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I. Reassessment in Washington and Inaction in Saigon, August 28-September 7, 1963: The Coup Stalls, President Kennedy's Public Statement, Attempts To Negotiate Nhu's Removal and Change South Vietnam's Policies

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1. Memorandum of Conference With the President

Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series Meetings on Vietnam. Top Secret. Drafted by Bromley Smith. The meeting was held at the White House. There are two other records of this meeting: a memorandum of conversation by Hilsman, August 28 (ibid., Hilsman Papers, Country Series—Vietnam, State memcons) and a memorandum for the record by Krulak, August 28 (National Defense University, Taylor Papers, Vietnam, chap. XXIII).


3. The President's Intelligence Checklist

Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Chester V. Clifton Series. Top Secret; Eyes Only for the President. A note on the source text by Clifton indicates that the President read the checklist.


4. Telegram From the Commander, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (Harkins) to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Taylor)

Source: Kennedy Library, National Security File, Vietnam Country Series, Defense Cables. Top Secret; Eyes Only. Repeated to Felt, to Bundy at the White House (where it was received at 2:43 p.m., August 28), to Rusk, Ball, and Harriman at the Department of State, and to McCone at CIA.


5. Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between the Secretary of State and the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)

Source: Department of State, Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Telephone Conversations. Transcribed by Phyllis D. Bernau.


6. Memorandum of Conversation

Source: Kennedy Library, Hilsman Papers, Country Series-Vietnam, White House Meetings, State memcons. Top Secret; Eyes Only; No Distribution. Drafted by Hilsman. The meeting was held at the White House. There are two other records of this meeting: a memorandum of conference by Bromley Smith, August 28 (ibid., National Security File, Meetings and Memoranda, Meetings on Vietnam) and a memorandum for the record by Krulak, August 28 (National Defense University, Taylor Papers, Vietnam, chap. XXIII).


7. Telegram From the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Taylor) to the Commander, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (Harkins)

Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series, Defense Cables. Top Secret; Eyes Only; Operational Immediate. Also sent to Lodge, Felt, McNamara, Gilpatric, McGeorge Bundy, Rusk, Ball, Hilsman, Harriman, Helms, and each of the Joint Chiefs. Hilsman refers to this telegram in To Move a Nation, p. 493.


8. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 26 S VIET. Top Secret; Emergency. Repeated to CINCPAC POLAD exclusive for Felt. The text of this telegram was sent from the White House for transmission over Department of State channels. It was cleared by Rusk and Hilsman.


9. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 26 S VIET Top Secret; Emergency. The text of this message was sent from the White House for transmission over Department of State channels. It was cleared personally by Rusk and Hilsman.


10. Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 15-1 S VIET Secret; Priority; Limit Distribution. Received at 3:17 a.m. and passed to the White House, Office of the Secretary of Defense, and CIA.


11. Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 26 S VIET Top Secret; Emergency. Received at 4:42 a.m. and passed to the White House at 4:52 a.m.


12. Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 26 S VIET. Top Secret; Emergency; Eyes Only. Repeated Operational Immediate to CINCPAC. Received at 7:03 a.m. and passed to the White House, Office of the Secretary of Defense, and CIA. Printed also in Pentagon Papers: Gravel Edition, vol. 11, pp. 738-739 and Declassified Documents 1982, 591 B.


13. Telegram From the Commander, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (Harkins) to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Taylor)

Source: National Defense University; Taylor Papers, T-172-63. Top Secret; Eyes Only. Repeated to CINCPAC for Felt.


14. Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between the President and the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Hilsman)

Source: Kennedy Library, Hilsman Papers, Countries Series—Vietnam. Secret; Limit Distribution. Prepared in the Department of State.


15. Memorandum of Conference With the President

Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, Meetings on Vietnam. Top Secret. Drafted by Smith. The meeting was held at the White House. There are two other records of this meeting: a memorandum of conversation by Hilsman, August 29 (ibid., Hilsman Papers, White House Meetings, State memcons) and a memorandum for the record by Krulak, August 29 (National Defense University, Taylor Papers, T-172-69).


16. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 26 S VIET. Top Secret; Emergency. The text of this message was sent from the White House for transmission over Department of State channels. According to the memorandum supra, the telegram was cleared by the President. Hilsman and Rusk cleared the telegram for transmission. Another copy indicates that the President saw it. (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series, State cables) Also printed in United States-Vietnam Relations, 1945-1967, Book 12, p. 538.


17. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 26 S VIET. Top Secret; Emergency. Drafted by Rusk, cleared with the White House, and approved by Hilsman. Another copy of this telegram has a marginal note indicating the President read it. (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series, State Cables) Also printed in United States-Vietnam Relations, 1945-1967, Book 12, p. 539.


18. Message From the President to the Ambassador in Vietnam (Lodge)

Source: Kennedy Library, President's Office Files, Staff Memorandum, MG Bundy. Transmitted in telegram CAP 63465 with the notations: “Personal for the Ambassador from the President” and “No Department or other distribution whatever”. The source text is a copy that Bundy sent to Clifton under cover of a Top Secret Eyes Only memorandum of August 30, which reads as follows:

“The enclosed envelope should be opened by the President only, and when he has read the messages it contains you should destroy them. The reason for this extraordinary procedure is that these messages are not in the normal series and their existence is not known except to the President and to the Secretary of State, so I do not want them in a message file that may be seen by others who believe themselves privy to the most classified material. You should tell the President, however, that I discussed the outgoing message in draft with the Secretaries of State and Defense who concurred in it. The Secretary of Defense in particular thought it was a wise and necessary cable.

“You may wish to ask the President after he has read the messages whether he wants to send any further message to the Ambassador on this topic. My own advice is not to do so at this time, but to be ready to call his attention to this question again if the developing situation makes it advisable.

“I am sorry to be so cryptic.”

The other message included in the envelope for the President was Lodge's reply; see footnote 2 below.


19. Telegram From the Central Intelligence Agency Station in Saigon to the Agency

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 26 S VIET Secret; Operational Immediate; Eyes Only. The source text is a copy the CIA sent to the Department of State exclusive for Rusk, Ball, Harriman, and Hilsman. Copies were also sent to the White House exclusive for Bundy, and to the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Department of the Army, exclusive for McNamara, Gilpatric, Taylor, and Krulak. Received at the Department of State at 4:45 a.m.


20. Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 26 S VIET Top Secret; Emergency. Received at 7:39 p.m. Repeated Operational Immediate to CINCPAC. According to CAP 63468, August 30, the President read this cable. (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series, State Cables) Also printed in Pentagon Papers: Gravel Edition, Vol. II, pp. 739-740.


21. Telegram From the Central Intelligence Agency to the Station in Saigon

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 26 S VIET. Secret; Eyes Only. The source text is a copy the CIA sent the Department of State exclusive for Rusk, Ball Harriman, and Hilsman. Copies were also sent to the White House exclusive for Bundy and to the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Department of the Army, exclusive for McNamara, Gilpatric, Taylor, and Krulak. Received at the Department of State at 1:58 p.m. According to CAP 63468, August 30, the President read this cable. (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series, State Cables)


22. Telegram From the Central Intelligence Agency Station in Saigon to the Agency

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 26 S VIET Secret; Operational Immediate; Eyes Only. The source text is a copy the CIA sent the Department of State exclusive for Rusk, Ball, Harriman, and Hilsman. Copies were also sent to the White House exclusive for Bundy and to the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Department of the Army, exclusive for McNamara, Gilpatric, Taylor, and Krulak. Received at the Department of State at 1:59 p.m.


23. Telegram From the Central Intelligence Agency Station in Saigon to the Agency

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 S VIET. Secret; Operational Immediate; Eyes Only. The source text is a copy the CIA sent the Department of State exclusive for Rusk, Ball, Harriman, and Hilsman. Copies were also sent to the White House exclusive for Bundy and to the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Department of the Army, exclusive for McNamara, Gilpatric, Taylor, and Krulak.


24. Memorandum From the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Taylor) to the President

Source: National Defense University, Taylor Papers, T-172-69. Top Secret. There is no indication on the source text that the President saw this memorandum or chart. A copy of the chart is in the Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series, Memos and Miscellaneous.


25. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Hilsman) to the Secretary of State

Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series, Memos and Miscellaneous. Top Secret. Drafted by Mendenhall and cleared in draft by Allen S. Whiting, Director of the Office of Research and Analysis for the Far East, Bureau of Intelligence and Research.


26. Memorandum of Conversation

Source: Kennedy Library, Hilsman Papers, Countries Series-Vietnam, White House Meetings, State memcons. Top Secret; Eyes Only; No Distribution. Drafted by Hilsman. The meeting was held at the Department of State. There are two other records of this meeting: a memorandum of discussion by Bromley Smith, August 29 (ibid., National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda, Meetings on Vietnam) and a memorandum for the record by Krulak, August 30 (National Defense University, Taylor Papers, T-172-69).


27. Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 1 S VIET. Secret; Eyes Only; Limit Distribution. Received at 3:16 p.m. Repeated to CINCPAC and passed by the Department of State to the White House, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and the CIA.


28. Memorandum of a Conversation

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 1 S VIET. Secret. Drafted by Imhof. The meeting was held at the Department of State.


29. Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between the Secretary of State and the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)

Source: Department of State, Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Telephone Conversations. Transcribed by Phyllis D. Bernau.


30. Memorandum From the Director of the Joint Staff, Joint Chiefs of Staff (Riley) to the President

Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Files, Memos and Miscellaneous. Secret. A note on the source text indicates that this memorandum was taken from the President's Reading File, dated August 31.

  1. For documention on U.S. relations with Vietnam during the first part of 1963, see volume III.