Eisenhower Library, Eisenhower papers, Whitman file

No. 400
Memorandum of Discussion at the 161st Meeting of the National Security Council, Washington, September 9, 19531

top secret eyes only


Present at the 161st Council meeting were the following: The Vice President of the United States, presiding; the Secretary of State; the Secretary of Defense; the Director, Foreign Operations Administration; the Director, Office of Defense Mobilization. Also present were the Secretary of the Treasury; the Acting Director, Bureau of the Budget; the Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission; the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; Robert R. Bowie, Department of State; Douglas MacArthur, II, Department of State; Elbert P. Tuttle, Department of the Treasury; the Director of Central Intelligence; the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence; the Assistant to the President; Robert Cutler, Special Assistant to the President; the Acting White House Staff Secretary; Gerald D. Morgan and Bryce Harlow, White House Staff; the Executive Secretary, NSC; and the Deputy Executive Secretary, NSC.

Following is a summary of the discussion at the meeting and the chief points taken.

. . . . . . .

4. U.S. Psychological Strategy Based on Thailand (NSC Action No. 884;2 Memo for NSC from Executive Secretary, same subject, dated September 4, 19533)

Mr. Cutler refreshed the Council with regard to its previous actions with respect to this problem, noting that the present report was the response of the Psychological Strategy Board to the Council’s directive that its original plan for psychological operations in Thailand be revised in the light of the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and of the Central Intelligence Agency. Mr. Cutler also explained that the present plan for Thailand was probably the last of its kind, since the Operations Coordinating Board had now replaced [Page 685] the old PSB and would operate under different terms of reference as set forth in the Executive Order establishing the OCB.4

Mr. Cutler went on to explain the difference in function between the Planning Board and the Operations Coordinating Board,5 pointing out that the present report was a relic of earlier days when there had been widespread misconceptions about the nature and purpose of psychological plans and strategy. He nevertheless suggested that inasmuch as the present plan had been approved by the high Government officials who composed the PSB, it would be desirable that the Council approve the plan if the earlier objections of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had been removed by the changes which the PSB had made. Mr. Cutler then asked Admiral Radford6 to speak to this point.

Admiral Radford replied that he did not have a firm position on this report from all three of the Chiefs. Their one remaining concern, however, was that nothing that was proposed to be done in Thailand should detract from our assistance to Indochina. This point, said Admiral Radford, seemed to be so well met in the present revised plan that the Joint Chiefs would probably have no objection to it.

Mr. Cutler then proposed approval of the present report but not to include approval of the additional financial requirements set forth on page 3 of the Financial Appendix7 to the plan, which had been distributed to the members of the Council.

Mr. Bowie8 pointed out that the State Department had no objection to Phase I of the proposed plan, but warned that it might raise questions as to the initiation of Phase II of the plan.

Secretary Wilson confirmed that the Defense Department was not completely clear on this point either.

Mr. Cutler then inquired whether perhaps it would not be better to defer approval of Phase II and approve only Phase I minus the additional financial requirements previously alluded to.

Mr. Bowie then suggested an amendment to paragraph 2 which would clearly indicate that any decision to initiate Phase II of the plan for Thailand must be made by the National Security Council [Page 686] itself on the recommendation of the Operations Coordinating Board.

. . . . . . .

The National Security Council:9

Adopted the summary contained in pages 1 through 6 of the enclosure to the reference memorandum, subject to the addition to paragraph II [III]–2, page 5, of the following sentence:

“The decision to initiate Phase II shall be made by the National Security Council upon recommendation by the Operations Coordinating Board.”10

Agreed that the decision to seek the additional financial requirements, proposed in paragraph 3 of the Financial Data Appendix, should be deferred, pending consideration during the next session of Congress of the desirability of requesting a supplemental appropriation for the United States Information Agency.

Note: The above actions, as approved by the President, subsequently transmitted to the Operations Coordinating Board as the coordinating agency designated by the President.

. . . . . . .

S. Everett Gleason
  1. Drafted by Gleason on Sept. 10.
  2. See footnote 4, Document 398.
  3. The memorandum enclosed a revised draft of PSB D–23, titled “U.S. Psychological Strategy Based on Thailand”, dated Sept. 2; the summary section of the draft is nearly identical to that printed as Document 403.
  4. For text of Executive Order 10483, Sept. 2, see American Foreign Policy, 1950–1955: Basic Documents (Department of State publication 6446, Washington, 1957), vol. ii, pp. 3186–3187.
  5. The Planning Board formulated policy recommendations for the consideration of the National Security Council; the function of the Operations Coordinating Board was to coordinate the implementation of NSC policy.
  6. Adm. Arthur W. Radford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
  7. Not printed.
  8. Robert R. Bowie, Director of the Policy Planning Staff and Representative of the Department of State on the NSC Planning Board, was taking the place of Secretary Dulles, who had left earlier in the meeting.
  9. Paragraphs a–b and the Note below constitute NSC Action No. 900.
  10. For text of the summary, as amended, see Document 403.