210. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to President Johnson1


  • What we now know on gas (leaving aside the loose end on nausea gas)2
The riot-control gases used in Vietnam are standard issue for all U.S. troops with riot-control missions, and authority to use them has been delegated to subordinate commanders for many years.
These gases are also standard issue under Military Assistance Programs to friendly troops with riot-control missions.
These gases are non-lethal and their effects are temporary. They are totally different from the poison gases against which international conventions and humanitarian feeling are directed.
There are three known uses of these riot-control gases in Vietnam (two cases were in efforts by Vietnamese troops to rescue U.S. advisors—this is a good point at home, but not abroad).
There has been absolutely no NSC discussion of this problem precisely because riot-control gases are standard equipment. There has been no proposal at any time for the use of poison gas in this theater or elsewhere.
Finally, these gases are precisely analogous to those used by police forces all over the world.
McG. B.3
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to the President, McGeorge Bundy, Vol. IX. No classification marking.
  2. On March 22 an Associated Press dispatch from Saigon charged that gas was being used against the Viet Cong. The factual basis for the charge was discussed by Rusk in telephone conversations with William Bundy at 12:55 p.m. and McGeorge Bundy at 5:11 p.m. on March 22. (Department of State, Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Telephone Calls) A sampling of the highly critical response in various countries of the world to the charge was included in Rowan’s March 23 memorandum to the President. (Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 70 A 1266, Vietnam 000.7)
  3. Printed from a copy that bears these typed initials.