14. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)1

[document number not declassified]

MEMORANDUM FOR

  • The Secretary of State
  • The Secretary of Defense
  • The Director of Central Intelligence
  • The Administrator, Federal Aviation Agency

The enclosed statement has been drafted for consideration at a meeting of the National Security Council on February 29.2 After consideration in the NSC, the President may decide to make this statement public on Saturday at 11 A.M.

There is also attached a list of questions and answers3 which have been reviewed on an interagency basis for the use of Mr. Salinger, whom the President expects to designate as the responsible background officer if he decides to make the public statement.

The probability that the President will decide this matter affirmatively is high, and the President authorizes entirely private disclosure of the statement to NATO allies, Japan and Australia, not more than twenty-four hours in advance of 11 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, Saturday, February 29. Those who are informed should be warned of the great importance of privacy with respect to this information until the President does make an announcement. In the case of European capitals, it is the President’s desire that information not be revealed before Saturday morning, European time. In the case of the U.K., the disclosure will take the form of a private letter from the President to the Prime [Page 45]Minister. Appropriate instructions should be sent to our Ambassador in Moscow.

The Secretary of Defense and the Director of Central Intelligence are authorized to take the necessary operational steps to position A–11 aircraft at Edwards Air Force Base.

The Secretary of Defense and the Director of Central Intelligence are requested to take appropriate steps to inform all those holding Oxcart clearances of the limits within which this disclosure is being held.4 Those limits are defined by the enclosed statement and the enclosed questions and answers.

The Director of Central Intelligence is authorized to brief Congressional leaders holding Oxcart clearances so that they in turn may give the approved information to members of the appropriate committees not earlier than 11 A.M. on Saturday, February 29. Any additional briefing of any sort with respect to this project will require White House approval.

McGeorge Bundy
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, S/S–NSC Files: Lot 70 D 265, NSC Meeting, February 29, 1964, 10:00 a.m. Top Secret. Attached are copies of transmittal notes, all dated March 5, from Read to Secretary Rusk, Under Secretary Ball, Under Secretary for Political Affairs Harriman, Deputy Under Secretary for Political Affairs U. Alexis Johnson, Llewellyn Thompson, and others.
  2. The draft statement is not attached. It may be the same as an undated typescript, “Statement by the President,” which, with only a few minor changes in wording, was the statement the President made at his press conference on February 29. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Intelligence File, Aircraft Contingency, Box 9) See Document 15 and footnote 2 thereto.
  3. Not attached, but a list of questions and answers is in a draft telegram to all NATO capitals, Canberra, and Tokyo. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Intelligence File, Aircraft Contingency, Box 9) Attached to this cable is an undated, handwritten note from Spurgeon Keeny to Bundy opposing release of anything more than the President’s statement, and arguing that the questions and answers should be cleared by McNamara and McCone. No final version of these questions and answers has been found, but following the President’s February 29 statement, Salinger held a background briefing on the A–11 aircraft at 1 p.m. (Transcript ibid.)
  4. In the margin next to this sentence is written: “after Sat.”