55. Editorial Note

In a memorandum for the record dated November 20, 1961, Colonel Julian J. Ewell of Taylor’s staff reported on the White House daily staff meeting that day. The memorandum reads in part:

“A procedural discussion was conducted on country and regional guideline papers. The policy and planning shop in State is preparing these papers, which are approved in principle by Mr. Bowles, circulated to the other Departments for comment, and then approved for final policy by Mr. Bowles or Mr. Rusk. State then requests NSC to rescind the old NSC policy paper on the area. The State guideline paper then becomes the substitute for an NSC-type paper on the area involved. Rostow observed that he had told the NSC staff not to bother with these papers, that they can’t afford to waste time on them. Bundy agreed, saying that the actual policy was determined by adding up actions that the President had approved on the country concerned or by asking the White House staff how the President felt about a particular country. Bromley and I pointed out that the low level staff officer was not always aware of the decisions or White House thinking, and tended to rely on the guideline paper regardless of whether it was good or not. Bundy recognized this aspect and directed that the NSC staff would do a quick check on such papers before they were finally approved, for substance, not for style.” (National Defense University, Taylor Papers, Daily Staff Meetings 9-12/61) “Bromley” refers to Bromley Smith, Executive Secretary of the National Security Council.