333. Notes of Meeting1



  • The President
  • Secretary Rusk
  • Secretary Clifford
  • Ambassador Ball
  • General Westmoreland
  • CIA Director Helms
  • Walt Rostow
  • George Christian
  • Tom Johnson

The President: We need to check the problems of troops in Chicago if riots develop at time of convention.

General Westmoreland: We have worked out detailed plans on contingency basis.

The President: Mayor Daley is calling up troops (National Guard) today.

Secretary Clifford: We have had a group working on this for some weeks. All hell could break loose.

The President: What about 3rd wave?

CIA Director Helms: The enemy is in position to have 3rd wave. It will probably come out like measles in next ten days to two weeks.

The President: We really don’t know?

CIA Director Helms: Yes.

General Westmoreland: Attacks are associated with major offensive in Northern I Corps and III Corps near Saigon. This is a prelude to a general offensive. I expect it about the 24th or 25th at the beginning of the convention.2

Secretary Clifford: They can go either way. They are ready.

Secretary Rusk: I am not sure what their military men believe they are capable of doing. They may be allergic to these political orders.

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Walt Rostow: I honestly don’t know what they will do.

General Westmoreland: I think their attacks are diversionary.

Walt Rostow: There was a low rate of infiltrators this month. This possibly indicates they will keep the forces in place.

Secretary Rusk: They brought in replacements beforehand.

Walt Rostow: My mind is more open than a few days ago.

General Westmoreland: The capability is there. We have preempted much of their attacks.

General Westmoreland: The South Vietnamese are stronger.

[Omitted here is discussion of strategic missile talks and the situation in the Middle East.]

The President: Can Hanoi move until they see who is nominated and what his views are?

Secretary Rusk: We will not get a movement before the convention.

Secretary Clifford: I see nothing to suggest they will attach significance to the convention.

Secretary Rusk: Vance got the impression that this is a holding action at Paris.

The President: Will they seriously negotiate before the convention?

Secretary Clifford: I agree they will not.

Ambassador Ball: I agree.

The President: Is Ball crying over there about his instructions?

Secretary Rusk: I would not think so.

Secretary Clifford: What reaction did we get from Averell Harriman on your Press Conference?3

Secretary Rusk: “I hope we would not undermine the March 31 statement.”

The President: The Pope was turned down by Hanoi.4

What about the Norway thing?5

Secretary Rusk: They feel the Paris talks are too direct and too publicized.

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Ambassador Ball: McCarthy has a fundamental shift in his position. He wants an interim coalition to prepare for election.

Secretary Rusk: Tonight’s meeting with the Platform Committee will raise question on the Middle East, ABM, USS Liberty.

General Westmoreland: We are bombing trucks laden with war materiel.

The President: The Christian Science Monitor said today that the greatest number of infiltrators got through in the period when we were doing the most bombing below the 20th.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, Tom Johnson’s Notes of Meetings. No classification marking.
  2. The second of the “mini-Tet” offensives started with minor battles in the delta region and in the northern provinces beginning on August 18 and intensified over the next several weeks. On August 22 Saigon was the target of VC rocket attacks. The peak of the offensive occurred during the final week of August; it continued into mid-September.
  3. See Document 332.
  4. In an August 18 letter to the President, the Pope noted that although he had planned to visit both North Vietnam and South Vietnam in order to bring about peace, his overture had been rejected by the DRV. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Head of State Correspondence, Pope Paul VI) In telegram CAP 82324 to the President in Texas, August 31, Rostow noted that he, Clifford, and Rusk had come down against using the Pope as a channel for communication with the DRV because it would undercut both the Paris delegation and the Soviets. (Ibid.) Both are printed in Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. XII, Documents 311 and 312.
  5. See Document 342.