113. Editorial Note

From 2:24 to 4:13 p.m. on March 8, 1968, President Johnson met with a group of his senior foreign policy advisers that included Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Earle Wheeler, Special Consultant Maxwell Taylor, Special Assistant Walt Rostow, Central Intelligence Agency Director Richard Helms, Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs William Bundy, and Presidential aides George Christian and Tom Johnson. (Johnson Library, President’s Daily Diary) Although no notes of the meeting have been found, Clifford wrote notes of telephone calls he made that morning in preparation for the afternoon meeting. The first set of notes marked 10:30 a.m. concerning his conversation with Rostow reads:


  • “1.) 2:00 p.m. luncheon.
  • “2.) Bring Buzz Wheeler.
  • “3.) Would like to add the 20,000 & keep it within the 525,000—
    • “A.) by not replacing certain of the non-combat troops.
    • “B.) Any other ideas to accomplish the Pres’ purpose.
  • “4.) Should Clifford go to Vietnam or Taylor or Vance.
  • “5.) Leans toward resolution repealing the Tonkin Gulf.”

The second set of notes marked 11:00 a.m. was from a telephone conversation Clifford had with the President at 11:09 a.m. and reads:

“The President

  • “1.) Review record of yesterday in Senate.
  • “2.) Wheeler and I see Russell-Stennis-Symington-Scoop Jackson.
  • “3.) We have 525,000 planned. Have more going.
  • “4.) Can replace rotation of one returning.
    • “a.) Might have to go over ceiling.
  • “5.) May have to break ceiling.
  • “6.) Reserves were 12 now only 6.
  • “7.) Have message set forth plan.
  • “8.) Hatfield Resolution—not good.
  • “9.) Russell could present motion to repeal Tonkin resolution.
  • “10.) Look at supplies— [Page 355]
    • “a.) M–16—Helicopters—Planes.
    • “b.) How can we get air and combat people out too.
    • “c.) How do we get Congressional determination.
    • “d.) Pres’ plan:
      • “1.) Call up reserves.
      • “2.) Armed services & Appropriations. Wheeler and I should appear.
        • “a.) Russell says no reserves—no extensions.
      • “3.) [blank]
    • “e.) Proper way to present plan.
      • “1.) In one package.
      • “2.) Or piecemeal—callup first & then Congressional help.” (Ibid., Clark Clifford Papers, Notes Taken at Meetings [2])