280. Telegram From Michael V. Forrestal of the National Security Council Staff to the President, at Hyannis Port, Massachusetts1

CAP 63460. Please pass following to President “eyes only”. Harriman, Hilsman and Forrestal have drafted following telegram to Saigon and CINCPAC. Substance generally agreed to by Admiral Felt and clearances being obtained, from Ball and Defense. Since situation in Saigon may not remain fluid for long, Department believes desirable transmit this message tonight. Ambassador Lodge agrees with assessment that Nhu in control but does not know whether military would act against him. Lodge recommends wait and see. Harriman, Hilsman and I favor taking this action now. Will advise you reactions Ball and Defense, but suggest you let me know if you wish comment or holdup action. Begin text draft cable:2

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  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series 8/24/63-8/31/63, State Cables. Top Secret; Eyes Only. A note on the source text in Clifton’s hand reads: P[resident]—as discussed with Secretary Ball.”
  2. No draft telegram was attached, but the reference is to a draft of telegram 243, Document 281. That draft is filed immediately after this telegram in the Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series, 8/24/63-8/31/63, State Cables. See footnote 8, Document 281, for the difference between the draft and the final version.