184. Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State1

1224. CINCPAC for POLAD. Deptel 1247.2 I have requested appointment with Diem today.

As preliminary, I saw Thuan at 9 AM. I did not go over my instructions with him; I told him only that I had instructions to see President and would be speaking to him along same lines as I had taken on personal basis in recent talks with Thuan.

Main purpose of call on Thuan, I said, was to tell him that I was now convinced that—far from taking June 16 agreement as starting point and moving forward—a deliberate campaign was already being mounted, specifically by the Nhus, to sabotage the agreement. I cited following:

Nhu had ordered that signatures be obtained from Republican Youth to a petition protesting against June 16 agreement and asking that it be revoked, at least in part [document number not declassified].
Article in Times of Vietnam yesterday reporting “National Convention” in Saigon June 20 of Go Son Mon sect,3 at which sect [Page 410] pledged its allegiance to GVN and disassociated itself from “recent politico-religious controversy”. I said this sect was well known to us to be subsidized by GVN. I was also certain that this patently trumped-up convention would be deeply resented by Buddhists.
White paper prepared by Gregory4 for Madame Nhu [document number not declassified]. I repeated what I had previously told him about further statements by Madame Nhu, and said that I now had specific instructions on this matter (Deptel 1255)5 Of which I gave him substance. He said he had informed Diem in terms of what I had previously said (Embtel 1211).6
Deletion from latest GVN newsreel by Nhu of coverage of GVN Buddhist negotiations and settlement (Tousi 336, last para).7
Reported plans for three-day jubilee in Hue, and possibly elsewhere, June 25-27 celebrating 25th anniversary of elevation to Bishopric of Archbishop Ngo Dinh Thuc.

I also reminded Thuan that Buddhist leaders were still in Saigon and had let it be known publicly that they were giving GVN two weeks to show good faith, specifically by releasing persons arrested in connection with demonstrations.

Thuan did not dispute any of these charges. On contrary, he confirmed them indirectly by saying that he had been doing everything he could to persuade Diem not to accept advice being given him by his family (protect source).

I asked Thuan to try to bring each of above items to attention of Diem before I saw him. At that time I intended myself to repeat them all, plus any others that become available in meantime.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, AID (US) S VIET. Secret; Limit Distri” button. Repeated to CINCPAC.
  2. Document 181.
  3. A marginal note on the source text at this point, in an unknown hand, reads: “Probably a small Buddhist sect. We have no info. yet.” The Co Son Mon sect was identified in a Special Report on “The Buddhists of South Vietnam,” prepared on June 28 in the Office of Current Intelligence of the Central Intelligence Agency, as one of the smaller Buddhist organizations, which claimed a following in the Mekong Delta provinces. “It is reported to be government-subsidized and government-manipulated.” (Department of State, Central Files, SOC 14 -US VIET)
  4. Gene and Ann Gregory published the Times of Viet-Nam. They were the two Americans closest, both personally and through business connections, to Madame Nhu.
  5. In telegram 1255 to Saigon, June 21, the Department of State indicated that the publication of a “white paper” on the Buddhist crisis, “whether as official GVN document in Times Viet-Nam or as statement Women’s Solidarity Movement, would have serious repercussions here.” Publication of such a document “might well cause such ground swell American opinion as to render continued U.S. support GVN much more difficult.” Trueheart was instructed to leave President Diem with no doubt as to the “importance killing this white paper.” (Department of State, Central Files, POL 1 S VIET-US)
  6. See footnote 3, Document 181.
  7. Not found.