13. Memorandum for the Record by Director of Central Intelligence McCone 1

SUBJECT

  • Discussion with the President at 1:00 o’clock, February 26th; No one was present

[Here follow items 1 and 2.]

3. I told the President we had completed an extended Corona coverage of the Soviet Union involving the photographing of about 54% of the Soviet landmass. I explained this was the first time in which we had returned two reels of film from one satellite. This gave me an opportunity to discuss the Corona J development. I said that the photography had not been completely studied but the evidences were that the Soviets were slowing up or stopping construction of soft ICBM sites and were emphasizing the construction of hard sites. I explained that after Penkovsky2 was apprehended, Khrushchev had stated, and we had learned, that he had told the Presidium that Penkovsky had revealed the location of their missile sites, therefore he had to spend an enormous amount of money—50 billion rubles—to relocate the missiles because we now knew where they were. This was untrue because Penkovsky had not told us the location of a single missile site. However Khrushchev knew that through satellite photography we were learning the exact location of missile sites. He was not relocating them—what he was doing, he was hardening them, and this was costing them an enormous amount of money. The President expressed great interest in the subject of satellite photography and I asked for an hour’s time to go over the program, the pictures and other details. He agreed. I suggested perhaps when he was flying some place I go with him and we could spend an hour or so together on this one subject. This he felt might be a good idea.

Action: Remind me to follow this up and to make arrangements on a Presidential trip in the near future.

4. I then discussed the surfacing of the Oxcart and advised him that Chairman Vinson and Senator Russell felt that their Committees should be fully informed by them and they wished to do this in advance of the [Page 43]announcement and also stated that Mr. Cannon wished me to meet with his Subcommittee prior to the announcement and that George Mahon wished to inform his committee prior to the announcement. I recommended that this be done but it be timed so the Committees would be advised practically concurrently with the announcement so that the press would not get the news before the President announced it. I said that if, for instance, he was to make the announcement Saturday3 morning (which he did not confirm at the time), then all of the Congressional actions should be taken Saturday morning. Thus the Congressmen would know in advance but not so much in advance that the press would get hold of the story. The President was very much against this. He felt that if the announcement was made on Saturday, we could inform the Committees on Monday. I stated that this would cause the Committee Chairmen and the Committees a great deal of trouble. With this Johnson picked up the phone to call Senator Russell; however the call was not returned and I did not get a final decision.

Action: Later I mentioned the question to Bundy and he said that he would have to get to the President and get a decision. Until this decision is forthcoming we should take absolutely no action with respect to the Hill. Bundy and I discussed the problem several times during the day, including a brief discussion at Mrs. J.F. Kennedy’s residence when the President was there. However, Bundy did not think it appropriate to discuss it with the President on the particular occasion at Mrs. Kennedy’s residence. This should be followed up with Bundy today.

[Here follow items 5–8.]

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DCI (McCone) Files, DCI Meetings with the President, 01 January–30 April 1964, Box 6. Secret. Drafted on February 27.
  2. Colonel Oleg Penkovsky was a KGB agent who provided U.S. and British intelligence sources with information on Soviet missile forces and technology, among other things, beginning in 1961 until 1963 when the Soviets arrested, tried, and executed him.
  3. February 29.