182. Telegram From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to the Ambassador in Vietnam (Lodge)1
CAP 63560. In conjunction with decisions and recommendations in separate Deptel,2 President today approved recommendation that no initiative should now be taken to give any active covert encouragement to a coup. There should, however, be urgent covert effort with closest security under broad guidance of Ambassador to identify and build contacts with possible alternative leadership as and when it appears. Essential that this effort be totally secure and fully deniable and separated entirely from normal political analysis and reporting and other activities of country team. We repeat that this effort is not to be aimed at active promotion of coup but only at surveillance and readiness. In order to provide plausibility to denial suggest you and no one else in Embassy issue these instructions orally to Acting Station Chief and hold him responsible to you alone for making appropriate contacts and reporting to you alone.
All reports to Washington on this subject should be on this channel.