The Wise Men’s Meeting of November 1 and Planning To Stay the Course, November–December


375. Draft Memorandum From Secretary of Defense McNamara to President Johnson

Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, 2 EE Primarily McNamara Recommendations. Top Secret; Sensitive. The memorandum was marked as a draft as a means of eliciting opinion on its content; see footnote 1, Document 177. In the attached covering note, McNamara wrote: “Yesterday at lunch I stated my belief that continuation of our present action in Southeast Asia would be dangerous, costly in lives, and unsatisfactory to the American people. The attached memorandum outlines an alternative program. The memo represents my personal views. Because these may be incompatible with your own, I have not shown the paper to Dean Rusk, Walt Rostow or Bus Wheeler. After you have read it, if you wish me to discuss my proposals with them and report back to you our joint recommendations, I will do so.” In his memoirs, McNamara asserted that this memorandum served to “do one thing: it raised the tension between two men who loved and respected each other—Lyndon Johnson and me—to the breaking point.” On November 29 the President announced that McNamara would step down as Secretary of Defense at a later unspecified date and would be nominated for the post of President of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (also known as the World Bank). See McNamara’s In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam, pp. 311–314.


376. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson

Source: Johnson Library, Meeting Notes File, November 1, 1967–Meeting with Foreign Policy Advisors. Secret.


377. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant (Jones) to President Johnson

Source: Johnson Library, Meeting Notes File, November 2, 1967–Meeting with Foreign Policy Advisors. Top Secret. In another memorandum to the President, undated, Jones summarized the consensus opinions of those at the meeting on the five questions the President asked relating to policy in South Vietnam, the bombing of the North, negotiations, withdrawal, and public relations. (Ibid.)


378. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson

Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Files of Walt Rostow, Meeting with President, Vietnam-Conduct of War (Sensitive). Top Secret; Literally Eyes Only. Another copy is ibid., March 19, 1970 Memo to the President.


379. Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 VIET S. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Rostow transmitted a retyped copy of the telegram to the President. The notation “ps 11–3” on Rostow’s covering memorandum transmitting the copy to the President, November 2, indicated that the President saw the telegram on November 3. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, 8B(1)[B]) This telegram is printed in full in Pike, The Bunker Papers, pp. 224–233.


380. Memorandum From the Ambassador at Large (Harriman) to President Johnson and Secretary of State Rusk

Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Harriman Papers, Special Files, Public Service, Chronological File, November 1967. Secret; Nodis.


381. Memorandum From the President’s Special Consultant (Taylor) to President Johnson

Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, March 19, 1970 Memos to the President. Secret. In an attached covering memorandum to the President, November 3, Rostow wrote: “Herewith General Taylor’s arguments in response to those I gave him from the unidentified paper. He will be filing a paper of his own in a few days.” A notation at the bottom of this note in the President’s handwriting reads: “Walt call me. L.”


382. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson

Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to the President, Walt Rostow, Vol. 51 (2 of 2). Secret.


383. Telegram From the Ambassador to Vietnam (Bunker) to the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow), Secretary of State Rusk, Secretary of Defense McNamara, and Director of Central Intelligence Helms

Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–7 VIET S/BUTTERCUP. Secret; Nodis; Buttercup; Via CAS Channels; Exclusive. As reported in telegram CAS 421, November 2, Bunker initially informed Thieu only “that there had been some very interesting developments as a result of these efforts” during a brief meeting that day. (Ibid.)


384. Telephone Conversation Between President Johnson and Former President Eisenhower

Source: Johnson Library, Recordings and Transcripts, Recording of Telephone Conversation Between Johnson and Eisenhower, November 4, 1967, 10:05 a.m., Tape F67.14, Side B, PNO 3 and 4. No classification marking. This transcript was prepared in the Office of the Historian specifically for this volume.


385. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson

Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Files of Walt Rostow, McNamara, Robert S.-Southeast Asia. Top Secret; Sensitive; Literally Eyes Only for the President.


386. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant (Jones) to President Johnson

Source: Johnson Library, Meeting Notes File, Folder #5. No classification marking.


387. Memorandum From the Associate Justice of the Supreme Court (Fortas) to President Johnson

Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, March 19, 1970 Memo to the President. Top Secret.


388. Memorandum by the Chairman of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (Clifford)

Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Files of Walt Rostow, Vietnam, Conduct of War. No classification marking; the covering note is marked Top Secret; Eyes Only.


389. Telegram From the Ambassador to Vietnam (Bunker) to the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow), Secretary of State Rusk, Secretary of Defense McNamara, and Director of Central Intelligence Helms

Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–7 VIET S/BUTTERCUP. Secret; Immediate; Nodis, Buttercup; Via CAS Channels; Exclusive. Received at 8:27 a.m.


390. Summary of Notes of the 578th Meeting of the National Security Council

Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Meetings, Vol. 4, Tab 60, 11/8/67. Secret; Sensitive; For the President Only. Drafted by Bromley Smith.


391. Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 VIET S. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Received at 9:48 a.m. and passed to the White House. A notation on Rostow’s note transmitting the telegram to the President, November 8, reads: “7:05 p, ps 11/18/67,” indicating that the President saw it at that time. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, 8B(1)[B]) This telegram is printed in full in Pike, The Bunker Papers, pp. 234–241.


392. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam

Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 VIET S/UN. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Gleysteen; cleared by Sisco, Goldberg, and Habib; and approved by Bundy. Repeated to USUN.


393. Memorandum From McGeorge Bundy to President Johnson

Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to the President, Walt Rostow, Vol. 50 (1 of 2). Secret. In a covering memorandum to the President, November 10, Bundy wrote: “Here at last is the commentary on the November 2 meeting you asked from me. It is much longer than I wish it were, and I apologize. It also moves out to some uncharted ground, but that is less my fault than the fault of Taylor and Lodge for having raised a couple of thought-provoking questions during the meeting.” In the November 13 memorandum that transmitted this memorandum to the President, Rostow wrote: “Herewith Mac Bundy summarizes the meeting of November 2 and proposes, in the end, that we search for a pattern of ’some feasible de-escalation based upon success and not failure.’ I have tried to mark the critical passages in this interesting piece of paper.” (Ibid.) Rostow highlighted sentences in most paragraphs.


394. Memorandum Prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency

Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DCI (Helms) Files, Job 80–B01285A, DCI (Helms) Chrono, Aug-Dec 1967. Top Secret; Sensitive. In a November 11 covering note to the President, Helms wrote: “1. Attached hereto is our analysis of the message received from the NLF via the emissary who returned it to Saigon. 2. Nothing has occurred since October 27, when we received this message, to cause us to believe that the operation, to this point, is other than valid.”


395. Memorandum From the Under Secretary of State (Katzenbach) to President Johnson

Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, 1 C(2), Revolutionary Development Cadre. Top Secret.


396. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs (Bundy) to Secretary of State Rusk

Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–14 VIET. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Heyward Isham of the Vietnam Working Group on November 10 and cleared by Habib. Sent through Katzenbach. A notation by Read on the memorandum reads: “(Mr. Katzenbach concurs in the EA recommendation, but favors withholding decision concerning Tet until a later date.) EA points out that this would discriminate in favor of Christian holidays and notes that Thieu has already spoken publicly about all three holidays. BHR”


397. Special National Intelligence Estimate

Source: Department of State, INR/REA Files: Lot 90 D 99, National Intelligence Estimates; Special Intelligence Estimates. Top Secret. Submitted by the DCI and concurred in by the U.S. Intelligence Board. In a covering memorandum to the President, November 14, Helms cautioned that this SNIE was “sensitive and potentially controversial” because of the “variance” of its figures with past estimates. Because of this issue, Helms confided that he considered withholding the issuance of this SNIE. However, he had reconsidered since, in light of public knowledge of the discussions over the enemy order of battle, “the charge of bad faith or unwillingness to face the facts would be more generally damaging than the issuance of this document which can stand on its own feet.” (Central Intelligence Agency, DCI (Helms) Files, Job 80–B01285A, DCI (Helms) Chrono, Aug-Dec 1967, 01 Aug-31 Dec 67)


398. Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, AID (US) VIET S. Secret; Nodis. Received at 2:23 a.m.


399. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson

Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, 3E(1)a, Future Military Operations in VN. Top Secret. The notation “ps” on the memorandum indicates that the President saw it. According to a November 20 memorandum from Bundy to the President, Rostow recommended that a briefing on the estimate “be held up until Westmoreland gives an over-all picture of the military side of the war in all its aspects.” Rostow argued that the fact that guerrilla strength was underestimated in the past and that some groups were removed from the aggregate total would cause “cynical reactions” unless a wider picture of the war was presented. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Bundy Files: Lot 85 D 240, Top Secret WPB Chron, Nov/Dec 1967)


400. Notes of Meeting

Source: Johnson Library, Tom Johnson’s Notes of Meetings. Top Secret; Eyes Only. The date and time of the meeting do not appear on the notes but are taken from an attached November 16 covering memorandum from Tom Johnson to the President.


401. Memorandum From the Under Secretary of State (Katzenbach) to President Johnson

Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, March 19, 1970 Memo to the President. Top Secret; Sensitive. In his November 16 covering memorandum to the President, Katzenbach wrote: “The enclosed memorandum on Viet-Nam represents my personal views which may not be shared by you or by my colleagues in the Administration. For this reason I am sending it directly to you for your consideration. Only Secretary Rusk, with whom I have not discussed this memorandum, has a copy.” Rostow’s memorandum transmitting Katzenbach’s memorandum to the President, November 17, reads: “Herewith Nick Katzenbach sets down his personal view on an appropriate strategy for Vietnam.” (Ibid.) The notation “ps” on the covering memorandum indicates that the President saw Katzenbach’s memorandum.


402. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam

Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 VIET S. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Isham; cleared by Miller, Habib, Bundy, and Harriman; and approved by Rusk.


403. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rusk to President Johnson

Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Files of Walt Rostow, Vietnam, Conduct of War. Top Secret; Sensitive. Another copy is ibid., Country File, Vietnam, March 19, 1970 Memo to the President.