244. Memorandum for the Record1


  • Hot Line Meeting June 10, 19672

CIA Director Richard Helms described this meeting in the following manner:

Present were the President, Under Secretary Katzenbach, Secretary McNamara, Mr. Clifford, Mr. McGeorge Bundy, Mr. Walt Rostow, Ambassador Thompson and Helms himself.

Mr. Katzenbach left early in the meeting to call in the Israeli Ambassador to put pressure on Israel to accept a cease fire.

After the English translation of the incoming Soviet message was read, Ambassador Thompson checked the Russian text to be sure that the word “military” was indeed a part of the Russian message in the phrase “take whatever steps are necessary, including military.”

The President had his breakfast during the meeting in the Situation Room Conference Room. Then he left for a short period.

While the President was out, Secretary McNamara asked whether we should turn the Sixth Fleet around to sail toward the eastern Mediterranean. Thompson and Helms agreed. Helms pointed out that Soviet submarines monitoring the Fleet’s operations would report immediately to Moscow, that the task force had stopped circling and had begun heading eastward.

The President returned and McNamara mentioned this possibility. The President said, “Yes, go ahead and do it.” McNamara picked up a secure telephone and gave the order.

[3 lines of source text not declassified]

Recalling the atmosphere of the meeting, Mr. Helms said that conversation during the first couple of hours was in the lowest voices he had ever heard in a meeting of that kind. The atmosphere was tense. As the morning wore on, everyone relaxed a bit as it became clear that the fighting was petering out.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Histories, Middle East Crisis, Vol. 7, Appendix G. Top Secret. Drafted by Saunders.
  2. The President met with his advisers in the White House Situation Room from 8:57 to 11:55 a.m. (Ibid., President’s Daily Diary) Helms also recalled the meeting in an oral history interview. (Interview with Helms, April 4, 1969; Johnson Library) For Thompson’s comments on the Hot Line exchanges, see Document 245.