437. Telegram From the Ambassador to Vietnam (Bunker) to the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow), Secretary of State Rusk, Secretary of Defense McNamara, and Director of Central Intelligence Helms1

CAS 308. In my meeting with President Thieu on December 12th I expressed my appreciation for his agreement to the release of Sau Ha and Mai Thi Vang. Referring to the disclosure of information on the Buttercup case by General Loan and his apparent desire to see these efforts come to naught, I said that despite our skepticism we need to pursue this case not only in the interests of freeing prisoners of war but also to see if there are any cracks or fissures in the NLF which we can exploit. This is extremely important to both the GVN and to the U.S. Government; in fact it might be worth several victories on the battlefield for both of us.

In response, President Thieu discussed the situation concerning General Loan and his remarks are reported in Saigon Embtel 13292.2

In my meeting with President Thieu on 13 December, I told Thieu that we hoped to launch Sau Ha and Mai Thi Vang with Buttercup/2 by the weekend of December 16–18. The President expressed no objection to this schedule.

I also advised him that I thought it was important, particularly in view of the difficulties we had had with General Loan in this case, for me to bring Vice President Ky up to date in the near future. President Thieu replied that the Vice President was generally aware of developments and suggested that I cover the matter with the Vice President on the first occasion when I have other subjects to review with him. I intend to accomplish this at the earliest opportunity.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–7 VIET S/BUTTERCUP. Secret; Immediate; Nodis; Buttercup; Exclusive; Via CAS Channels.
  2. Dated December 13. (Ibid.)