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Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961–1963, Volume IV, Vietnam, August–December 1963

II. Period of Interlude, September 7-October 22, 1963: Assessment of the Progress of the War, U.S. Efforts To Reform the Diem Government, The McNamara-Taylor Mission to Vietnam and Report, U.S. Policy on Coup Plotting in Vietnam


Document 73: Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam

Washington , September 7, 1963, 12:43 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 1 S VIET-US. Secret; Immediate. Drafted by Kattenburg, cleared with Sarris in draft, and approved by Hilsman. Repeated to CINCPAC for POLAD.


Document 74: Telegram From the White House to the President, at Squaw Island, Massachussets

Washington , September 7, 1963, 10:43 p.m.

Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series, Memos and Miscellaneous. Secret; Priority; Eyes Only. Sent from the White House Situation Room to the President for delivery on the morning of September 8. The President did not clear the cable to Lodge; a note on the source text reads, “not sent to Saigon.”


Document 75: Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Saigon , September 9, 1963, 5 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Central Files, SOC 14-1 S VIET. Secret; Immediate. Received at 5:54 a.m. Repeated to CINCPAC. Passed to the White House.


Document 76: Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Saigon , September 9, 1963, noon .

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 15 S VIET. Secret; Immediate. Received at 6:41 a.m. Repeated to CINCPAC. Passed to the White House at 7:15 a.m.


Document 77: Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Saigon , September 9, 1963, 11 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Central Files, SOC 14-1 S VIET. Secret; Immediate. Received at 2:38 p.m. Repeated to CINCPAC. Passed to the White House and CIA at 4:30 p.m.


Document 78: Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of the State

Saigon , September 9, 1963, 8 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 2 S VIET. Secret; Priority; Limit Distribution. Received at 2:49 p.m. Repeated to CINCPAC.


Document 79: Memorandum From Robert W. Komer of the National Security Council to the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)

Washington , September 9, 1963 .

Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series, Memos and Miscellaneous. Secret.


Document 80: Telegram From the Central Intelligence Agency Station in Saigon to the Agency

Saigon , September 10, 1963 .

Source: Department of State, Har-Van Files, South Vietnam Policy File, August 31 through September 15, 1963. Secret. There is no time of transmission on the source text.


Document 81: Memorandum From the Counselor for Public Affairs of the Embassy in Vietnam (Mecklin) to the Director of the United States Information Agency (Murrow)

En Route to Washington , September 10, 1963 .

Source. Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series, Memos and Miscellaneous. Secret. Murrow sent this memorandum to McGeorge Bundy under a cover.: g memorandum, September 10. According to his account in Mission in Torment, pp. 206-207, Mecklin received instructions on September 7 to return to Washington with Mendenhall and Krulak with no real idea of what was expected of him. He wrote this memorandum on the plane. In Usito 66 to Saigon for Mecklin only, September 6, Murrow gave Mecklin the following guidelines: “We particularly interested in changes if any in attitudes toward Diem Govt, Nhu and wife, and will to push war against Viet Cong to successful conclusion. In addition other contacts, you may wish draw on knowledgeable USIS local employees, particularly those attached to VN Information Service, in preparing assessment.” (Washington National Records Center, RG 306, USIA/TOP Files: FRC 67 A 222, IAF-1963)


Document 82: Report by the Joint Chiefs of Staff's Special Assistant for Counterinsurgency and Special Activities (Krulak)

En route to Washington , September 10, 1963 .

Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, Meetings on Vietnam. Top Secret.


Document 83: Memorandum of Conversation

Washington , September 10, 1963, 10:30 a.m.

Source: Kennedy Library, Hilsman Papers, Countries Series-Vietnam, White House Meetings, State Memcons. Top Secret; Eyes Only. The meeting was held at the White House. Drafted by Hilsman. Bromley Smith's record of this meeting, published in part in Declassified Documents, 1982, 650A, is in the Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda, Meetings on Vietnam. Krulak's record of this meeting is in National Defense University, Taylor Papers, Trip to Vietnam, September 7-10.


Document 84: Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Hilsman) and Senator Frank Church

Washington , September 10, 1963, 11:55 a.m.

Source: Kennedy Library, Hilsman Papers, Memoranda of Conversations. Drafted by Hilsman.


Document 85: Memorandum of Conversation

Washington , September 10, 1963, 5:45 p.m.

Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, Meetings on Vietnam. Top Secret. Drafted by Smith. The meeting was held in the Department of State. Also published in part in Declassified Documents, 1982, 650B. A memorandum for the record of this meeting by Krulak is in the National Defense University, Taylor Papers, Trip to Vietnam, September 7-10.


Document 86: Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Saigon , September 11, 1963, 2 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET. Top Secret; Immediate. Received at 3:16 a.m. and passed to the White House and CIA at 4:48 a.m.


Document 87: Memorandum for the Record of Discussion at the Daily White House Staff Meeting

Washington , September 11, 1963, 8 a.m.

Source: National Defense University, Taylor Papers, T-646-71. Secret; Eyes Only. Drafted by Major William Y Smith, Taylor's aide.


Document 88: Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between the Secretary of State and the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)

Washington , September 11, 1963, 11:35 a.m.

Source: Department of State, Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Telephone Conversations. Transcribed by Phyllis D. Bernau.


Document 89: Paper Prepared by the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Hilsman)

Washington , September 11, 1963 .

Source: Kennedy Library, Hilsman Papers, Countries, Vietnam, Undated. There is no drafting information on the source text, but this is apparently the first paper Bundy asked Hilsman to prepare; see Document 85.


Document 90: Paper Prepared by the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Hilsman)

Washington , September 11, 1963 .

Source: Kennedy Library, Hilsman Papers, Countries, Vietnam, Undated. Secret. There is no drafting information on the source text, but this is apparently the second paper Bundy asked Hilsman to prepare; see Document 85.


Document 91: Memorandum Prepared by Michael V. Forrestal of the National Security Council Staff

Washington , September 11, 1963 .

Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series, Memos and Miscellaneous, Part 1. Secret. There is no drafting information on the source text, but this is apparently the paper Bundy asked Forrestal to prepare; see Document 85.


Document 92: Research Memorandum From the Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (Hughes) to the Secretary of State

Washington , September 11, 1963 .

Source: Department of State, Vietnam Working Group Files: Lot 67 D 54, Pol 15 Gov't. Secret; No Foreign Dissem; Limit Distribution.


Document 93: Memorandum of Conversation

Washington , September 11, 1963, 6 p.m.

Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, Meetings on Vietnam. Top Secret. Drafted by Smith. The meeting was held at the White House. The source text indicates the President did not attend the meeting. A memorandum for the record of this meeting by Krulak is in the National Defense University, Taylor Papers, Trip to Vietnam, September 7-10.


Document 94: Memorandum of Conference With the President

Washington , September 11, 1963, 7 p.m.

Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, Meetings on Vietnam. Top Secret. Drafted by Smith. The meeting was held in the White House.


Document 95: Memorandum From the Director of the United States Information Agency (Murrow) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Hilsman)

Washington , September 11, 1963 .

Source: Department of State, Vietnam Working Group Files: Lot 67 D 54, PR-11, Press Relations. Confidential.


Document 96: Telegram From the Commander, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (Harkins) to the Joint Chiefs of Staff's Special Assistant for Counterinsurgency and Special Activities (Krulak)

Saigon , September 12, 1963, 11:55 a.m.

Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series, Defense Cables. Secret; Eyes Only. Repeated to CINCPAC exclusive for Felt. Krulak sent copies to General Wheeler, General LeMay, Admiral MacDonald, and General Shoup, and to Bundy at the White House; McCone at the CIA; and Rusk, Ball, Harriman, and Hilsman at the Department of State.


Document 97: Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam

Washington , September 12, 1963, 4 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 1 S VIET. Top Secret; Immediate. Drafted by Hilsman and cleared by Rusk and Bromley Smith. Repeated to CINCPAC for POLAD exclusive to Felt.


Document 98: Draft Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam

Washington , September 12, 1963 .

Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, Meetings on Vietnam. Secret. Drafted by Rusk. In a telephone call to Hilsman, at 8:23 p.m., September 11, Rusk discussed the drafting of this telegram: “Sec said he would go home tonight and draft a fairly long discursive message to Lodge to give his own views on paper but H might go ahead on the letter idea. Sec would think that is the means by which we try to get this fellow on board there through persuasion without at this stage a lot of other things that go along with it. Sec replied it would be a presidential letter. H will be sending Lodge cable tonight and will call Sec tonight on WH phone.” (Department of State, Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Telephone Conversations) Regarding the Presidential letter, see Document 115. The cable Hilsman mentioned is presumably telegram 391, Document 97. There is no record of another telephone conversation between Hilsman and Rusk on the night of September 11. The cable printed here was not sent; see Document 99.


Document 99: Memorandum for the Record of a Meeting

Washington , September 12, 1963, 6 p.m.

Source: National Defense University, Taylor Papers, T-186-69. Top Secret; Sensitive. Drafted by Krulak. The meeting was held at the White House.


Document 100: Editorial Note


Document 101: Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam

Washington , September 12, 1963, 9:38 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 S VIET Top Secret; Priority. The text of this message was sent from the White House.


Document 102: Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Saigon , September 13, 1963 .

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 1 S VIET-US. Top Secret. There is no time of transmission on the source text. Received at 7:02 a.m. Repeated to CINCPAC. Passed to the White House at 7:30 a.m.


Document 103: Memorandum of a Telephone Conversation Between the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Harriman) and the Director of Central Intelligence (McCone)

Washington , September 13, 1963, 10:10 a.m.

Source: Library of Congress, Harriman Papers, Telephone Conversations. Transcribed by Mildred Leatherman of Harriman's staff.


Document 104: Letter From the Ambassador in Vietnam (Lodge) to the Secretary of State

Saigon , September 13, 1963 .

Source: Department of State, Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Correspondence-L. Top Secret; Eyes Only.


Document 105: Memorandum Prepared by the Director of Central Intelligence (McCone)

Washington , September 13, 1963 .

Source: Department of State, Har-Van Files, South Vietnam Policy, August 31 through September 15, 1963. Top Secret. In a covering memorandum to Rusk, September 14, an assistant to McCone informed him that McCone's summary was of a cable “from a senior CIA headquarters official who has paid a recent visit to Saigon.” Copies were also sent to McNamara and McGeorge Bundy. Also included as an attachment was a copy of CIA telegram 0890 from Saigon, September 13, the telegram which McCone is summarizing.


Document 106: Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Saigon , September 14, 1963, 1 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 1 S VIET-US. Top Secret; Priority. Received at 3:11 a.m. Repeated to CINCPAC. Passed to the White House at 4:44 a.m.


Document 107: Letter From the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Harriman) to the Ambassador in Vietnam (Lodge)

Washington , September 14, 1963 .

Source: Library of Congress, Harriman Papers, Vietnam Policy. Personal and Confidential.


Document 108: Memorandum From the Director of the United States Information Agency (Murrow) to the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)

Washington , September 14, 1963 .

Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, Meetings on Vietnam. Confidential.


Document 109: Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam

Washington , September 15, 1963, noon .

Source: Department of State, Har-Van Files, South Vietnam Policy File, August 31 through September 15, 1963. Top Secret; Immediate. Drafted by Hilsman and cleared by Rusk and Harriman.


Document 110: Memorandum From the Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (Hughes) to the Secretary of State

Washington , September 15, 1963 .

Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series, Action Plan. Top Secret; Eyes Only. Also published in Declassified Documents, 1982, 593 A.


Document 111: Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Saigon , September 16, 1963, 5 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 1 S VIET-US. Top Secret; Immediate. Received at 6:19 a.m. and passed to the White House, Office of the Secretary of Defense, and CIA.


Document 112: Memorandum for the Record of the Daily White House Staff Meeting

Washington , September 16, 1963, 8 a.m.

Source: National Defense University, Taylor Papers, T-646-71. Secret; Eyes Only. Drafted by W.Y. Smith.


Document 113: Memorandum for the Record of a Meeting

Washington , September 16, 1963, 11 a.m.

Source: National Defense University, Taylor Papers, T-647-71. Top Secret; Sensitive. Drafted by Krulak. The meeting was held at the Department of State.


Document 114: Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Hilsman) to the Secretary of State

Washington , September 16, 1963 .

Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series, Memos and Miscellaneous, Part 11. Top Secret; Eyes Only. There is no drafting information on the source text, but the memorandum was drafted by Hilsman with the assistance of officers in the Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs. (Hilsman, To Move a Nation, p. 506; Department of State, Office of the Historian, Vietnam Interviews, Roger Hilsman, May 15, 1984) A handwritten note on the source text indicates that the attached cables had been revised.


Document 115: Draft Letter From President Kennedy to President Diem

Washington , September 16, 1963 .

Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series, Memos and Miscellaneous, Part II. Top Secret; Eyes Only. There is no drafting information on the source text, but this letter was prepared by Hilsman and others at the Department of State. The source text is labeled: “Suggested Draft of Presidential Letter, Adapted to Phase 1 of This Plan.”


Document 116: Memorandum From Michael V. Forrestal of the National Security Council Staff to the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)

Washington , September 16, 1963 .

Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series, Memos and Miscellaneous, Part 11. Top Secret, Eyes Only.


Document 117: Editorial Note


Document 118: Memorandum of Conversation Between the Director of the Vietnam Working Group (Kattenburg) and Madame Tran Van Chuong

Washington , September 16, 1963, 8 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 1 S VIET. Secret. Drafted by Kattenburg on September 17. On a copy of this memorandum sent to the White House, Forrestal wrote: “Family life in Vietnam”, and next to Madame Chuong's threat to run over her daughter: “Mother love.” (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series, Memos and Miscellaneous, Part II)


Document 119: Telegram From the Central Intelligence Agency Station in Saigon to the Agency

Saigon , September 17, 1963 .

Source: Department of State, Har-Van Files, South Vietnam Policy Files, September 16-30,1963. Secret. There is no time of transmission on the source text.


Document 120: Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between the Secretary of State and the Director of Central Intelligence (McCone)

Washington , September 17, 1963, 12:01 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Telephone Conversations. Transcribed by Phyllis D. Bernau.


Document 121: Memorandum From the Joint Chiefs of Staff's Special Assistant for Counterinsurgency and Special Activities (Krulak) to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff(Taylor)

Washington , September 17, 1963 .

Source: National Defense University, Taylor Papers, T-186-69. Top Secret; Sensitive.


Document 122: Memorandum From the Deputy Regional Planning Adviser of the Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs (Mendenhall) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Hilsman)

Washington , September 17, 1963 .

Source: Department of State, Vietnam Working Group Files: Lot 67 D 54, POL 25 Buddhist Dispute. Secret.


Document 123: Memorandum by the Assistant Director for Rural Affairs, United States Operations Mission, Vietnam (Phillips)

Washington , September 17, 1963 .

Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series, Memos and Miscellaneous. An attached note from Forrestal to McGeorge Bundy, September 17, reads: “This does not add to what you already know; but I still think that Phillips' judgments of Vietnamese reactions are as good as any we have. If you think of it, he is the only reporter we have with first hand-long term knowledge of this situation both in Saigon and in the field.”


Document 124: Memorandum of a Telephone Conversation Between the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Harriman) and Michael V. Forrestal of the National Security Council Staff

Washington , September 17, 1963, 4:20 p.m.

Source: Library of Congress, Harriman Papers, Telephone Conversations. Transcribed by Mildred Leatherman.


Document 125: Telegram From the White House to the Embassy in Vietnam

Washington , September 17, 1963, 9:28 p.m.

Source: Washington Federal Records Center, RG 84, Saigon Embassy Files: FRC 68 A 5159, SGN (63) 19 GVN. Top Secret; Flash; Eyes Only. Prepared in the White House and sent to the Department of State for transmission to Saigon. Also printed in United States-Vietnam Relations, 1945-1967, Book 12, pp. 545-547.


Document 126: Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Saigon , September 18, 1963, 5 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 1 S VIET-US. Top Secret; Immediate; Eyes Only. Received at 7:58 a.m. and passed to the White House at 8:25 a.m.


Document 127: Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Harriman) and the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)

Washington , September 18, 1963, 10:05 a.m.

Source: Library of Congress, Harriman Papers, Telephone Conversations. No Distribution. Transcribed by Mildred Leatherman.


Document 128: Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam

Washington , September 18, 1963, 4:52 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 1 S VIET-US. Top Secret; Immediate; Eyes Only. Drafted in the White House and sent to the Department of State for transmission to Saigon. Bundy's covering memorandum to Rusk, September 18, reads: “As I said on the telephone, the President is very clear in his mind that he wants this to go out at once, but I am sure he would be responsive to any amendment you yourself would wish to propose to him.” On the White House draft of this telegram there is a marginal note indicating that McNamara also received a copy. (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series, State Cables) Also printed in United States-Vietnam Relations, 1945-1967, Book 12, p. 548.


Document 129: Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Saigon , September 19, 1963, noon .

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 1 S VIET-US. Top Secret; Eyes Only. Received at 5:54 a.m. Repeated to CINCPAC. Passed to the White House at 7:10 a.m.


Document 130: Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Saigon , September 19, 1963, 4 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Central files, POL 15 S VIET Top Secret; Immediate Eyes Only. Received at 7:04 a.m. and passed to the White House at 8:35 a.m.


Document 131: Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Saigon , September 19, 1963, 4 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 15 S VIET Top Secret; Immediate. Received at 7:16 a.m. and passed to the White House at 8:02 a.m.


Document 132: Memorandum of a Telephone Conversation Between the Secretary of State and the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Hilsman)

Washington , September 19, 1963, 10:23 a.m.

Source: Department of State, Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Telephone Conversations. Transcribed by Phyllis D. Bernau.


Document 133: Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Bundy) to the Secretary of Defense (McNamara)

Washington , September 19, 1963 .

Source: Department of State, William R Bundy Papers, Chron (ISA) 1963. Top Secret.


Document 134: Telegram From the Commander, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (Harkins) to the Commander in Chief, Pacific (Felt)

Saigon , September 19, 1963, 7:47 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 S VIET Secret; Eyes Only. Repeated to Lodge. Received at 12:11 p.m. JCS sent it to the White House exclusive for Bundy; to the Department of State exclusive for Rusk, Ball, Harriman, and Hilsman; and to the CIA exclusive for Helms.


Document 135: Memorandum for the Record by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Taylor)

Washington , September 19, 1963 .

Source: National Defense University, Taylor Papers, T-186-69. Confidential.


Document 136: Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Hilsman) to the Secretary of State

Washington , September 19, 1963 .

Source: Department of State, Vietnam Working Group Files: Lot 67 D 54, POL 15 Gov't. Secret. Drafted by Kattenburg and signed by Hilsman. A note on the source text indicates that Rusk saw it. Copies were sent to Ball, Harriman, Forrestal, Colby, William K. Bunce of USIA, Albert L. Whiting, Krulak, Heinz, U. Alexis Johnson, Rostow, and Manning.


Document 137: Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Saigon , September 20, 1963, 4 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 S VIET. Top Secret; Immediate; Eyes Only. Received at 4:13 a.m. and passed to the White House at 5:07 a.m. On another copy of this telegram, there is a marginal note indicating that the President saw it. (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series, State Cables)


Document 138: Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Saigon , September 20, 1963 , 5 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 26 S VIET Secret; Priority; Eyes Only. Received at 5:48 a.m. and passed to the White House.


Document 139: Telegram From the Commander, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (Harkins) to the Commander in Chief, Pacific (Felt)

Saigon , September 20, 1963, 6:55 p.m.

Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series, Defense Cables. Secret; Immediate; Personal. Also sent personal to Taylor. A note on the source text indicates that the President saw this cable. Received at the JCS at 9:54 a.m. The JCS relayed this message to the Department of State exclusive for Rusk, Ball, Harriman, and Hilsman; to CIA exclusive for Helms; and to the White House exclusive for Bundy.


Document 140: Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam

Washington , September 20, 1963, 7:40 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Central Files, AID (US) S VIET. Top Secret; Immediate. Drafted by Hilsman and cleared with Forrestal, William Bundy, and Janow of AID. On another copy of this telegram there is a marginal note indicating that the President read it. (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series, State Cables)


Document 141: Editorial Note


Document 142: Memorandum From the President to the Secretary of Defense (McNamara)

Washington , September 21, 1963 .

Source: Washington National Records Center, McNamara Files: FRC 71-A-3470, Report 10/2/63. Top Secret. McGeorge Bundy sent Rusk a copy of this memorandum under cover of a memorandum, September 21, which reads as follows: “This is the McNamara instruction as the President finally approved it today. Bob asked me to take back to him the additional sentence which you and I discussed yesterday, saying that his notes showed that the President specifically approved this addition. I did take it back to the President and he did approve it, although I presented the arguments against it as you and I have discussed them. I don't think it's a major matter.” (Department of State, Central Files, ORG 7 OSD)There is no indication on the source text to which sentence Bundy is referring. Attached to another copy is a draft of this memorandum with revisions in Bundy's handwriting. The major revision is the insertion at the end of the first paragraph of the sentence beginning '‘If the prognosis in your judgment’2 There are two other minor revisions in Bundy's hand. The first is the insertion, in the second sentence of the second paragraph, of the phrase, ‘, consult fully with Ambassador Lodge on, and the second is the substitution in the first and only sentence of the third paragraph of a call', for your formal call.” (Kennedy Library, National security Files, Vietnam Country Series, Memos and Miscellaneous) This memorandum was sent to Saigon eyes only for Lodge in an unnumbered telegram, September 22. (Department of state, Central Files, POL US-MCNAMARA) Also printed in United States-Vietnam Relations, 1945-1967, Book 12, pp. 551-552.


Document 143: Memorandum for the Record

Washington , September 23, 1963, 10 a.m.

Source: Department of State, Central Files, ORG 7 OSD. Top Secret. Drafted by McGeorge Bundy who sent a copy to Rusk, Ball, Harriman, and Hilsman under cover of a memorandum, September 23, which noted: “The last sentence of the first paragraph of the instructions was inserted by the President after I reported the divergent views on it to him at Bob McNamara's request.” The meeting was held at the White House.


Document 144: Letter From the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Hilsman) to the Ambassador in Vietnam (Lodge)

Washington , September 23, 1963 .

Source: Kennedy Library, Hilsman Papers, Countries Series-Vietnam. Top Secret; Personal and Private. Drafted by Hilsman.


Document 145: Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Harriman) and Michael V. Forrestal of the National Security Council Staff

Washington , September 23, 1963 .

Source: Library of Congress, Harriman Papers, Telephone Conversations. Transcribed by Dolores Perruso.


Document 146: Memorandum for the Record by Lieutenant Colonel Sidney Berry, Jr.

En Route to Saigon , September 23, 1963 .

Source: Washington Federal Records Center, RG 330, McNamara Files: FRC 71-A-3470, Back Up Documents and Notes, 9/25/63-Trip to SVN. Secret.


Document 147: Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam

Washington , September 24, 1963, 9:25 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 S VIET-US. Top Secret; Immediate. Drafted by Hilsman and cleared in draft with Harriman and McGeorge Bundy. Repeated to USUN eyes only for Secretary Rusk.


Document 148: Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam

Washington , September 25, 1963, 4:24 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Central Files, AID (US) S VIET Top Secret, Priority. Drafted by Mendenhall; cleared by Barnett, Bundy, and in substance by Janow of AID; and approved by Hilsman.


Document 149: Telegram From the Central Intelligence Agency Station in Saigon to the Agency

Saigon , September 26, 1963 .

Source: Department of State, Har-Van Files, South Vietnam Policy Files, September 16-30. 1963. Secret. There is no time of transmission on the source text.


Document 150: Report by the Secretary of Defense (McNamara)

Saigon , September 26, 1963 .

Source: Washington National Record Center, RG 330, McNamara Files: FRC 71-A-3470, Back-up Documents and Notes, 9/25/63—Trip to SVN. Secret.


Document 151: Memorandum Prepared for the Director of Central Intelligence (McCone)

Washington , September 26, 1963 .

Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 306, USIA/TOP Files: FRC 67 A 222, IAF-1963. Secret. Prepared in the CIA and transmitted to the Director of USIA by Ray S. Cline, Deputy Director (Intelligence).


Document 152: Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Saigon , September 27, 1963, noon .

Source: Department of State, Central Files, AID (US) S VIET. Top Secret; Priority; Eyes Only. Received at 1:36 a.m. and passed to the White House and to Rusk at USUN.


Document 153: Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Saigon , September 27, 1963, 6 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Central Files, INF 8 US. Top Secret. Received at 2:53 p.m. A handwritten note on the source text indicates it was passed to the White House.


Document 154: Report by the Secretary of Defense (McNamara)

Saigon , undated .

Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, McNamara Files: FRC 71-A-3470, Back Up Documents and Notes 9/25/63-Trip to SVN. Secret.


Document 155: Editorial Note


Document 156: Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Saigon , September 27, 1963, 9 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Central Files, AID (US) S VIET. Top Secret; Priority; Eyes Only. Received at 10:18 a.m. and passed to the White House at 12:48 p.m. and to Rusk at USUN at 1 p.m.


Document 157: Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam

Washington , September 28, 1963, 1:30 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 15 S VIET. Secret; Priority. Drafted by Mendenhall; cleared with McGeorge Bundy, Ball, and Harriman; and approved by Hilsman.


Document 158: Memorandum of Conversation

Saigon , September 29, 1963 , 2:30-5:30 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 7 US/McNamara. Secret. Drafted by Flott and transmitted to the Department of State as an enclosure to airgram A-244 from Saigon, October 3. According to the airgram, the memorandum was not cleared with the participants. A summary of the conversation was transmitted in telegram 612 from Saigon. (Ibid., ORG 7 OSD) The meeting was held at the Gia Long Palace. A record of this discussion is printed in part in Pentagon Papers: Gravel Edition, vol. II, pp. 749-751.


Document 159: Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Saigon , September 30, 1963, 7 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Central Files, ORG 7 OSD. Secret; Limit Distribution. Repeated to CINCPAC. Passed to the White House.


Document 160: Memorandum of a Conversation by the Secretary of Defense (McNamara)

Saigon , September 30, 1963 .

Source: Washington Federal Records Center, RG 330, McNamara Files: FRC 71-A-3470, Back-up Documents and Notes 9/25/63-Trip to SVN. Secret.


Document 161: Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs' Special Assistant (Sullivan)

Saigon , September 30, 1963 .

Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, McNamara Files: FRC 71-A-3470, Back up Documents and Notes, 9/25/63-Trip to SVN. Top Secret.


Document 162: Memorandum for the Record by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Taylor)

Saigon , October 1, 1963 .


Document 163: Letter From the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Taylor) to President Diem

Saigon , October 1, 1963 .

Source: National Defense university, Taylor Papers, T-646-71. Top secret. A typewritten note on the source text reads: “Following Letter from General Taylor to President Diem being delivered 2 October with approval of secretary McNamara and concurrence of Ambassador Lodge.”


Document 164: Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Hilsman) to the Acting Secretary of State

Washington , October 1, 1963 .

Source: Department of State, Vietnam Working Group Files: Lot 67 D 54, Organizations and Alignments. Secret. Drafted by Mendenhall with the concurrences of Woodruff Wallner, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, and William B. Buffum, Deputy Director of the Office of United Nations Political Affairs. Sent through Harriman.


Document 165: Telegram From the Department of State to the Mission at the United Nations

Washington , October 1, 1963, 8:37 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Central files, SOC 14-1 S VIET-US. Secret; Priority. Drafted by Kattenburg and Hilsman and signed by Ball. Also sent to Saigon and repeated to CINCPAC for POLAD.


Document 166: Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs (Cleveland) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Hilsman)

Washington , October 2, 1963 .

Source: Department of State, Vietnam Working Group Files: Lot 64 D 54, POL 7 Visits Meetings (to U.S.). Confidential. Drafted by Cleveland on October 2. Copies were sent to Ball, Harriman, Stevenson, and Rusk.


Document 167: Memorandum From the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Taylor) and the Secretary of Defense (McNamara) to the President

Washington , October 2, 1963 .

Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series, Memos and Miscellaneous. Top Secret. Also printed in United States-Vietnam Relations, 1945-1967, Book 12, pp. 554-573.


Document 168: Memorandum of Conversation

New York , October 2, 1963, 3 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 S VIET. Secret; Eyes Only. Drafted by Peter S. Thacher of the Political Affairs Section of the Mission. The meeting took place at USUN.


Document 169: Summary Record of the 519th Meeting of the National Security Council

Washington , October 2, 1963, 6 p.m.

Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, NSC Meeting No. 519. Top Secret. This meeting took place in the Cabinet Room of the White House and lasted until 6:30 p.m., according to the President's Log. (Ibid.)


Document 170: Record of Action No. 2472, Taken at the 519th Meeting of the National Security Council

Washington , October 2, 1963 .

Source: Department of State, S/S-NSC Files: Lot 70 D 265, NSC Meetings. Secret.


Document 171: Telegram From the Central Intelligence Agency Station in Saigon to the Agency

Saigon , October 3, 1963 .

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 26 S VIET. Secret; Immediate; Eyes Only. The source text is the copy sent by the CIA to the Department of State exclusive for Rusk, Ball, Harriman, and Hilsman. The telegram was also sent exclusive to the White House for Bundy and to the Assistant Chief of Staff (Intelligence), Department of the Army, exclusive for McNamara, Gilpatric, Taylor, and Krulak. It was received at the Department of State at 2:06 p.m. on October 3 and passed to USUN for Rusk eyes only.


Document 172: Memorandum of Meeting

Washington , October 3, 1963, 6 p.m.

Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series, Meetings and Memoranda, vol. 11, Meetings on Vietnam. Top Secret. Drafted by Smith. Also published in Declassified Documents, 1982, 510C. The source text indicates the President did not attend the meeting, which was held in the White House Situation Room.


Document 173: Memorandum From the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs' Special Assistant (Sullivan) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Hilsman)

Washington , October 3, 1963 .

Source: Library of Congress, Harriman Papers, Vietnam—Policy. Secret.


Document 174: Memorandum for the Record of a Meeting of the Executive Committee

Washington , October 4, 1963, 4 p.m.

Source: National Defense University, Taylor Papers, T-233-69. Top Secret; Sensitive. Drafted by Krulak who did not provide a list of participants. The meeting was held at the White House. A record of the discussion by Bromley Smith lists the following participants: “Secretary McNamara, Secretary Dillon, Attorney General, Under Secretary Harriman, Deputy Secretary Gilpatric (later), Administrator Bell, Director McCone, Acting Director Wilson, General Krulak, Assistant Secretary Hilsman, Deputy Assistant Secretary William Bundy, Mr. Janow (AID), Mr. Koren (Hilsman's office), Mr. McGeorge Bundy, Mr. Forrestal, Mr. Bromley Smith.” (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda, Meetings on Vietnam)


Document 175: Annex to the Draft Report Prepared for the Executive Committee of the National Security Council

Washington , October 4, 1963 .

Source: Kennedy Library, Hilsman Papers, Country Series-Vietnam. Top Secret. There is no drafting information on the source text, but an earlier draft of this annex, October 3, had William Bundy as the drafter. (Ibid.) This annex was attached without modification to the October 5 draft of the report (see footnote 3, Document 174) but was not sent as part of Document 181.


Document 176: Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam

Washington , October 4, 1963, 9:03 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 S VIET. Confidential; Priority. Drafted and initialed by Ball.


Document 177: Telegram From the Central Intelligence Agency Station in Saigon to the Agency

Saigon , October 5, 1963 .

Source: Department of State, Har-Van files, Coup South Vietnam. Secret. Also printed in Pentagon Papers: Gravel Edition, vol. II, pp. 767-768. There is no time of transmission on the source text.


Document 178: Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Saigon , October 5, 1963 .

Source: Department of State, Har-Van Files, Coup South Vietnam. Top Secret. Sent via CIA channels as telegram IN 34026. A note on the source text indicates that copies were sent to McGeorge Bundy, Hilsman, and Krulak. Also printed in Pentagon Papers: Gravel Edition, vol. 11, p. 768. No transmission time is given on the source text.


Document 179: Memorandum for the Files of a Conference With the President

Washington , October 5, 1963, 9:30 a.m.

Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, Meetings on Vietnam. Top Secret. Drafted by Forrestal on October 7. The meeting was held in the White House. Forrestal sent this memorandum to Bromley Smith under cover of a memorandum of October 8 which reads in part as follows: “I also attach a draft NSAM together with a memorandum to Secretary McNamara. If the NSAM looks okay to you, will you shoot it off to McNamara for his clearance? “Should copies of the NSAM go to anybody else (Secretary Dillon, the Attorney General, the Vice President)? I should think perhaps not.” Smith indicated on the memorandum that he had obtained McNamara's clearance and agreed with Forrestal that no copies should be sent to any one else. The draft NSAM referred to comprised a draft report to the NSC, October 4 (see footnote 3, Document 174), an annex to the report (Document 175), and a draft of telegram 534 to Saigon (Document 181), which was essentially the draft report to the NSC in cable form.


Document 180: Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam

Washington , October 5, 1963, 5:38 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 26 S VIEI Top Secret; Immediate. The text of this message was sent to the Department of State from the White House for transmission.


Document 181: Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam

Washington , October 5, 1963, 5:39 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 15 S VIET. Top Secret; Immediate Prepared by Hilsman with clearances of Harriman and Bundy. Cleared in draft with Rusk and McNamara. Regarding the drafting of this cable, see Document 179. Repeated to CINCPAC for POLAD exclusive for Felt.


Document 182: Telegram From the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to the Ambassador in Vietnam (Lodge)

Washington , October 5, 1963 .

Source: United States-Vietnam Relations, 1945-1967, Book 12, p. 574. Top Secret. Sent via CIA channels.


Document 183: Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs' Special Assistant (Sullivan)

Washington , undated .

Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series, Memos and Miscellaneous. Secret. A note on the source text indicates that this memorandum was taken from the President's weekend reading of October 6, and that its approximate date was October 5. Sullivan was a member of the Taylor-McNamara Mission to Vietnam, September 24-October 1, and he labeled this a “Mission Memorandum.”


Document 184: Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Saigon , October 6, 1963, 7 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 15 S VIET. Top Secret; Immediate Eyes Only. Received at 7:59 a.m. and passed to the White House at 8:17 a.m.


Document 185: Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Saigon , October 6, 1963, 8 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 S VIET Top Secret; Immediate; Eyes Only. Received at 9:15 a.m. and passed to the White House at 9:45 a.m.


Document 186: Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Saigon , October 7, 1963, 7 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 15 S VIET. Top Secret; Immediate; Eyes Only. Received at 9:17 a.m. and passed to the Department of Defense exclusive for McNamara and to the White House at 10:55 a.m.


Document 187: Memorandum of White House Staff Meeting

Washington , October 7, 1963, 8 a.m.

Source: National Defense University, Taylor Papers, T-646-71. Secret; Eyes Only. Draffed by W.Y White.


Document 188: Memorandum of Conversation

Washington , October 7, 1963, 10:30 a.m.

Source: Department of State, Secretary's Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 65 D 330, Oct. 1963. Secret. Drafted by Johannes Imhof. The meeting was held at the Department of Stat.


Document 189: Memorandum of a Conversation

Washington , October 7, 1963, 4:30 p.m.

Source: Department of State, President's Memoranda of Conversations: Lot 66 D 149. Secret. Drafted by Tyler and approved by Bundy and Ball. The meeting was held at the White House.


Document 190: Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations (Dutton) to the Secretary of State

Washington , October 8, 1963 .

Source: Department of State, Secretary's Staff Meetings: Lot 66 D 147, FRC Session with McNamara, 10/8/63.


Document 191: Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Saigon , October 9, 1963, 11 a.m.

Source: Department of State, Central Files, SOC 14-1 S VIET. Secret; Limit Distribution. Received at 12:53 a.m. and passed to the White House at 1:20 a.m.


Document 192: Telegram From the Central Intelligence Agency to the Ambassador in Vietnam (Lodge)

Washington , October 9, 1963 .

Source: Department of State, Har-Van Files, Coup South Vietnam. Top Secret. Also printed in Pentagon Papers: Gravel Edition, vol. 11, p. 769, where it is incorrectly dated October 6.


Document 193: Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Saigon , October 10, 1963, 5 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Central Files, PER-LODGE, HENRY CABOT. Secret; Limit Distribution; Eyes Only. Received at 6:15 a.m. and passed to the White House at 7:07 a.m.


Document 194: National Security Action Memorandum No. 263

Washington , October 11, 1963 .

Source: Department of State, S/S-NSC Files: Lot 72 D 316, NSAMs. Top Secret; Eyes Only. The Director of Central Intelligence and the Administrator of AID also received copies. Also printed in United States-Vietnam Relations, 1945-1967, Book 12, p. 578.


Document 195: Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam

Washington , October 14, 1963, 9:43 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 15 S VIET. Top Secret; Priority. The text of this message was sent from Bundy at the White House to the Department of State.


Document 196: Central Intelligence Agency Information Report

Washington , October 14, 1963 .

Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series, CIA Cables. Confidential; Routine; No Foreign Dissem/No Dissem Abroad/Background Use Only/Controlled Dissem. The source text indicates this information was acquired in Saigon on and before October 12; as commentary, it is unappraised. A covering note from Forrestal to McGeorge Bundy, October 16, suggests that the President should read it. A marginal note in Bundy's hand indicates that the President saw it.


Document 197: Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Saigon , October 16, 1963, 7 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 S VIET. Top Secret; Immediate. Received at 9:28 a.m. and passed to the White House at 10:25 a.m. and to the CIA and the Office of the Secretary of Defense.


Document 198: Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Saigon , October 18, 1963, 4 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 S Viet. Secret; Priority. Repeated to CINCPAC. Received at 6:44 a.m. and passed to the White House, CIA, and Office of the Secretary of Defense.


Document 199: Letter From the Acting Director of the United States Information Agency (Wilson) to the Counselor for Public Affairs at the Embassy in Vietnam (Mecklin)

Washington , October 18, 1963 .

Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series, Memos and Miscellaneous. Secret; Eyes Only.


Document 200: Memorandum From the Special Assistant in the Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs (Neubert) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Hilsman)

Washington , October 18, 1963 .

Source: Kennedy Library, Hilsman Papers, Countries Series-Vietnam. Secret.


Document 201: Memorandum From the Director of the Vietnam Working Group (Kattenburg) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Hilsman)

Washington , October 18, 1963 .

Source: Department of State, Vietnam Working Group Files: Lot 67 D 54, Honolulu Conf Nov 20 '63. Secret. A note on the source text reads: “Action was to be by leak to press.”


Document 202: Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Saigon , October 19, 1963, 1 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 S VIET. Top Secret. Repeated to CINCPAC. Received at 6:56 a.m. and passed to the White House, CIA, and Office of the Secretary of Defense.


Document 203: Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Saigon , October 19, 1963, 2 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Central Files, FT 1 S VIET Secret; Priority; Limit Distribution. Repeated to CINCPAC. Received at 4:24 a.m. and passed to the White House at 4:45 a.m.


Document 204: Memorandum From Michael V. Forrestal of the National Security Council Staff to the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)

Washington , October 21, 1963 .

Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series, Memos and Miscellaneous.


Document 205: Editorial Note


Document 206: Telegram From the Army Attache in Vietnam (Jones) to the Assistant Chief of Staff (Intelligence), Department of the Army

Saigon , October 22, 1963 .

Source: Department of State, Har-Van Files, Coup South Vietnam. Secret; Noforn.


Document 207: Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Saigon , October 23, 1963, 5 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 26 S VIET Top Secret; Eyes Only. Received at 10:44 a.m. and passed to the White House at 12:55 p.m.


Document 208: Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Saigon , October 23, 1963, 7 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 S VIET Top Secret; Priority; Eyes Only. Received at 8:21 a.m. Repeated to CINCPAC. Passed to Defense, CIA, and the White House.