A few minutes later, the President spoke with National Security Advisor Walt Rostow. Johnson seemed inclined to imitate President Kennedy’s approach to the Cuban Missile Crisis, and put together—if only, as he admitted, for the sake of public opinion—a Middle Eastern version of the ExComm.
That strategy ultimately was modified. Former National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy traveled to
LBJ and Walt Rostow, 6.15am
WH6706.01 PNO 2, 11902
President Johnson: What would you think today about having the leadership informed up at the Congress? Have McNamara and Rusk go up there instead of coming down here. I think it blows it up and makes it a little critical when they’re down here.
We might ask some of our good friends that might be helpful to come in from the outside to come in and give us some help here.
Walt Rostow: Clark [Clifford], Abe [Fortas]—people like that?
President Johnson: Well, I would think . . . I’m not sure, but I would think that we ought to, just for public appearance’s sake, maybe ask [Dean] Acheson to come by.
Rostow: All right.
President Johnson: You ought to ask Rusk and McNamara what they think of it, just on your own, without it coming from me.
President Johnson: I see.
President Johnson: But these would be the ones that I would like to talk to about these things, and see what preparations they think we ought to make, and so forth. Acheson, [George] Ball, Clifford . . .
Rostow: Want Mac Bundy down?
President Johnson: Yes, Bundy would be good. I always liked the old man [John] McCloy and that other fellow that always handled
President Johnson: Yeah, Arthur Dean.
Rostow: Arthur Dean.
President Johnson: But I wouldn’t mention McCloy and Dean today.
Rostow: All right.
President Johnson: But I do think that Bundy would be exceptional—just get on the shuttle and come down here.
And I think that beyond that you ought to ask them—I’d do that anyway, I’d just call him and tell him I’d like to visit with him about this letter. I think that’s very good. I want to talk to him about this other matter, too, and I wished he’d come down here and be prepared to stay as long as he can.
Rostow: I will do that, sir, and—
President Johnson: And then I’d check them on the Leadership—whether they think it wouldn’t be a proper thing to ask [Mike]
Rostow: I don’t know where the Vice President—
President Johnson: Find out from—see if they could have meetings like they had the other day. Just handle them the same way.
Rostow: Now, on that one, I think you’d want to get Dick Helms in, on the intelligence side. Would you—
President Johnson: Yes, yes.
Rostow: I should think you’d want him, and Rusk and McNamara up there.
President Johnson: Yeah, yeah.
Rostow: All right. I’ll try it out—the list except Mac—I’ll just get Mac down here. And I’ll try out this Leadership idea, and I’ll try out the names on my own.
President Johnson: Good.
Rostow: All right, sir.