373. Memorandum for the Record0

SUBJECT

  • Minutes of the Special Meeting of the Special Group, 5 November 1963

PRESENT

  • Mr. Bundy, Mr. Johnson, Mr. Vance, and Mr. McCone

The Attorney General, Mr. Helms, Mr. Cheever, Dr. Wheelon, and Colonel Steakley were present for Items 1 and 2. The Attorney General and Mr. Helms were present for Item 3

[Here follows discussion of items 1, a report of an unsuccessful sabotage operation of October 21-22 in Southeast Pinar, and item 2, a proposal for low-level sabotage to be carried out on the north coast and tentative approval of a sabotage operation in northern Oriente province and infiltration of a radio operator into Cuba.]

3. Cuba—Peace Feelers

Mr. Bundy stated that it has come to the attention of the White House that Castro would like to have a talk designed to bring about some kind of “arrangement” with the U.S. To hear what Castro has to say and to know on what basis he might wish to negotiate would be of some use to the U.S. Mr. Bundy suggested that for this initial talk Mr. William Attwood, currently on the staff of Mr. Stevenson at the United Nations, might be a likely candidate since Mr. Attwood has been in touch with Mr. Carlos Lechuga Hevia, the Cuban Ambassador to the United Nations. Also, Attwood has a fairly friendly relationship with Castro based on previous acquaintance.

In the Group discussion which followed it was thought inadvisable to allow Mr. Attwood, while on the UN staff, to get in touch with Castro. The suggestion was made that he might be removed from his official UN status and then go to Cuba for the ostensible purpose of writing an article for Look magazine. In this way it might be learned how badly Castro might want a detente with the United States.

It was suggested by Mr. Helms that it might be profitable to “war game” this problem and look at it from all possible angles before making any contacts.

A further suggestion was made by Mr. Bundy that Dr. Rene Vallejo Ortiz, Castro's aide and personal physician, might be flown to Mexico [Page 879]with Castro's proposals and discuss them with the U.S. Ambassador in Mexico City.

The Attorney General emphasized that as a prelude to all this the U.S. must require some fundamental steps such as the end of subversion in Latin America and removing the Soviet troops in Cuba before any serious discussion can take place about a detente.

Mr. McCone stated that it might be possible to use again Mr. James Donovan who is known to have excellent relationships with Dr. Vallejo. Vallejo might be flown to the UN forsuch talks or better still Donovan could go to Cuba.

It was decided by the Special Group members not to try to reach a firm decision at this time but to study the problem for several days and attack it again.

Paul Eckel1
  1. Source: Department of State, INR Historical Files, S.G. 104, November 14, 1963. Secret; Eyes Only. Drafted on November 6. Copies were sent to U. Alexis Johnson, Gilpatric, and McCone.
  2. Printed from a copy that indicates Eckel signed the original.