116. Telegram From the Chargé in Vietnam (Cunningham) to the Department of State1
2671. On March 15 American businessman … , whose reputation known to Department in connection with Colegrove articles, called at Embassy with what he described as “hot information.” … first tried see ArmAtt who was occupied, then called on NavAtt to whom he indicated he wished relay information to Embassy official “who could act quickly and had broader functions than attachés.” … was referred to officer in political section.
Turned out … information related to anti-Diem regime opposition groups with whom he in contact. Information given Embassy by … being checked out … but at present time appears represent “pipe dream” of number of Saigon intellectuals rather than any serious threat GVN. Nature of information and …apparent continuing relationship with Colegrove make this matter particularly delicate. Embassy believes it necessary that … feel his information being listened to, but at same time that nothing be done which would indicate to GVN Embassy communicating with opposition groups. Shall therefore in future endeavor to channel … to ArmAtt (with whom he has often talked in past) who will listen but clearly avoid official U.S. involvement.
Information furnished by … summarized as follows: In late January … received letter return address “The Porch Window, Lyndon Hotel, Los Gatos, California” from “a friend of Mr. Colegrove’s” who informed … that a friend of the writer’s in Saigon would be contacting … and would identify himself by code name. Shortly thereafter a Vietnamese employee of Stanvac (whom ArmAtt now trying identify) called on … as person mentioned in letter and arranged meetings between … and opposition group including Tran Van Van, former Minister of National Economy in Bao Dai government (1949) and Dr. Ho Van Nhut, one of two vice chairmen of Vietnamese Red Cross Society. (Dr. Nhut member of opposition group which recently had meetings with Ngo Dihn Nhu… .)
During conversation … presented EmbOff with copies documents prepared by Tran Van Van showing a) political spectrum of groups in opposition Diem regime, b) provisional national assembly to be set up in event fall present government and c) provisional government to be established in such eventuality… . presently checking out individuals whose names shown on these documents.[Page 331]
Subsequently contact brought to … home alleged regimental commander of one of four Hoa Hao regiments stated to be presently located Vietnamese-Cambodian frontier who stated this group had 10,000 men under arms with large quantities guns, including carbines, submachine guns and eight recoilless rifles which they anxious show to American representative. No indication that Saigon opposition and Hoa Hao group related except that same contact introduced … to both.
… stated he came to Embassy because he felt Embassy should be aware of existence this group and because he seeking guidance as to questions to ask in order develop information which would be useful to Embassy. It appears … deeply involved and seeking involve Embassy. He stated all group waiting for was indication US lack of confidence Diem regime.
EmbOff made clear to … that while Embassy interested in listening it fully supports GVN and for obvious reasons does not wish become involved with any opposition group. Although recently Embassy has received unevaluated indications apparently based on rumors circulating local population Saigon, activity on part various anti-Diem opposition groups having ties with sects, Bao Dai family, etc., … information does not substantiate connotation these reports, that GVN faces serious threat from internal, non-Communist covert opposition.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751K.00/3–1660. Secret. Repeated for information to Manila for Durbrow. Sent with instructions to pass to the Department of the Army for the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence.↩