94. Editorial Note

By June 1962 there was considerable discussion within the U.S. Government of the ultimate disposition of the paper on “Basic National Security Policy” (see Documents 70, 83, 90, and 93). At times consideration of the question was intermingled with that of the publicity the paper had received, a development described in Document 95.

On June 13, 1962, Secretary McNamara, in a letter covering a list of changes in the May 7 draft proposed by his Department, wrote Secretary Rusk that “the thrust of the proposed policy seems highly suitable,” and that as “between the short and the long versions of the paper, I believe the long version to be the preferable format. The shorter one lacks the amplifying background so necessary to full understanding of policy statements as well as to setting the tone of policy.” McNamara suggested that more sensitive portions of the final version might be excerpted and distributed in an NSAM. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 218, JCS Records, JMF 3001 (26 Nov 62))

At the White House daily staff meeting on June 20, according to a memorandum for the record by Colonel Ewell, “there was a long discussion of the BNSP due to its having broken into the papers again recently.” McGeorge Bundy decided to obtain the paper “without having Rusk take an official position on it.” Then “Bundy would try to find out what the President actually wanted to do with it.” (National Defense University, Taylor Papers, Daily Staff Meetings, May-September 1962)

In a June 28 memorandum to McNamara, Assistant Secretary of Defense Nitze indicated that by that time the June 22 draft paper was with the President. Nitze pointed out that the Department of State regarded it as unlikely that the President “would simply approve it forthwith,” and that it “would recommend to the President reconsidering such a decision.” Nitze concluded: “State plans no action until the President has indicated his wishes on the BNSP, in the expectation that DOD and JCS will then have a further opportunity to express themselves.” (Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 65 A 3464, 381 (Relo) BNSP 31 Mar 62)

In his memorandum for the record of the White House daily staff meeting on July 2, Ewell wrote:

“The BNSP was mentioned. No one knows how Bundy plans to handle this. Kaysen said he really didn’t care as he was opposed to publishing the document. He felt that it had served a useful purpose in its development and should be just thrown away. (My reading on this statement is that Kaysen doesn’t like certain portions of the document and would just as soon see it killed. My guess would be that Kaysen’s major disagreement is the fact that the document comes out for a position of strength in Europe and continued efforts to build Western-oriented [Page 330] strength in Southeast Asia. He has previously indicated he is for a modus vivendi by Western concessions in Europe and is not opposed to a neutralist Southeast Asia. I would therefore hazard the guess that he feels that the BNSP is too tough and should not be published.)” (National Defense University, Taylor Papers, Daily Staff Meetings, May-September 1962)

On July 10, McGeorge Bundy told Henry Owen, Vice Chairman of the Policy Planning Council, that the President had not yet made up his mind on the next steps, and asked that Rusk send a memorandum with his recommendations in the matter. (Memorandum from Owen to Rusk, July 10; Department of State, S/P Files: Lot 69 D 121, May-July 1962; memorandum and attachment returned to sender) Rostow’s repeated drafts of a memorandum for Rusk to send to the President were returned for revision. (Memorandum from John Ford, Executive Secretary of the Policy Planning Council, to Rostow, August 22; ibid., July-August 1962) Rostow’s last effort is in the enclosure to a memorandum from Ball to the Secretary dated September 11, in which Ball stated “For reasons which you and I have discussed, I would hope that we could resolve this issue short of the White House.” A marginal note indicates Rostow’s memorandum was not sent. (Ibid., S/S-NSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95, BNSP 1961-1962)

In his memorandum for the record of the White House daily staff meeting on August 10, Ewell wrote that Bundy “felt the big document would never fly although Rostow is still trying to push it. He felt that a military version should be prepared to replace the old version now in existence.” Ewell told him of the Joint Staff’s fear that it would be bypassed in the final review process and Bundy assured him that its views would be taken into account.

At a State-JCS meeting on October 5, Taylor stated that the Joint Chiefs had never seen the latest draft (the August 2 short form) and wanted to. U. Alexis Johnson, Deputy Under Secretary of State, suggested that the Chiefs receive the military portions only. “General Wheeler said that for the JCS this would be like having the Book of Revelations without ever having seen Genesis.” After Johnson agreed to send the entire short draft, “General Taylor said that he felt that the BNSP should be like the British Constitution and Mr. Johnson agreed that getting it engraved in concrete was not good. General Taylor then remarked that any document which gains the acceptance of everyone must of necessity be so compromised that it will be used by everyone to further his own ends.” (Memorandum of the substance of discussion at State-JCS meeting; ibid., S/P Files: Lot 69 D 121, State-JCS Meetings 1962)