333. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in France1

40412. For Kissinger. Ref: Paris 3626, 3627, 3536.2

You (and Bo) have already cautioned M against reporting to the Elysée, and it continues to be our view that this is highly inadvisable under present circumstances. We agree to your strong objection to M’s inclusion of the text of any US message in any such report.
In view of Paris 3627, M clearly needs to be cautioned about the necessity to take greater care to preserve the security of the channel.
While we agree fully with cautions contained in your 3626 about not appearing “excessively anxious” and the importance of keeping contacts after your departure secret, there are certain risks of exposure if M and A are seen in direct contact with the Ambassador or DCM. We suggest that if you see Bo, you discuss with him directly, or otherwise ask M and A to do so, the procedure Bo would prefer to utilize for communicating with us after your departure. If you agree it should be suggested to Bo that if he prefers you will continue to be available in Cambridge to receive and pass on messages as in past. Bo should also be informed that if he prefers or if the importance of any particular message warrants, we are prepared to send Chester Cooper or other appropriate official to Paris for the purpose of communicating through him.
In case Ashmore/Baggs stories of their contacts with Hanoi should arise in coming conversation you should familiarize yourself [Page 818] with Department’s September 18 statement carried in wireless file to all diplomatic posts.3
For Ambassador and DCM from Acting Secretary: The Secretary and I are most grateful to you for facilitating K’s handling of the Pennsylvania channel to date. Thanks to you the communications have gone smoothly and effectively.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–14 VIET/PENNSYLVANIA. Top Secret; Immediate; Nodis/Pennsylvania. Drafted by Read, cleared by Walt Rostow and Read, and approved by Katzenbach.
  2. In telegram 3626 from Paris, September 19, Bohlen recommended against sending a U.S. Government representative to Paris since “keeping him waiting for a reply might give Hanoi the impression that we are excessively anxious” and could jeopardize the channel’s secrecy. Telegram 3627 from Paris, September 19, reported that Marcovich’s brother was mentioning publicly that negotiations were going on in Paris involving “an American.” In telegram 3536 from Paris, September 19, Kissinger noted that Marcovich had drafted a report detailing his involvement for the French Foreign Ministry in the event that the channel collapsed or ended in failure. At Kissinger’s suggestion, Marcovich promised to delete U.S. Government messages to Hanoi. (All ibid.)
  3. Ashmore publicized the story of his involvement in the administration’s secret peace contacts on September 18. In a telephone conversation that day, Rusk told Bundy that “this had some bearing on how we handle Kissinger.” Rusk added that “one of the problems about dealing with these people who are so far over on that side is they might have entrée in Hanoi and could cut our throats.” (Notes of Telephone Conversations, September 18, 4:07 p.m. and 4:18 p.m.; ibid., Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Telcons, 1961–1969 & Presidential) J.R. Wiggins, a reporter for the Washington Post, had called Rusk at 3:55 p.m. on the same day and inquired about the release of the story. (Notes of Telephone Conversation, September 18, 3:55 p.m.; ibid.) In a telephone conversation 15 minutes earlier, Katzenbach told Rusk that Baggs had labeled as “disgraceful” Ashmore’s action. (Notes of Telephone Conversation, September 18, 3:40 p.m.; ibid.) The Department of State issued a public statement about the contacts on September 18; see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1967, pp. 990–992.