178. Letter From Secretary of Defense McNamara to the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow)1

Dear Walt:

I have reviewed the proposed public statement on chemical and biological warfare policy which you forwarded with your memorandum of 10 March.2 I am attaching the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the President’s information.3

The Joint Chiefs of Staff believe that the President should not be advised to make a public statement on this subject at this time. I agree that it would be preferable that the President not make a public statement now. However, if the President should decide a statement is desirable, I recommend he use the statement provided to Dr. Hornig in January. I am attaching a copy of that statement for your information.4


Bob 5
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Subject File, Warfare, Chemical and Biological, Box 51. Secret. Copies were sent to Secretary Rusk and ACDA Director Foster.
  2. See Document 173.
  3. Not attached, but it is identified in a list of enclosures at the end of the letter as JCSM–171–67, “Proposed Presidential Policy Statement Concerning Chemical and Biological Warfare,” March 29, 1967. In this paper the Joint Chiefs opposed a Presidential policy statement and as rationale referred to the draft NSAM attached to Secretary McNamara’s November 17, 1966, letter to Secretary Rusk. “The proposed draft NSAM,” they continued, “provides the President with options which should not be preempted by a public statement but which should be retained as the prerogative of the President. Increased efforts should be made to finalize the proposed draft NSAM for consideration by the President.” They also advanced a proposed public statement if a public statement was clearly required. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 218, JCS Files, 313 (10 Mar 67) 1967 IR #580) For McNamara’s November 17 letter, see Document 145.
  4. Not found.
  5. Printed from a copy that indicates McNamara signed the original.