349. Letter From the Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (Hilsman) to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)0

Dear MAC: We are sending guidance today to Tom Finletter on how to handle the Angola item at tomorrow’s meeting of the North Atlantic Council (Polto 1590). I am enclosing a copy of the Department’s response.1

Regarding the background of this issue, it is true that the Union des Populations d’Angola (UPA) was involved in the recent terrorism and that the Agency has been giving Holden Roberto, the leader of the UPA, financial assistance for some years. The Department first learned of this connection last March when the Agency raised with the Department the question as to whether it would be in the U.S. interest to support the UPA itself. On March 22, the Department responded to the Agency to the effect that we would be prepared to consider a proposal from the Agency regarding possible support to the UPA if such support could be developed on a completely non-attributable basis. The Department added that we would like to have a full background sketch of Roberto as well as information on the UPA, its mission, present sources of support, etcetera.

In response to this the Agency sent us a biographic sketch of Roberto [1-1/2 lines of source text not declassified]. Pertinent portions of this information are enclosed.2 After further discussions between Department representatives and representatives of the Agency, it was decided that it was not necessary for the Agency to advance Roberto any funds in addition to the “subsistence” funds he has been receiving.

As for the matter of continuing contacts with Roberto, which in the past have been largely conducted by the Agency’s station in Leopoldville, [Page 544] the Department sent out an instruction on 10 May, which I enclose for your information.3


  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Angola, 1/61-6/61. Secret; Eyes Only.
  2. Polto 1590 from Paris, May 9, is not printed. (Department of State, Central Files, 753N.00/5-961) On May 23, the Department of State instructed the U.S. Representative to the NAC to state, if the Portuguese Representative raised the issue, that the U.S. Government had not provided support or aid to Angolan terrorists, although such aid might have been provided by private U.S. groups with no U.S. Government connections. He was also instructed to say that Holden Roberto had a U.S. visa because he was not regarded as inadmissible, and to point out that it was traditional U.S. practice not to refuse interviews with political oppositionists when they requested them. (Topol 1649 to Paris; ibid., 753N.00/5-2361)
  3. Not printed.
  4. Telegram 2162 to Leopoldville, May 10, instructed U.S. Embassy officials not to initiate further contacts with Roberto unless otherwise instructed. If he requested an interview, however, he should be seen as it was U.S. practice not to refuse such interviews when asked. (Department of State, Central Files, 753N.00/5-461)