3. Memorandum for Record1

Wednesday, January 11, 1961—10:20 to 12:50 a.m.

In this meeting I had my first conversation with Mr. McGeorge Bundy, who has been named by the President-elect to be his Special Assistant for National Security Affairs, in connection with the transfer of responsibility of January 20, 1961. [Here follows brief discussion of personnel and procedural matters.]

I then told Mr. Bundy that General Persons, following a telephone call from Mr. Clark Clifford, had asked me to arrange for Mr. Bundy to talk with Mr. Lay, Mr. Harr and Mr. Bromley Smith. There ensued a discussion about Mr. Bundy’s immediate commitments and it was ultimately agreed that he would talk with Mr. Smith on Thursday morning and Mr. Lay Thursday afternoon, inasmuch as Mr. Lay would be engaged in NSC business in the morning. Mr. Harr being out of town and the time of his return unknown to me, we made no plans for that conference.

Mr. Bundy indicated that beginning on Monday, January 16, he would be in Washington full time. I told him that I was prompted, with some hesitation to make a suggestion to him and that was that he might accompany me on Monday to the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk where I was to deliver a lecture. The purpose of the rather hesitant suggestion was not to involve him in the lecture business but to take advantage of the time afforded by the plane ride down and back for discussion. Mr. Bundy felt that in view of the fact that he would be in Washington all of next week, he could more profitably spend his time seeing other people in my absence. I took occasion at this point to say to him that I thought one of the more important functions of my office was to accept invitations to the various service colleges to lecture on the NSC and related matters, and I strongly urged him to seek to arrange his schedule so as to meet this worthwhile but also pleasant requirement during his incumbency.

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I then tried to make it clear to Mr. Bundy that our instructions were to be of every possible assistance to our successors. I said that I hoped that I would not in any way appear to be “lecturing” him and certainly my aim was not to tell him how to organize his own affairs. My whole motivation was to give him my philosophy about the functions of the office; to point out mistakes that we had made; and to make suggestions for whatever value they might be to him.

Our discussion then covered a wide range of topics which I now set forth not necessarily in the order of their discussion:

I made clear to him my judgment that he should resist any tendency to have any other individual seek to insert himself between the President and the Special Assistant.
I expressed the view to him that rather than having two Special Assistants to the President operating generally in the same area (for National Security Affairs and for Security Operations Coordination) it would be better to have one man with an extremely competent deputy (or deputies). I explained to him that there had been no difficulties between Mr. Harr and myself but that I felt that his job was really less than a fulltime job and mine was more than a fulltime job and that much greater efficiency might have resulted had the structure been different. In any event, I suggested that if the job Mr. Harr has is retained, a better title should be found. I suggested also that if Mr. Bundy had such a deputy and if the decision were to retain the OCB the deputy could still be the Vice Chairman.
As to the Chairmanship of the OCB, I expressed my judgment as to the wisdom of the President’s move in January in making the Special Assistant for National Security Affairs the chairman instead of retaining the State Department member as Chairman. I said I felt the change was an improvement both in theory and in practice for a variety of reasons, including the elimination of a situation in which a protagonist was also the “impartial chairman,” and the more direct involvement of the President through his Special Assistant.
As to general procedures, I described for him the functioning of the NSC under President Eisenhower in considerable detail, including the conduct of meetings and types of papers going before the NSC. I also described in some detail the Planning Board process and the duties of the NSC staff.
I discussed briefly the relationships of the Office of the Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs to the office of the Staff Secretary to the President and suggested that that be pursued further in the 4 o’clock meeting with General Goodpaster and Mr. Dungan.
As to the internal security responsibilities of the Council, I described the responsibilities and the committee structure. Mr. Bundy had not been aware of this function of the Council.
In connection with the scope of Mr. Bundy’s responsibilities, he had the impression that the President-elect would wish to look to him as his principal staff officer in all matters involving the national security and he asked what in my opinion this really involved beyond the NSC and its subordinate machinery and the CFEP. (He indicated that he expected to see Mr. Clarence Randall and I replied that I understood that General Persons was arranging for this appointment.) I indicated to Mr. Bundy that in my view the scope of such a responsibility would include not only an interest in and somehow a responsibility for the CFEP function, whether the CFEP were continued or eliminated. I also pointed out to him the situation with respect to the National Advisory Council indicating that the National Advisory Council was statutory and discussed with him some of the irritating difficulties that we had had in the past involving OCB and NAC responsibilities. I said further that he would have to interest himself in the international activities of the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Commerce and other agencies. I said that he would have to have a personal relationship with Dr. Kistiakowsky’s successor and if this were not possible on a personal basis it would have to be arranged structurally, because of the inter-relationship between the interests of the two offices. (Mr. Bundy indicated to me that he knew who Dr. Kistiakowsky’s successor would be and they would have no problem.) I said there were certain elements also in the Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization which would involve the interest of the Special Assistant. I expressed the hope to Mr. Bundy that the scope of his responsibilities would be as he had indicated subject always to one caveat which would run throughout everything I had to say to him. I wanted to make certain that he undertook those things he could physically do and that perhaps my notion of the job would be more than one man could handle. He acknowledged this difficulty and indicated his awareness that he would have to have some good assistants.
With respect to OCDM, I expressed my view that the whole complex needed a thorough-going reappraisal. In this connection he wished my view about continuing the Director of OCDM as a statutory member of the NSC. I pointed out to him the need for the integration of the resources point of view in the formulation of national policy. He wondered whether a President could not look to his Council of Economic Advisers for such a function. I pointed out to him that if he was thinking in terms of reducing the number of people in an NSC meeting the Chairman, CEA would be a body just as much as the Director of OCDM. He said he only wished to raise the question particularly since the Jackson Committee Staff Report had made the recommendation. I said this of course was something that the new President would have to decide. However, apart from this point, with a profession of some bias, [Page 8] I expressed my opinions about the Jackson Committee Staff Study pointing out the process of selective quotations, etc. I said that there were many things in the Jackson Committee Staff Study that I thought simply could not be supported.
Mr. Bundy wished to return again to the question of the Director of OCDM. He asked whether it would not be possible to appoint an Acting Director who could serve while a reappraisal was going on and who as Acting Director would not be a statutory member of the Council. I suggested to him that before such a decision was made two points ought to be considered: (1) The old Federal Statute which casts doubt upon the legality of acts of an acting head of a department after the expiration of thirty days and (2) the wording of the Reorganization Plan which created OCDM. I said it was my recollection although I could not be sure that that reorganization plan did not permit the flexibility he had in mind, if the Acting Director were the Deputy Director.
As to relationships with the President, Mr. Bundy asked me my view as to daily briefings of the President. I said that I felt of course that this was a Presidential decision. One possibility would be having the Director of Central Intelligence do it although this would, as a practical matter, be inconsistent with the practice of having the DCI brief the Council every week which I thought was a very useful device. I then said to him that I had made a note several months ago to discuss with my successor “Intelligence briefings in the Council. I believe that these should be crisper and should be conducted by more junior officers with a special briefing competence.” I acknowledged to Mr. Bundy that this would cause serious personal problems and I was not sure I would advise him to tackle it. It was simply a question I left with him.
We discussed the question of attendance at Council meetings. I acknowledged that I thought the greatest vulnerability of the operation as it had been in recent times was the number of people who customarily attend meetings and that this was one of the most difficult problems he would face. I expressed the view that the attendance under President Eisenhower had not inhibited discussion but that the battle would constantly be fought. I explained to him the device of special meetings which the President may choose to use on occasion involving only statutory members and advisers and only one or two people with a special competence of the subject at hand.
Mr. Bundy wished to know how we prepared agenda for Council meetings. I explained to him that the President had largely left it up to the Special Assistant with a request for Presidential direction as necessary. I also explained to him the practices as to the conduct of the meetings and the development of the Records of Actions and their dissemination in considerable detail.
Mr. Bundy wondered whether he would need a lawyer on his personal staff. I suggested to him that I had been most adequately served by the lawyers on the White House Staff and that my guess would be that he need not make arrangements for legal services.
We discussed office space. I expressed the view to him that it would be desirable that he maintain his office in the White House itself in view of the kind of responsibilities that the President-elect will place upon him. I felt that he should be at the end of “the buzzer.”
Mr. Bundy indicated that his present thinking was that he would not proceed in the same manner as General Cutler had proceeded in 1953. That is to say, he now sees no need for an urgent and massive review of all policy papers inherited by the new Administration. Mr. Bundy ventured the opinion that our policies are largely dictated by external events and that he didn’t anticipate that there would be any significant policy shifts. He felt that his time and the time of the various elements of the NSC should be spent getting ahead with the immediate and pressing problems. I suggested to Mr. Bundy that at least he would wish to review the Basic National Security Policy paper.

Wednesday, January 11, 1961—4 o’clock

Mr. Bundy and I joined Mr. Dungan and General Goodpaster in the Conference Room of the White House where we had a discussion lasting about an hour involving the roles of the Staff Secretary and the Special Assistant for National Security Affairs. General Goodpaster largely led the discussion describing the nature of his duties and the general responsibilities of the Special Assistant. He pointed out with great clarity the spectrum which at one end had the Staff Secretary functions and at the other end the work of the NSC. He then explained how in between there was a gray area in which the interest began to merge, overlap, and become confused. The ends of the spectrum were clear but the problem facing Mr. Bundy and Mr. Dungan was how to sort out their respective responsibilities in the gray area. It was agreed that such sorting out was the responsibility of the new people. The discussion was cordial and I think successful.

Wednesday, January 11, 1961—5 o’clock

Following our discussion with Mr. Dungan and General Goodpaster which ended at 5 o’clock, Mr. Bundy and I toured most of the first floor of the White House and then returned to my office where we talked for forty minutes. I said that I had wished to talk to him about the OCB and the burden of my discussion would be that he use his influence to avoid hasty decisions to abolish any of the [Page 10] machinery that had been established and evolved over the years. I confessed some personal bias for I said that I felt that my reaction to the suggestion that the OCB be abolished would be perhaps the same as his to the suggestion that now the College of Arts and Sciences at Harvard be abolished. In response Mr. Bundy laughed and replied that his immediate question would be, “What have I been doing for the last several years.” I sought to describe the circumstances leading up to the creation of the old Psychological Strategy Board and pointed out its shortcomings. I said, however, that it had been an important first step leading to the establishment of the OCB, whose function and philosophy I described in some detail. I constantly reiterated that I was simply asking for avoidance of hasty decision and that the main point was that the functions assigned to the OCB were vital in Government and that it did not make sense to me to abolish the agency and then find it necessary to recreate it. This would be an unhappy waste of time and resources. I said even the suggestion that it might be abolished had an eroding effect on the structure especially in the lower echelons of the departments.

I said that I wished to reserve the minutia of procedures of operation for Mr. Bromley Smith’s discussion with Mr. Bundy.

I then expressed the view that he might be alert to possible problems arising out of the appointment of Mr. Dillon as Secretary of the Treasury. I said that I thought this was a fine appointment. However, from Mr. Bundy’s point of view there was a combination of factors to be considered. First, Mr. Dillon becomes the statutory Chairman of the National Advisory Council whose prerogative had been jealously guarded by the Treasury staff. Second, Mr. Dillon in his role as coordinator of mutual security had shown a disposition to be somewhat enamoured of his individual coordinating role. There had been occasions when the coordinating function of the administrator in the well-defined and somewhat narrow area of mutual security in the whole field of national and international security problems had come in conflict with the functions assigned to the OCB. I wondered whether Mr. Dillon would be eager to have a complete government-wide coordinating function. However, I simply pointed out these considerations for Mr. Bundy’s reflection.

Finally, I repeated that my main notion was to avoid hasty decisions. The new Administration would of course want to make adjustments in the structure as best suited its requirements. Mr. Bundy assured me he came with no preconceived notions but expressed his gratitude for the warning flags I had put up.

[Here follow notes of a brief discussion of personnel and procedural matters on the afternoon of Thursday, January 12.]

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Monday, January 16, 1961—3:45 to 4:45 p.m.

We discussed special clearances and Mr. Bundy said he would arrange for a briefing for January 17. I explained to Mr. Bundy the various reasons why I thought it important for him to be cleared now including the probable desirability of his controlling situation as far as the other White House Staff were concerned. In this connection I suggested to him that he would want to consider the question of whether he would like all of those who would regularly attend NSC meetings to have full clearances in order to avoid inadvertent disclosures which has happened in Council meetings on one or two occasions.
We discussed the desirability of the use of outside consultants and I explained to him some of the positive considerations including the occasional substantive contribution which can be made as well as the public relations aspects of the matter. In this connection I expressed my view about the reconstitution and elevation of the Science Advisory Committee in 1957 which had substantially eliminated the use of consultant groups which had been put together in the past such as the Technological Capabilities Panel, the Gaither Committee, etc. Mr. Bundy fully understood the problem and thought he would wish to make full use of the panels of the Science Advisory Committee. I pointed out to him that Dr. Kistiakowsky had more or less attended all NSC meetings and suggested that he would wish to consider whether he would want to extend the same privileges to Dr. Wiesner. I expressed views why this was desirable. Mr. Bundy felt that he wished to keep such people as the Science Adviser, the Director of the Bureau of the Budget, etc. well informed but he thought that their presence would be more meaningful if they came on particular occasions. I said if he pursued this course then he would probably wish to think of some briefing device for these individuals similar to the one we use now for the Planning Board so that they could have the full flavor of Council meetings.
I suggested the need for some machinery for the identification of private citizens who wished to contribute their time and energy which might involve something like a central registry at which national security agencies would have access and to which they would make known their requirements. In this connection I described the frustration of Mr. Gene E. Bradley, Editor of the General Electric Defense Quarterly.
I pointed out to Mr. Bundy that both Ambassador Lodge and Ambassador Burgess have standing invitations to attend the NSC meetings whenever they are in Washington. President Eisenhower had made this arrangement in order to enhance their prestige with their colleagues. I informed Mr. Bundy that Mr. Burgess particularly had taken this quite seriously. In view of the President-elect’s intention to keep the attendance very small in NSC meetings, I suggested he would want to consider what [Page 12] should be done with respect to the two new Ambassadors. Mr. Bundy felt this might constitute something of a problem.
I suggested that Mr. Bundy make certain that he or a designee of his arrange for continued participation in State-JCS meetings.
I described the procedures by which Mr. J. Edgar Hoover forwards reports to this office for the information of the President.
We again discussed the matter of “policy” vs. “operations.” I expressed the view to Mr. Bundy that where there is not a very clear distinction, errors should be made on the side of including things in NSC meetings.
I pointed out to Mr. Bundy the real need for an improved meeting room for the Planning Board or whatever interagency groups he might use in staff support of the Council.
We discussed at quite considerable length, Mr. Bundy’s notions about assuming the position of Executive Secretary. I pointed out to him some of the disabilities and ways in which he might overcome them. One was the administrative burden which I felt he could handle by delegation. Another was protecting his privileged position with the President, especially for Congressional purposes. I suggested to him that he could be both Executive Secretary and Special Assistant to the President. In the course of this conversation I urged him to be sympathetic with Mr. Lay’s problems should he proceed with this plan. I said it was my view that it would be very unfair to ask Mr. Lay to take a cut in salary. Mr. Bundy expressed his understanding of the situation and assured me that in that respect Mr. Lay would be given the opportunity to find himself an equally good situation.
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, Presidential Transition Series. No classification marking. Drafted by President Eisenhower’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs, Gordon Gray, who sent the memorandum to Persons under cover of a January 17 note indicating that his notes of conversations with Bundy “have been hastily drafted and their literary quality is greatly inferior to their accuracy.” In a separate memorandum for record, dated January 12, Bromley Smith, Executive Secretary of the Operations Coordinating Board, described a 2-hour briefing he provided Bundy on January 11 concerning the Board’s operations. (Ibid.)