11. Telephone Conversation Between President Johnson and the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)1

McGeorge Bundy [hereafter McGB]: Yes sir?

Johnson [hereafter LBJ]: Shouldn’t I call Bobby on the Indonesia thing,2 or have you already called him?

McGB: I’ve talked to him, Mr. President, and told him you wanted him to go, but before he goes, Mr. President, he has got to talk to you. We’re generating various bits of paper and instructions. I think there ought to be a meeting tomorrow3 and it’s entirely up to you to say [Page 26]whether you want to be there. I think it’ll be grand if you would, but I think we can do half of it before you join us, and I think we can probably get it into final paper where Bobby could come and call on you before he goes, which I think is the right way to do it. I just hung up from talking to him, I was talking to him when you called.

LBJ: When’s he going?

McGB: We don’t know, Mr. President. We’ve got a flash wire out to tell Sukarno we want to do this,4 but we can’t send Bobby if Sukarno says to hell with it. We have to pin down where Sukarno is going to be, which we haven’t got 100% certain. He’s still in Manila now and our Ambassador in Manila is under instructions to tell him that you now think it’s of high urgency that this matter be discussed in the most serious way and that your proposal is that the Attorney General whom he knows come out and do this. That’s on the wires.

LBJ: All right. O.K. Let me know. I don’t want to have any meetings tomorrow that I can avoid, but if he is going tomorrow.

McGB: No, Mr. President. I don’t know if he’s going tomorrow or Sunday. We’ll have the meeting anyway tomorrow, and then we’ll let you know where we are after that, if that’s O.K. You going to be here or you going to get up the country, or what?

LBJ: I might go up to Camp David, or here. I’m not sure.

McGB: Why don’t you follow your instinct to Camp David and Bobby can come up there and say goodbye.5 I think the fact that you see him as he leaves is going to be very important, but it’s got to be awful clear that he’s a Presidential emissary.

LBJ: We’ll do that. O.K.

McGB: Right, sir.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, Telephone Recordings and Transcripts, Recording of a conversation between Bundy and Johnson, F64.04, PNO 5, side B. No classification marking. This transcript was prepared by the Office of the Historian specifically for this volume.
  2. At 4:50 p.m. on January 9, McGeorge Bundy and the President discussed the “Indonesia thing.” Bundy informed the President that he did not believe the situation was as urgent as originally thought and suggested that they should not “make a major step until we know exactly what Macapagal and Sukarno had done.” Bundy informed the President that John Richardson would visit Macapagal. Bundy suggested delaying the matter for two or three weeks. The President was not convinced and insisted that Robert Kennedy see Sukarno as soon as possible. Bundy demurred and suggested that he would try to “get it cranking.” (Ibid.)
  3. No record of such a meeting has been found.
  4. Telegram 960 to Manila, January 10. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 7 US/KENNEDY)
  5. Robert Kennedy did not meet with the President at Camp David on January 11. He, along with McNamara, Harriman, McCone, and McGeorge Bundy, met with the President from 10:30 to 10:50 a.m. on January 14; Kennedy then met alone with the President from 10:50 to 11:30 a.m. (Johnson Library, President’s Daily Diary) For McCone’s account of the meeting, see Document 15.