125. Editorial Note

Under cover of an August 3, 1967, memorandum Bromley Smith, Executive Secretary of the National Security Council, forwarded to President’s Special Assistant Walt Rostow evaluations of the panels of outside advisers for the State Department’s five regional bureaus and the Bureau of International Organization Affairs. The evaluations were prepared by members of the National Security Council staff who had attended meetings of the panels. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Agency File, State Department, Consultants Panel)

The evaluations included both positive and negative comments. For example, in an August 2 memorandum William Bowdler stated that the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs had “made extensive and effective use of its advisers” and that the consultations had been “substantive and not pro forma,” while in an August 3 memorandum Edward Hamilton called the African Bureau’s advisory panel “too large to provide any real help as a body.” In a memorandum of July 18 reporting on the panel for the Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, [Page 286] Howard Wriggins summarized “three unambiguous advantages” of the panels:

“(a) they impose an occasion for which the State Department operators have to state or write succinctly what they are trying to do, forcing a review which, in the normal course of bureaucratic pressures, is often avoided; (b) it faces qualified and influential outsiders up to the ambiguous and difficult choices we have to face. This should contribute in the long run to a clearer understanding among their constituents of how narrow are our margins of policy choice; and (c) sometimes their questions penetrate beneath to the assumptions of the bureaucrats and provoke second thoughts about intentions, capabilities and means. This most useful outcome, however, is very rare.”