280. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rusk to President Johnson1

I understand that you wish a brief memorandum on the “Camelot” matter.2

I have discussed this with Secretary McNamara and he and I agreed that we personally would both review urgently the Army sponsored research activities on political and international problems outside the United States and try to prevent the kind of stir and misunderstanding which has arisen from Camelot.

Senator McCarthy’s office is trying to locate him in order that he and I can be in touch by telephone in order to arrange a meeting to discuss it with him.3

Camelot is an Army sponsored project being carried out by the Special Operations Research Office. It is a large-scale unclassified project calling for an estimated 140 professional man hours of work and a budget of more than $4,000,000. The proposed study would attempt to make a scientific analysis of international tension and war and insurgency and counterinsurgency. Considerable case work abroad is envisaged, including intensive studies of Bolivia, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela.

Such studies made by private social scientists would probably elicit little attention, even though some of the “jargon” of the social scientists subjects them to quick public misunderstanding. The sponsorship of such studies in foreign countries by our own military services touches upon sensitive nerves and can cause problems. In Chile, for example, discussions among social scientists about the project was the basis for a sharp communist attack as well as criticisms from skeptical and more traditional social scientists themselves.

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It is my understanding that, inside the United States, there are important differences of opinion among social scientists about the utility of this type of quantitative research project.

Secretary McNamara and I will follow up on this here, and I will try to help Ralph Dungan cool tempers in Chile.

This will serve as the report which you requested from Tom Mann earlier today.4

Dean Rusk 5
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, DEF 11 US. Confidential. No drafting information appears on the memorandum.
  2. The President had asked Mann for a memorandum, particularly in the wake of an upcoming investigation by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: “I want a complete report from you on your best judgment sometime before the day’s over on this Camelot project and Ralph Dungan and what he did about it, and who got this stuff out, the Army and the State Department fighting about it.” “I don’t know why Ralph Dungan’s getting it out in the paper and why it’s getting published, and what the story is, and give me a memo on it so I can understand it.” (Johnson Library, Recordings and Transcripts, Recording of telephone conversation between President Johnson and Thomas Mann, June 30, 1965, 12:57 p.m., Tape F65.52, Side A, PNO 1)
  3. I did reach him; he is relaxed and will wait until Fulbright returns and can talk about it. This was a part of McCarthy’s attitude toward CIA, etc. DR. [Footnote in the source text.]
  4. The Department of Defense announced the cancellation of Project Camelot on July 8. The President subsequently directed the Secretary of State to “establish effective procedures which will enable you to assure the propriety of Government-sponsored social science research in the area of foreign policy.” (Letter from the President to Rusk, August 2; Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1965, Book II, p. 832)
  5. Printed from a copy that indicates Rusk signed the original.