262. Editorial Note

The President’s Intelligence Checklist, August 21, 1963, which was read by the President, contains the following summary of events in Vietnam under an item entitled “South Vietnam”:

  • “a. Diem’s regime seems determined to repress forcefully the rising Buddhist agitation, despite strong advice from US representatives and an urgent plea from Saigon’s ambassador to Washington.
  • “b. Police and army personnel raided Buddhist pagodas in Saigon and Hue yesterday using arms, grenades and tear gas.
  • “c. A number of Buddhists were reported killed or wounded, and many others were arrested. The fate of key Buddhist leaders is not yet known.
  • “d. Martial law has been declared throughout the country, and all communications are in military hands.
  • “e. These harsh measures may only serve to further alienate the Vietnamese public and will further damage Diem’s image throughout the world.
  • “f. Some senior Vietnamese officers may have agreed with this action as necessary to prevent the spread of unrest. However, we know little of the attitude of junior officers and enlisted men, most of whom are Buddhists, or how they would react if ordered to quell popular disturbances.” (Kennedy Library, National Security Files Chester V. Clifton Series)