523. Notes of Meeting1


[Omitted here is discussion of unrelated subjects.]

On matters affecting the Congo, Secretary Katzenbach reported:

—There is no local competence.

—Despite this Communist influence, U.S. policy has been successful.

—There is no alternative to the current government. Mobutu is “the end of the line.” There is no better alternative.

—Since World Way II there has been considerable evidence that the U.S. will not intervene against whites. We did recently, supporting Mobutu against the white mercenaries. Katzenbach said he thought this would have a substantial pay-off in Africa.

—The Secretary reported a Red Cross Plane (C–130) was bringing out a mixture of Congolese soldiers and white Americans.

—The use of the U.S. aircraft is important in protecting and rescuing the whites who are in danger.

General Wheeler reported to the President on the military aspects of the Congolese operation. His report follows:

—Today’s airlift was a diversion of a communications plane.

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—There were no mercenaries found in the town according to a report received at 6 a.m. today.

—There were 300 wounded refugees and hostages, including some Americans.

—The mercenaries had taken off with 27 truck loads including 300 troops and an unconfirmed report of 20 American women held as hostages.

Mobutu has asked for U.S. air surveillance to try to find the units. For the time being, the government was asked to use its own planes by the U.S. Ambassador.

—The President asked for a full report on this situation, particularly how many women hostages were being held, from CIA Director Richard Helms. Helms said he would get the report to the President as soon as prepared.

The President then asked for an appraisal of the political situation on Capitol Hill in relation to U.S. actions in the Congo. The President said he believed that the Administration had lost some good will, particularly with the Foreign Relations Committee in the Senate.

He asked, was it true that the House Foreign Relations Committee had applauded Secretary Rusk when the Secretary testified before that committee yesterday. Secretary Katzenbach said that was true.

Secretary Katzenbach said there seems to be a lack of understanding of the Congolese situation by Congressional members. He said some of the criticism has been a result of racial prejudice and a hesitancy to get into any action anywhere in the world because of what is happening in Vietnam.

The President said that a general effort should be made to keep the Congress better advised on anticipated actions.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, Tom Johnson’s Notes of Meetings, July 13, 1967—12:08 p.m., NSC Meeting #592. Eyes Only. Drafted by Tom Johnson of the NSC Staff.