187. Editorial Note

In early January 1964 General C.V. Clifton, the President’s Military Aide, expressed concern at the meager volume of intelligence reaching the President. According to a memorandum for the record prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency on January 9, Clifton “again” reported that “while the President does get up on situations demanding an immediate solution, he is not getting a steady feed of intelligence on world situations. He reads the papers and occasionally asks questions. He gets what Clifton and Bundy can tell him orally when they see him, which, Clifton says, isn’t much.” (Central Intelligence Agency, DDI Records, Job 80–R01447R, White House Staff Meeting Memos 1964) Clifton did report, however, that following the departure of President Erhard of Germany on December 29, he had managed to get the daily President’s Intelligence Checklist to Johnson “with some regularity.” (Memorandum for the Record, January 6; ibid.)

Under cover of a January 9 memorandum to President’s Special Assistant Walter Jenkins, Clifton forwarded for Johnson a new effort by CIA “to bring the President up to date on intelligence with a minimum effort on his part,” the President’s Intelligence Review. The President approved Clifton’s proposal to produce it twice a week. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Intelligence Briefings) On January 21 Clifton reported to CIA that the President was such “a painfully slow reader” that “he just cannot afford the time to digest a daily book. A bi-weekly, kept short, blunt and easily read will do ’just fine.’” (Memorandum for the Record, January 21; Central Intelligence Agency, DDI Records, Job 80–R01447R, White House Staff Meeting Memos 1964) A week later, however, Clifton reported that he had given up on hopes to dispense with the daily Checklist, even though the President found the bi-weekly report “very valuable” and wanted it “kept up without change.” Clifton felt that Johnson expected Bundy, Smith, and him to read the Checklist each day and, in any case, “the first day you stop, the President will ask for the Checklist or query us about something, and we will not have the answer.” (Memorandum for the Record, January 28; ibid.) The CIA continued to provide the Checklist through November. On December 1 it was replaced by the President’s Daily Brief (see Document 214). Production of the bi-weekly Intelligence Review also ceased in November. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Intelligence Briefings)

For additional information on CIA briefing material provided to President Johnson, see John L. Helgerson, Getting to Know the President: CIA Briefings of Presidential Candidates, 1952–1992 (Washington: Central Intelligence Agency, 1996), pages 69–77.