2. Memorandum From Secretary of State Herter to the President’s Assistant (Persons)1


  • Transition Arrangements

In connection with our efforts to make the transition process a smooth one, I met personally on several occasions with Mr. Rusk, following the [Page 4] announcement on December 12 of his appointment, to discuss operations of the Department and to keep him currently informed on political problems, such as Cuba and Laos. These meetings took place on December 20, 1960, January 2, 3, 6, 7, 9 and 16, 1961.

Mr. Rusk designated Mr. George McGhee to serve as his representative to receive current briefings on the Lao situation. Pursuant to this designation, Mr. McGhee was briefed daily by our intelligence staff on Laos and was in regular contact with Mr. Merchant and our geographic bureau experts.

Both Mr. Rusk and Mr. Bowles were also briefed on State Department organization and procedures. They received unclassified briefing books on these subjects.

As soon as possible following their appointment and after ascertaining that security clearances had been obtained, we provided Mr. Rusk and Mr. Bowles with briefing books on policy matters. I enclose a list of the subjects covered in these books.2 This list was previously furnished to you through Mr. Patterson.3 The policy books covered current situations of interest around the world and did not include policy recommendations on any subjects.

Although Mr. Rusk did not attend staff meetings in the Department following his appointment as Secretary-designate, he received daily summaries of State Department cable traffic. Particular cables relating to post-inaugural problems and events were provided to Mr. Rusk and Mr. Bowles on a selective basis. Likewise, briefing papers on matters which would be of concern to the new Administration after January 20 were forwarded to Mr. Rusk from time to time after specific approval from my office.

Following Mr. G. Mennen Williams’ designation as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in the new Administration, Mr. Williams was given a general briefing on African matters by officers in the Bureau of African Affairs and was introduced to personnel in that Bureau.

All of the new appointees, together with such staffs as they brought with them, were given temporary office space in the Department of State and were provided with all necessary and appropriate administrative services.

  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, Presidential Transition Series. Confidential. Initialed by Persons. Another copy indicates that the memorandum was drafted by Walter J. Stoessel, Jr., Director of the Executive Secretariat of the Department of State, and by Herter. (Ibid., Herter Papers)
  2. Not printed. The attached list of subjects, entitled “Index-Policy Briefing Book,” indicates that the attachments were classified Top Secret and included the following major headings (with subheadings under each): I. Africa; II. American Republics; III–IV. Europe; V. Far East; VI. Near East and South Asia; VII. United Nations; VIII. Economic; IX. Mutual Security Program; X. Disarmament, Atomic Energy, and Outer Space; XI. Military Facilities System; XII. Legislative; XIII. Information; XIV. Cultural; XV. Consular and Security; XVI. Fisheries; and XVII. Visits.
  3. Presumably Bradley H. Patterson, Jr., Assistant to the Secretary to the Cabinet.