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John B. OakesJohn B. Oakes
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Q:

That's fine. It was more the general process I was interested in. Backing up to October of 1963, before President Kennedy was assassinated: the editorials were beginning to get more and more critical of the lack of candor on the part of the administration. I'm wondering did you ever have any specific contacts with President Kennedy or discussions about the situation in Vietnam? And in general, could you characterize your fears and trepidation about what he was doing, based on your knowledge of him?

Oakes:

I have to answer that question in two or three different parts. I had quite a bit of contact with Jack Kennedy when he was a senator, before he became president, quite a bit, and even a couple of times -- oh, no, more than that -- after he was president. I think the last time was probably in April '63, it's hard to remember. But I do not remember ever talking with him about lack of candor on Vietnam. But I do remember being concerned about Kennedy's presentation. He did, for example, a TV conference. I think it must have been the early summer of '63, and I remember he had a map of Vietnam. This was a public TV broadcast. I remember being disturbed by what I felt to be -- and later termed -- his too hawkish approach to the increasing Vietnam problem. And I certainly felt, partly based on that broadcast, that there was a lack of candor in the degree to which the U.S., even at that early date, was getting itself involved militarily in what I foresaw -- and I sure wasn't alone, and several of my editorial colleagues, almost all of them -- foresaw as a disastrous direction. You know, people on my editorial board had different views. A couple of them were totally opposed to the view that I'm talking about, but the majority of my editorial associates very much felt the same way I did and in a couple of cases even more strongly.

Q:

This is probably an impossible question to answer, but after that article “Candor Needed in Vietnam” in October --



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