225. Telegram From the White House Situation Room to President Johnson in Texas1

CAP 67601. For the President from Katzenbach.

Bob McNamara, Walt Rostow and I all believe that Ambassador Bunker fully appreciates the seriousness and urgency of your message,2 but is attempting to accomplish the result we desire in the manner least calculated to do damage to other relations. We all agree that he should be left discretion as to approach but that the message should be delivered as soon as possible. To make sure that this is accomplished expeditiously, I would send out the attached message which, I believe, reflects our views. It should go out tonight, since it is already Friday3 morning in Saigon. Message follows.

“You may use your own judgment in how best to present to Thieu and Ky the points made in our earlier message.4 As you fully appreciate, [Page 567] the point is that the message should be gotten across in the most effective way possible. Our suggestion that you be accompanied by Locke and Westmoreland was designed to emphasize as strongly as possible the importance that we attach to the commitments made and the seriousness of any breach to President Johnson in the light of his assurances to leading members of Congress.

We fully appreciate the delicacy of the issues raised and the dangers involved in such direct and forceful action. You are quite right in wishing to know exactly where things stand and in weighing the pros and cons of various approaches. But we feel very strongly that Ky and Thieu should be made aware in forceful and urgent terms of the importance that we attach to the points made. How you accomplish this is left to you but we feel the sooner it can be done the better.”5

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Intelligence File, Vietnamese (South) Elections 1967. Secret; Nodis; Eyes Only. The cable was received at the White House Situation Room at 9:33 p.m. on June 29. A notation on the telegram indicates that the President saw it. Jim Jones wrote a note on the telegram quoting the President as follows: “Yes send it, against it but nothing else I can do.”
  2. See footnote 2, Document 222.
  3. June 30.
  4. Document 222.
  5. The Department transmitted this message to Bunker in telegram 219435 to Saigon, June 30. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Intelligence File, Vietnamese (South) Elections 1967)