242. Editorial Note

At the 463d meeting of the National Security Council on October 13, Director of Central Intelligence Allen Dulles commented on developments in the Congo during his briefing on significant world developments and a brief discussion followed. The relevant portions of the memorandum of discussion by Director of the NSC Secretariat Robert H. Johnson, October 18, read as follows:

“Mr. Dulles then turned to the Congo, stating that the situation there remained much as it was a week ago. It was approaching a crisis because Mobutu, the military “strong man”, may soon move against Lumumba. He had given out cryptic statements that he would take action. Such action would create a difficult problem, involving conflict with the UN. There were a thousand Congolese troops around Lumumba’s house; the UN guard force was not nearly so strong. The UN position is that it will surrender Lumumba only if his parliamentary immunity is lifted by the Congolese Parliament. There was some talk of convening the Parliament to get his immunity withdrawn. Mobutu believes he could get through a favorable vote on this issue.

“Mr. Dulles pointed out that the UAR, Ghana, and Guinea, with some help from Morocco and Tunisia, were playing Lumumba’s game. A plane had taken off recently from Accra headed for the south with a load of thugs. For unknown reasons, it returned however to Accra. Weather was given as the reason but it is possible that Mobutu had arranged to have the airport at its intended destination refuse to receive [Page 528] the plane. There was also a report that a Russian plane had just left Accra with Ghanaian troops and the Ghanaian Ambassador to the Congo. There was no report on its destination. Five Ghanaian IL–14’s were scheduled to depart between the 15th and 18th of October. Nkrumah was making a last effort to save Lumumba. Nkrumah was the bad actor in this situation, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] we know that UAR diplomats stationed in the Congo are playing an important role, engaging in bribery and other activities. We had succeeded, Mr. Dulles stated, in neutralizing Mme. Blouin who now wants to come to the U.S. She is writing her memoirs which, Mr. Dulles observed, should make interesting reading.”

After brief remarks by Dulles on developments in Rhodesia, the Council returned to the subject of the Congo.

“Secretary Herter interjected to state that Mr. Hammarskjold does not have the same intelligence as we do on the UAR role in the Congo and we could not pass it to him because [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. It is Hammarskjold’s view that the situation in the Congo is desperate and that there is no hope in any of the present leaders—no possibility of stability. He had confirmed that Lumumba was definitely a dope fiend.

Kasavubu was enjoying his house and spent all of his time eating and sleeping. Nothing came out of his house unless a foreign agent got in and got him to sign a statement. Mobutu was a childish individual and might suffer a nervous breakdown. Moreover, he had no sense of administration and could be, we thought, easily bought. The direction in which the UN is headed at the moment is to get the Congolese Parliament re-assembled with a view to getting its full backing for someone. We do not think so much of the Foreign Minister, whom we once thought could provide the necessary leadership. Secretary Dillon pointed out in this connection that the Foreign Minister was viewed by other nations as a Western stooge. Mr. Dulles observed nonetheless that this was the best man we had.

“Secretary Dillon went on to state that the U.S. Ambassador in the Congo was concerned about the possibility that the Congolese troops would carry out their threat to arrest Lumumba. If the UN tried to stop them, it would create a very bad situation. Accordingly, we had been trying to think of some alternative and had made a suggestion to the UN on Wednesday night. Perhaps the UN has some reason for protecting the parliamentary immunity of Lumumba despite the fact that it did not protect other individuals on this basis when Lumumba was in power. We were suggesting to the UN, however, that there was no reason why Lumumba should remain in possession of the prime minister’s mansion. Kasavubu has the full right to dismiss him. At one time earlier we did ask to have Lumumba moved out but the UN had refused. On Wednesday we had asked the UN to reconsider its refusal. If the UN agreed and Lumumba was moved out, we would tell the Congolese that this act represented a prestige gain for Mobutu but that Lumumba should not be arrested for the time being. Instead we would recommend that he be put in some less conspicuous place. Mr. Dulles asked in this connection whether it would be bad if Lumumba left the [Page 529] country. Secretary Dillon said it would be all right provided he did not use the opportunity to go to Stanleyville.” (Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records)