232. Editorial Note

During a telephone conversation between President Johnson and Senator Richard Russell that began at 8 p.m. on September 14, 1965, the following exchange took place. Material just preceding the exchange, presumably dealing with Director of Central Intelligence Raborn, was excised by the Johnson Library under donor’s deed of gift.

Russell: “Let me tell you, if you ever decide to get rid of him, you just put that fellow Helms in there. He got more sense than any of them.”

President: “Well, I’ve got Helms. I’m trying to build Helms where he—”

Russell: “He’s been there since that thing was organized, and he’s familiar with all those operations, and he can explain them more clearly. I had a hearing here this morning, for an hour and a half before our own subcommittee, Stennis and Saltonstall and old man Hayden, Young, and I guess it wasn’t [inaudible] Democrats because they were all there, and Helms had a better understanding of all the operations in the CIA everywhere than even old man Allen Dulles had and he helped set it up. Raborn is a good man. Raborn has got one failing that’s going to get him in trouble. He won’t ever admit he don’t know. He assumes sometimes. You ask him a question a man don’t know in his position, you ought to say, Senator I don’t know exactly the details on that. I’ll have to get up a memo on that and let you have it. He’s knows it all, and that may get him in trouble one of these days. But he’s a damn good man. And I think’s doing a good job. Of course he’s got an impossible job. That crowd can’t hit back. You can just slaughter them at will and there’s no way they can possibly hit back.”

President: “You reckon I ought to ask Raborn to leave?”

Russell: “No!”

President: “He didn’t want to come in, but they’re all taking after him now.”

Russell: “What’s the basis of their attack?”

President: “No basis.” (Johnson Library, Recordings and Transcripts, Recording of a Telephone Conversation between the President and Russell, Tape 65.03, Side A, PNO) The portion of the conversation printed here was prepared in the Office of the Historian specifically for this volume.