228. Telegram From the Ambassador in Vietnam (Lodge) to the Department of State1
Saigon, October 29, 1963—6:30 p.m.
- On 14 October, Bui Diem, Dai Viet oppositionist, told [less than 1 line not declassified] he optimistic at that time because military friends were continuing their plotting against regime. Said had feared apparent victory of Ngo family over United States might halt further coup planning but this not case because, even though many Vietnamese do not understand American policy, they also appreciate fact USG not satisfied current state affairs. Bui Diem noted continued reluctance Vietnamese talk freely Americans, since in past this has resulted in Diem regime knowing of such planning.
- On 28 October, Bui Diem told [less than 1 line not declassified] that Generals who planning coup being very secretive for security reasons, such security lacking in past, and any break in security now disastrous for families all concerned. In context of [less than 1 line not declassified] warning about whom he should or should not speak to, Bui Diem said he understood Conein had a key role vis-a-vis the Americans and could Conein be trusted? Affirmative reply given. Bui Diem said it might be necessary for him contact Conein in future as alternate link between Conein and Generals if existing links disrupted.
- Bui Diem said he had frequent contact with General Kim and that Kim most politically astute of Generals. He said Kim and Big Minh close on their thinking relative civilian role in or immediately after coup, that other Generals had been brought in on military side, namely Generals Don and Chieu, but that in military discussions the naming of specific civilians had been minimized in order not to compromise civilians. Bui Diem said civilian side not serious problem, that civilian leadership could be solved without much difficulty when time came. Noted his discussions with Kim and the several papers he had provided Kim were more concerned with structure and policies of a new govt than with personalities. [less than 1 line not declassified] remarked that structure, policies, and personalities of vital concern any group hoping for USG recognition, that any new govt would desire such recognition soonest, therefore these details should be made known in advance. Bui Diem also said he had emergency commo with Dr Phan Huy Quat, assigned this week to Can Tho area, and that Quat could be back in Saigon on short notice. He added that Quat would in any case be in Saigon by end of week, and that he was acting as liaison between Generals and Quat.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 26 S VIET. Top Secret; Immediate; Eyes Only. The source text is CIA Station telegram [document number not declassified] from Saigon sent to the Department of State eyes only for Rusk, Harriman, Ball, Hilsman, and Hughes. Also sent to the Department of Defense eyes only for McNamara, Gilpatric, Taylor, Krulak, and William Bundy; to the White House eyes only for McGeorge Bundy; repeated to Honolulu eyes only for Felt and to CIA eyes only for McCone, Carter, and Helms. Received at the Department of State at 8:11 a.m.↩