14. Editorial Note

On February 7, 1961, The New York Times carried a story that asserted that studies made by the Kennedy administration since inauguration day showed tentatively that no “missile gap” existed in favor of the Soviet Union. On that day, the administration termed this report inaccurate but would not comment on assertions that the Times article and other similar accounts were based on a background briefing by Secretary of Defense McNamara. In a February 16 letter to Senator Everett Dirksen of Illinois, Senate Minority Leader, McNamara denied that he had told newsmen that the United States was “neither in a superior or an inferior position vis-à-vis the Soviet Union.” He stated also: “I have emphasized that acting on the President’s instructions, we have already begun to move so that there will be no such gap in the months ahead.” (The New York Times, February 7, 1961) For additional information, see Document 129.