375. Letter From the Director of Central Intelligence (McCone) to President Johnson1
Dear Mr. President: I have read Secretary McNamara's memorandum to you on the Vietnam situation.2 My observations on the situation are covered in a separate memorandum which was left with Mr. Bundy on Saturday,3 but attached is a copy for your ready reference.
There is no substantive difference between Secretary McNamara and myself except perhaps I feel a little less pessimistic than he. Nevertheless, as I state in my conclusion, there are more reasons to be pessimistic than to be optimistic about the prospects of our success in South Vietnam.[Page 736]
Much depends on the ability of the Military Revolutionary Committee (MRC) to provide strong leadership and inspiration to the people of Vietnam, to properly administer the affairs of the country, and to successfully prosecute the war. All this is yet to be demonstrated.
I am dispatching to Saigon a number of our “old South Vietnamese hands” for temporary duty to assist in developing the necessary covert resources of native case officers and agents to inform us concerning the effectiveness of the MRC and the public acceptance of the new government. This has not been CIA's role in the past, as intelligence of this type has come through military channels. However I believe the next few months are so critical that information covertly developed will complement reporting we receive through the other channels.
I intend to return to South Vietnam in 90 days or sooner.