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LBJ in the Oval Office During Vietnam

At this site, you can listen to secretly recorded conversations made by President Lyndon Baines Johnson in the White House Oval Office. These tapes were released in February 1997 by the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas.

No transcripts of these tapes have been created. We shall simply summarize the conversations and then point you to the audio link.


Johnson's Vietnam Anguish

May 27, 1964

Conversation with UN Ambassador Adlai Stevenson. LBJ seeks Stevenson's counsel on South Vietnam and Laos. Stevenson wants to meet Johnson face-to-face rather than discuss the situation on the telephone. Regarding Vietnam, said Stevenson: "It really gives me the shakes."

Conversation with national security advisor McGeorge Bundy. Bundy seeks permission to meet with Canadian officials as a means to transmit information to the North Vietnamese. Johnson goes on to express strong doubts about American involvement.

Conversation with Senator Richard Russell. Johnson sought the views of his mentor and friend regarding American involvement in Vietnam. Said Russell, then Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee: " We're in the quicksand up to our necks, and I just don't know what the hell to do about it."

Conversation with Press Secretary George Reedy. Johnson briefs Reedy about Dean Rusk's activities. They discuss the reasons for a teleprompter failure and a backup strategy should the teleprompter fail again. Johnson discusses race preferences in press office appointments.