Letter of Senator Joseph O'Mahoney (D-Wyoming) to President-Elect John F. Kennedy Urging a Review of the Judgments in the International Oil Cartel Case, December 6, 1960

From: Burton I. Kaufman, The Oil Cartel Case: A Documentary Study of Antitrust Activity in the Cold War Era (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1978), pp. 183-84.

SOURCE: Department of Justice File, 60-57-140.

Dear Senator:

I would like to bring to your attention a matter of considerable importance as you take over the great responsibilities of your high office. It directly involves the foreign commerce of the United States in the Middle East and also has a bearing upon the formulation of our foreign policy in this area.

On November 14, 1960 the Department of Justice agreed to the entry in the Federal District Court in New York City of consent judgments against Standard Oil Company of New Jersey and Gulf Oil Corporation, in partial settlement of the international oil cartel case (United States v. Standard Oil Company, New Jersey, et al). You will remember that in 1957 I was Acting Chairman of the Antitrust and Monopoly Subcommittee when it undertook public hearings on the Emergency Oil Lift following the Suez crisis. These hearings explored many important problems in the international oil cartel case and resulted in the submission to the Department of Justice of various recommendations by the Antitrust Subcommittee.

This Subcommittee continues to have a vital interest in the terms of the settlement of this case, and in the future disposition of the case as against the remaining defendants. It would be premature to draw any specific conclusions at this time concerning the judgments which have been entered. However, I earnestly urge that you have your Attorney General make an appraisal of this case at the earliest possible opportunity in order that he may be satisfied the best interests of the United States are being served. There is special urgency for a thorough analysis of the settlement of this case since, unfortunately, national security reasons are advanced for withholding full public disclosure of the purposes and effect of the settlement. Unfortunately, the history of international oil problems reveals that all too frequently the interests of the private international oil companies have taken precedence over all other considerations.

In addition, I am disturbed because of the attitude of the present Administration that many of the oil matters in the Middle East be treated as private commercial transactions from which the United States Government is largely excluded, even though they directly involve the foreign commerce of the United States and vitally affect our foreign policy.

Again may I convey to you my earnest and sincere best wishes for the success of your Administration in the momentous days that lie ahead.


Joseph C. O'Mahoney

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