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

SUBJECT

  • Discussion at the NSC meeting. Attended by the President, all members and the four members of the President’s personal staff.
1.
I opened the meeting by explaining briefly the background of the development of the Oxcart, the features which were applicable to military aircraft, contribution the plane would make to supersonic transport and the reasons why it was necessary to surface the development at this time. I explained there was a growing danger that it would surface itself through a leak, accident or forced landing and this would be more awkward [Page 46]than if we announced it in advance. I avoided any reference to the reconnaissance mission, however, Secretary McNamara added very considerable amount of information bearing on the reconnaissance development which brought out some discussion [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] the amount of flying, the number of planes, etc. McNamara made a point of the fact that a total of over 40 planes, together with the entire development cost of the plane and engine, had been accomplished in a remarkably short time, 4 or 5 years, and at a cost of about $1 and 1/2 billion. He compared this to the B–70 on which there has been about $2 billion spent and the plane is still not out of the hangar. Both during the meeting and afterwards he spoke with great enthusiasm on the performance of the Agency, Lockheed and other contractors in the development and he expressed a wish that the Department of Defense could perform in the same way. He attributed the performance to people who were doing the job and actually knowing what was going on in detail in the areas of their responsibility.
2.
The President and Speaker McCormack were most praiseworthy of the secrecy, the President asking what the formula was as he would like to invoke it in departments and also in the White House itself. There was no dissension to the surfacing, although it was known that General LeMay had dissented at the Joint Chiefs on Friday afternoon. General Taylor did not reflect the dissension at this morning’s meeting.
3.
No other business was transacted at the meeting.2
  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DCI (McCone) Files, DCI Meetings with the President, 01 January–30 April 1964, Box 6. Secret. Drafted on March 2. The time of the meeting is taken from the President’s Daily Diary. (Johnson Library)
  2. The Record of Actions noted that this NSC meeting “considered a draft Presidential statement containing certain information about the advanced experimental jet aircraft, the A–11,” which the President decided to made public. (Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Meetings, Vol. 1, Tab 3, Box 1) The President made the statement at his press conference on Saturday, February 29, beginning at 11 a.m. For text, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963–64, Book I, pp. 322–323. See also footnotes 2 and 3, Document 14.