242. Telegram From the Station in Saigon to the Central Intelligence Agency1

CAS 206. The following is the text of a message from Ambassador Bunker to the Secretary of State released by the Ambassador at 1115 hours, 14 July 1967: [Page 616]

“In a previous message this week,2 in which I recommended that CAS be given approval to conduct a political action program, I mentioned a political alliance which Ky and his advisors have been planning. Comprised of Hoa Hao, Cao Dai and VNQDD elements, this grouping has been envisaged by Ky as the nucleus for the main thrust in support of the Thieu/Ky campaign.3 The benefits that a civilian group in this role affords are many; it has, as well, the potential for the broad-based, post-election political party which Vietnam needs.

“Plans now call for the public launching of this alliance at a mass rally to be held in Saigon on August 1st, the official opening day of the campaign. Obviously the more active this alliance becomes in support of the Thieu/Ky candidacies, the less the government will be vulnerable to the charge of depending solely on its military and governmental powers to insure election in September.

CAS is proposing through its own channels that financial support be given now to the alliance to allow it to put its plans in motion as expeditiously as possible. An equal amount will be provided by the Thieu/Ky forces to maintain the momentum through the campaign.

“In addition to the Presidential support consideration, CAS has raised the question of financial assistance to a selected number of their Parliamentarian assets. In no instance is the sum contemplated large, but the support will enable us to exert some political influence on those who are elected to see that the new government gets off to as favorable a start as possible. I have had an opportunity to review the listing of individuals who may be given support. I recommend that both of the CAS requests be favorably received in Washington.”

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 14 VIET S. Secret; Sensitive. Transmitted to the Department of State under cover of a memorandum from Carver to Read. Despite the lack of direct funding for the Thieu-Ky campaign from Washington, the CIA Station succeeded in having Ky arrange the establishment and funding from Vietnamese sources of a front organization, the All-Vietnam Bloc, in order to legitimize and ensure the election prospects of the military slate. (Telegram CAS 9395 from Saigon, July 18; Central Intelligence Agency, DDO/ISS Files, Job 78–32R, Box 1, Folder 11, ARC) In addition, although money was not given directly to the Thieu-Ky campaign, according to telegram DIR 38735 to Saigon, September 27, Acting Secretary of State Katzenbach authorized payments as high as [text not declassified] each to Deputies of the National Assembly who would guarantee that they would vote in favor of confirming the electoral victory of Thieu and Ky in the validation vote on October 2. (Ibid.)
  2. Document 235.
  3. In a July 17 memorandum to Bundy, Carver reported the substance of TDCS DB–315/02780–67, July 15, a record of a conversation between Ky and [text not declassified], which contained intelligence information on Ky’s plans for his front organization. Ky declared that he was “now besieged on all sides by people asking for funds with which to support the Thieu/Ky ticket, including dozens of aspirants running for the Senate or Assembly.” Ky stated that it was necessary for him to reject these requests due to his limited funds. He also mentioned that he would like to merge two other groups, the one behind retired General Tran Van Don and labor leader Tran Quoc Buu with the front containing the other religious and political parties. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 14 VIET S) The U.S. Government was kept informed of Thieu-Ky campaign affairs through a covert contact initiated in mid-July. A July 17 memorandum from Carver to Bundy, summarized TDCS DB–315/02783–67, July 17, a report on the first meeting between [text not declassified] the Prime Minister’s designated intermediary, and [text not declassified] of the CIA Station. At this meeting [text not declassified] mentioned [text not declassified] that funds were needed to support GVN officials who had resigned to run for office. (Ibid.)