243. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam 1

51896. For Amb. Lodge from Acting Secretary. There is an intense interest at highest levels in carrying through defection of principal and getting him out.2 Assuming effort described Saigonʼs 6522, Para 2,3 does not work out, would like you to consider again whether there is not some way in which matter might be again set in motion through your taking it up with PriMin Ky. He surely would grasp immediately how important it is for this project to succeed and might be able to develop some method of obtaining release of uncle without exposing operation to Loan or others. You should understand that in urging you to reconsider this point I do not mean in any sense to press you into any action which seriously risks spoiling the project.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 30 VIET S/Thrush. Secret; Priority; Nodis; Thrush. Drafted by Unger; cleared by Thompson, U. Alexis Johnson, and Rostow in substance; and approved by Ball.
  2. In telegram 49432 to Saigon, September 18, Rusk stated (in anticipation of his meeting with Gromyko in a few days): “I suppose it is impossible to bring off the Thrush operation before then but it would be an enormous help could it be done.” Lodge replied in telegram 4773, September 19, that Thoʼs uncle, Nguyen Huu An, was still being detained by GVN authorities, for reasons apparently unrelated to Thrush, and that “in the interest of preserving the operation we should sit tight.” (Ibid.)
  3. Paragraph 2 of telegram 6522, September 21, dealt with the issue of obtaining the release of Nguyen Huu An. (Ibid.)
  4. In telegram 6811 from Saigon, September 24, Lodge recommended that the issue not be brought up with Ky; the Department of State concurred in telegram 54428 to Saigon, September 26. (Ibid.) In telegram 8570 from Saigon, October 15, Lodge reported that Nguyen Huu An was finally out of jail and commented that “perhaps now we will learn whether we have gold, brass or too much imagination.” Rostow forwarded the telegram to the President under cover of an October 15 memorandum stating: “Now we shall see. Timing is first class if it can be pulled off in the next few weeks.” (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, box 143, Thrush)