281. Circular Telegram From the Department of State to Certain Diplomatic Missions1

218. For the Ambassador or Charge. The following personal message from the President to the Head of Government in your country should be delivered as soon as possible to the FonMin or senior available official:

Begin Verbatim Text:

I am asking my Ambassador to convey to you a statement I am making in Washington tonight2 with regard to deliberate attacks which have been made by Communist North Viet-Namese torpedo boats on American vessels operating on the high seas.

As I am sure that you will agree, these attacks could not go unanswered. The response we are making is, however, limited and fitting. I hope that it will make clear to the North Viet-Namese regime the dangerous character of the course they are following in Southeast Asia. End Verbatim Text.

[Page 622]

Text of Presidential message as well as Pentagon announcement3 being sent to you Septel and via USIS wireless file, respectively, and should accompany this personal message. Slug future messages this subject “Pierce Arrow”.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET S. Confidential; Immediate; Exdis; Pierce Arrow. Drafted by Green and Robert Creel (EUR) and initialed by William Tyler, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs. Sent to Bonn, Brussels, The Hague, Luxembourg, Paris (for the Embassy and USRO), and Rome and repeated to the other NATO capitals and Madrid. Similar messages were sent to 14 other capitals at 11:01 p.m. (Circular telegrams 222 and 223; ibid.) and at 11:02 individual messages were sent to New Delhi and Karachi. (Telegrams 266 and 136; ibid.) At 9:12 and 10:32, the U.S. representatives to NATO and SEATO were instructed to call sessions of their organizations to report on the U.S. position (Topol 198 and telegram 175 to Bangkok; ibid.)
  2. See Document 286.
  3. Presumably reference is to News Release 570–64, a brief announcement describing the attack on August 4. (Washington National Records Center. RG 330, Pentagon Papers Files: FRC 75–0062, News Releases)