavior upon which the Constitution of The United States was created.
“Foul!” many will cry. “My God, what about secrets of state and national security. If we have to tell everything we know, you might as well hand the country over to our enemies.”
“Nonsense,” is the answer to that.
The protection of information vital to national security must be maintained. What must be eliminated is the temptation to use “national security” as a cover to manipulate facts or hide information in the interest of vague political and diplomatic pragmatisms which are intended to protect individuals or organizations from the consequences of responsibility.
What can be done to diminish the gap and improve relations between government and the public?
Increase the purview and investigatory ability and authority of the Foreign Relations and Government Information Subcommittee of the Committee on Government Operations of The House of Representatives.
Insure [sic] by legislation that control of that Committee always remains in the hands of the Minority, so the ability to investigate cannot be frustrated by partisanship. Plug the loopholes in the Freedom of Information law by establishing a board with a representation of security-cleared journalists who can determine what is and is not being served by the label, “national security.”
(These suggestions and many more are contained in a new book titled, CRISIS IN CREDIBILITY, written by Bruce Ladd, Jr., of Washington, D.C. It should be read by every person who seeks public office.)
My appearance before this committee is a clear tribute to the degree of freedom we enjoy in America and I am grateful. The best way we can protect that freedom is to make sure we are told the truth. All of it.
Thank you. (End of Goerner presentation.)
Goerner’s riveting presentation to the lawmakers produced nothing of significance; the sacred cow was sacrosanct, then and now. None of his suggestions were ever acted upon and the serious allegations he made about the Navy’s key role in Earhart’s alleged secret mission remain unproven but quite possible.