12. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) and Michael V. Forrestal of the National Security Staff to President Johnson 1


  • The Attorney General’s Trip and a Presidential Determination on Assistance to Indonesia

Further analysis of the problems involved in your making the determination required under the Broomfield Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act of 19612 suggests that you have two major alternative courses of action:


You can make a determination now which legally would stand for an indefinite period until you decided formally or informally to review it. Such a determination would explain that you were keeping in close and personal touch with the assistance programs and were instructing all agencies of government to keep you fully informed. The advantage of this procedure is that it relieves you once and for all of the necessity of having to make another formal determination at a later date (i.e., after the Attorney General’s return) when the political impact might be greater. It would also have the advantage of being blanketed by your separate announcement of the Attorney General’s trip and the Manila communique. It also somewhat improves the Attorney General’s bargaining position, since otherwise Sukarno may well take the position that we are using the determination as a lever, which of course is “unacceptable” to proud neutralists.

The disadvantage of this course would be that you are making this decision before the Indonesians have given any concrete evidence that they are prepared to dampen down their military confrontation in North Borneo.

You can decide to defer this whole matter until some time after the Attorney General returns, perhaps for as long as two months from now. You could continue existing programs under an opinion which you have received from the Attorney General to the effect that you have a “reasonable” time in which to review the situation in light of [Page 28]the new Congressional policy. Aside from giving you more time to consider the issues, the advantage of this procedure would be to show that you have taken the Congressional mandate so seriously that you have dispatched a special emissary of Cabinet rank for discussions with Sukarno, and that you are deferring your final decision until his return. The disadvantage is that the making of such a determination at that time will attract greater political attention, since it will reflect an informed decision reached by you after two months’ review of the facts and a report from the Attorney General on his mission. It would not be possible to argue that a quick determination was required in order to continue the reduced assistance programs that are now in progress. This second course is also somewhat more open to political attack as an evasion of the legal requirements of the amendment.

The possibilities of a temporary determination at this time, or a flat determination to continue assistance without explanation have been rejected as having most of the disadvantages and few of the advantages of the two courses set forth above. The majority of your principal officers seem now to favor course No. 1. A draft memorandum from you to the Secretary of State making such a determination is attached.3 If you decide on course No. 2, no formal memorandum of any kind is needed.


McG. B.
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Indonesia, Vol. I, 11/63–4/64. Secret. Forrestal sent Bundy a memorandum on January 10 describing the alternatives to the Presidential determination worked out by Justice and the Agency for International Development and suggesting that the second alternative would “work in light of the A.G.’s trip.” (Ibid.)
  2. Section 620(j) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1963, see footnote 2, Document 4.
  3. There is no indication on the memorandum which course of action the President decided upon, but the attached determination, not printed, was never released. For the decision to postpone the decision, see Document 29.
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature and initials.