245. Memorandum from Bundy to President Kennedy, September 281

[Facsimile Page 1]


  • Washington News

1. The McCone appointment is the big news here. I, for one, underestimated the strength of the opposition in the second and third levels of CIA and State. It appears that most of the people involved in intelligence estimates on atomic energy matters thought McCone was highly prejudiced. He also had a reputation, in these circles, as an “operator” whose loyalty to Administration policy was doubtful. So there is a significant problem in working out a pattern of strong cooperation and support for him.

Less important in the long run, but more urgent at the moment, is the unrest in the President’s Board of Consultants on Foreign Intelligence. Killian has made noises about resigning, and indicates that he thinks one or two other members of the Board may also withdraw. In part this is because they feel they were not consulted, but more deeply it arises from the fact that several of them—Killian, Gray, and Baker—have had sharp disagreements with McCone in the past. General Taylor has talked to Bobby about this and probably is trying to calm Killian down. I am planning to have a talk with Allen Dulles about it with the same purpose in mind, and I think I can also do something with Baker and the scientific community generally. I have also talked to Joe Alsop, and I think we will get a helpful column from him, aimed in part at this same problem. He thinks it is the best possible appointment and says he will try to say so in terms calculated to encourage sensible scientists and bureaucrats. (I have some doubt whether he will succeed—Joe’s feeling is that anyone who is against McCone is a proven follower of twaddley, and I doubt his ability to be gentle with people whom he views in this light—unfortunately his diagnosis is wrong, and some very good men are disquieted.)

2. Bob McNamara has issued planning instructions for the military budget of fiscal ’63, and there is one point in it which General Taylor and I think we should call to your attention. Bob has asked the Army to plan on a force level ceiling of 929,000 men for fiscal ’63, as against [Typeset Page 852] a level of 1,081,000 toward which the Army is now building, on the basis of the add-ons and call-ups so far authorized in connection with the current crisis. [Facsimile Page 2] Thus, budget planning emphasizes a very substantial reduction from crisis levels, and in particular it implies that the Reserve units and additional draftees of this crisis are not to be held in a permanent reinforcement of the Army. This bothers us as believers in permanently strengthened conventional forces, but it bothers us even more in terms of possible impact on our Berlin posture. Budget planning figures of this kind tend to leak rather quickly, and clearly this instruction will give the appearance that we expect the crisis to cool off so that the Army strength can be pushed back about where it was when you came in. From some points of view, this may be a good noise, but the matter is one which we think you should consider and decide.

I have talked to Bob McNamara about this, and he understands our concern. His own feeling is that it is better to have planning done on this narrow basis with possible separate additional arrangements later. He sees the point, but he still would prefer not to build larger figures into his budget planning now. He is struggling to get his budget down from $60 billion to a much lower figure, and he says that if he lets the Army plan for a million men or more, every single item in the military budget will be swollen accordingly. If he later plans for specific additions, he hopes to avoid this fattening factor. His view is that we can meet the problem of [illegible in the original] on the budget ceiling by making it plain that we can add to this figure at any time as planning proceeds. Max and I are not quite persuaded—I think both of us in the end believe that 930,000 men are simply not enough for the world we live in, and that we should do better to recognize this fact and accept its costs.

3. There is an important management decision brewing in the foreign aid field. Dave Bell has been working on the executive order to put the new legislation into effect, and he is coming up against the key question of assignment of responsibility, within the Department of State, for coordination of military and economic assistance. Formally, this must go down through the Secretary of State, but the operating question is which of his subordinates will do the job for him, since no Secretary can find the time for this type of judgment—and, in any event, this is not Dean Rusk’s major interest. Bell and I and our respective experts are inclined to press hard for delegation of authority here to Fowler Hamilton. In this case he would act as the Secretary’s agent and not simply as the Director of the AID agency, and he would have to show the kind of wider judgment that is implied in balancing political, military, and economic considerations. But of the available senior men in the Department, he seems the best qualified. And, in particular, this seems a better answer than the [Facsimile Page 3] one the Secretary may [Typeset Page 853] prefer—which is to have the coordination managed directly from his office by a relatively junior special assistant acting in the name of the Secretary. An arrangement of this sort simply would not stick, and the result would be that issues would always be pressed beyond the Department to the White House. Big issues are bound to come to you, but day-to-day matters really should be settled by a man who has the seniority to make decisions stick. The Pentagon is happy to entrust this to Hamilton. Dave Bell is going to try to sell this solution to the Secretary of State, but if he fails, you are likely to find the issue on your desk next week.

4. Chester Bowles and I smoked a peace pipe this week. He is still wholly unclear about his relation to the Secretary and to the Department. With a man who had time to keep a close eye on him, I am now convinced that he could be an effective deputy for certain kinds of work. He really does have a sharp eye for personnel, and he understands better than the Secretary the need for executive energy in the geographical bureaus and other Assistant Secretaryships. The trouble is that he is constantly wanting to make policy, without even knowing, really, that this is what he is doing. And his policy just is not on all fours with your own, and still less with Mr. Rusk’s. I recommended to him that he have a wholly frank and clear-cut discussion with the Secretary, but I am not hopeful of the result. Rusk finds it hard to use a Deputy, and Bowles finds it even harder to be a No. 2.

Yet when we turned to talk of empty embassies and how to fill them, Bowles made good sense, and I think his recommendations are well worth your attention. Unless you are planning to keep him in the deep freeze, I suggest that you invite him in for a talk on this specific subject.

5. The news from Syria is far from clear, but the initial sense of the problem, all around the town, is that we should avoid any action whatever. The net consequences for us of any given result are very hard to predict, but any appearance of U.S. interference would almost surely produce damage to our own position.

6. On Berlin, the most important focus of interest is of course the Rusk-Gromyko conversations. You will have heard directly from the Secretary, and we are holding this package to include the memorandum of conversation. There will be more talks here before the Saturday meeting, and if important questions of tactics arise, we will be sure to check with you.

McG. B.
  1. Conveys information on personnel matters; McNamara and the military budget; management of foreign aid; and news from Syria and Berlin. Secret. 3 pp. Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Departments and Agencies Series, CIA General 9/61–11/61.