286. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam1
- Several developments in aftermath coup creating serious concern here. Suggest you arrange see General Duong Van Minh for prompt discussion of following:
Reports of manner death of Diem and Nhu (shot and stabbed with gory details) carried in press headlines and causing considerable shock here. When pictures bodies reach U.S., effect will be even worse.
Urgent that prompt and complete clarifying statement be made. Clarification described in your 900 should be expanded with full account of arrangements for safe passage and safe removal Diem and Nhu from palace. We do not think there should be any suggestion that [Page 551] this is just the sort of thing you have to expect in a coup. On the contrary, Generals should emphasize extensive efforts we understand they made to prevent this result.
Mme. Nhu has issued long, bitter statement in effect holding U.S. responsible for coup, using such phrases as “cruel treachery”, “treason” and “dirty crime.” Statement and reaction to Diem/Nhu deaths accentuate importance of assuring safety Nhu children. We trust intentions expressed to you by Don re children and other members Ngo family will be carried out. Prompt and chivalrous treatment of children will be particularly helpful here in context of death of father.
Marguerite Higgins has contacted Hilsman on behalf Mme. Nhu asking that children be brought out to Rome. Suggest you arrange transportation for this purpose. Use military aircraft if necessary.
Deeply disturbed by reports arrests of Tran Quoc Buu and Nguyen Phuong Thiep. We consider it of highest importance that new regime immediately release them and avoid further actions directed toward personalities who apparently not guilty any crimes.
Suggest you point out these developments at minimum give appearance military not in full control of situation and unless promptly corrected will produce strong adverse international reaction contrary to regime’s desire attract international sympathy. Thiep well-known in U.S. Congressional circles and Buu highly regarded by American and international labor movement.
- FYI. Re Deptel 700.4 American and world public opinion problem relating to paras 2, 3, and 4 above, are sufficiently serious as to indicate those points should be clarified before public announcement of full resumption of aid. It is not our intention to use delay in resuming aid as summary leverage on Generals, but you should emphasize importance of immediate action to ensure as favorable international image as possible. Public here would not understand resumption of aid before clarification these points. End FYI.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 26 S VIET. Secret; Immediate; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Mendenhall and cleared by Rusk, Hilsman, and McGeorge Bundy. Repeated priority to CINCPAC for POLAD.↩
- Document 284.↩
- Telegram 901, November 3, 7 p.m., reported the arrest of CVTC leader Tran Quoc Buu. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 26 S VIET)↩
- Document 280.↩