48. Telegram From the Central Intelligence Agency Station in Saigon to the Agency1

[document number not declassified] 1. Following info acquired 1 Sept from American observer from sensitive source who reports unilaterally (B) who attended meeting on informal meeting with general officers called by Counsellor Nhu at ARVN HQS, 30 August 1963, 1530 to 1730 hours. All available Generals asked attend. Fifteen attended as follows: Generals Don, Duong Van Minh, Tran Van Minh, Tran Thiem Khiem, Le Van Nghiem, Le Van Kim, Pham Xuan Chieu, [Page 91] Tran Tu Oai, Nguyen Khanh, Nguyen Khanh, Nguyen Van La, Tran Ngoc Tam, Nguyen Giac Ngo, Van Thanh Cao, Mai Huu Xuan, Huyn Van Cao.

2. Replying to General Don question what ARVN position to be henceforth, Nhu said general situation will be more difficult. Buddhist and student trouble over, but those behind these groups do not think issues settled and will continue working together to overthrow government by any available means. ARVN role always is to support government.

3. General Duong Van Minh asked how to answer Americans who ask what we think of present situation. Nhu replied either state no comment or say you do not have enough information to comment.

4. Nhu then dominated informal conversation making following points:

In discussion difficulties of working with U.S. Govt., cited CIA as group that would like to see him personally “out of way.” Local CIA personnel do their utmost to alienate people from supporting government.
There has been mobilization of international press against GVN, caused primarily by American press. Many local American officials covertly encourage American newsmen to report contrary to best interests of GVN.
There now exists a mobilization aimed at overthrow of GVN supported by secret elements of U.S. Govt. This situation has intensified shortly after Test Ban Agreement with Russians.2
Referring to Highlanders and people along Cambodian border, certain elements desire cause GVN more trouble and thus will intensify efforts involving these groups. Cambodia severed relations with GVN only because a foreign element insisted so that anti-GVN groups can exploit the people..
American Defense Department is for Strategic Hamlet Program even though certain American officials have spoken out against it.
Ambassador Lodge told me both Vietnam and U.S. Govt. are deeply committed to fighting Communism, and that therefore it is necessary that Vietnamese people be very friendly with U.S. Lodge could not understand why there is no close relationship between American and Vietnamese people.
I know without American aid we cannot exist. USG is only country willing support our country without any strings attached. There are U.S. Govt. personnel in Vietnam not working conscientiously for welfare of Vietnamese people. This caused by CIA personnel and certain so-called professional political affairs officers. Ambassador Lodge now getting better picture of situation; we can manage him-he will fully agree with our concepts and actions.

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5. Source Comments: Everyone present listened carefully. A number of them seemed accept Nhu comments as when he said U.S. Govt. will shortly announce tacit agreement in connection with GVN policies and actions. Source says he himself fully supports GVN but noted battles can be won but war cannot be won without full support of people. Majority of Generals seem to feel U.S. Govt. must take strong stand with Diem to achieve reform measures which constantly though covertly discussed among people. That in turn will assure popular support GVN wants of people.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL S VIET. Secret; Immediate; Eyes Only. The source text is a copy sent by the CIA to the Department of State exclusive for Rusk, Ball, Harriman, and Hilsman. Copies were also sent to the White House exclusive for Bundy and to the Assistant Chief of Staff (Intelligence), Department of the Army, exclusive for McNamara, Gilpatric, Taylor, and Krulak. Received at the Department of State at 1:02 p.m.
  2. The Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under the Water, signed at Moscow on August 5, 1963. (14 UST 1313)