595. Memorandum for the Record by the White House Staff Secretary (Goodpaster)1

I presented to the President (on about October 8th) the Defense recommendation for flights over Cuba by U–2 aircraft under SAC command. I reported the inquiry made by Gordon Gray and myself into the necessity for such operations, both for information of value to the conduct of clandestine operations, and for information as to any missile sites being prepared there. I also told him that, as to the question of such flights being conducted by military as against civilian agencies, my inquiry had disclosed that either would be capable of doing it. I recommended to him against military auspices.

He strongly agreed, and disapproved the recommendation as received, on these grounds. I then spoke to him about civilian conduct of the flights. After discussion, I notified Gordon Gray on my own responsibility that it would not be necessary to bring the question of civilian conduct to the President’s attention, but that he and his associates in the special group should feel free to authorize them if they seemed justified.

I fully explained to Mr. Gray the special aspect of this, and agreed with him that he might convey this to Mr. Merchant. Later he informed me that he did so. Because of the problem created by Mr. Gray’s hospitalization, I also gave a full explanation to Mr. Gates. Outside my office, only Mr. Gray, Mr. Merchant and Mr. Gates have the full explanation. I told Mr. Allen Dulles on my own responsibility that there was no need to seek higher authority. Should any untoward result occur, we are agreed the matter will be dealt with along these lines.

Today Mr. Gray told me the group had met and decided to go forward with the operation on a civilian nonattributed basis.

Brigadier General, USA
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Project “Clean-Up” Records, Intelligence Matters. Top Secret.