Nuclear Test Ban Treaty

Published: 1963
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President John F. Kennedy and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara are seen meeting in this January 4, 1961 file photo at the Carlyle Hotel in New York city. (UPI/File)

"The Senate was called on to ratify the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. During hearings on the historic three-power pact, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara took this view."

Robert McNamara: "I do not pretend that this or any other agreement between great contending powers can be risk-free. Surely this one is not. And even under the doubtful contingency of Soviet testing in the prohibited environments without being detected, the United States will maintain its ability to survive a surprise attack with sufficient power to destroy the Soviet Union."

Don Fulsome: "Dr. Edward Teller, the father of the H bomb, disagreed."

Dr. Edward Teller: "If you have decided this treaty, you will have given away the future safety of this country. You will have increased the chances of war, and therefore, no matter what the embarrassment may be in rejecting the treaty, I earnestly urge you to do so and not to have decide the treaty which is before you."

Don Fulsome: "Despite such testimony, the treaty was ratified by a vote of 80 to 19.

"The Congress also investigated in 1963. The Senate Rules Committee probed former Senate Majority Secretary Bobby Baker's off-the-Hill activities. Baker, a protégé of Lyndon Johnson, resigned after his outside business dealings took on a possible conflict-of-interest tinge.

"For Senator John McClellan's Investigations Subcommittee, it was a busy year. The group looked into the Pentagon's award of a multibillion-dollar warplane contract, heard former Texas fertilizer king Billie Sol Estes repeatedly take the Fifth Amendment about his toppled farm empire, and the Panel took testimony from a 58-year-old convict, a smalltime hoodlum for Casa Nostra, the secret underworld syndicate popularly known as the Mafia. Until he decided the underworld was trying to rub him out, Joseph Valachi was loyal to the blood oath he had taken not to betray the organization. The avenging mobster told McClellan how a gangland cohort had initiated him during a 1930 ceremony."

Mr. Joseph Valachi: "There was a gun and a knife on the table. I repeated some words he told me, but I only could explain what he meant: you live by the gun and by the knife, and you die by the gun and by the knife. Well, then I … he gave me a … a piece of paper, I suppose a -- you know, and burn it, and then in your hand you say, "This is the way I burn if I expose this organization."

Unknown speaker: "You'd be burned to ashes."

Mr. Joseph Valachi: "Right."