214. Telegram From the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Lemnitzer) to the Commander in Chief, U.S. Forces Korea (Magruder)0

SSO JCS 686-61. Exclusive for Gen Magruder from Gen Lemnitzer, info Adm Felt.

I have just returned from a White House meeting1 the purpose of which was to assist in preparing suitable answers to questions on the situation in Korea which were likely to be directed at President’s press secretary [Page 452] Salinger at his regular press briefing at 1130 hours today. McConaughy attended also.

One of the questions that required most of our time was “Does the President fully indorse the statements released by General Magruder and DCM Green?”2 As you know, CJCS Kim is reported to have stated that both statements went too far. Answer proposed by White House group was that you and Green had issued statements appropriate to your assigned responsibilities.

“The President asked if there was anything on the Korean business. CB said a cable came in a little while ago saying the coup was successful as far as they could see. He said they are aware that we are disturbed and they say full cable will follow tomorrow. The President said he would like to hear their explanation and said he wanted it when he got back. The President asked if there were two statements. CB said Magruder made a statement and the Embassy made one.” (Department of State, S/S Files: Lot 66 D 147, Chester Bowles Telephone Conversations)

The purpose of this message is to let you know that the consensus of opinion at the White House meeting was that your statement went just about as far as you can possibly go without becoming seriously involved in the internal affairs of the ROK. Therefore, I suggest that insofar as possible you avoid issuing any further statements and concentrate any comments you may have to make on importance of the mission assigned to CINCUNC, i.e., maintenance of the defense of the ROK against Communist attack.
  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Korea, Cables, 1/20/61-5/17/61. Secret. Repeated to CINCPAC.
  2. No other record of this meeting has been found.
  3. The statements by Magruder and Green are in Document 213. According to a telephone conversation between Acting Secretary Bowles and President Kennedy in Ottawa, May 16, 6:05 p.m.: