January 8, 2013

1961. Crisis Over Laos

Crisis Over Laos

Bill Downs

CBS Washington

April 28, 1961

DOUGLAS EDWARDS: The crisis over Laos caused President Kennedy to cut short his weekend in Virginia and to hurry back to the White House today, and for that story, here's CBS News correspondent Bill Downs in Washington.

BILL DOWNS: President Kennedy has clamped a Cold War secrecy lid on the White House, the State Department, and the Pentagon tonight as the moment of decision on how to stop the communist expansion into Southeast Asia nears.

The White House announced this weekend that Mr. Kennedy cut his weekend short in order to get an early start on tomorrow's crucial meeting of the National Security Council. After flying back to Washington, the President went into conference with Secretary of State Rusk, Defense Secretary McNamara, and other diplomatic and military leaders.

The chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, William Fulbright, may have let the cat out of the bag this afternoon as to what action is now being contemplated by Mr. Kennedy. Fulbright declared he opposed shipping American GIs to landlocked Laos, but Fulbright added that he would favor further US military action in South Vietnam, Thailand, or Burma. In this connection, the Vietnamese capital of Saigon now is getting special attention from the Kennedy administration.

This is CBS News, Washington.