18. Editorial Note

At the 475th meeting of the National Security Council on February 1, there was only brief discussion of the Congo. According to General Lemnitzer’s handwritten notes of the meeting, Director of Central Intelligence Allen Dulles commented on the Congo in his briefing for the Council, stating that there had been no recent dramatic developments, and Secretary of State Rusk summarized the new policy proposals sent to President Kennedy that day. (National Defense University, Lemnitzer Papers) NSC Action No. 2397–d indicates that the new proposed policy on the Congo was being submitted to the President after coordination with the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency. “The President subsequently reviewed and approved the State Department’s proposal.” (Department of State, S/SNSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95, Records of Action by the National Security Council) No other record of the NSC meeting has been found, nor has any record been found of any further discussion of the Congo that day.

Dulles took issue with the NSC record of action in a February 5 memorandum to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs McGeorge Bundy, which reads as follows:

“The record of action of the NSC Meeting of February 1, 1961 states that a recently adopted course of action dealing with Congo problems had been coordinated with the CIA. As I mentioned to you by telephone, as soon as I saw this record of action, I believe the above statement is based upon a misunderstanding since the course of action referred to was not so coordinated.

“Policy recommendations are not the functions of this Agency; however, if the coordination process had been carried out in this particular instance, the Agency would have submitted intelligence considerations which might have suggested certain changes in, or additions to, the actions proposed.” (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda, NSC Meetings 1961)

President Kennedy touched on the subject of the Congo in a meeting on February 2 with his Deputy Special Assistant for National Security Affairs Walt W. Rostow. Rostow’s memorandum of the conversation includes the following sentence: “The President expressed anxiety about the present Congo plan.” (Ibid., Meetings with the President)