290. Telegram From the Central Intelligence Agency Station in Saigon to the Agency1

[document number not declassified] Embassy requests pass appropriate State Dept officials. Ref: DIR 63869.2

During meeting with General Harkins, Trueheart, Mecklin and COS on morning 26 Aug, Lodge made decision that American official hand should not show. Consequently, Harkins will take no initiative with Vietnamese Generals. Decision was in line with Harkins’ own view.
We agreed also that Colonel Conein would proceed immediately to convey points listed below to General Tran Thien Khiem. There was agreement that [less than 1 line not declassified] would proceed immediately to Pleiku to advise General Nguyen Khanh. Conein and [less than 1 line not declassified] are already under way to carry out these contacts. Conein will tell General Khiem that [less than 1 line not declassified] is enroute to talk with General Khanh in Pleiku.
During subsequent discussion, Trueheart and COS agreed that Conein will ask Khiem’s advice on Conein’s talking with General Tran Van Don. If Khiem agrees, Conein will make immediate contact with Don. If Khiem demurs, Conein will return to obtain further instructions. At moment, our planning is to inform only these three Generals.
Conein and [less than 1 line not declassified]conveying to General Khiem and Khanh the following points.
Solicitation of further elaboration of action aspects of present thinking and planning. What should be done?
We in agreement Nhus must go.
Question of retaining Diem or not up to them.
Bonzes and other arrestees must be released immediately and five-point agreement of 16 June3 be fully carried out.
We will provide direct support during any interim period of breakdown central government mechanism.
We cannot be of any help during initial action of assuming power of the state. Entirely their own action, win or lose. Don’t expect be bailed out.
If Nhus do not go and if Buddhists’ situation is not redressed as indicated, we would find it impossible continue military and economic support.
It hoped bloodshed can be avoided or reduced to absolute minimum.
It hoped that during process and after, developments conducted in such manner as to retain and increase the necessary relations between Vietnamese and Americans which will allow for progress of country and successful prosecution of the war.
  1. Source: National Defense University, Taylor Papers, T-172-69. Top Secret. Also printed in summary form in Pentagon Papers: Gravel Edition, vol. 11, pp. 735-736.
  2. A note on the source text summarizes this message as “Hqs guidance regarding future course of action in directing the leadership in the days ahead.” The message has not been found.
  3. See Document 178.