40. Transcript of a Telephone Conversation Between the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) and the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Johnson)1

[Omitted here is a brief exchange on Vietnam.]

J: Have you seen the text on Cuba?2

K: Yes, I like that. I think that is good. I talked to the Secretary on the plane yesterday, I don’t know if you have talked to him or not, and [Page 144] I just gave him the gist of it. I did not have that exact text but we did talk about it.

J: I worked it out after we discussed it. Frankly, I had a little trouble with working out the wording. In connection with that, Fascell is pressing for hearings and wants an answer by Monday.3

K: What do you think?

J: I think we have to go up. Question of who does it. I think the finger points at me but that is something we can work out.

K: You won’t get any argument from me.

J: Ben Welles was around to see me yesterday. Times is doing a

Cienfuegos article. Gist of it was we have been taken in badly and we built up the story and took credit for getting them out and now they are back in—whole thing back. He had the fact that I sent a memorandum to you on the subject.4

K: When in hell did you send a memorandum to me?

J: Quite a while ago. Only I and Ray Garthoff knew about it over here at State and you over there. Only the three of us knew that it existed.

K: Oh yes. You drew it up on a contingency basis and then we did not use it.

J: It actually never came about. He said they had from Defense that a Y-class submarine had put in to Cienfuegos.

K: That’s not true. A Yankee class submarine?

J: That’s what he said. I told him before you go to press on it you better check with DOD and make sure that that tender is still there. I made it sound like there was a question whether it would still be there or not.

K: I just do not believe that they—have you seen the latest Dobrynin memcon?5 I told Al Haig to send it over. I just cannot believe that they will be wanting a showdown at this point.

J: Unless they wanted to prove the ability to make “courtesy calls.” I just checked. They are still in there this morning. I will be talking to him again. Everyone knows it is there. There will be a blow up about this in the press if it is going to stay. Perhaps it would be wise to call Dobrynin.

[Page 145]

K: Call up Dobrynin?

J: Yes. Only thought I have.

K: Call him up or ask him in? I will ask him in late today or early tomorrow. I will report to you as soon as I have talked to him.

[Omitted here is discussion of scheduling and personnel at the United Nations.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Henry Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts, Box 7, Chronological File. No classification marking. A typed note indicates the transcript was “paraphased.”
  2. During the daily briefing on November 13, McCloskey issued the following official statement: “On this general matter [Cienfuegos], and in light of questions that were raised here a few days ago—with me, and I think with others in the Department—let me say that in view of President Kennedy’s press conference statements on November 20, 1962, and to which this Administration has referred, and the Soviet Government’s statement issued by Tass October 13 this year, we are confident that there is understanding by the two governments of the respective positions on the limits of their actions with regard to Cuba.” Although he refused to qualify this statement, McCloskey confirmed on a background basis that the “understanding” would “preclude the establishment of a naval base for the Soviet Union at Cienfuegos or any other place in Cuba.” (Ibid., RG 59, Records of the Office of News, Transcripts of Daily News Conferences of the Department of State, Vol. 56) For the text of Kennedy’s press conference on November 20, 1962, see Public Papers: Kennedy, 1962, pp. 830–838.
  3. November 16.
  4. Not found.
  5. In a letter to Johnson on November 13, Kissinger forwarded memoranda of four conversations with Dobrynin on Cuba: September 25 (10 a.m.); September 25 (5:30 p.m.); October 6; and October 9. Unbeknownst to Johnson, the memoranda had been sanitized and abridged. See also Document 46.