90. Editorial Note

During a telephone conversation with Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach that began at 7:50 p.m. on August 11, 1966, President Johnson discussed the appointment of an Under Secretary of State and reviewed a number of possible candidates. Among the President’s comments was the following: “This man has got to rejuvenate that Department like you have brought in at Justice-all different new men, young men, competent men, quiet men that don’t spend all their time leaking but a good deal of it working. And then I’ve got to have somebody that’s got some judgment. You have no idea how taxing and depressing it is to me-it just nearly breaks my spirit every day. If I have a conversation with the Secretary the damn thing is leaked and it’s in the paper, and it’s twisted. They just got no morale over there, and they got no imagination. They got no initiative. They got no ideas. You have to ask four or five times to get a report. I called you today on this thing, told you to look into two angles of it. Now I got my report and I can go on home. Sometimes I call four or five times to get things over there, and it’s a serious thing.”

Katzenbach indicated that he would be willing to undertake the position. (Johnson Library, Recordings and Transcripts, Recording of a Telephone Conversation between Johnson and Katzenbach, Tape 66.21, Side A, PNO 1)

During a telephone conversation that began at 10 a.m. on August 24, President Johnson and Secretary of State Rusk had the following exchange regarding the appointment of an Under Secretary of State:

President: “I’ll tell you the most interesting possibility that we have had, aside from the Vance thing, which I kind of want to use as a fallback, kind of like you said about Bunker. We have Vance, for a while anyway, and we wouldn’t have him very long over there, but we may need him as a fallback if we are unable to interest anyone else, under the circumstances. Now it looks to me like the best prospect we have-but I don’t just know whether to gamble on the cities and the riots and everything else-would be Katzenbach.”

Rusk: “Um-hm. Um-hm. Well as you know I’d be tremendously interested in him.”

President: “I just think he’d be the best because everything he does he seems to do so well.” (Ibid., Recording of Telephone Conversation between the President and Rusk, Tape 66.21, Side B, PNO 1) The portions of the conversations printed here were prepared in the Office of the Historian specifically for this volume.