104. Letter From the Ambassador in Vietnam (Lodge) to the Secretary of State1

Dear Dean: I ask that you show this letter to the President personally, as it is vital that it not get into the governmental paper mill. For maximum security I am typing it myself2 and am sending it to you by messenger.

What I ask is that General Lansdale be sent over here at once to take charge, under my supervision, of all U.S. relationships with a change of government here. To function efficiently he must have a staff and I therefore ask that he be put in charge of the CAS station in the Embassy, relieving the present incumbent, Mr. John Richardson.

This is said without casting any reflection on Mr. Richardson. Indeed I think of him as a devoted, intelligent and patriotic American. If his loyal support in the past of the U.S. policy of winning the war with Diem has made it difficult for him to carry out a different policy now, he has never said so or showed it. If, as I am inclined to think, Vietnamese have naturally suspected him of being pro-Diem, it has not been his fault.

My request to put General Lansdale in his place is not because I have anything but praise of Mr. Richardson, but because of my belief that we need a new face and that General Lansdale has outstanding qualifications.

But I hope John McCone will be told my [of] my high regard for Mr. Richardson.

CAS telegram [document number not declassified] September 11,3 is the most encouraging report I have seen since arriving in Vietnam. And it is confirmed by a wholly independent source in whom I have great confidence.

No written answer to this letter is necessary.4 General Lansdale’s arrival will be a more than adequate response.

[Page 206]

I hope you will tell the President how much I value his message contained in Deptel 396.5

With warm regards

As ever yours

Cabot L.
  1. Source: Department of State, Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Correspondence-L. Top Secret; Eyes Only.
  2. The source text was inexpertly typed.
  3. Not found.
  4. In a letter to Rusk, September 24, Lodge informed Rusk that McCone had fumed down his request. Lodge commented: “It is really a pity. Had my request been granted, I believe the coup might have been pulled off.” He continued:

    “You can be sure I will continue to do my very best to carry out instructions even if I must use persons trained in the old way, who are widely (and however unjustly) believed to be in touch with those who we are trying to replace and who, without ever meaning to be disloyal, do in fact neither understand nor approve of current United States policy.” (Department of States, Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Correspondence-L)

  5. Document 101.