26. Memorandum of Telephone Conversation1

PARTICIPANTS

  • The President
  • Mr. Mann

The President called and suggested that Mr. Mann should, on his own and with no reference to the President, suggest to Mr. Ball and the Secretary that the Assistant Secretaries be called in and told about the seriousness of leaks and how the President felt about them. The President said they should do that right away and then in a week or so he will meet with the Assistant Secretaries and tell them how he regards this whole matter as their responsibility.

The President said that the story about the war plans on Viet Nam is disgraceful.2 He said the one last Friday3 that was leaked out of the [Page 57]White House on the white paper4 could be referred to by Mr. Mann. The President said that the Secretary wanted to meet with these men to find out what is generating, what the problems are and prepare for a press conference next week. The President said that was why we wanted a list of all the press people that are seen and information as to what questions were asked and what answers were given. He said we were, in theory, supposed to get this every Saturday by noon and that everybody does it right but the State Department.

The President referred to the specific leaks on the Ball-MNF (?) report,5 the white paper, the Marines going in and the battle plans. He said he believed three came out of the White House and one came out of the military so by using these as illustrations Mr. Mann would not be talking to guilty people.

The President reiterated how strongly he felt about this and emphasized that he wanted each and every press person visited or talked to listed and what was said summarized.

The President asked that Mr. Mann get this word across today or tomorrow, let it soak in for a week and see if we get what we want next Saturday.6 The President said that whatever these officers say they should be willing to have in a gold-fish bowl and have attributed to them.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, Mann Papers, Telephone Conversations with LBJ. No classification marking. Prepared by Patricia Saunders, Mann’s secretary.
  2. Reference is to the lead article in The New York Times on March 1.
  3. February 26.
  4. The white paper, a Department of State report entitled Aggression From the North: The Record of North Viet Nam’s Campaign to Conquer South Viet-Nam, was released on February 28. For text, see Department of State Bulletin, March 22, 1965, pp. 404–427. The New York Times reported on the white paper in its lead article on February 27.
  5. Presumably a reference to a report concerning the Multilateral Force (MLF) and/or the Atlantic Nuclear Force (ANF).
  6. March 6.