35. Memorandum for the Files0
Following the White House meeting with the President on the afternoon of October 20th, I spoke privately to the Attorney General. The Attorney General was to meet alone with the President, presumably to discuss policy matters.
I told the AG I was very worried about some of the wording in the second draft of the speech of the President as prepared by Sorensen1 and I was most particularly worried about the approach of Governor Stevenson. I reasoned, as I had repeatedly in meetings over the last 3 or 4 days, that we must not lose sight of the very important objectives of removing the Castro Communist government from Cuba and establishing a climate which would permit the Cuban people to establish a government of their own choice. In my talk with the AG I pointed out that Stevenson's proposal would not only cause the removal of the Guantanamo Base, which was most undesirable, but it would also place a crown of jewels on the head of Castro and we nor anyone else could do much about it after such a position had been established publicly.
About 9:00 o'clock in the evening (time uncertain) the AG called me at my home and said he had discussed my views with the President who concurred and he felt I could rest assured that the situation that worried me would not develop further. I then mentioned to the AG that numbered paragraph 2 of the speech did not give the President latitude for military action which may be necessary without suffering the indictment of committing a “surprise attack” and that I had suggested some different wording to Sorensen.
The AG then asked I call the President to arrange for a briefing of General Eisenhower.
I immediately talked with the President by telephone and arranged to see Eisenhower on Sunday morning and possibly take him to the White House for a direct meeting with the President. Details to be worked out upon Eisenhower's arrival.
I then expressed my concern at the wording of paragraph 2 of the speech. The President concurred; said he had made up his mind to pursue the course which I had recommended and he agreed with the views I expressed in the afternoon meeting.2 He said that he would be careful to [Page 138]preserve the widest possible latitude for subsequent military action at any time after the commencement of the blockade.
I then mentioned the Castro problem to the President. He seemed alert to the situation.