277. Memorandum of Discussion, August 171

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General Taylor reported he had exhausted the list of available candidates. The only man available who seemed eligible was Mr. Byroade. McCone endorsed Byroade, as did Alexis Johnson. Gilpatric was agreeable but noncommittal. Taylor and Robert Kennedy questioned his stature and the fact that he was not “near” the President. It was then proposed that the Attorney General accept the Chairmanship; Byroade to be Deputy Chairman or Executive Director. This seemed to be agreed by everyone. McCone expressed himself as perfectly satisfied with the Attorney General as Chairman from the standpoint of his ability, his interest and his enthusiasm. However he stated that in his opinion the American public would look upon the Attorney General as one of the most important posts in Government and there existed considerable concern in the mind of the public, and most particularly the business community, of the Attorney General’s ability to devote himself to the tasks of his office if diluted by outside activities. He therefore felt that the image of the Executive Branch of the Government would be damaged once it became publicly known, and it would, that Robert Kennedy had, in addition to his tasks of Attorney General, accepted the responsibility for the Chairmanship of an important committee wholly unrelated to his office. Kennedy agreed and decision was postponed for further consideration.

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General Taylor and Bundy were very upset over McCone’s position, and in a subsequent telephone conversation (overheard by McCone), Bundy stated to the Attorney General that he felt “McCone was completely wrong.” This however was not persuasive with the AG.

NOTE: No circulation of this memorandum. Dictated just for my personal file.

John A. McCone
  1. McCone’s personal notes of the August 16 discussion of the appointment of a chairman for the Special Group. Secret; Eyes Only. 1 p. CIA Files, Job 80B01285A, DCI Memos for Record 4/7/62–8/21/62.