151. Letter From the Director of the Broadcasting Service, United States Information Agency (Loomis) to the Deputy Director (Wilson)1


  • U.S. Officials on Diem’s and Nhu’s Death

Miss Conde of the VOA newsroom has provided the following information on the Diem-Nhu death2 news.

“Early Sunday3 afternoon I telephoned Ned Conlon of IOP at his home for confirmation of a Reuters report that U.S. Ambassador Jones was being called home from Djakarta for consultation. Ned called back with confirmation and also told me there would be some announcements coming on Vietnamese matters. The first would be about Mrs. Nhu’s children and the second would confirm the murder of President Diem and Mr. Nhu. Ned told me this for background so that when either of these stories broke I would know they were okay for use.

State’s telegram to Mrs. Nhu about her children4 came through and presented no problem. There was no statement from State or any other official source on the murders. A little past three-thirty, AP ran a long story, by Spencer Davis,5 which began: U.S. officials deplore the death of President Ngo Dinh Diem and his brother Nhu in the military uprising that ended their rule in South Vietnam. But these officials are not surprised at the assassinations, in light of the regime’s record.

VOA had no intention of using the AP story. It was not attributed to any specific U.S. official. It was an AP exclusive. And it was far from useful.

However, I thought it should be brought to the attention of responsible American officials. I telephoned Ned Conlon and read it to him. [Page 414] Ned went to work on it. And a little after eight (p.m.) o’clock, AP led the Davis story with: High U.S. officials expressed regret tonight that South Vietnam’s President Ngo Dinh Diem and his brother Ngo Dinh Nhu had met violent death while in the custody of the revolutionary military forces in Saigon. A high government source said the administration repudiates an earlier view expressed privately by an official that the brothers had reaped the harvest of their own misdeeds. This does not represent the opinions of the top leaders of the U.S. Government, the high government source said.

VOA did not carry this second story either, as it also was unattributed to a specific official and single-sourced.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 306, DIRCTR Sub Files, 1963–69, Bx 6–29 63–69: Acc: #72A5121, Entry UD WW 257, Box 8, FIELD—Far East—July/December 1963. No classification marking. An unknown hand initialed the upper right corner of the letter.
  2. Diem and Nhu were killed on November 2 during a coup. See Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, vol. IV, Vietnam, August–December 1963, Documents 271, 273, 274, 278, and 290.
  3. November 3.
  4. Not found; see Henry Raymond, “U.S. Offers to Fly Nhu Children Out,” The New York Times, November 4, 1963, p. 1. For additional information, see Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, vol. IV, Vietnam, August–December 1963, Documents 284, 286, and 291.
  5. See Spencer Davis, “U.S. Shuns Blame for Diem, Nhu Deaths,” The Washington Post, November 4, 1963, p. A9.