Dictabelt 10A.5

John Kennedy, Larry O'Brien
White House Telephone

Operator: Ready, sir.

President Kennedy: Oh, hello, [Lawrence] Larry [O'Brien]?1

Lawrence O'Brien: Yes.

President Kennedy: Hey, tell me--[National Security Adviser McGeorge] Mac [Bundy] here says that he hears that [Congressman] Armistead Selden's [D-Alabama] going to have a report on what we're doing to stop subversion in Latin America, and it's going to be rather critical.

O'Brien: Mm-hmm.

President Kennedy: Now, we are working on this, and we've got the [Sterling] Cottrell group and we've got a program which we're presenting--as always it takes a little longer than--2

O'Brien: Yeah.

President Kennedy: --it seems to, but I wondered if we could--I guess [Congressman Dante B.] Fascell [D-Florida] is on this committee.

O'Brien: Yeah.

President Kennedy: I thought we ought to try to mute the criticism.

O'Brien: All right.

President Kennedy: I think if they would suggest a program. They don't need skin us on it. We're going to--

O'Brien: Well, if Selden has a degree of control there--he has talked to [Administrative Assistant to the President Henry H.] Wilson and I last week along these lines and gave us, well, I would have to say, almost total assurance. And we're certainly in a position to review with him what he's going to do if Mac wants to provide me with some thoughts that--as to a line--hell, I think we can work it out.

President Kennedy: Well, I think if you could--would be available to tell them what we're trying--

O'Brien: Yeah.

President Kennedy: --to do--

O'Brien: All right.

President Kennedy: --or if we could answer any questions, and give them any material we've got on our program, which he could put forward as a Selden program--

O'Brien: All right.

President Kennedy: --and urge us to carry out these actions. Just not to be awfully harsh about our not doing it, because it's really up to these other countries--

O'Brien: Yeah.

President Kennedy: --like Mexico and the rest of them.

O'Brien: Oh, I'll get moving on that and I'll probably get [unclear.]

President Kennedy: You didn't--did you get [unclear]

O'Brien: Yes, I've talked to him--

President Kennedy: What'd he say?

O'Brien: --and he's going to talk to--he hadn't even heard of it.

President Kennedy: Yeah.

O'Brien: He said that there was nothing in the early editions down there, so I reviewed it with him. He said he just couldn't understand the damn thing at all, other than . . . he said [Governor Orval E.] Faubus [D-Arkansas] has been having legislative trouble down there this year for no good reason because he hasn't much of a program. But he said he's been holding on to his gut. He's got stomach trouble anyway, and been grousing pretty well. He spent the day before yesterday with him, didn't hear a word about this sort of thing. Would get to him as fast as he could. He thought it would be this afternoon and be back to me.

President Kennedy: Yeah. You told him there were no Arkansas fliers?

O'Brien: Yeah. I went over the whole thing with him--

President Kennedy: Mm-hmm.

O'Brien: --and he said, "I'll grab him and get back to you the minute"--

President Kennedy: OK.

O'Brien: --"I talk to him."

President Kennedy: Fine.

  • 1. Lawrence F. (Larry) O'Brien served as a special assistant to the President for Congressional relations.
  • 2. Sterling Cottrell, a career foreign service officer, had recently been appointed to head a special National Security Council group focused on Cuba.