282. Memorandum of Discussion Prepared by McCone, November 161

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No one in attendance except the President and DCI.

The purpose of the visit was to brief the President on the probable attitudes of General Eisenhower at meeting scheduled for following day. The President read DCI memorandum of October 21st and was informed that Eisenhower’s most recently expressed views on the Cuban situation, which were on November 7th, did not deviate materially from those expressed in the memorandum. Secondly DCI reviewed memorandum of November 16th, outlining Eisenhower’s views on organization. The President retained this memorandum and stated he would discuss the subject with Bundy. Kennedy seemed inclined to favor some form of organization different from that existing at the present time but questioned going as far as an OCB—Planning Board concept of the latter days of the Eisenhower Administration. In conclusion the President expressed gratification with the functioning of the Executive Committee; thought that perhaps the Executive Committee could be made a permanent organization subsidiary to the NSC and that it could be kept at about the same membership and that it would not be necessary to admit into the councils of the Executive Committee the large number of on-lookers who seem to have the privilege of attending NSC meetings.

If an arrangement was made, then the Executive Committee could meet regularly and be briefed by the DCI, could discuss intelligence findings and conclusions and also discuss problems and also prospective problems in the national field. McCone strongly supported this concept.

McCone pointed out that at the present time the Executive Committee meets, the principals are confronted with a series of unilateral papers prepared for the most part by State and Defense. These papers are not circulated in advance and therefore members of the Executive Committee outside of these two departments could not have the benefit [Typeset Page 1120] of advance study and advice from their respective organizations; therefore it was very difficult to establish a position. McCone pointed out that in the past, Planning Board which was made up of representatives of each of the interested Departments would consider a paper prepared by any one of the departments and then the representatives of the NSC members would brief the principals on the arguments pro and con, and the principals therefore come to the meeting with an informed and thoughtful position.

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McCone also furthermore pointed out there was a danger of the staff “taking over” the basic responsibility or the basic thinking on policy positions and this had happened under the prior Administration. However the DCI felt that with the strong leadership such as exercised by McGeorge Bundy this danger could be avoided.

The President seemed inclined to formalize the Executive Committee along the above lines. No decision was made.

McCone then briefly reviewed the Killian Board letter and steps being taken to develop a report and in answer to the President’s question, I stated that in his opinion, our failures in Cuba which were not serious, were (1) timidity of overflights in view of the Sakhalin and ChiCom incidents; (2) fixation on the probable USSR policy of deploying missiles in view of present and past policy and (3) in view of (2), a great many refugee and agent reports had not been considered or permitted into the evaluation and reporting. DCI said he thought review would bring these points into focus, that they were not necessarily applicable to other danger spots throughout the world. The President expressed satisfaction with the functioning of the Intelligence Community; made an interesting comparison with the “intelligence” of the Washington Press Corps, which observed a period of several days where there was obviously a crisis but none had the “intelligence means” to uncover what was going on.

DCI then reported on the up-coming Fell case in London and the Wynne arrest in Romania and steps taken by CIA to review and appraise CHICKADEE reports for authenticity.

John A. McCone
  1. Readout of McCone’s briefing of President Kennedy for his upcoming meeting with former President Eisenhower. Secret; Eyes Only. 2 pp. CIA Files, Job 80B01285A, Mtgs. w/President, 7/1/62–12/31/62.