350. Editorial Note

On December 6, 1963, Rusk, McNamara, Taylor, McCone, Bell, Wilson, Colby, McGeorge and William Bundy, U. Alexis Johnson, Koren, and Hilsman met in a conference room at the White House to discuss Vietnam. The meeting lasted from 3:10 to approximately 4:30 p.m. Shortly after the meeting began, Ball joined the group. (Johnson Library, Rusk Appointment Book) No memorandum of the discussion has been found, but the gist of the meeting and the resulting recommendations are described in Document 351. In a memorandum to Krulak, December 12, Hilsman stated: “as a result of the Cabinet level meeting at the Department of State on December 6, 1963, a number of actions regarding Vietnam have been set in motion. We are not at this time prepared to go to the President for a decision on any of these matters. Nevertheless we feel that an interim report to the President telling him where we stand with respect to the actions directed under NSC [NSAM] 243 is required.” Hilsman’s draft interim report to the President included the recommendations set forth in Document 351 and used as a basis the two parts to the attachment to Document 347. There is no indication that this memorandum by Hilsman of December 12 with its annexes was [Page 685] passed to the President but an undated copy is in Johnson Library, National Security File, National Security Council Series, NSAM 273, South Vietnam.