45. Summary Record of the 531st National Security Council Meeting1


  • Laos and Overflights of Cuba

The meeting began without the President. Secretary Rusk asked Secretary McNamara to review the problem of the use of electronic countermeasures (ECM) on U–2s overflying Cuba.

[Here follows 6 pages of discussion unrelated to Laos.]


In response to the President’s question, Mr. Bundy said the experts on Laos were prepared to give a short briefing if the President so desired.

Assistant Secretary Bundy briefed on the operations which were now being carried out. No request for additional authority was made to the President. The cross-border patrols and low-level reconnaissance missions, which the concerned Departments in Washington agree upon, will be undertaken. They fall within the authority given by the President following Secretary McNamara’s last trip to Vietnam. Certain of the operations which were opposed by Ambassador Unger for political reasons will not be undertaken for the time being.

Secretary Rusk said he agreed that we should postpone for a week low-level reconnaissance, but he did not wish to delay much longer. The need to know more about what is going on in Laos as regards the infiltration of men and equipment is so great that a decision needs to be taken soon if our information is to be augmented. He suggested that we should persuade Souvanna Phouma to ask the International Control Commission (ICC) to undertake the intelligence missions we would like to see carried out. We could offer to hold up low-level reconnaissance if the ICC would agree to undertake the necessary missions.

Secretary McNamara said the Viet Cong is increasing its pressure in the areas north of South Vietnam. He cited a significant communications buildup which might mean that a major effort was being undertaken by the North Vietnamese to increase their military buildup for use either in Laos or in South Vietnam. He agreed we should wait for a week to see what developments take place in Laos. Our capability to undertake low-level reconnaissance will be brought to a 24- to 48-hour readiness status.

Bromley Smith 2
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Meetings, Vol. 2, Tab 3. Top Secret.
  2. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.