514. Memorandum of a Conversation, Washington, May 2, 19601

SUBJECT

  • Cuban Policy and Operations

PARTICIPANTS

  • The Acting Secretary
  • Mr. Allen Dulles, Director, CIA
  • Mr. Gordon Gray, Special Assistant to the President
  • Mr. Richard Bissell, CIA
  • Assistant Secretary Rubottom

Mr. Gray referred to his letter of April 29 to the Under Secretary,2 copies of which were sent to Messrs. Dulles, Hare and Goodpaster, and said that he was responsible for the calling of the meeting to discuss the coordination of policy and operations respecting Cuba.

The Under Secretary, referring to the letter, said that the Department was satisfied with the coordination now being effected under a plan approved by the Secretary. There are two committees which are meeting regularly under that plan: one is an “open” meeting composed of representatives of most of the interested agencies of the Government which meets daily, chaired by Mr. Mallory; the second, a “covert” meeting, attended by a much smaller group, including a CIA representative, Mr. Whedbee, and Mr. Gray, is also chaired by Mr. Mallory. Then there is the OCB weekly group chaired by Mr. John Hill, Special Assistant to Mr. Rubottom, as well as the regular weekly meeting of Messrs. Rubottom, Mallory, King, Gomez, Hill and Curtis which takes up Cuban and other operational subjects of interest to the Department. The latter group discusses exclusively “covert” subjects, except for exchanges of information regarding policy decisions in prospect affecting operations.

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The Under Secretary said that, while Mr. Rubottom did not chair all of the committees which were meeting regularly, he was informed of their work. He and the Secretary feel that the work is proceeding satisfactorily under Mr. Rubottom’s direction and that there is adequate coordination.

The Under Secretary acknowledged that the activity under the chairmanship of Secretary Anderson had not been known to him. Mr. Dulles said that he was aware of the committee’s work and thought that it grew out of a discussion that the President had with Secretaries Herter and Anderson following a meeting in the President’s office some time ago.3 Mr. Rubottom recalled a meeting on March 17, during which Mr. Anderson referred to some of his discussions [less than 1 line not declassified] regarding the Cuban situation, but he did not recall that the President suggested the establishment of such a committee. Even though there was no record of a telephone conversation or other discussion regarding the establishment of this committee, chaired by Lucius Clay according to Mr. Dulles, it was generally acknowledged that the President might have requested Secretary Anderson to create the committee and so informed Governor Herter. The Under Secretary said that he would raise the matter with Secretary Anderson.

Discussion next centered on the close liaison that has been established between Mr. Rubottom personally, and the key members of his staff responsible for Cuban affairs, with the business community. Mr. Rubottom told of the visit last week by officials of the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey4 who had discussed (1) their problem of overdue commercial payments in Cuba and (2) the prospect that they might be requested by the Cuban Government to run Russian crude through their Cuban refinery. He was told that the company had decided in the negative regarding point 2. The company had received one $600,000 payment from the Cuban Government in accordance with the so-called 90-day plan earlier in April and was expecting to receive two additional payments prior to the end of May. A firm decision regarding cash-in-advance payments for oil would have to be weighed on the scales with the action of their competitors in Cuba, the Texas Co. and the Shell Co., according to the Esso officials.

Mr. Gray read from a memorandum5 which apparently referred to a briefing session held by Mr. Hill last week for the benefit of various [Page 908]Government agencies who do not participate in the regular meetings on Cuba. The Commerce Department representative, according to Mr. Gray, had discussed the “problem” created for them by businessmen callers inquiring about the overall Cuban situation. Mr. Gray concurred that the purpose of Mr. Hill’s briefing had been precisely to inform representatives of Commerce and other interested Departments regarding the Cuban situation. Mr. Rubottom said that representatives of certain small companies might be going to the Commerce Department to inquire about Cuba. Those with serious problems and long-term interests in Cuba were keeping in close touch with the Department.

Prior to the close of the meeting, Messrs. Dulles and Bissell expressed their satisfaction with the present plans for coordinating matters affecting Cuba. Mr. Gray then said that he was satisfied and that he could carry out his responsibilities.

  1. Source: Department of State, Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 64 D 199, May 1960. Secret; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Rubottom and approved on May 8 by Dillon. The place and time of the meeting are not indicated on the source text.
  2. Document 512.
  3. See Document 486. The meeting with Secretaries Herter and Anderson has not been further identified.
  4. A memorandum of Rubottom’s conversation with these officials on April 27 is in Department of State, Rubottom–Mann Files: Lot 62 D 418, Cuba (April–June 1960).
  5. Presumably a reference to an outline paper entitled “For OCB Briefing—April 28, 1960,” a copy of which is ibid., ARA Special Assistant Files: Lot 62 D 24, Cuban Special Meeting of OCB Group 1960.