250. Memorandum From the Presidentʼs Press Secretary (Moyers) to President Johnson1

I have been concerned for some time because while we are at war in Vietnam, the Government is not really organized for war. We have no one high official of the Government who spends full time on the war; not even the Assistant Secretary of State for the Far East devotes more than 50% of his time to the effort. We are just not orchestrating the handling of the most critical problem we face.

One small step forward would be to take advantage of the new wind at State, and make Nick Katzenbach2 chairman of a little kitchen cabinet—[Page 678]to meet at least biweekly and report directly to the President in writing. Nick would be a good impartial chairman and has no hawk/dove image problem. Cy Vance and Komer and Rostow could be members.3

You are not getting the kind of service on Vietnam out of the Government that I think you need. Weʼre fighting a war on a part-time basis.4

  1. Source: Johnson Library, Office Files of Bill Moyers, BDM Memos, Sept. 1966–Feb. 1967. No classification marking.
  2. Katzenbach was appointed Under Secretary of State on September 30 and entered on duty October 3, replacing Ball.
  3. The wording of this paragraph was taken from a memorandum forwarded to Moyers by Komer on September 30. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Komer Files, WH Chron)
  4. Rostowʼs list of action items prepared following the Presidentʼs Tuesday lunch meeting on November 15 includes the following item: “President wants Mr. Rostow to set up a group—Katzenbach to chair—Komer, Rostow, Vance, good military man—to meet three times a week on Viet Nam and all its dimensions.” (Ibid., Rostow Files, Meetings with President) In a November 18 memorandum to Vance and Katzenbach, Komer proposed an agenda for the first “non-session” of “our non-club.” (Ibid., Komer Files, Katzenbach) For more information on the group, see Gibbons, The U.S. Government and the Vietnam War, Part IV, pp. 479–482.