Lyndon Johnson and Mike Mansfield on 8 June 1965


Transcript

Edited by David G. Coleman and Marc J. Selverstone, with Kieran Matthews

On 5 June, Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield [D–Montana] sent President Johnson a memorandum supporting Johnson's decision to exclude the Hanoi-Haiphong area from bombing and urging Johnson to pursue a negotiated, diplomatic solution to the war in Vietnam. Johnson had retired to the Mansion for an afternoon nap, but unable to sleep, had decided to call Mansfield from his bedroom to discuss a range of foreign and legislative issues.[note 2] "Memorandum from Senator Mike Mansfield to President Johnson," 5 June 1965, U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968: Vietnam, January–June 1965 (hereafter FRUS), ed. David C. Humphrey, Ronald D. Landa, and Louis J. Smith (Washington, DC: GPO, 1996), 2:725-27. Following their 8 June telephone call, Mansfield sent Johnson an additional memo, reflecting upon a number of issues they had discussed orally.[note 3] "Memorandum From Senator Mike Mansfield to President Johnson," 9 June 1965, ibid., 741-44.
The beginning of the recording includes some garbled conversation.
President Johnson

[Unclear]—to stay out there with the forces that I can see building up against it.

Mike Mansfield

[Unclear.]

President Johnson

[with Mansfield acknowledging] [On the] other hand, I don't see exactly the medium for pulling out. And I think that what I'll do is . . . I want to talk to you, and I'll probably talk to [John] McCormack [D–Massachusetts]. [Dean] Rusk doesn't know that I'm thinking this; [Robert] McNamara doesn't know I'm thinking this; [McGeorge] Bundy doesn't. I haven't talked to a human. I'm over here in bed. I just tried to take a nap, get going on my second day and I couldn't. I just decided I'd call you.

But I think I'll say to the Congress that General [Dwight] Eisenhower thought we ought to go in here and do here what we, in effect, did in Greece and Turkey, and so forth. And the Congress thought that we ought to have the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization, and we passed it, 82–1.[note 5] On 1 February 1955, the Senate ratified the Southeast Asia Treaty with a vote of 82–1. Both Johnson and Mansfield had voted in favor of the treaty, and the vote had come just under a month into Johnson's term as Senate Majority Leader. And President [John F.] Kennedy thought we ought to do this and he sent these people in here. And I have thought that we ought to stay there. But all of my military people tell me, and my economic people, that we cannot do this to the extent of the commitment we have now. It's got to be materially increased and the outcome is not really predictable at the moment. I don't think I'd use that language, but I would say something, that unless we have further augmentation, we cannot be secure. Our 75,000 men are going to be in great danger unless they have 75,000 more. My judgment is—and I'm no military man at all, but I study it every day and every night, and I read the cables. I look back over what's happened in the last two years, or the last four, really, and if they get 150[000], they'll have to have another 150[000], and then they'll have to have another 150[000]. So the big question then is: What does the Congress want to do about it, under these circumstances? I get . . . I know that—I know what the military wants to do. I really know what I think Rusk and McNamara want to do, and Bundy. But I'm not sure—and I think I know what the country wants to do now—but I'm not sure that they'll want to do that six months from now.

Mansfield

Right.

President Johnson

And I want you to give me your best thinking on it and see how we ought to handle it. If we handle it at all, what we ought to do. [Mansfield acknowledges.] If you—

Mansfield

Since our last conversation I've been doing some thinking.

President Johnson

Yeah.

Mansfield

And doing some writing, and I'm just . . . Next time I see you, I'll give it to you or send it down to you.

President Johnson

All right.

Mansfield

I'm afraid I'm just as worried as you are [unclear].

President Johnson

Yeah. Well . . . we have, since [Maxwell] Taylor left out there, some very bad news on the [South Vietnamese] government. It's not decisive news, it could go either way, but he thought he had it patched up. But the Catholics are kicking overboard, and they're using this little president to cause trouble.[note 6] South Vietnamese Catholics had been urging South Vietnamese chief of state Phan Khac Suu to fire South Vietnamese premier Phan Huy Quat following Quat's efforts to remove the nation's two top domestic ministers from his cabinet. Jack Langguth, "Saigon Catholics Seek Quat Ouster,"New York Times, 2 June 1965.

Mansfield

Well, they [unclear] quiet.

President Johnson

And he can't get them to. [William] Westmoreland has—says that the offensive that he has anticipated, that he's been fearful of, is now on, and he wants people as quickly as he can get them.

The Dominican [Republic] thing is relatively quiet. We think that we did all we could do and exactly what we should have done. And, in retrospect, we wouldn't change it a bit. But there's been grave doubts cast on it here and around the world, and I'm hoping that we can get the OAS [Organization of American States] to assume some more of the military. We're begging every country. We're going to get a few more from Paraguay, but they're not going to be a handful. I'm also hoping we can get them to assume some of the political. It's my judgment we're really going to ultimately have to tell them what to do, because they're paper; they don't take much action, and they tell you what not to do instead of what to do. And I think that we've a very precarious situation there, and all of our people do. But in deference to the opinions of mankind, well, we're trying to—we don't want to upset the French or the British and the rest of them. And we're going to try to let the OAS handle it any way in the world, in God's world, they will. We've given them the best man that we know to give them to give them advice, but my judgment is, it's going to cost us $3[00] or 400 million. We're finally going to have to say, "here's"—Mike Mansfield or Lyndon Johnson—"that we'll recognize as president. And he's not a Trujillo-ite or he's not a Communist, but he's a moderate, and we'll recognize him until you have an election, and you have [an] election as they were scheduled, in 1966. And we'll have a way of supervising them, and you may get a Communist government out of it. We hope not."

I was a little bit distressed our economic aid got whacked some last year, and we asked this year—we haven't got our other, but we have felt that y'all felt we ought to be doing a little more that way. And [J. William] Bill Fulbright's [D–Arkansas] been rather insistent, as you know, that we're not doing enough in that direction, and a lot of our folks thought we ought to be talking development and negotiation more than war. But I was a little bit distressed that fellows—that [as] many Republicans voted against as did yesterday, and particularly men like George Aiken [R–Vermont]. Do you think that—does he think that—what's his thinking? I haven't seen it. I haven't heard it. I just saw it on the ticker.

Mansfield

Oh, well, he thinks it's too late. And he's very—he's tremendously disturbed about the situation in Vietnam. And it's—

President Johnson

Well, we all are.

Mansfield

I know, but I mean, really, and he's made some strong statements, and he just feels it's been a little too late. That it's tied in with the 700 million [dollars], and I think he's thinking along that line.[note 7] On 4 May, President Johnson asked Congress for a $700 million supplemental appropriation for operations in Vietnam and the Dominican Republic. Congress passed the resolution overwhelmingly, by votes of 408–7 in the House and 88–3 in the Senate. See Robert Mann, A Grand Delusion: America's Descent into Vietnam (New York: Basic Books, 2001), 433–37.

President Johnson

He doesn't think we ought to be doing it? It would be better not to do it, is that his thinking?

Mansfield

Yeah, that it should've been done before, not now; it's a little bit too late. But it's—that's too late, too. [Unclear.]

President Johnson

[with Mansfield acknowledging] Yes, that's right. And, of course, we've had a relatively stable government for 90 days, and we had hoped that we could see that for another few months that would permit some of these things. But unless you can guard what you're doing, you can't do anything. We can't build an airport, by God, much less build an REA line.[note 8] President Johnson is referring to the Rural Electrification Administration, a New Deal effort to bring electricity to isolated parts of the United States. And it takes more people to guard us in building an airport than it does to build the airport. And the same thing's true . . . We could use hundreds of millions on economic projects if we could get them built. That's why we had to limit it to just three or four REA projects and one little dam.

Mansfield

Yeah, but—

President Johnson

And things of that kind.

Mansfield

But some people seem to think that we're just building it for the Vietcong to take over.

President Johnson

Well, it could very well be. It could very well be. But I rather—I had the feeling from [the] way Bill Fulbright talked—I don't know whether I sensed it or not—that the feeling on the Hill was that we ought to be doing more of that, and that might be a better answer than the bombs.

Mansfield

Well, there is that feeling. How widespread it is, is hard to say. But there's a feeling of apprehension and suspense up here that's pretty hard to define, and it's pretty widespread on both sides.

President Johnson

Well, we have it here.

Mansfield

I know you do, but worse.

President Johnson

Do you have any thoughts about the approach that we might make to the Congress, whether one is wise and, if so, how?

Mansfield

Well, if you make another approach to the Congress, I think really the roof will blow off this time, because people who have remained quiet will no longer remain silent, and I think it would be too much of the same thing of being applied too soon one after the other. You've got the resolution. Now, you got the $700 million. Now, you got the Mekong thing.[note 9] Mansfield is referring to President Johnson's 7 April speech at Johns Hopkins University in which he proposed a project akin to the Tennessee Valley Authority for the Mekong Delta. [If] this come[s] up, I think you'd be in for some trouble, that the debate could split right out. [Unclear]

President Johnson

I think you might near got to have the debate, though, haven't you?

Mansfield

Yes, sir.

President Johnson

Do you think that we ought to send all these troops without a debate?

Mansfield

No, sir. I think that we've got too many in there now, and we've been bombing the North without any appreciable results showing for us in the South. I think that this thing has got to be settled in the South some way. It's not a question of withdrawal. It's not a question of bombing Hanoi or Haiphong. It's just something that's going to take a lot of consideration, a lot of concentration in the South, and something to be done to try and revive, as I know you're trying to with the proposal of [Norodom] Sihanouk for a Cambodian conference dealing with Cambodia only.[note 10] On 4 June, the State Department had publicly agreed to a proposal by Cambodia's head of state, Prince Norodom Sihanouk, to convene a conference to discuss the territorial integrity of Cambodia. U.S. participation was conditional on the conference not being turned into an opportunity to link to the Vietnam issue. "Parley Solely on Cambodia Declared Agreeable to U.S.," New York Times, 5 June 1965.

President Johnson

But what do we do about his [Westmoreland's] request for more men? Don't we have to—if it assumes the proportions that I can see it assuming, shouldn't we say to the Congress, "What do you want to do about it?"

Mansfield

Well, I would be—hate to be the one to say it because, as you said earlier, it's 75,000, then it's 150,000, then it's 300,000. Where do you stop?

President Johnson

You don't. That's right.

Mansfield

When do you stop?

President Johnson

You don't. I mean, if you—it looks like to me—I don't see where the—to me it's shaping up like this, Mike: you either get out or you get in. I don't think there's much more neutral. I think we've tried all the neutral things. And we think they are winning. Now, if we think they're winning, you can imagine what they think.

Mansfield

Yes, they know they're winning.

President Johnson

And if they know that, you can see that they're not anxious to find any answer to it.

Mansfield

That's right.

President Johnson

Now, what do we do under those circumstances? We seem to have tried everything that we know to do. I stayed here for over a year when they were urging us to bomb before I'd go beyond the line. I have stayed away from their industrial targets and their civilian population, although they urge you to do it.

Mansfield

Yeah, but Hanoi and Haiphong are stripped clean and have been for months. And you bomb them, you get nothing. You just build up more hatred. You get these people tied more closely together because they are tied by blood, whether from the North or the South.

President Johnson

I think that's true, and I think that you've done nearly everything that you can do except make it a complete white man's war.

Mansfield

And if you do that, then you might as well say good-bye [to] all of Asia and to most of the world.

President Johnson

Well, I think that's probably—

Mansfield

Yeah.

President Johnson

I think that's right. Therefore, . . . where do you go?

Mansfield

Well, you don't go ahead, because if you do, then you revive your figures of what happens when you confront China. You don't pull out. You try to do something to consolidate your position in South Vietnam. And that may take more troops; it certainly will take more Vietnamese. I think when [unclear]

President Johnson

They're getting more of them in, Mike, but they're going out the other end.

Mansfield

That's right.

President Johnson

They're deserting just like flies.

Mansfield

When McNamara speaks about 300,000 American troops against [General Vo Nguyen] Giap's 31 divisions in North Vietnam, that's the absolute minimum.

President Johnson

Yes, he knows that.

Mansfield

When he speaks about 160,000 being increased through conscripting the Vietnamese Army, he knows he isn't telling the truth because they're not coming. As you say, they're in and they're out.

President Johnson

Well, they have been coming. But he thinks he's telling the truth because the government assures him they'll stop them, but they can't do it.

Mansfield

Can't do it.

President Johnson

And the government goes under trying to do it. Just like . . . that's what happened to [Donald] Reid [Cabral] in the Dominican Republic. He's trying to have an honest government, trying to get rid of the generals, and he did too much of it. And what's happening out there—[Phan Huy] Quat is trying to—his enlistments are up and have been going well, but they just go out of the bottom of it, and they haven't been able to find a way to have a government strong enough to stop the desertions. That's what [Maxwell] Taylor told us this morning.[note 11] Taylor met with President Johnson and senior civilian and military officials from 1:00 P.M. to 2:30 P.M. that afternoon. "Memorandum for the Record," 8 June 1965, FRUS, 2:739–41.

I don't know quite how to approach this, Mike, so far as the Congress is concerned, before we make up our mind. When we take it much further than you and McCormack, you know what I get into, with the discussions and so forth. On the other hand, while Taylor is here and before he goes back, if we thought that we could get any help or any advice that we could follow that we think would be worthy, I'd like to—I don't know whether they want to be exposed to him, but I'd like to be exposed to their thinking, their judgments. Do you have any feeling whether it would be better to let him go up before Foreign Relations [Committee] and Armed Services [Committee], or would it be better to just have some of the representative ones of them here? You've got every conflict in the world, from you to Russell Long [D–Louisiana], and from Mendel Rivers [D–South Carolina] to [Thomas] Doc Morgan [D–Pennsylvania], and in our own party it's pretty well divided.[note 12] John McCormack was Speaker of the House. Russell Long was the Senate majority whip and chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance. L. Mendel Rivers was chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Thomas "Doc" Morgan was chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Do you have any thinking about what would be the wisest thing to do there?

Mansfield

Going to see anybody, he ought to see them all, and—that is, on those committees.

President Johnson

Do you mean—yes.

Mansfield

And there's no reason why they can't meet jointly to discuss the situation. And maybe some good would come out of it. But if you start picking out a selected few, then I think you're asking for trouble, because others will feel they've been left out, and they'll get grumpy, to put it mildly.

President Johnson

Would that be—would your thought for them be that it would be best to have—to ask [Richard] Russell [D–Georgia] and Fulbright to have a joint hearing with him and do the same on the House side and . . . We'll have this all in the papers then.

Mansfield

Well, if you see a few, it's going to get in the papers. I mean, how could you pick out the three or four or five and not expect it to leak?

President Johnson

Well, we do reasonably well with these leadership meetings.

Mansfield

Well, [unclear].

President Johnson

I really don't—what? I mean, your judgment—you can see it better than I do. Do you think they leak much?

Mansfield

Not the leadership meetings, but the big meetings do.

President Johnson

I mean the joint ones, like we had on the Dominican Republic the other night.

Mansfield

No, no.

President Johnson

I thought it was pretty good.

Mansfield

Very good, very good.

President Johnson

[Everett] Dirksen [R–Illinois] and [Bourke] Hickenlooper [R–Iowa] and Aiken are good, and . . . of course, I don't know. It may be the thing we want to do is—let me talk to McCormack—maybe the thing we want—and then I'll see what happens here tomorrow and the next day. He's [Taylor] going back about Saturday, Sunday.

Mansfield

Oh.

President Johnson

And . . . do you have any feeling about Taylor coming out? Isn't that going to be a little difficult for us?

Mansfield

Uh, it'll be a little difficult. I have more feeling about [Henry Cabot] Lodge going in, to tell you the truth, because I don't think there's any comparison between the two. And Lodge is not well-loved on the Hill.

President Johnson

No, but he is . . .

Mansfield

And he's tied in somewhere with [Ngo Dinh] Diem. That was the big mistake.[note 13] As the U.S. ambassador to South Vietnam during the summer and fall of 1963, Henry Cabot Lodge played a key role in the coup of early November 1963 that led to South Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem's assassination and the toppling of his government. That episode was frequently cited as a turning point in U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

President Johnson

They like him better out there than anybody we've had, number one. And number two, my people tell me that he is less likely to get us in an Asian war than Taylor.

Mansfield

Hmm.

President Johnson

That he is much more flexible and he does not—politically—and he does not—he likes to talk it out rather than fight it out.

Mansfield

Well—

President Johnson

And that's pretty appealing these days. [chuckling]

Mansfield

It is indeed.

President Johnson

And he's experienced, and he has the language, and they like him, and he gets along pretty well with the Catholics, pretty [well] along with the Buddhists. And to start all over with a new man is pretty rough.

Mansfield

That's true. That's true.

President Johnson

Sir?

Mansfield

It has to be done, I guess.

President Johnson

No, it doesn't. We can do anything that looks better.

Mansfield

No, I don't—

President Johnson

We've had [Dean] Rusk and [Robert] McNamara and Bobby Kennedy and all of them offer to go, and Mac Bundy. But I don't believe any of them are in either Lodge's or Taylor's class. I believe we have more militarism under Taylor, although he is a mild man and is not a militarist himself. I believe that he feels he would vote with them more than Lodge. Lodge is one that goes this economic stuff, you know, that Bill [Fulbright]'s talking all the time. And, of course, I gathered—I thought maybe Aiken was against us a little bit, because he didn't like Lodge. Did that have something to do with his feeling, you think?

Mansfield

Uh, he doesn't like Lodge [unclear]

President Johnson

Fulbright kept shoving Lodge the other night and arguing with me on it and demanding we kind of do it. And I kind of indicated, "All right, we'll try some of this if you want us to," and I could see Aiken kind of not liking it.

Mansfield

No, he doesn't like Lodge. It runs pretty deep, too.

President Johnson

Before I let you go—you think about it, don't talk to anybody, but just give your best thoughts, and we'll talk tomorrow—let me ask you this: Are you going to have a good deal of trouble with our—my McKee Bill that allows him to be federal aviation administrator?[note 14] Johnson had nominated retired Air Force general William F. McKee to succeed Najeeb E. Halaby as federal aviation administrator. Because the law required the position to be held by a civilian, Johnson was seeking a waiver in the form of a special Senate bill so that he could appoint McKee. The move was controversial but ultimately passed with a close vote, and Johnson nominated McKee on 23 June 1965.

Mansfield

Yes, sir.

President Johnson

That's . . . do you think that it's in danger?

Mansfield

No, I don't, but I think that—

President Johnson

Is [there] anything we can do to let them know the difficulties we have and the facts? I'm just afraid, Mike, to turn over a billion-dollar program to a person without any experience, and the only people who've built airplanes in this country are military people.[note 15] Part of the incoming administrator's duties would be to oversee a major project, known as SST, to develop an American supersonic transport plane capable of intercontinental passenger routes to rival both the British–French Concorde and a competing Soviet project.

Mansfield

Yeah.

President Johnson

I can't—

Approximately nine seconds excised by the National Archives and Records Administration in accordance with the deed of gift.
President Johnson

And when they—when we started checking up the—[C. Douglas] Dillon was scared, McNamara was scared, [the Department of] Commerce was scared. And they have to serve on this committee as a board of directors, and we're putting hundreds of millions of dollars in a plane going 2,250 miles an hour. The French and the British are way out in front of us, and we've got to utilize the know-how we have in the Air Force if we're to build it at all. And I just can't take a schoolteacher or a lawyer or a banker to do this. I've got to have a man that's been doing it. McKee's been doing it all of his life and handled hundreds of millions. I talked to Vance Hartke [D-Indiana]; they told me he was against it. He didn't have any real reason. He just said, "Well, they've—then again, they put in the act in '58 they didn't want a military man."[note 16] The Federal Aviation Administration was created by the Federal Aviation Act of 1958. I said, "Yes, I think that's true. I don't see the real wisdom of it, but if Congress wants it, that's—I don't object to it. But in this instance, I need this man and I wish they would make one exception.” "Oh," he said, "you're not going to have any trouble," just kind of flighty. He didn't—he just said he's against it, "But you're not going to have any trouble. You've got all the votes," and so on and so forth. But I understand from some of the other senators that John Williams [R-Delaware] is worked up because the military's in several departments.

Mansfield

Yes, sir. He's been making inquiries.

President Johnson

And that he doesn't like it. And it, [the] military is one of our best sources of competent, honest people. We just don't have people that want to give up these big jobs and come in and work for 25[000], 30,000 [dollars] a year. There are just not many of them want to come in to Washington and turn themselves over to John Williams.

Mansfield

Yeah, yeah. That's right. [Unclear]

President Johnson

And—

Mansfield

He's digging.

President Johnson

Sir?

Mansfield

He's digging.

President Johnson

[with Mansfield acknowledging] Yes. It looks like to me, though, a fellow that's as prudent and careful and methodical and hell-raising as he is would want a man with a good background and experience. He's not a social worker and he's not a political—democratic political person. He's selected just purely because the secretary of treasury and commerce and defense think that he's the best equipped. I don't know what party he belongs to.

Mansfield

Well, I think with him, he just—he senses something here that can be used. I think he's trying to find out the number of other military men in the same position who are getting their pensions and working for the government, being allowed to do so. I don't think it runs very deep. I could be mistaken, but he just got onto this a couple days ago and he's been doing some digging. And then you've got [James] Pearson [R–Kansas], who won't say much; [Milton] Young [R–North Dakota], who wants a roll-call vote on it, may say a little something; Hartke, who I don't know where he stands half the time; and [Mike] Monroney [D–Oklahoma] was all out for him. And I promised Mike I'd try and bring it up today. I tried to work out a limitation with some of these people opposed to him and they wouldn't do it. “Well,” I said, "if that's the case, then we won't bring it up until we're through with this aid bill, because I'm not setting aside the aid bill unless we get something in the way of a time limitation to consider other matters.”[note 17] A $3.35 billion foreign aid bill was before Congress.

President Johnson

Mmm.

Mansfield

It's too much trouble on this bill.

President Johnson

Mmm. Are you in danger any on your aid bill?

Mansfield

I don't think so, sir, but . . . it hasn't started yet. So far we've been lucky, and I think our luck will hold, but you can't tell when something will happen.

President Johnson

Is there anything you think I could do? I've talked to Hartke on the McKee thing to explain to him why, and I guess it'd do no good to talk to Williams.

Mansfield

No, no good to talk to Williams. And Hartke is the weakest link in the chain anyway, so [unclear].

President Johnson

Is Pearson of Kansas against it, you say?

Mansfield

Yeah, but he won't say much.

President Johnson

And who else is against it besides Pearson and Hartke and Williams?

Mansfield

Young.

President Johnson

Steve Young [D–Ohio]?

Mansfield

Yeah. He came around and said he wanted a roll-call vote. And there must be others who aren't saying anything, just waiting.

President Johnson

Do you know how [Everett] Dirksen [R–Illinois] is?

Mansfield

No, but I imagine Everett would come along. [Pauses.] I'll inquire tomorrow.

President Johnson

All right. Do you have any feelings on the Dominican that you haven't told me about?

Mansfield

No, I—the Dominican is the least of my troubles.

President Johnson

Yes, it is. Me, too, but I just thought while I was talking that I'd . . .

Mansfield

The only thing is, I think that it might be well, if you can, to get on the side of the angels, and the angels would be either [Joaquin] Balaguer or [Juan] Bosch. And if you could, restore the government under which this guy was elected and see if you can't work out something on that basis pending the next elections.

President Johnson

Bosch says he will not go back.[note 18] Bosch was in exile in Puerto Rico. I think it'd be a terrible mistake for him to go back, because his people are real . . . the people around him that have taken him over are bad people, Mike.

Mansfield

What about Balaguer?

President Johnson

He won't take it. He wants to run, I think, and they tell me—our people made a poll there before this happened, two or three weeks before it happened, sometime before it happened—I'm not sure, it might have been two or three months—it showed him about 60-odd percent and Bosch 30.

Mansfield

Yeah.

President Johnson

He doesn't want—no one wants the provisional government. They're talking about a boy, a fellow named Garcia Godoy, who was in Bosch's cabinet and Balaguer's cabinet, and might be acceptable to both of them for a provisional government.

Mansfield

Can you get [Francisco] Caamaño and [Antonio] Imbert [Barrera] out of the country?

President Johnson

[with Mansfield acknowledging] No, I don't think you—[Mansfield attempts to interject]—I don't think you'll get either of them out. And the main thing—they're not the worst ones. The main thing is you can't get these hard-core Communists out. That's what really broke up our deal. They got 5,000 in the three parties. They got about a hundred real highly trained, hard-core leaders. They fade in and fade out. When they need to they come up to the top and they stick their head above the water and they stir up everything. Then they just fade out. Then they come back. They do that in and out all the time, and they pretty well have Bosch's ear, and pretty well give him directions.

Mansfield

That's too bad.

President Johnson

[with Mansfield acknowledging] We watch everything they do and, needless to say, we listen and hear and see everything they do and we're [in] pretty good control of it. But they use some of the papers on us. You got people that are reporters down there that are coming in here. They're telling Bosch and others they're going to lobby for him. And then they come down here representing some of the big papers, take positions, and they have been very misled. Poor fellows don't know it, and you can't—I can't tell them. But Herbert Matthews at the [New York] Times is calling the signals on Latin America, and he was in here 90 days ago. He thinks that we ought to have a [Fidel] Castro operation in every government in the hemisphere.

Mansfield

Oh, Lord.

President Johnson

[with Mansfield acknowledging] And you've got Tad Szulc down there covering it. He's getting ready to go to Spain now, and he had us shooting in the other forces, and siding with the generals and all that, when it just wasn't—plain wasn't true. And the [television news] networks pretty well have the same problem. I have told them—and they've been a little more careful with it—but I've told them some of the things I've observed. But the other night they had us—when the Brazilian general arrived, they gave him a salute. It was the airport ten miles, San Ysidro. And they had it on their prime-time show. And the boy, Belliano—whatever—Richard Valliano, or whatever his name is, and he said, "Now, you can hear the American Marines firing on the rebels in the background. I'll let you listen at the shots."[note 19] Johnson is referring to NBC News correspondent Richard Valeriani. And then he let us listen to the shooting. And I got on the phone and I called the ambassador and the general and everything else, and I found out they were down at the airport welcoming the general in and these were blank shots and they were ten miles from where the rebels were even located. But he had it all in a picture. So I went to the president of NBC with it and said, "Please, don't mislead the American people this way. I've got enough troubles." So he called back and said they'd made a mistake in the clipping room and they'd got the wrong picture with the wrong voice. [Laughs.] But that's a sample of it.

But they are in there and they're in Colombia pretty heavy. They're in Guatemala, they're in Argentine, and Bolivia. Those four are hot as firecrackers. There are eight more like Panama and Haiti and others that are very dangerous—could blow any day. And with the OAS thing what it is, I really don't know how to handle them if they did blow. Our people [Mansfield attempts to interject] Castro has got them all over the hemisphere functioning, and they are pulling this with the Vietnam thing. It was all pretty well set up to go at one time on June the 1st. But the Dominican thing blew off first because the ambassador left.

Mansfield

[Pauses.] Well . . .

President Johnson

How's your wife?

Mansfield

Oh, she's fine, Mr. President.

President Johnson

Well—

Mansfield

She's fine.

President Johnson

Give her my regards. And I'll talk to you tomorrow, and [if] you've—you got any ideas, you let me have them.

Mansfield

OK, sir.

President Johnson

Bye.

Mansfield

Bye, Mr. President.

Cite as

“Lyndon Johnson and Mike Mansfield on 8 June 1965,” Conversation WH6506-02-8107-8108-8109, Presidential Recordings Digital Edition [Lyndon B. Johnson: Civil Rights, Vietnam, and the War on Poverty, ed. David G. Coleman, Kent B. Germany, Guian A. McKee, and Marc J. Selverstone] (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2014–). URL: http://prde.upress.virginia.edu/conversations/4002498