143. Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between Acting Secretary of State Ball and Secretary of Defense McNamara 1

Ball thinks the business in Indonesia has a very bad smell. It looks more and more as though this is a PKI operation but he could not be sure. Ball’s feeling is that this may be the first step toward a Communist takeover. They have pushed the young officers out in front. The PKI headquarters seem to be going ahead without any strain and the people we have depended on in the Army are under house arrest or have been shot—we do not know. The people on the list are not terribly reassuring. Subandrio is on the list but as number nine. It is not a healthy situation on its present appearance.2

Ball said we are taking a look at the contingency plans that have been made. Ball asked if McNamara’s people could take a look and [Page 302]see if there are any ships in the area and perhaps we should talk to the British and the Australians about putting some aircraft into Singapore in the event we have to take some people out. We have a couple of thousand Americans throughout the islands.

McNamara asked Ball if he were only thinking of evacuation and not any other plans. Ball said he would not know about this until the situation clarified. McN asked what kind of clarification could lead to other action—a definite Communist takeover? Ball replied he thought the situation hopeless. McN said what Ball then was really asking was for them to examine possibility of evacuation. McN said they would go to work on it.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, Ball Papers, Telephone Conversations, Indonesia [4/12/64–11/10/65]. No classification marking.
  2. Ball also called Rusk at 10 a.m., McGeorge Bundy at 10:35 a.m., and Helms at 11:35 a.m. In the conversations with Rusk and McGeorge Bundy, Ball reiterated his concern as expressed to McNamara, but with McGeorge Bundy Ball noted that there was an FBIS report that the Indonesian Army had retaken the Djakarta radio station. Ball asked Helms “if we were in a position where we can categorically deny this involvement of CIA operations in the Indonesia situation.” Helms replied, “yes; that he had been in touch with Rayborn [Raborn] by phone and had gotten his permission to identify himself with Helms in denying it so they are solidly lined up.” Helms stated, “they had had absolutely nothing to do with it. [1 line of source text not declassified].” Ball called Rusk again at 3:15 p.m. to inform him that there was a counter coup led by Nasution “which would mean bringing back Sukarno in some way.” (Ibid.)