42. Memorandum for the Record/1/

Washington, August 8, 1964.

/1/Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DCI (McCone) Files: Job 80-B01285A, 303 Committee Meetings (1964). Secret; Eyes Only. Drafted by McCone.

Meeting of 303 Committee/2/ on 6 August 1964

/2/The 303 Committee was an interdepartmental committee that reviewed and authorized covert operations. Established under NSC 5412/2, December 28, 1955, it was known as the Special Group or 5412 Committee until National Security Action Memorandum No. 303, June 2, 1964, changed its name to the 303 Committee. In 1964-1968, it consisted of the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, and the Director of Central Intelligence.

[Here follows discussion of unrelated subjects.]

6. I then brought up the question of a U-2 flight over high priority targets in South China, presented a flight plan and a weather map. Pointed out that a weather phenomena would occur over the next two days because of the approaching hurricane and that we could expect reasonably good weather--categories 2 and 3--over the area of interest in the next two days. For that reason I recommended that CIA be authorized to fly a U-2 [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] with a CIA civilian pilot, utilizing a cover story which was discussed in its broad outline. Messrs. Vance and Thompson expressed approval. Bundy saw the advantages but withheld judgment. Vance reported that Secretary McNamara opposed. Thompson reported that he felt that Secretary Rusk opposed, but was not sure of his position. Bundy stated this was a matter for Presidential decision and that the President should meet with McCone, McNamara and Rusk to hear the arguments and make the decision and he agreed to arrange such a meeting immediately. I stated this was not possible from my standpoint because of the necessity to go to Gettysburg to brief General Eisenhower. It was agreed, therefore, that the subject would be discussed separately with Secretary McNamara and Secretary Rusk and then Mr. Bundy would approach the President. However, he called the President on the telephone in the meeting room, outlined the problem to him; the President indicated he desired to think the matter over and would render a decision later in the day.

I then went to Vance's office and reviewed the program with Secretary McNamara. In this discussion I made the specific recommendation that the flight be conducted on one or both of the next two days, taking advantage of the break in the weather, and that if it was not so conducted, we probably would not have another opportunity for some time because of the weather which would close in. I told the Secretary there was a very definite intelligence gap that worried me and that I felt the risk of the flight was worth it. The Secretary said he was unalterably opposed on the grounds that the flight would become known to the ChiComs and it would exacerbate the situation and he wished to take a "wait and see" attitude before making any further move which could be construed by Hanoi or Peiping as a further United States provocation. McNamara said he was quite agreeable for me to present my views to the President and he felt that, from the standpoint of my responsibilities, this should be done, but from his standpoint he was opposed.

I left for Gettysburg feeling that Bundy would follow through as agreed and discuss the subject further with the President.

The next morning Bundy called me and said that Thompson had talked to Rusk and Rusk was unalterably opposed to the flight despite Thompson's recommendation, and the fact that the flight involved a comparatively "low risk," and since both Rusk and McNamara were definitely opposed to the flight, he, Bundy, felt it would serve no useful purpose to bring my recommendation again to the attention of the President as he would undoubtedly look to his two Secretaries for advice and would be governed accordingly. Therefore Bundy had, on his own initiative, decided not to present the matter to the President.

SOURCE: Foreign Relations of the United States 1964-68, Vol. XXX, China