Lyndon Johnson on Homeland Security



Close 38 defense bases, with more in the future

Defending his decision to close 38 defense bases, Johnson announced there would be more closings in the future. Secy. McNamara had, at LBJ's direction, appointed a board to intensify a study of various bases "with a view to eliminating those not needed." While he sympathized with congressmen & senators who didn't want local bases closed, he said, "every congressional district must understand that they are going to be reviewed from time to time. We are not going to be satisfied with the status quo."
Source: Passage of Power, by Robert Caro, p.513-514 , May 1, 2012

1964 Daisy ad: We must love each other or we must die

Johnson's famous 1964 "Daisy" ad shows a little girl in a field counting petals on a daisy. As her count reaches ten, the visual motion is frozen and the viewer hears a countdown. When the countdown reaches zero, we see a nuclear explosion.

Most people think the ad then goes on to attack Barry Goldwater as trigger-happy. Yet Goldwater's name is never mentioned. The ad features the voice of Pres. Johnson saying, "These are the stakes, to make the world in which all God's children can live, or to go into the darkness. Either we must love each other or we must die." The ad was shown only one time.

It was highly effective because it drew on an existing impression about Goldwater. The general message of a campaign has to evoke a reaction from voters that will cut through the clutter & focus attention on a central question. That means the important question is: What values and attitudes do voters already have about a candidate and what message will draw on that information to produce the response you want

Source: Courage and Consequence, by Karl Rove, p. 68 , Nov 2, 2010

Distaste for wiretapping as V.P. and as President

President Johnson's distaste for wiretapping had its origins during his vice-presidential days. He told me on several occasions, he was absolutely certain his own phones were being tapped in the abortive hope that his conversations would reveal some link to Baker. To say the investigation was total and unceasing is to understate. But nothing came of it, for the simple reason that nothing was there. LBJ regarded politicians on the take as stupid.
Source: A Very Human President, by Jack Valenti, p.109 , Dec 1, 1976

Outlaw all wiretapping--except for national security

We should protect what Justice Brandeis called the "right most valued by civilized men"--the right to privacy. We should outlaw all wiretapping--public and private--wherever and whenever it occurs, except when the security of this Nation itself is at stake--and only then with the strictest governmental safeguards. And we should exercise the full reach of our constitutional powers to outlaw electronic "bugging" and "snooping."
Source: Pres. Johnson's 1967 State of the Union message to Congress , Jan 10, 1967

1940: Started Corpus Christi air base anticipating WWII

As war clouds broke over Europe and the US began to look more closely to its own defense, Johnson did more than any other 1 man to bring about the construction in Corpus Christi, Texas, of a tremendous naval air training base.

He was convinced that the US would not be able to avoid becoming involved in the war. He knew the nation was far from ready, and he wanted to do anything he could to help it get ready. He was anxious for his own state to make every possible contribution.

Source: The Lyndon Johnson Story, by Booth Mooney, p. 36-37 , Jun 1, 1964

Navy waste: "It is no longer a crime to cut red tape"

He warned in speeches, on the floor of the House and elsewhere, that it was possible for the US and her allies to lose the war. "We must get rid of the indecisive, stupid, selfish and incompetent among our generals, admirals and others in the high military positions," he declared. "We must make it clear that it is no longer a crime to cut red tape." He blasted waste: in military manpower, in war plant worker absenteeism, in military procurement.

He was made chairman of a special investigating subcommittee of the Naval Affairs Committee. This group forced the Department of the Navy to adopt more businesslike methods of procurement. It brought about the rewriting of the Navy's contract for petroleum from the Elk Hills Field in California, an action which almost saved the Treasury a small fortune. Johnson brought to light large-scale abuses and laxities in Navy requests for draft deferment for civilian personnel.

Source: The Lyndon Johnson Story, by Booth Mooney, p. 48-49 , Jun 1, 1964

1949: Pushed adequate preparedness for Cold War

During his first year in the Senate, he became increasingly concerned about the place of the US in a world where victory in the fighting war had been succeeded by a dangerous cold war between onetime allies. Adequate preparedness was always a cause close to Johnson's heart. He now set out to buck the trend toward letting the American defense system go to pot.

Communism had spread over once-free European countries and had sealed the back entrance to Soviet Russia through the conquest of China. It seemed to Johnson, looking with alarm at these facts, that Communism had achieved most of its major goals everywhere except the US and nations allied with the US by means of the Atlantic Pact. In Johnson's view, the American military establishment had been whittled down to a dangerously low point.

Source: The Lyndon Johnson Story, by Booth Mooney, p. 67 , Jun 1, 1964

Stockpile essential strategic materials

On February 28, 1950, he made one of his most important speeches. Its subject was "Our National Security." In this address, after presenting some of the facts about the cold war which was constantly threatening to become hot, Johnson continued:

"I think we should look into our stockpiling program so that we can avoid the great hazard of being caught short in essential strategic materials. Also, we must look thoroughly into the condition of our military housing and other factors relating to personnel so that the morale of our forces will not be lowered and their efficiency reduced at this period when the utmost is demanded from all of us, individually and as a team."

Source: The Lyndon Johnson Story, by Booth Mooney, p.68- 69 , Jun 1, 1964

Vietnam: Avoid appearance of weakness, beware Domino Theory

LBJ: There's one of three things you can do. One is run and let the dominoes start falling over. [Here LBJ asserts his firm belief in the "domino theory"--that when one Southeast Asian country fell to Communism, it would help to topple the next.] And God Almighty, what they said about us leaving China would just be warming up, compared to what they'd say now. [Johnson here shows his great sensitivity to the danger that the appearance of weakness in Southeast Asia will give Republicans a new opening, like those after the fall of China to Mao's Communists in 1949, to call him and other Democrats soft on Communism.] You can run, or you can fight, as we are doing, or you can sit down and agree to neutralize all of it. But nobody is going to neutralize North Vietnam, so that's totally impractical. And so it really boils down to one of two decisions: getting in or getting out. [But] anytime you got that many people against you that far from your home base, it's bad.
Source: Taking Charge, by Michael Beschloss, p.213 , Feb 3, 1964

Government cannot accept stalemate with Communism

Government can fall into a state of complacency over the relative positions of strength between nations in the world. An international stalemate with Communism would, I believe, be the greatest waste of American resources and the resources of freedom, even though stalemate produced no war. A vital government cannot accept stalemate in any area--foreign or domestic. It must seek the national interest solution, vigorously and courageously and confidently.
Source: Johnson article in The Johnson Story, by B.Mooney, p. xvi , Jun 1, 1958

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