158. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to Secretary of State Rusk 1
On Sunday you asked me for a memorandum on members of my professional staff, and here it is.
My principal deputy is Robert Komer (age 43), who has been here for nearly five years. Before that he worked in the Central Intelligence Agency in intelligence evaluation. He is a graduate of Harvard College and the Harvard Business School, and served in the Army in World War II. You know Komer well enough to make your own judgment, I am sure. To me he has been an invaluable colleague. He is able, energetic, quick and highly knowledgeable. While he presses his point of view with energy, he is disciplined in the execution of decisions, whether or not they accord with his recommendations. I believe him to be, in many ways, the most suitable candidate to succeed me here, and I think that if he were the principal officer, he would accept the need for insuring fair and complete presentation of other points of view than his own. It is indeed precisely because of his alertness and reliability in moments of tension and uncertainty that I initially recommended him to the President for appointment as my Deputy. He is a man upon whom we can rely in times when I am out of town or otherwise unavailable.
Francis Bator (age 40) is my deputy for economics. He came here in early 1964, after a year as consultant to David Bell in AID. Before that, he was an associate professor of Economics at MIT, where he did his graduate work after taking his Bachelor’s degree at Harvard. I think [Page 367]him to be the most gifted analytical student of international economics now working effectively in the bureaucracy. He has played a quite critical role in all of our balance of payments work. In addition, since the departure of David Klein, he has been the principal staff officer here for European problems, and has established close relations with John Leddy and John McNaughton. I think you will find that George Ball knows him well, and thinks highly of him. Bator does not have the experience or the breadth of political knowledge to take over the top job here, and in some ways he might be still more valuable to the government in a sub-Cabinet post in the Treasury. As a practical matter, he does extremely good work where he is, and the President has found him quick and helpful in a number of important matters.
2. NSC veterans
The Executive Secretary of the National Security Council, as you know, is Bromley Smith (age 54), and I think he would like to leave his present job, in good time. The NSC as a formal council has had even less to do under President Johnson than it did under President Kennedy. But Smith is not sure just where he would want to go if he does leave. I was wrong in telling you the other day that he would be ready now for a chance at an Embassy. As you suspected, his wife’s architectural undertakings make such a move impractical in the near future. Bromley Smith is one of the most experienced and loyal of professional bureaucrats. He has chosen not to develop a taste for active participation in the making of policy, but he runs a clean, thorough, and highly knowledgeable shop.
Two other staff members have great seniority on the National Security Council staff—(1) Charles Johnson, age 53, who is the liaison officer for space and telecommunications, and some parts of atomic energy; and (2) Russell Ash (age 51), who spends most of his time supporting Patrick Coyne in the staff work for the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, but also has responsibility for our internal security. These two men have long-standing civil service status within the NSC. They are both loyal public servants of real ability. Neither of them is likely to move to substantially higher responsibilities, as far as I can tell.
3. Far East
The next senior member of my staff is Chester Cooper (age 48), who works on Far Eastern affairs. He came to us in 1964 from CIA, where he ranked just after Ray Cline on the “open” side of the house. He has done extraordinarily devoted and useful work here, but both he and I agree that, for reasons which are hard to explain, his service has not been quite up to either his hopes or mine. I believe he intends presently to seek an academic leave of absence from the Central Intelligence Agency, [Page 368]and I believe that this arrangement would be very much in his interest and also in ours. I think the timing of this move can be adjusted so that my successor would have the opportunity which he deserves to pick his own principal Far Eastern staff officer. My instinct would be to concert a choice with my brother Bill.
Under Cooper, in Far Eastern affairs, there are three more junior staff officers:
- Mr. James Thomson (age 34), FSR-3, came to us from the Far Eastern bureau two years ago. He was brought into the Department by Chester Bowles, and is a gifted young man, but not perfectly suited to the bureaucracy. My hunch is that in due course he should go back to academic life (he has received regular feelers from Yale, where he did his graduate work in Chinese).
- Don W. Ropa (age 38), GS-14, came to us from CIA only last July when the expanding struggle in Vietnam placed heavier requirements of coordination upon Cooper’s office. Ropa has shown great energy and determination, and I think my successor would probably wish to keep him here, with a more senior officer, after Cooper’s departure. If not, I am equally confident that the CIA would be glad to get him back.
- Miss Ruth Nicalo is a veteran of the National Security Council staff, and I am ashamed to have to say that I do not know much about her work, although I know she has been very helpful to a number of my colleagues in the Executive Office Building.
4. Middle East and Africa
Under Komer in Middle Eastern and African affairs are two able young men:
- One is Hal H. Saunders (age 35), a GS-13, who came to us three years ago from CIA. He is unusually thoughtful and hard-working, and I think he has the confidence and trust of the working levels in all departments. Where Komer goes Saunders is likely to go, and he is an admirable staff assistant to his able boss.
- Ulric Haynes (age 34), FSR-4, handles African affairs. He is the ablest young Negro I have met in ten years of fairly constant looking. He has both judgment and energy. He is also unusually clear-headed about African affairs. He came to the Department from the Ford Foundation, and an intelligent Foundation executive might well try to get him back.
5. Economic and European Affairs
Under Francis Bator in economic and European affairs is Edward K. Hamilton (age 26), GS-13. Hamilton came to us from the Budget Bureau, where he established an extraordinary reputation as the most effective young man to join that bureau in recent years. He has done [Page 369]outstanding work here, and while his life has been clouded in recent months by family troubles, I feel confident that he will go on to make a record as one of the best public servants of his generation. If for any reason he should decide to leave the government, I am equally confident that he would succeed in private life.
6. Latin American Affairs
Our Latin American affairs are handled by William Bowdler (age 41), an FSO 2. Bowdler was picked out by Jack Vaughn, and has done genuinely outstanding work over here. He handles the entire Latin American account, and he does it in the closest cooperation with ARA. I see no reason why he should not continue sympathetically and effectively in the same work in the future.
7. Disarmament and Technology
I get great support here from the half-time service of Spurgeon Keeny, who divides his time between Don Hornig’s office and mine. Keeny is a really extraordinary public servant, and almost nothing happens in this complex field that he does not hear about from his wide circle of trusted colleagues in every department. He tends to know about sensitive new developments in weaponry before Cy Vance and Bob McNamara, and he knows about tricky issues in technical intelligence before Helms and Raborn. But he is much more than a source of information-he also has good judgment and broad experience in his subject. If he did not look like an undergraduate, I think he would already be emerging into the level of Presidential appointments.
8. Finally, I should mention two special liaison officers:
- Mr. Peter Jessup (age 45), who handles the staff work for our supervision of covert intelligence. He came from the CIA and he, or an officer like him, should be here as long as the 303 Committee continues. Jessup does this work with great skill and sense.
- Colonel Richard Bowman (age 39) is our liaison officer with the JCS. He is an able and hard-working officer, even if he sometimes has trouble in separating his Air Force allegiance from his staff obligations here.
9. And last of all, I should mention my personal assistant, Gordon Chase (age 33), GS-15, although he is leaving any day now to accept a double promotion in AID. Chase came to us from the Foreign Service and has proved himself to be fully first-rate as a staff assistant. He now wants a chance to spread his wings in a job with more direct responsibility, and he has fully earned it.