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II. U.S. Assessment of the Khanh Government, February 1–March 4


28. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET S. Secret; Priority; Limdis. Drafted on January 31 by Mendenhall; cleared by Koren, Green, and in draft with Poats and Blouin; and approved by Harriman.


29. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET S. Secret; Priority; Limdis. Drafted on January 31 by Mendenhall; cleared by Koren, Green, the substance of paragraph 1 by Blouin, and the substance of paragraph 2 by Stoneman; and approved by Harriman. Repeated to CINCPAC. The White House copy is published in Declassified Documents, 1975, 215D.


30. Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Source: Department of State, POL 15 VIET S. Secret; Priority; Limdis. Repeated to CINCPAC. Passed to the White House, JCS, Office of the Secretary of Defense, and CIA.


32. Memoranda of Telephone Conversations Between the Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs (Manning) and the Secretary of State

Source: Department of State, Rusk Papers: Lot 72 D 192, Telephone Conversations. No classification marking. Transcribed by Mildred Asbjornson.


33. Memorandum From Michael V. Forrestal of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)

Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Vietnam Country File, Vol. 11, Memos and Misc. Secret and Personal. Published in part in Declassified Documents, 1975, 175B.


34. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to the President

Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Aides Files, McGeorge Bundy, Luncheons with the President, Vol. 1 [Part 2]. Secret. Bundy wrote the following note on the source text: “P[resident] used all this in lunch with results not yet clear. McGB”


35. Memorandum From the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Green) to the Secretary of State

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET S. Top Secret. Drafted by Mendenhall. A note on the source text indicates Rusk saw this memorandum.


36. Letter From the Secretary of State to the Secretary of Defense (McNamara)

Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 69 A 926, 092 Vietnam. Top Secret; Exdis. According to the Department of State copy of this letter, Mendenhall was the drafter. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET S)


37. Memorandum From Michael V. Forrestal of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)

Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Vietnam Country File, Vol. III, Memos and Misc. Top Secret.


38. Report From the Executive Director-Comptroller of Central Intelligence (Kirkpatrick) and the Station Chief in Saigon (de Silva) to the Director of Central Intelligence (McCone)

Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 330–75. Alternate Proposals. Secret. The source text is a copy of the report that the CIA sent McNamara on February 10 under cover of a memorandum explaining that this analysis was not being formally disseminated because it was a reply to a personal request from McCone.


39. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assist3nt for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to the President

Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to the President, Vol. 1. Confidential.


41. Memorandum of a Conversation, White House

Source: Department of State, President’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 66 D 149, Jan-March, 1964. Secret. Drafted by Willis C. Armstrong. Approved by the Executive Secretary on February 27 and by the White House on February 24. The source text is labeled Part II of a six-topic meeting.

British Prime Minister Sir Alec Douglas Home was in Washington for an official visit, February 12–14.


42. Paper Prepared in the Defense Intelligence Agency

Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 68 A 306, 350.05 Southeast Asia. Secret. Attached to a memorandum of transmittal, February 12, from Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Carroll to Secretary of Defense McNamara. SNIE 50–64, “The Situation in Southeast Asia,” is not printed. Johnson Library, National Security File, National Intelligence Estimate File, 14.3 NVN)


43. Memorandum From the Chairman of the Policy Planning Council (Rostow) to the Secretary of State

Source: Department of State, S/P Files: Lot 70 D 199, Southeast Asia. Top Secret; For the Secretary Only. Rusk’s initials appear on the source text.


44. Memorandum From the Chairman of the Policy Planning Council (Rostow) to the Secretary of State

Source: Department of State, S/P Files: Lot 70 D 199, Vietnam. Secret. Rusk’s initials appear on the source text.


45. Memorandum From Michael V. Forrestal of the National Security Council Staff to the Secretary of Defense (McNamara)

Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Aides Files, McGeorge Bundy, Luncheons with the President, Vol. 1, [Part 2]. Secret and Personal. Published in part in Declassified Documents, 1977, 109B.


46. National Security Action Memorandum No. 280

Source: Department of State, S/S-NSC Files: Lot 72 D 316, NSAM 280. Secret.


47. Memorandum From the Chairman of the Policy Planning Council (Rostow) to the Secretary of State

Source: Department of State, S/P Files: Lot 70 D 199, Vietnam. Secret. Copies were sent to Harriman, Sullivan, U. Alexis Johnson, and Hilsman. Rusk’s initials appear on the source text.


48. Memorandum From the Deputy Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (Denney) to the Secretary of State

Source: Department of State, S/P Files: Lot 71 D 273, Vietnam. Secret.


49. Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 23–9 VIET S. Secret; Exdis. The source text bears no time of transmission. Received at 10:01 a.m. A note on the White House copy of this telegram indicates that the President read it. Johnson Library, National Security File, Vietnam Country File, Vol. IV) Also published in Declassified Documents, 1975, 216A.


50. Memorandum From the Deputy Director for Plans, Central Intelligence Agency (Helms), to the Secretary of State

Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Vietnam Country File, Vol. IV, Memos and Misc. Secret. Signed by Colby for Helms. Also sent to McNamara, McGeorge Bundy, Taylor, Hilsman, Forrestal, Anthis, Sullivan, Carroll, and others. Also published in Declassified Documents, 1974, 246D. Bundy wrote the following note on the source text: “President read Feb. 18 and so called meeting of Feb. 20 on SVN. McGB.” For the results of the meeting, see Document 54.

According to a covering note, this was the third report of a group of CIA officers who went to Vietnam to cross-check covertly intelligence information provided by the Vietnamese. The first report, February 14, concluded that while the Vietnamese had been reporting honestly to their American counterparts since November 1, 1963, failings in quantity, quality, and training of Vietnamese personnel and lack of professionalism among Vietnamese sources made their intelligence product difficult to evaluate. A general impression gained by the CIA group was that the momentum of the strategic hamlet program had slowed practically to a halt. Commenting specifically on Binh Long and Phuoc Thanh Provinces, the report concluded that security had badly deteriorated there. The second report, February 14, concentrated on I Corps and concluded that optimism regarding the security of the area was mistaken and based on superficial developments. (Both in Johnson Library, National Security File, Vietnam Country File, Vol. IV, Memos and Misc.) The accord report is published in Declassified Documents, 1975, 246C.


51. Memorandum From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Secretary of Defense (McNamara)

Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 69 A 926, 092 Vietnam. Top Secret; Sensitive.


52. Letter From the Deputy Chief of Mission in Vietnam (Nes) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Hilsman)

Source: Department of State, William Bundy Files, WPB Special Papers. Secret; Official-Informal. Hilsman sent a copy of this letter to Forrestal for his information with the following handwritten note: “Another old Burma hand you have to deal with!! R.H.” On March 5, Green sent this copy to the newly-designated Assistant Secretary of State for Ear Eastern Affairs, William Bundy, stating that the letter with its enclosure “presents views you will be interested in.”


53. Message From the Ambassador in Vietnam (Lodge) to the President

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET S. Secret; Exdis. Transmitted as telegram 1583 from Saigon to the Department of State, where it was received at 7:21 a.m. and passed to the White House at 8:30 a.m. Telegram 1583 is the source text.


54. Memorandum for the Record of a Meeting, White House

Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Vietnam Country File, Vol. IV, Memos and Misc. Secret. Drafted by Forrestal. Copies of this memorandum were sent to Rusk, McNamara, Taylor, McCone, Bell, and Sullivan.

Prepared for this meeting, which lasted 1 hour, was an agenda, annotated by McGeorge Bundy, which reads as follows:

“1. Situation Briefing (5 minutes); 2. Intelligence and Reporting, (A) Cooper Activities, (B) French Activities; 3. Operations, (A) Response to Lodge Message, (B) Policy on Dependents [Bundy wrote at this point “P[resident] prefers”], (C) Other Matters; 4. Diplomatic Problems, (A) Cambodia, (B) Laos, (C) Others; 5. North Viet-Nam, (A) Intelligence [Bundy wrote “increase efforts”], (B) Propaganda [Bundy wrote “increase”], (C) Operations; 6. Planning, (A) Johnson Subcommittee [Bundy wrote “Speed up”], (B) Question of Time Phase.” (Ibid.)


55. Message From the Ambassador in Vietnam (Lodge) to the President

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET S. Secret; Exdis. Transmitted as telegram 1594 from Saigon which is the source text. A note on the White House copy of this telegram indicates that the President saw it. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Vietnam Country File, Vol. IV, Cables)


56. Message From the President to the Ambassador in Vietnam (Lodge)

Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET S. Secret; Exdis. Transmitted as telegram 1281 to Saigon, which is the source text. McGeorge Bundy sent a draft of this telegram and the text of Lodge’s message, supra, to Palm Springs, California, where the President was vacationing. The text of Bundy’s covering cable to the President reads as follows:

“Next two following messages are an incoming from Lodge on enlarging our effort in North Vietnam and a draft response for the President. I send these now because of the President’s desire to be very quick and effective in responses to Lodge’s messages. The draft answer is being cleared with Rusk and McNamara, and we can get it out as soon as we have the President’s own comments.”

“The memorandum to Harriman which Lodge refers to [see footnote 3, supra] is sensible but tentative in form, and does not show strong advocacy of anything different from what we have been doing. My own notes on the President’s November meeting with Lodge show nothing significant on North Vietnam. We therefore believe that the draft answer is fully responsive, and we assess the incoming message as sincere and reasonable, as far as it goes.” (Telegram CAP 64050, February 21; Johnson Library, National Security File, Vietnam Country File, Vol. IV)


57. Memorandum From the Secretary of Defense (McNamara) to the Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff (Taylor)

Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 68 A 4023, Vietnam 092. Top Secret. Attached to the source text was a covering memorandum from William Bundy to McNamara, February 21, which reads as follows:

“The attached memorandum, prepared in response to your request, will obtain JCS views on a number of critical questions affecting our actions in Vietnam. The answers will also be helpful to the work of the Sullivan Committee. We have coordinated this request with the Joint Staff.”