176. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam1

529. Eyes only for Ambassador from Acting Secretary. Halberstam story in Times today says you “would be happier with a new CIA Chief” and recounts in some detail alleged State-CIA disagreements Saigon. Says “Lodge has told Washington he wants a new chief2 and CIA is fighting back hard … present struggle is believed to have [Page 365] parallel in struggle by Lodge against Maj. Gen. Harkins …”, etc.3 (See Oct. 4 Wireless File.)

As you can appreciate, this story has caused concern in Washington, since we have been making serious effort in conjunction with McNamara-Taylor mission to achieve actual and visible unity within USG. I am aware, of course, that Saigon is a rumor-mill and that gossip of this kind is most difficult to control. We shall, however, keep you currently informed of press play-back here to assist you in taking whatever measures possible to guard against stateside stories that can harm what we are seeking to achieve.

Would appreciate your advice as to further steps that might be taken either in Saigon or Washington to ensure a more accurate reflection of our common commitment to a single governmental policy which is essential if we are to maintain full public support and understanding.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 S VIET. Confidential; Priority. Drafted and initialed by Ball.
  2. John Richardson was transferred from Vietnam on October 5. President Kennedy referred to the transfer in response to a question at a press conference on October 9 about reports of the CIA acting independently in Vietnam. The President discounted the reports and said he found no evidence that “CIA has done anything but support policy,” and had “operated under close control of the Director of Central Intelligence, operating with the cooperation of the National Security Council and under my instructions.” (Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1963, pp. 768-769)

    Taylor, in Swords and Plowshares, p. 300, states that “Richardson had become persona non grata to Lodge for reasons I could not assess, but it seemed in the interests of all parties to reassign him elsewhere.” In To Move a Nation, p. 515, Hilsman offers the view that Richardson’s departure was at Lodge’s request, but was related more to a signal to the Vietnamese rather than personal animosity or rivalry.

  3. Ellipses in the source text.