235. Memorandum From William H. Brubeck of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)1

I understand that Secretary Rusk in his staff meeting this morning told Soapy Williams that if Ghana starts blaming us for the attempt against Nkrumah2 that we should be prepared to react vigorously. Mahoney, in the attached telegram takes the same view.3 However, he goes ahead to face the possible consequences which I think are serious.

In Nkrumah’s emotional state we can easily find ourselves in an escalating fight and, given the Congressional (e.g. Dodd) animus against Nkrumah the whole Volta-Valco issue4 could well be revived. The question is less whether we want to use Volta as a club against Nkrumah than whether we want to expose the President to political embarrassment over the Volta commitment (even though it was President Kennedy’s not his).

In sum, if we get into any kind of argument with Nkrumah at this point we might find ourselves in an election year caught between a political fight on Volta at home and the alternative of an Aswan Dam fiasco in Ghana.

I have told AF that we would like to see any proposed reaction to such a Nkrumah attack for possible Presidential interest. You might want to suggest to the Secretary directly the President’s potential interest in any such gambit.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Bundy Files, “B.” Confidential.
  2. A January 3 memorandum from Director of Intelligence and Research Thomas L. Hughes to Rusk reported an unsuccessful assassination attempt on Nkrumah that day and speculated on its possible sources. It warned that Nkrumah suspected the CIA of plotting his removal and that charges of CIA involvement might appear in the leftist press. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Ghana, Vol. I, Cables 11/63–2/64)
  3. Not printed. Ambassador Mahoney suggested in telegram 478 from Accra, January 3, that action be taken, including his temporary recall, if Ghana launched a campaign that implied or stated that the United States was involved in the assassination attempt.
  4. Reference is to the question of U.S. funding for the Volta River Hydroelectric Project. For previous documentation, see Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, vol. XXI, pp. 337368.