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

CAS 2436. Ambassador Bunker released the following message [Page 821]late in the evening of 23 September and asks that it be passed to the Secretary of State:

“Although the hurdles of the Presidential and Senatorial elections are behind us, it is apparent that we will continue to experience for some time to come a variety of problems deriving from the change in power relationship between President Thieu and Vice President Ky. That, plus the continued development of the constitutional process as opposed to attempts by the military to maintain control, will probably cause some disturbance during the foreseeable future. Consequently, while I hope and expect that a reasonable adjustment of the Thieu/Ky relationship can gradually be achieved, a part of my continuing contact with the executive elements here will often be an effort simply to keep the peace.

“There is a potentially important ally in this effort—the legislature. I doubt that the legislature will develop real style or accrue genuine political authority in the near future. I am convinced, however, that from the outset, there will be times when we will need to call upon selected individuals in both houses to help bring political brushfires under control. Moreover, in the long run, it will be the development of an independent, responsible legislature that will create and maintain the basis for political stability and growth in South Vietnam.

“Thus, both immediate and future considerations strongly support a prudent investment of our talents and energy in an effort to assure that we have solid, reliable friends in the legislature. It is clearly in the nature of things out here that a portion of our responsibility for working with Parliamentarians must be carried out through CAS. In this regard, good political common sense indicates that the best way to develop a useful relationship with a Parliamentarian is to be of some value to him while he is still a candidate.

“Unlike the Senate elections where the candidates ran as members of a group and the number of groups involved—on a nationwide basis—made the whole process rather unpredictable; in the House elections, single candidates are running, for the most part on their own. [9 lines of source text not declassified]

“Clearly, the nature and scope of our election program will depend upon the resources available to the candidates chosen by us. In view of this, and the fact that the election is to be held just four weeks hence, I urge favorable consideration be given to a program of limited financial support to a group of selected House candidates. Successful establishment of a group responsive to our guidance in the house could represent an effective aid to the accomplishment of our political objectives in South Vietnam.”

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Intelligence File, Vietnamese (South) Elections 1967. Secret; Most Sensitive; Immediate Director. Passed by Carver to Read the same day. An attached covering note from Kohler to Katzenbach, undated, reads: “I share the general allergy to intervention in elections. However, I think Viet-Nam is a special case; [I] find Ambassador Bunker’s rationale persuasive and have confidence in his good judgment. Consequently, I would recommend approval.” An attached telegram to Saigon transmitted approval of Bunker’s proposal [text not declassified] on September 27. Approval was also transmitted in telegram Director 42657, October 11. (Central Intelligence Agency, DDO/ISS Files, Job 78–32)